Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year Wishes, Justine by Lawrence Durrell & Snow

Surprise! Snow on the ground this morning and it's actually snowing as I write this, which is nice. The building guards are out sweeping the walks with bundles of this branches. Today also happens to be the last day of school (we're working on Saturday this week) before the New Year's holiday, which will last through Wednesday.

Justine - Lawrence DurrellFinished Justine by Lawrence Durrell about a week ago. Can't say I enjoyed the story, but I rarely read for that. As to what the story is about, I'm not quite certain. I read the opening section three times as I felt misdirected and scattered while reading the book. It was a difficult novel to follow (and there are the next three parts in the quartet to get through), but here's a nice look at the juicy good writing you'll encounter should you decide to accept this mission:
Streets that run back from the docks with their tattered rotten supercargo of houses, breathing into each others' mouths, keeling over. Shuttered balconies swarming with rats, and ol women whose hair is full of the blood of ticks. Peeling walls leaning drunkenly to east and west of their true centre of gravity. The black ribbon of flies attaching itself to the lips and eyes of the children—the moist beads of summer flies everywhere; the very weight of their bodies snapping off ancient flypapers hanging in the violet doors of booths and cafés. The smell of the seat-lathered Berberinis, like that of some decomposing stair carpet. And then the street noises: shriek and clang of the water-bearing Saidi, dashing his metal cups together as an advertisement, the unheeded shrieks which pierce the hubbub from time to time, as of some small delicately-organized animal being disemboweled. The sores like ponds--the incubation of a human misery of such proportions that one was aghast, and all one's human feelings overflowed into disgust and terror.
This is probably my last post of the year as Angela and me are boarding a train tomorrow and plan to be away until Wednesday. I'll tell you about it when we return but, in the meanwhile, have a great new year!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I Dream of You in Winter

Finally, in the serious no-joke throes and floes of winter. It's too cold to be in the elements without a scarf under my coat around my sensitive neck. I'm delicate despite your suspicions to the contrary. Still no snow, though, and, in the mornings, only the wonderful clear brightness of icy air and sunshine illuminating the otherwise colorless city. Tonight, after night upon night of crescent crescendo, a perfect lemon-wedge moon stinging the dagger air. In these, the shortest days of the year, the desire to sleep comes earlier and more often now claims Angela, but I'm fighting...

Never an end to internet woes as we continue to be foes rather than the other. I had been clicking along quietly for the past few weeks, but over the last three days our connection has been poor, sluggish or unresponsive. Noting it for posterity. Enough kvetching and on to more curious mundanities...

I look at my site statistics almost daily. Do they change so much in a day? Occasionally. There's some perverse obsession with bar graphs and search terms which keeps pulling me back, aside from the number of hits I'm culling from the wild blue web yonder. There are so many intrigues to follow. I find myself guessing who you are. You, my readers. Who is clicking in from Chile? How come my only friend in (city) hasn't visited? I'm looking for you!

Since Blogger has been unerringly available in China for the past few weeks, China has become my top country from which hits are received. Living in China, the most populous place on the planet, probably helps that somewhat, but my audience must be from more deeply-ingrained English-speaking places. Right? Mightn't (now there's a contraction I don't think I've ever tossed about) my few readers in China, and I know my coworkers aren't peeking in so it must be my fan base, be more dedicated than those of you back in the states? One can only guess. And, coincidentally, that's what I'm good at doing...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a pleasant holiday season. We foreign teachers enjoy a day off for Christmas today, but it's business as usual tomorrow. Unfortunately, we have to work this coming Saturday to make up for the off days we'll receive next week for the New Year. It seems like this time of year is busy in any part of the world, but I haven't forgotten you. I haven't kept you as informed as I should have this week but, even with my negligence, the site received many visitors yesterday. My lapses are only superficial, and I'll make it up to you somehow...

Beijing - Wangfujing - Department Store w/ Pink Christmas TreesAngela and me went window shopping in Wangfujing a few days ago. Wangfujing is the central shopping area for tourists and such with many fashionable name-brand shops and department stores. Here you can see pink Christmas trees hanging upside down above a department store entrance. There are usually plenty of interesting things upon which to look. More pictures of that adventure in the usual place...

To celebrate Christmas Eve, we went out for a nice dinner at Morel's (Santa visited us while we were eating!) yesterday evening after stopping in at a coworker's Christmas gathering and gift-exchange. We came away with a pair of Christmas toe-socks and a bag of potato chips! Angela's snoozing now while I write this and watch the grey haze materialize and brighten outside as morning continues to build to a cold Chinese omnipresent whiteness. We're planning on taking a walk later today in Beihai Park, but I don't think we'll be too upset if we never leave the apartment...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I've been wanting to add a post for a few days now. Logged in yesterday or the day before, I forget which, to cook up something, but ran out of steam. Ended up just staring at my list of old posts. Finally, enough time, energy and impetus...

Beijing - Pacific Century PlaceOut and about after work today. Wind picked up a little and we enjoyed a crystal evening walk after a pizza in starbright Beijing. Still rooting about for Christmas gifts for Angela. Hope to meet those unexpressed demands on Saturday. Took care of a few things tonight at Pacific Century Place, which has a little Christmas town in front of it, pictured here. Not an inexpensive place to shop...

Otherwise, more of the snowless cold same, standing on the balcony and looking out into night's black horizon at all the little square lights and pinpoints. New buildings everywhere smiling like super-toothed and wide-grinning wards of this sprawling megatropolis, one in which its inmates commingle and sing bastard versions of the birthday song and jingle bells when necessary. All's well that ends, well.... Only one more half-day of elementary Santa mishap and Christmas pageantry to overcome tomorrow and then it's three days away from...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Weekend Redux

I'm one of the featured poets this week on Poetry Super Highway. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Spent the day on the couch yesterday before rousing ourselves for a 7:30PM appointment. Went to a dance performance last night given by the Beijing Modern Dance Company. We know almost nothing about dance, modern or otherwise, but felt the show was impressive and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I'll do my best to tell you a little about it. Journey · In, the title of the show, consisted of two performances. The first was a multi-part performance by two dancers who seemed to be imitating each other or dancing about the idea of a shadow, each dancer's movements reflecting the other's. One of the more memorable parts was watching the dancers follow each other around the stage to the sound of whispering voices.

After a brief intermission, the second act featured a larger group of dancers and began with something like techno tai chi, followed by a solo dance accompanied by flute and piano music. There were four parts to this act, all of them connected with the sound of water dripping. The fourth and most memorable part included all of the dancers. They were dressed in thin white silk and holding fans, and danced across the stage in a long continuous, seemingly never-ending flow. It brought a nice end to the show and was almost hypnotic.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Santa MaoNothing out of the ordinary here as the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle and pulsate in their little programmed and periodic patterns, running the gamut from flickeringly manic to steady sighing, marking time as the season comes to a head. Both of us are suffering a bit of holiday blues missing our families and pondering our futures here in the three-dot capital. Our apartment has sufficient cheer, aside from the leaning tree which is seeing its third Christmas, with various additional interior Christmas components. In particular, a wreath wired to the door to greet our neighbors in the frightening (to those unfamiliar) and darkened hallway made darker by spit-circles and smudges on the walls. Exciting Christmas activities have yet to present themselves beyond possibly enjoying a nice meal together.

Just want to bring your attention to a few things on the web:

Observable Readings asks you to donate to their holiday fund drive. I support this kind of thing (free poetry events) and you can do the same here if you're in the giving mood.

podcastListen to Amy King on WKCR as she talks about MiPoRadio. It may give you a better idea about what we're putting together (I really have a very small role) with The Countdown and the many other projects our fearless leader Didi Menendez manages. Amy talks about the effect of listening to audio of my poetry, which is quite nice...

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Countdown #18


powered by ODEO
You can listen to The Countdown #18, the MiPoRadio podcast which focuses on poetry and poesy from the blogsphere. This week's show highlights the poetry of Gertrude Stein, and stars these poets from around the world:
David Caddy, Bloody Shard Gate
Lorna Dee Cervantes, Nothing Lasts
Juliet Cook, Rara Avis
Guyana-Gyal, Shaddock and Sitar
Derek Motion, untitled alright good
Michael Parker, Eating My Garden Pumpkins
Burning-Moon, To Oaro M
Greg Perry, The Sandman Cometh
TT, still here after all these years
Josh Walleart, Animal n.
Take a listen and let me know what you think! If you're interested in participating, and I'm always looking for something good and bloggy to get my eyes on and my ears around, send me a message...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Beijing - Thanksgiving LeftoversI had something to say earlier, but have completely forgotten now that I have time to do it. It only bothers me because I generally have such nice things to say if I do say so myself. I'm sure I'll be able to do something with this. Nonetheless, the screen stares blankly back at me and Angela drifts off into dreamspace behind me. An enviable position. I'll be joining her soon...

Trying to keep my chin up as there seems to be an abundance of negativity around me recently. When it's Winter, this behavior feels even colder. Some well-timed negativity thrown into a busy day-to-day can really carve a hole. Especially during the holidays when folks like us are away from our families. Can't dwell on it.

On the Beijing tip, it has been nearly impossible to find real Marlboro cigarettes here for about the past month, maybe longer. You can find the fakey smokes, but those are awful, aside from something else unsettling about them. In the meanwhile, I've switched to something else. I know I should be quitting altogether and I am...

One thing I won't be quitting is DVD acquisition, although they have dried up in recent months, as well. Since we returned from our Summer wedding extravaganza, DVDs have been scarce. I know there was a big crackdown on knockoff DVDs a few months back, but I would have thought that things would have returned to normal by now. Beijing is a city in which it is difficult to quell the materialistic fancies.

Ah, well. Misery loves company...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Heartbeat

podcastUnborn Marcacci Baby's HeadClick the little pod doohickey on the left and listen to our unborn baby's heartbeat! You better believe it. Angela went to see the doctor today and this is what she came away with. Her first audio poem.

We still don't know which version we'll receive (the doctor said the ultrasounds were inconclusive), but we'll be happy with either pink or blue. The latest breath of fresh life in our lives right now as Christmas approaches.

Otherwise, everything's well and good as it gets colder outside and we do our best to stay warm together inside.

Monday, December 04, 2006

It was too cold to talk on the cell and walk outside tonight without wearing gloves. Safely inside now watching the blurry reflection of Christmas tree lights in our balcony window...

Periodically, a series of beeps emits from the kitchen. Not incredibly loud, but the source has been unidentifiable. It happens every few four hours or so. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. I suggested some malfunction in the surveillance equipment in our apartment, my general reason for unexplainable occurrences here, but Angela thinks it's poppycock.

Our apartment was getting cold. I felt the floor, which doubles as our heater, and it was cool. We had forgotten to turn on the floor after returning home tonight. The apartment usually stays fairly warm, but it takes more than a few hours to heat up, which is not good. We won't die. We're lucky, actually, that we can control when we need heat or not. Most of our friends are at the mercy of the great heater-in-the-sky which operates on a set schedule moderated by an unknown entity.

Angela has been sick for a few days, too, unhappily stuffing tissues in her face and blowing. I'm worried but she assures me our third party is well-protected. Things seem to be improving and enlargening.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It snowed briefly last Friday before sunrise, but it had melted by late morning and I only saw it because I woke up before the sun rose and noticed the strange winterblue hue on the rooftops. I forgot to mention it then, and wanted to let you know we had had a taste of the stuff. The only other moisture in the air is from restaurant waste on the sidewalks. Weather in Beijing has chilled icily, but the sun has been a nice warming constant when it's not blocked by giant high-rises. Not much left of the trees which, from a sixteenth floor distance, resemble scribbles. A brown dinginess is beginning to set in heavily and the river is nearly iced over.

I performed on Friday night at the Xinjiang Music Bar with Federico Moro and a few other Driftwords poets. It was one of the Beijing Actor's Workshop's Improv Nights and there were many performances, mostly acting related. I read one of my own poems and another by Michael McClure while being attired in balloons. I'm looking for pictures from that night to add and hope to do that soon.

Spent too much money, around 1,500 RMB, at the post office today sending Christmas gifts back to the states. I don't think we'll do that again as the postage fees kind of negated our ability to purchase Christmas gifts here.

I have miles of papers to grade before I sleep tonight, and there's just nothing pleasant about that.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Great click-action to the survey in my previous post. Hundreds of people, believe it or not, were apparently quite interested in the results of the survey and came here to peek at the results, even though there were only a few more than 20 responses.

I just finished Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and have moved on to another book, which you can find in the sidebar at your left. I feel like preserving something about the books I've left behind here, which has become a place for me to preserve so many other things. Although I won't say much about it in the way of criticism, and I'm not very good at it anyway, I'll give you a little bit from the story:
Everything was brightness, or dark. The walls, the blazing colours of the flowers in the garden, the nuns' habits were bright, but their veils, the Crucifix hanging from their waists, the shadow of the trees, were black. That was how it was, light and dark, sun and shadow, Heaven and Hell, for one of the nuns knew all about Hell and who does not? But another one knew about Heaven and the attributes of the blessed, of which the least is transcendent beauty. The very least. I could hardly wait for all this ecstasy and once I prayed for a long time to be dead. Then remembered that this was a sin. It's presumption or despair, I forget which, but a mortal sin. So I prayed for a long time about that too, but the thought came, so many things are sins, why? Another sin, to think that. However, happily, Sister Marie Augustine says thoughts are not sins, if they are driven away at once. You say Lord save me I perish. I find it very comforting to know exactly what must be done. All the same, I did not pray so often after that and soon, hardly at all. I felt bolder, happier, more free. But not so safe.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Results of the 2006 Print/Online Journal Survey

Curious about which are the most respected venues for online and print poetry publication, I asked folks to mention to where they returned regularly. Without which publications can't they live?

I sent the survey to five e-mail listserves: Buffalo Poetics, Imitation Poetics, New Poetry, Women's Poetry and Wryting-L. By no means comprehensive. I received 21 responses, all from people who hadn't responded to the previous survey. I'm incredibly pleased to have received more than the twelve responses I received last year. Also, at this time last year, I was a member of the Lucifer Poetry list, which has since privatized itself, and A Company of Poets. I wasn't a member of the Woman's Poetry list then, either. These changes had a big impact on the results, but I won't cut it any finer than that.

Diagram and Valparaiso Poetry Review received the most votes, closely followed by Drunken Boat. All of these publications, listed alphabetically, received more than one mention:
42Opus / Big Bridge / Blackbird / Born / Conduit
Conjunctions / Del Sol Review / Diagram
Drunken Boat / Fence / FIELD / The Georgia Review
The Iowa Review / Mad Hatters Review
Mid-American Review / Minimalist Concrete Poetry
Perihelion / Poetry Southeast / Prairie Schooner
Shenandoah / Taurpalin Sky / UBUweb
Valparaiso Poetry Review
The publications listed below all received, at least, one mention:
3rd Bed / 5_trope / Abe / Action / After Hours / AGNI
Alaska Quarterly Review / American Letters & Commentary
Anemone Sidecar / Ascent / Astronomy Picture of the Day
Backwards City / Beloit Poetry Journal / Aaron Belz
Blue Fifth Review / Ana Bozicevic-Bowling / Bywords
Café Irreal / Calyx / can we have our ball back? / Canary
Cezanne's Carrot / David-Baptiste Chirot / Court Green
Crab Orchard / Craig's List / Cue / Dirt / DMQ Review
Double Change / dusie / eBay / elimae / failbetter.com
The Gettysburg Review / Bob Grumman / Craig Hill / HOW2
Inkwell / Iodine Poetry Journal / Jacket / Pierre Joris
The Kenyon Review / Bill Knott / The Laurel Review
ListenLight / LIT / Locus Novus / Margie / Rob McClennan
Melancholia's Tremulous Dreadlocks
Mississippi Review / Moria / Muse Apprentice Guild
The National Poetry Review / New American Writing
Newpages.com / New Verse News / No Tell Motel
North American Review / Notre Dame Review / Octavo
Octopus / The Page / PennSound / Past Simple / Perigree
Pleiades / Poetry International / Public Space / Rain Taxi
RealPoetik / Sentence / Sitaudis / Spoon River Poetry Review
Story South / Tar Wolf Review / Third Coast / Tony Tost
Triquarterly / Unpleasant Event Schedule / Userfriendly.org
Verse Daily / Yankee Pot Roast / Yes / xStream / Zafusy
Not all of these sites are exclusive to poetry, but I thought I would include them anyway. Aren't some of these dead? *shrugs* Lots of UNIrags, which says a little bit about the audience, perhaps. Of particular note, there are a number of blogs listed above (in fact, some of the publications above could be considered blogzines). I was surprised that no one mentioned he-who-blogs-ron.

That's about it for my limited analysis. Draw your own conclusions. Hopefully, it has some interest for some of you. Thanks to everyone for sending me your responses and comments! Let's do it again next year.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Blogger and such seem to be working well for the past few days. Crossing my fingers that it will continue. Anyhow, taking advantage of the availability and making some small e-changes here and there. The new book I'm reading, for example, and a few new links.

Our Beijing Duck Thanksgiving dinner was a bust. The dinner came off splendidly, with a total of twelve of us which included a Norwegian and a Canadian, although we couldn't order the famous dish we had planned on ordering. For some reason, it wasn't being served. Nonetheless, both the food and the cheer were excellent. Surprisingly, a couple of teachers brought pumpkin pie, and we all had a slice after the meal.

Chinese Funeral Procession Accoutrements IIYesterday, there was a giant green mess tent outside my apartment building and what appeared to be another funeral. It was already full of people cracking sunflower seeds, eating and chatting when I got home from work. Nothing extraordinary about that and I've previously told you about these wakes in more detail, although I couldn't locate the post. Maybe you'll have better luck. What makes this one special is that I captured some nice pictures of the... well, I'm not sure what they are. Many people will carry these things down the street in a kind of parade. Actually, when we returned home from our dinner, the procession was just beginning and we stopped to watch as the mourners marched up the street to the sounds of cymbal crashing and drumming before returning to our apartment.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I couldn't be happier or more thankful for such a wonderful year. If the rest of my years are anything like this one, I'll probably die from sheer exhaustion. What exactly happened, you ask? Well, you can click through the archive and take a look, if you're so inclined...

I really miss the food and family that go with Thanksgiving, and want to wish everyone the best as this really kicks off the holiday season in my mind.

Tomorrow I plan to play some touch football with my colleagues after work. It will be a prelude to the Beijing duck dinner of which we're planning to partake. It's not exactly turkey, but it's bird. Gobble gobble. Afterwards, I am planning to go in search of football on television. My attempt last year was unsuccessful in this regard. I get very few chances to actually watch a football game here in Beijing due to the lack of satellite TV in my apartment and the time difference, but Thanksgiving is one of them and I plan to take advantage of it. Wish me luck...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Conversations with Myself

As things remain well censured in the three-dot cybercensorship which is big C e-China, I sadly can't respond to you if you leave a comment here. Happy to receive your comments, tho, and look forward to more of them. The continuing e-saga and relatively boring dramalogue of me and you who read me and who? On to less confusing subjects...

When I have to traverse the city, which is occasionally, this brings me into unmediated (read: without Angela) contact with Chinese people. I only know a handful of words and phrases in Chinese. Almost no one understands me, especially starting from my neighborhood which is really in a suburb of Beijing on the western outskirts of the city. It's difficult to order food without a point-n-cluck photo menu. In other words, there aren't so many English speaking types around. Nevertheless, movement is necessary, with or without my language bodyguard.

So I have these conversations with myself. I find myself talking to Chinese people who don't understand me, particularly when my position is about to be compromised, like when I have to get on a bus. "We're not going to leave without you," I say over my shoulder to the man who's trying to push past me to get on the bus. "Chill!" He says something to me in Chinese. Neither of us look very happy about it.

In a taxi, I usually know my destination, but can't go beyond that, which is where it usually goes after stating something with any amount of precision. I'm pretty good at saying one or two words together but after that I'm useless.

Other times (they're not all bad), in the elevator, for example, I can have a conversation with someone, or something like a conversation. Mine in English and the other in Chinese, neither of us understanding anything beyond our best intentions, but we do it with a smile. Often, a number of people will talk about me, lots of head nodding and gesticulating until one of them turns and pitches an interrogative at me. When we reach the ground floor, the door opens and we go our different directions.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dayoff Friday

Happily happening day away from work, now looking out the window at Beijing
whiteout which has returned to take the edge off of the string of sunny
ecstacy we've been enjoying. After a little housekeep and personal upkeep,
I'll venture out into it. For now, enjoying this quality time with the
e-I'm.

Completely forgot about Thanksgiving next week. I actually thought it was in
two weeks. Is there some methodology behind when Thanksgiving occurs? I've
forgotten. You lose track of these things when you live in a place where
they are insignificant.

Well, I guess it's time to get something productive done...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Countdown #17


powered by ODEO
You can listen to The Countdown #17. This week's show highlights Langston Hughes, but also features poetry by Robert Bohm, Brian Boutwell, Ash Bowen, Mackenzie Carignan, Christine Klocek-Lim, John Korn, Lilith Nassuri, Luc Simonic & Harry K. Stammer. Take a listen and let me know what you think!

Now on to the commonplace. Experiencing a rash of charming weather here in the Chinese nether with beautifully clear sunny day-upon-day of cool crisp late Autumn spectacular. I can't recall such wonderful weather in Beijing.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Wasting Time

Used the bathroom as one might. Listened to the banging and hammering going
on upstairs directly over the toilet, which has been going on for days.
There was something unsettling about doing this while they were doing that.
It seemed like they would burst through the ceiling at any moment. It's hard
to imagine anything left to destroy or otherwise deface since they've been
working so long on the apartment above us. It really just makes it hard to
nap.

More e-woes: the number of proxy servers I must use to simply view websites
(blogs) is increasing. The sites I used to use don't seems to respond now.
Unfortunately, yesterday, I couldn't view my site using any proxy server,
which made it difficult to get work done for the new The Countdown.

Noticed something unusual about a week ago. There's a truck parked outside
our apartment complex. It's quite large and, aside from its size, stands out
for another reason. There should be a picture in the usual place soon...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blog Do & Don't

Don't repost an article from another publication on your blog. Unless you're
parading recycleblog, that is, and I know there are a few of those. Just set
the link down and I'll click-and-go on my own. Saying something interesting
about your fictional link would probably compel me to do what you want, too.

Anyway, still booting content via e-mail. There's a lot less ceremony, but
it gets right into the vein, at least...

Monday, November 06, 2006

JRFL

Here be the acronym of my fantasy football league, JRFL, short for Junior
Robert Football League. If I muss the URL, difficult in the cyberworld of
auto-fill, I get redirected to this place:
<http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/24-2/Appj.htm
>, which is kind of scary.
Reduced to updating by e-mail makes the whole process of blogging easier and
faster. I suppose I could still be doing something more constructive...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Updating by E-mail

Which is a drag. Not a banner way to begin my fourth year, but one must roll
with the punches in e-China. I've been trying to post something over the
past four days and nothing is working.

Have a new series of poems, Alphabliss or Non-Nursery Rhymes, beginning
today at Logolalia, or an outgrowth therefrom,
<http://www.logolalia.com/abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz/>, and lasting for the
next 25 days, which is one day for every letter of the alphabet. Quite happy
to have all of the poems appearing together.

Took a bus with my colleagues and Angela to Jing Dong da Xia Gu, which
translates to something like Great Eastern Gorges. Spent Friday afternoon
hiking around the gorge there. In the evening we bowled and sang karaoke at
our hotel at the base of a dam. Saturday, we spent the morning wandering
around the lake and dam resort, Jinhai Hou, which was somewhat depressing.
Many new pictures in the usual location...

Now, nursing a cough and a nasty cold that has taken hold of me. Thought I
was fighting it off last week as I seemed to begin to take ill at the end of
each working day, but would wake up the next morning fine. It caught up with
me Saturday morning.

Staying inside today and trying to catch up on outstanding computer stuff
and housework. The weather continues to be splendid and crystal clear
outside. Today it is fiercely windy, rattling the doors and blinds, and
icily cold. Winter is coming with its loudest knock yet...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Three Dogyears in Cyberyears

http://www.funstore.cz/products/robot/idog/v.jpgThe weather here, after a spectacular autumn weekend, has continued to remain warm. It has been getting colder, although it looks like we're going to have a little stretch of relatively comfortable weather before heading into winter. But enough about the weather.

Three years heavily into myself in the blogsphere with pictures and lots of other e-gadgetry to while a few of your precious minutes away. I've developed a nice rhythm now, although it doesn't get any easier to update as far as finding time to do it goes. The usual fight for time and necessity among all things. Visits continue to increase, and most of my promises have come to fruition. I don't know what else I can promise you except to say that, there are more surprises in store. I'm not going anywhere soon and you know where to find me now. As always, send me your ideas, love and lusts.

Married now, more grey hairs, a baby on the make, plugging away on the poemachine... plug, plug, plug... My red red year of the dog which has been positive in more ways than I care to list. Suffice to say that the blog herewith serves as a gentle and completely at-your-leisure record of those events.

Now for some hard facts. Posting has improved from an average of eight posts per month to ten over the past twelve months. Last year, on my blog's birthday, it had received a little more than 2,000 total hits, but this year's hits have logged almost 5,000! Dating back to January 2004, total hits now quite close to 7,500, and I expect the blog to reach 10,000 sometime in early 2007. It's also been averaging about 445 visitors per month or, roughly 14 per day. The blog's best month was in May when it nabbed 688 hits, and its least active month was in February with 224. What does all this mean? Nothing, I guess, except that, perhaps, the blog is much more popular than it was last year.

Plans for the future? Continue doing what I'm doing. Continue the long poem here which is my life, and continue to try to bring you along with me.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Beijing TrafficOne of the most frustrating places on the planet is rush hour traffic in Beijing. It seems to have grown noticeably worse since I arrived a little more than two years ago. There is traffic at nearly all hours of the day. Even though there have been ongoing construction projects to develop what is currently a runtish mass transit system for such a massive city, projects which further hinder and redirect traffic, nothing seems to have improved much yet.

The incessant pedestrian press forming an anti-line in negative subway subterfuge crowding the ticket windows and opening doors, jockeying seat-whores and the rude elderly tramplers of dog-eat-dog bastard breeders. People jabbing and jabbering away on phones. People with their plastic bags and fast food. People spitting and retching up phlegm. People pedaling rusted or dust-covered bikes with bent baskets, steering or sitting upon black smoke-emitting three-wheeled carts, leaning and smoking cigarettes out the open doors of trucks, spluttering hogs and motorcycles, sneaking slipshod life-into-their-own-hands mopeds in-between lanes, cramming congested buses. People on each other in an unasked for, fully-clothed mass transit orgy of sweat and inconsideration. I rarely suffer it, luckily, and do my best to avoid it but, on Friday evening, racing to rehearsal after work, I found myself thrust among the crush and tussle to simple move through this city.

Everywhere people vying for position, honking ringing beeping nudging their bodies and vehicles, everyone sucking in the hot carbon monoxide air rising up in the almost invisible waves off the warm streets and transport of nevermore motorcade just to get from here to there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chinese e-Painting TheftIcy cold this evening. I wore a knit hat out this morning, my first donning of the season. The afternoon wasn't too bad, but my hands were cold walking home after work, so I think I'll have to break out the gloves soon.

Direct access to Blogspot domains, at least in the last 24 hours, is not possible once again. Frustrating. How long will it last? Who really knows how this Jekyll and Hyde access operates. I suspect all the kinks will be worked out of the blog censorship program by the time the Olympics strike Beijing in 2008 as there will probably be quite a few athletes and such who will raise their hackles if they can't blog. Even though we can't view the results directly, we can still set our words in pixels and, if they block that, there's always moblogging via the cell phone. You think they can block that?

Over the past six weeks or so, during which time Chinese residents have been able to reach Blogspot domains, my hits from China increased dramatically. I'm living and entertaining people who live here so it seems natural. Before that, I really didn't tell anyone in China about my blog. No one could visit the blog. The average computer user doesn't seem to know anything about proxy servers. It's not such a difficult concept, but it's indirect, which makes it less appealing for the insta-gratificants in our e-culture. We plod on, though, and it only gets easier.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Webcam Dynamic DuoYesterday, during a very smooth webchat with my parents, my father, as if I had issued a press release, said something like: "You're only posting twice a week now," which was akin to daring me to blog. I was a little offended, at first, but then I came to my senses. It was either too early in the morning for him or he had simply already forgotten about my other recent posts. Technically, last week, I only posted twice, but I'm all about the average. I believe I'm averaging three posts per week this month, and that's about as fast-paced as I can keep it. Any more than that and Angela would probably destroy the computer. This is the way it's going, though. People just want more of me. I'm glad it's my parents, too. The rest of you will just have to wait or, actually, voice your displeasure or well-informed reflection by leaving a comment of your choosing in the usual location.

The ultrasound picture I posted a few posts back received lots of comments. One of the most successful pictures here on cyber-me. It's not a picture of me, so that, perhaps, has something to do with it. More to come, though, as we have another visit to the ultrasound machine planned for this weekend and we're hoping to know which variety springeth...

Today, curiously, someone else mentioned seeing the picture. She followed up this by saying something like: "Oh. You're one of those people," and we chuckled together, although I wasn't quite sure about the implications of that remark. I must be one of those people, I guess, I mean, why not? Who are those people, though? Proud-dads-to-be? Bloggers-who-show-their-wives'-ultrasound-photos? Is it too... what... bloggy?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Neighborhood - AcronymicAfter a rainy and grey day yesterday, blue sky and brightness facing me outside in clear clean Beijing while I sip coffee wait for Angela to rise from a deeper sleep. Susan, a Korean girl who I've been tutoring for the past two years, will be here in about an hour, too. Rehearsed with the Subterraneans yesterday afternoon, and we will do the same today in preparation for an upcoming show on the 28th of October at D-22.

Other than than, not much out of the ordinary this weekend. Thought I would post a few snaps from the neighborhood. Here's a picture of an exceptional acronym that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, from the side of a karaoke/restaurant/other business near our apartment. Probably the most elaborate building in the neighborhood showcasing neon trees and flashing signs.

My Neighborhood - Wedding ArchDownstairs, there's a wedding going on this weekend, as well. Ever since National Week at the beginning of this month, there has been a wedding or two in the neighborhood each weekend and even, unusually, a few during the week. The wedding party going on now is one of the most lavish affairs I've seen outside the apartment building, where they have erected the large green tents pictured here. The tents are always this same militaristic make, and are erected for either weddings or funerals. I've never seen the lanterns before, though, which is a nice touch and they look great at night.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Countdown #16


powered by ODEO
Here's the latest episode of The Countdown, featuring William Carlos Williams. See what we put together for your audio weather. I failed to mention that I sniped some of my WCW blurb from bios by Linda Wagner-Martin and M. L. Rosenthal. Is it our best show yet? Since I put it that way, have you listened to the previous shows? Don't be shy. Even if you haven't heard the other shows, let me know what you think...

I look at quite a few blogs these days. Partly for the The Countdown and partly to know the enemy, although it's really much friendlier than that. I just want to say that blogs which are all text are just boring. I don't care if you're the next best thing to sliced bread. I like pictures, especially pictures which seem completely unrelated. Why not? This is a medium in which it's easy to add such content. More of you sloggy bloggers should think about this...

I tend not to observe the rules of grammar in e-mail. I try to make sure the spelling is up to snuff, but I generally rely on elipses as my standard punctuation. I like the implied continuation, the hang, and, possibly, the Herb Caen-ness of it. I also remember reading the Three Dot Lounge in the Green Sheet when I was a kid. If it wasn't for the question mark, the elipsis would be my favorite punctuation mark. Anyway, certain people seem to discount remarks if they're not grammatically correct according to rules of standard English and, well, then they're just missing out...

On the other hand, I pay particularly close attention to the grammar in my text messages, composing messages with all the necessary commas, aposptrophes and periods. I'm not sure why. Although I love all of that abbreviated language and suggestion in text messages, I'm simply not a practitioner. Actually, I steal that stuff and add it to my poetry...

If you've ever left a comment on a blog, you know you're often required to enter not only your name and password, but also another random string of letters. They're always distorted in a kind of psychadelic way to, I suppose, foil the i-spiders. If you've left many comments on blogs, you know what I'm talking about. Anyhow, this procedure just strikes me as kind of weird...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A perfect do-nothing day. A cold, rainy-day-looking day here in Beijing greyout. The sky is darker than the usual whiteout, like it's going to rain, but I know it's not going to rain. It doesn't feel like rain. We slept late this morning, which is pretty rare for me even on weekends, and time seems to be standing still. After watching a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica, we look at the clock and can't believe it's already 3:30PM, but that's only because the conditions outside are so indistinct.

Angela's UltrasoundAngela went to the doctor yesterday, which is something that will be happening more and more often, I imagine. As a result, I can present you, now, with the first picture of our baby! It's a picture of a picture, which is why the words and other things are reversed and not so clear, but you get the idea. It's too soon to determine the gender, but we're not particular. Angela said that being pregnant didn't really hit her until yesterday when she was looking at the ultrasound. She's a little slow to accept change. And, if you didn't know that a baby was happening to us, now you know. We're nervous and excited about having a baby in China, but it should be a unique experience for us and for our families. Wish us luck!

Richard ToddBefore hitting the bowling alley for a raucus night of pin-action with the coworkers, including meeting the new teacher, Lauren, who arrived only hours earlier, we went to an exhibition at the Beijing City International School (BCIS). It was not easy to find, especially with an uncooperative taxi driver, but we finally found the right place. I thought my school had an impressive campus, but BCIS was exceptional sporting modern architecture, a hilltop playground and a sparkling weight-room of which any gym would be proud.

The exhibition featured photos by Richard Todd and two installations by Annie Conn. I also performed briefly with a few Subterraneans (which you should be able to read about soon in the regular location) as part of the opening of the show. Although the turnout was small—actually, I had arrived quite late, having to trek across town in Friday evening traffic—and even though most of the attendees had left already, we still jumped out and entertained the few stragglers. The highlight of the evening for me was meeting Richard and talking about possibly planning future multi-cultural activites with the Subterraneans.

Now, I should be working on the next The Countdown rather than blogging, but all work and no play make a dull Bobby. A new show is in the works, though, and it should be the best one yet so keep your eyes peeled. You know it'll be here for your ears when it's ready.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lightning-round post.

I'm blogging and I should be getting ready for work.

I don't update as frequently as I could. I spend too much time mulling my posts and then only half of them see the light of day.

Mr. Bill Allegrezza predicts the death of blogs. His own is far from dead, but there is some homogeneity in what's left of the mania.

Did you read a poem today? Subterranean Poets exists for your listening pleasure should you find it difficult to read something the old-fashioned way.

Enjoying a day off in front of the computer.The temperature continues to dip in the three-dot blip, commonly referred to as BJ by the foreigners.

I take too many pictures of myself.

My fantasy football team won it's fifth game of the season and looks strong heading into week six.

Topped 7000 clickers here yesterday. Nowhere to go but up. So concerned with site statistics recently as the blog is nearing its birthday. More on that at the end of the month...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rainy, wet and cool this morning. Back to work today, Sunday. Yes, Sunday. In China, we always have to give some of our vacation time back after a holiday. It's not quite as bad as it sounds. The students are taking a field trip on Wednesday, which means a nice mid-week day off, so I suppose I can't really complain. Still, the prospect of an extended week for whatever reason is not cherished. Anyhow, nothing too exciting happening in these parts.

I once thought that updating my blog regularly would equate to retaining a steady readership but, pouring over site statistics, I've come to learn that's just not true. I notice a slight increase, two or three hits from the target location, after sending out my poems to a particular magazine, which is nice. I suppose it means that some of the editors out there are doing, at least cursorily, as much research as I am. Responding to newsgroup messages on listservers, however, seems to have the best results as, after posting a message with my cleverly embedded website address, there're usually a flurry of hits. That makes sense, too, as, if I'm part of a newsgroup, those people would obviously share some interest, if only tangentially, in what I'm doing.

There are more important things to worry about, though. My fantasy football team is going for its fifth straight victory this week. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Seems like the greyest day in quite a while. The fine weather couldn't hold out and I could say it was chilly this morning when I got out of bed. Happily, I have no plans beyond eating the steaks thawing in the refrigerator for lunch with Angela.

Enjoying this holiday week away from school, although I've been running around in the evenings too much which is making the respite seem far removed from restful. Trying to prepare for some upcoming performances and get some writing done. So many distractions...

HOTBToday is the Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival. I suspect we'll try to get out for some moon-viewing tonight. Is there a better activity for a poet? During this time, moon cakes go around. All fo the teachers at my school received a box and one of my private students gave me another box. Unfortunately, moon cakes are not as delightful as the name may suggest. Usually packaged in elaborate boxes and individually wrapped, they look inviting at first glance. They are filled with bean or lotus seed paste, something like a dried egg or meat. I'm sure there are many other fillings, but they're all quite heavy. It wouldn't be fair to say I dislike them entirely, but it's certainly a unique food product.

Moon Festival RobeAnyway, as it's moon day, it's seemed appropriate to add something like this, a translation of a Chinese poem which I dredged up from the bowels of cyberspace:

Will a moon so bright ever rise again?
Drink a cupful of wine and ask of the sky.
I don't know where the palace gate of heaven is,
Or even the year in which tonight slips by.
I want to return riding the whirl-wind! But I
Feel afraid that this heaven of jasper and jade
Lets in the cold, its palaces rear so high.
I shall get up and dance with my own shadow.
From life endured among men how far a cry!

Round the red pavilion
Slanting through the lattices
Onto every wakeful eye,
Moon, why should you bear a grudge, O why
Insist in time of separation so to fill the sky?
Men know joy and sorow, parting and reunion;
The moon lacks lustre, brightly shines; is all, is less.
Perfection was never easily come by.
Though miles apart, could men but live for ever
Dreaming they shared this moonlight endlessly!
- Su Shi, translated by A. Ayling & D. Mackintosh

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wanted: BLOGS for The Countdown

If you're posting your own poetry (loose definition) on your blog and you're interested in possibly having something featured in a podcast on MiPoRadio for The Countdown, formerly known as The Goodnight Show, let me know and I'll add you to the mix of blogs I scan. I'm doing my best to cover a range of voices and styles so if you're interested, send me a message or post a comment here. If you're hesitant or need more information, don't be shy! Go check out some of MiPoRadio's other fine shows.

In the meanwhile, I may find you by myself. I'll be doing my own poking around the blognet and if I come across something that looks good, I'll shoot you an e-mail. BANG! BANG!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

HOTBWe went to see Hang on the Box (HOTB) last night, a Beijing band I've been dying to see for the past year or so. They play quite often, but I haven't been able to find the time to see them. I was excited to finally get my chance. I also came across their MySpace spot, which appeared to be a little more up-to-date than their website and also had a handful of tracks to sample.

The last of three Chinese bands playing at D-22, a small smokey dive in Wudaoko, HOTB didn't take the stage until a few minutes after midnight. Angela and me met Seth, Marianna and Mike in the crowded bar which was showing an old Charlie Chaplin movie on a screen above the stage before the show began. Car-Sick Cars started the show, a relatively flat band with no strange presence but good songs. They were followed by Queen Sea Big Shark, which had nice catchy songs and an energetic lead singer. Eventually, HOTB took the stage. There were some remarks in both English and Chinese. Then the drummer came on stage with a silver ribbon wrapped around her shoulders and a brief ceremony was held to cut the ribbon before the band started their set. If I had to categorize their music, I would call it a kind of experimental rock featuring lots of effects pedals and unusual instruments. They also performed quite a few non-traditional musical arrangements, like songs with only vocals accompanied by bass guitar. I went home feeling more than well entertained. Check them out, although their recordings don't quite to them justice.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Playing Basketball - Haidian Foreign Language Experimental SchoolThe weather continues to please us Beijingers. My new Tuesday routine, at least for as long as the weather remains relatively cooperative, includes playing basketball after work with some of my coworkers. Here's a picture of Cory and Umberto shooting around before the rest of the gang arrives. We've also been picking up a couple of high school kids to round out teams and then play for about an hour together. I never played so much basketball before, but it's great exercise.

There are about 30 hoops on the playground at the Haidian Foreign Language Experimental School and, lately, they've been operating at capacity. Last week, we were bumped from a nice shady place to make way for a school-wide rope-jumping contest. They take jumping rope seriously here, boys and girls. Unfortunately, the only open court was near the trash. The air was a little ripe, but we got used to it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

OK. It's ready! My first show back after my own personal summer of love. You can get into the new show now, tentatively called: The Countdown, by clicking on the ODEO PLAY button above. We'll either have or have not a newer name than this when the next show rolls out in a few weeks. Can't be too hasty about these things. Stick around, though, and I'll let you know when I can. As you can see from the picture on the right, this edition has something to do with Allen Ginsberg. A taste of things to come!

Despite my lackluster efforts, everyone else has worked quite hard to make this thing come together. Thanks, Angela, for supreme advice, confidence and patience, and Julie Carter and Luc Simonic, who always read brilliantly. I can't thank you two enough for your wonderful recordings. Also, welcome to Josh Hinck who fashioned the audio collages with his own music, mixing it up with samples taken from: Tombstone Canyon, 1932, directed by Alan James and The Outlaw, 1943, directed by Howard Hughes. Finally, none of this would happen without the might and magic of Didi Menendez who puts everything together in any weather. How can we lose?

Lastly, but not leastly, thanks to all y'all out there in e-listening land. If no one listened to the show, well, I guess we'd still be doing it, and, actually, since it has gone live I don't think anyone's downloaded it, so that means, I suppose, we're just lost in the cyberwastes...
The weather in Beijing continues to cool down ever so slowly. It's still comfortable enough in the evenings to go around in a t-shirt, though. Hopefully, the weather will be nice next week while we're on vacation for National Day. It rained last night so it's a little humid today. The sky is shady patches of white and grey and the horizon on all sides fades into misty white nothingness. Everything is wet, but it's not raining now. For whatever reason, I'm glad it's Monday.

Making this from the office at school. I have to arrive too early on Mondays and end up sitting around until lunch time. There's a meeting with all of the Chinese teachers, seventeen of them, going on behind me and it's a little noisy. Grace (these are the English names by which they are called) is using the phone and Estee is talking about something with the rest of them. Every now and then I recognize someone else's name or an English word. Otherwise, I have no idea what they're talking about. I'm watching the Sunday night game on NFL Football GameCenter and reading news with the sounds of construction ringing out from the site across from the school.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Spent a large part of the weekend working on the new poetry podcast and fighting with the new computer, which still has a few kinks in it. The poetry show is still called The Goodnight Show, although I think the name, among other things, will change. Anyhow, we're working through it. Assuming all goes well, I expect the new show to be available tomorrow or, at the latest, in two days. After this show, I'm not sure what's in store. So with that said, it wasn't a particularly exciting weekend.

We went out for some Japanese food yesterday, which has recently been our thing to do on Saturday night. Hoping to pick up the pace next weekend as it's the start of a week-long holiday here in China!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

podcastJust beginning to filter through all of the audio I've recorded since June. In Italy, this is what you might hear when an accordion meets a subway train. Click the little POD thingy on the right side of this text. An acquaintance told me it had been done before, remarking, possibly, about my lack of originality in recording. Is that a reason not to do it again? I suppose I won't be the last one. It's fun and that's about as good a reason as any!

Had a nice little review of the International Open Mic at eChron (in the post dated September 13th), Drew Link's new blog, which, as his commentary suggests, seems to reach people who otherwise aren't poetry geeks like some of you. Not me. No, not at all.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Enjoying rampant BLOGSPOT (typoed BLOGSOT which I thought was nice) access for the past five days. Maybe it hasn't quite been that long, but it seems like forever. The internet gorillas must have fallen asleep on the job. I'll probably jinx the privilege by writing about it, but it's very nice not having to circumnavigate Chinese restrictions all the time. Most of my clicks have been toward poetry blogs and, perhaps, they've simply lifted restrictions on those destinations. Us Chinese-embedded e-commoners can only wonder.

Shortly after we'd returned to the capitol B, we'd asked to have our apartment walls painted as they were looking a little grungy. Yesterday, we waited for the painter to arrive, which was supposed to occur at 9AM. He didn't arrive until 1:30PM. We weren't too pleased. Aside from the latent attention, whenever people come to do something in our apartment, we've needed various tasks performed by our landlord over the past two years, they seem to bring an entourage with them. In comes our landlady, her husband, the painter wielding a lengthy tree limb (he later used this to stir), and another unidentified woman. Another episode of the Foreigners-in-our-Building Show. Eventually, they left the painter to do his magic.

Apparently, they don't use drop-cloths here when they paint. Newspaper was spread over our things, the tops of our things, at least, and, even with this precaution, the painter still managed to get paint on our couch, windows, TV, & CDs, among other things, aside from getting it all over the floor, which was nakedly uncovered. Anyhow, it made for a long night of cleaning after the painter left.

I just spell-checked this thing and the checker grabbed "blogspot" and "blogs" among others. Seemed silly to me...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Enjoying what's left of my Friday morning. Just got off the video chat with mom & dad. That's cool! My first time. It wasn't without errors or interference, but it was otherwise fantastic. And the price is well worth it. Free via the i-net. Still coming down from the summer travel, marriage and family high, but I'm here for you now. The show must go on...

Some of my links are outdated, but I'll be getting on that soon. I have many new ones to add, as well as some new audio from the past few months. So many little details and tedium to tackle in the next few weeks...

Angela found a part-time job working about twelve hours a week. Now we're firing on all cylinders again. Time to get ready for work...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Coal Creek, Colorado - Todd, Me & MattuxSheesh! Nearly another week has passed and I'm still not back up to full cyberpo strength. I'm doing my best and the effects of jet-lag have faded by now. Actually, over the past four days, we've only had internet access on one of those days, which has made it difficult to progress electronically. I spent that one day answering e-mail that had been sitting around in my inbox all summer, which left out fun stuff like submitting work, blogging and just reading stuff.

Noticing so many silly poetry discussions in the poetry nooks and crannies lately. I'd like to get my two cents in, but I tend to get over three quick and by then I'm starting to nickel and dime y'all and that's no good. Hoping to get The Goodnight Show up and running soon (a new show is in the making so stay tuned). Take a minute to listen to one of the old shows if you missed some of them.

Oddly enough, it's my brother's birthday today in China so I'll honor him by posting this picture of him and his son near their home in Coal Creek outside of Golden, Colorado.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Business as usual in Beijing. Seemingly mundane things for us, but I know for y'all they're uncommon. I'm glad to get back to a somewhat regular schedule now that wedding and honeymoon mayhem have ended and seem, after not even one week, alarmingly far gone.

Started teaching on Monday and the first week of school is always busy. Looking forward to the weekend, though, as I'm still feeling jet-lagged in the evenings. Finished off a little mini-literary festival at The Bookworm yesterday evening, resuming my alternate life as an open mic MC, by participating in a poetry reading featuring Scottish poet Liz Niven, which was followed by a number of Beijing Subterraneans. Last night's show was quite special as there were a number of poets reading poetry in many different languages (Chinese, English, French, Persian (?) & Scotts) and in diverse styles. I can't imagine a better poetry gig going on anywhere in the world. Come and check us out if you're planning a trip to Beijing.

As usual, I'm pumped up about the start of football season and my tenth season running my fantasy Junior Robert Football League, a twelve-team fourteen-week spectacular. That's American football, if there was any doubt. Waking up tomorrow morning to catch the Miami/Pittsburgh opener with a few Beijingers before going to work.

Returned here with a new computer and I'm still in the process of migrating data and such, but I expect to be fully operational by this weekend, after which I can get back into my poetic life, only marginally operational over the past few months, but entirely centered around a well-tuned multimedia machine.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Coal Creek Canyon, ColoradoAlmost one whole month without posting! I tried, honest, but never seemed to really have any time to spare. That's just the way the evil e-ball bounces. Seems like Angela and me have been constantly moving for the past month. For example, we've been in places like the one pictured here, near my brother's house in Colorado. Our whirlwind tour of the states took us from New York to California with stops in Denver, Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon. We were excited to see many things we'd never seen before and travel through parts of seven states.

Now, we're getting ready to leave for the airport in San Francisco.

Everything went well during our vacation and I'd love to tell you about it, but it's not going to happen in detail. The only bad thing that happened was that I lost my writing journal on the plane in Las Vegas. *sigh* I guess I'll write more really great poems...

Well, that's enough for now. I need to move on to bigger and better things before departing, but I promise I'll be back with more frequency now. Looking forward to getting back to Beijing and getting back to work. I'm promising big changes in the coming year so stay tuned here to keep up with all the action.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Polignano a Mare at NightMy brother and Tom arrived a few days ago and left for Rome to pick up my grandmother. My parents, my Aunt Sue and cousin Katie arrived and left for Napoli, Pompei and Capri Island. All of them doing a little extra vacationing before the wedding. Angela and me have been doing a good deal of entertaining and sightseeing ourselves, including a trip to Polignano (pictured here) where Angela, Todd, Tom & me enjoyed a nice walk and a fantastic seafood dinner before putting Todd & Tom on a midnight bus for their Roman holiday. More friends and family will be arriving from near and far as this party comes to a head.

So all of that to say: this is probably my last entry before getting hitched. Milking some free time while Angela gets her hair cut. I'm not sure when I'll get around to another one after that, but you know how these things work. If there's a way to do it, I'll do something even if it's just hello...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I get time to write when Angela has to do secret wedding stuff so here I am again. Had a nice surprise a couple nights ago, which I failed to mention in my previous post. We thought we were going to Noci, a small town near Putignano, to meet some people for a drink. Actually, we were going to meet someone, Felice, we had never met before, for reasons which I won't mention right now...

Anyway, yeah, the surprise. We arrived, met one of Angela's friends, and then walked into the historic center of town. After a few cobblestone twists and turns, we found ourselves before a couple of tables made up for dinner right in the middle of a little street, complete with candles and wine glasses. It was one of the most unusual dining experiences I've had. Felice had prepared a meal for us (farfalle with a creamy lemon sauce and baked lamb and potatoes) and, although we had never met, it was a wonderful gift. More about Felice later...

Putignano - Campanella Countryside Casa III - Woodstoves I've posted a few pictures of Angela's parent's countryside house if you want to take a look at where we've been shacking for the past few weeks. This is a picture of the wood-burning ovens outside of the house.

There have been a number of reasons to celebrate since we arrived and those will only continue to grow as we get closer to the big day. It makes for a nice prelude. Yesterday was Angela's mother's Onomastico, or name day. These days are based on the names of saints. They're almost like second birthdays and they're celebrated in like manner. Many of Angela's relatives called or came over in the evening and we all enjoyed panini and vino, and talked late into the night.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Getting much better activity here than at this time last year, when I was also away for most of the month. I'm being, perhaps, a bit more attentive and, possibly, it's a testament to my growing fame. I'm not sure how long I can keep this up as things seem to get even busier over the next few weeks.

The soccer frenzy is dying down now, finally. Angela was fairly enthusiastic the day of the championship match, in fact I had never witnessed such unbridled enthusiasm from her about a sporting event, but I could not imagine what a reflection it was. After we arrived here, it seemed as if the match was on everyone's lips. I CAMPIONI DEL MONDO was a phrase which could be seen and heard everywhere. Also, the French player, Zinedine Zidane (or as the English announcer was calling him, Zee Zee), who used his melon as a battering ram on Italian Marco Materazzi, knocking him to the ground, has become the butt of many jokes in the media.

Otherwise, just killing time right now in town in the early evening while the ladies go try on dresses. Think I'll go grab a gelato...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Putignano - Santa Maria del Carmine Procession IIEverything's going well and well-relaxed especially after two afternoons savoring the sea. Wish you were here, but then some of you will be soon enough...

Another quick post to let you know about some new pictures. Earlier this week, they celebrated Santa Maria del Carmine, which involved a couple of processions, one during the day and one at night, along the main street here in Putignano. Angela's father actually took part in the procession as he is a member of the con fratello del Carmelo. Take a look if you want to get a clearer idea about what I've been witnessing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Milano - My New Hat & A Valuable LessonIt's been busy over the past week, but I've finally snuck away to get all y'all e-people caught up. Hard to believe nearly a week has passed since we left. We arrived in Milan from Beijing without a problem, transferring planes in Copenhagen. We stayed in Milan for a couple days (thanks again to Silvia for graciously lending us her newly refurnished apartment for a couple of days! <-- this part was written with a minimum of feeling) before catching a train South to Putignano. Here's a picture of me wearing my new hat (Irish linen! or so it says on the label) which I picked up in the oldest shop in downtown Milan or so sayeth the purveyor. I'm still getting used to it.

Matera - Panorama ISeems like we haven't really had a moment to spare since we've been here, although we managed to get to the seaside for an afternoon a few days ago. The next day, Angela had a possible translation job in Matera with the Carabinieri, and we used the opportunity to spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around that beautiful old town built into the rock on the side and top of a rocky hill. You can see a few more pictures in the usual place.

It has been fairly hot and windy here during the day, but it cools down nicely in the evenings. A wonderful change from sill-born Beijing's never-ending humidity and unclassifiable weather purgatory. That's it for now. Hope the rest of you are enjoying your summers wherever you may be. Think I'll go find Angela and then we can look for an espresso before lunch...

Monday, July 10, 2006

This is probably my last post for a while. I'm not sure when or where I'll be back in blog action, but it will happen. Keep checking back and don't give up. If you really need to get your B-O-B fix, wander into my archives and catch up on some of the episodes you might have missed.

Beijing's Millenium MonumentA busy week is coming to a close. We ran around during the day yesterday in the overcast city, busy completing errands before heading out of Beijing tomorrow, less than 24 hours from now, and returned home in the early evening to nap. If we weren't getting married in less than a month, there wouldn't be so much to worry about. Farewell parties, multiple rehearsals and two performances with the Subterraneans, one at Icehouse with Tré (a visiting Blues guitarist from Chicago) and another at the Beijing World Art Museum beneath the millennium Monument (pictured here), only added to the manic pace and exhaustion of these final days.

On top of everything, we needed to be well-rested and awake at 2AM to catch the World Cup final pitting Italy and France. Planning to go to Ritan Park, where we had watched other matches, it had looked for hours like it was going to rain and even began suggestively thundering and lightninging, but no rain fell. We went to sleep at about 11PM and woke up at 12:30AM, ready to get our soccer fix. While getting dressed in my new Azzurri jersey, I looked out the window. People were still eating on the street down below, but I could smell the cool rain in the air. The phone was ringing and text messages were flying as we made and confirmed plans to meet up with various people. Finally, we were ready to go and the rain began to crash down in giant drops. Ritan Park was obviously out of the question, but we weren't going to sit at home and watch the game. Plan B was put into effect. We contacted our friends and then went downstairs to catch a cab, on our way to our new destination, the Goose & Duck. The streets were flooded in seconds and by the time we had taken a few steps in the downpour, Angela and me huddled beneath our little umbrella, our shoes and pants were sopping wet. We sloshed on hoping to find a cab waiting on the street. We found one, and entered, laughing at our misfortune, but we weren't going to miss the game. We were on our way!

We finally made it to the bar, driving quite slowly on the riverish roadways. The bar was crowded and the atmosphere was electric as people whistled and shouted in the waning minutes before kick-off. We were lucky to find good seats and sat down to enjoy our beers and wait for our friends to join us. Unfortunately, the French supporters seemed to outnumber the Italian fans, but that didn't stop us from cheering and enjoying the occasion. Our friends slowly trickled in, some of them drenched from being caught in the wet weather, but everyone seemed to be in high spirits and ready for a good match.

It rained all through the morning as the game rolled on to its dramatic conclusion. Everything went according to plan and our early morning soccer mayhem came to a climax as Italy punched in all five of it's penalty shots, with France missing once, to claim the cup. It was bright and foggy outside as we emerged from the quieting bar, but the rain had stopped and the sun had risen. We wished our remaining mates well, returned home and quickly dropped into a long sleep.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Couple reviews or recommendations for you e-gobblers out there in the blog-a-daisy world. Ever since I quit my review blog a few months back, I haven't reviewed anything. I guess I'm just being more selective. Seems like I'm also finding time these days to post a little more often, especially now that school's done and Angela and me are just about up and out of this piece.

First, a movie. I've been dying to tell someone about Yes, directed by Sally Potter, which caught me off guard. A little more than a year old now, nearly the entire movie is told in verse, that is, it rhymes. Fantastic! I hear you asking if they can pull it off. I think so, and brilliantly. Seems like people weren't rushing to the box offices to catch this one, but it's well worth checking out. Anything that gets poetry off the page and out into the world in an unexpected way such as this is, at least, ambitious and beyond the call of duty.

Yes follows an Irish-born American woman in a lifeless marriage with an English bloke who has an affair with a Middle-Eastern man. She tries to come to grips with her own responsibility in directing her own life amid religious and political issues which quickly cloud matters. The cultural make-up of the starring and supporting actors, highlighting the influence of beauty of English, also made the movie unique. Might be a little steamy for some of my G-rated readers out there, but marvelously filmed and well-worth tracking down.

And lastly, a CD. Victim of Truth, the debut album by Nneka, a Nigerian-born singer, which has been getting regular rotation on my CD-player. One of my colleagues recently turned me on to this funky and soulful music which might even appeal to some of you hip-hop skeptics out there. Nneka's positive message and creative vocals and music make it easy to swallow, aside from getting you out of your seat to shake your thing. Download some tracks, give it a listen and then go buy a copy!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day to everyone out there in America who tunes in here! Take a listen to a special edition of The Goodnight Show if you know what's good for you.


powered by ODEO

My last show for the Summer. A short-lived try-out with the Mipo Radio gang (thanks to everyone over there, especially Didi!), but I expect to be back in audio action in September with something new after I return to my Beijing studio.

Monday, July 03, 2006

China is not a bad place, contrary to popular Western myth. Sure, things are goings on behind closed doors, but where aren't they? I'm having a fantastic time here. I've met many wonderful people, not as many desperate directionless types that I had met in Japan, but some real serious hard-working people whom I now consider to be among my closest friends. And there are only few of those, truth be told...

Beijing is working hard now to change things with just about two more years before the 2008 Olympics. Still, as with every place, there could be more improvements. The public transit system has probably undergone the most visible change. Shortly after my arrival two years ago, I noticed advertisements on the flat-screen monitors (the monitors themselves, a remarkable feature) on the buses, whimsical animations of people and all the behavior that should be modified: spitting, throwing things out of a window, forming a line, talking loudly in public places. Many of the buses have been replaced altogether with swanky new plastical models, electronic card-readers have been installed for people who use bus passes, and the attendants now force people to enter from the front door and exit at the back door. Joy of joys! No more fighting to get off the bus! It's still a bit of a fight at the subway, which is a bigger more mayhemous dragon to tame. In its defense, signs have been posted in the subway stations which picture people lined-up in a courteous way at the sides of the doors to allow people to exit the subway car before entering themselves. The unenforced effect, though, is still unnoticeable.

Will Beijing meet the challenge and get its act together in time? Here's a list of my suggestions, without overthrowing the government (85 years last Friday since Communism was founded in China and going strong), to help Beijing brighten its image:

- Trash receptacles: Increasing the number of places to throw away refuse would be a brilliant first step. I can't believe that, in some neighborhoods, people just pile their garbage on a corner and someone comes to take it away. Aside from the unsightly piles and horrid odors, it would really help to improve the appearance of most neighborhoods.

- Traffic regulations: There are almost no rules on the roadways here for both pedestrians and the other. My ride to work each morning is often a nerve-wracking experience as we dodge in and out of lanes and cut-off unsuspecting pedestrians or other drivers. I'm afraid to ride a bicycle here. The police presence on the streets seems to have no effect on drivers. If there is a red light, there is almost always someone who will run it. Motorcycles and cars routinely drive on sidewalks or on the wrong side of the road. Pedestrians are equally guilty. People dangerously cross the streets whenever they like. A country with the largest workforce in the world! Cut back on the internet tiddlywinks and instill some order.

- More respect for the environment: Zero respect for the surroundings, and this relates to the first point I mentioned. People spit in the supermarket and just about anywhere else. Children relieve themselves on the street or sidewalk. If I had a nickel for every ice-cream wrapper I've seen thrown on the street... National treasures and tourist places aren't in much better shape. When people eat on the sidewalk, and there are many sidewalk restaurants, all trash just goes under the table or blows away. Although, recently, I've noticed some of our local eateries in the neighborhood no longer provide outdoor seating. Things are looking up.

- General handicap access to places, such as providing ramps and elevators.

That's enough complaining for now.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The sky exploded with rain this evening. It sounded like a bomb going off, although I've never heard a bomb doing that in real life, and then a downpour the likes of which I haven't seen in two years in Beijing. It has actually rained every night for the past four nights. More sky seed or mother nature's own? I'll never know. The street is flooded now as I tinker away here in the bedroom and the sounds of car alarms and honking ring out sixteen floors below...

You can check the a new episode of The Goodnight Show featuring cool tunes by Dean Martin. Better than my first attempt, but still a long way to go. Would love to hear your comments about it if you feel so moved. I added this handy doodad here for your ease of click. Give it a listen!


powered by ODEO

The next show is already in the works. Incidentally, all of us at The Goodnight Show are always looking for good blogs and poetry websites so, if you think yours is one of them and we'll take a look!

Miles to go before I sleep tonight... Keep clicking in and I'll treat you right.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Trying to squeeze a little more juice out of this lemon, before scooting off to school. It's all I can do to get to sleep at a decent hour, which for me is before midnight. I made it in time last night despite the thunderous rain and lightning.

Sitting in front of the computer these days is like sitting in front of a heater and that's where I've been spending too much time. The adaptor for this sucker gets mighty hot and the adaptor for the modem gets even hotter. I blame it on the Chinese power strip, which snaps crackles and pops every time I remove a plug. I try not to use this beast for too long at a stretch. A meltdown now would be disastrous. In the meanwhile, the rotating fan blowing on me dries the sweat while I smoke and poke around on the i-net with my little poetry paws.

I'm all OOOHs and AWWWs these days as almost everything I do seems to be working right somehow. Stretching it thin makes everything fly around at breakneck pace, but keeps me focused. Well, that's all for now. See you soon...