Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Old Year, New Love

My first book of poetry, Perpetual Care, is almost a year old. Which means it's been in this world almost as long as I lived in New Orleans. Strange. A large part of the manuscript deals with the loneliness and alienation felt by a person in a new city, new coast, new culture, etc. How fortuitous, then, that I recently found, and fell in love with, the photography of Mercedes McAndrew.

Her year-long project, L'image Quotidienne, is a sort-of love letter to her new city, San Francisco. In the same spirit of Perpetual Care, which seeks to understand New Orleans as a whole by archiving smaller elements and moments, she took on the project of photographing one person each day as a way of learning her new home. The evolution of the photos reveals her increasing comfort with and, dare I say, love for the city.

And the individuals are as varied and colorful as one would hope. Young and old. Fashionable and scruffy. Dads. Grandmothers. Dreadlocks. Genuine smiles and obvious poses comingle. A waitress offers a bowl of macaroni and cheese. A Christmas tree vendor named Mr. Green glows in his neon orange pants. As the year draws to a close, both here on the farm and in the city, I encourage you to reflect on your own home, new or old, and the faces that make it unique.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie Monday: I've Been Watching...

viewing partner: Isaac
stars: *****
notes: We had the "Uncle Buck" car growing up. I sympathize, Tia, I really do.

viewing partner: Isaac
stars: ***
notes: Disco-ready outfits, pecs that won't quit (that's Lou Farrigno, ladies), and robotic ancient Greek monsters.

viewing partner: Isaac
stars: ****
notes: Perfectly lovely and funny. If you grew up in the Eighties, watch this.

viewing partner: Georgie
stars: ****
notes: Catholic guilt, indeed. Can non-Catholics ever really understand?

viewing partner: Isaac
stars: ***
notes: How did I never watch this when I was younger? I would've probably had a crush on Sherlock Holmes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Chapbook Has Landed

It's official: A Classic Game of Murder is available for purchase. Buy your copy now. Seriously. Do it.

I must acknowledge DGP's editor, Kristy Bowen, who does all this beautiful work with her own two hands. Her books are exquisite. Thank you, Kristy, for a wonderful Christmas gift, and a very merry to everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Fab Fourteen Hills

Last week's Fourteen Hills release party at the San Francisco Motorcycle Club was rockin'. Never have I been to a journal release that was so diverse and so well-attended, by both contributors and lit-lovers. I mean, people flew in from the East Coast for crissakes...and raffle prizes (none of which I won, sob) ran the gamut of sock monkeys, couture corsets, and clown cabaret tickets. Really.

The knock-you-down drinks were poured by a couple of bikers, and were sufficiently strong enough to make me stumble on my way to the mike. Sorry, blond-haired girl with kick-ass boots in the front row. I read two poems the quickly got off the stage, but not before I inadvertently insulted my man and revealed that my fly was down earlier.

But, hey, all's fair readings. Thanks again to the amazing editors of Fourteen Hills. You all know how to throw a party. And if you haven't gotten your copy of the newest issue yet, buy it here. Feliz Navidad all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bad Movie of the Month

Ethan and Hallie (Ethan Embry and Thora Birch, before they were alterna-famous) know what they want for Christmas: a reunion between their divorced parents, Catherine (Harley Jane Kozak) and Michael (Law & Order's Jamey Sheridan). But first they have to get smarmy business man Tony Boer (Kevin Nealon) out of the picture. The scheming siblings put together a foolproof plan including mice, ice-cream, and Santa’s (Leslie Nielsen) help, so Mom and Dad can be together again. For some reason, Lauren Bacall costars.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Farm Fresh Friday: The Holiday Edition

Remember this post about Golden State Fruit, the ultimate source for fresh California fruit and munchies (including pears from right here in the Delta)? Well, they now offer amazing new baskets with holiday goodies like gourmet sugar cookies and chocolates, and amazing cheeses from artisan California creameries. I know you can't resist.

I'm giving you, my friend and reader, the best gift I know: a 20% "friends and family" discount redeemable at Golden State Fruit. Simply enter coupon code "ASPFAM20" on their Shopping Cart page and click "Apply Coupon." It's as simple as that. Quick as a flash, the best fruit, cheese, and snacks California has to offer will be on their way to your loved one's (or your) door.

Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Not-Really-Review: You Better Not Cry

At our house, Santa always arrived on Christmas Eve. He seemed to know exactly when mass at St. Luke's ended and must have calculated his sleigh flight to arrive about twenty minutes after, just when we had snuggled into our pajamas and gathered around the fake tree to wait. A jingle of sleigh bells, a hearty laugh, and a booming knock on the front door signaled his arrival (we had no chimney for him to slide down, one of the great tragedies of my life, along with the lack of a secret passage in our new-ish tract home). My brother and I would race to the door where a humongous pile of sparkling presents waited. We'd drag in the booty with a cursory glance at the night sky to see if a trace of reindeer could be seen. This happened about three or four times in a row: the knock, the pile of presents, the heady act of unwrapping. Then, one Christmas (I was about six) while my brother was busy dragging in the gifts, I noticed the garage light on. Strange, I thought. Who could be in our garage at this time of night? I peeked in, and there they were: Santa's presents, all piled together on the dirty garage floor. Santa, I figured, must be short on storage space.

The Not-Really Book Club meets each month in Sacramento

Monday, December 14, 2009

Moving Picture Monday: Go Forth

One of my graduate school professors loved commercials. He was convinced that, if movies were novels and televisions shows short stories, commericals were poems for the screen. It was almost as if he was predicting Levi's newest commercial campaign.

A montage of mysterious and iconic images (fireworks; skyscrapers; a girl in a field; a fist in the air; a couple post-coital, jeans around ankles) is set, not to the newest John Mellencamp or Taylor Swift jam, but to a scratcy recording of Walt Whitman's anthemic verse. The commercials are haunting and powerful in their effect. Do they make me want to buy new jeans? Yes. But more, they make me want to watch commercials.

Now, before you get all uppity and anti-materialistic on me, consider Seth Stevenson's logical argument about the pairing of Whitman and Levi's over at Slate. It makes sense that the most American of poets would mingle well with the most American of clothing items. This makes me wonder, which other poets would be translatable to television? Which products would they be best suited to? What would you sell?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Copenhagen Hatin'

Poor Al Gore. He won an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize, and people still don't like him. Just in time for the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, James Delingpole with the Telegraph has launched a very anti-Gore poetry competition. The winner gets a free copy of The Real Global Warming Disaster by Christopher Booker. Feel free to is, after all, free...but change a few lightbulbs while you're at it.

Speaking of free books, check out this very cool book giveaway program by Goodreads. The online social network for bibliophiles gives away tons of free books every month. All you have to do is create a Goodreads page and click on the books you want. I haven't gotten any yet, myself, but it's always fun to dream.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh, the Weather Outside...

really is frightful, at least for us here in the Sacramento Valley. Ice on the windshield and in between rows of the field, huge globs of mud in my shoes, and a chill in my veins. But inside, with a fire going and slippers on my feet, it feels heavenly.

I'm in the perfect mood, therefore for holiday shopping, especially the kind that involves a laptop and some hot chocolate. For those of you with like minds, here are some great resources:

  • The Emerging Writers Network is posting holiday shopping guides by various authors. The selection, which includes fiction, poetry, and journals, is eclectic and intriguing.
  • If you're looking for something a little more mainstream, Largehearted Boy has compiled a list of all the "Best of..." book lists for 2009. It's staggering.
  • My new favorite non-literary blog, Design*Sponge, has gift guides of the fabulous and funky organized by price. Hooray for great finds under $25!
Happy shopping!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekend on the Farm

Fog...hard to take a picture of

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Time to Give

Who wants to give a goat for Christmas? I'd rather give my money to the arts organizations I love.

Duotrope Digest is a wonderful free resource for all us struggling writers out there. They offer an extensive database of print and electronic publications to which you can submit your precious poems and fine fiction. In addition, they give users access to a free submission tracking service, and recently they have added small presses who are looking for the next big thing in publishing. Duotrope relies on donations in order to keep going, and if you have ever used their service, you should give a little something.

The PEN Center USA, and its east coast companion, the PEN American Center, are organizations committed to the freedom of speech and the fostering of marginalized voices throughout the world. A membership will help support their prizes and causes, and will give you access to their writing community, publications, and special events.

Local Sacramentans can attend the Sacramento Poetry Center's 30th Anniversary Celebration tonight from 6 to 8. Your $30 donation will get you in the door for a night chock full of food and drink, frivolity and fun. Teresa Vinciguerra and Danyen Powell will read poetry and music will be provided by the American River College Vocal Jazz Quartet.

Is your wallet yawning after all that giving? Well, charity doesn't have to cost a dime. For those of you with a Facebook account, consider voting for Dzanc Books in this contest sponsored by Chase. Dzanc is a small press dedicated to new and emerging voices, and to growing a literary community from the ground up through grant programs. They are in the running for some well-needed funds, which Chase happens to be giving away. The organization with the most votes gets the's that easy.