Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Verge

We've been milking every ounce out of this Indian Summer here, surprised that it has been so nice for so long. Vacaville is quite beautiful in Autumn as the leaves change and fall as they always do. Seems a different place than the one in which I grew up. The weather snapped today, though, and I felt cold in the early evening. Time to get ready for Winter...

Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already upon us. My life has been a whirlwind in the past few months. I haven't had any time for writing or reflection but, perhaps, this is a sign of more to follow. I've been spending every waking minute on either preparations for my English classes or assignments for my online class on The Diverse Classroom. I wink at my wife and son in passing...

Gone are the days of canned lessons and teaching assistants who really did all the work (as was the case in China). I'm responsible for everything in the classroom, now. It's challenging, but tremendously rewarding, as well. I'm enjoying the week off, although I've been working at home. Thanksgiving recess! You won't hear any complaints from me. I'm trying to get everything done by the weekend so I can have some uninterrupted family time before getting back on the horse for the stretch run to Christmas...

There should be a full house here this weekend with my sister's three kids and my cousin's daughter spending the night! We'll all be making the traditional excursion to the Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm on Friday to cut down a pine-scented decoration, and then returning home to turn the house into Christmas house! We live behind a street that's actually dubbed Candy Cane Lane at this time of year, because every house has a decorated exterior. So as far as Christmas in Vacaville goes, we're about as deep as you can get. Expect video!

That's all for now, folks. I don't know who reads this anymore, but I'm doing as much as I can at the mo. I need to pace myself...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back to Basics

I haven't forgotten you, but I've just been up to my neck in muck.

One month after arriving, I've finally found a job. I have been substitute teaching in Vacaville for the past three weeks, but now I'm an English teacher at Fairfield High School! I started today and I'm teaching 11th and 12th-grade English. It's been great so far and we're all much happier that I'm earning the daily bread. Unfortunately, I need to go back to school to get a teaching credential so I've enrolled in an online program at National University and started my first course this evening. Busy Monday! I'm up way past my bedtime...

Silveyville Pumpkin Patch w/ MomThe weather here in Vacaville has been superb! Indian summer in its full regalia. Vito is doing wonderfully. He has discovered that he can chew on his big toe! Angela and grandma have taken him to the library a couple times and we're getting ready for mom & Vito's first Halloween on Wednesday. We all went to the Silveyville Pumpkin Patch to pick out pumpkins. Trick-or-treat!

Now that I have a job, I'm hoping to get back on the blogging horse at bit more regularly. Obviously, with the new job and online coursework to complete, I won't have too much free time, but I'll try to squeeze a post in when I can. Glad you came back!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

i-Outlaw 2.7 featuring Sheila E. Murphy

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Sheila E. Murphy reading at the
We were away for the summer and, just reading all of the fan mail, I know you missed us. We moved about the globe and vacationed, (and you did it, too!) but we're back in the cyberslack and it's all true. You wrote it. i-Outlaw 2.7, as you can easily see from the title, features Sheila E. Murphy and her unique blend of poetry that will render you suitable for more, so check the score. We're not leaving without you.

If you're not in the loop, ripping from her Wikipedia entry, Sheila E. Murphy, born in Mishawaka, Indiana, is an American text and visual poet who has been writing and publishing actively since 1978.
Just there, I'll turn to the issue of disjunction, the ultimate expression of freedom in my writing, that is the beginning of discovery. It is almost as though something underneath all the activity pursued actively challenges me to put two things together and to find out how they match. Because, of course, they do. They fit together or at least work together in some way. I may not know how until they are there together. And when they are, and I learn how and maybe even why they fit or match or mutually enhance, then I've begun to learn something that ensures that I'll move forward in some way I do not know until I have.
- from an interview on Tom Beckett's e-x-c-h-a-n-g-e-v-a-l-u-e-s, 2005.

i-Outlaw version 2.7 also features fine poetry, in order of appearance, by:

Luc Simonic
Jill Chan
CA Conrad
Lenore Weiss
Matina Stamatakis
Joe Green
Christine Hamm
Mathew Timmons
Paula Grenside
Carly Sachs

Spread the word far and wide. Don't forget to enter our contest to win a free book of poetry! I have books by Sheila E. Murphy, Jill Chan, Derek Motion, Jordan Stempleman, Eileen Tabios, Mark Young & Bill Allegrezza. Listen to i-Outlaw now and find out how...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Flight to America

Since my last post, we'd been busy preparing for our sudden departure from Italy and, afterwards, dealing with all of the new things which come with settling in California.

Pino, Angela's brother, drove us to the airport. It was a rainy, tearful and tense Tuesday morning, no one (including ourselves) completely at ease with our decision to leave what had become a comfortable life in Putignano. I had planned to say so many things to Angela's family, rehearsing and perfecting sentiments in Italian in my head the night before, but didn't end up saying anything at all. It's difficult to say much facing a line of sobbing family members without falling in line myself.

At the airport, we scarfed down a couple pieces of cardboard airport pizza, grabbed our bags and panini for the plane, dashed for our flight, landed in Milan after about two hours, took a short cab ride to our hotel and finally relaxed. Everything had gone smoothly and, if everything would have gone as smoothly on the the next day, we wouldn't have had anything to complain about.

Vito and Moms after SeafoodSilvia, who lives in Milan, came to our little hotel and visited with us for about an hour before ducking out to make a dinner date. She was a breath of fresh air in what had become a depressing departure, excited about our future and wonderfully positive about our new beginning. After Silvia left us, the three of us headed out to meet Nicholas for dinner. We met him at a small Sicilian restaurant and enjoyed a fabulous seafood meal. A great uplifting end to this first leg of our journey.

The next morning, after a decent breakfast of yogurt, cornetti and cappuccino in the hotel lobby café, we cabbed back to the airport and checked our luggage with some difficulty. As we needed our stroller to more easily maintain Vito, we had to make special arrangements for its transport, but it seemed to take a long time. Nonetheless, we made our flight in plenty of time and boarded the plane destined for London without further difficulty, only giving up the stroller right before climbing the portable stairway into the plane. We were about one hour behind schedule.

We were worried that we wouldn't have time to catch our connecting flight in London, but we discovered that we had a bigger problem once we arrived there. Unfortunately, when we landed in London, our stroller, which was a combination stroller/car seat was not waiting for us. No one in London could help us. We learned that, if the stroller wasn't in San Francisco, our final destination, we could file a complaint there! Not only did we have to carry Vito to the next flight all the way across Heathrow Airpoirt (Angela actually carried Vito, while I carried our backpack, computer and the large carry-on bag we had brought) but, when we would arrive in San Francisco, we wouldn't have a car seat for Vito and didn't know if we would be able to get one at the airport.

Vito on the PlaneLuckily, Angela's cellphone worked in London and, before taking off, I called my parents, who were coming to get us at the airport in San Francisco, and told them the story. They agreed to grab a car seat just in case.

We landed in San Francisco at rush hour on Wednesday evening California time but, for our biological clocks, it was really Thursday morning at about 3AM. Unhappily, our stroller was not waiting for us, nor did it appear on the baggage carousel. We filed a complaint for the missing luggage as we had been advised and then, despite the fact that my parents were waiting for us with a car seat, we could not leave without an attendant checking to make sure we had car seat waiting for us. My parents were waiting at the gate, they had a car seat, and soon we were home and safely asleep.

After a couple days, the stroller arrived, and even though an integral piece needed to attach the car seat to the stroller had broken off, the stroller was functional.

Since then, we've been busy almost every day with various activities. All of us have acclimated, although Vito seems to have come down with a cold and has been a little crabby all day today. Anyway, you're all caught up with our drama. We're fully open to and accepting positive vibes, prayers, mojo and any other magic you might be able to send our way so don't hesitate.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Road Trip to Naples


Nearly penniless.

Leaving Italy soon...

Going back to California.

Not the cascade we had planned. Aside from the above, Vito is running a high fever and the three of us are feeling a little rotten.

After a few days of off and on rainstorms and cold temperatures hearkening a colder season than autumn, and coinciding with the downfall of the beginning of our Italian endeavor which made everything feel even bleaker than it really is, the weather has nicely mellowed a bit.

Drove to Naples on Thursday morning to get an emergency passport for Vito, which would facilitate our departure together. Naples is about 3½ hours by car from Putignano and, as our appointment was for any time between 8AM and 9AM at the United States consulate, we had to leave in the wee hours.

We woke up at 3:20AM, 20 minutes later than we wanted and, instead of leaving at 3:30AM, we hit the road by 4AM. No big deal. That should still have put us in Naples by 8AM and it did. About 15 minutes out of town, I realized that I had forgotten my driver's license! Already behind schedule, Vito, thankfully, sleeping soundly in his car seat, we opted to continue on and try our luck without it.

It was dark and the autostrada was fantastically vacant. We stopped once for gas and once more to soothe Vito who was clamoring for a change, but found ourselves crossing into Naples right around 8AM. It was rush hour then and so there was no avoiding traffic any longer. Angela began to get nervous. I was confident and reminded Angela that we had plenty of time.

The weather was spectacular and clear, but it quickly became unimportant. We took a few wrong exits, drove down a dead end street, backed into a post, and drove around lost for about 45 minutes! Angela used to live in Naples, notorious, as you may know, as being a city famous for its terrible drivers and traffic, but she had never driven there and found her knowledge of the streets somewhat lacking. We found a nice man who told us to follow him in his car, and he showed us the way to the consulate, weaving us through some of the most beautiful streets in Naples, although neither of us were in the mood to enjoy them.

We arrived unhappy because we had missed our appointment, and thought we would have to return next week, but we were admitted, presented with the passport, and were back in our car by 10AM. We had one more stop to pick up Angela's diploma, which didn't take long and, by 11:30AM we had completed everything we had set out to do!

Anxious to get out of the stressful traffic and chaos of downtown Naples, we started back toward home hungry, but willing to stop for something to eat on the way. We returned without much trouble (although Vito was restless and beginning to show signs of his illness) and, soon, all three of us were fast asleep.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Latest from Putignano

Deathly humid and hot during the day, cool and fresh at night. It sprinkled a little yesterday. There's your weather report. Not an incredibly creative beginning, especially when you compare this to my previous post...

We found a little grey Toyota Yaris like the one pictured here and will be picking that up next week after we get insured. The rest of our free time has been spent contemplating furnishings for our apartment. We found some nice things, but need a bigger vehicle to transport everything to our apartment. I think Angela's brother will let us use his truck, but it doesn't look like we'll make any progress now until next weekend. Aside from that, the gas was turned on this week and our mattresses arrived. Step by step...

Vito is growing and doing well. Everything's pretty regular. He sucks his fingers and splutters often. I was wondering last week if his first word (aside from mama or papa) would be in Italian or English.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Still Summer, Family Waves

Not much out of the ordinary, lately, in what is left of this summer. The weather has been hot and humid during the day, unbearably still and sweat-inducing at midday, but it cools down nicely at night. Mosquitoes still roam the land with a vigor when the conditions are right. An ever-present wind has developed, as well. Not too strong, but pretty erratic.

Family time seems to come in waves here. It's impossible to escape. I can't complain much living in the in-laws apartment for the past seven months. Been spending a good deal of time out in the countryside, lately, to the neglect of most of my other interests, particularly the technological ones. I can't say I'm disappointed about it, though. I could be working and cooking my own meals...

Vito is doing fine. He seems to be doing all of the things he's expected to be doing. When he sleeps, he still sucks a non-existent nipple. He looks like a fish. When he's awake, he's captivated by all that is around him. He's learning to handle his rattles and is getting stronger by the day.

Our new apartment is cleaned and ready. We'll be moving in once we find a few more furnishings, such as a closet for the bedroom. Our car is on hold. We thought we found one that was serviceable, but it met with general disapproval. So the process begins again...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Making Tomato Sauce

Busy busy. Barely keeping on top of certain things including this little blog that could, but here I am again with the latest.

After a little cooler temperatures and some wind, the weather has climbed up again. It's still cool at night, which is refreshing.

Making Tomato Sauce - The GangWent to Angela's parent's countryside house on Saturday morning to help them make tomato sauce. Here is the whole gang at work. You can view more pictures of the process here. Angela, Vito and me arrived at about 7:30AM, but the others had started at about 4AM!

First, the tomatoes were boiled in giant pots. When they were sufficiently boiled the tomatoes were transferred to a large, flat, sieve-like container to cool and broken with a large fork. The juice collected from this initial "pressing" was later added to the sauce if it was looking too thick. The tomatoes were then transferred to a large container and rock salt was added. From here, the tomatoes were scooped into a type of industrial funnel. Once in the funnel, the tomatoes were forced into a small hole with a kind of "plunger" or large pestle (this was also my primary job, although I had to take a break to feed Vito at one point). The sauce was forced out of a strainer into a large tub while the skins and seeds emptied into a different container. When a sufficient amount of skins and seeds had been collected, they were put through the strainer a second time and then discarded.

Making Tomato Sauce - Vito & NikolaThe sauce which had come through the strainer and was collecting in the large tub was then poured into bottles by using a tap near the bottom of the tub. Both Angela and me took turns operating the tap. The bottles had been sterilized beforehand and a few leaves of basil had been dropped into each bottle. After filling each bottle a cap was applied. Finally, the bottles were place inside large oil drums, the oil drums were filled with water and then boiled one last time. Once the bottles were set to boil, the process of cleaning up and putting everything away began and, well, you all know how to do those things.

A big messy job—my clothes were splattered with tomato sauce—but everyone had a good time. Angela's family has been making tomato sauce every August for many many years. I had never made tomato sauce before so it was pretty exciting for me. Almost forgot to mention that we sauced 214 kilograms (472 pounds) of tomatoes into about 150 liters (almost 40 gallons)!

More to follow. We procured an apartment today and will begin cleaning and moving into it next week, which is also when we should be getting the car we've been considering. Obviously, pictures and other interactive media to come. Most of Italy is on vacation now so we can't do very much this week.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Festival of Saint Stephen

The weather took a cold and windy turn here over the past few days bringing about a 20°C change in the temperature. It feels like autumn is upon us already, but I suspect things will heat up again soon. It's a welcome variation from the blistering heat of the prior week, though.

We were preoccupied with more activities last week and, happily, spent a good deal of time with the family. Take a look at this nice video of the procession for the festival of Saint Stephen, Putignano's patron saint.

Otherwise, I've been busy. Still having trouble finding the time to keep up with all of my activities. Vito obviously takes the lion's share of time these days and, I believe, my job search has come to an end, but I'll save any announcements until after I sign a contract. My fantasy football draft (I've managed a league for eleven seasons now) began a few days ago, also, and that has sapped some energy and time from me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New E-Book

Download my latest e-book, Imagining a Baby, part of the Dusie Kollectiv. I worked on this poem during the weeks leading up to Vito's birth and released a print version last week.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Santa Maria del Carmine, Tango & Etc.

Hot and humid here. Not much out of the ordinary in that respect. It's really too hot to even think about using the computer during the day. In fact, I've been on relatively light computer rations all this week. When I do use the computer, I try to limit my session to no more than one hour. I don't want to melt this beast...

Vito received a couple vaccination injections on Wednesday. He seems completely recovered from the experience. We heard him cry more strongly than we had previously experienced, but I suppose we're in for many more firsts in both good and bad categories...

Putignano - San Stefano - Le Illuminarie - Installation ILast weekend started a two-week stretch of excitement and festivals in Putignano. On Sunday evening, we went out to celebrate the festival of Santa Maria del San Carmine with the town.Putignano - San Stefano - Le Illuminarie If you go back to last year, you can read even more about it and find more photos of the happenings. The small picture on the left shows the lights for Santa Maria del Carmine and the small picture on the right shows the lights for San Stefano (Saint Stephen). Saint Stephen is Putignano's patron saint. I'm not sure why. Apparently, there is, at least, one of his bones (his skull?) here in town somewhere. I haven't verified this information, but let's go with it for now...

The highlight of Sunday's events was the climactic tango performance at the town hall by Hector Ulisses Passerella & Ensemble. Traditionally, a local orchestra performs in the small square near the church, but the event organizers thought they would try something with a little more pizzazz. The ensemble not only played tango music, but also featured a couple of dancers and a woman who recited poetry. Watch a short sample of the event now...

The name of the performance was Vi Racconto Il Tango... which translates to something like "I tell you the tango..." and presented a more historical and informative perspective on tango music and its origins and development. I don't think anyone went home displeased.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Sound of Music

icon-speakerVito is starting to make lots of sounds. It's exciting as there're new sounds almost every day. Click on this icon and listen to Vito, recorded last week, in one of his lingual states. Angela and me are quite happy to inspire this kind of backtalk from our little man and do our best to respond in kind. If you've ever been a parent, you've probably experienced it. If you haven't been a parent, you can try now in the privacy of your own home!

Stork VaseMy mother brought us the vase pictured here when her and my father were visiting a few weeks ago. It is a Marcacci family heirloom. The vase (although it doesn't really look like a traditional vase) was given to my grandmother Ruth, my father's mother, when my father was born. Ruth, in turn, gave it to my mother when I was born and now, my mother has passed it down to my wife at the arrival of Vito. A cool tradition. Apparently, it used to be quite popular to give vases when there was a newborn. I don't know if this happens anymore or not, but we'd be happy to hear about it...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Intolerable Humidity & Mother's Milk

We've arrived among the days of unbearable humidity again. It makes vacuuming, one of my household tasks, quite unpleasant. This third floor apartment doesn't exactly cool down fast in the evenings.

I don't think Vito likes the humidity very much either as he resisted our best efforts to pacify him this afternoon. He's sleeping soundly now while Angela expresses her milk. When my parents were vising last week, my mom told her that's what they call it in America these days, expressing, but I have yet to verify the information. Seems strange, but what do I know. I'm not exactly up on the latest breast-feeding slang. Feel free to let me know if you know the score...

And, well, here I am, as usual. Sitting in front of a computer for very long doesn't exactly cool me down, either, but it's much more satisfying than vacuuming. Unfortunately, in the last two days, I've printed both sides of an entire ream of paper, which has not been enjoyable on this little ink-jet job. Better than nothing. The final pages are actually printing out as I type this.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

In the Trenches

Putignano - Centro Storico - La Notte BiancaTonight is La Notte Bianca (The White Night) here in Putignano, a new event since last year, and many of the shops will be open until dawn. It's really the last hurrah for the carnival floats which normally debut every year in February. It also a nice lead-in to San Stefano, the festival of the town's patron saint, which begins next week.

Most of the time, Vito sleeps or eats pleasantly. When he's not doing those things, we play together, me imitating his sounds and trying to communicate in his special language, him smiling and moving his limbs spastically. That's basically my job these days: baby translator. Occasionally, dealings with Vito can offer much more than expected. Regurgitating of milk onto my shirt, for example, or drooling onto my arm and the floor. He makes messes and is likely to leave his mark at any time.

I took a hit from our little man today. While feeding him this afternoon, I noticed he was squirming around more than he normally does. That usually means one thing. I tried to reposition him and, really getting to the bottom of the situation, noticed a warmish sensation on my palm. Vito started crying and I passed him off to Angela (she handles the serious jobs). Then I had to disrobe. Vito's expulsion had tagged my shirt and my pants and I needed to get into something fresh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More General Stuff / Poetry Update

It hasn't been as humid here lately so it's possible to sleep at night without sweating ceaselessly. In fact, it was downright cool today with a strong wind blowing. A welcome change...

Mother and Vito are both well and good. Seems like I don't have a minute to spare these days. I can't imagine what will happen when I begin working again. Something will fall away... I suppose I will deal with that when the time comes.

A couple international publications this month. Read a few groups of poems about Italy, part of a slowly evolving series additionally featuring some of my photos, at an Irish publication called DeadDrunkDublin. You can also read poems in a New Zealand magazine called Junctures. There's even more work in Concelebratory Shoehorn Review and in the latest issue of Hamilton Stone Review. Last but not least, check out Sawbuck, in which a number of my poems appeared recently.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

i-Outlaw 2.6 featuring Annie Finch

You can now listen to i-Outlaw 2.6, the audio poetry show I host, produced by Josh Hinck. Lots of stuff interfered with our rapid release of this version, including the wonderful arrival of my parents for a stretch. Anyway, everything should be up and running now. Happy Independence Day!

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Annie Finch LimelightHer mother was a poet and doll-artist, her father a scholar of philosophy and religion. A practicing Wiccan, Finch's poetry is inspired largely by her relations with the natural world, especially the landscapes of Maine. The forms of Finch's poems are almost always complex and musical; their themes draw upon earth-centered spirituality, myth, sex, and childbirth. Uniting all of her work is a conception of poetry as essentially incantatory, performative, speaking to the body as much as to the mind.
- from the Annie Finch and websites.
The role of the poet, as of every citizen, is to be first a fully engaged citizen, either of a family or a community or a subculture or a nation or the planet or of any other group that feels like the right fit.
- from an interview on Here Comes Everybody, 2005.
i-Outlaw version 2.6 also features fine poetry by:

Emma Barnes
Aaron Belz
Andrew Burke
Jim Goar
Lisa Gordon
Jill Jones
Lewis LaCook
Amanda Laughtland
Rebeka Lembo
Ashraf Osman

Spread the word far and wide. Don't forget to enter our contest to win a free book of poetry! I have books by Sheila E. Murphy, Jill Chan, Derek Motion, Jordan Stempleman, Eileen Tabios, Mark Young & Bill Allegrezza. Listen to i-Outlaw now and find out how...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Blog Losing

Sweating horribly away in front of the computer. The weather here has taken a serious turn toward the humid, but I'm alive and well. It's hard to believe I haven't written in more than one week. Time seems to be slipping through my fingers lately.

Angela, Vito & Gas MaskI'm finding that I don't have enough time to give proper attention to the blog these days. A few behind-the-scenes projects are keeping me busy these days, as well, the results of which you should see soon. The blog won't go away, but life supersedes...

Vito caught a cold from, probably, his father (*#&@!), who caught a cold last week, and the doctor ordered us to administer aerosol medication, which is what is happening in this picture. Vito doesn't seem to mind and everything appears to be on the up and up. It's great because he's sleeping through the night again!

Otherwise, mom and dad are having a good time getting to know Vito better. He smiles often now and his vocal expressions seem to evolve daily. Amazing!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Birthdays, Casamassima, Etc.

Casamassima - La StazioneToday is my wife's birthday. Auguri Angela! Also, today is our son's name day or, as they call it here, onomastico. So today is a celebration for everyone named Vito! It's nice that Vito's onomastico and Angela's birthday fall on the same day. The name day actually seems much more important. It's easier than keeping track of everyone's real birthday! All the names are based on the names of the saints. I guess if a person is not named after a saint, that person never gets to enjoy an onomastico!

Went to Casamassima yesterday, a nearby town, for a job interview. Due to the train schedule, I arrived about 90 minutes early for the interview and had time to walk around. Here's a picture of the train station, which is not much to look at. The town was nice and the interview was promising.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More General Fodder

I imagine Vito grows and cries and eats much like other one-month-olds. A source of continuing happiness for mom and dad...

Humid here. Flash thunderstorms. Mosquitoes. This kind of stickiness reminds me of Japan. I've had Japan on my mind lately.

Updated my list of poetry links on the left. There are still lots of other places to find my poems if you go looking...

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Check out the new audio show hosted by Joe McDonald, From the Vault of Antiquity, on i-Outlaw. Episode 1 features the writing of Basil of Seleucia with an excerpt called The One on Saint Elijah.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

General Progress Report

White MulberryI had neither seen nor eaten a mulberry before. Should I say mulberry berry? I didn't know they came in, at least, three different colors, and I read some downright exciting trivia (does anyone use that word anymore?) on the the white mulberry wiki! I ate one of the white variety pictured here...

Vito seems to make new and improved expressions and sounds every day. He also seems to be smiling more often...

When Vito cries now, tears come out of his eyes. I was surprised that he dry-cried for the first few weeks...

All weight and rash issues have gone by the wayside and things seem to be rolling along smoothly in Vito's development...

Monday, June 04, 2007

June snuck up on me. The desire is strong, but the time seems to be mysteriously lacking...

The days are mostly the same. I look for jobs until my neck hurts. Variations on Vito in A sharp & B flat. For the less musically inclined, the names of his parents would be sufficient replacements for this tune in the otherwise same key...

When telling my students about my son's name, I said, "My son, Vito..." and continued talking. I was telling a story about his birth. It didn't seem like anyone understood my story so I said it a few more times and my students began laughing. I asked them why. It turns out that they thought I was saying "Mai, San Vito..." which translates to "Never, Saint Vito...."

I can't get too carried away with my posts...

On to bigger and better dreams this night...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Poetry Television on Walt Whitman's Birthday

Another poem for the fiends among you who desire such wordstuffs, not as few and far between as some might imagine. There are those of us who look for poetry, who feed. I am one of them. We meet on the abandoned baseball diamond and, in a neon glow, hurl our star wishes further...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Still looking for a job. I wonder, sometimes, if what I put here negatively affects what could potentially happen elsewhere. Unfortunately, I'm not going to stop doing this.

I put a new e-book, with... con..., over there on the left. It's a wedding poem. The e-book is new, but it was first printed as a chapbook (in both Italian and English) last year when Angela and I got married. We gave copies to the guests at our wedding. I also have some new poems in Alice Blue. Stay tuned for one of my poetry videos...

Since Vito came home from the hospital, everything was sort of working in a well-oiled fashion. He was sleeping all night, at least, which is about as well-oiled as one could hope for with a newborn. Summer was also making a strong play to be the dominating season here and then everything snapped. It stormed a few days ago, dumping rain crazily down, and it has been windy, cloudy (I wrote cloudly, at first, which is nicer) and cool. The change in the weather coincided with a change in Vito's habits, as well.

He hasn't slept quite through the night in the past few days. Vito had a rash around his output and now has acne? around his input, mostly natural for babies, I am told. He also wasn't quite getting enough to eat from his mother, thus losing a little weight, so now he's on a half-and-half diet. Half from mom and half from the can.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Vito's Rattle & Daddy Rattles On...

Sweet CuddlesWe went for a walk today and bought Vito his first toy. He didn't have any toys, yet! It looked something like the picture here. Apparently, the model we purchased is not available in the states (I ripped the picture from the English site, not the Italian site). That or we bought a discontinued model. In either case, it wasn't any cheaper. Vito can't do very much with toys, though, but we're pleased that he now has one. I'm sure there will be many more to grow bored with in his future.

If you've had a baby of your own, you know that just about all they can do for a while is sleep, cry, feed and expel. Even if you don't have a baby, you've probably observed this. My wife has a clear role in things. She has to feed the baby. I try to make myself useful. I can change the baby without making too much of a mess, but I avoid this. In any case, I don't think my wife likes the way I do it.

I can do one thing fairly well, though. On a daily basis, I must hold Vito. It's a good job for me. It becomes a quest for the best position in which to hold Vito, the position in which he magically stops crying. It has happened once or twice and, on those occasions, there's no one happier than daddy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

i-outlaw 2.5 featuring Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein
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Version 2.5 also features fine poetry by:
Ren Powell
Luis H. Valadez
Amy Bernier
K. Silem Mohammad
Amber Nelson
Steven Schroeder
Emmy Pérez
Erik Rzepka
Tim Martin
Shanna Compton
Spread the word far and wide. Don't forget to enter our contest to win a free book of poetry! Listen to i-outlaw now and find out how...

Charles Bernstein was born in New York City in 1950. In the 1970s, Bernstein co-founded the influential journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, Bernstein also serves as the Executive Editor, and co-founder, of The Electronic Poetry Center at SUNY-Buffalo and is also a member of the Poetics List Editorial Board.

Watch Neils Plenge's The Answer, a poetry video with Charles Bernstein filmed in Riverside Park, New York, 2003.Charles Bernstein

Monday, May 21, 2007

More Vito Gushing

We put Vito to sleep around 11:30PM last night and he didn't stir until about 7AM this morning. We were pretty amazed that we made it through the night undisturbed.

On the TownMom, dad and Vito got dressed this morning and went out with Vito. Not our first walk together (we walked home from the hospital, all downhill and quite pleasant), but this would be an adventure which involved a number of stops. Already raising the bar on the level of complexity in the daily routine.

It was too cold in the shade and too hot in the sun for his mother, by Vito seemed to bump along in the little carriage without too much trouble. As we crossed Via Roma, which is the main street in Putignano, Vito began crying and carried on for a few blocks. By the time we had reached our destination, he had stopped crying, but while waiting, he started again, hungry. Angela finished her business (she was choosing a doctor for the little man), found a bench in an out-of-the-way place, and began to feed him.

We were soon back on our journey and had to make two more stops before returning home for lunch. Nothing extraordinary happened. We bought taralli and diapers, and we returned back home without further incident. Were you expecting more?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sleepless in Putignano

I'm going to have to wean myself off of blogging for a while. I'll still post, but perhaps with less frequency or just less abundantly. Seems like I don't have much time these days, as you might expect with the arrival of a new baby.

Nonetheless, I risk the wrath of my wife to write something brief before she knows what I'm doing. Angela's on the bed rocking the restless Vito who, well-fed and changed, resists the subtle suggestions and nudges of his mother to sleep.

We were warned by many about the lack of sleep, and experienced it yesterday as Vito carried us through the early morning hours until 5AM. Exhausted after that, all of us slept soundly until 10AM this morning.

I'm expecting a similar occurrence tonight, but who knows...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pre-Vito, Postpartum & the Sound of New Life

The following is for my die-hards, best viewed near many bouquets of flowers.

Sunday evening, after Angela's contractions were coming about every seven minutes, we hopped in her sister's car and drove to the hospital. Angela was admitted and, as happens, the contractions increased in frequency and we thought Vito would be born that evening, which would have really been a proper mother's day gift! They continued at about that pace for a few hours. Eventually, Angela told me to go home, eat, and then return, and that's what I did. When I returned to the hospital, there was no one in the waiting room, and this is what it looked like...

Sadly, Angela said her contractions had subsided and weren't occurring as often. She said she was going to try to get some sleep and told me to go home and do the same, which I did, blissfully sleeping until 7AM the next morning.

About an hour after I left, the contractions returned more vigorously, and they moved her into the labor room where she labored until I arrived the next morning. The doctors let me visit with Angela, sent me out, let me back in, and so forth for the next three hours. At around 10AM the doctors sent me out and I waited in the lobby with Anna, Angela's mother as I had done before. A little after 10:45AM, the doctor came by and told us that Vito was born. I was crushed that I had missed it, but it turns out that there were some complications which required the assistance of other doctors and my voyeuristic presence was simply irrelevant. Details only Angela can explain well. Everything worked out, though, and everyone's happy and healthy now.

A doctor brought me in to see Angela, and I did, touching her arm briefly before whirling around to see my son wrapped in umbilical matter (part of the previously mentioned complications) underneath a bright lamp. Before I really knew what was going on, another doctor whisked me away to another room and asked me many questions while filling out some hospital form. I was still concerned about Angela and the baby, but happy to be doing something to contribute to the completion of this process. I could handle all of the Italian so that was a personal victory.

Madonna di Lourdes - PutignanoSoon, after we began, Vito arrived and the nurse began to wash him and do all of the mysterious things they do to babies when no one's looking, like testing the springiness of his arms and legs, measuring his length and weighing him. I was pretty tickled to see him in this situation and you can listen to Vito while all of this was going on.

The doctor asked me to go and get Vito's clothes so the nurse could dress him. I went to her room on clouds! Angela's sister and mother were preparing Vito's bed and both of them kissed me and, at that moment, it hit me. I returned with the clothes, beaming like a schoolboy, and then the doctor asked me to retrieve the results of my wife's blood test. I was ecstatic that I had another task to do!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Vito Sante Marcacci

Vito Sante MarcacciOur little man arrived at 10:45AM this morning. I realize that, at the posting of this message, it's not that late in California (or anywhere in America), but you can do your own math if you need to convert everything to your own timezone.

Born in the Saint Maria of the Angels (Santa Maria degli Angeli) Hospital in Putignano, Italy, Vito weighed in at 8lb. 10oz. (3.93kg) and stretched to 21in. (54cm). The only accurate numbers are the metric numbers as I did the conversion and, well, I'm an English teacher not a math teacher.

I came home to get something to eat, make phone calls and to catch up with all y'all. More coming soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

It's Saturday afternoon. My mother-in-law's canaries are going off on the balcony, and it's hot like Summer already.

Nothing new to report on the Vito front. He's still happily ensconced in wombage.

It's a little stressful, every day with no big change, taking notice of every alteration and contraction of the fetus that goes bump in the night. If he doesn't emerge of his own volition within the next two days, we're told that Monday will be the day of days.

It would be fun if he arrived tomorrow to throw a wrench into all of our Mother's Day plans. I don't know what those plans are at the moment, but I'm sure they involve going to the countryside.

Whatever happens, you'll be the first to know. Aside from those of you who are here in the flesh, that is...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bob's Your Uncle

Mild-mannered computer-goon soon-to-be-father by day, hooded poetry-wielding i-outlaw-in-the-raw by night. You know it's more than just alright. Use the force, wrywalker, and come on over to the dark source...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Baby Holding Pattern

Still no sign of Vito. Many of you are coming here for status reports (and there will surely be some highly informative interactive mention of the forthcoming event in the future) and, as a result, my statistics have been jumping off the charts.

I hope nothing goes down tomorrow evening as I'll be heading out to work around 6:30PM...

I'm done making predictions about his arrival, though. Lacking a new magic number, I'm surprisingly worry free now that we've gone beyond the date we had fixed in our minds for so long.

Angela has to meet with the doctor tomorrow for a little looksee. During the last visit, which was Saturday, the doctor said he was still riding a little high and, visually, to my untrained eye, it doesn't look like much has changed. He also told Angela to get herself tired so she insists on doing all the housework. I don't mind.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Baby Red Alert

Angela's snoozing blissfully at the moment. I haven't been able to lately, although afternoon naps are fairly regular occurrences in these parts for young, old and pregnant alike. The pregnancy has gone fairly smoothly, based on what little I know of women's pregnancies, and we've been happy for that. I'm sure Angela is happier about it than I am. I have been relatively unaffected aside from being on the receiving end of the mood-swings and other caprices of my better half.

We're just waiting impatiently for baby Vito to drop, now. We're hoping it will be tomorrow, which caps forty weeks of gestation and worry, but it's difficult to predict such things. All of us were certain it would happen after the next full moon.

Angela's sister's kids have been chicken poxed so they have not been coming over this week, and are unhappily quarantined in their apartment on the other side of town. Apparently, there's a serious risk to the health of newborn babies. It has added a layer of disappointment to things, but such is life. The chicken pox will fade away and everything will return to normal soon enough.

In the meanwhile, I'm ready to meet this event with all the digital technology I can muster. In case you were wondering, I'm ready to get involved with the parenting technology I was born with, as well, but more on that later.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

Castellana Grotte's Festival for the Madonna of the Vetrana

Castellana - Madonna della VetranaBusy weekend with local festival and the usual family activities. Angela's mother is from Castellana. This weekend marked the beginning of the festival which honors that town's patron saint, the Madonna della Vetrana, pictured here. Every town in this region has a patron saint and, on the appointed day, launches a particular celebration.

To mark the opening of the festival, there was a procession on Saturday evening which departed from the Castellana convent and finished in the center of town at Parrocchia San Leone Magno, which is the town's main church. Each year, Angela's mother joins the procession, and this year was no exception, so we went to watch. Angela, Vito (Angela's father) and me found a nice place to stand along the route of the procession and waited for Anna to pass. The procession was not very long, starting with the town's various brotherhoods carrying banners and lanterns as well as the Madonna della Vetrana, and finished with a long train of candle-bearing women.

One of the highlights of the festival is the exuberant adornment of lights (luminarie) on display in Castellana's historic center of town. Yesterday, after spending the day in the countryside, we returned to Castellana to have a walk around the carnival and along the old streets of the town (Angela's parents went to church). We all met up again before returning home late in the evening.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

i-outlaw 2.4 featuring Catherine Daly

It's finally here. Listen to the new show! It's not much different from the old show, but, well, every show is different! Let me know what you think...

powered by ODEOCatherine Daly
The Dalys, a family founded in 1963, designed Catherine Daly in 1966. She was introduced on January 28, 1967 (thus she is an Aquarius), though her name and biography are continually expanded. She is a fifteen year post-grad living in the center of Los Angeles, CA, USA, with her family surnames Daly and Burch. She published DaDaDa with Salt Publishing in 2003; that trilogy has now become the first portion of a long project entitled CONFITEOR. Tupelo Press published Locket in 2005.

Download Catherine's e-books:
Secret Kitty
Paper Craft
Episode 2.4 also features fine poetry by:
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore
Linda Benninghoff
John Sakkis
Peggy Eldridge-Love
Jordan Stempleman
Kaya Oakes
Miranda Gaw
Andrew Lundwall
Larissa Shmailo
Spread the word far and wide. Don't forget to enter our contest to win a free book of poetry! Listen now and find out how...

Catching Up

I got paid on Monday, which was nice. I had forgotten about it. Even though I'm only earning a pittance right now, it covers the little money I've been frittering away on sweets and other incidentals. Angela and me went to the movie theater in the evening (movies are only two Euro every Monday) and watched Bobby, not a hot new movie, but we enjoyed it. The speech at the end of the movie was particularly interesting following in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Yesterday was Liberation Day here and so a holiday. The weather was grey and misty in the morning so we ate lunch in the apartment, but, by the end of lunch, the weather had cleared up spectacularly and the four of us rolled out in Vito's silver Peugeot to spend the rest of the daylight in countryside.

When I woke up this morning, it started thundering and began raining heavily. It has been off-and-on strong rain all day long.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Days come and go. It's hard to believe we'll add new little dude to our family soon...

As the weather has been stunningly sunny and clear during the day with wonderful sunsets and brilliant stars sprinkled in the evening, it's hard to differentiate one from another. I'm fighting a little sickness, now, and spent the entire afternoon in bed.

On a more positive note, I think I've found another job here. I talked to one of the screeners yesterday (she's a friend of my current boss), and learned that I was the only applicant. I don't want to celebrate, yet, though. Additional applicants have a way of materializing. I'll find out more about it next week, although it won't be nearly enough keep me here. At least, it's a foot in the door and the pay is considerably higher.

Diligently working on i-outlaw with Josh Hinck, the new poetry show which should be released soon. Keep checking in for updates...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Day in the Life

There's not much out of the ordinary to write, but I find myself here forcing it onto the cyberveneer.

My usual day plods on in this fashion: wake up, make coffee, drink coffee with wife and television at kitchen table, greet mother-in-law, leave wife watching television and mother-in-law tinkering around in the kitchen to read e-mail in bedroom, zombie at the computer plunking down this or that in one virtual document or another, shower, return to kitchen table when father-in-law returns for lunch at 12:15PM, eat lunch, return to computer, work until dinner (a less well-scheduled meal), watch TV for a little while, hit the sack. Sprinkle in cigarette-breaks on the balcony at random intervals and conversations with wife.

There are some some regular deviations in this routine, for example, I work on Tuesday evenings. Wednesday is market day for Angela's mother and we usually meet her before lunch to help bring the groceries home. Saturday evening the in-laws hit the supermarket for supermarket stuff and I usually have to help carry something up the stairs when they return. On Sunday, the midday meal occurs a little later, usually around 1:00PM.

Aside from the relatively bland play-by-play of a-day-in-the-life above, I'm not depressed or bored or otherwise discontented, as some have back-channeled. On the contrary, I could happily plod on in this fashion until expiring, although the people around me might not think it such a wonderful idea...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Countdown Dies

The Countdown, the poetry radio show I hosted which was produced by Josh Hinck, came to a crashing halt last week. I want to apologize to all of the artists whose fine poetry disappeared along with all of the shows. Nearly one year of work which no longer exists. Backchannel me with any questions.

A less than splendid Easter gift to come home to after a day in the countryside here, but these things happen. I made a little video to put a cap on that project and ring in the new one. Needless to say, Josh and me will continue to put out despite the man's best efforts...

Other than that, it was a fantastic week of strong sun, cloudless blue skies, blooming flowers and white blossoms, virgin leaves curling out and green grasses. I seem to have caught a cold in the midst of all this spring luciousness, but these things happen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Procession of the Mysteries (I Misteri)

Saturday evening, before eating dinner, Angela and me went out to watch The Procession of the Mysteries (La Processione dei Misteri) in Putignano, a procession in which Angela's father participated. Life-sized statues of the stations of the cross were carried down the main street. The procession moved quite quickly and a priest recited a prayer. It was strange to see the young men interspersed in the procession holding the speakers which were broadcasting the prayer. After watching this procession, we hopped in Angela's uncle's car and drove with zio Gianni and zia Maria to Castellana to watch the procession there, which was much more impressive and more solemn.

A lone drummer led the procession in Castellana and everyone walked very slowly. There were quite a few people participating: altar boys and girls in their white robes, men from the various brotherhoods wearing their emblematic colors and carrying the statues on their shoulders, women carrying giant candles and wearing black veils over their heads. Here, no priest was uttering a prayer unless silently.

Here you can watch a small video of the end of the procession in Castellana, which finishes with the black-robed Madonna at the end of the procession following the mysteries while a band plays A Mia Madre. It was late after watching two processions, and we all returned home and had a late dinner of homemade focaccia together.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Two days in Putignano Approaching Easter

Putignano - Santa Chiara - outsideA busy week as Easter approaches. Apparently, the day after Easter (Pasquetta) is also a holiday here, which does not mean much to me considering that every day is a holiday. The weather had been pretty ugly for a stretch, finally raining its heart out all day on Wednesday, but has cleared up into a brilliant Spring now. Lots of activities, processions, etc. about town as we approach Catholocism's most revered celebration.

Last night, Angela and me went out for a walk as we often do after dinner. All of the churches in town were open late and many of the Putignanese were out on the streets visiting all of the churches. This event observes the last supper (l'ultima cena). I was surprised that there were so many of them in town. In all of the churches, the image of Jesus was concealed, the altars were decorated in various ways, and there were lights outside many of them, such as the lights pictured on Santa Chiara here.

Angela and me visited three churches before stopping for dinner with AnnaLisa who stayed with us afterwards as we continued on our stroll. We talked with many people and visited seven churches in the course of the evening, which included San Felippo, San Pietro, Santa Chiara, Santa Maria, San Cosma e Damiano, San Domenico & the church in which we were married, Madonna del Carmine. I was surprised when we finally decided to head home as it was nearly midnight!

Putignano - Piazza Plebiscito - VIThis morning, there was to be a procession and dramatic recreation in the historic town center, and we got up early to get ready. We made it out the door by 9:30AM and arrived at Piazza Plebiscito by 10AM. People were bunched on the balconies of the surrounding apartments and were gathering outside San Pietro, leaving a large passageway, where the participants were taking their places for the proceedings which were about to begin.

podcastThere were many people involved in the procession in various costume, all bearing the various trappings of their position. One group waited on the steps of the church with a black-robed statue of Mary at the top of the steps, while another group of pallbearers entered following a lone drummer and bearing a statue of Jesus on a well-decorated and veiled catafalque (pictured here). When the pallbearers reached the bottom of the steps, the procession halted and there were a few short public prayers and songs. Then Jesus was carried into the church and Mary was carried down the steps and away.

Tonight, there is supposed to be another procession of The Mysteries, which I think is how they refer to the stations of the cross here. View more photos of the events in the usual place.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

After a rainy week, we thought the weather would clear up by the weekend, and so had planned to go to Bari yesterday. We went, anyway, despite the imperfect conditions and Spring thunderstorms which passed over, and bought some books. The bookstore was quite crowded as Nicholas Sparks was speaking about his recent publication via a translator.

Clear skies today, though, with nary a trace of wind, and a wonderfully bright pregnant moon popping up in the early evening as Angela and me walked through the countryside thick with long green grass and flowers.

Palm Sunday. My nephew, Alessandro, gave me an olive sprig before lunch. They exchange olive branches here as a symbol of peace and not palms. I guess that's a fair interpretation. Anyway, olive trees run amok in Putignano and the surrounding area.

To do something different, we went to a women's tennis match in the afternoon. A professional tournament started today, and we watched a match between Nadja Pavic from Croatia and Stella Menna from Italy.

So tomorrow begins the continued job search...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

After a few days of heavy downpour in grey, flickering lights, thunder that rattled the windows and doors, and lightning that jagged the sky, I lost access to the internet. Yesterday morning it just didn't work. I wasn't completely exasperated. It's refreshing to be free of the e-beast occasionally.

When I woke up this morning, it still didn't work. It was down for more than 24 hours and paranoiac visions of some kind of sugarplum Chinese internet intervention danced in my head. Angela had called our service provider yesterday and she reminded me that they said it would probably take two days to clear up the situation. I went about my business, coffeed, showered, and planned to hit the internet point just to check on things. I tried one last time before heading out the door and happily began to download 242 messages, which meant I could stay right where I was.

Two days would have been traumatic, also leading to excessive e-mail deletions, but it's all good now and I'm back at it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

THE COUNTDOWN: Episode 21 featuring Alan Sondheim

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Alan SondheimEpisode 21, produced by Josh Hinck, highlights the poetry (performance?) of Alan Sondheim, and also stars these poets and bloggers: Tiel Aisha Ansari, Amy Bernier, Ana Bozicevic-Bowling, Glenn Cooper, Alex Dickow, Brent Goodman, Donald Illich, Edward Nudelman, Tammy Trendle & Letitia Trent.

If you like what you hear and you would like me to consider your own blog's offspring for future shows, send me a message and I'll add you to THE COUNTDOWN's blogroll. If you don't have your own blog and you still want to participate, join Café Café and I'll look out for you if you're all that.

Comments and conversay appreciated, front or backchannel. The Countdown is a program for MiPoRadio: where poetry tunes in. As always, special thanks to all the fine poets who recorded work for this one!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Castellana - La PiazzaSpent the morning in Castellana yesterday, the next closest town to Putignano. Actually went there to drop off a resume for a job opportunity. Cross your fingers. Here is a picture of the square in the center of town and there are pictures in the usual place.

We walked around, bought some fresh tortellini for lunch, and stopped to have a coffee. Angela's mother is from Castellana. Her aunt and her cousin's live there still, so we also visited Angela's cousin who owns a clothing shop in the historic center of town. We chatted for a little while with her cousin's family before heading back to the station to catch our train to Putignano.

Happy birthday, Silvia!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Deviation, Italian Television & Poetry

A lack of tremendous deviation in my usual routine has its consequences. I've been writing about the weather too much lately, perhaps because it has been so erratic. The weather continues to swing one way for a few days, and then back the other way for a few days. We're experiencing the cold side of the swing now with rain and really icy wind. I hope it's Winter's last gasp.

Watching a good deal more television here than I'm used to watching. It's usually on while we're eating, and it's Angela's parents' preferred form of entertainment in the evenings. I don't mind so much as it's good for my Italian. Angela and me aren't going out so much anyway as we approach the delivery of Vito. 34 weeks and counting...

There are some funny things about Italian television. In the last six weeks, I've seen poems read on television on numerous occasions, including an Italian version of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven. That's certainly a plus. Lots of scantily-clad women and, well, that doesn't bother me.

In the mornings, there are a number of different news programs to watch. A few of them simply show the host reading the headlines of the day from the various newspapers. The newspaper itself, with the article highlighted, is usually pictured on the television. In the evenings, and I really enjoy this, there will be an interview on one of the various entertainment programs in which two people are asked the same questions. The two interviewees will appear on the screen side by side, and their responses appear simultaneously. The interviews usually feature brothers, sisters or husbands and wives. The comparison of their answers can be interesting.

Affari TuoiAs dinner comes to a close, generally about 8:45, we watch a gameshow, Affari Tuoi. Contestants must choose boxes one by one until they are left with one, their prize. 10 of the boxes contain dud prizes or nominal amounts of money, and 10 boxes contain big prizes. During the game, Il Dottore (The Doctor) may call at any time with an offer that the contestant can accept of refuse, which is why the host, Flavio Insinna, is pictured here with a telephone. The largest prize is 500,000€. Occasionally, there is a special show which features a grand prize of 1,000,000€!

I'm writing every day, but nothing so wonderful. As I am without keys of any kind, I was thinking yesterday that that had something to do with it. *shrugs* Episode 21 of The Countdown is nearly finished and should be ready soon, so stay tuned...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Father's Day in Italy

Putignano, Italy - San DomenicoToday is Father's Day here. Looks like I'll get two of these every year, which is neat. My student, Marina, canceled her English lesson this morning on account of the special day, and we stuck around the apartment all day. Otherwise, nothing out of the ordinary here. I'm in pretty good spirits, too, with not much else to complain about.

Went around town a couple days ago and took some photos of Putignano. The Church pictured here is San Domenico. You can view some of the other pictures I snapped here.

The weather was nice but windy this morning, although that has changed drastically since then. The wind is blowing stronger now, the sky has blackened and a smattering of raindrops have fallen. Seems like we're in for a spell of bad weather again...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Not much out of the ordinary here. Seems like we've run aground on a string of pleasant Spring-like days that should carry on through the weekend.

My uncle-in-law took me on a drive around the nearby hills this morning, which was superb. A nice treat which made me wish that we had a car of our own to get out of town and around a little bit.

Teaching a few hours a week now, a couple at a private school for which I am also earning a fistful of Euro, and a couple language-exchange hours with one of Angela's friends. It's not much, but it keeps me busy and gets me away from this beast. In the meanwhile, trying to prepare for a Summer Camp here, which should guarantee me about six weeks of work starting in June. I don't know how excited I am about working every day in the middle of the Summer, but it should be fun. Kids love me, if you can believe that.

Yesterday was Angela's brother's wife's birthday, so we all went to a party. The food, of course, was excellent!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

PTV (Poetry Television)

Back to cold and rainy weather. It's a nice excuse to stay inside and work at the computer for hours on end.

It's National Small Press Month and you should do something to support the small presses. If you don't know what to do, you can start by ordering one of my chapbooks over on the left!

We're going to start making these promotional videos (commercials is for money-making folk) for The Countdown. This is my first attempt. If you're not familiar with the show, take a listen! Episode 21 coming soon. I'm going to start having a contest to win a chapbook in every episode. So I'm looking for some chapbooks. If you are interested in donating a chapbook to the cause, don't hesitate to let me know!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Community College Application Process

I've been applying for jobs at community colleges in California and in a few other locations around the states. In the past, I've often said to my friends that the two worst things to do in the world are to look for a new job or a new place to live. Occasionally, these two activities happen simultaneously, which makes for a real stressful environment. But I don't want to talk about moving since I'm not going anywhere for the next five months. I want to talk about the process of applying for these jobs.

I was happy to discover a site, The Registry, which lists all of the jobs for community colleges in California. Great! Unfortunately, almost all of them have slightly different criteria. Not a problem really, but if they're going to go to the trouble of listing all of the jobs in one location, they might as well standardize the application process. I understand that some positions and some schools have different criteria, but we're talking about community colleges. There must be some kind of standardization.

At some of the schools, very few, I can actually apply online. Wonderful, I thought. BIM BAM BOOM. I can upload all of my documents in a few minutes and get back to loafing. Unfortunately, I had to enter all of the information (and then some) included in my resume into the online form, a nightmarishly long process which has consumed the better part of more than a few evenings. Auto-fill did nothing for me. If I happen to apply at the same school again in the future or if I happen to apply for another position (although I can't really imagine that many people are applying for multiple teaching positions at the same school), I will be able to use the same application. A good feature and, at least, they're trying to make use of the technology.

Some schools are still too far behind in their application process, though. For one thing, printing out so much paper (the application packet should not approach the size of a poetry manuscript) is just a silly waste of time and resources. Don't make me fill out the stupid district application, half of which contains useless information and/or instructions. At this point, especially in California, which probably has more schools than any other state I'm guessing, electronic submission should be the norm, especially for institutions which pretend to represent focal points of higher thought. Some schools asked me to print out more than one copy of the application packet! They want copies of all my transcripts? More than ten years of documented coursework! Schools have been requesting transcripts for a long time and I can't believe that, at least among the colleges and universities in California, they don't already share this information. There should be some kind of transcripts database for every student. Submitting copies of transcripts is ridiculous.

Take my cover letter, my resume, and my writing samples and make a decision!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Nameless Is My Name Reprise

The weather turned sour here today and the few days of Spring feel that had come around have disappeared. It's cold and gusty outside with blackening clouds dragging across the horizon.

I found this video recently, posted by Josh Hinck, from a performance last year at Galerie Urs Meile in Beijing. The sculpture is a piece designed by Ai Wei Wei. It's not the complete performance, but you get the idea.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Staying up too late and spending more time than necessary on the internet. Nothing better to do these days. I won't complain too much as it's allowing me to catch up on some things that have been lagging. It's also allowing me to get wrapped up in thing that are not so useful like this which I found on Amy Bernier's website.

If they told you I'm mad, then they lied.
I'm odd, but it isn't compulsive.
I'm the triolet, bursting with pride;
If they told you I'm mad, then they lied.
No, it isn't obsessive. Now hide
All the spoons or I might get convulsive.
If they told you I'm mad then they lied.
I'm odd, but it isn't compulsive.
What Poetry Form Are You?

While blogging around just now, I also noticed that I was tagged by Bill Allegrezza to name names regarding my ten top films. I always forget stuff when I make lists like this, but I'll give it a go. In no particular order:
- Harold & Maude
- The Godfather 2
- La Vita è Bella
- Il Postino
- Blade Runner
- The Wild Bunch
- The Legend of 1900
- THX 1138
- Thirty-Two Short Films About Glen Gould
- Kill Bill
- Zatoichi
- Spirited Away
I went over by a couple movies, but I suppose that's OK. Couple notes on my choices. Spirited Away is Japanese animation by Miyazaki. I could have listed three other movies by this guy and love all of the movies I've seen by him. Zatoichi is another Japanese movie, a musical really, by Takeshi Kitano about a blind samurai. Fantastic. The piano duel in The Legend of 1900 is Tim Roth at his best.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sonogram MachineWent to the doctor on Monday with Angela so the Italian doctor could examine negative-Vito. Previously, he had only been observed by Chinese doctors, but everything seems to be in order. The doctor told us we could bring a video cassette to record the sonogram, and we did. The doctor didn't know how to use the machine as it was new and it took a long time, but it made our video much longer. We thought it was strange that, despite having a new computer to do this, we couldn't get anything better than a video cassette with our results. I want the digital file!

The rain has dried up over the past few days and the weather has been splendid. Still cold and windy, but wonderfully sunny and clear during the day with a great big-starred sky at night.

The Sanremo Music Festival is taking place now in Italy. A festival which highlights famous songs from Italy, but is also a contest. Each night since Tuesday, there has been a long program on television featuring current and past singers doing what they do best.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

THE COUNTDOWN: Episode 20 featuring Arlene Ang

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Arlene AngMy first show in Putignano, Italy, Episode 20 highlights the poetry of Arlene Ang, and also stars these poets and bloggers: Ann Bogle, Rachel Dacus, Crag Hill, Christine Klocek-Lim, Rick Mullin, Shelia E. Murphy, Maurice Oliver, Pearl Pirie, William Rike & Jordan Stempleman. Click on the links, which takes you to the poems, and follow along while you listen! Poetry is not just for kids anymore, silly rabbits...

If you like what you hear and you would like me to consider your own blog's offspring for future shows, send me a message and I'll add you to THE COUNTDOWN's blogroll. If you don't have your own blog and you still want to participate, join Café Café and I'll look out for you if you're all that.

Comments and conversay appreciated, front or backchannel. Thanks for tuning in and special thanks to all the fine poets who recorded work for this one!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

All Vanity All The Time

An experiment! Added a link over there on the left to my latest chapbook. A small collection of poems about Beijing written while I lived there over the past 30 months. Every book is unique! It won't set you back too far and you'll support a good cause. Of course, if you have a chapbook of your own, I'd be more than happy to trade. Hard to get my hands on poetry chapbooks over here. You know how to reach me...

The Countdown should be finished by now. *sighs* Feel like ranting, but won't. Just happy to have direct high-speed internet access a casa. I've been soaking in it all day long. Patience, my pretties...

Also wanted to mention this review of The Countdown on Maurice Oliver's blog. Check it out!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Death of Carnival

The weather was perfect last night and as warm as it has been since we arrived two weeks ago. I also felt better than I had felt in many days, and was looking forward to how the day would end. Angela's father had told me at lunch that it would be forty days of fish after today and we both laughed.

Putignano - Carnevale - KISS and more KISSCarnival ended yesterday and we (Angela, Saverio, Marina and me) dressed up like the rock band KISS so we could join the parade. Well, we dressed up as much as possible for only preparing a few hours before the parade start and otherwise not being rockers, lacking essential studded leather accoutrement. The makeup we applied did more for us than what we were wearing. We walked the parade route, which is a circuit around the old part of the city, and then followed a small rolling stage which featured 1970's music impersonators, part of the reason we had chosen our costumes. We thought we would be the only people dressed this way, but came across another group that had the same idea and wanted to take a picture together. After meeting up with friends and wandering around a bit more, we turned our attentions to the carnival funeral.

Putignano - Carnevale - Piazza Plebiscito - Il Funerale IIA group of people impersonating nuns, priests, bishops, monks and other unidentifiable religious zealots paraded along the confetti-laden streets still thick with people and vendors, carrying a large papier-mâché pig, ringing bells and announcing through a megaphone the death of carnival. We joined the procession and slowly made our way to Piazza Plebiscito. We were distracted by a spate of lottery tickets, stopping to scratch at our fortunes before continuing, but soon refocused and continued on toward our goal. By the time we arrived, the pig was already well-charred, but still drawing a crowd.

We eventually made our way home, still well before midnight and me a little pickled from a number of beers that had gone down quickly, content with the evening's activities but exhausted. Angela's mother was still awake and we talked a little before washing our faces and hitting the sack.