Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Haikued Today

I haikued today. 

Bad Luck Haiku

How many deft soles
Circumvented the stone that
Made my heel its home
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Monday, October 20, 2014

My Vinyl Collection: The Moody Blues, In Search of the Lost Chord

The second acquisition in my new old vinyl collection arrived last week. It's "In Search of the Lost Chord" by The Moody Blues. There are several factors that made this my second choice to add to my new collection: I like the album, the cover art is great, and I have a lot of personal history with it. 

In Search of the Lost Chord by The Moody Blues. 

I'd heard most of the songs on this album on AOR radio long before the bus trip where it became a permanent part of my adolescent experience, but being a concept album, In Search of the Lost Chord really needs to be heard in its entirety a few times to sink in. And it's an easy experience. It can be done over any mellow-inducing substance. My favorite has always been a cup of tea. A rainy afternoon is usually best, but I suspect other weather conditions would be equally effective. 

When Jenny saw I had bought this album, she played the opening and the kids stopped what they were doing and said "That's scary." It's very unusual for anything to divert their attention from their screens. Trust me, the civil defense sirens have accidentally been sounded here, and they didn't look up, so to get their attention you know something has to be unusual. After that opening the album goes right into the most famous song on the album, and the only true single, "Ride My See Saw." Maybe "Voices In the Sky" was released as a single, not sure, but after "Ride My See Saw" the album goes into the sequence of concept songs about searching for the lost chord. I remember from my reading this is from a poem where a musician strikes the perfect note and angels sing and the heavens open, but he is never able to replicate that note and is driven mad by the experience of trying. 

My mother's musical tastes ran towards British Invasion bands and pop like Abba, and my father listened to country and roots bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival. The Moody Blues is a band that doesn't fit into any of those categories, so when I heard it on a long bus right headed towards a cross country meet in central Illinois, it was my first experience hearing most of these songs. My friend Royal had the cassette tape, and since we were senior members of the team nobody had the juice to complain that this was completely non-motivational running music. Can you imagine a school bus full of athletes in 2014 headed towards a sporting event while listening to Moody Blues "In Search of the Lost Chord." That in itself made my introduction to the album a very unique experience, but it was the music. I just dug it. And I misremembered. This event occurred two years earlier than I thought, and the reason we were allowed to play such an unusual album isn't that we were older, it was that the meet was a fresh-soph meet, and none of the older guys were there to shout it down, which no doubt they would have. Maybe even a few of us were just in the back of the bus listening softly, but no matter, this was something that didn't happen very often, if ever. 

What fifteen year old can't identify with the themes of searching for truth, meaning, and identity? 

I ran badly that day. Again. It was cold and rainy, of course, and I probably didn't even eat anything before I got on the bus. I didn't learn until nearly thirty years later the valves and vessels in my heart resembled the St. Louis cloverleaf, and I wasn't getting enough blood to vital areas to be competitive in an endurance sport. I'd like to run those competitions again with my new heart. That will never happen, but I have the keen memory of that bus trip, and the guys I was friends with then. They'd probably be surprised that moment in time had such a lasting impact on me. Maybe not. 

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My Vinyl Collection: Devo, Freedom of Choice

Well, I've finally taken the plunge and started collecting vinyl records. At least a few vinyl records. Most likely there's less than 100 albums in the world I'm even interested in owning, again. Hell, I don't even have a turntable right now. I think as I acquire albums I'll post a little bit about why I bought that album and maybe what it meant to me when I bought it the first time as a teenager, and now as a middle-aged man. My first acquisition was The Monster Club soundtrack. I've already written rather extensively about that, so here's the first album I decided to buy for the second time...

Devo's Freedom of Choice LP is the first piece in my vinyl album collection.

One of the very first vinyl albums I remember buying with my own money is Devo's Freedom of Choice. As a younger kid I spent most of my birthday money on Kiss albums, so this is probably the first serious album I ever bought, although most people seemed to think of Devo as little more than a novelty band and a one hit wonder. To me that never seemed to be true. I just got it from the beginning. Even at 12 I knew this was some serious shit to be dealt with. I probably got almost none of the lasting significance of what this band was about back then, I just dug it more than I had previously dug anything else. I couldn't have told you what albums they had done before this one, but I was hooked. Oh No, It's Devo only solidified my affection for the band. 

We rarely watched Saturday Night Live in our house because my father was off work and if he wasn't dragging us off somewhere to drink beer and work on cars, he just didn't like the show very much, but on Friday night there was a comedy show called Fridays, and that one we did watch. I remember seeing Devo perform "Gates Of Steel" and "Girl U Want" before the album ever came out, so "Whip It" wasn't even the first song I heard from this album. Fridays developed a reputation for showcasing a lot of the alternative and new wave music of that era, bands that weren't established enough for SNL. It was just the more cutting edge show, and skits like "Diner Of the Living Dead" were proof of that. 

Where did I buy Freedom of Choice? At the Ben Franklin store in Byron, Illinois. Same place I bought most of my albums. I believe albums generally cost $8.99 then, so I don't feel too badly about paying roughly twice that much for the album 25 years later. The owner and his family lived across the street from us, and for 25 years I've wanted to unburden the guilt and confess we nicked AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album from his store the night of my 12th birthday party. Sorry.  We played it 27 times  that night, and that's not even possible. We always had a pretty high end setup in our house, with expensive Kenwood and Pioneer products, so it's likely unless I invest in some expensive gear that I'll never hear this album the same way I did when I first heard it. 

I'm hoping to save enough money this month to buy an original energy dome, but that seems a little extravagant. I'll probably pass this year and wait until they come around again next Halloween. It makes me happy to have this album again facing outward from the shelf into the room like a monument to the enduring power of geekdom. 

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Andrew Luck On Thursday Night Football Handy

Is this Andrew Luck on Thursday Night Football doing a handy?

I decided to go upstairs and retire early during the fourth quarter of last night's Colts/Texans game. Just when  started to relax, jenny bursts through the door and shows me this video of Andrew Luck doing something. 
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Friday, October 3, 2014

C130 Hercules Illustration By Jenny Mathews


The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship (AC-130), for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrol, and aerial firefighting. It is now the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 60 nations.

The C-130 entered service with U.S. in the 1950s, followed by Australia and others. During its years of service, the Hercules family has participated in numerous military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations. The family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. In 2007, the C-130 became the fifth aircraft—after the English Electric Canberra, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Tupolev Tu-95, and Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, all designs with various forms of aviation gas turbine powerplants—to mark 50 years of continuous use with its original primary customer, in this case, the United States Air Force. The C-130 is one of the only military aircraft to remain in continuous production for over 50 years with its original customer, as the updated C-130J Super Hercules.

C130 hand-drawn illustration, available from artist Jenny Mathews at Rockford Illustrating

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Most Dangerous Poet In America

Zombie Logic Press is located exactly in the geographical center of  Rockford, Illinois: America's 3rd Most Dangerous City. Furthermore, within that dystopian wasteland, Zombie Logic Press anchors the 5th most dangerous neighborhood in America, which I believe entitles me to make the claim that I am the most dangerous poet in America.

Every one of my grade school teachers seemed to agree. 

Each one of my grade school teachers in succession made very great efforts to convince me poetry was the type of thing that gets a small boy into trouble and leads to a life of depraved indifference to societal standards. They sure were right about that. I should have listened. But I had the poetry bug bad. To their credit, they warned me. 

I was a pretty shady character back in those days, and if they hadn't made such an effort to deter me from the path of goodness, truth, and creativity, there's no telling what type of destruction I might have unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Glad they stopped me. But if they hadn't I soon learned countless others were willing to take their place. Drill instructors, professors, bosses, editors, whoever felt they might have a penile insufficiency or a vaginal surplus. They wanted me to know poetry simply wasn't going to fly, not on their watch. 

My first book was published when I was still a teenager. Many people were furious, mostly because they hadn't published a book and they didn't think I should have, either. The only place you can buy this is at Google, because it sold out over twenty years ago. Every subsequent book I have published at Zombie Logic Press, until Iced Cream, was modeled after this one, largely because it's the only way I knew how to do it.

For some reason, I decided to come back from San Diego, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, to Rockford, one of the ugliest. I spent a few years letting other people pay for me to go to college, where I maintained a 4.0 and won a bunch of scholarships I didn't need because everything was already being paid for. Once again it was re-affirmed to me that being good, working harder, and outperforming other people was irrelevant on this planet. Then, mysteriously, at age 30, my life began. I remember the moment clearly. I had just re-read Richard III, and like a lazer beam boring into my amygdala it became clear to me being a good guy was for chumps. I published my second book that year.

Detached Retinas. Go ahead and be a dear and buy that here. This is a compilation of poems I wrote while in college. They tend towards the surreal and innocuous. Some are even slightly romantic and nice. Mostly people didn't like it. I can really relate to their feelings. It's the last gasp of any true romance or naivete that I might have had in this life, or ever will have again. In that sense it's the only book I have written I can pick up and enjoy reading. I wouldn't but if I did. Then I started my fifteen year career working in bars and restaurants. Which led to my third book.

Flesh Wounds. I'm making the picture bigger because I have a lot more to say about this. Be a voyeuristic lech and buy this here. These are the sordid tales of the time I spent working in dive bars, strip clubs, dance clubs, sports bars, fine dining, and the most scumbag ridden location of them all... the country club. Fast money, fast chicks, drugs, violence. I got paid to do the things most people dream about. And I was good at it. At first. Actually, I was still good at it later, too, especially when me and my brother owned our own bar, Castaways, but that long, drawn out perversion of the senses might open the doors to wisdom, but once wisdom is acquired it's time to move on.

I started writing Submerged Structure on the porch of my brother's house on a yellow legal pad one summer when I was between gigs. The one at the fireman bar and the dance club, if I remember correctly. I wanted to just strip down the whole writing experience and write for the same of the image. I've never been a big believer in adjectives or jamming a line full of figures of speech. It's a fun book with a lot of silliness to it. You can buy that here. The title refers to my lifelong battle with Schizoid Personality Disorder. How the hell do you bartend with a disorder like that, it has been asked. Drugs and booze were always my answer. 

That's how I ended up becoming the most dangerous poet in America. 

I have largely abandoned the poetry writing game now because I said pretty much everything I have to say, and now i have set my sites on publishing far better writers than myself. The first book I did was a real lolapalooza.

Iced Cream by Jesus Abraham Correa. Go ahead and buy it on the margin at the right.

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Northern Pike Mermaid of Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods is known as the Walleye Capitol of the World, but the fact of the matter is, Lake of the Woods has an extremely wide diversity of species covering all the different nooks and crannies of  997,000 acres of water. This is the Northern Pike Mermaid that is the protector of Lake of the Woods. 

This voracious predator is one of the easiest fish to catch because it so willingly bites lures or bait. What's more, Northerns produce chunky white fillets that many anglers say taste as good as walleyes. Most Northerns caught by fishing run 2 to 3 pounds, though trophies over 20 pounds are caught each year. A close cousin to the muskellunge, the northern pike lives in nearly all of Minnesota's lakes and streams.

The quickest way to tell a northern pike from a muskie is to note that the northern has light markings on a dark body background, while muskies generally have dark markings on a light background. A foolproof method is to count the pores on the underside of the jaw: the northern has five or fewer; the muskie has six or more. Northerns also have rounded tail fins, compared to the pointy tail fins of a muskie.

All fish are predators, but northern pike come dressed for the part: needle teeth, vacant eyes, thick slime, serpentine shape. Their primeval morphology has changed little in 60 million years. Pike belong to the northern wilderness, where they remain most common. But stocking has extended their range south. If your state has predictable ice cover, chances are you have a northern pike lake nearby.
May is definitely the best month to target pike in the northern United States and southern Canada. Recuperated from spawning, they prowl the shallows for panfish and baitfish. With little yet in the way of weed growth, the northerns don't have all that many ambushing spots. They haven't seen a lure in six months. In short, spring pike fishing is as good as it gets.
See the Northern Pike Mermaid, and all the Freshwater Mermaids of North America at Rockford Illustrating Company

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