Yes, Starlings! Yes!

A compendium of the best & most starling-based & starling-related observational humor.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Movie Idea

An office of high-powered stock brokers hires a new employee, the most promising graduate of his class at some Ivy League school. Despite his upper crust credentials this employee worked his way up from near poverty and supports his dying mother & institutionalized sister. Though the work is grueling, he immediately loves the money, entitlement & prestige of his position. It's true what they say: work hard, play hard & this guys getting all the play he can handle. Soon, however, he begins to grow uneasy with his office. After the mysterious disappearance of his coworker & new best friend the new employee begins to snoop around the office after everyone has gone home. He soon learns that not only is his office a front for the most violent drug cartel in the hemisphere but the work he's been doing is part of the dirty business. Soon the FBI contacts him and he decides to be an inside man for the feds. What sets this apart from your typical white collar crime film is that the CEO of the office is a hungry mountain lion who springs out of the shadows at unsuspecting stock brokers & tends to kill off at least one VP at every board meeting.

Movie Idea

A man & a women move into an apartment building the same day. They've both moved to the city (say Portland) for new jobs & they start to hang out. Both of them have some kind of personal hang ups about relationships that keep them from proposing that they move their friendship to a relationship level, though it is clear to the audience that they are falling in love. The film would be highly realist, not a lot of close ups or romantic cliches, but more of a document of thier budding but troubled relationship. The woman's best friend comes to visit about 60 minutes into the film & the three of them are in a park. The friend & the man are alone & the friend levels with the guy, telling him that it's obvious that they care for each other but he needs to make his move. This bolsters the man's resolve but at that exact moment a triangle of red lights appears on the friend's forehead. The man looks quizzical & then the friend's head is blown off. The man turns to see a just-visible Predator on the other side of the park. The remaining thirty minutes of the film is the man & the woman running from the Predator.

Levinas is More Fun than Frege

[S]peech, in its original essence, is a commitment to a third party on behalf of our neighbor: the act par excellence, the institution of society. The original function of speech consists not in designating an object in order to communicate with the other in a game with no consequences but in assuming toward someone a responsibility on behalf of someone else. To speak is to engage the interests of men. Responsibility would be the essence of language.

--Levinas, "Toward the Other" in Nine Talmudic Readings

While it has had the ironic effect of making him a minor celebrity, Perelman's refusal is pretty inspirational. He purports to work toward an amassing of mathematical knowledge rather than the glory of the individual mind. I wonder if there is an analogue for writing communities. Or is the role of self aggrandizing too important to the arts--in the end there is a mathematical proof that can be correct or incorrect in Perelman's world, whereas poetry depends on the interpretation, the development of a faith in a set of texts. Perhaps if we see the creation & exploration of language as a commitment to a third party. Not in the sense of "people are going to love these poems" but with a faith in what intellectual actions another can perform with one's text. The way I read levinas here, speech is the fundamental rhizome. And through the development of communities of writing one is able to explore more potentials of interconnectedness.

I'd like to fit in Frege's idea of sense (the mode of presentation for a sign) into this, as it would be a way of trying to play up the cultural aspects of truth that he seems to admit and then ignore, but I'm scared. Frege bites like a pit bull. And he has claws coming out of his eyes that scratch. And those claws are made of broken promises and candy hearts with mean messages written on them.

Current Playlist:
Frequency: Frequency
Fugazi: live at Irving Plaza, NYC, April 4th, 1995
Masta Killa: Made In Brooklyn
Wooden Wand: Second Attention
Matt Maneri: Sustain
Beyonce: "Ring the Alarm"
the Goslings: Between The Dead
Tilly & the Wall: Bottoms of Barrels

Saturday, August 26, 2006


It was also neat to see how the dolphins totally migrate towards those who have fish to feed them

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I've Had This Stuck in My Head

I tried to be

the basilica

of your slippery

skin & bell.

I tried to be

a chime

a chest could


from Julie Doxsee's "Halo's Edge" on Wave Books' Bedazzler
My po-po class talked about this poem yesterday & now I can't get these lines out of my head. I just keep repeating them. It's kind of similar to getting a Cocteau Twins song stuck in my head. Dissimilar to having a cockatoo stuck in your head. I do have a cochlea stuck in my head. Maybe more than one.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Clean Part Reading Series 06-07

The Clean Part Readings Series Schedule for this year is:

  • Mon. Sept. 11, 2006. 7pm: Wave Books Poetry Bus
  • Fri. Sept. 22, 2006. 7pm: Gabriel Gudding, Grace Bauer & Nathan Bartel
  • Sat. Oct. 28, 2006. 7pm: Matt Hart, Karla Kelsey & Aaron McCollough
  • Sat. Nov. 18, 2006. 7pm: GC Waldrep, Kerri Sonnenberg & Kristi Maxwell
  • Sat. Feb. 10, 2007. 7pm: Joyelle McSweeney, Johannes Goransson & Sommer Browning
  • Sat. Mar. 24, 2007. 7pm: Joshua Poteat, Allison Titus & Crystal Curry
  • Sat. Apr. 14, 2007. 7pm: Laura Sims, Hadara Bar-Nadav & Michael Dumanis

    The readings will be in the auditorium of The Sheldon Memorial Gallery here on the UNL campus. The Sheldon is a beautiful building with a fantastic 20th C American Art collection & sharp curators who are bringing in consistently incredible shows.

    We'll have full bios & samples of the poets' work over at The Clean Part site pretty soon. We are absolutely delighted & excited to be hosting so many totally rocking poets this year.

  • Monday, August 21, 2006

    First Day

    Every semester on the first day I get that Braid song "First Day Back" stuck in my head. This semester we'll be discussing Eugene Gloria's Hoodlum Birds, Matt Hart's Who's Who Vivid, Laura Sims' Practice Restraint, Arthur Sze's Quipu & Christine Hume's Alaskaphrenia in my po-po class. We'll be starting off with a packet of poems including Sappho, Li Po, Gertrude Stein, Petrarch, Dickinson, Tu Fu, Elizabeth Bishop, Donald Justice, Jack Gilbert, Lyn Hejenian & Audre Lorde. Along the way we'll also be exploring what the form in formal poetry means with another batch of poets. not positive who yet.

    I went for a nice two & a half hour bike ride yesterday with Z & felt all good n' stuff. We saw wilderness & we pioneered. We fed bison from our hands without being kicked, gored or engorged. We bought vintage childrens' books. We have a lot of vintage childrens' books. You should be curious why.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006


    I just noticed this announcement from Apostrophe Books. Congratulations to Johannes!

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Three Things I Have that I Think You Would Like to Have

    1. Small Town X a lovely journal with great poems by some of my more recent faves Jess Mynes, Gina Myers & Joe Massey (his poems seem almost monstrous in relation to what I've seen in the past--fourteen lines!). Some interesting poem-with-occasional-image from Sabrina Calle. There are great poems by new-to-me Mairead Byrne, who works the Tate/Simic/Edson fabulist/surrealist mode from a Irish political point of view that is truly affecting.

    2. Speaking of Jess Mynes (& kind of Joe Massey since their first pub was a set of his poems) Frame #2 is pretty damn wonderful. With its beautiful & simple hand made construction & hand-fitting size the form of this magazine again fits the contents. Frame seem most interested in the epigrammatically leaning poetry, but not airy elliptical stuff, nor imagistic snapshots. It's a kind of NY school approach to the personal in a small space. For most of the ten poets the page seems like a, uh, frame to draw your attention to the work of the lines & when it works adds pressure to the poem (OK, Michael Schiavo & Logan Ryan Smith don't really fit this, but I'm trying to make a generalization here). I'm particularly taken with Aaron Tieger's poem "Sunday Shift" & Amie Keddy's poems that almost seem simple but have a fascinatingly disturbed foundation. (Oh, Jess Mynes is also in it, which is why I had that weak segue.)

    3. Cabinet is the cocktail party conversation that I will participate in for eternity after I die.

    School starts on Monday. Teaching. Learning. I'm sitting in on Anthony Hawley's Avant Garde Poetics class & reading a lot of Levinas for the first time in my Jewish Phil class. Both of these make me excited.

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Octopus #8

    Presenting your Octopus #8:

    Julie Doxsee
    The Knife-Grasses

    Jen Tynes & Erika Howsare
    The Ohio System

    Sueyeun Juliette Lee
    Perfect Villagers

    Eugene Ostashevsky
    DJ Spinoza’s Dozen

    Joshua Marie Wilkinson
    The Book of Truants & Projectorlight

    Genya Turovskaya
    The Tides

    Jonah Winter
    The Continuing Misadventures of Andrew, the Headless
    Talking Bear

    Samuel Amadon
    Goodnight Lung

    Issue #8 will be available for purchase in the fall.
    You will be able to buy the chapbooks as a full set or

    This is the first venture of Octopus Books. Beginning
    in 2007, Octopus Books will publish two full-length
    books of poems every year through open April readings,
    in addition to broadsides and additional chapbooks.

    Please check us out at

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    The Bedazzler

    This is what we should be talking about. Not this (unless you need an experienced gaffer/key grip/camera operator/D.P from 2001).

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Change My Life

    Barreling through The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book in one day is bewildering. Previously I'd dipped in & out of it. Reading it as a whole reminds me that the synoptic versions of the motives of langpo (resistance to the capitalistic commodification of language/allowing theory to inform the crative practices/whatever you say in one sentence when you need to describe the movement) are so limiting. It also reminds me that some of these essays are borderline mystical. I could imagine reading this when the magazine was coming out & being completely housed.

    Thinking about books that could change your life I was thinking about this Time-Life book. When I was a kid. I used to read my parents’ encyclopedia set. I would take the books up to my room & read them in bed. And also those Time-Life books about oceans, space, technology, whatever. I read what we had in the bookshelves.

    I remember a photograph in one of the Time-Life books of a whaling yard. The sea red with blood. It was the first time I remember thinking of a body as meat. It was the first time I saw that humans could hack into other bodies & kill them. And that this can be called industry. It’s always somewhere in my head when I think of humans.

    I miss the time when books, records, art, conversations could change my life. I know that everything you read changes you in some sense, if only that it was part of the timeline of what has made you you, that you decided to pick up a spy novel instead of Spinoza’s Ethics. every book results in some physical action in your brain that leads to the next. But it's not in the spirit of what one means when one says "change your life." Now I read books as life support.

    Here's the battle for this week.
    Amede Ardoin I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco
    Christian Death: Only Theatre of Pain
    Sloppy early LA goth-punk vs raw, passionate accordian music with yelping vocals. Neither of which are going to change my life.

    My friend Jen is leaving town soon. That stinks.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    I Got Tagged

    Let it be known that I do not back down from a tagging.

    1. A book that changed my life?

    A book that changed your life for the worse?
    A book that made you think of humans as a sea of blood?
    A book that gave you the structure of your thinking?
    A book that allowed you to look at another human’s face without seeing your own face?

    2. A book I've read more than once?

    A book you always want to be reading?
    A book that you keep in your bag until the binding breaks?
    A book that you found in an alley & mailed to your friend in Pittsburgh?
    A book you need to reread in order to understand what you are?

    3. What is a book I'd want with me on a desert island?

    What is a book that you’d like to eat?
    What is a book that you’d like to die with?
    What is a book that will tell you that everything will be all right?
    What is a book that makes love to you while you read it?

    4. What is a book that made me giddy?

    What is a book that makes you cry?
    What is a book that holds your hair back while you vomit out the poisons?
    What is a book that buys you groceries when you are not able to buy groceries?

    5. What is a book that has made me sad?

    What is a book that is your sister?
    What is a book that is a beaker of mercury?
    What is a book that you could live inside (not the world of the book, but the physical book)?
    What is a book that could work as a human heart?
    What is a book?
    What is a product that we purchase for the intention of sadness?

    6. What is a book I wish had been written?

    What is a book by someone else that you did write?
    What is the book that is the world in which you live?

    7. A book I wish had never been written?

    A book that no one should have read?
    A book that needs to get its ass kicked?
    A book that tells you who you are & then you realize that you are not a book?

    8. What is a book I'm currently reading?

    What book would you not want to be reading?
    What book would you use as a pillow?
    What book would you want the president to read?
    What book should be chained to each human as they exit the womb?
    What book is left?

    9. One book I've been meaning to read?

    Yours. Send me a copy. I'll sleep with it under my pillow.

    10. Tag bloggers:
    Zach, Matt, Chris, Kerri, Ana

    Aaron Belz

    Check out Aaron Belz's poems on Realpoetik. The "Monica Lewinsky" bit sticks a bit (is it possible to say anything about her without it becoming a double entendre?), but I love the rest of that poem & the second poem is so simple & sad. I like his work a lot.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    The Separation of Church & State

    I’ve been thinking about this scene in a male brothel (is that the right word for males? It’s a bathhouse but with professional interests) in Jean Cocteau’s Le Livre Blanc. (Oh, if you don't like homoerotics with strangely disconnected yet warm descritptions that tease at purple prose then, well, I don't know, read anything but Cocteau's Le Livre Blanc.)

    "One of my few regrets was the two-way mirror. You went into a dark cabin and opened a shutter. This shutter revealed a metallic canvas through which the eye could see a small bathroom. On the other side of the canvas was a mirror that reflected so well from such a smooth surface that it was impossible to guess that it was full of eyes.

    "Due to financial reasons I happened to spend a Sunday there. Out of the twelve mirrors in the twelve bathrooms it was the only one of this sort. The owner had acquired it for a very high price and had had it brought from Germany. His staff were unaware of the observatory. The young working-class men supplied the show.

    "They all followed the same routine. They undressed and hung up their new suits carefully. Once they were out of their Sunday best their delightful professional deformities made it possible to guess their jobs. Standing up in the bath, they would look at themselves (and me) and begin by a Parisian grimace that bares the gums. Then they would rub one shoulder, pick up the soap and make it lather. The soaping turned into a caress. Suddenly their eyes left the world, their head would fall back and their body spit like a furious animal.

    "Some of them sank down exhausted into the steaming water, while others began the same procedure all over again; the youngest ones were distinguishable because they climbed out of the bath and wiped from the tiles the sap that their blind stems had hurled distantly, madly, towards love. Once, a Narcissus who was pleasuring himself, brought his mouth up to the mirror, glued it to the glass and completed the adventure with himself. Invisible as a Greek god, I pressed my lips against his and imitated his gesture. He never knew that the mirror, instead of reflecting, was participating, that it was alive and loved him."

    Reading this the other day I was struck with overwhelming confidence that this was a perfect rendering of the erotics of the text, an ars poetica via mutual masking, deception & performance. Both parties exhilarated & deluded. But returning to it today I couldn’t figure out which one I thought was the writer & which one the reader.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    If Jeff Falls in the Woods, Should We Welcome Him Back?

    Welcome back to coach Jeff Hergott. Jeff is home on a two week leave. If unsure, contact a board member.

    The Pla Mor Ballroom

    Thanks to some lovely friends who were off watching the Cubs pull off another of their patented come from behind victories, A & I went dancing to the sweet sounds of The Bobby Layne Orchestra at the Pla Mor Ballroom. Some Basie, a bit of Cole Porter & the unforgettable "Iowa Waltz." Oh, & "Margaritaville."

    While the median age of dancers may have been in the late 70s, there was no shortage of fancy footwork or men in western shirts & suspenders. Lots of sequins on the women's' dresses. One guy had a lime green blazer with sequins all over the pockets & lapels, white pants & silver sparkly shoes. Strangely, while you'd expect him to tear the place up with his dance moves, he was not a very interesting dancer. There was some kind of Ball Room Dancing convention going on so there were bunches of people from as far away as Iowa in attendance. Those people picked up the slack from Senior Silvershoes. It was like an alternative yet blissful universe, one in which Lawrence Welk was entirely justified for his crimes.

    I'm a little bit in love with the Pla Mor Ballroom. It's a pretty shabby place, it kind of looks like a funeral home when you drive up & inside it's one of those super-stucco roofs decorated with some christmas lights & hanging paper stars. What I love is that it was built in '29 over some cornfields. The original owners built it just outside the city limits, presumably to avoid the Lincoln alcohol (& decency?) laws. Through its history Lawrence Welk, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Dotty West, Kitty Wells & Bill Haley & the Comets have played there. I don't know who Dotty West is but I have a special beat that my heart skips for Kitty Wells & it's cool to think of Count Basie hanging out in this cornfield half a century ago. It's like the poster of the Art Ensemble at UNL that is hanging up at the Antiquarian in Omaha. It makes me feel good to think that these people I love were here.

    According to the history of the Pla Mor Ballroom pamphlet that I picked up (alongside the Bobby Layne cds, records & 8-track tapes--not kidding), the place feel into disuse & was squatted by some hippies until the early 70s. This just makes the Ballroom more charming to me. The also let you know in the history pamphlet that they added air conditioning in the 70s. They don't mention Basie being there but feel the need to point out the AC. These are the kinds of priorities that I would expect from the Pla Mor Ballroom.

    In other music news one of my favorite bands of the summer Ladyhawk are playing here on Saturday. Sweet name. Big rock. No Matthew Broderick.

    Also "La valse a Thomas Ardoin" by Amede Ardoin is an early contender for best song of the week. But I also got a Sisters of Mercy song stuck in my head this morning, so it's shaping up to be a strange week.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006


    This was in the Other Music update I received today. Could it be the most incomprehensible write-up of a band ever?

    (Kill Rock Stars)

    Analogy time: if Los Angeles venue The Smell is that metropolis' version of NYC promoter Todd P., then that probably makes Mika Miko, a five-piece ladies auxiliary from way out there, the La-La equivalent of, say, Shellshag or the late, great Tallboys. Within their compactly messy bursts of sound are elements of early Rough Trade acts like LiliPUT or the Raincoats, twisted up with the fierce and jagged blasts of West Coast punk primeval, like the Germs playing Red Kross' 12" EP. Lo-fi, energetic, and over before you know it, C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. carries the torch not only for the last thirty odd years of women in punk, but within the boundary-less freedoms that come with doing it yourself; where the music you play and listen to works with the politics you subscribe to and the culture you inhabit. [Doug Mosurock]

    If you are one of the twenty people in America who can untangle these two sentences then I imagine you already have a promo copy of the cd.