When you were young

A meter tracking bike traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland. Like London Bridge in  The Wasteland : "so many/I had not thought death had undone so many." but happier.

A meter tracking bike traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland. Like London Bridge in The Wasteland: "so many/I had not thought death had undone so many." but happier.

Images crawl up
Then are broadcast
For us to see
Into your past
When you were young.

Poses struck while
A camera clicked.
Days passed outside
Past what was snapped
When you were young.

The snaps resurface
Years later with
"Remember?" "Place?"
Sentimental whiffs
When you were young.

Others of us
Bear witness though
Not witnesses
Then, piqued to view
When you were young.

Ripeness, smoothness
And smiles thrown hard.
Warding distress
Like priest or bard
When you were young.

How, who was she.
Outstretch fingers.
If the same age,
Did they linger
When you were young.

You are hiding
Molting beauty
Sun skin honeying.
You were not you
When you were young.

I now hear you,
"I remember"
Sighed to be kind.
Arid nod back to
When you were young.

Dimmer souls swarm
And cling on you.
I'd want to warm
But not love you
When you were young.

I get stuck on
Your life from then
To now and when
You became you from
When you were young.

Did it turn when
Your edge cut through.
Someone heard when
You spoke your truth
When you were young.

The friends in stasis
Are the same but
Slower. Their paths
Clear, even back to
When you were young.

Fact and will changes
Every molecule
Of you. Estranging
Yourself more from
When you were young.

U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky's promposal

Elaborate prom proposals ("promposals", natch) are a thing. I never asked in a fancy fashion. For my junior prom 27 years ago (mortality! eeek!) the prom obligation with my then-estranged girlfriend lurked for six weeks while we were separate (with great drama) until we were reunited prom night and then rolling again as a couple for almost another year after that. So, rather than a romantic promposal, it was a month or more of stomping around, or wailing, or languidly, anguishedly lamenting/complaining/wishing "Well, I guess we're not NOT-going-to the prom. So I think we're still going?" Flopping about, crying, pleading for sympathy from any friends willing to listen.

To the outside world? I was a damned nuisance. Inside? Nature bade me steer my body's ship to its siren call, pointing the prow to its rocky, turbulent, amoral shore to breed (with protection) and feel at all costs, even to exhaustion and oblivion. And, by golly, my seventeen years of life would not have been in vain to die tossed and broken onto that jagged beach. [final cough] I lived. [expires]

Ridiculous now? Substantially. Are the memories still dear, the perverse, feral, mad, beautiful things that they are? Yes.

U.S. poet Robert Pinsky read a promposal on 'The Colbert Report' this week. Not a great poem, but charming:

Promvitation!
by Robert Pinsky

As when, far off, in the middle of the ocean,
A breast-shaped curve of wave begins to whiten
And gathers and gathers until it reaches land
Huge as a mountain, and breaks.
And what was deep comes churning up from the bottom
In mighty swirls of sunken sand and living things
And water.
So in the springtime, every race of people
And all the creatures on earth all rush to charge
Into the fire that burns them. Love moves them all.
And that same wave, and that same fire, move me to dare ask:
"Will you be my date for the prom?"

My 43 years (and counting) as Gollum

A couple of years ago, in a silly mood, I created some fake job entries for my real-life Facebook profile. Who ever snoops around the work entries of a Facebook profile? Weirdos, probably. And weirdos are my constituency. Give 'em a little sumpin' sumpin'. And confuse the FBI and CIA when (not if) they're in pursuit.

So I created an entry describing my stint as Gollum from Lord of the Rings, written up like my more-legit entries on Facebook. The company has since made several more format changes, pushing the work entries even further into the background. More space for posts of human spawn, pets, food, good weather, photos of pets or kids with cancer or mentions of Jesus with a bullying demand you "Like" them or else, and peccadilloes (not nearly ENOUGH peccadilloes, people — grossly disappointing — pick up your game!)

Workplace: Gollum
Position: Sméagol
Time period: (I currently work here)
Start date: March 1970

Took a well-deserved and precious birthday present and, exhausted by the jealousy of others, hid inside caves to work in isolation, fish, and cherish my Precious. Upon the thievery of my Precious by the hobbit Baggins, whom I will hate forever, spent time under the management of Sauron, a Maia and the Lord of the Rings of Power who works from his headquarters in Mordor. My duties shifted from working in the main office at Barad-dûr to the field. Later interviewed and networked with Gandalf the Grey and Strider, a Ranger of the North. From that, spent some time in Mirkwood. Later I chose to take in some sightseeing in Moria and Lórien, and even did some river rafting. Eventually found myself back in Mordor (funny how life goes) and recovered my Precious from yet another another wicked, false Baggins (ya, I KNOW, crazy!) and found happiness for consecutive seconds before falling into a volcano.

I also have blended into my Facebook profile a stint as a self-employed gigolo and an extended gig as Batman. To view THOSE, you'll have to be my real-life online Facebook friend. Most of my friends will advise you that may be too high a price!

I have spent at least 30 seconds contemplating a Sméagol Gollum profile for LinkedIn. Possibly this summer, when the world is in t.v. reruns, these idle hands will become Sauron's playthings and do just that.

Until then, know that you ALL are my Precious, and we loves you FOREVER!

Nike+ is for players, only. And other people.

Six months with Nike+, accruing points on an almost daily basis. Building a history, and a sense of accomplishment. What do the points mean? Still no idea. But still I get a frisson of having done something with my time, something that carries over from one day to the next.

Whether reaching my goal of 3,000 Nike+ Fuel Points a day, or if they were instead 17 Horfenblurts, it would still lead to a strut. 17 Horfenblurts to add to the 15 the day before, and if I'm really active I may escalate to 20 Horfenblurts tomorrow. If feeling charged up, maybe 150 Horfenblurts this week! That how I DO IT, son!

Even posting the screenshot above of my highest overall day, that had a 20K run in the middle of it, gives a little thrill. What is it in our nature that does that?

Power of delusion (to a point), still hit in the face

A martial artist, Yanagi Ryuken in Japan, demonstrates his "no-touch knockout" technique, and takes down a dozen or so men with easy-breezy style. Swish-sway BLAMMO! Swifsh-swish KAPOW! You get it in the first minute:

Very reminiscent of the centuries of clownery from magicians and faith healers such as Benny Hinn, who, I grant, does have truly miraculous hair:

Here Yanagi faces an opponent who does not believe in this technique. Yanagi gets hit in the face.

kung_fu_santa.jpg

The Yanagi videos are mentioned in an interview with Sam Harris in The Atlantic titled "What Martial Arts Have to Do with Atheism". I like Sam Harris, but can see how some people don't. His approach on many matters is clear and deliberate. He does go slightly into woo-woo territory when talking about meditation, like striving for some magic/metaphysical crediblity after spending so much time dispelling superstitious realms of thought. Meditation probably has neurological benefits, yet he winds that woo-woo stuff in. I wince.

But back to Yanagi. Does he expect his opponent in the second video to fall under his sway? He seems stunned by the contact. Maybe he knows when he's in pantomime combat with pretend telekinetic powers mode. Or maybe he doesn't. I don't care to research the back story. This is amusing as-is. As Lady Bracknell says in The Importance of Being Earnest: "Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit. Touch it, and the bloom is gone."

Don't hate, mammals gotta mammalate

Oh, sure, this cat starts nursing a baby squirrel with the rest of her new litter and we're all supposed to go "Awww! Adorbs!"

But when I nurse a baby squirrel in public I get "Get off the bus!" or "Hey, leave the altar!" or "You need to exit the park, sir." That's speciesist and sexist. Supposedly the squirrel has learned from the cats how to purr. Cute? Sure. Useful? No. If the squirrel gets into the wild it is doomed.

Meanwhile, I teach my whelping squirrels useful things like how to waterski. That's both a recrational skill and a darned job that brings money back home from R.V. shows, gun shows, and auto shows.

And I choose to raise my squirrels in the Jedi faith. If you have a problem with that, you're also a bigot. Here are my squirrel kids Mr. Cheeks, Squeekers, and Darth Acorn worshipping in the park.

Many people dig this and are cool with it. If you think this is weird, I'm not going to hate you back. I just take a deep breath, let your bad energy out of my system, and say: "May the Force be with you."

Another Oscars, now back to the mine, trogs!

The Oscars have come and gone, the gay Super Bowl. The annual event for us to admire and admonish our genetic/commercial/artistic superiors. Occasionally measure ourselves as their equal, before we slip back like Gollum or Thersites into our hard lives of beatings by aristocrats and/or slurping cold fish while singing songs to ourselves about how this makes us happy.

Brilliant

"Brilliant" has long been the British equivalent of our saying "awesome" or "tubular" in the 80s. So used for inanities, used to mock such inanities, then used in defiance of such mockery it has become a space filler in British pop culture.

When it's used in the U.S. as a weird cultural sophisticate affectation, as I've heard it twice at lunch during a business conversation between strangers today, it buries the usefulness of the word for maybe half a generation. Gag me with a spoon.

Mr. Rogers: "Your thoughts and your feelings are your own."

Read an excellent post at The A.V. Club about Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood to start the day. Fred Rogers is a wise, serene presence. A role model in many ways. I don't know if it's a state possible (or worth) maintaining at all times. As humans we are wired for conflict and strife with our large adrenal glands. But Rogers' demeanor is worth recalling when needing a model for calm.

The Lady Elaine puppet scared me as a kid. There. Got it out. Shaking it off my arms now. Better.

The A.V. Club article linked to a segment where Rogers chatted with Jeff, a child in a wheelchair who explains his medical condition, challenges, that he gets frustrated like other kids, and they sing together.

When Rogers was inducted to the T.V. Hall of Fame, a grown-up Jeff was there to present the award. Rogers is surprised and genuinely moved. Then he commands the room of hardened showbiz professionals, telling them to do better (the Presbyterian minister in him comes out). It's quite a spectacle.

I believe human beings need coarse spectacles and entertainments and catharsis of a nature Rogers may not like. But his points are food for thought.

Switching from outdoor loafers to indoor sneakers, then back again when heading out, is still a trip.