Saturday, December 27, 2008

Most poignant thing I have read on the Internet in weeks:

"People put too much of themselves into the Internet and not enough into real life."

Posted By Clint, Salem OR : December 26, 2008 2:12 pm

Read the article here

The poignant comment is in retaliation to some of the slander the readers were making about Wal-Mart. I am a fan of the place (didn't used to be a decade ago, but like it now).

Not sure why I posted this, but the thought seems poignant. So much of the Internet is based on an ideal--a free ranging playground, a place where people can comment without fear of being identified. Anonymity is the bugle call of the Internet. I remember some retailers used to say "shop in your underwear!" as a slogan. And the slogan works, because it is true. Do whatever you want in the privacy of your own home, no one will know what you are doing.

I am curious--if an id (name, rank, and serial number) were displayed on each of our e-tracks, would this phenomenon of anonymous bashing continue? If Joe Schmoe, your neighbor, could be easily identified as an aficionado of all things women's hosiery, perhaps it would put a kink (no pun intended) in your neighborly relationship. Anonymity breeds contempt (and in a case like Joe's, you could even say familiarity would breed contempt as well).

On a separate but mildly related note, I am in management and hear stories of managers/HR folk quashing applicants after checking out their applicant's myspace page and finding that the person represented in the interview was someone quite different in real life. The practice has become more common, and the trend will probably become fully commonplace in the next ten years what with everyone being so connected and all nowadays.

This post is really just a musing, if you agree or disagree, reply. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

-Jay

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Seneschal

'Cry Hell, and loose the dogs of war'
on all these abundant accessories underfoot

oft I wish all these toys and things--
untidy bits all--could be given away (what a surplus M'Lord!)

and all my children, smartly dressed and hair
perfectly parted would sit and read silently, no mess!

if it were my world the three of them, all Athenas,
would be leaping from my head fully armed so!

but my temper on this is mainly mercurial
coruscant in it's orbit, quickly hot and done (thank God!)

oh what complications and complexties are presented
in owning and being owned by their things!

truth told, my talents never hid in the dirt, lodged there~
no, they are a gainfully employed silver note

and in accounting them, one needs compound and amortization
tidy red and black tickmarks, all marching in exercise for progeny

the consideration, the toil, the getting -- (whew!)
all but a baton to be passed, mycelium to spore

this investment is the thing, capital turnover--
the neccesary part of cultivation for handsome yields

and yet I find myself considering aptitude again, and
if a possible audit may be struck, a revision on my prior thought

perhaps my talent does reside in the soil afterall, though different--
and the parable, the steward, and God will one day balance it out

-Jay
12/26/08

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

For Bruce

Todays trip to the mailbox bore me strange fruit indeed
I went hoping for a package, yet found something unexpected there
the previously unknown avuncular writings of a Blair
and I found scion-fresh words; all moreover, still, too, & yet.

In my hand a manilla envelope stared back at me, iris periods by the initials R & B
peeking past an overdue car loan bill, they shyly implored me to open the packet
I scooped them all up, letters and packages--and R.B.'s origin was debated all the way in
I found myself standing at the table: so still, breathless, halcyon, & composed.

"Merry Christmas!" the simple card saluted, picnic words hiding
the thick evaoprated prose the package still yet unbeknownst bore.
"from one Blair poet to another" finished the card (Spartanly), and beguiling,
the package entreated me to open it: to undo, tear, rend, & disclose.

I obliged, and space and time transcended~strange moment of lucidity!
you were there then, and I knew you all my life--the picture on the cover was you,
and I was there. comprehension ran together, a
raging torrent of thought; swolen river in flood, cataract, torrent, & surge.

A bare five sestinas I read, then ate, digesting words with meat, bread and thought
mingling until one and one were same, noumenon and nourishment, clay and clay
pith that formed the nerve and eye and wrinkle of brain. 'lo missing! 'lo prodigal!
misplaced man, too like me; all matching, paralell, kin, & resembling.

You and dad and I, three similar, three diferent. one bohemian, one doctrinal, one marking
yet cut from the same soil. I felt for a moment the disorientation
of a funhouse mirror--reality was skewed, foothold inverted.
metamorphosis transmogrified it all into pomes; the shoot, vines, petal, & leaflet.

And now I am changed, feeling the weight of progeny as perhaps my forebears felt
wondering how close to the quick my own guises cut, cloaks and faces all~
the same which other Blairs were akin to, more than blood I mean, but persona
habiliment, and accoutrement; that embodiment, identity, stricture, & self

Thank you for your words, unexpectedly shared and secretly mailed
I marked them today and will mark them again, strong running heralds all
the leagues they cross on toiling legs are light~and the space between is eclipsed
overstepped by pen and ink: brave voyager, wayfarer, albatross, & nomad!

-Jay
12-24-2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

9/18/2008

I went to see you today alone
not the sort of visit
where I bring along the children

you were in the hospital
heartsick, soulsick, aching
I sat with family there and we talked

at thirty, a man expects
certain things, altruisms--
but broken, he reverts back to clan

and soon you were discharged
forms, wheels, doors all working
I felt a glimmering of hope, despair

twins in my breast, twins~
which first would breach?
what hand to lay claim to birthright?

thank God for family, oh God
when all seeming fails around
they wrap about me, a minken mantle

tears then, in the retelling
pains revisited, wrack reborn
and yet new life, resurrection! tiny spark

soon now night too shall arrive
not the dark of eternal sleep
just one of momentarily blinking, staved~

succeded by another dawn again
in God's burning eye, the sky
trailing onward, on, till rightful day of rest.

-Jay 9/18/08

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Day the Earth Got Tired of Hippies

We went and watched The Day The Earth Stood Still tonight with Jim & Angie Simmons, Andy & Shanna Hernandez, and Cory & Darla Yeates. I supposed I should have been a bit prepped by the fact that it was an old Hollywood remake we were going to watch, but the big names in it had me thinking it could be OK.

Well, the usual hippie environmentalism cropped up, and the aliens were going to erase all human life, and we were all touched and weepy because the little boy's dad was dead.

It was a bit typical of the environmental slurry Hollywood has grown accustomed to serving us. Instead of us living peacefully with each other (ala 1951), we must now live peacefully with the earth (and donations to Greenpeace are one way of doing that. Greenpeace regularly shoots tear gas at 50 foot robots and Japanese jackalope hunters to scare them away).

I left the movie feeling vaguely nauseated, wondering what the hell Keanu Reeves' character Klaatu's death meant (death by silica/carbon based robot locusts probably didn't yield much to his energy being reused elsewhere), wondering what the extent of the sacrifice the survivors would have to make to save the planet (I am assuming some Kyoto-on-steroids would suffice), and wondering how Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith's characters were going to get to whoever the hell was in charge and tell them what happened and why the alien, Klaatu decided to let them live (he had the change of heart over a vague amalgam of Bach, a math formulae with a cool Nobel-prize winning John Cleese, tears over a dead parents grave, and allusions to verve--the alien somehow grew "human" morals).

Now, lest some alien earth wardens read my post and sweep on in, killing everyone except for Al Gore (the perfect environmentalist poster boy and Nobel Prize Winner, except for the Chilean Sea Bass incident), I do want to say that I do care about the environment. I personally feel that the earth is part of our stewardship. I think we will need to account to God in how we treat it. I also believe we need to find ways to take care of it. We need to try and not intentionally poison it, or at the very least use common sense and not poison ourselves or our children. Do we need intervention? We do. Are we at the brink of a precipice? I think not.

The shrill voice of Hollywood would want us to believe so. If the new administration thinks raising taxes on gas/oil/gasoline will fix it, they are mistaken. If they think making gas too expensive to use so we'll clamor for the Chevy Volt will solve the issue, they are wrong. We need to stay the course, get the economy back on line, continue to find new (feasible) alternative resources, and keep moving in a green direction.

All ranting aside (it is late now, and quite past my bedtime), the movie is OK to watch once. It has some very cool ideas--the alien adapting to the earth by being "born", the "arks", the special effects (all kinds of stuff eaten up by the little robot locusts), the idea that a higher power/entity is interested in our planet (I am of the opinion this is true, just that God is the higher power interested). But if you are planning on buying it, I say go with the 1951 version. There is a reason why it is a classic, and that 57 years form now, the new version will be a footnote.

The original may be campier, by today's standards, but it is far less preachy. And I fear the upcoming administration is going to get more shrill and throw its weight around with some very deep pockets in order to cram more of the same hippie slurry into movies. You heard it here folks, get ready for X-Men 6 Rise of the Oil Slick Cleaner-Upper Guy, and the like.

But then again, in thew words of the late great Phil Hartman: "What do I know, I'm just a caveman!"

-Jay

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I sat down and wrote a letter to my long-deceased grandmother earlier this week, and felt wonder at the comfort those impulsive words brought. I hadn't planned to write her, and everyone knows that email isn't typically received in Heaven (unless they get some great wireless broadband coverage), but I wrote her all the same.

I even emailed it to her, knowing it would most likely reject (and it did, the false hope I engendered in you momentarily for great posthumous broadband is now gone...so sue me). The surprising thing to me was the outpouring of emotion and built up feelings I experienced. I had figured my feelings about her passing were grown over, solid skin over old wounds. Instead I found them fresh and painful, newly split open like a sixteenth century sailor's scurvy while at sea. My grandmother has been dead for twenty-two months, passing on after fighting several strokes. I shouldn't have cried tears for her now, the funeral being so long ago, right?

These surprising words and feelings made me realize how much I hadn't said to her--those busy last few days where I only visited twice (afraid in my boyishness and hybris that if I didn't go by, she couldn't pass on, not yet). Oh how I wish I would have stopped by her small apartment to chat her up for a bit about work, life, all the seemingly mundane things that really are the glue of life. I would have shared that extra sharp cheddar/gorgonzola wheel with her instead of by myself in the emptier weeks after (my wife won't touch the stuff, not that I am complaining). None of that could happen now, much as I wanted it to, so I sent my one-sided conversation knowing it would reject, and I missed her with every keystroke.

You may brace yourself for a cringeworthy cliche now, as you may have seen it coming. Every mediocre bit of writing has at least one cliche, as Mr Harlan, my first year english teacher pointed out (I can still hear him: Blair, the best writing has no cliches whatsoever. The best writing is all original, even if writing about your old socks). Well here goes Mr Harlan, proof that my writing is truly mediocre, if nothing but passionate: love them before you lose them.

There. The timeworn saying hackneyed once again for you.

But it's true.

I miss you grandmother, I miss your smell, your laugh, the treasured back and foot rubs. I miss that you strengthened mom. I miss that twinkle in your eye when you thought something was funny, that way you washed and stacked your dishes (I know, random), and the way that you spoke with your southern gentlewoman twang. Mostly I miss how you made me feel. MOst kids would say their grandmother made them feel loved. You were no exception to that, and did it with such zeal that I never doubted. I miss that you love me, and miss you telling me that.

Not that I am feeling ill-loved in any regard. I must clarify that point. Melissa and the kids absolutely fill me up with love and hope and life. I just feel a bit less full if you will. And that makes me think of one of my favorite poems of all time:

http://www.online-literature.com/frost/742/

The line which gets me every time:

"And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree~
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches."

And so I close this post, missing my grandmother still, yet feeling in my hearts that I will see her again. In that regard I am glad I wrote the letter to her.

Finally, some social commentary--some of the scholarly skeptics (on Frost and his poetic virtues) would offer their students hemlock in earthen jars (their Freudian speculations on the meaning of his poem), but I believe it to be honest and true. Frost meant what he wrote, and one day I'll climb my own birch tree and won't descend from it (as will all of us), but continue upwards into the sky; on and on till I reach Keats' Eremite and pass away into the stars.

-Jay