Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue: It’s Time for Poet’s Corner

Hello dear readers, you few, you happy few, you.

The site has been moribund for a few reasons, not least of which is it just wasn’t working. I don’t know how it first happened nor how, after some random clicking behind the scenes, it suddenly righted itself. However it came about, all posts on this blog are now accessible again, which makes updating it seem tangentially more worthwhile.

Early this year, while trying to write a YA novel that seemed to refuse every opportunity to be written, I found myself revisiting some old poems stashed in an obscure corner of my hard drive. I thought they weren’t so bad, and that it might be fun to write a few more. Fast-forward to roughly now, I have been firmly bitten by the poetry bug and so the energy that might have gone into pithy blog posts has mostly gone in that direction.

Will I be publishing poems here? Probably not. I’d rather let a journal (with, you know, an actual audience) have first shot at anything I produce. And speaking along those lines, my first accepted piece can be reviewed online in the e-zine Crack the Spine. My poem “The Air of the Room” can be read for free in Issue 195.

In addition, Hypertrophic Literary published two pieces, “I Love This Woman” and “New Red,” in their Fall 2016 issue. You’ll need to shell out for this. Totally worth it though.

And there we are. I have a couple more pieces forthcoming but I’ll post more about that when I have something to link to.

Karaoke: Live in Fear

A peculiar thing happens when you set up a karaoke machine at a party. At first, no one wants to approach it. Everyone, whether they have any interest in singing or not, is waiting for the first person to walk up there, pick up the microphone and start singing. No one wants to be that person — and certainly no one wants to be mistaken for that person. If the karaoke machine happens to be set up next to the liquor, then the shy partygoers are forced to either walk over to it with exaggerated nonchalance or simply refrain from getting another drink until someone begins singing. (Or worse, ask someone else to get a drink for them.) Observing this in action at a party this weekend, I began to speculate on how karaoke machines could be used to exploit natural social anxieties. I envision a safe disguised to look like a karaoke machine: those who weren’t frightened by it would likely be too repulsed to go near it. Karaoke machines could be used to hide stains or damage you wouldn’t want people to notice, or to dissuade guests from raiding your refrigerator. I would even guess that a karaoke machine in the bathroom would, if not scare people away completely, would at least instill a vague disquiet. Why is this here? they would wonder, eyeing the machine nervously as they wiped. Are we going to be singing karaoke later? They’d be so freaked out they’d completely forget to snoop in your medicine cabinet.

As for the experience of singing or watching karaoke, I realized this: karaoke is like jet-skiing, in that it is an enjoyable pastime for those actually doing it and a grating annoyance for everyone else. I have jet-skied and thought it was a blast. Yet watching jet-skiers roar across the placid surface of a lake, frightening wildlife and disturbing everyone’s peace, makes me angrily denounce the steady decline of civilization itself.

I have never sang karaoke. It’s bad enough I like jet-skiing.

Sockbert: Scott Adams and Metafilter

Last week, it was revealed that Dilbert creator Scott Adams had been trolling the forums of Metafilter with a sock puppet account called PlannedChaos. PlannedChaos, you will not be surprised to learn, thought pretty highly of Scott Adams. Comics Alliance published a good summary of the whole affair, including a close accounting of Adams’ shifting rationalizations, instances of bad faith, and general tacky douchiness. You can read the fateful Metafilter thread here.

I will say at the outset that Scott Adams’ is one of my favorite blogs. You often hear people talk about writers whose work they never miss even if they rarely agree with the writer’s point of view. I don’t have the stomach to read any hardcore right-wing bloggers, but Adams’ libertarian-occasionally-edging-into-heartlessness bent doesn’t really bother me. What I enjoy about him is the way in which he starts with an absurd or wild premise and attempts to follow it to its logical conclusion — this post, for example, on a hypothetical society in which technology essentially eliminates personal privacy. So many times we will get an idea that promises, or threatens, to lead us down logical, ethical or moral paths we haven’t trod before, and we immediately stamp it out with a “that’s a stupid idea.” And it usually is a stupid idea. But sometimes it’s good to let a stupid idea bloom, just to see how close to the sun it reaches. I frankly did much the same thing in my airline security post a few weeks ago.

I don’t defend Adams being an asshole — and what’s more, I don’t excuse assholishness as either an inverted form of integrity or a privilege granted to the especially intelligent or accomplished. Adams deserves the shit he’s caught for suggesting that teaching history be cut back or eliminated, or that discriminating against women and children was “easier for everyone.” So give him his just desserts and move on. As Bill Maher once rhetorically asked, “How can I know where the line is if I don’t occasionally cross it?”.