Friday, November 30, 2007


Why is it that whenever unusual world cuisine is being discussed, when someone names something very unappealing to the western palate (like fungus stuffed caterpillar or deep-fried sparrows) inevitably someone else will chime in and say, "It's actually a delicacy there." Why does it have to be a delicacy? Why can't it just be something that they eat? Do people in Mongolia, when talking about American consumption of hot dogs say,"Oh yeah, they take all of the assholes and the nipples and guts and stuff out of an animal, stuff it into the animal's intestine, cook it, eat it, and love it!They pay top dollar for it. I'm not kidding."

Is it the idea that, not only does this strange people eat this weird stuff, but they actually adore it that makes us go this route, or is it that same old instinct that led us to chase our little sisters and brothers around with a booger on our index finger;some kind of gross-out schadenfreude?

I'd write more, but the horse tongue soup I'm cooking for my kids' lunch smells like it's burning.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Your Legs

Your legs
Your olive legs
Your caramel
Pink tan legs

Are the scissors
That cut my concentration

Through halls
Designed to indulge echo
You clip
My head

Your legs
Your thick legs
Your soft
Tattooed legs

Should require
A license to operate.

This, and many other fine poems (by many other fine poets) can be found in any copy of Zygote In My Coffee's fourth print edition.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Penn On Glenn

Penn Jillette goes to bat for libertarianism, and good-naturedly puts Glenn Beck in his place after Beck's third or fourth mildly patronizing reference to the time Jillette spent in clown college. Fun to watch.

God Stuff

God fits very awkwardly into my life. I suppose this may be attributable in the minds of some to my failure to fully surrender , or some other such religious nomenclature. Whatever the reason for this awkwardness, God is a constant source of discomfort for me, and in spite of myself, I have not been able to ditch him. I hear people talk about how hard faith is: this is a novel concept for me. While it is hard for me to take certain aspects of different scriptures on faith, and others I accept with nuance, I have always found myself believing there is a God, and however unfathomable the mind of God is, my belief remains, although the particulars of the belief are absent. I think that is where I think the discomfort arises. There are so many different ways of expressing God out there, and all seem dependant upon the makeup of the person doing the expressing. I can't claim any special revelation. When I hear something about God that makes sense, I say to myself, 'that sounds right.' and bring it along with me.

If God created us, surely there is some built-in God recognizing device, either in our soul or our bodies, because the perception of God is assuredly not a rational endeavor*. My emotions are unreliable, and all over the place. My reason has nowhere to go when it comes to God. The only thing I can see that would bind me to one holy book or the other is the fear of hell, or promise of heaven, and motivations in that direction strike me as cynical. No Pascal's wager for me.

There is a thing inside me that tells me what is right, and what is wrong. Most of the time I can apply reason to these things to discover why they are right and wrong, but it is always a case of me working backwards from my conclusion to get the answer. There is no fooling this device, and even when I come up with good rationales for bad behavior, this little device knows what I am full of. I think it's from this place that my belief arises.

I have read all of the current slew of so-called 'neo-atheist books', by Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet, and Richard Dawkins. Christopher Hitchens's book was the most fun to read, Sam Harris's was the most convincing. His [Harris's] strongest argument, in my opinion, was that allowing yourself to believe things without evidence leads you to a place where you can commit violence without reason. I concede this point, although it does nothing to disprove the existence of God. Hitchens's best argument was that religion offers so much neurosis to children, and leads to unnecessary time wasted as we grow up reconciling with or battling the demons created by our feelings of sinfulness. I concede this point as well and feel no inclination to stand up for religion in any sense. My politics are generally secularist-conservative-libertarian, and I think dogmatic thinking is lazy. I try to challenge it whenever I find it in myself, although I sometimes fail. I had to modify my acceptance of Stephen Jay Gould's NOMA principle (however noble an attempt at reconciliation I thought it was) because I do not believe, along with Peter Singer, that morality should be the exclusive property of the religious alone, and that indeed a claim to such property by religion in certain instances can be damaging*. Our morality, while perhaps coming to us in a near-instinctual kind of way, must be able to be subject to reason.

So where does this leave me with God? I find myself unable to not believe, although I have opened myself to most convincing arguments against belief I could find. I find myself--like a weak magnet--attracting odds and ends of different aspects of different denominations and religions as I go on my way, and try to do good (when it strikes me to do so) by following my own inner compass and reason, and not because I hope for streets of gold or because I fear the creativite forms of torture practiced by the denizens of hell. I know this will not endear me to any devout person, or ardent secularist, but what can I do? It would seem that one of the costs of our freedom and free will is a necessary distance. Philip Yancey says in his book Reaching For the Invisible God "Wise Parents nudge their children away from dependence toward freedom, for their goal is to produce independent adults. Lovers, however, choose a new kind of voluntary dependence: possessing freedom, they gladly give it away" And then he goes on to say that he thinks that is what God wants from us.

I don't know what God wants from us. If he does want anything,** surely he would have given us the tools to create or acheive it. That is what I have to trust has been done, and I will work with what tools I have, in good faith.

*teachingsfrom various religions on genocide, circumcision, slavery, homosexuality, masturbation, the role of women, jihad, blind obedience,etc.

**why God would want anything from us other than to be is something I often think about: surely the Home Depot in heaven is far better than what we've got down here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Earth Moves

The earth moves you know,
Even if we stand so still:
Buy yourself some shoes.

Concrete and Calligram

Chris Major has recently had an e-book put together by why vandalism? called Concrete and Calligram. It is available for free download or viewing at , and is worth the time it takes to inspect.

Mr. Major is edgy in the real sense of the word, not in the superficial 'look at me, I say fuck alot and write narcissistic free verse about substance abuse and the hollowness of modern society' kind of edgy, which is frankly boring at this point. Chris Major is the Joe Maneri of poetry, all praise and potential criticism included.

It took me ten minutes to read the whole thing. I have read it several times since, and shown it to friends. I don't do that a lot.
My favorite piece is 'Failing Physics Circa '78', which made me laugh out loud. Many of the poems are infused with an anarchic, playful humor that is banksy-esque; see 'Freedom Of Speech In Zimbabwe (bullet proof glass)' and 'Seal Windows and Doors (bio attack)' for illustration. Some of the pieces, 'Predator' and 'The Way Poets Can Change the World' are simply playful, and refreshingly self-depricating in the latter's case. There are now more words in this review, I believe--potentially barring the introduction--than there are in the book itself, so I think I'll stop.
good stuff if you get a chance to look.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

the bacon of eternity

If I were feeling fanciful, I would say Sting’s This Cowboy Song is the song most descriptive of my life.

“I've been the lowest of the low on the planet
I've been a sinner all my days
When I was living with my hand on the trigger
I had no sense to change my ways
The preacher asked if I'd embrace the resurrection
To suck the poison from my life
Just like an existential cowboy villain
His words were balanced on my knife”

I read somewhere recently that Sting was voted the worst lyricist ever by some Rock magazine. I don’t understand this world.

Anyway, This Cowboy Song probably isn‘t my song in reality. My song is probably something less romantically cavalier. Probably something without words. Like the theme from Looney Tunes.

My grandfather owns the quote of the day. He was telling me that I should take the kids down to see the creation museum in Kentucky. He said it had some cool Animatronic dinosaurs, and a nice planetarium. This recommendation led to a discussion of the controversy surrounding the museum, and how everyone wants to put numbers on things. He said ‘The Earth can’t be hundreds of millions of years old. I actually wish he had taken that much time. I mean, look at it. This is a six day job.’

Nicely done.

Just started reading Terry Pratchett’s Reaper Man in my down time. Very funny. Death is one of his best characters. Here’s some good writing from early on in the book (page 14 in the mass market):

“In the hall of the house of death is a clock with a pendulum like a blade but with no hands, because in the house of Death there is no time but the present…it swings with a faint whum-whum noise, gently slicing thin rashers of interval from the bacon of eternity.”

I took some funny stuff out of the middle (indicated by the …), but that’s the main part I liked. I also recommend the part about the mayflies.

My father and I play a macabre game with each other where we try to be the first to tell the other when famous people die. I’m not sure how it got started, and it’s disturbing at times, but it’s something we do. I rarely win. I beat him to Wilson Pickett, and Anna Nicole Smith, but he gets pretty much everyone else. He called me today to let me know that I completely missed the deaths of Robert Goulet and the guy who flew the Enola Gay. I conceded, and admitted that I didn’t know the guy who flew the Enola Gay. I mean, I knew someone flew the Enola Gay, I just didn’t know he was still alive, or that he had a name. I knew Billy Crystal played him in the movie. Maybe that says something about our culture that I knew Goulet but not the guy who dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. Maybe it just says something about me.

My wife and I hijacked an idea from the movie The Story of Us for family dinners. It’s the High-Low report. Every night that we have dinner together (which is most nights) we report what our high point and low point for the day was. We didn’t eat together tonight because my wife had a class, so I’ll tell you my high. I reached back to hold one of my son’s hands as we were driving back from my grandfather’s house, and the other one put his hand in my hand too. My oldest son is six, and my youngest is two. Both of their hands fit comfortably in my palm. We drove home like this, and I thought, ‘How long will I be able to do this?’

My low is that we ran out of creamer for the coffee.