Monday, October 24, 2011

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

Fun titles edition!

Today, I will select poems relatively at random to post here, based solely on the promise/awesomeness of the title. Titling a poem can be colossally difficult -- so difficult that I often wish I could make like Emily Dickinson and just forgo titles all together. The poems I'm pasting in below I only chose to read because of the title (I found them all on
Representative Poetry Online ).

Up first we have....

A book a jug and a dame
by everyone's favorite timeless poet, Anonymous

A book a jug and a dame,
And a nice cozy nook for the same;
"And I don't care a damn,"
Said Omar Khayyam,
"What you say, it's a great little game."

Alright, so it's more of a limerick...but I didn't know that until I read it. And I only read it because the title made me smile.

The next one that caught my eye was

The eyes of toads are great
by E.D. Blodgett (b. 1935)

The eyes of toads are great
wells of sadness: where
do they gaze but into fate
to see nothing there?

Hmmm. This is probably actually untitled and just titled with the first line for indexing purposes. And the first line is sneaky because it's not that the eyes of toads are "great" so much as "great wells of sadness." I feel tricked.

Moving on.....

Recipe for a Salad
Sydney Smith (1771-1845)

To make this condiment, your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard-boiled eggs;
Two boiled potatoes,
passed through kitchen sieve,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give.

Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half suspected, animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault,
To add a double quantity of salt.

Four times the spoon with oil from Lucca brown,
And twice with vinegar procured from town;
And, lastly, o'er the flavored compound toss
A magic soupcion of anchovy sauce.

O, green and glorious! O herbaceous treat!
'T would tempt the dying anchorite to eat:
Back to the world he'd turn his fleeting soul,
And plunge his fingers in the salad bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
"Fate cannot harm me, I have dined to-day."

Really wish I had eaten lunch before sitting down to blog.

Oh, the Sexual Life of the Camel is another anonymous limerick too silly/vulgar to reproduce here, but click on the link to read it.

I can't believe this is for real; it's like the Onion version of a poem title:

On the Dark, Still, Dry Warm Weather, Occasionally Happening in the Winter Months
Gilbert White (1720-1793)

....I can't bring myself to paste it. It's a 44-line poem in rhyming couplets about mild weather.

Finally, I found this title intriguing and can't decide how I feel about the poem itself....but it's certainly interesting. And angry and gutsy. I think I like it? I don't know. Some of the line breaks feel really random (probably intentionally so) and that bugs me. After reading it a few times, I do think it's more sophisticated/complex than it initially appears. It's a rant, but a well-crafted rant and I guess it's got me thinking, which is a good thing.

Male Rage Poem
Pier Giorgio Di Cicco (b. 1949)

Feminism, baby, feminism.
This is the anti-feminist poem.
It will get called the anti-
feminist poem. Like it or not.
Dedicated to all my friends who
can't get it up in the night,
accused of having male rage during the
day. This is for the poor buggers.
This is for me and the incredible boredom
of arguing about feminism, the right
arguments, the wrong arguments, the
circular argument, the arguments that stem
from one bad affair, from one
bad job, no job -- whatever; fill in the
blanks _____ _____, fill in the ways
in which you have been hurt. Then I'll
fill in the blanks, and we'll send rosters
of hurt to each other, mail them, stock
them for the record to say: Giorgio Di Cicco
has been hurt this way x many times.
We will stock closets of Sarah's hurt,
Barbara's hurt, my hurt, Bobby's hurt.
This is where the poem peters out ... oops! -- that's
penis mentality, that's patriarchal bullshit,
sexist diction and These line lengths are
male oriented.
Where did he get so much male rage?
From standing out like a man for a bunch of
years, and being called the dirty word.
"When you are 21 you will become a Man."
Christ! Doomed to enslave women ipso
facto, without even the right training.
Shouldn't have wasted ten years playing
baseball; should have practiced
whipping, should have practiced tying up the
girl next door, giving her cigarette burns ...
oops! Male rage again! MALE RAGE -- the words ring out --
worse than RING AROUND THE COLLAR, worse than KISSED
THE GIRLS AND MADE THEM CRY, jeezus, male rage
in kindergarten. MALE RAGE. You've got
male rage; I look inside myself and scrounge
for all this male rage. Must be there
somewhere. Must be repressing it. I write poems
faster and faster, therapeutically, to make sure
I get all the rage out. But someone's
always there to say, Male Rage -- more Male Rage.
I don't leave the house, workin' on my male rage.

Things may lighten up. My friends may meet
fine women at a party someday and know
what to say to them, like "I'm not a Man and
you're not a Woman, but let's have dinner
anyway, let's fuck with our eyes closed and
swap roles for an hour."

I'm tired of being a man.
Of having better opportunities,
better job offers,
too much money.
I'm tired of going to the YMCA and
talking jock in the locker room.
I'm tired of all those poems where
I inadvertently used the word "whore."
I'm tired of having little blonde secretaries type out
all my poems for me.
I'm tired of being a man.
I'm tired of being a sexist.
I'm afraid of male rage.
I'm afraid of my male rage,
this growing thing, this buddy, this
shadow, this new self, this stranger.
It's there. It's there! How could it have
happened? I ate the right things, said
yes to my mother, thought the good

Doc -- give it to me straight.
How long before this male rage
takes over completely?
The rest of your life.
Take it like a man.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Simulated Womanhood

Confession: I've never really understood the male need to play video games. Not for lack of trying -- I've dated a few video-game-playing dudes and 2 of my 3 brothers are gamers. It's just always baffled me -- I get bored and/or frustrated almost immediately when I try to play. Aside from my brief obsession with F-Zero on Super Nintendo in the early 90s, I've just never been into non-board games.
This was the case, at least, until I got an iPad. Suddenly, I'm into games. Specifically, simulated reality kinds of games featuring female protagonists. My favorite is Sally, of Sally's Spa and Sally's Salon (Luxury Edition).

In Sally's Spa and Sally's Salon, you play a Sally, an enterprising young woman who operates her own business. Customers come in demanding various services (facials, massages, manicures) and you must provide those services in a timely manner. The faster and more efficiently you serve your clients, the higher tips you earn, and that money can then be put back into the business in the form of upgrading equipment or hiring employees to assist you. Take my word for it, this game is super fun and well-designed.

And then there's Top Girl.

In Top Girl, you are a model whose objective is to buy as many clothes as possible in order to be as hot as possible in order to score the hottest man possible. No joke. Each item of clothing has a hotness quotient and the game makes a distinction between daytime hot (what you wear to work) and nighttime hot (what you wear to the club where you pick up guys). If you try to go to the club in your work attire, you will be told you are not hot enough and sent back home to change.

The game also punishes you for not playing it -- i.e. if you don't play for a day or two, you can expect your boyfriend to dump you as soon as you return because he's feeling neglected. Just like real life! And boyfriends are important in the world of Top Girl, because they can buy you clothes as gifts, and the more clothes you have, the more stores you can "unlock" in the mall.

It's all very sordid. Not to mention the fact that the game tries at every turn to get you to spend your own money to enhance the experience of playing it. The game app is free, but if you're willing to buy credits on iTunes, you can fast-track and get ahead faster.

My boyfriend is so disturbed by Top Girl that he went out of his way to research another alternative for me, a less anti-feminist sim game. So now I also have Kudos 2, on my computer at home.

Kudos 2 is not bad. I find myself making decisions for my little waitress avatar (named Holly) that I wish I made in my real life. For instance, Holly loves to go jogging and clean her apartment. And she often chooses to stay home with a book instead of go to the bar with friends. I should probably be more like Holly. The problem I'm running into, though, is that my sim friends keep dumping me because I don't go out with them enough. Holly is not very popular, but boy, is she in shape and clean. And fiscally responsible -- she walks 4 miles to work every day instead of paying for the bus!

I'm not sure playing video games is a positive step in my adulthood...but it is a fascinating one. Not to worry, I still read books and stuff. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go kiss my boyfriend on Top Girl (which I can only do once every 90 minutes) so he'll get me those stilettos I've been eyeing.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The One That Got Away?

Holy shit, I hope this is like riding a bike. Or, actually, easier, since I was never that good at bike-riding.

It's been months since I've blogged and the more time that passed, the more anxious I've been about starting up again. But here I am. LET'S DO THIS.

You might think, based on my last post, that it would be logical for me to blog about my life-changing trip to China in July. But truthfully, there's just no way to really do it justice, so if you want to hear about it or see pictures, shoot me an e-mail or peruse the slideshow on the right-hand sidebar of this site. Also, this video was shot and edited by one of the volunteers on the trip and is awesome:

Yale China 2 from Brian Wimer on Vimeo.

I've been back for months and still think about it all the time. But moving on.

This past weekend, I visited New York -- it was a make-up trip since my last planned NYC weekend was foiled by that bitch, I mean, hurricane, Irene. As usual, I had a wonderful time and saw many friends, not to mention St. Vincent and the cast of Arrested Development, courtesy of the New Yorker festival. Saturday afternoon, after brunch, I found myself with some time to kill. I wandered through Soho, the first neighborhood I really became familiar with because of my internship at the HERE Arts Center during the summer of 2000. I was listening to my iPod and kept skipping around to melancholy love songs. At first I thought my mood might be related to the dreary/cloudy Fall day, but then it hit me: spending time in New York feels like spending time with ex. An ex with whom you are friendly, but also may still have some feelings for. To put it in Facebook terms, "it's complicated," my relationship with New York.

New York and I were together for 5 years (2003-2008), but actually a little more if you count the summers in college I spent living there before moving there in 2003. At one point, I thought we'd always be together. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. But over time, the passion fizzled and we grew apart. I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't good enough for New York, that I'd never be able to thrive. I tried hard to make it work, experimenting with 4 different apartments in 3 boroughs. I even tried out different careers: full-time jobs, part-time jobs, freelancing. Writing, acting, marketing, editing, teaching. It was exhausting and heart- (and wallet-) breaking. When grad school offered me the chance to leave, I took it.

Still, when I visit now, my heart races; I catch myself thinking "maybe I didn't give New York enough of a chance, maybe now it could work...." But the reasons why we don't work surround me, like the pervading urine stench of the F train. Trying to hail a cab in the rain, paying $17 for an omelette -- I felt the familiar rage returning. Relationships bring out various things in people (i.e. "you bring out the best in me"), and New York brings out a side of me that I don't really like, an aggressive, angry side. And I know if I moved back, nothing would be different and I'd just get hurt again. Boston may not bring out the best in me, but it's...comfortable. We have a less volatile/more stable union. We co-exist peacefully.

But man, we did have some good times, New York and I. Some sexy, awesome times. I know it better than any other city, including St. Louis where I lived for the first 18 years of my life. And sometimes it kills me that we can't be together.