December 05, 2000
RASP poem: "Cog"

So, on the first Saturday of every month there's a little event at Victor's Coffee House in quaint downtown Redmond called RASP: the Redmond Assosiation of SPokenword. With spelling like that, you can understand why they favor the spoken word.

As a general rule, each month's proceedings feature a guest reader (always a poet of one kind or another), and then there's also an open mike before and afterward. However, three times a year, RASP hosts an "Island Style Slam", which is a special kind of poetry slam. Here's how it works:

Each participant puts in a couple bucks and receives three words in exchange. The participants then have twenty minutes to compose a poem using those three words. You may trade *sets* of words with others, but not individual words. The participants are called up in random order to read their work. Three judges score the performers on creative use of the words, composition of the poem, and delivery style. After everyone's done, the scores are tabulated and the top five get up to do it again. From these five, the top three winners are determined; the top three split the money.

Since I'm known for overdoing it, I decided this month to try for all nine words from the three different sets that were handed out, and I tried to compose a poem that used all nine words in two three-line stanzas. It was a fun experiment.

The nine words: mirror, lean, savage, wrinkle, machine, hallelujah, cusp, adjacent, and motor.

The poem was inspired by teenage angst (which tends to pervade poetry slams). I dedicated it to the teens in the audience, and told them that it represents something they have to look forward to.

Note: For the first time ever (okay, okay... out of two tries), I placed in the top five. Must have been the delivery. :)

...but, no, I did not walk home with the money.

As I lean into the mirror Another savage wrinkle Hallelujah, I'm a cog in the machine

At the cusp of understanding
Gotta keep that motor running
Adjecent to, but never reach my dream

Posted by at 12:07 AM in the following Department(s): Poetry , Tidbits , Tidbits II
 December 16, 2000
H*llary's new book deal

Remember when Vice President Gore accepted all that money from certain foreign parties in the form of campaign contributions while he was overseas and which were deemed by most observers as unethical (at the least) and illegal (had it happened on US soil or involved other US parties)? Rather than saying he didn't do anything wrong (because, one presumes, he *knew* it was wrong), he said "there is no legally governing body" to handle such situations. In other words, it may be a conflict of interest -- it may even be a flat out bribe -- but there's no explicit jurisdiction defined to address this particular situation. So, there. Can't touch me. Neener, neener.

Turns out, a certain Senator-elect, who will be representing New York State soon, continues to exhibit the very same kind of behavior that has typified the current-but-not-for-long administration's attitudes toward what's "okay" and what's "legal".

Check out any online news source, such as this article from ABCNews.com. The Senator-elect has taken a huge book advance despite the fact that this is frowned upon by ethics committees and is actually against the rules for other elected officials. Again, the message is loud and clear: if our political adversaries do it, it's outrageous. But, if we do it, it is not technically illegal, so it must be okay.

Depending upon what your definition of 'is' is, I guess.

Posted by at 02:13 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits III
 December 20, 2000
Amazon's new tab

So, stores at Amazon are called "tabs". You know why? Because in order to avoid lawsuit troubles like Microsoft had recently with the Department of Breaking Up Microsoft, Amazonians must not claim to have several different "stores"; instead, Amazon is offering goods in several different "market segments". The difference between a "market" and a "market segment" is the difference between a "viable corporation" and a "chain gang of felons at a federal correctional facility."

Anyway, one of the new "tabs" at Amazon, the Livestock tab, is encountering some difficulties leading up to launch. Turns out that the packing plants (termed "Distribution Centers" or "DCs") have been making the mistake of not poking holes in the boxes before shipping out the animals. Very unfortunate.

Only a few more days 'til Christmas. I hope you all are doing well. And, I hope none of you are members of the PETA joke brigade. :-)

Posted by at 11:46 PM in the following Department(s): Humor
 December 27, 2000
Narrative Thread

A friend of mine recently noted that there is no "narrative thread" to my postings on my web log. She is correct. Everything I've posted thus far has been rather random and out of context. Why is that? Two reasons.

The first reason is, quite simply, that I haven't been posting much at all. If I don't post on a regular basis, it's hard to start establishing any on-going context or threads of interest.

The second reason is one of purpose. Who am I writing to/for? Why am I posting to this site at all? Without any answer to these questions, each missive is a random pellet that is scatter shot from a 12-gauge that is aimed at the empty sky.

(Metaphors are so much better than similes, aren't they?)

Without a sense of the audience, I find myself censoring my postings quite a bit. If I'm not posting to anyone in particular, I end up worrying about any number of people in general reading or misreading what I post. What if someone at work finds out that I don't like my job? What if someone I respect learns I did something uncool? What if my former students discover I'm just an ordinary guy? (Actually, they've probably already figured that out.) What if my grandparents find out I swear like a sailor?

Alas, I'm discovering that there's a worse scenario: What if I had a chance to speak, but I didn't for fear of offending?

I can't even believe I just said that. Me? Afraid to offend? If my friends from college could only see me now.

Well, when I worked in radio, I never really knew who my audience was, either. At least, not at first. Eventually, they'd start revealing themselves through calls to the station, or comments from out-of-the-blue at the checkout line, or even irate letters to the editor. And, eventually, I found my voice.

But, even though I didn't know the audience at first, I at least knew my purpose -- be it to read the news, play some rock and roll, or host a comedy show. So what's my purpose here?

To tell you stuff I wouldn't normally get a chance to tell you. That's all.

So, stay tuned. You might like what you have to hear. Then again....

Posted by at 12:02 PM in the following Department(s): About This Site
 December 28, 2000
Person of the Year

Just a little observation today, as I have much else to do, but have you noticed that being picked as Time's "Person of the Year" is not usually a harbinger of good things to come?

Example: Ted Turner, President of Turner Communications and Ted Turner Industries, was Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" in 1991. You know what happened after that? His company got onto shaky ground and he had to be bought out. By whom? Time Warner. Ted Turner became an employee of Time Warner four years after being Person of the Year.

Last year's "Person of the Year" was Jeff Bezos, the founder and President of Amazon.com. Copies of that cover can be seen all along the hallways of Amazon's various corporate headquarter buildings. This creates a spooky "Jeff is Watching You" feeling reminiscent of a certain George Orwell novel. One year later, Amazon's stock is worth about one tenth what it was a year ago, and Jeff's not laughing as much as he used to. (For those of you who don't know, Mr. Bezos is famous for his laugh. Just like Bill Gates is famous for rocking back and forth on the edge of his seat like a nervous first-grader who has to go to the bathroom.)

Anyway, this year's "Person of the Year" is President Elect George W. Bush. I'm not quite sure why... I mean, what has he done this year that was so compelling? He won an election. Presidential elections happen every four years, and sooner or later, someone is declared the winner for each of them. This year, it was Bush. Would Vice President Gore be gracing the cover if *he* had won? I don't get it.

So, the President-elect graces the cover of Time Magazine with a very dubious honor. Let us hope that President Bush does better with his administration than President Bezos has done with Amazon. Or, for that matter, better than President Turner has done with his own organization. I'd hate for the US government to be taken over by the guys at Time Warner.

Posted by at 02:10 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits , Tidbits III

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