Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just an Excuse to Skate at Work

Happy Halloween from BillyBlog

Some fun Halloween YouTube stuff:

That's Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London".

And the best opening sequence combined with Halloween song, courtesy of Tim Burton:

And how about some random fun:

I'll post some photos tomorrow.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Small World

BillyBlog has been more popular lately, averaging 40 hits a day (when it often resided in the low 20s), quietly surpassing the 9000 hit mark (10,000 just around the corner!)

However, I got a comment last night on a one-year old post and encourage people to re-read it, or visit it for the first time. Then read the comments. The last one, posted last night, enhances the story, and reminds us what a small world this is, even smaller thanks to the vast universe of the net.

The old post is here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New York Minute: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Last year I ran a series of photos of my favorite tree, across the street from us in Bay Ridge. You can see the range of photos and looks here. Just follow the links back through time.

Well, with a beautiful sunny day, gusting winds, and Autumn colors, I thought I'd give you a live action shot as part of BillyBlog's "A New York Minute" series. Enjoy:

Saturday, October 28, 2006

8 Errors=Tigers Lose. If Tigers Lose, Then Cardinals Win

Cartoon by Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press.

Thanks for an exciting postseason, Detroit. See you in the Spring.

Academy of American Poets Fifth Annual Chancellor's Reading

On Thursday, October 26, I attended my first Chancellor's Reading of the Academy of American Poets. I'm always a sucker for events featuring multiple poets, so this was quite a treat. Jill, Friend of BillyBlog, joined me for the event which was held at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College at East 68th Street in Manhattan.

Tree Swenson provided a brief introduction. She advised that Philip Levine had to cancel at the last minute, and that we were going in reverse alphabetical order. Then, the following poets/chancellors took the stage: Rita Dove, Frank Bidart, Gerald Stern, Kay Ryan, Galway Kinnell, Nathaniel Mackey and Ellen Bryant Voigt.

The reading started with Ellen Bryant Voigt. I'm not a huge fan of hers and her reading was not very memorable. She read several sections from a long poem, the title poem "Messenger," from her upcoming collection of poems, due out from Norton in January 2007.

Perhaps it was the woman in front of me, thickening the air with Calvin Klein Obsession or the muttering poet/professor who sat behind me prior to the reading talking about how great he was, but I was distracted to the point that Ms. Voigt's reading fell flat for me. Perhaps I just don't have the werewithal to tune into longer poems at a reading. Who knows? Moving on . . .

Next up was Gerald Stern, who I have had the pleasure of hearing read numerous times. He graced us first with a poem by Philip Levine. He read "My Given Name" from Levine's last collection Breath.

Then he read four poems, "two short, two a little longer." The first was called "Shouldering" from his collection Everything is Burning. Next was "You Know I Know," a poem he had written about talking to a Korean War veteran in Washington D.C., while waiting to change trains "from one form of fuel to a more stupid form of fuel." He ended with a funny little poem about a chihuahua called "Save the Last Dance for Me."

Stern was followed by Kay Ryan, a poet I had only recently become familiar with. I had heard her read a bit from a podcast (mp3 here) in which she is dicussing poetry with Billy Collins and Garrison Keillor. She started with a piece called "Home to Roost":

Home to Roost

The chickens
Are circling and
Blotting out the
Day. The sun is
bright, but the
chickens are in
the way. Yes,
the sky is dark
with chickens,
dense with them.
They turn and
then they turn
again. These
are the chickens
you let loose
one at a time
and small-
various breeds.
Now they have
Come home
To roost -all
The same kind
At the same speed.

Her next poem was based on a brief vision she had had, in which everyone was carrying a ladder. It was called "A Visionary Poem." Jill remarked after the reading that she didn't initially like Ms. Ryan's poems, but they grew on her. I would concur. She uses internal rhyming and assonance to a high degree of perfection. It is quite moving, and pleasing to listen to her read.

She then read a poem called "Tired Blood," which was in her last book The Niagara River: Poems. In the New York Times, last December, David Kirby reviewed the book and, referring to "Tired Blood," stated "often her images are deliberately unlovely: silences are embedded in a noisy city like shark's teeth, a tired person's blood is cruddy with tiny metal office furniture." She paused after one line, mid-poem, and glowed: "It gave me great satisfaction to say painful cabinets."

She then read the title poem to The Niagara River, then talked about malapropisms (like "Leap before you look") and their role in the next poem, "Green Behind the Ears". She followed with "Atlas," which David Yezzi discussed in The Weekly Standard:

Occasionally, Ryan's serendipitous rhymes and tightly turned ruminations approach a kind of light verse, sporting an against-the-grain delight in wit and a rare confidence that humor needn't cancel the truth in a poem. "Atlas," for example, tickles the reader while shrewdly identifying a palpable human experience:

Extreme exertion isolates a person from help, discovered Atlas. Once a certain shoulder-to-burden ratio collapses, there is so little others can do: they can't lend a hand with Brazil and not stand on Peru.

Her poem "Shipwreck" began with an epigraph that is well worth repeating here:

I was shipwrecked beneath a stormless sky
in a sea shallow enough to stand up in.

Fernando Pessoa

Think about that for a minute. Such an evocative image. You can read Ryan's poem here. If you've been looking, you'll notice her poems are short and concise, which is why we received so many at the reading. She ended with "Weak Forces".

Next up was Nathaniel Mackey. Like Ryan, this was the first time I had heard him read. He read sections from an ongoing series of poems called "Song of the Andoumboulou". Poems #21 and #50 (not necessarily the ones he read) can be accessed by clicking the link above. Unfortunately, the length of the reading did not support a better appreciation of this work. However, there was some great imagery within his work.

Next up was Galway Kinnell, who is always a pleasure to hear. He started with "Middle Path: In Memory of James Wright 1927-1980," which referred to the Middle Path walkway that separated the quad at Kenyon College where James Wright taught. He then read "The Dinner Party," reprinted in full here. Kinnell described this as a narrative with a divided speaker. on one hand he is looking for pleasure, on the other hand he is feeling obliged to go to work.

Kinnell was followed by former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. She read a series of several poems that deal with visual artists, "each positioned at a moment of historic flux in different cities." Portions of what she read appear here, under the title "Brightening" in The Virginia Quarterly Review. She presented the following part under the title "Paris":

I want only the paint:
swirled ridges, crusts of pigment
curling off the lip of the knife.
I want my life to be
the story of paint, concrete color:
a flying fish so orange, it's a medallion
cast into ashes. Now I will stop biting
my cuticles and my back will stop aching
so I can paint until the sun comes up;
then I'll take a cup of sherry to bed
to calm down. I want to lick the canvas,
grow buoyant on turpentine, make love
to every year between eighteen and twenty-five
and paint each in its own color—
reddening branch, emerald caduceus of leaves
traveling fast over the garden wall.
I want the cerise of the poisoned berry
and the blue eel and the gray of the pebble
you must moisten with your tongue
to bring out its platinum sheen.
I want you to be that pebble.
I want to put you in my mouth.

She followed with a poem for Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, the famous German opera singer, and ended with a marvelous poem called "Reunion 2005". I wish I could find it online. Alas, all I scribbled down was the line "My Cleveland cousins/have everyone speaking/Southern."

The reading concluded with Frank Bidart. He started with a poem called "To the Republic," which he had read last year at the same event, only he added three more lines. According to a site called Republic Blog News, he read the same poem earlier this month at Wesleyan and

The audience responded particularly well to "The Republic," a poem inspired by a bad dream. In the poem, Bidart describes the bodies of exhumed Gettysburg soldiers. The poem had powerful political connotations.

"It is about the idea that this government is ruining what the United States stood for in the world," Bidart said. "If it's any good, it will not just be an anti-Bush poem, but be about the past coming and saying that you've betrayed the legacy we left here."

The poem is reprinted here on a blog called Just Between Strangers.

Next was "Poem Ending with Three Lines from 'Home on the Range' ". You can read it here in Slate. You can also hear Bidart read it here. He ended with a sestina entitled "If See No End in Is," which Bidart said was his "first sestina and, I assure you, my last."

I know, I know. This was long. (I'm not done yet). But after reading on another person's blog that my recap of the Best American Poetry launch was "pedestrian," I feel I have a reputation to maintain.

After the reading, I went to work getting books signed. Gerald Stern and Galway Kinnell sat at a table. Rita Dove was behind them standing by a window ledge. Frank Bidart, Nathaniel Mackey and Kay Ryan were mingling. Ellen Bryan Voigt disappeared early.

Ms. Dove graciously signed under her photograph in a book called Angels, Anarchists & Gods. She also signed her contributions in The Best American Poetry (BAP) volumes for 2003 and 2004.

Nathaniel Mackey elaborately signed his pages in BAP '88, '90, '02 and '04.

When Kay Ryan saw me standing next to her holding my copies of BAP '95, the Best of the BAP 1988-1997, BAP '99, and First Loves: Poets Introduce the Essential Poems That Captivated and Inspired Them, she looked at me and said, "Oh, you're one of those." I looked at her and asked is that a "good" "one of those" or a "bad" "one of those," she said good and warmed up when she realized I was a collector and not a dealer. She signed what I had.

Frank Bidart signed his page in Robert Pinsky's The Handbook of Heartbreak: 101 Poems of Lost Love and Sorrow and inscribed a hardcover copy of his first book Golden State. We talked briefly about how great New York City was for readings and how it blew Southern California out of the water. He had grown up in Bakersfield and spent many years at UC Riverside, so we chatted briefly about Pasadena and my alma mater, Occidental College.

I then went back and caught Galway Kinnell before as he was leaving. He signed his page in BAP '05 and then I had an unusal request. I already had an inscribed copy of C.K. Williams' The Singing. After asking nicely, and showing that Mr. Williams had already inscribed it to me on the title page, Mr. Kinnell inscribed the dedication page, as he was the dedicatee. This made my copy a little more unusual and that much more pleasurable to me.

I missed Gerald Stern and Ellen Bryant Voigt completely. Oh well.

Thanks for enduring this post. Comments are appreciated.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Found on the Subway Steps

It's been a while since I found something really interesting. Last night I found this on the steps leaving the R station at 93rd Street.

And whatever you do, don't lose it! It may end up on the internet!!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Love this City

At approximately 9:20 pm, as I was standing on the Broadway-Lafayette
subway platform, when a voice crackled over the P.A. System...

An important announcement about the next train?

Nah! Better:

"The Detroit Tigers, 2
St. Louis Cardinals, Nothing
Top of the Third inning."

And the trains rolled on.

Go Tigers!

Oh, When I Find One, The Air About Me Becomes Charged

It is not often I come across a poem that thrills me with its pure brilliance. Last night I found one in the Summer 2006 issue of Poetry Magazine.

The poem is "Another Plot Cliché" by Rebecca Hoogs.

Click here to hear a podcaster read it (from Mischa Willett's Poems for the People podcast).

And here it is below for your enjoyment. Give it a shot, you not-so-enamored-with-poetry-as-BillyBlog-is readers. I love this poem.

Another Plot Cliché
by Rebecca Hoogs

My dear, you are the high-speed car chase, and I,
I am the sheet of glass being carefully carried
across the street by two employees of Acme Moving
who have not parked on the right side
because the plot demands that they make
the perilous journey across traffic,
and so they are cursing as rehearsed
as they angle me into the street, acting as if
they intend to get me to the department store, as if
I will ever take my place as the display window, ever clear
the way for a special exhibit at Christmas, or be Windexed
once a day, or even late at night, be pressed against
by a couple who can't make it back to his place,
and so they angle me into the street, a bright lure,
a provocative claim, their tease, and indeed
you can't resist my arguments, fatally flawed
though they are, so you come careening to but and butt
and rebut, you come careening, you being
both cars, both chaser and chased, both good and bad, both
done up with bullets that haven't yet done you in.
I know I'm done for; there's only one street
on this set and you've got a stubborn streak a mile long.
I can smell the smoke already.
No matter, I'd rather shatter
than be looked through all day. So come careening. I know
you've other clichés to hammer home: women with groceries
to send spilling, canals to leap as the bridge is rising.
And me? I'm so through. I've got a thousand places to be.

That's an awesome poem. And I don't often gush, even if you look back at some of my reading recaps, about poems that often.

Gush, gush. I hope you enjoyed as much as I did.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Best Magazine Covers of the Year

The Magazine Publishers of America have selected the "best covers of the year," the year being September 1, 2005 to August 31, 2006. Here are the winner and runners-up (click images to enlarge):
A classic politically-charged post-Katrina cover.

Second place:

Shayna has this on her wall.

Third place is scary-funny:

In the celebrity category, there was a two-way tie. One was Busta Rhymes on the cover of Vibe. Here's the other:

Any excuse to put Julianne Moore in BillyBlog, I'll take it.

The best news cover was also from the New Yorker:

Check out the site linked above to view all the winners and runners-up.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Allegra Goodman's Intuition

Last week I belatedly finished Allegra Goodman's third novel Intuition. It's her fifth book. Her first was Total Immersion, a collection of short stories that she published her senior year at Harvard. She is widely regarded as one of America's best young writers. I tend to agree. She's a fantastic storyteller. However, I am perhaps a bit biased. You see, Allegra and I go way back.

I'll be up front and say, yeah, I'm name-dropping. Allegra and I are not friends. We are distant acquaintances. If we walked past one another on the street, she may not recognize me. If you reminded her, however, she'd remember. When I saw her at a Barnes & Noble a few years back when her first novel Kaaterskill Falls was published and she was touring, she remembered me. I think I sent her a family Hanukkah card or two. I may send another one this year. She seemed happy to see me back in 1999 at that Barnes & Noble, but then again, she was probably just being courteous.

I should elaborate. Anyone familiar with Allegra's earlier work will know she wrote about being Jewish in Hawai'i. She refers to "Martin Buber Temple" and writes semi-autobiographically, especially in her earlier stories. Martin Buber Temple is a fictional version of Temple Emanu-El:

That's the place where I received my Jewish education, where I was bar mitzvah'ed and where I met Allegra Goodman.

Allegra went to my rival high school, but as children and pre-teens we shared some space at the temple Hebrew School.

I will confess. I didn't like Allegra or her sister, Paula. Paula's a doctor now. I'll go out on a limb and say the Goodman sisters didn't like me, either. I was an obnoxious jerk to them, and didn't take my religious education very seriously. I'm not blaming the other boys my age, but I was just part of the crowd of rambunctious Jewish boys (Ross Levy, Kale Flagg, Ivan Robin, Jeff Pepper, etc.) who were disruptive as ten and eleven-year old boys can be.

Allegra and Paula were serious students. They were smart, bordering on genius. And they knew it. They were everything I would hope my daughters will be. They were my opposites. I really couldn't stand them. As I aged, I realized how poorly I judged them. I don't recall ever saying or doing anything hurtful to them, but it wouldn't surprise me if I did. As they say, boys will be boys.

I am assuming that I will not someday appear as a character in one of Allegra's books. In retrospect, I don't think I was anything that significant in Allegra's life, just someone she might remember from a long, long time ago. But knowing her when I did, remembering her from a specific place and time, I feel particularly connected to Allegra's books, especially the ones that are set in the Hawai'i of my youth.

That's perhaps why I waited so long to read Intuition. It has nothing to do with Hawai'i, or the prevailing Jewish themes in her earlier novels. So when the Bay Ridge Jewish Center's reading group picked it, I finally had my excuse. And I didn't finish it in time for the discussion (blame John Dunning for that one). However, it was compelling enough and interesting enough for me to finish. And I liked it.

So, honestly, this post has been more about me than Allegra's book. I'll cut this short and direct you here, to Allegra's home page. She lists her books and links reviews and other related articles.

Also, here is a great article from last March's New York Times about the writing of Intuition.
If for any reason you can't read it (i.e. registration is required, etc etc), go here to read the text.

Plus, if you're interested, go here to hear Allegra reading from and discussing the novel.

As a postscript to this, I will speak in some additional vague terms about why I feel so connected to her. We had similar, yet very different upbringings. After high school, my mother often ran into her parents in the islands before they moved in 1994 to Nashville and Vanderbilt University. Sadly, Allegra's mother passed away from cancer in 1996 at the young age of 51.

In the Summer 1994 "Fiction Issue," The New Yorker, ran a series of photographs of many of its published novelists standing together. I cut out and pasted Allegra and John Updike standing next to one another. I put this in my binder of my poetry drafts as inspiration. I mark this as a driving point that motivated me to continue writing poetry in the 1990s.

Looking at the sliced up photo now, I recognize the photograph as the work of Richard Avedon. The caption is cut off, but it appears that Haruki Murakami and Michael Chabon were also part of the series. This was way before I had read anything by either of them. Of course, I had heard of Updike and was very impressed to see him standing next to Allegra.

I have subsequently found a copy of this issue online and have ordered it. Stay tuned and I'll share the photos when I get it in the mail.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Darkness Update

So last week I spent some time talking about the band The Darkness. There's an interesting post about them today on the music blog Culture Bully here. Interesting to note that the discussion, which includes some mp3s (including the song "Knockers," which came up in shuffle) brings in the band Blind Melon (mp3s and video as well). In case you're interested.

Well, It's a Damn Fine Monday Morning

Well, my hapless Packers beat the even more hapless Miami Dolphins, and the Detroit Tigers behind the transcendent pitching of Kenny Rogers evened the series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Even better, Shayna's soccer team had a fantastic win, 3-0, in which she scored a sweet goal to put the "Gold" team up 2-0, and then took over as goalie in the second half and kept the shutout in tact (unlike Mr. Jones last night, in Detroit).

But late last night I was doing my daily blogcheck of my favorite music blogs, when I popped on over to Sweet Oblivion. And I saw this:

Cornell, unplugged? Nice! (For those of you who don't know, Cornell is the lead singer of Audioslave, former frontman for Soundgarden).

Sweet Oblivion is bookmarked for this very reason: tons of amazing stuff from Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell, The Black Crowes etc etc etc.

Anyway, this is what I listened to this morning on the way in to work. Cornell did this acoustic set in Sweden on September 7 in a bar with about 150 people in attendance. Not only does he treat the audience to new Audioslave material (since released), he perfroms some acoustic gems from Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog.

I am also a huge fan of cover songs, and this performance does not disappoint. Cornell has one of the most amazing rock voices and gives us great interpretations of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," Elvis Costello's "(What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," Led Zeppelin's "Thank You," and an incredible version of Michael Jackson's (yes, that's not a misprint) "Billie Jean".

Definitely worth a listen . . .

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A New York Minute, Chapter 2 (Chelsea)

This is pure filler. Nothing interesting happens here. But give up a minute and catch a glimpse of the world famous Chelsea Hotel.

This was shot Friday, October 20, 2006.

Friday, October 20, 2006

On the R train Home

This is not a poem.

I just finished Allegra Goodman's ^Intuition^.

I have started >Sinners Welcone<, a book of poetry by Mary Karr.

Attempting to send from train.


I haven't done a fabulous five in a while from the BilliPod, so here we go. For those of you just tuning in, it's the first five songs appearing on Shuffle:

"Rock 'n' Roll Machine" by The Donnas, from American Teenage Rock-N-Roll Machine. Granted, this second album is very raw and juvenile, but it shows how this all-girl band from Palo Alto has grown from their early roots as a garage band.

I first heard about the Donnas via The New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones when the band released their album The Donnas Turn 21. Great power-pop rock. They have made a name for themselves with their catchy tunes and soundtrack covers.
Hop on over to their website
check out their video for their song "40 Boys in 40 Nights":

Next is . . . "Keep the Faith" by Bon Jovi, from Cross Road, their greatest hits CD. Not much to say about that one.

Here's the "Keep the Faith" video:

Next we have "Knockers" by The Darkness, from One Way Ticket to Hell . . . And Back. I first heard of The Darkness from the original soundtrack of School of Rock.
You can hear a version of this track here, courtesy of Culture Bully. The Darkness are hard rock with some great power metal riffing. Well worth a listen if you are unfamiliar with them, check out their songs at their MySpace page here. The fourth song listed, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" is typical of their tunage, with the "soaring falsetto" of lead singer Justin Hawkins poised to either hook you instantly or repel you forever.

Here's the Darkness performing "Knockers" on Top of the Pops:

Next we have "River Euphrates" by the Pixies, from Surfer Rosa. I first heard of the Pixies when I was writing for the college newspaper Arts section and had to review their breakthrough record Doolittle. The Pixies were instrumental influences in the rise of a little band called Nirvana.

Here's the Pixies performing "River Euphrates":

and lastly.......

"Thou Shalt Not Kill (In Memory of Dylan Thomas)" by Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the Cellar Jazz Quintet, from Poetry Readings in the Cellar. A review of the album on eMusic elaborates:

Recorded at the Cellar in 1957, this CD boasts Rexroth's angry, 21-minute rant "Thou Shalt Not Kill (In Memory of Dylan Thomas)" -- one of the most powerful, biting examples of beat poetry -- as well as three free-spirited offerings from Ferlinghetti: "Autobiography," "Junkman's Obbligato," and "The Statue of St. Francis." Rexroth and Ferlinghetti are both joined by an acoustic bop quintet, which proves to be an appropriate accompaniment for the poets' very stream-of-consciousness performances. Beat poetry is an acquired taste, but for those who do have a taste for it, Poetry Readings in the Cellar is among the most essential releases of its kind.

Here's a little Rexroth bonus, reading a poem about Sacco and Vanzetti:

So that's that for the five today. Thanks for stopping by BillyBlog!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

First, An Explanation....

The following post is a "Blackberry Poem," composed on the subway and posted this morning via e-mail from the Manhattan Bridge. Let me know what you think. It may be the first of many, or a sole mote of evidence in an ambitious failed experiment.

Fats Waller sings
"Your feet's too big."
I sit on the subway
and thumb these words.
On the way to the station,
I stepped in a puddle of poems.
This is what remains--
Dripping from my extremities,
Pooling on the "R" train floor.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Honokaa Windchimes In Brooklyn

As the Hamakua Coast of Hawai'i recovers from Sunday's quakes, here's a little Hawaiian wind music transplanted in Brooklyn:

We got these chimes in March 2002 and they have rung for over four years, through rain, wind and snow. We got them on a little shop in Honokaa, the next town over from Pa'auilo.

I shot this clip two weekends ago.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Poetry Bus (the End), The Bears, and More Hawai'i News

And so it goes.....

Exhausted this morning from staying up and watching the end of the Bears-Cardinals game last night. One of the most exciting NFL endings in recent memory. Do yourself a favor and watch the Sports news today to catch highlights.

I have posted the seventh and final installment of the Poetry Bus Hitting Manhattan here.

I've been inundated with readers lamenting the lack of recent poetry reading play-by-play summaries. I apologize, but you can scroll down to September 30, or use the links in the sidebar to relive the whole experience.

There's breaking news on The Honolulu Star-Bulletin website here. What's up? More aftershocks? Nah, just Pearl Jam announcing they're closing their U.S. tour in Honolulu, a week before the play with U2 at Aloha Stadium. Kings of Leon is the opening band. We were planning on going but the New York State Lottery Commission is not cooperating.

Here's a close-up of that highway damage from yesterday's post:

Kind of inconvenient for the folks along that stretch of road (BillyBlogMom's route to Hilo), but no one was hurt seriously, so Hawai'i had that blessing. All's well back at the ranch!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Hi All . . .

Of course the big news Sunday, at least for me, was the 6.6 quake in Hawai'i. At 5:45 AM EST this morning, there was still a mention of it on the New York Times website's front page. By 7:15, it was gone, buried beneath other important stories like "Unplug the Amps, CBGB is History," documenting the club's last show.

Here's a funny item from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's initial article on the quakes (there was a 5.8 temblor shortly after the 6.6):

The quakes generated a 1-inch tsunami that came ahsore on the west side of the Big Island, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
No, that's not a misprint. That did say 1-inch tsunami. Now, tsunamis are no laughing matter, but I still found that bit of information amusing.

Nonetheless, all is well with the BillyBlogMom on the Big Island. The quake was close. The epicenter as you can see was between Kona and Waimea. Between Waimea and Hilo, but closer to Waimea, near Honoka'a, is the small town of Pa'auilo, location of Pihanakalani Ranch, home to Mom, "Poppa" John Ferriera, and the "AFoJaS" (Animal Friends of Jolee and Shayna). Everyone is all right. No significant damage to the house, just some busted dishes, glasses, tchotchkes, and spoiled food. Maybe some minor repair needed on the fireplace.

The biggest thing appears to be this:

A lane that collapsed at the 35-mile marker at Pa'auilo, along the Hamakua Coast, severed the major route between the east and west sides of the island. State officials will have to assess the damage before it can be repaired and reopened.

That's Mom's neck of the woods, that is, on a road they take whenever they go to Hilo.

Amazingly, no fatalities reported, thanks in part to the time of the quakes (early Sunday norning) and the remoteness (relative to say, Southern Califonria) of the location.

In happier news, the Tigers are going to the World Series! They swept the Oakland A's, finishing them off Saturday night in dramatic fashion, when Magglio Ordonez crushed a walk-off, three-run homer, in the bottom of the 9th inning.

As Borat would say, "Ni-i-ice!"

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Poetry Bus etc etc etc yadda yadda yadda

Why am I torturing all of you who don't give a fig about the Poetry Bus? Why am I giving you detailed accounts of poets and poems that don't interest you?

Because I can.

Listen, I love BillyBlog. It is near and dear to me. But it harbors a dark secret that many of you might not know. BillyBlog is a murderer.

More specifically, BillyBlog killed my journal. Between January 1993 and August 2005, I journaled pretty regularly, filling 22 volumes of blank books with thoughts, poems, screams and lamentations. In August 2005, I purchased a blank journal from the Borders in Hilo, and began filling it. In the first week of September 2005, the journal died.

Sort of. Technically, BillyBlog did not murder my journaling. The journal still exists, picked up occasionally and scribbled in. But it's now fourteen months and running, a new record, and miles to go before I sleep.

One of the things that would go in the journals was the recitation of the course of events at poetry readings. Because BillyBlog has replaced my journal, in a sense, you, fair reader, reap the benefits of the crime.

Because I dare not further bore readers (yes, there have been rumblings) with this and the last two installments, when they appear, they will be abbreviated and will culminate with a link to read the rest of the entry, which will appear under the September 30, 2006 date. For example:

Read the rest of this post (The Poetry Bus Hits Manhattan, Part 5) here.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I have one of these now. It's the new Verizon BlackBerry 8703e. I received it Monday from work and I've already been told by the young 'uns that I use it too much.

Pray for me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Poetry Bus Hits Manhattan, Part 4

I have removed this post from this date and replaced it here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kiran Desai Wins Booker Prize

Novelist Kiran Desai has won the Booker Prize. Read more here.

I have not read this new one, but I read her first book, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard.

I strongly recommend it, it was a wonderful novel.

I Found the Luck of Pokey Bloom

or at least I found page 6.

I wouldn't have thought of posting the page, but for the line, "I love your cockroach." It was interesting enough to warrant blogworthiness, at least in my humble opinion.

In case you're wondering who Pokey Bloom is, read on.

The Luck of Pokey Bloom, published in 1975, is an out-of-print "young reader's" novel by Ellen Conford.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Poetry Bus Hits Manhattan, part 3 (The Typing Explosion)

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Battle of the Album Covers

Saw this over the weekend and thought it was worth sharing. Album covers duke it out in an animated struggle. Please note: this is a bit graphic, so don't watch it with young 'uns around, or if you're sensitive to animated violence. I learned this rather early, with Jolee watching, when Billy Joel started shooting at Rick James with a tommy gun. If that doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tigers, Tigers, Burning Bright!

Well, there is some joy in Gotham, but only in 1/4 of my household. I have cheered for the Yankees since coming to New York in 1997. It's been easy. They're a great team. But greatness creates high expectations, and often these expectations lay waste to talented individuals.

As a Tiger fan since my youth, I have embraced the Yankees in recent years, as the Tigers wallowed in pathetic awfulness.

No more.

Surprising the hell out of everyone in the city, including me, the Tigers not only managed to win one game, they managed to win and not look back.

Astonishing, while the Mets celebrated quietly their sweep of the Dodgers yesterday at Chavez Ravine, the Tigers celebrated like they had just won the World Series. Here's hoping they can ride that momentum past the Athletics and into the Fall Classic.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Multimedia Added to Fishbone Post

I know this was just last week, but I have inserted a video clip from YouTube into the section discussing opening band Outernational. If interested, revisit the post here.

Also, I have added pictures of Fishbone from the show. You can see them in the old post, or just view the flickr album of the show here.

The Poetry Bus Hits Manhattan, part 2

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Friday, October 06, 2006

The Bookwoman's Last Fling

John Dunning is the author of five "Cliff Janeway" novels, all mysteries featuring an ex-cop turned bookseller investigating some book-related mischief. I talked about his last book here on BillyBlog.

I cannot recommend him enough and, if you're feeling adventurous, start with his first Janeway novel, Booked to Die.

His latest is called The Bookwoman's Last Fling. One review is here from a Mystery/Crime Fiction site. In this latest novel, he combines the worlds of book collecting with that of horseracing. More specifically, behind the scenes at the racetrack. And he does so ably and interestingly, in my humble opinion.

Read an excerpt here.

Dunning has rewarded readers with three Janeway novels in three straight years (2004-2006) after a long break since his first effort and the award-winning follow-up, The Bookman's Wake, from 1995.

No news on any more Janeway novels, although there certainly seems to be potential for more. As I may have mentioned in the past, Dunning's books inspired me to be an aspiring part-time bookscout in the 1990s, and fueled my bibliophilia.

Now, back to Allegra Goodman's Intutition, the book that I was supposed to finish for book club, but didn't, thanks in part to Mr. Dunning.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Poetry Bus Hits Manhattan, part 1

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Jimi, then Janis

Since I missed Stevie Ray Vaughan's birthday yesterday, and got called on it, let me note another anniversary today. The passing of Janis Joplin on this date in 1970, at the age of, you guessed it, 27.

Here's a track for your enjoyment:

Piece of My Heart by Big Brother and the Holding Company (courtesy of the blog Looking at Them)

and one of my Dad's favorite songs:

Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin (via the blog Buscate Un Novio).

and, since I neglected him yesterday:

The House is Rockin' by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (via Mars Needs Guitars)

The Best American Poetry 2006, part 3

So, part of the BlogClog I have been experiencing is the result of attending two major poetry events in a matter of a couple of weeks, and my wanting to do justice to them in writing....Do them justice(?)...Something like that. Event #2 from last Saturday is forthcoming.

Throw in a few high holidays and the BlogClog worsens.

Here. I will try and put the BAP reading to bed.

First, let me talk about before the reading. I eavesdropped on the people behind me at Tischman Auditorium. Well, I guess it's not eavesdropping, technically, if all I was doing was sitting there listening to their conversation scribbling notes. I read some of these notes to Melanie and she was unimpressed. I won't let that stop me. I want to trash the paper I wrote this on, so I will transcribe for you, the readers of BillyBlog, what I heard. [Brackets will indicate clarifying words that will hopefully make the conversation make more sense].

[It starts with lunch]
Peanut butter
[then shifts to other topics]
one watch,
one car
[that's a] lotta money
for the watch or the car?

also got "A Hard Day's Night"
[The} Beatles [?]
[and a] trashy [movie]
"King Kong"
[I saw that too, want to know]
where I watched it?
In Holland.

I don't like the fact
that the monkey dies.
I don't mind the
and don't mind the
loving the girl.

Stuffed animals
for Dutch kids.

What does this have to
do w/the violence
in King Kong?

When the bats attack.

Want a mint?

[Did you] call about your cell phone?
Of course not.
I had to transfer money
to cover this thing.
The watch?
Dare I ask?
[You're] kidding
That's why [I think it was] kind of a mistake.
[I] wasn't thinking very well.

But I have this
feeling about it.

Since you moved out.

Seemingly extravagant
things in relation
to yourself.


Subaru or mini.

Hard call.


I found it interesting, so I thought I'd share. I didn't get a look at the man and the woman that had this conversation, nor did I get a look at the watch.


After the reading, I did my usual signing thing, scrambling to get the signatures of as many participants as I could. There were a dozen readers, and I got to eight of the twelve.

I first approached Rachel Hadas, as she was in the scarce 1988 volume of the BAP series. Ms. Hadas cordially signed the three volumes I had, in addition to a Paris Review and a Verse magazine.

She then did something that I have never experienced in all my life at signings. She was so flattered that I had asked for her signatures, that she gave me the copy of the book she had read from, that contained the poem "The Compact," which I included in the previous post. She inscribed the title page and handed me the book. I thanked her profusely.

By the time I had left, I had obtained signatures from Laura Cronk, Joy Katz, Jennifer Knox, David Lehman, Betsy Retallack, Tony Towle, and Paul Violi. All signed BAP volumes (9 in all) and Violi also signed his page in an anthology from the journal Exquisite Corpse. He also signed a journal for my friend Brian in Toronto, which he was amazed to see, saying it might have been his first published poem.

I finished the evening with 21 signatures in all.


If you're interested, there is a small controversy brewing about the BAP Series. There are allegations of nepotism and a bias in favor of Lehman's friends, students, and former assistants. I will not weigh in on this because I think that some degree of nepotism affects most aspects of popular culture and literature. The nepotism in the entertainment industry was one of the reasons I abandoned that venture in the early Nineties. I worked twice as hard as another production assistant on a Fox sitcom, but when the show returned from hiatus, I was not asked back but the other guy was. He was friends with the executive producer, I was not. But I digress.

If you'd like to read further about the allegations, check out the scathing commentary on the poet Jim Behrle's blog here. Warning: his opinions are brutal, scathing, and he often hits below the belt.

Another Craig's List Gem

Who cares if it's real or not? It's still pretty funny.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Genius in Advertising

As I rejuvenate my BlogSenses, chew on these: