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.