Thursday, March 29, 2007

Becoming Pirate*

Two poets—
one male, one female—
walk into a bar.
The bartender asks:
What brings you here?
The male poet replies:
My ship. Arrrrrrgh.
The female poet: Squawk!

Two poets—
one male, one female—
walk into a bar.
The bartender asks:
See anything you like?
The male poet replies:
Your booty. Arrrrrrgh.
The female poet: Squawk!

Two poets—
one male, one female—
walk into a bar.
The bartender asks:
What can I get you?
The male poet replies:
Yo ho ho: a bottle of rum. Arrrrrrgh.
The female poet: Squawk!
and crackers.

* with apologies to the staff at the New Amsterdam, 831 Exposition Avenue, Dallas, Texas.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Invitation/Reading

I'll be reading some of my new translations of Wislawa Szymborska's poetry as well as some of my own writings tomorrow evening (Thursday, March 29) at South Side on Lamar as part of WordSpace's Writers in the Universities program. It begins at 7:00pm at Opening Bell Coffee. If you are around, please come out and support us.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Culture of Obedience

Welcome to Utah:
“There’s a real resistance to change and an almost pathological devotion to leaders simply because they’re leaders,” he said, in describing fellow Utahans who do not share his views and who in large numbers support the president (and gave him 72 percent of their vote in 2004). “There’s a dangerous culture of obedience throughout much of this country that’s worse in Utah than anywhere.” - Salt Lake City Mayor "Rocky" Anderson
Fully aware that it's a losing battle to vie for the title of "Most Pathological City in the US," but have you been to Dallas, Mr. Anderson?!?! You have my sympathy. And respect.

Someone who doesn't have my respect: the ever immoral chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace. Not only does he not see murdering people as immoral, but then he refuses to apologize after making stoopid remarks about homosexuals serving in the US military. Homosexuals have always served/are serving/will always serve in the US military. Let them do their job ... which is to murder the people you tell them to. 'Cause none of you sorry ass bastards are doing anything for my freedom.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

So this is what tries to pass itself off as political discourse in the good old US of A: plastic doll Ann Coulter—who tries to pass her brand of uninspired anti-intellectualism off as conservatism—essentially calls Senator John Edwards a faggot. Then she proceeds to enlighten us by declaring, “It isn’t offensive to gays. It has nothing to do with gays. It’s a schoolyard taunt, meaning wuss. And unless you’re telling me that John Edwards is gay, it was not applied to a gay person.”

Overlooking the fact that one of those self-styled conservatives finally admits to being the equivalent of a schoolyard bully, we can’t pass on the fact that according to that useful and erroneous logic, it must be exceptionally acceptable to call said trash-talking bimbo a whore because she isn’t one. Or maybe—even better: how about any of the other inoffensive terms she allegedly isn’t. Nigger? Spick? Chink? Gook? Jap? Wetback? I guess as long as we don’t call her a bitch or a cunt then we’re in the clear. Yet somehow it still doesn't feel appropriate, no matter how inoffensive they appear to her and other bullies who would use them.

The only thing more annoying than that travesty is her sidekick Matt Sanchez, formerly known as gay porn star Rod Majors but currently known simply as Major Tool. Now that he’s been washed in the blood of the neo-con agenda, he declares, “I don't like porn, it reduces the mind, flattens the soul.” I’m thinking that if after such stellar performances in such films as Touched by an Anal, Jawbreaker, Beat Off Frenzy, Laid to Order, Lunch Hour 2: Sweating Grease, Man to Men, Secret Sex 2: The Sex Radicals, among several others, if porn was flattening his soul then perhaps he wasn’t doing it right. Semper Fey, you stupid cocksucker. And remember: it’s only offensive if you are.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Desperate Measures


I have run dangerously low on my cologne and need every person in the world who reads this blog to find me more. (Well, actually I just need one of you to help.) Apparently this particular kind is not sold in the US (or perhaps it's just not sold in the otherwise thriving Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis), which makes perfect sense because the only places I’ve ever bought it previously was in Japan and in Poland. It is Chanel’s Platinum Ēgoïste eau de toilette. It comes in 125 ml (4.2 fluid ounces) and—most importantly—is not a spray bottle.

I’ve been wearing this for the past nine years. This last bottle has lasted almost five years because I wear so little of it at one time. It delights me. Is there anyone out there who can help me get my hands on another bottle? Of course, I will pay for it as well as for shipping. Or perhaps there is something in the United States that I can send you in exchange. (Democracy? Freedom? Sure … just let me contact my president!) Send me an email at skajlab at hotmail if you’re willing and able to take on this mission. God speed.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Easy on the Eyes

I never claimed to be all that professional when it came to being a professor. In fact, there have been several times when I complained about individual students right here on this very blog. I intend to do that again now. Well, actually, I just want to make a few comments.

Despite whatever inappropriate things I may write here, it would still never be any less appropriate than the comments on one student’s final exam yesterday: “I respect your knowledge. Your [sic] also easy on the eyes. Thanks!” Now am I to assume that this student intended to declare, “You’re also easy on the eyes,” or did this student instead forget to write a word between “Your” and “also”? Did this student mean to include “face” in this declaration? Perhaps “ass”? “Clothes” maybe? Whatever. As long as something is easy on said student’s eyes, that’s all that matters, I guess.

Here’s a silly-gism—not to be confused with a formal syllogism from logic—that one student included in an answer on the final: “Plato is a man; Plato is mortal; therefore, Plato is a man.” I’m still laughing. What a lovely tautology! Another student chose to use mathematical notation to get the same point across: “a=b, b=c, c=c” with no “if,” “then,” or “therefore” and absolutely no logic. It’s the little things that mean so much to an underpaid professor.

Now it’s time to enjoy this so-called spring break (yes, three weeks before spring begins!) by reading as much as I can and getting back to the gym (which I’ve neglected while teaching these past three weeks). I’d hate to be hard on the eyes, after all.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Betrayals

This is something I wrote several years ago and meant to post but apparantly didn't because I couldn't find it when I did a search.

To write is to betray. There is not a single word written that is not somehow a betrayal—a betrayal of something said, a betrayal of a feeling, a betrayal of the reality one foolishly attempted to capture.

Writing is an act of violence against time and space. (And meaning.)

But reading is no less a betrayal. My mother taught me that lesson when I was sixteen and she wrote to me a note in which she confessed to reading every word of my journal that I had been keeping for more than three years. She read every word. And then my mother wrote to me a note she included with the stack of papers and spiral-bound notebooks she dropped off for me when I was sixteen and living in a foster home.

She did not write that she was sorry for having read my private journal during a tumultuous and painfully difficult time in my life. She did not apologize in her note for any such violation. Instead she wrote that every word I had written was wrong and a lie. She could and would never understand how I was able to describe my father as a “fucking-ass bastard” practically on every page until I decided to abbreviate his presence in my notes to merely “FAB.”

Well, I thought, if my written words were wrong, then so were hers. And I proceeded to destroy every single word that I had written in the previous three years. I shredded all the lies, all the wrong impressions, and all the mistakes in interpretation on my part. And I tore her note to shreds as well, vowing not to ever start another journal.

Her violation of my mind and personal property were just as violently invasive as my father’s physical abuse. Not only was my own skin being used against me, my own words—words never meant to be read by anyone other than myself—were arrows that instead of being left alone in the quiver were shot point-blank into the core of my being.

It took years of fighting this urge to write, to put down on paper, to document the experience of life before I was able to begin another journal. And I eventually came to conclude that the only way to prevent my words from being used against me was to make the entire story public. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And then I began an online journal. Not bad for someone who at times becomes horribly shy and withdrawn, seeking solace in anonymity and private solitude.

I taunt my friends and lovers when I tell them I write about them. After I am threatened with perjury, I exclaim, “You wouldn’t recognize yourself anyway.” Of course, each person will recognize his or her own name as well as several of the personal details. But that alone is not sufficient cause for alarm to me. I remain convinced that people are ultimately unknowable, including one’s own self.

Just as I am at times incredulous when a photograph appears to include someone that looks like me but just cannot be me even though that stranger is surrounded by the people who surrounded me when we posed for the camera, I know that mere words alone can never reconstitute the reality of a life, not even my own. I am not quite sure that this first-person pronoun “I” could even ever stand for the reality that is this person writing, or the reality I seek in my life and in the documentation of that life. So you would certainly never recognize yourself. My own mother could not even recognize herself or the man she was married to in the words written by her only son.

Only questions remain at this point: whom do I betray by writing now? and whom do you betray by reading?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Preview

Here we are at the lull before the final maelstrom. I’ve already taught the past two weekends (17 hours; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and I have one more weekend to go. But this last mega-session for the mini-semester is my favorite, beginning with Symbolism and working our way up to the current year. I spend 1/3 of the term on the last 100 years after cramming in everything from the Big Bang and the evolution of humankind up to the year 1900. During the first two weekends, I give them the bases for everything they think and believe, and in the last few hours I take it all away. Plus I get to talk about Le Pétomane and Cloaca. You know your college tuition money is well spent when the professor talks about shitting and farting! When my introduction to the humanities course ends Sunday I’ll have an entire week to work ahead for my own classes. I hope to finish the required readings by the end of the month so I can devote all of April to writing my two term papers and finishing my translation projects.

Next three performances I plan to attend: Kitchen Dog Theater’s production of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck; Rickie Lee Jones at the Lakewood Theater; and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6.

Alright, that’s enough for now. I have to go clean up cat vomit. (Yes, this entry did revolve around shit, puke, and flatulence. Good times.)