Saturday, April 29, 2017


While running on the trail today
I met a snake along the way,
And watched while he stuck out his licker
And made it flicker.

Friday, April 28, 2017


You sit on a plane at thirty thousand feet, seemingly suspended motionless over a field of cotton candy clouds, that stretch to the blue horizon. You examine the engine just outside your window, and you can't make out any movement there at all. The sun is shining brightly and it looks warm enough to the eye. But you press your skin to the window and it's definitely cool to the touch. You can almost imagine climbing out the window and riding legs astraddle on the engine. But you know that the "wind" would knock you right off, and you know that your fall would not end on the cushiony cotton candy, but would instead continue straight through that foggy gauze to the hard ground further below.

And so you decide
To refrain
From climbing outside
The plane.

400 Grand

Retired politicians should take
Whatever Wall Street offers.
I'm sure they all need to make
Cash to replenish their coffers.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dionysus Writes

I've been reading Dionysus Writes: The Invention of Theatre in Ancient Greece, by Jennifer Wise. Its standout thesis is that there's a reason why the Greeks didn't have theater until they had a working alphabet - namely, that you need popular literacy for the practice of theater to blossom.

The older Greek poetry was from a more purely oral tradition - the epics and the lyrics, Homer & Sappho & company. You just needed one performer for these things - one specialized virtuoso of memory. Storytelling is an art as old as humanity, and it includes some acting, but it doesn't involve actors exactly.

In theory you can imagine Prometheus Unbound being composed orally, and taught orally to actors. In theory. But the technology of an easily teachable alphabet made it much more feasible.

To get theater right
In practice you need
Playwrights who write
And actors who read.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Strange New First Amendment

Freedom of speech should be less
For folks who cause distress
By daring to disagree
With me.

Running the Muddy Trails

I ran a 5k in the woods yesterday. Some portions of the course were extended mud puddles, so my socks got a bit muddy.

The tough thing about a trail running is that it really is more hazardous than pavement running. You can slip in the mud, trip on a root, all that kind of thing.

The fun thing about trail running is the challenge and the sense of being out in the great natural unevenness of things.

They say running on uneven surfaces is good for your ankle strength - if you can keep from twisting them.

Here's my number one tip:
Try not to trip.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Free Will Microchips

Scott Adams has a blog post, "You Don’t Have Free Will – but You Might Get It Someday".

He claims we don't have free will, based on at least 2 different arguments. The first is "laws of physics" and the second is "we follow our strongest urge at any given moment". In his mind they run together as one. The laws of physics generate those urges and we obey.

But, he says, what if we could insert microchips to control our brains? Wouldn't we have more freedom then? We could use reason now to control urges later!

I thought of Odysseus, of course, who wanted to hear the sirens' call and survive, and who had himself tied to the mast of his ship, and had all his crew stuff their ears with wax.

I thought of Aquinas, of course, who warned men to avoid the "occasion of sin" - to structure their lives so that they were not led into temptation.

Rational people have always found ways to fight
The tyranny of appetite.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


I've been noticing a very annoying new usage, wandering in from the academic world, of referring to people as bodies. Live people. In all apparent seriousness. I have the vague idea this comes from Foucault, a French guy I haven't really read.

I mean, I might say "the room was packed with warm bodies". But that's being funny.

Here's a standout example:

"Many infertile bodies are bodies who, like Miller and myself, delayed childbearing..."

I assume it is intended to be jarring, to refer to oneself that way, some kind of in-your-face materialism.

I assume also that it is insider lingo to those in the know.

I think there's something cloddy
About calling a person a body.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Art Crisis Du Jour

The bull was there first, on Wall Street. Then someone threw the girl in, to make a combination set of figures. The combo is supposed to be about feminist aspirations. But I don't think that's how it actually "reads" if you just look at it with unbiased eyes.

To me, this scene looks scary.
It's fine to be brave, but be wary.
I'm fearful this kid will get gored.
Somebody give her a sword!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fraternal Of Course

In the anonymously sourced news from Jackson, Mississippi:

This Married Couple Took a DNA Test and Discovered They Are Biological Twins

Both adopted...
Same date of birth...
Similar looking...
For what it's worth,
I really think
They might have guessed
Even without
That fertility test.

Thanks Merjet!

Oh, Snopes thinks it's fake...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Blessed Pilate?

I was reading a nice Easter piece by Kevin Williamson, and I came across this:

"In the Ethiopian church, Pilate is revered as a saint..."

I had no idea, so that sent me off on an investigation online.

Anyway, it's a complicated story, but just tracking the Ethiopian Church, there's a text they seem to be following, The Martyrdom Of Pilate, which I don't recall hearing of, but which has Pilate becoming a Christian and getting crucified:

'The blessed Pilate began to pray while hanging on the cross, and said : " O my Lord, I have polluted your holy cross by the hanging of my body on it, because it is a pure wood and my body is an impure body..."'

In this variant story,
Pilate dies in glory.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lois Lerner Again

You may recall that Lois Lerner, who used to work for the IRS, took the fifth in front of Congress when they asked her about the agency's treatment of would-be tax-exempt tea-party organizations.

For some reason, she's willing to testify now, in some civil case having to do with the same thing, but she wants to keep her testimony secret, on account of threats she has received:

'“Mss. Lerner and Paz have demonstrated that the public dissemination of their deposition testimony would expose them and their families to harassment and a credible risk of violence and physical harm,” they said in documents submitted by their lawyer to Judge Michael R. Barrett.'

I'm nosy, so I hope this all ends up in the open, but I'm very curious as to WHY she is willing to testify now, when she couldn't testify before, on account of maybe incriminating herself.

My problem is that I know just enough law, learned at the dinner table mostly, to be perennially curious about the peculiar workings of our legal system.

There's always an explanation of some sort
For all the strange things that go on in court.

Friday, April 14, 2017


Yoga is not nearly the pure Hindu thing a lot of people think it is, but if you attend enough classes you do tend to hear some Eastern spirituality stuff.

You might think that's fine...

"But at Benedictine College — a small and strongly Catholic liberal arts school in Atchison, Kan. — yoga classes per se will soon be yo-gone, out of apparent concern that use of the word “yoga” suggests advocacy for Hindu mysticism."

They're keeping the classes, but you might say they're rechristening them.

A pose by any other name
Will stretch your body just the same.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Short Plays Daze

I'm in the happy position of having three different ten-minute plays awaiting production for three different festivals.

And I'm not involved in the productions at all. That's very pleasant, insofar as I don't have to buy stuff, solve logistics problems, etc. But it's frustrating not to be watching rehearsals in advance of the show. I like rehearsals. It's where a lot of the creative side of acting takes place.

In rehearsal the actor designs
A plan for performing her lines.

Working The Bugs Out

Not a good day for this airline:

"The same day a passenger was infamously dragged off a United plane in Chicago, a man on a United flight from Houston to Calgary was allegedly stung by a scorpion."

The scorpion fell from an overhead bin
And stung somebody who touched him.
Alas, we must contact the bug's next of kin.
A flight attendant flushed him.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Doc Dragged Off Jet

I am entranced by the video of the doc being dragged, bloody and belly-exposed, off the United Jet.

It seems, to me
To hold a mystery.

To start with, why does he let out that strange wail as soon as the cop reaches for him? If it happened like that on stage, I would say it was unrealistic.

To middle with, how exactly does his face get bloody? Has the cop purposely banged his head, or was it some kind of stupid accident? There was a very early announcement from the Chicago Police Department that said the man had "fallen". But it turns out that wasn't an "official" announcement. And the cop in question works for the Aviation Department, not the Police Department. Anyway, we've heard nothing directly from the cop who pulled him out of the seat. He's on leave.

To end with, how does he end up on the plane again, after he has been dragged off, still bleeding, saying something about "Please kill me."?

I have no explanation. But I want one!

This strange airplane eviction,
In which his face got cracked,
Would not work well as fiction,
But there it is, in fact.

Monday, April 10, 2017

MCC and Me

I work near a bunch of federal buildings, but one in particular, the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center, attracted my eyes today.

First, at lunchtime:

Triangular correctional facility.
Escaping it requires some agility.

And, yes, it has been escaped. Twice!

Then, on my evening walk to the train station:

On trees outside the jail
The flowers do not fail
To recognize that Spring
Is now the thing.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Wet Weather

We've got the lake in our backyard again.

Really it's just a few of inches of standing water. But when this happened last week, our neighbor's basement flooded with 4 inches of water. So I hope that doesn't happen again!

Four inches is enough
To ruin lots of stuff
That's sitting on the floor.
And cleaning's a soggy chore!

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Mysteries Solved

The X-ray revealed
Why his tummy was sore
And where he had lost
Those dentures he wore.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

No Fooling

April First in Massachusetts, so...
Of course there's snow.