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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04

2004-08-19 ... 2:11 p.m.

Don't say I never did anything for you. Here is a place where you can listen to (or read a transcript of) Lyndon Baines Johnson ordering some pants. I like how this web page refers to him as "The Sudden President." Remember the hilariously-named product "Suddenly Salad"? I guess it still exists, although this page is seriously overreaching with their claim that "When you add pepperoni to Suddenly Salad´┐Ż, you add fun and variety."

I once had the incredibly bad fortune to be selected to lead a high school poetry workshop. This happened in college, during the fifteen minutes or so when I thought I might want to do the MFA thing and get a job teaching other people how to write, which OH GOD I CAN'T STOP LAUGHING at what a bad idea that would have been. Anyway, I recently did some weeding of my "personal papers" (that makes me sound like a real literary personality, doesn't it? "The Collected Correspondence of Mimi Smartypants"?), deciding what to throw out and what to keep in the increasingly overstuffed office filing cabinet, and I found an old journal with this list, which I made right after the workshop.


1. ethereal
2. bier
3. corporeal
4. breathe
5. alabaster
6. scythe
7. sacrificial
8. wraith
9. translucent
10. vengeance

I am glad I got some humor out of that weekend, because it was a truly dismal experience, even though these kids had jumped through some serious hoops to get there, and were considered the best writers at their respective schools. I don't know what I was expecting, but there was not one person in the workshop who had anything original to say or any original ways of saying it---it was all this obvious-metaphor, heavy-handed, "what a poem should sound like" crap. (The person who ran the prose workshop seemed to indicate that things were slightly improved on that side of the fence, but he too was disheartened.) At one point I was saying something about revision, and this girl? who talked like this? broke in to say that she didn't "believe in revising stuff." After I gathered myself off the floor and asked her what she could possibly mean, she said something like "Well, it's not right? To revise a poem? Because a poem is how you felt at the time? So to change it would betray your feelings at the time."

Okay sweetie, it seems like the format you are looking for would be a LiveJournal, rather than claiming you want to write poetry and go to college for poetry and publish your poetry in poetry magazines and ultimately be some irritating up-talking poetess. Is she serious? She won't revise because it would betray her feelings at the time? Is this a writing workshop or is it the marijuana-soaked noodlings of some jam band? I didn't know what to say so I said, "Well, I shit but I also flush," which got a big laugh but maybe was not the kindest response.

Just recounting that story has made me think more, though---what does it mean that POETRY and PROSE are treated with this holy reverence, slaved over and "taught" and subjected to passionate debates, whereas private writing is not held to any such standard? And what does it mean when private writing (diaries, journals, and so forth) are made public, on purpose, on the web? (Where it is then subjected to "standards," but not of a marketplace sort---no one really "reviews" web diaries, and if people think a web diary is crap they just vote with their browsers and browse onward, with no one losing any cash or status or reputation.) (Easy spew, easy go: that should totally be the motto of online writing.) And what does it mean again when a certain subset of private writing is (slightly) revised, cleaned up, reordered, hardbound, mass-produced, and sold at freaking Tesco? I have no answers.


1. There was a Mountain Dew can rolling around on the floor of the El and "Dew" in the can's font, when viewed upside down, reads "Mao." Let Us Strive Valiantly To Do the Dew! Obey The People's Thirst! I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing, In Collective Proletariat Harmony!

2. Guy in Cubs hat, sitting with four or five other guys in Cubs hats, on that same train: "Where do we get off? Addison? Wait, where are we now? Okay then that's one, two, three, four, five more stops. Then what? Oh okay. We sure are going fast in this tunnel! I didn't know you could go this fast in a tunnel. Where did we get on? We got on at Jackson. I'm pretty sure it was Jackson. Wow, this goes all the way to O'Hare? Oh that's the Blue Line. This is the Red Line. Sure beats driving, ha ha! No traffic here! I've never been on a subway before! Can you believe that, I'm fifty-three years old and I've never been on a subway before?"

Really, sir? You certainly do hide it well.

3. My girl used to hate hats and cried when we put them on her. Recently she dumped all of her clothes out of her dresser drawer (thanks, Nora!), found a hat, put it on, and decided she loves hats.

It's all about control. If I spear a cube of tofu with a fork and hand it to her? OH MY GOD. YOU IDIOT. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME. I DO NOT WANT ANY TOFU. But the same tofu cube, speared by Nora herself, is the tastiest thing in the world.

4. Nora does quite a bit of imaginative play, and according to my baby-advice books she is too young to be doing so. So either she is on her way to becoming a lunatic with complicated theories on alien abduction, or she is just very advanced for her age, and will possibly go through a lengthy role-playing-game phase. Last night she was obviously pretending that the Fisher-Price farm was an oven; she would open up the barn door, put a stacking cup in there, and then say, "hot! hot!" just like she does when she walks past the real oven. She would then get the cup back out and pretend to eat some food from it while still saying "hot!" It sounds stupid, but I was impressed, because it's one thing to pretend that a play oven is a real oven, but something else entirely to make an oven in your head, so to speak.

5. Nora also has a private joke. She says "bumbum" and cracks up laughing, even if no one else is around. Maybe we should take her to Malaysia, for the ultimate hilarious vacation.

---mimi smartypants is an agro-tourism destination.


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