Monday, November 14, 2011

Aphorgasm #4

True test of vanity. You have nose hairs peeking at work. Do you walk around with freaking elephant tusks sticking out of your nose and wait until you get home to cut them? Or do you use your fingernails to pluck, which will literally bring tears to your eyes?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lucy's First and Second

Couple weeks ago we celebrated Lucy's first birthday with her second pinata:

As my brother-in-law observed, we're wasting no time in teaching her the timeless principle of scapegoating. Excellent.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Aphorgasm #3

I used to think that learning history was like stacking chairs. The more chairs you stacked, the higher you could sit and get a better view of what's been going on. And you had to do it chronologically. Trying to understand WWII without understanding WWI, or trying to learn about the Romans without first learning about the Greeks, was like trying to hang a chair in mid-air. But now I see history as a giant net or web and it pretty much doesn't matter where you dive in. You can follow the threads in any direction. It's not about getting a higher view. It's about being able to feel your way around without getting lost.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Larry Shitsverse: We

I had a dream there
was a boom in the street,
a shower of stones,
and we were the bones.

I had a dream there
were ashes in the air,
dancing light, and
we were the fire.

I had a dream there
were bottles of gin,
fountains of mud,
and we were the flood.

I had a dream there
was a howl in the trees,
darkening eyes, and
we were the night.

And we were the deep.

Alright, apparently Larry had a dream. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be all one dream or four separate dreams. Five if you count the last line as a separate dream, but it could be just part of the last dream (or all of the dreams). And in what way could you dream about "we" being the night or the deep (whatever the hell "deep" means)?

I wonder if Larry started writing this poem in a certain format, like a villanelle or something. The scheme of a full-on villanelle goes like this:

A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2.

Six stanzas (separated by the forward slashes) and three lines per stanza, except for the last stanza which has four lines. Lower case letters symbolize a certain ryhme. So the "a" lines all ryhme with each other, and the "b" lines have their own ryhme. But the capital letters symbolize a "refrain" which means it's a line that's actually repeated word for word. A1 doesn't just rhyme with the next A1. It is A1.

The example that people always give for the villanelle is Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night". But I will not use that as my example. No. I will use a nonsense poem about an epileptic duck that I will now write extemporaneously, meaning that I will not get up and get a refill of coffee at this here coffee shop until I've written an entire villanelle. Here goes:


Ok, I can't write poetry on the spot like that. Here's the standard modern example:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Like I said, I think that maybe Larry started writing his poem in a format like this, where he's repeating certain lines, and just dropped the format when it didn't suit the poem.

And as far as the last line of the poem goes, I think he might have wanted that to be a fifth dream but just couldn't come up with a good one to end with "and we were the deep." He could have done something like

I had a dream there
was a dome of stars,
the moon over the sea,
and we were the deep.

I also feel like there could be a better way to write this so it flows better. Or actually what I mean is, it could read better if the stanzas didn't even try to flow together. Because they don't. We could try to do something like this:

I had a dream.

A boom in the street,
a shower of stones,
and we were the bones.

I had a dream.



I had a dream--
a boom in the street,
a shower of stones,
and we were the bones.

I had a dream--

But now it's sounding a bit MLK-ish. Doesn't really work for me. Ok, if I wanted to actually make it flow, this is how I would rewrite it:

I dreamed
there was a
boom in the street
a shower of stones
and we were the bones

there were
ashes in the air
and dancing light
and we were the fire

there were
bottles of gin
fountains of mud
and we were the flood

there was
a howl in the trees
with darkening eyes
and we were the night

there was
a dome of stars
moon over a black sea
and we were the deep

Monday, May 9, 2011

Aphorgasm #2

The most sane ambition is to shrink yourself. Or as Wendell Berry puts it, to become one among the grasses.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I do a lot of things that only "chicks" are supposed to do. As a result, I get razzed in hyper-testosterone environments and endure the occasional tampon reference. I suppose there's something primal about the ancient and primitive shame of menstruation, so I try not to take it personally.

And I've come to realize that I've really been showing my slip on this blog. Been posting a lot of soft stuff. Like poetry. I know that typically only 16 year old girls post poetry on their blog. I am well aware. Although I mostly just publish Larry's poetry now. He's kind of a pansy too.

Anyways. I just think we should acknowledge the fact that we still have these assumptions and prejudices about masculine/feminine roles. And in a marriage you must deal with this.

Over the years, my wife and I have noticed that we don't neatly fit into gender roles that are sometimes still expected of us (especially in the conservative Christian world). Our view (I really did ask my wife about this and she signed off on it) is that a marriage is a partnership where certain responsibilities must be fulfilled, and often it doesn't matter if it's the chick or the dude.

Ways in which my wife is more like a man and I am more like a woman:

1. I usually wash the dishes and she usually takes out the trash.

2. I will sometimes eat pizza and tostadas with a fork. She always eats them with her hands.

3. I like to talk through problems ad nauseum. She is prone to shutting off all communication. Silent treatment.

4. I am much more likely to take a long bath.

5. If something needs fixed around the house, she is much more eager to fix it, and more capable. Unless it requires brute force. I have the brute force.

6. She is able to let our nine month old cry in her crib for 5 minutes. The self-soothing thing. I must be held by the collar while my feet churn in place to keep me from going into our daughter's room and picking her up.

7. She donates blood and I don't because I hate needles. The one time I donated was when we were dating, and I did it to impress her. Then I passed out.

8. When my wife was pregnant, she managed to avoid getting hemorrhoids, which women sometimes develop during pregnancy and delivery. I on the other hand managed to develop hemorrhoids myself. I know that's gross. I'm not supposed to blog about hemorrhoids. You cringe every time your eyes run over that word, hearing your inner voice say "hemorrhoids". But I'm all about getting our imperfections out in the open, and I will wear you down by the sheer number of times I type hemorrhoids in this paragraph. Because I'm doing you a favor. There's actually a good chance that you, yes you, sometime in your life will get hemorrhoids. And you will be embarrassed about it and will probably wait for a long long time before even bringing it up with your doctor, letting it get way worse than it needed to be. So I'm drawing back the curtain and exposing the real or maybe just metaphorical hemorrhoids we all must face ("the hemorrhoids of the soul"), keeping it from becoming 10 feet tall, like the giant Adenoids in Gravity's Rainbow:

Sub-sub's chalk drawing of an Adenoids Monster, sparing you the image of a Hemorrhoids Monster, which, come to think of it, would look very similar.

So fear not. Drink lots of water. Eat lots of fiber. Take lots of standing breaks at your desk job. And if hemorrhoids show up anyway, don't hide it. Shine a light on your hemorrhoids and it will go away.

9. She is a better cook and I am a better baker. Katie will look at our refrigerator and cupboards and throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, sprinkling some spices, and end up with a tasty dish. But if I don't have a recipe with precise measurements to work with, it really ruffles my apron.

Of course there are many, many ways in which I am like a man (which I am) and she is not. Those obviously don't need to be detailed because they are the assumptions we all have about male and female roles. But as a for-instance: I am in charge of the killing and dispensing of rodents in the house. Now before you go judging me, you should know that I tried the live-traps and they just didn't work. And when the pests are on the larger side of the rodentia family (or order--whatever), it's hard to be patient and not kill the suckers. My conscience is somewhat clear though. I refuse to use poisons that would compromise the toxic free sanctity of our home. I use a crossbow.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aphorgasm #1

Persistence is a virtue. I wish I had more of it. But then changing my mind, the willingness to change my mind, is a virtue as well. I mean, to persistently travel down the wrong road or stubbornly believe something I know may be false--that's just stupid.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Larry Shitsverse: Tea

Chicory root
Dandelion root
Orange peel

Larry, that's just an ingredients list. You jackass.

Friday, April 22, 2011


aph*or*gasm n. A nugget of philosophical writing by Sub-sub-librarian. Usually composed in ecstatic inspiration, but of dubious wisdom and very much a letdown after just a few minutes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cory Booker

Is anyone else a fan of this guy?
(I guess I should explain the link. It's an interview, and you have to click on the photo to start the video. They don't make that obvious on the Charlie Rose page.)

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Pale King's Fool

As soon as it showed up on Amazon last fall, I pre-ordered David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King.

He died in September of 2008. It still hasn't been released yet.

This is one of those long-awaited things.

The novel is supposed to be about IRS agents and their heroic quest to overcome the tedium of their jobs. April 15th is the book's official release date. So you see, it's a joke. Tax day--ha.

But I got this notice from Amazon a few days ago that said my order had been shipped already. ETA? April 1st. So I'm thinking--hm. Am I really supposed to drive home today, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, imagining an Amazon package sitting on my front porch, the contents of which will recieve my undivided attention for days and days? Or would that be foolish...?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Lucy Byers, aka Goose, aka The Gosling, aka Minnow, aka Australopithecus, aka Chubs. And now, aka Bunny:

And just because I can't resist posting this one:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sub-sub-custodian: The Hand

So I've got the whole bathroom to myself at work, and I'm sitting down in a stall, doing things that require you to sit down in a bathroom stall. Operations are in process. Stuff is happening.

I hear the door open and the distinct sound of a custodian cart rolling into the bathroom.

I am no longer alone. Fine.

I hear the door of the stall next to me open. Whatever. My business goes on.

And while I'm totally in medias res I see this latexed hand appear below me, jutting under the stall-wall, leaving a roll of toilet paper and disappearing before I can even compute what's happening...

Right under my left cheek. The guy delivered some toilet paper. Couldn't wait until I was done.

And I wasn't even low on paper in there...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Larry Shitsverse: Trees

I cannot identify a tree 
in the winter. The bark 
doesn't catch in the folds
of my brain the way 
an oak leaf does, or the 
blooms on a magnolia,
purple petals cupped tightly
in the April wind.
For all I know, on the first
winter night in the glow of
street lamp and chalk moon,
the dogwood trades places
with the Japanese maple,
roots creeping over the
pavement, dirt clods and
gravel trailing.
Yes, of course someone
might notice that a
crab apple is now a 
cherry tree, a myrtle 
is now a tulip. 

But maybe not.
Maybe they are transformed
by the soil.
Maybe all it takes for
a dogwood to try on
new skin is for it to sink
its feet into the loosened
earth and wiggle its toes
in the sandy mud where
a birch tree once stood.

I like the way this poem reads. This is free verse, meaning it has no rhymes or meter. It isn't taking on any kind of traditional or pre-determined poetic form. Which isn't to say that free verse has no rhythm. Good free verse presents itself to be read at a certain pace with a certain emphasis on words that creates a rhythmic feeling. Like the way the stanzas are organized. I'm not sure how a poet goes about determining how long a line should be or how many lines should be in a stanza. They probably just try out different formats and see how it looks and reads. But my guess is that Larry just wrote these lines out and gave hardly any thought to rhythm or how it looks on the page. Probably...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Here come the Nazis

I recently read The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard Evans, which is the first of a three volume history on the Nazis.

Evans covers a lot of ground in this book, beginning with the Second Reich (1871--1919) and Bismarck, who was its Chancellor from 1871 to 1890. Bismarck was a dynamic political leader, whose legend loomed over the German psyche during and after WWI. The Germans were a bit upset about losing the war, and humiliated about the war reparations they had to pay after the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The postwar government was democratic, weak, and chaotic. Many longed for a strong central government with a dynamic leader.

Enter the Nazis in the early 20s. They were just one among many small political groups in the country. The "National Socialist German Workers' Party" were actually on the right side of the political spectrum, although they criticized capitalism as well (hence the Socialist Workers part). They were basically a hate party--they hated capitalism, communism, foreigners, Slavs, Jews, homosexuals, and basically anyone who disagreed with them.

I had read in the past that the Nazis persecuted communists, but I had always assumed that that was because of the national face-off between Stalin and Hitler in the late 30s. But communism had always been a target of the Nazis. There was a real fear that there would be a communist revolution in Germany, like the one in Russia in 1917. The various communist groups all had their paramilitary units, as did most other political groups. The Nazi paramilitaries were called the Brown Shirts, and they would often get into brawls with communist groups. German politics in the 20s and early 30s was almost like gang warfare, where political speeches and rallies ended in fisticuffs, and small-time political assassinations were not uncommon.

The ascension of the Nazis and Hitler in the early 30s was only possible because of the Great Depression. Germans were unhappy with high unemployment and were ready for a change in government. Nazi representatives were voted into the Reichstag (German parliament) in 1932 in large numbers, and in what turned out to be a huge miscalculation, Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933. It was understood by those who did the appointing that he would be kept in check by Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, President Hindenburg, and the military. Obviously, that didn't work out so well.

The incident that sparked the Nazis takeover of government was the fire in the Reichstag. On February 27th, 1933 a crazed unemployed communist "insurrectionist" single handedly set fire to the German seat of parliament in the hopes that it was incite a communist revolution. He acted alone. But Hitler and the Nazis proclaimed this to be the planned action of a vast communist conspiracy, and took advantage of the opportunity to purge Germany of communists. This was the beginning of Hitler's dictatorship and the first step in a larger purging that would take on cultural and racial dimensions.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Leaven Life: Salt

For Christmas dinner, I baked these rolls:
I used this recipe at The Fresh Loaf, which looked promising enough. I wanted an even richer dough, so I added an egg. But I should have also followed my instincts and added more salt than it called for. I didn't, and the flavor of the bread was noticeably weak. Salt not only gives you that good old salty taste, it draws out the other flavors as well. As a rule of thumb, I usually use a teaspoon of salt for every 1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquid called for in the recipe.