cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (jack skellington)
I considered skipping the ofrenda for this year's Día de los Muertos. As busy as I've been, I just wasn't feeling it, the connection to Grampa, the memories, the desire to collect items that remind me of him. But I've decided to try. Maybe it's important to put myself in a position to remember. And because it's an effort this year, I've decided against using all the same items that I've used in years past, lest the ofrenda become a mindless ritual.

Ofrenda 1

Making a comeback are the lotería cards, the photo of Grampa that I love, and the glass calavera candle holder. New items include: a bottle of dry roasted peanuts, which was a favorite snack of Grampa's and the traditional birthday, Father's Day, every holiday gift from us kids to Grampa; a Hostess fruit pie, because he bought three for us kids every week on his grocery trip, long after we cared for the sugary treats; a glass bingo-printed tray, because Grampa played bingo so much that his car was littered with old, marked cards and dried-out or used-up bingo markers, and sometimes he won; and a couple of battery-op'd tea-light candles so I can have candles without worrying about the cats getting curious and burning the house down.

Some things I am still thinking about/looking for: a small plastic donkey; Marlboro cigarettes; a toy barber's pole; a piece of denim; Barbicide; cowboy boot salt & pepper shakers. Tweetie has also offered to make a collage, which Grampa and I would love.

Another thing I've been doing to feel festive is watching horror movies: The Lost Boys; Nightmare before Christmas; House; Scream; Scream 2; Scream 3. I'd never watched Scream 3 before last night, and was pleasantly surprised. It's a lot better than the second installment, though my favorite remains the original.

As a trilogy, Scream is an incredibly depressing story. Our Final Girl Sidney is continually victimized by the consequences of her mother's past. Her agency seems to be limited to the choice of whether to trust others or build her walls, with the correlative choice of whether to confront the horror or run from it. Which is so fundamental it's easy to depreciate. But looking again, we actually get a Final Trio, three survivors who make it from beginning to end of the trilogy, and they're a cobbled together family that replaces the illusory family Sidney started with. So that development is heartening. Also, the trilogy says some interesting things about race and feminism and male entitlement. And I love how Craven uses windows and doors throughout the movies, and Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand" in each soundtrack.

But the first film is still my favorite because it has Billy and Stu, and they were treated as free agents, acting out their own murderous impulses rather than being manipulated by adults. And they were pretty and stood really close to each other. ;D

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (maleficent)
Last night, I overcame my dislike of Mark Wahlberg enough to watch Contraband. At some point, I'd seen the trailer and was really excited by the ensemble cast: Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, and William Lucking--who, tbh, I was terribly relieved looks a lot healthier when he's not playing Piney on Sons of Anarchy; he really is only acting. :P My excitement was dashed when I realized the leads were played by Mark Wahlberg (and lbh again, I appreciated him much more when he strutted around in his underwear rather than, y'know, actually talked) and Kate Beckinsale.

The movie makes about as much sense as most action flicks--a little less, I suppose, than decent heist flicks. I was irked that the ensemble seemed to have been tamped down to let Wahlberg "shine." The only actor who doesn't tone it down is Giovanni Ribisi, who vacillates between stealing the show to chewing up the scenery. His character is undercut by the script, however, so there's no chance of mistaking him for the star of the film. I have loved Ribisi forever. I think the first time I ever saw him was in Season 3, episode 3 of X-Files, when he played a mouth-breathing loser/stalker with lightning powers, and Jack Black was his sidekick. The next thing I would've seen him in was Lost Highway, and by Boiler Room with Vin Diesel, I was a total fangirl. So I was thrilled by the idea of him getting to be a grownup big bad in an action flick. Sadly, this wasn't what happened in Contraband. 

Ben Foster continues to amaze and baffle me: how could a boy from Fairfield, IA, channel so much ick? His character's drunken interactions with the female lead were appropriately shudder-worthy, but beyond that, he seemed to be sleepwalking through the lackluster plot. Lukas Haas was sufficiently amusing as the only guy in this story who had no interest in the smuggling business, a.k.a., the only guy with any sense but not enough backbone to make a difference.

Kate Beckinsale's role was "wife/mother in peril." As a free agent, Kate (her character's name as well as the actress's name) was pretty much useless, which became interesting when I realized that she was the only white woman that mattered in the story. Other women with speaking roles included Kate's coworker/babysitter Jeanie, played by the same woman who portrayed the most physically beautiful Harriet Tubman ever in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, and a couple of Hispanic women working at the port in Panama. So on the one hand, we have Kate, and on the other we have smart, effective, independent women of color (although Jeanie felt, to me, only one step up from the devoted black servant who exists for the white family's sake). I'm not sure what that difference means entirely, but the movie seems to perpetuate an ideal of femininity that revolves around helpless white women of means.

But that is too depressing a place to end this entry, so to put me in a happier place, here is Vin Diesel menacing Giovanni Ribisi in Boiler Room:


and here is Ben Foster (with lollipop!) and some other dude with nice arms:

ben foster mark w contraband
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (love)
This morning J and I were in the kitchen as NPR did its intro to the latest installment of StoryCorp, which was about two men who were married to the same woman, "although not at the same time, of course." JJ left the room saying, "Oh no, of course not!" in the tone of because that's crazy talk!

I've trained him well. ;)

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
I finished reading Darker Than You Think (1948) by Jack Williamson last night, and it was kind of like a hate-fuck where you don't actually get off so you're just as pissy as you were before. Which is to say, I did not like that book. Not on the sentence level or for character or theme or plot or insight into the time zilch nada. But there's a mental hospital in the book, and a therapist who rationalizes away the main character's supernatural experiences, and some materialist revisioning of Freudian theory, and that reminded me of another book, Some Of Your Blood (1961) by Theodore Sturgeon. Which also features psychiatrists and questions the main character's mental health. I read it years ago for my Vampire Lit class, and I'd like to think I held it in high esteem all this time because it's that good a book (it's better than DTYT, but so is this cat scratch on my arm). But as I reread Some Of Your Blood, I am rediscovering that it ALSO hits all of my kinks. 

Big hulk of an anti-hero?

"...the shoulder and chest that make the shirt look like it grew on him, it was so snug. He had thick arms and thick legs and he kept his face closed."


He's the strong-but-silent type?

"George kept his mouth shut. George always kept his mouth shut from when he was a little boy, at first because he was scared or shamed to open it and later because it was just too much trouble to get people to understand and at last because he just got into the habit....Anyway, you can learn a lot more with your mouth shut."

Check! With bonus points for English being his second language.

He kicks ass almost immediately?

"...two MPs ran in and grabbed George. After a while, the major had to come and help, and then two more MPs came and that did it. The major had a bloody nose and one of the MPs just lay there on the floor without moving."


And he had a miserable childhood

"You might die in the woods or get killed, but the woods did not drink, the woods did not punch your mother in the face. You're always all right if you can get away into the woods."


Creepy obsession?

"About the hunting..." which turns into a four-page dissertation.


Good at being bad?

Kid steals food to please his dad, and does a damn fine job of it. When he finally gets caught, he's unrepentant.


When he gets shipped to a state orphanage: "...bars on the windows and no doorknobs just keyholes and a cyclone fence around it with five strands of barbwire on top leaning in and watchtowers...what was funny was the idea that anyone would want to run away from a place like that. Everybody had a bed of their own with a clean sheet and a clean blanket...a little wash sink, no kidding, one for each two beds, and hot water as well as cold... Barbwire? George thought right away it must be to keep people out, not in."

Shit, just kill me now. ALL THE KINKS. How do I not have this whole book tattooed in my memory?

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (studying)
I kept wanting to tweet bits of Henry Rollins' poetry as I read See a Grown Man Cry, but I didn't want people to think I was depressed (any more so than usual, I mean) or suicidal. So I will post them here, where I can first reassure y'all that I'm fine.

The text is absolutely crammed into the book. Very little front or end matter, small margins throughout, tiny wingdings to separate individual entries, few of which have titles. There's something to be said for cumulative effect, but I keep wondering what would happen if Rollins winnowed his output to fewer, better-crafted stand-alone poems. This bit comes from "4 Wall Blues":

I have a hard time with depression
The beast that follows me
Makes me say things I don't want to
Tonight I'm walking with the Beast
Onward to the soul drain

Part of what gets me about this excerpt is that I can hear the first line in Rollins' voice. So matter-of-fact, the words plain as the pain. The last line, with soul drain, demonstrates Rollins working with language at a different level than I saw in Black Coffee Blues. Also, I like that this piece, and this whole book really, reveals depression is more than mere "sadness": there can be a lot of anger, too, directed inward and outward.

This excerpt reminds me of [ profile] asakiyume

There's a small part of my heart that's always sad
Part of me that walks with a slow aching step
Forever longing
The beauty of that
To be forever longing
Too much joy makes the time pass too quickly
A bit of sadness slows things down so you can see it
Makes the sun set slower

Although better known for rants, Rollins can also achieve a haiku-like precision:

The sirens pass going east on Sunset Blvd
All the dogs sound off
Sad songs

Another near-ku, and one that makes me feel better about my depression-related headaches:

Without me this headache is nothing
It needs me more than I need it
It clings to me desperately

Although Rollins despairs that "It's impossible to explain anything / That anyone would want explained" and "There's certain things I can't say aloud / I want to give you diamond thoughts / Not cough up blood and coal," I take much comfort from lines like this:

You think about killing yourself as you stare at the ceiling
Ignore it
It's just a tiny disease that the city gave you

And I recognize myself in these:

You hold your head in your hands
Feeling for the on-off switch.

These too offer a grim satisfaction I know all-too-well:

I have killed another day
I didn't give it a good fight
I just shot it in the back
And watched 400 miles pass by
My blood stains the bedsheet

In conclusion, I appreciated this collection much more than Black Coffee Blues (though that one was published more recently), and I'm much more inclined to seek out more of Rollins' writings than if I judged from BCB alone. 

Gratuitous picture of the punk poet:

henry rollins

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (skull gloves)
Naked Flea Woodstock 99

In retrospect, we should've known this guy would be an awesome dad. I mean, when he wore pants, they were covered in stuffed animals.


Flea was definitely the highlight of The Other F Word, a documentary I watched last night about punk rockers turned fathers. Why focus on fathers? Because there are no women punk rockers, of course. /snark  Actually Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 provided a good explanation when he laughed about how low the bar is set for him as father. To paraphrase, it's awesome, because nobody expects anything good from him; they're ready for him to attend kindergarten graduation with a cigarette and a hooker. I suppose the corollary assumption is that if a woman punk rocker becomes a mother, she sheds her anti-authoritarian pose (because it was only ever an act) and intrinsic mothering skills kick in. If not, she's a monster (paging Courtney Love); no one's ready to wave the dysfunction away with a "what do you expect, boys will be boys" shrug.


It's a good movie. A little too long because it works too hard to explain how hard it is to tour 200+ days of the year when you have small kids. Maybe because I have a kid, I understood pretty quickly. A better angle on the dilemma is the fact that nobody chooses punk because it's a money-maker or comes with dental and 401(k). So the skills these artists have developed, their talents and philosophies, do not make them good providers--not in the sense of financial stability.

But the men featured in this doc are, by and large, incredibly supportive fathers. They are gentle. They encourage exploration and creativity. They work hard not to crush their kids' spirits. A lot of these guys had jackass fathers, bad stepfathers, no fathers... Several of the guys ran away from home in their teens (Flea when he was 12). Flea tears up when he explains that when he became a parent, he stopped drinking, he stopped using drugs, he committed to being fully present for his daughter, whether he was tucking her in at night or halfway around the world on tour. He explains, with heart-rending specificity, that while some parents say, "I brought you into this world..." (and I can take you out is implied), his children gave him life, gave him purpose and a reason to live. Sometimes having an awful childhood gives you more clarity on what's important for families than any number of happy memories.

I would've appreciated more detail about dealing with specific child-rearing difficulties. What if your child has a disability? What if you choose not to be monogamous? What roles do in-laws and extended family members serve? What exactly did Ron Reyes's daughter find out when she looked up her dad (former member of Black Flag) on Wikipedia? Maybe the tight focus on the fathers is the director's choice, or maybe it was a result of the fathers' protectiveness of their families. The exceptions are heartbreaking. One dad talks about a stillborn child, another talks about his son dying in a car accident. I didn't cry, but my husband did.

Like I said, a good movie, although feel free to fast-forward when you get bored. You won't miss much.

cafenowhere: abby from TV show NCIS, eyes closed, listening to music (abby dreaming)
Dear Reader, I just had the most amazing, life-changing bread of my life. This is not a euphemism. Bread, pan.

J stopped by the farmer's market on his way home. I was happiest about the bean and cheese tamales, but he'd also gotten some pesto baguette and "moroccan bread." The ingredients on the moroccan bread included orange blossom water and star anise, and it smelled good, I mean, I had tamales, what else could I want? After dinner though, I tried some.


I felt it in my feet. I told JJ I hoped he was okay with polyamory, because I might have to marry this bread. It's not just the flavor, the texture is perfect, like if bread came with Sleep Numbers. I wanted to roll in it, rub it all over myself, smoke it...everything. I think I may have to settle for putting in a standing order for this bread bliss.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hola)

The other night I finished watching the first season of Sons of Anarchy. I near wept with happiness. Such good storytelling. My favorite character is Juice. (Are you surprised? Tell me you're not surprised.) Look at this cutie.

theo rossi times four 

And here's a strangely happy song I fell in love with yesterday... (It's strange I fell in love with something so happy, is what I mean.)

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (so tired)

Whenever I think about summarizing this week's shitscape, my brain shrivels in its case and tries to hide. So instead, in the following spirit

Attention: Shit could be worse (you're not dead)

I shall post Happy-Making Things.

1. I watched The Lost Boys again last night. Hilarious as always. This time I noticed how handsy Michael is with his little brother Sammy while Grandpa's laying down the house rules, and I caught the pedo vibe from Max: just how did he end up with a pack of teenage boys in need of a mother...?

2. Feminist Ryan Gosling. And this one is my favorite so far:

3. Tis the season for pan de muerto. We're invited to a dinner for Dia de los Muertos, so I'm thinking I'll bake a practice loaf this weekend and a fresh one for the party.

Or maybe I'll just sit here staring at Ryan...

4. I wrote yesterday (about 1K). And I'll write today. 

5. And what the hell, this song always cheers me up: Caress Me Down, by Sublime (lyrics NSFW)

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (lennon cat)
1) This weekend, I took a mini-Internet vacation. My arms thanked me. And on Sunday, I skipped my morning coffee, because I felt dehydrated. My head did not thank me. She threw a third-eye tantrum.

2) I just printed out four poems. I hardly print anything anymore, much less poetry. But recently I wrote several poems with hardcore structural elements, so I needed paper copies on which to count syllables, judge line breaks, assess page appearance, and evaluate punctuation and format experiments.

3) Over dinner last week, Tweetie got fed up with her daddy's make-believe (this is not the uncommon occurrence) and said, "Magic ain't real!" I burst out laughing because (A) she said "ain't," which is all me and makes her daddy cringe, and (B) this is the child who regularly insists she is half-Husky and half-wolf. She later backed down from her anti-magic declaration, but this weekend she informed me that zombies aren't real. I told her I was disappointed to hear that.

4) Spiders were encroaching on my mailbox again. Usually I leave them to their business, unless they are alarmingly large or strangely ambitious. Last week, they were both, so I asked my husband if he had any bug spray or canned air I could use against them. Dear Reader, he rolled his eyes like I was a ninny! But he went in search of the spray and stomped over to deal with the spiders himself. He popped back inside.

"Those aren't spiders," he said, bug-eyed. "Those are small dogs! You don't need spray, you need a stick!"

"I told you," I said.

He went back out and I heard hammering. Eventually he returned and said he'd eradicated the spiders and their web, but he was leaving me citrus spray and if I caught sight of them again, I was to spray the hell out of the spiders.

"Thank you," I said. "And next time, don't you roll your eyes at me!"


Car Lust

Aug. 22nd, 2011 01:13 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)
This morning has been all cars and poetry. First, I read a fellow SPN fan's head canon for Dean, which asserted that Dean's favorite poet is e.e. cummings and one of his favorite poems is "she being brand new." I tracked down the poem and was slayed. I can't believe I lived without it til now.

she being brand new )

Then I transcribed several poems from my notebook to Sexy Beast. (I tend to write poetry longhand if I'm counting lines and/or syllables.) The last poem, "Loops and Spurs," is set on a Texas highway. In the midst of research--you wouldn't believe how much research goes into some of my poems--I discovered the term devil strip. And while it sounds like a naughty waxing job, it actually refers to that grassy area between street and sidewalk.  Or, if you're in the UK, it might mean the area between two sets of railroad or trolley tracks. Just add "devil" to the front of most anything and it becomes more interesting. :P

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (skull gloves)
This weekend, I got to see Steve McQueen's 1947 Indian motorcycle at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa.

photo of steve mcqueen's 1947 Indian motorcyle

And there was much squeeing and longing and cursing of the "do not touch" museum policy. But, alas, such policies are no doubt for the best, lest fans like me pick the bikes apart--a string here, a fleck of paint there, a bit of rust, just a little wire, just one spoke...

There were other, prettier, more famous motorcycles. But this is the one I'd save if the building were on fire.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)
from Gustavo Arellano's Ask a Mexican column in OC Weekly (the Q&A re Mexican airlines is pretty good too):

DEAR MEXICAN: Who puts the intense pressure on all adolescent Mexican boys to either shave or buzz their cranium hair, regardless of the number of scars, large ears or folds of ugly neck skin revealed?

Dirty White Boy


DEAR GABACHO: That suffocating menace known as "youth culture," with an assist from "prison culture" but not the "Mexican cultural expectations" your "pendejo ass culture" is insinuating. Simply put: Like any teen trend, shaved heads started with youngsters imitating their friends, who imitated their older brothers and cousins, who imitated their peers. The two great historical fashion trendsetters in Mexican-American youth culture, according to James Diego Vigil’s Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern California, have been prisons and the military, and both subcultures prefer a close-cropped hairstyle for men for efficiency’s sake. But if you ever see a baby with a shaved head, it’s most likely a kiddie shorn by wabby parents in the belief that a thicker head of hair would emerge, a Mexican fable as laughable as the belief by children that the wrapped Xbox caja under the Christmas tree actually contains a gaming console and not underwear and socks.

FU, Dirty White Boy!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)

your cramped hands relax
around wrenches and drills, but
never around me


And as a bonus, an excerpt from a poem by Michael Gluck, translated by Rosanna Warren:

leave your tool-hand
in the week's glove
open your other hand

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (misunderstood)

rain of teacups
roof to street / he dumps her lovelies
like she dumped him

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)

I finally finished reading a book for grownups! Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey. The cover blurb from William Gibson really sold it for me: "An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece." I love this scene where the hero, Stark, boosts a Ducati:
Rule one when you get back from Hell and haven't ridden a high-performance in eleven years is not to get on the bike after three or five Jack Daniel's. Rule two is not to try a stoppie...When you're drunker than you think you are, which is pretty much always, you're going to lean too far forward and pull the rear end of the bike up and over onto your dumb ass...

Off to my left, the bike is pinwheeling down the empty street, kicking up, sparking, and shredding its plastic and chrome skin as it flies apart. It's kind of beautiful, turning from a machine into an ever-expanding shrapnel flower.

Then I hit the street...
But what I lovedlovedloved about the book, what had me all heart-eyed as I read, was what Kadrey did with a secondary (tertiary?) character, Carlos. He's the owner/bartender of the punk-tiki bar Bamboo House of Dolls (where no "dolls" ever appear). Despite being an ex-con and big bruiser type that Stark sizes up as ex-football player or boxer, Carlos is nonviolent and not associated with any gangs. Which is why he asks Stark to fend off the skinhead assholes who are trying to extort "protection" money from him. Later, Stark tries to hand Carlos a gun, and Carlos refuses it twice: "I don't like guns," he says, simple. And as his part of the deal with Stark, Carlos provides nummy Mexican food and drink for free, for life. Stark says, "It's like God left his lunch in the microwave and you get to finish it."

I am just so grateful for a smart, funny, strong Mexican character who defies stereotype and doesn't get offed the minute the shit hits the fan, ya know?

I will definitely read the next in the series, Kill the Dead, due out October 2010.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (so tired)


at the
sight of blood,
so she handles it.
When she's done, he'll have risotto
and a back rub waiting for her, lawyer on speed dial.


The Inspiration )
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (abby)

Everything's better with music
but how do you pick music to die to?
I worry about the boy
my mother says I don't know.
"Pictures of tattoos and the beach,
that's not knowing someone,
that's a vacation."
She thinks picking up someone's dirty socks every day
and they bring you Sprite and Kleenex when you're sick
she thinks that's knowing someone
and I don't waste my sighs
explaining Tumblr to her
but I'd give blood to that boy.
His soul is permanent vacation
and homesick all at once
and last night he slept in a hospital bed,
his inked skin against institutional sheets--
just the thought makes me sick--
and so of course I worry,
and I wonder about music to die to.
If I asked him, he'd probably laugh.
"What are you listening to now?"

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)

First name, Last name
every time
He is, she thinks, incapable
of calling her by only one or
the other
as if he's wielding not
a name but
a trademark, title,
emblem of upperclassmanship
though he's the one that looms
over her between periods and
crowds her in study hall
She thinks, uncomfortably,
of Angela's crush on "My So-Called Life"
Jordan Catalano
never Jordan, Jay, or even JC
She shudders, she'd rather
he saw her in her B-team underwear
at least then she'd be
"that girl in his class with the saggy elastic"
a person, however humbled,
not an arc-less recurring character
not a placeholder for some fantasy
enshrined in the unseen audience's mind
She starts calling him Bubba
He doesn't get it.


This is one of those days that I feel like screaming, "Why am I giving it away?" But this is the poem I have to offer today, and the whole point of this poem-a-day project is to stop being so invested in any one poem, no matter how much I like it or how good I think it is. I cannot keep hoarding the beauty. I can always make more. I am abundant and limitless. I am more than the poem. I am the poet.

It still hurts.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (O rly)

You smile, tilt your head:
my words, caught in the sweet whorls
of your ear, slip out.


Is this part of the "boy watching" series? I can't decide.


cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)

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