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January 23rd, 2005

without a flounder

My work required me to spend all afternoon at the office and at the copy shop. At length, though, I got the materials to Federal Express and to the mails. By the time I drove home, the incoming cold front had arrived with Arctic splendor.

We went last night to dinner at Snuffer's in Plano, the local version of the traditonal Dallas hamburger place. Snuffer's is a restaurant with real burgers and baskets of fries, an antidote to chains of every kind, although it is now a kind of chain. But the Snuffer's was filled with people, all apparently 33 and yet somehow dressed as if they were at a Summer pledge drive of a college fraternity and a college sorority. I am not good with waiting interminable lengths of time for a hamburger, so we headed down the street to Vincent's Steaks and Seafood.

Vincent's is an old-fashioned place, built on quiet atmosphere, a menu from the 1940s, and staff that apparently has worked there since paleolithic times. I am sure somebody has had to wait for a table in Vincent's perhaps during a Christmas during the Second World War, but in general, it's an easy table in a down to earth but somehow restrained place.

I was disappointed that the flounder steaks were not available, in part because I wanted one, but also in part because my vague impression is that January is when Gulf flounder is caught and thus in season. I settled, though, on a grilled trout, while my wife went with a snapper almondine. The bread pieces there are little snippets of French bread, lightly toasted with a bit of cheese. We spoke together of the cabbages and candlesticks and kings things that make up our day as we ate. I pointed out that a woman across the restaurant looked just like an older version of a woman in my high school class, but I knew it really wasn't, and my personal shyness would have in any event made my seeking her out to say "hi" roughly as likely as the chance that I would bring a live toucan into the restaurant.

We decided to go to a movie. The movie whose start time was most congenial to our schedule was "The Aviator". I had resisted this movie, a bit, thinking it like to be too-too, all artificial star turns. I was wrong. Although the movie has not one but a half dozen star turns, we found it captivating and thoroughly enjoyable--a larger than life, larger than screen good old-fashioned Hollywood epic. Of course, any movie in which Cate Blanchett and Kate Beckinsale appear tend to "sit well" with me, but the real feats in this film included wonderful cinematography, great direction (with a "just enough excess" approach not customary to Scorsese), and a screenplay that really works. Like all movie fiction, the result transforms the facts into a clever and ambiguous fairy tale.

Today I hope to work a bit, to rest a bit and to put more things on eBay. My chess books are one by one selling, reducing my inventory of things. I want to reduce my book count altogether, though, and thus may have to deliver many to Goodwill soon.

I also want to write some poetry, as I'm getting in a creative mood again.
"Hanging is suicide;death by sleeping pills is suicide;leaping into fire is suicide;falling spreadeagle from heights is suicide; war is suicide; accepting authoritarian demands is suicide; feigned emotions and loves are suicide; existence without human feeling is suicide; cynical impossible demands is suicide; self-abjection is; self-aggrandisement is; passivity is; performing the expected is; becoming a martyr for half-felt ideals is; the sheep's life is....".
--from Michael McClure's "Meat Science"

Seven kind souls girded up their loins and their "post comment keys" and participated in the gurdonark Game, a kind of trivial trivia poll amounting to a true/false examination about the above-referenced journal author.

I found the most challenging portion of this poll to be the "grading" of the answers, but with the help of Corel Wordperfect's Create Table function and a series of check marks, I have avoided the indignity of having an Excel spreadsheet rendered necessary for small feats of simple addition and graphing.

The result of the poll was a three-way-tie, at seventy percent, or 14, questions correctly answered. The winners are mvpo, poetbear and theodicy, each of whom shall be sent an appropriate book or other trifle to commemorate their success. I believe I have the relevant addresses, and instruct those esteemed champions to observe their personal mailboxes.

I was pleased that everyone did so well, as even the least finisher did quite well.
I look with regret at my questions, seeing no Pulitzer prizes, twentysomething encounters with starlets, or service as saints-in-waiting among my life's events, but
we all must be boring at my own pace. I'm sitting with an old poetry journal called Maxy's, from 1980, in my lap, wondering where the words go when the print fades.

Thanks for everyone for playing, and to close friends and family for self-disqualification and to gadfly friends who commented without guessing for their quick withs and and appreciated comic relief.

migrating warblers

Today I rested a good bit, recovering from a week of travel. The weather remained cold but proved windless, so I enjoyed a walk in the sunshine in the nearby pocket park. Flocks of birds were in the bare trees--one set of things I call warblers (but may in fact be anything) and one set of birds I call titmouses (but similarly may be something else). I wondered if they are going south or north.

I am beginning to focus on writing poetry in a larger way again, so that I suppose my recent writing game hubris may hold the prospect of generating actual results. Also, I promised myself and another months ago that I would write a short story for publication. I have never written much in the short story line, other than for fun, but I mean to remedy that, too. I notice that I have now gotten 1,000 "helpful" votes as an Amazon reviewer, despite record numbers of typographic errors in the reviews.

This week my work remains busy, and at week's end I must go west for a quick business trip. This seems to be my year of quick business trips thus far. In the meantime, I am working through Dickens' Pickwick Papers and plotting new sales on eBay.