Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday Night Lecture

Last night I attended a lecture given by Jeff Sharlet, a contributing editor at Harper’s magazine. He discussed his career as a journalist who reports on religion in America. Some highlights of his talk included a significant and hilarious moment during a Pagan naked antler dance, his interviews with leaders of a Cowboy church, and his recent investigative project at the New Church in Colorado Springs.

A fascinating question that he wanted to ponder was this: why does religion, all strange varieties of religion, get so under-reported in the mainstream media when religion is so obviously a huge part of millions of Americans’ lives?

Journalists, according to Sharlet and his colleagues, tend to regard religion as too weird and too eccentric to take very seriously. Sharlet suggests, however, that journalists need to find ways to take these religious beliefs seriously if they are to provide accurate and thorough coverage of a story.

Many stories that involve the eccentric element of religion get killed too soon after they first appear in the public eye. Not enough follow-up reporting continues if a story involves secret prayer cells, shaking, and speaking in tongues. For instance, decades ago Playboy Magazine did a story about the prayer cell that hung around with Gerald Ford. More follow-ups could have provided further illumination on this prayer cell, but the story never continued. John Ashcroft is ardent about his prayer discipline and who knows what else? It never gets reported.

Sharlet closed by saying that journalists who report on religion need to learn the language of all these millions of people who speak these languages, For an investigative approach, he offered, “It’s almost as if you act like you believe and then go back to your own beliefs later.” He suggested that better reporting on religion in America would involve more narrative reporting, getting more different voices to speak.

I’ve been thinking about his talk and what it means for me. And I think I still embrace his early comments about how the press usually doesn’t deal with religion because we tend to see beliefs as an aspect of life that is protected by rights to privacy. A free press’s obligations and concerns probably fall more under the tenets similar to separation of church and state. For the most part, the press is most useful to focus on the issues of state. Personally, I think a story about someone falling down in the spirit is not all that newsworthy. However, tension does arise when an official like Hillary Clinton holds a meeting with the current leader of an underground Christ Fellowship Foundation prayer cell because she claims she has interest in making peace with the Christian Right. This made me think that it is true these stories shouldn’t get killed, buried, or go ignored by readers who take more liberal or secularist positions. We all need to be thoroughly informed about what motivates our nation’s leaders to make the choices and decisions they make. Who are they engaging? Who are they trying to please and why? I don’t know if a story needs to go so far as to probe a senator who says a prayer before casting a vote, flips a coin, or consults the tarot. But if these actions have real influence on decision-making, policy, and legislation then they are more newsworthy than the illusion that we are a rational, critical-thinking, and law-abiding nation.

Sharlet is correct in suggesting that being weirded out by people’s beliefs is keeping us misinformed. But how do we even begin an objective, analytical probe into others’ beliefs? It seems more complicated than thinking that so long as I remain respectful, I might be able to get at the truth about how these beliefs motivate action and whether or not there are consequences, and what kind of consequences, beliefs bring to public life.

Here are the links to Jeff Sharlet's blogs:

Killing The Buddha
the revealer

His talk gave me lots to ponder as I walked in the city under the falling snow. I love life.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Appreciating Grevel Lindop's poetry collection: Playing With Fire

This collection of poetry, published by Carcanet, hurls the reader into an intimacy and beauty that resonates mysterium and sensual delight. Here a father squeezes fresh lemon juice on a tuna salad; now a dancer slaps her palms onto the night stage; now brothers scatter ashes in a barley field; all action divulges this: We flame. Here’s one of my favorite poems from this collection.


So many things to make a galaxy:
the flutter of my tongue between your lips—
butterfly shivering a salted rockpool,
breaking the sea’s meniscus into tumult;
your hands, moulding me up like growing clay
your mouth tasting and ripening what you’d made;
you, turning over, pulling me on top;
the elements combining, heavens opening,
primeval floods.
Then how you sighed and stretched,
shook a night sky of hair back from your face
and, with the lazy splendour of a goddess,
strolled to the bathroom; leaving in your wake
that trail of white stars on the bedroom floor.

To read the whole collection over and over gives the reader a sense of the rhythm that echoes at The Core, the even beat at the center of the softest spot within the Queen of Intimacy’s rib cage.

If you are a reader, like me, who loves to read as much as you love to make love (and if you sometimes even mistake those two activities one for the other), you just must check out the poem “Ars Poetica.” Yes! We’ll meet in the nightclub of dreamworks!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Logic Lounge

Photo of Almond Princess

Some claim they come to this croon room for the pleasure of the brain tease. Others argue that the women delight them more. The prices here are not reasonable, but all who are willing to spend a few minutes with the Queen of Desire are willing to empty their wallets into the lounge’s Bottomless Pool of Longings. Mister Nerve is an affluent tycoon. His assets exceed those of any real estate developer who owns property on Manhattan’s lower East side. His longings exceed those that crowd the pool at the Logic Lounge. Nonetheless, when Mister Nerve lays eyes on the Queen of Desire, all his bravado and cravings dissolve; all his assets turn liquid. Thus, the lounge’s Queen of Desire holds the secret. She does it with looks. To meet her eyes is to meet a challenge, an invitation, the torture, and the reward.

Which one of the following, if true, would most strengthen the argument?

a) The women in the Logic Lounge play mind games that give as much pleasure to the patrons as longings give them pain.

b) The Queen of Desire appeals to Mister Nerve because she knows how to convey whole galaxies through her seduction.

c) If Mister Nerve draws women to him it is often because of his assets, sometimes because of his longings, and rarely because of his courage.

d) When the Queen of Desire first started working at the Logic Lounge, she spoke little English but won over audiences with the way her painted lips curled around those charming chansons.

e) Every midnight there are more wishes for lust and music dropped into the lounge’s Bottomless Pool of Longings.

(If you post the correct answer in the comments, you are committing yourself to the status of Quintessential Logic Lounge Lizard. Wink.)

Logic at The Strangers' Gate

A security guard, disguised as a homeless man, sits on a bench outside the entrance to Central Park at 106th Street and Central Park West. This entrance to the park is known as The Strangers’ Gate. The security guard claims that 70 percent of the people who enter the park through this gate are strangers. Only if a person is wearing underwear and has an overbite does he qualify as a stranger. If a person qualifies as a stranger, he is not nearsighted or a terrorist. All people who wear disguises are not security guards, but security guards are required not to wear underwear if they want to avoid qualifying as strangers.

Each of the following can be inferred from the information in the passage EXCEPT:

a) Liza and Nick entered the park after dark, and only one of them was wearing underwear, yet the security guard admitted neither of them through the Strangers’ Gate; hence, one of them, who was not wearing underwear, did not have an overbite.

b) It is possible that most people who enter the park through the Strangers’ Gate sometimes place orders with the Victoria’s Secret catalogue.

c) A few people who have entered through the Strangers’ Gate have undergone reconstructive dental procedures to reduce their severe overbites to make them less severe.

d) Many people who wear disguises do not work as security guards at Central Park's Strangers’ Gate.

e) The more people the security guard refuses to admit through the Strangers’ Gate, the more likely it will be that some day The City will face lawsuits for discriminating against people who do not wear underwear and do not have overbites.

(If you provide the correct answer in the comments, you will be invited to play the role of Master of Disguises in the Funhouse of Logic and Reason.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Logic & The State of the Union

Mister President: To win the war on terror, we must take the fight to the enemy. Because we have thwarted terror plots within the U.S. and have broken up a cell in Southeast Asia, we should continue supporting our brave troops who are fighting in Iraq.

Which of the following arguments contains an error of reasoning that is also contained in the argument above?

a) To win the war on drugs, we took the fight to the streets. Because we have convicted thousands of small-time dealers in urban areas, and we continue to ignore arguments made by those who think marijuana ought to be legalized, we have effectively stopped drug use on American soil. Drugs are no longer a threat to American democracy.

b) Small terror cells that carry out huge, horrific plots pose the same kind of threat to America as totalitarian regimes in the Middle East and all such threats can only be confronted by militaristic policy. Diplomacy and intelligence have no effect, so we need more troops. More troops! More troops! C’mon. You didn’t vote for failure.

c) Living without health insurance is a sure way to avoid getting ill.

d) To secure the border, we’re doubling the Border Patrol. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. Consequently, migrants will stop sneaking across the border, and Border Patrol will be able to focus on catching terrorists, smugglers, and criminals.

e) To win the war on pollution, we must take the fight to our dependence on foreign oil. Because we will reform fuel economy through new technology that will assure the nation’s energy independence, we will be able to curtail global climate change.

(If you supply the correct answer in the comments, you will be invited to help form an Ideas Club called the Flash Fiction Think Tank.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Grief & Logic: "We're all Hrant Dink."

Today, Turkish mourners crowd the streets of Istanbul. The goddess of free speech—resting on her leisure sofa in the sky—can hear the plangent sound of the Armenian duduk. The duduk is a clarinet-like instrument made of apricot wood that is known for having once brought tears to the eyes of Soviet composers. In Armenia there is a dance that only men are allowed to do, called the Dance of Tamir Agha. But today Riva Djinn is throwing caution to the wind. She is doing the Men-only dance by herself, in the privacy of her own home. She is wishing, hoping, yearning, and aching for peace to be with the soul of Hrant Dink who was taken too soon from his loved ones and from this world. What kind of nation sees a 17-year-old shoot down a respected journalist for telling it like it was, asserting that Turks did kill Armenians at the turn of the last century?

Riva overhears a conversation on Public Radio International. An interviewer is questioning a woman who translates the work of Turkish authors into English. Their conversation goes something like this: What do you make of this man’s killing? Heart-breaking. What do you make of the visible turnout to the funeral? Heartening. Will this event bring about change for the better? It’s possible.

Riva dances on while more sad news comes in. What else can an urban hermit do when she is over-educated, out of work, but trying to refine her joie de vivre in the City of Logic and Reason? (Not to mention she is still challenged by the fact that she is only nine inches tall!)

Which one of the following illustrates a principle most similar to that illustrated by the passage?

a) When mourning a public personality, some people feel sadness, at first, then outrage and then they want to seek justice; when justice doesn’t work, they seek revenge.

b) When James Brown died, Simona played his Sex Machine LP over and over as she cried and shook her tight booty. When she heard reports that thousands had gathered to mourn and dance, her broken heart flew straight to Harlem. And, yes, we all felt The Unity beat straight to our dance bones. We were all riding the music man’s wake, feeling that we too were, altogether, the Godfather of Soul.

c) The only way Turkey can dissolve its “Article 301” is if more people get bold about speaking out in favor of free speech.

d) The unity people feel while mourning the loss of a dear one always arises from the spirit conjured by music. They dance and march to show respect for the dead. The turn out at a funeral procession indicates the degree to which the event of that public figure’s death has brought, or will bring, social change.

e) Girls don’t cry. They dance.

(If you leave the correct answer in the comments, who knows? It may be like a kind of gesture of condolence. You ever wonder if The Dead and The Unborn can overhear all this chatter in the blogosphere?)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Good Parenting & Logic

A California assemblywoman is sponsoring a proposal to ban parents from spanking children ages three and younger. She responded to the overwhelming number of callers who voiced opposition to such a proposal by wondering why “We’re so addicted to violence.” One republican assemblyman regards the proposal as wrongheaded because disciplinary action is up to parents. He asserts, “California has garnered a reputation over the years of supporting extreme legislative measures.” One California resident, who has worked for thirty years as a childcare provider, thinks that these assembly members and those opposed to the proposal are all misguided. This childcare professional thinks that there should be some kind of legislation that requires people who want to become parents to pass a series of courses and standardized exams before they even bring children into this world. According to the childcare provider, “Discipline is something that one acquires through more and more education. Parenthood is itself a kind of discipline just like Mathematics, Physics, or History. People who want to become mothers or fathers should first be required to earn a degree in parenting from an accredited institution.”

Which one of the following can be properly inferred from the professional childcare giver’s argument?

a) The debate over this proposed legislation will have little impact on the overall psycho-social well-being of children ages three and under.

b) A parent who relies on spanking as a supposed “disciplinary” tool is analogous to someone who is unschooled in rudimentary reading and writing skills.

c) If the proposed legislation passes into a law, the entire nation risks following with similar legislation sooner or later. This whole spanking ban trend will then incite a fiasco similar to that started by the smoking ban. The extreme nature of California's legislative measures make that state a bad influence on the U.S.

d) Parents who spank their children have not earned advanced degrees in Mathematics, Physics, or History.

e) Any government that enforces laws dictating how parents ought to treat their own children risks turning into a government with totalitarian tendencies.

(If you supply the correct answer in the comments, you will be one step closer to earning a high mark in Good Parenting 101.)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cabaret of Logic and Whim

A dancer winds her body around the chrome pole. Smoke lifts, curtains part, clothes fall away. Some people say the women never grow old in here, and they can slip in and out of tied-tight basques without using their fingers. On the contrary, the Experts of the Nightwatch claim that some cabaret girls are illusory freaks of nature. “Their hands fell off over a century ago!” The experts assure us. It follows then that some cabaret girls who can remove a corset without using hands must paint their faces using automated cosmetology systems.

The reasoning in the argument above is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that the argument

a) fails to consider that not having hands is a sign of eternal youth among these performers, a unique wonder over which this cabaret’s master of ceremonies loves to gloat.

b) presumes, without providing evidence, that slipping out of a corset constitutes a nighttime marvel worthy of puzzling the Experts of the Nightwatch.

c) confuses the terms basque and corset, thereby revealing that all stage performances induce raw pleasure.

d) ignores the floating sequins, the perfumed feathers, and the musicians who haven’t any lips.

e) takes for granted that if a dancer hasn’t any hands, she hasn’t any sex appeal.

(If you supply the correct answer in the comments, you will be welcomed to the Cabaret of Logic and Whims without ever being required to pay cover.)

Friday, January 19, 2007


Photo by Dusan Stojkovic

They hadn't seen each other in almost two years, and throughout the meal Sal never thought it necessary to bring up the fact that he'd gotten the tatoo removed. Dana held her tongue, too. About the boy. About her husband who had spent so much time in the service but was still convinced he was the father. Sal and Dana sipped cold sake flavored with floating cucumber slices. They talked about the delightful tastes. Reminded Dana of summer. Somewhere else. Ages ago. When Sal showed her photos of his adventures abroad, tears welled up in Dana's eyes. But they played it cool; who noticed? They changed the subject. The Itamae's skill? Impressive. The seaweed? Sweet. Dana said the word again: seaweed. She remembered pulling wet leaves from Sal's hair that one night they beached. Sal touched her on the wrist on their way out of the restaurant. He's fine. She said. Our boy, he is happy and well. Sal felt it was a shame that throughout the meal he never even thought to ask Dana for a table dance. Just for old time's sake.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Writers Block & Logic

MFA Candidate: It has been established that over 80 percent of writers who use amphetamine salts have a history of experiencing writers block at the peak of their careers. Such evidence would seem to prove that using amphetamine salts leads to writers block.

Professor: The phrase “Writer’s Block” would serve our purposes better if it carried a meaning more akin to “Butcher’s Block.” A Wrtier’s Block is such a slab upon which chopping and cutting of a text is performed. In other words, when a story, essay, or poem is on the “Writer’s Block,” it is going through the revision and editing stages of composition. Write on!

The Professor's reply to the student's argument relies on which one of the following argumentative strategies?

a) offering evidence suggesting that the statistics the student cites in support of his conclusion are inaccurate.

b) undermining the credibility of his conclusion by showing that it is a statement from which implausible consequences can be derived.

c) providing an example to show that not everything that induces writers block is counterproductive.

d) demonstrating that the student's line of reasoning is flawed because of the student's misguided use of the phrase Writer's Block.

e) calling into question the possibility of ever establishing causal connections between the statistics about amphetamine salt users and writers block.

(For those with superstitious dispositions, if you supply the correct answer in the comments, you are assured never to fall victim to the type of writers block the student discusses here; rather, you will always feel motivated to chop any unfinished piece of writing on The Writer's Block.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Freedom of Expression & Logic

Elif Shafak writes novels in Turkish and English. When writing in Turkish, she rejects the rationalized, disenchanted, centralized, Turkified language put in front of her. Turkish language has endured changes due to modernization and ideologies of ultra-nationalism. Shafak maintains that words of Persian, Arabic, or Sufi origin have been purged from modern Turkish language in order to build a unified modern Turkey that disassociates itself from its Ottoman past. Shafak is a feminist who is attached to Islamic, Jewish, and Christian heterodox. Her writing voice has been described as acerbic. Her fictional characters say and do bold things that get them playing defense in Turkey’s criminal court. When writing in English, Shafak faces the harshest criticism from Turkish nationalists who regard Shafak’s language choice as “cultural betrayal.” Shafak writes about taboo subjects, such as the role of women and the history of Armenian minority in Turkey. An agent committed to literature in translation has said, “most writers that are any good would get into trouble with Turkish authorities.” Shafak’s new novel The Bastard of Istanbul will be released in the U.S. on January 18. That’s tomorrow. I’ve already ordered it.

The statements above, if true, support which one of the following inferences?

a) The Turkish nationalists earnestly embrace modernization and regard mystic traditions as backward and a barrier to progress.

b) To offend Turkishness, a writer’s voice must be acerbic.

c) The prosecution of writers under Turkey's Article 301 is being used more and more against critical minds precisely because things have been changing rapidly in Turkey.

d) When a novelist writes bilingually, she will confront complications that are not always linguistic in nature.

e) Purging Turkish of words that are of Persian, Arabic, or Sufi origin have successfully disassociated Turkey from its Ottoman past.

(If you know the answer and leave it in a comment, you will earn some browning points with the gods and goddesses of free expression!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This is How My Friends Help Me Study for the LSAT

Have no fear; I rescued this book from recycling before it was taken away! Phew!

Erotic Logic

Daniel Chavarría is a Uruguayan writer whose passions are Classical literature and whores. Anne Carson is a Classics professor who has written extensively about the importance of bittersweet love in our lives. Carson writes, “in Greek lyric poetry, eros is an experience of melting. The god of desire himself is traditionally called ‘the melter of limbs.’” Alicia is a character in a Chavarría novel—a bicycle whore—who shuns a client when he starts reciting dithyrambs to her. Alicia tells him he’s crazy to be falling for her. She likes millionaires, and he hasn’t got a pot to piss in. Thus, Alicia’s client is experiencing the bittersweet eros that Anne Carson describes.

Which of the following is an assumption that would make the conclusion in the passage a logical one?

a) If you are a writer who takes the Classics, eros, or whores as the subjects of your writings, you must have been
spurned by a lover.
b) Eros is a dangerous topic to bring up with gold-digging whores.
c) The dithyrambs that the client recites to the whore conform to all the requirements of that poetic form sung by 7th
Centruy BC banqueters.
d) The dithyrambs that the client recites to the whore contain metaphors about melting limbs.
e) The client recites Greek lyric poetry, in the original, to all the women he sleeps with.

(You have the anwsewer? Please leave a comment and maybe you'll have more luck in love than I have.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Subtle Art of Logical Reasoning

If you are someone who likes to wrap your head around mind-teasers and puzzles, the story below offers you a game to play.

Please read this argument:

All Xylophones are not Ukuleles. Zorra plays a Ukulele. All women who do not answer to the name Zorra play Xylophones.

Which of the choices below provides the best conclusion for the argument?

a) Zorra is a woman; therefore, she plays a Xylophone.
b) Some Ukuleles are not Xylophones.
c) All women who answer to the name Zella play Xylophone.
d) If the woman plays a Xylophone, she answers to the name Zorra.
e) If the woman plays a Ukulele, she answers to some name other than Zorra.

If you post a comment supplying the correct answer to the Logical Reasoning question above, you will be admitted to the Scribble Bitch Book Club as a Genius Member.

And all the good-luck privileges that come with such status will roll your way! Easy!

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Stink?

This is a quote from a recent Times editorial:

"It is a frightening world, and New Yorkers now know to speak up if we see, hear, sense--or smell--something untoward."

On Monday, the whole city smelled like gas. Smell triggers memories. And this gas smell took our friend Riva Djinn back to the months in 1999 when she worked in an East Village real estate office. Tenants called her if they had problems. Back then she received so many phone calls from so many disgruntled tenants who were never afraid to speak out that all sorts of untoward things were going on, and why wasn't Mister Landlord doing something about it?

Ms. Djinn recalls one particular instance in which a building in Alphabet City was experiencing a gas leak, and the entire gas line throughout the building had to be replaced. The tenants called Ms. Djinn every single day. Ms. Djinn then called the plumber in charge of the project. The plumber complained that he couldn't do the job because Housing Authority wasn't issuing him the proper permit.

Well, Ms. Djinn got so fed up, she ordered the plumber to come pick her up in his red truck. "Take me downtown to the Housing Authority!" She screeched. "Boy, are they going to hear it from me!"

On the way downtown, the old plumber took a liking to our spirited Riva Djinn. And when older men take a liking to younger women, they always seem to love to give them good advice.

"Save money!" The plumber advised. "Invest in real estate." He went on. "You take your pay check, and I don't care if you're crying and screaming, you take that pay check to the bank. Save. Buy real estate."

Riva Djinn thanked him for his adviced while they waited at the Housing Authority office. She approached the haggard-looking bureaucrats and pleaded her case on behlaf of the unhappy tenants and busy landlord. They gave her the permit immediately. The plumber applauded Riva's aplomb.

On the ride back uptown, the plumber told Riva that she ought to bring a date to the Copacabana on 34th and 11th for a night of salsa. "The owner's an old buddy of mine." The plumber boasted. Riva nodded, "Sure." She didn't believe him.

"You don't believe me?" Riva tossed him a casual shrug. "Well, here." The plumber reached into his tool box and pulled out a fruit basket hair piece like the salsa queens wear. "My wife makes these and sells them at craft fairs. You can have this one for sweet talking the Housing Authority!"

"Wow, thanks." Riva smiled as she adjusted the hair piece on top of her head. The hair piece smelled of The Divine Fruit. "Smells good." Riva said to the plumber.

"Yeah. So, see you at the club?" Riva nodded. "Great. Now, I gotta be on my way to fix that stinking gas leak."

This is all to say that New Yorkers have always been able to open their mouths to complain about stench. That's nothing new. It has little to do with living in a "frightening world" as the Times editorial dictates. Really, who complains because they're afraid? Complaints are more often lodged because they can get a spirited city girl the free Goods!

But Riva doesn't pay much heed to editorials or old plumbers' advice. She still lives in that rundown tenemant and pays an exorbitant rent. But she loves the place. It's located above a lingerie boutique and soap shop. Her apartment always smells like lavender and nightlace.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Say No to Escalation

All ten million members of the Scribble Bitch Book Club support the idea of leaving President Bush to fight his Middle East war on his own. What are Americans doing in Iraq? It has never made sense, never will.

Have you seen the movie "The Good Shephard?" That movie contains a good illustration of what is going on. There is a moment in the film when a Russian captive is being interregated by CIA guys, and they make him drop acid so he'll talk. He says something along the lines, and I'm paraphrasing, Russian power is all a ruse. There is no real Russian threat. America needed the idea of a Russian threat in order to justify flexing its military muscle.

And last night I saw "Letters from Iwo Jima," and I am more convinced than ever that war is a waste of human life, resources, and money. The war in Iraq is a complete waste and failure! The more military force expended, the more America is like a madwoman who is pulling out her hair, beating her chest, and screaming "Worship The Destroyer!"

Will someone please step up, be bold, and put into motion some constructive action? The violence must end, now! Personally, I never agreed to send any soldier abroad to fight for my America, so don't ever expect me to be grateful to those who have served Bush. Come home, troops! Here are some orders for you: Brush your teeth; go to bed.

Unfortunately, a stay-at-home, childless woman has but a puppy blog say in these matters. So much for spreading democracy. What democracy?

By the way, please don't forget that exiled Western Europeans, the first Americans, developed their ideas about democracy after observing how Native Americans conducted their tribal meetings. So any smidge of justification for being in Iraq could immediately be dismissed as completely irrational because if democracy is meant to grow up in some part of the world, it will without the help of trigger-happy cowboys and down home Texas pride. I'm confident that Iraqis can do it themselves, and it's time wigged-out Americans start listening to them and believing in them. Military muscle does not effectively give confidence to Iraqis; it's a dumb crutch.

Bringing troops home and admitting the job was not worthwhile is also heroic if it saves lives. Who cares about "getting the job done" if it's a bad job?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Smart Blog

Beware of CEOs trying to sell you their macho man digital distractions. The only piece of impressive technology you ever need is this here Flash Fiction blog spot. It is the very first of what they're all calling a "Smart" Blog. That means this blog has got the processing horsepower that will let you do the things you want to do. Say you want to download Beauty. This blog uses patented technology called the glam-touch. Say you want to download Muscle. This blog automatically synchs your media with your flesh. Say you want to download Health. Your e-mail content and Web bookmarks can be streamlined to your vital organs. Say you wish to order a digital fish & chips. This gadget is designed to bridge the blogosphere and pub. This smart blog is not merely a multitasking genuis; it's a megatasker. Yes, it's THAT smart! Critics and phantoms are raving that it's even smarter than Apple's new iPhone!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Cat & The Hidden Cabaret

“Poes” (pronounced poos) is the Dutch word for pussycat. Poes also happens to be the proper name of a silver European Burmese who lives on the City’s Upper Wild Side. Poes spent the holidays at the neighbors’ apartment while her master and mistress traveled to Europe to visit family. When no one was around, Poes jumped up to the loft and walked upon the Bose stereo. Though Poes wittingly takes exquisite steps, it so happens that her delicate paw was able to push the FM button on the stereo. She spends this evening listening to WQXR, the Classical music station of the New York Times. During The Blue Danube, Poes licks herself with such delicacy that she turns her silver coat to midnight blue, her more elegant nightdress.

During a violin concerto, she stretches, extending her limbs all the way back to the memory of the first of her nine lives. In the distant past, Poes had not been merely an abandoned stray left in a box in Brooklyn; no, she had been born into the royal family. She was the most favored pet to the Virgin Queen. That was the lap of luxury!

But now she's Feline Urbane. When a car passes by on the street below, lights crawl across the ceiling. Poes is convinced those lights must be rivals; perhaps they are those legendary Birds of the Blaze? She waves her paws in the air. She pounces. No! Strange motion can't tease this cat who had lived royalty in her former life! Obedient, the lights disappear.

Poes remains still until a pigeon flies out from the eaves and the sound of wings flapping excites her. Poes sniffs the air and can smell the world’s oldest grace—solar dust and winter fur.

When she meows, she is pronouncing to her ghost audience, “I am the goddess of Mischief!” When she purrs, she is giving her advice to The Unmoving and The Shadows: “Sneak about and be patient!”

During nocturns by Chopin, she jumps from sofa to chair to windowsill. The sill always takes her back to her Cabaret days, when she shared the stage with that chorus line of Siamese. Ah, the glamour! They constantly had old showtunes on their breath; they prowled in the most fragrant alleyways, and hunted only those rats who smelled of the underground movement. That was all before the musical Cats had run its course and the group encountered that monstrous light, then the tragic accident.

Now, Poes is an uptown house pet. She naps and breathes in concertos by Mendelessohn and suites by Prokofiev. Each night, before the neighbors return home from their office jobs, the cat composes entire symphonies of her own, performs them for The Unmoving and The Shadows. She calls her creations “Opus in My Own Skin #1,” “Opus in My Own Skin #2,” etc. Though she often tries to reveal her true talents to them, the neighbors never thoroughly appreciate the genius of Poes. They can’t see beyond this one life. They can’t comprehend the cat in her proper historical dimensions, all those cycles of cats’ lives, her simultaneous existence in both polyphony and solo. These humans see one perky cat who likes to lick her fur clean, but there is so much more than that going on all at once. Can they see that? That is the big question occupying Poes’s mind. Poes rubs the neighbors’ shins and purrs, does an old nightlife trick she learned from the Siamese in the hopes that it just might help to stretch their awareness just a little further into the darker cirlces of the Great Unknown Breadth.


See photographs of Poes in the blogosphere.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Riverica Kane writes erotic poetry.

She recently joined the Scribble Bitch book club. Stay tuned on this blog for more posts related to the topic of Eros because here are two titles that the Scribble Bitch book club will discuss:

Eros, the Bittersweet
A Plea for Eros

But to set a mood for our book talk, here is a poem Ms. Kane wrote to rub up a fire under our indoor moods.

Winter in the Public House

Disguised as a circumupolar bear, he invited me into his pleasure dome.

We went down
Ice Cave.

We heckled Poker Chiefs
who chewed the Cloth of Corruption.

Their teeth cracked. Everywhere
blood, peppermint, & artificial snow.

The Lady Spies curled their index fingers, daring us to
come taste a drink called

Sap of Whore, warmed. With Whores’ tears, brandied.

The Game Boss cracked a joke, a skull, and more teeth.

Professor Gumball opened a beer bottle while a group called Twisted Synapse

fondled the old Juke—

The man in the bear suit turned to me and said,
“You. Do the fire dance. Dance, Lady, dance!”

He licked the walls of the ice cave while I shuddered.

My thighs grow cold thinking about it now, thinking about how
we desired some
real winter chill in the air
like the old days.

These days I can wear point de gaze needle lace to the phony ice party.

I dance to
circumuvocal Voices in the Void chanting: “Cover me…please!”