A Poetry PSA: Vote!

tl;dr? If you’re not sure if you’re registered to vote, CHECK TODAY! This is the last day to register in a long list of states.

And November 6, 2018, VOTE!


A poetry Public Service Announcement: VOTE!

Today, we take time to remember that the struggle for a more perfect union is long. Protests and protesting can seem futile. This weekend the GOP steamrolled Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court. In the wake of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, many laid down their own stories of sexual violence, assault, and rape on the track to slow or stop the train, but the Old White Guys and Gals persisted. Old age and treachery.

And so the long view. Some, poetry written, and read by Daniel Berrigan, (Hat tip: photo dropped by John Cusack on Twitter):

SOME by Daniel Berrigan

“Some walked and walked and walked” – Keep walking.

A few notes:

  • Poetry speaks to the soul. SOME reminds us that some battles are lost. Keep standing. Keep walking.  It’s the future, it’s not a war, and it might not be your future, but stand, walk, protest. Not once. Not twice. Continuous.
  • John Cusack tweeted this photograph of SOME on October 7, 2018, 5:19PM. His parents received this from Daniel Berrigan with a heart! and I thought how wonderful to receive poetry like this in the mail! From the poet!

And, who is Daniel Berrigan? And why do I not know this?

  • Slipping down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, Daniel Berrigan was a Jesuit priest, activist, and poet. He took an active role in the protest of the Viet Nam War, (Catonsville Nine), and he was born in Virginia, Minnesota! And so were we! But I digress.
  • I’ve seen John Cusack movies, BI – Before Internet. And so in this age of the internet, it is a totally pleasant surprise to find that John Cusack is a political activist with serious chops. His reasoning and arguments go beyond slogans. Agree or disagree with him, his arguments are thoughtful, weighty, considered.

And on that note, I’ll end with this rally cry: Buckle up!

Stand, walk. We’ve work to do.


General Election Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Vote. Vote. Vote.

(Actually vote once and only once, but VOTE!)

Let America Vote!

Spam!

Spam! An all-purpose 4-letter word.

As we struggle a more perfect union, I observe that more and more vowels are taking a knee replaced with an asterisk to mask the pedestrian words that have merged into the fast lane on the public discourse freeway. She*t. P*ss. F*ck. Low words abundant in high places. But just like we know it’s Superman hiding behind a suit and glasses, we can still read all the words Clark Kent has cleaned up. When the headline includes the word ‘b***h’, Superman knows it isn’t a blush or brush Clark’s talking about.

And so dear reader, when editing or masking words, I’ve taken the tack that vowels remain in place and instead choose to mask select consonants. Sh*t becomes s*it. P*ss becomes pi*s. H*ll becomes he*l, or *ell. Still readable. You still know of what we speak. S*it could be slit and pi*s could be pits but you know they’re not and you do not need to buy a vowel. You’ve got the puzzle covered.

But then the conundrum of how to censor f*ck. F*ck is not so simple. Censored any other way it still sounds like it reads. Maybe *uck? Nah. And so taking a trick from the Monty Pythons, I propose that ‘spam’ be used as a substitute for the words that are still too robust, still too raw, still too pedestrian to walk by the editor’s blue pencil. Spam, a four-letter word, it can be a noun, an adjective, or it can be verbed and we can leave the asterisk alone. Totally flexible that spam:

  • Go to spam.
  • Spamhead.
  • Spam it.
  • What the spam?
  • Spam right off.
  • He hasn’t a spamming clue.

Spam! Bonus: suitable as a substitute for longer words too:

  • That spam better have my money.
  • Grab them by the spam.

You know what’s been said. And the Pencesniffians can read through all that spam too!

Spam. Spam. Spam.

It works.


I offer this clip of Monty Python’s ‘Spam’ in the event you think I used too much spam in this post:

Labels.

My rewrite of some select headlines:

  • African American’s Increasingly Erratic Behavior Comes At a Price for Tesla Shareholders (Forbes)
  • African American calls Thailand diver ‘child rapist’ in new baseless attack (The Guardian)
  • Elon Musk: The African American Architect of Tomorrow (Rolling Stone)

For your consideration today, please consider the labels used to describe others.

A Sundry Assortment of Updates

General Election Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Vote. Vote. Vote.

(Actually vote once and only once, but VOTE!)

Wisconsin Residents: Information at MyVote Wisconsin.


A calendar check tells me that while I’ve been off not blogging, I have completed another trip around the sun! And although an annual holiday is a good time to reflect, review, and renew personally, here are some updates on previous posts as we, the US of A continue to struggle a more perfect union:


Kava-nah!

Brett Kavanaugh. From 7th-grade civics classes, I understood that selecting a Supreme Court Justice was a really.big.deal. Appointments are for a lifetime or the remainder thereof.

And then McConnell blocked any hearing at all for nominee Merrick Garland for 264 days or so and again, I was reminded that selection of a Supreme Court Justice is a really.big.deal.

And then Gorsuch was confirmed in record time and I learned that Mitch McConnell is a racist, treasonous, hypocritical lyin’-SOB and if karma is a bi*ch, a chunk of the rotunda would fall on him literally symbolizing his contribution to the death of our democracy but I digress …  

So the update is that after watching this political circus s*its*ow for a few decades, selection of a Supreme Court Justice is not as big a deal as I thought it was, or that Mitch thought it was during the Obama Administration. Mitch has matured past those archaic mores that Supreme Court justice picks are a really.big.deal.  He has embraced public life as the racist, treasonous, hypocritical lyin’-SOB he’s kept hidden under his white suit in plain sight but I digress …

It’s a race. The final race starting gun sounded this morning with confirmation hearings. Call your Senators – (202) 224-3121. Script:

  • Hi, my name is your name and I’m a constituent of Senator name calling from City, State.
  • I’m calling regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh whose records have been withheld for review and whose stated ideology is out of step with the vast majority of Americans. 
  • I urge Senator name to oppose the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. He has a troubling record on guns, he would put reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, the environment, and health care for millions of Americans at risk.

Or say what you want. Script lines were lifted and modified from multiple sites.

Kava? Nah.


Where is Jeff Sessions?

Well, he’s still Attornery General.

Oh, a spontaneous word-mash! ‘Attorney’ plus ‘ornery’ gives us ‘attornery’.

After predicting that the penalty for Jefferson bull*hit-Beauregard-no-regard Sessions, III White Lying under oath would be that he would still be Attorney General in a month, I will state that I was so wrong! It has been 550 days and we’re still counting. I wonder what the odds were in Vegas?

Well, I’m sure as the target for Prescedense Orangangutang’s Tweets, Jeff Sessh is an attornery.

But he’s in good company: Don McGahn and Stefan Passatino are leaving or have left too! They can form a veritable firm of Trump attornerys.


C.K., I

Louis C.K. and do we even know what the C.K. stands for? Well, Louis C.K. decided his times up now,  he’s been bad but now he’s exited the penalty box to resume his day night job “without apparently grappling with what he done.[sic]”  The commentary at the end of this article “Standup Comedians Explain Why Louis C.K.’s Return Was So Infuriating” is everything.

Louis C.K.? Wrong. How about Louis I.C.K.? Just another OWG back to his OWG schtick.

Maybe keep it in your pants this time Louis.


C.K., II

Colin Kaepernick! After celebrating Colin Kaepernick’s standing up by way of kneeling down to protest systemic racism by putting the anthem run-up to his livelihood on the line, I wondered how much we would hear from or about him in the future. But GO NIKE! Yesterday, Nike announced they had kept Kaepernick under contract and that he is the face of their 30-year ‘Just Do It’ campaign!

Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

Colin Kaepernick, or Nike …

In contrast to C.K., I., C.K., II interrupted his career. The NFL put him in a permanent timeout-side-the-stadium penalty box. And Nike? sure, they’ll make millions but it’s a bigger world outside the stadium and Colin Kaepernick will continue to Just Do It — play, protest, be heard.

Make a difference for those left out of stadium seating.


Celebrate! The GOAT.

Serena Williams. Gonna end this on a positive note, I celebrated that Serena Williams is in the army supporting Fearless Girl come-to-life here. And when Serena was restricted from wearing a catsuit to play tennis, she sported a tutu. (And I’m not sure I can rock bumper Nikes with a tutu, but I’ll try. Frood, you have been warned.)

And here is a celebratory thread link to a Serena history lesson with pictures and video of why she is the GOAT. Enjoy!

(Twitter thread by @khalilmsaadiq, 2018 Aug 31, ThreadReaderApp unroll.)

Acronym GOAT: Greatest of All Time

Have a terrific day, why not?

 

Dear Diary, Vermilion Pastoral.

TL;DR? And this is l-o-n-g … I am on vacation.


Lake Vermilion. One ‘l’ not two. Vermilion, not Vermillion. Lake Vermilion, Minnesota is not a place, not a zip code. It is a lake. One of the five largest lakes in Minnesota, where I’m convinced they count ponds as lakes to get to a total of 10,000.

But then Vermilion confuses this belief.

On the west half of Lake Vermilion the bays separated by rock and island geologic formations seem large enough to warrant being their own lake – Lake Wakemup, Lake Norwegian, Lake Black, Lake Niles, Lake Frasier, Lake Head of Lakes — but instead they are bays. Wakemup Bay, Norwegian Bay, Black Bay, Niles Bay, Frasier Bay, and Head of Lakes Bay.  What defines a lake versus a bay? And when is a lake just a pond? For that matter what defines a lake when a river runs through it? And I’m looking at you Lake Pepin. The Mississippi River runs through it. Why isn’t Lake Pepin just a feature called the widening of the Mississippi River at Pepin?  (Note to self: investigate.)

Maybe Minnesota would have more lakes if the Lake called Vermilion was split up into more lakes. Bays become lakes.

Pluto was demoted from planet to dwarf planet. Lake Vermilion could be promoted to a waterway with contiguous lakes. The Vermilion Chain of Lakes. Expand the galaxy of Minnesota’s lakes by reclassifying bays.


Frood and I take a boat ride with Mr. Viva on Lake Vermilion, a lake so big it has one island for every day of the year and one of those islands is so big it has its own lake.

Skipping across the lake at boat speed taking it all in — wildness, wilderness in chaos, an endless shoreline outcropping of rock; and a better writer would describe the shoreline differently because it is not an outcropping of rock, there is nothing ‘out’ about it. ‘Outcropping’ implies a sticking out, a formation out of the ordinary. The formation on the shoreline is without end. A continuous installation of rock. Normal.

So, I’ll state it again, the entire shoreline is an outcropping of rock. The edge of rough grade sandpaper that has roughed up and raised not just wood but living woods — scrubby and dense with the occasional patches of bare rock still cold and hard, still fresh with the memory of the glacier scrape of millions of years ago. This sandpaper gives no quarter, these rocks have not cracked or broken to give shelter to the roots of a tree.

They’re warming up to moss though. It’s a start.


And the island on the lake big enough to have its own lake? I wonder if anyone lives on the island. And do they face outward toward the big lake or do they introvert to the little lake? Is the property taxed for lake frontage in and out? Coming or going? A lake with an island on a lake sounds so romantic. The island is a moat.

There is not much conversation on the boat. I miss when Frood points to a white spot on the water. From the motor end of the boat, Mr. Viva tells me, “A dead fish.” I pass the information along to Frood. “Fish.” And I point. She already knows.

We circle in to get a better look. A muskie, 45-46″ long. According to Mr. Muskie-hunter-Viva who would know, the magnificent white belly up is the result of improper catch-and-release. White belly to the sky, laid out, motionless but for the waves. In its former life, this was a predator, a killer, a big fish in a big lake.


Near Merry-Go-Round Reef at the mouth of Norwegian Bay is ‘Square Rock Island,’ a small island with a cubic rock pointing up. Someone in glacier-scrape-sandpaper quality control left before shift end and so this cube sticks out like a die stuck en pointe. A singular true outcropping. And again with the names. ‘Square’ implies two-dimensions. ‘Cubic Rock Island’ would be more apt. ‘Dice Island’ more poetic. (‘Die Island’ more exacting but who would want to go there?) Note to self: have a word with the Minnesota Department of naming things.

The rock on Square Rock Island is very Claes Oldenburg-esque and it was here long before and will be here long after us or Claes. Nature demonstrates. If it was a Rubik’s Cube, the colors have faded to gray.  Or maybe it is the dots on a die that have worn away — no more craps games and we never made the second die for a set of dice anyway.  Or maybe the glacier scraper had something more practical in mind, we’ll never know. This odd rock on an island on a lake that has an island with a lake. Art. Nature validates even though we puzzle as to why and what for.

I would like to see something like a ‘Dice Island’ sculpture on a Wisconsin Avenue street corner as a Sculpture Milwaukee installation. The sounds of wind and water and motorboat would be replaced with street sounds but that could only add to the puzzlement and wonder. A glacier scraper installation on Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI.

I’m here for it.


One of the Sculpture Milwaukee sculptures last year was not the sculpture but the instructions for construction. This seems like a writerly way to create art. Describe, specify, handoff to manufacturing and see what this way comes. Handoff to many manufacturers resulting in a family of sculptures with a shared DNA but each one unique.

I am reminded of the scene in This is Spinal Tap where the artist played by Angelica Huston hands a commissioned replica of Stone Henge to the band’s manager. When the manager inquires as to the delivery of the full-size stage prop, she pulls out the paper napkin spec and points to 11″ — eleven inches. This is it. I’ve finished. The difference a tic makes — 11″ – inches when it should be feet — 11′.

In describing the Lake Vermilion shoreline for hand-off to manufacturing, I would overuse ‘outcrop’ and ‘outcropping.’ The glacier scraper would read “outline the shore with rock outcroppings like glitter only use rock, lots of rock, so much outcrop rock, outcroppings of rock under the water, outcroppings over the water, big outcroppings of rock as islands” and then in protest of all this misuse of ‘outcrop’ and its tiresome variations and to make a very bold, very Claes statement, manufacturing would drop a “Square Rock Island” into the final product. Screw you. Screw your instructions. We know it’s a cube, but this, this is an outcropping rock. Bah with your shoreline “glitter” of 11″. We know it is 11′. We make mistakes made to scale.


American Pastoral by Philip Roth is a sweeping saga of a novel. Oh, glorious redundancy! “Sweeping saga of a novel.” He writes deliciously, delicately, boldly and delivers paragraphs that span pages. A paragraph so long it contains sentences with embedded paragraphs — no twitchy returns or hesitations; a paragraph that spans years of military service and pages followed by another paragraph a few pages later that a lesser writer demanding less of a reader would mercifully call a complete chapter.¹ Gloriously tamped down, packed, and fully formed novels within sentences within paragraphs within a novel.

And in keeping with pastoral, there is not much dialog, but when there is, it is exact. Innocuous. Simple. But loaded.

“Fish.” Dead fish. I wonder at the life of the muskie. Territorial, predatory, making its way through years of unchecked behavior becoming of a master of a pond or a large lake or Lake Norwegian Bay. Caught up by the lure, the appeal of a Lindy line, hook, and sinker. Caught. Photographed in shame by a proud fisherman — he had to have been, a muskie this huge. The muskie was stunned by too much fresh air, thrown back without enough catch-and-release care to reacclimate, belly to the sun, dead to the end. No more the big fish.


Pastoral. The definition:

  1. used for or related to the keeping or grazing of sheep or cattle.
  2. (in the Christian church) concerning or appropriate to the giving of spiritual guidance.

Early in the saga of Swede, the protagonist, the narrator claims he was completely wrong, completely wrong about his understanding of the Swede. Wrong about the Swede. Pastoral, both definitions apply. But wrong. The writer, the narrator’s brain. Roth nails it. Meet someone once and nail their character, their personality, their imagined experience to a wall. Crucify them on your storyboard with a glance. And then Roth nails us. Pins himself up for examination and scrutiny.

“I was wrong.”

And me too! I always am.

Dig under the veneer, lift-up the corners, look at the underbelly. “If you knew your neighbor’s problems, you’d keep your own.” – anonymous

That’s where the story starts and as the tale is told, I shift my scrutiny of Swede and his story to the narrator as look through his prose, his descriptions, his glass, darkly. The real story is the subtext of what’s onstage.


There is a breeze on the lake and by breeze, I mean a cool sometimes stiff wind. We’re in a small boat, there is a healthy chop. And then a speedboat towing a floaty ring with a couple of kids on it zips by and they must be freezing. The water may be 60°F. Small human ice cubes in the making.

But then kids burn hot.

Back in the early ‘70’s of flowers and large bell-bottoms, my Aunt made us – we were kids — swim, get in that water on that Lake Vermilion public beach. The ambient temperature hadn’t risen to above 70°F until after the 4th of July and the ice may have broken just the week before, but you are going in that water. Looking back, we were an offering, her sign to the universe that this was summer; in this land of 10,000 lakes and some ponds and a lake with an island with its own lake, it is warm enough to call it summer, hot enough to order a sacrifice of small warm human bodies into a cold lake.

Shepherd the children into the lake to show the universe what you’re willing to sacrifice and maybe summer will follow. Kids burn hot. I only remember the fun of the beach.


I’m currently taken with the time-lapse function on my camera. Pointed at the seemingly unmoving landscape of trees, water, sky, the camera picks up the micro movements in the macro frame.

My bleacher seat today is on the deck of a porch looking at a lake with an island that is big enough to have a lake.

From the porch across the road, I must look like a woman intent on a notebook, enjoying too much coffee, glancing away occasionally. Or I am just a woman in a pink sweatshirt feeling the breeze. Whatever. Their frame doesn’t show what is written, doesn’t show micro movement. They don’t know that I’m writing that their beach towels and lawn chairs are thrown about and it looks like a mess of a vacation.

Micro-movements.

When I’m plugged into the news, into the micromovements of macroas*holery, I realize the frame I’m looking at isn’t large enough. In the sweeping glacial movement of time, daily news is a scratch.


Here’s a picture of coffee.

Coffee in repose.

Still life.


In Ankle Biting Black Fly Cove I kill a couple getting drunk on the sweet elixir I call my precious lifeblood. A check of the Lake Vermilion map doesn’t show a bay named Ankle Biting Black Fly Cove but it should. I must have a word with the namers of places. People should be warned.


Pastoral. While reading American Pastoral on a Lake Vermilion beach, I wonder if there is a word to describe in one fell swoop inland waterways and large swaths of freshwater lake and rock and scrub. A single word that could stand in and replace hundreds of words in this post, but the words I trip across seem salt-water based. Maritime. Aquatic. Seafaring. Oceanic. So far removed from here.

Either there is an obscure word that is not coming to mind (mine), or there is an opportunity to create a new word. ‘Lakquatic’ as a mash-up but it doesn’t contain the hardness, the coldness, the glacial scrape of life in the north woods. I need a word that encompasses the blue-red vermilion water, the scrubby trees, the rock underlying and overlaying, the mosquitos that sound like small helicopters, the loons that mate for life, the expensive rod and reel sunk to the bottom, the large predator floating belly up, the all of it.

This is Vermilion Pastoral.

-Viva E., Lake Vermilion

July, 2018


¹ Epic paragraphs in American Pastoral by Philip Roth are on pages 211-213 and 220-224 if you’re still reading along, Ann.

A Vivacation Sundry Assortment!

Well!  A check of the blog tells me that a year ago, I threw out for your consideration Google’s development of Loon balloons and remote internet. And here I am once again in the land of large blood-sucking mosquitos in contemplation of how much has changed in a year, and how naive it was of me to think that by Vivacation this year, the train wreck of the Trump prescedensy would be disappearing in the rear-view mirror of history.

Well, it’s not.

Buckle up. Here we go.


Early in July, Londoners floated their own Loon balloon in protest of Trump’s visit. A baby blimp in the image of Trump complete with diaper and safety pin.

And that diaper safety pin on the Trump-loon-buffoon-balloon looks too much like my safety pin.

But maybe therein lies the unspoken message of my safety pin.

“Keep your vile poopy diaper contained. Keep your racist, misogynistic, religious, etc. hateful fear-mongering s*it to yourself. Don’t make me use my pin … “

And while I have not had to invoke my safety pin’s superpower, it continues to amaze me that questions on the meaning, symbolism, and purpose come from women in my own demographic — white, middle-age, middle-class. I don’t know that they were in the 53% of women voting for Trump, but I don’t know that they weren’t.


As I skimmed news headlines, from The Hill: “Tramp rumpsup scrutiny of illegal immigrants” gave me pause and made me smile and then I reread. “Trump rampsup scrutiny of illegal immigrants.” Oh. Of course.

Tramp rumps up.


And speaking of Tramp rumps up. One of my favorite I-follows on Twitter had this comment in response to the Prescedense Tweet message to Iran:Ragnarok Lobster - Tang the Conqueror.JPG:

And if this were fiction, this would be funny. But we’re living it. Non-fiction history being written in 280-character chunks.

Many on Twitter are calling out @Jack (Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO) on this violation of Twitter’s terms of service.

Suspend

Wouldn’t that be rich?

POTUS in a Twitter timeout. A safety pin moment for us all.


Paul Manafort’s trial was moved and starts July 31, 2018.  In the meantime, watch for more gaslighting POTUS Tweets … although he shifts our attention elsewhere, he is not a magician. We can see the smoke and mirrors and fluster bluster.


And the POTUS is pulling security clearances of former .

Republicans:

  • Former CIA Director John Brennan
  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
  • Former FBI Director James Comey
  • Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe
  • Former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden

And one Democrat:

  • Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice

And this is not about security. Hayden has already stated he doesn’t need the clearance.

It is the act of making the list, making it public, singling out and stifling dissent.¹


Finally, since I am on Vivacation, here is a mini-mental health break:


¹ Many political observers and pundits have made this observation:

  • Sarah Kendzior
  • Leah McElrath
  • And others …