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As spy satellites likely shot while I lived there, here's a view of my first home near the U.S. Capital!

2123 Freda Dr., Vienna, VA, fall 1984-spring 1987

There's no Google Maps Street View for Freda Dr. Luckily Mom and Dad swung by the house on one of their Virginia trips:

Pic courtesy Mom and Dad

It's the only split-level I've ever lived in. Kitchen, foyer, living room, and dining room were the middle level; the basement had the family room, TV and (soon) our first VCR, one bathroom, a guest bedroom, laundry, and treacherous concrete steps to our basement; upstairs were three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an office/game room with a PC and another TV, hooked up to our Atari 2600.

My bedroom, with one window and my 1985 Star Trek III: the Search for Spock wall calendar, was on the north side. I had a small desk under the window and my own radio. What I listened to then still affects what I listen to now.

When I moved there, a month into fifth grade, I entered my fifth grade school. It'd be my last one: Louise Archer Elementary, named for the school's first principal — she ran it and taught there (cooked for students, too) when it was the Vienna Colored School, in the 1940s. Louise Archer Elementary was probably the grade school I best connected to; I had a chance to, with Dad on shore duty that lasted a while, and I think I wanted to.

I had a lingering weak constitution: really feeling the acid in OJ if I drank it too early in the day, still car-sick more than I wanted, and not liking humidity. I'd reacted worse to it in Virginia Beach, but it still was easy to be miserable. I now can handle humidity; I no longer get annoyed by it. But I held onto that annoyance for a while, even as I strengthened and got better at breathing.

I became a more nervous kid. Stress. I know, elementary school stress, but any level of stress can mess with you. This was probably the era I came closest to being a hypochondriac, going to the school nurse's station to see What Was Wrong With Me when, mostly, nothing was physically wrong. Physically.

I was anxious over, among other stuff, nuclear issues. I'd listen to Sting's song "Russians" and have disturbing dreams about running from a rolling mist that clearly stood in for a nuclear blast. This was the only period in my life I regularly had dreams that were close to being nightmares. I'm glad my dreams since then are, mostly, dreams.

(Real-life sights made me nervous, too. One day, playing in a friend's front yard on Verdict Dr., I looked up and was surprised by what looked like a high-flying bomber, being escorted northward in tight formation by fighter jets. Why? And to where? I still wonder.)

A more day-to-day issue: I didn't yet have much sense of direction. I still mainly thought in terms of this is there in relation to that. I changed this while there. Here's a tip: get interested in maps. I studied the ADC Map for Northern Virginia and even started to collect maps, hoarding National Geographic fold-outs. Maps started to make more sense. So did the land.

Including the reclaimed swamp that is the Washington, D.C. monumental core — a place made much nicer than a swamp by the time I'd moved there. I visited. A lot. My family'd been to D.C. before, in 1983 then summer '84 when we were house-hunting (I watched the L.A. Olympics from our Crystal City, VA hotel), and I'd appreciated it then; living near it made it more enticing. On the Fourth of July 1985, we watched the fireworks display from the hill the Washington Monument is on. That's also the hill where that huge fireworks display was launched from. The sky was exploding, in an amazing way. Before that, we visited the White House Christmas Tree display. And museums, museums, museums, open and popular and free — including the National Air & Space Museum, still likely my favorite museum ever. My 12th birthday weekend, November '85, included a trip there. (Summer '92, I volunteered there!) In 1986, the D.C. Metro finally reached to Vienna. MORE INCENTIVE.

Years before, I'd lived on the side of a California hill, but here the ground rolled; hello, Virginia Piedmont. Though I'd certainly biked before, here I became a more serious bicyclist. It was, in some places, an effort, but I had a stroke of luck: Freda Dr. was near the W&OD Bike Trail. An access path was half a mile from our house, and a smaller access path past some neighbors' homes was a fifth of a mile away. Finally, it was easier to reach a place to bike! On my bike! (My parents bought me a new one while there.) And the world opened. Or started to. (Patrick Henry Library, the nearest branch, was a block from the trail. I was there a lot, getting Oz novels and Janet and Isaac Asimov's Norby books.)

Northern Virginia, where I lived from fifth through twelfth grade, is where I figured out a lot about myself. As I've put it, "I figured out my front end from my ass end." My focus got better. My reading speed and comprehension improved: in fifth grade I and a few classmates would spend a period a day discussing books with sixth graders. I was introduced to Ray Bradbury ("The Veldt") and started reading Douglas Adams, though I needed two tries to get into the first Hitchhiker's Guide novel. I wrapped up my time of being a mediocre but decently energetic soccer player. I stepped up speech therapy (I still had such trouble pronouncing my R's that I toyed with pretending I was from England). I sang in chorus, and in sixth grade sang in a hundreds-strong student chorus over in the City of Fairfax. I might still have the audio cassette of that show.

And I had my first crush. Her name was (presumably still is) Nicka. We met in fifth grade; we were friends by sixth grade and acquaintances, post-my crush, through high school. Like most crushes, it went nowhere, plus I was 12 and understandably clueless. But that feeling — a good kind of nervousness, and an appreciation of someone nice who was also very pretty — ah, I still smile at it.

I started photographing while there. My folks gifted me a Kodak Disc Camera at Christmas 1984 (the same Christmas, I got my first comic book, an issue of DC's Star Trek) and, oh, did I start photographing. Blurrily photographing, because it was a beyond-basic camera, but a lot of photographing.

Vienna is where I became a regular reader of much of the newspaper; before, I'd mainly read just the comics and occasionally the Mini Pages. We subscribed to the Washington Post and The Fairfax Journal, which no longer publishes. Trust me, I was still reading comics, and the Post had three pages of them. Riches! But I started to see, and understand, the richness of the rest of the paper. I also started to save clippings. I've saved some for decades. (I do weed them occasionally. I don't want to cross over into hoarding.)

Moments from that house: having a cold one December, resting on the sofa near the Christmas tree in the living room, and knowing I was on the mend when I got up, walked to the tree, and could smell the pine smell for the first time since getting sick. Another, non-sick time, sledding on the steep incline behind the house. Huddling near the kerosene heater we used in the kitchen, and once having to get the phone cord off of the heater after we'd (I'd? I forget) accidentally laid the cord on top of it. (No one got burned! But that cord stayed warped for years.) A dinner where Dad told a shaggy dog story, the kind that's told well enough that you don't realize it's a shaggy dog story until the last line. A summer time, getting stung in the backyard by a few bees at once (they'd been in the grass and I'd disturbed them) and running like I'd awakened a whole hive; maybe I overreacted but hey, I didn't get stung again that day. Seeing a wider variety of computers, like a friend's Commodore 64, and seeing what they could do. That same friend introducing me to Starblazers/Starship Yamato, which I immediately loved. My brother getting special permission from the folks to rent The Breakfast Club from the Vienna Erol's Video, since it was rated R and he was 14. Dad coaching me through an F-14 flight simulator, to land on the simulated aircraft carrier as realistically as possible. (Often I'd deliberately crash the plane so the game would show the crash on instant replay.) All of us Walshes helping my brother deliver the Sunday Washington Post a few Sunday mornings, because that was a beast of an edition.

Vienna is still a good place — it ranks high in "best towns to live in" surveys. It no longer has a movie theater like it did in the 80s (where I saw The Goonies, Spies Like Us and Return to Oz), but it now has Jammin' Java, a coffee shop/200-seat music venue which I really hope to visit one of these days. I've heard good things about the place, including from people who've performed there. And by suburban standards (though probably not by my living-in-cities standards), Vienna is reasonably convenient to lots of places; very central.

It was central for me.
Snow. Still. Below-freezing temps. Still. Even the people I know who don't usually get cabin fever are getting all "Enough" about this weather. And tomorrow morning we'll get some amount of freezing rain. On top of this.

Above freezing by Wednesday? Maybe! We'll hope!

Speaking of, that saying you're thinking of is British, not Chinese.

P.S. My bump is better! It's no longer like having a third knee.

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Baptized in Bump*

I went for a walk this afternoon and had my first spill of the storm — first spill of any of the winter storms Portland's had so far this season. Went down on my left lower leg while walking on Foster near 82nd. I didn't break skin, but after walking for several more minutes I checked and saw, erm, I'd broken something under the skin. Hi, bump! Also hi, on-and-off icing.

It's getting better, the bump. And it was nice out (no wind! Unlike yesterday, when I didn't go out) and see pavement. We'll be above freezing for most of the week. I am really looking forward to that.



* (not, thank goodness, blood, is the point)

Don't play these songs at weddings

John Lennon, "Jealous Guy"
System of a Down, "Sugar"
Bruce Springsteen, "Brilliant Disguise"
The Beatles, "Yer Blues"
Oingo Boingo, "Capitalism"
Leonard Cohen, "The Future"
Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)"
"Hurt," by either Nine Inch Nails or Johnny Cash
Tori Amos, "The Waitress"
Anything — anything — by Meat Loaf
Metallica, "Battery"
AC/DC, "Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)"
Randy Newman, "I Want You to Hurt Like I Do"
David Bowie, "Five Years"

...on the other hand, I would be weirdly impressed if a wedding's music included The Bloodhound Gang's "The Bad Touch."

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It's gonna get LIT

Just over three weeks of daylight hours slowly, but noticeably (but slowly (but noticeably)), getting longer.

I am very much paying attention.

See you later, more light.

How my blogger brain works

I considered posting a blog entry tomorrow morning that would've been this except with "Here's another one." (Or maybe "Here's another." Faster is funnier!)

I won't.

Rest well, all of you about to rest. If you're awake, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, good on you!

Snowshine

Portland got the sun today. So some of the snow — some — has been melting, and lots of the city has been glinting. We're far from being out of this: we'll be at or below freezing for — *checks* — the next three days. But the sun is out, the sky is clear, the air is pretty, and we'll continue to deal.

I got out farther today than yesterday. Bussed to the Hawthorne Fred Meyer, for a slight change of pace; sometimes I don't want to shop at the Freddy's within walking distance, and I wanted to see how that area looked. Plus it'd be easier to get the free newspapers that came out this week (the Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury); that neighborhood has boxes for both, my neighborhood doesn't. Plus(-plus) libraries, where I often get the papers, are closed today.

(Speaking of libraries, the central library downtown, where I last was Tuesday, now looks different out front: Wednesday the big tree in front of it on SW 10th fell, due to snow. Luckily the library was closed yesterday, too, but I'm glad and relieved I was nowhere near there...and sad for the loss of the tree. LATER EDIT: The whole tree did not fall, but a large branch comprising about a third of the tree. Someone I know saw the damage today, and it wasn't as much tree damage as it could have been,)

People in and near the Hawthorne Freddy's today seemed to be in generally a good mood. I smile about that. I hope we're getting by.

Now, home, for the night, which is coming...but still, sunlight and clear skies for the moment...

I like to do a blog entry a day.

There. Here's one.

I feel like I don't have much "blogger brain" right now, but at least I can post this. Hi.
Portland had another storm. And a serious one. Luckily, the ice from this weekend melted by yesterday, just in time for snow. Seven to 10 inches of snow. Snow.

I have snow-brain at the moment. It mainly goes "SNOW."

The view at 7:30 this morning:

7 to 10 inches of snow, Wednesday, Jan. 11th, 2017

I did briefly walk in it this morning, less than 10 blocks, feeling lucky I didn't have to go anywhere today. (I did an errand yesterday and I'm glad I did that errand yesterday. I got home as the first flakes were falling. Didn't think it would be as much as we got.)

Snow. This is a lot of snow for Portland. I am mainly noting this for the record. The city will/should start to function more tomorrow, I'm guessing; today's a day off for lots of people. For emergency, hospital, service, and other people who have to work today: We really appreciate it.

Meanwhile, snow. Because snow. Snow snow snow snow snow. (Snow.)

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Show my work! Early draft vs. final draft

My most recent poem started over a year ago, maybe a year-and-a-half, with the line "To un-understand," written on my tablet while riding the bus to work. I stalled. I'd gotten this much:



* * * *
To un-understand

To
To ignore, dismiss, hand-wave
To not care [To un-care?] [De-care?]
To make opaque, and stop seeing clearly
— to no longer care at all to see clearly —

To dismantle the connection you'd made
Like folding in your eyes and rolling up your heart

* * * *
The above was one sign (which I heeded) that I should more often write poems by hand; they seem to come out of me better that way, with the paper trail of revised and discarded words I can keep for reference. (And then I type up the final versions. No one else has to read my messy handwriting in my notebook, thank goodness!) I kept this fragment, figuring one of these days I'd give writing it another try so I could compare what came first with what came finally. Looking back, I really like only the first line (which I used) and the last line (which I didn't; I forgot I'd written it). The above was, certainly, nowhere near done, but was a good start. Finished, now.

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"Un-Understand," 1/8/2017-1/10/2017

Un-Understand
by Christopher Walsh, 1/8/2017-1/10/2017



To un-understand:
To un-know, to block the lessons others learned
And tried to share; to ignore and shun
Any knowledge beyond you
As if empathy is a burr to pluck and step past —
To insist and demand
------to see what is to you, at best, blurred
When that view is from anyone not-you,
An Other-View to dismiss, and another, and another,
An Other-View you quietly wish were banished and banned,
To un-affect you.

It is easy to Not.
It is easy to Un-.
It is easy not to care that caring's left undone, or never-done
And for that un-care to recur
("And, and, and," you bark at all attempts to reach for attention and care)
Until caring for still less is evermore easier.
...sometimes what is wrong, is easier.

Empathy is not a thing to withstand.
It is not a thing to attack.
It does not command: when empathy has begun, it is
A guide that asks you,
Quietly,
To understand.

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My latest bit of music appreciation

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley wrote "Careless Whisper" when they were teenagers, years before their band Wham! was a worldwide-known thing. It would be a huge hit later. (A meme going around following George Michael's death, claiming that Michael wrote the whole song but co-credited Ridgeley anyway, is wrong; George Michael was generous other ways.) Seventeen-year-olds wrote that. Later, Michael himself would question the song's popularity, but even at 17, he was hoping he'd write hugely popular songs and...he did. Over and over. For years. Some artists do it for decades.

To me, that's alchemy. How do you do this? How to take musical ideas and combine them in a way that will make thousands or, perhaps, millions of people listen to it and buy it and sing along to it? How crazy-confident to the point (perhaps) (probably) of arrogance do you have to be to think you could pull that off? AND KIDS CAN DO THIS.

...yeah, I wasn't that kid. I've realized plenty of times that I can appreciate music but feel dubious about any ability to create it. Sometimes less dubious, though, like when I learned language theorists considered that we may have developed true spoken language after music. Whether it happened that way or the other way around, with our ancestors taking spoken language and refining it into music — remember, melody is like the rise-and-fall of talking, but more organized — music and language are tied together. Music is a language, and that is beautiful.

I know: it's a craft, you can learn it, you can be trained. I had a neat time as a reporter covering a middle school's music composition class, teaching the basics of melody to junior high students, including how melody is far more malleable than the limits of notes would imply: the students started with a few basic motifs and all the students' melodies went in different directions. As it was explained to me another time, anyone had the ability to write the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, but only Beethoven would ever have written that exact constellation of notes (so many notes) to follow those four notes.

(Well, okay, four chords, to be more exact.)

Beethoven, of course, was brilliant. George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley were talented...or maybe they were (and are, in Ridgeley's case) brilliant, I'd be the wrong judge of that. Hans Zimmer, as much as I run hot and cold on his work, especially from the 90s, is talented. I'm not catty enough to list composers I think aren't talented...though now I think of a writer-editor I wrote for who told me he thought one prominent modern composer could be "a very talented fraud." (I won't name either person referred to in that sentence.) But workmanlike composers get the job done, too. Maybe, if I wanted to, I could get to "workmanlike."

As entertaining as it is, Empire is not going to teach me the ways of making a hit song, but obviously many people behind the show know the nuts-and-bolts of making a song and getting it right. "Right" is subjective, like (YES!) any kind of art, but that sense — of what is the right form of a piece of art — comes to me more often as I get more confident as a writer of poems. That word belongs there; that other word doesn't, a writer can think, about a composition that simply didn't exist before. And it can be an exciting sense.

I love that kids can experience that, and that some, later, get to share it.

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One last pencil. It's a big one. I did it in a high school art class, most likely either freshman or sophomore year — I don't remember exactly when — and it's busy. Busy enough for annotations.

Good-sized image behind the cut:

Read more...Collapse )

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"Haunted Air," 1/1/2017-1/7/2017

Haunted Air
by Christopher Walsh, 1/1/2017-1/7/2017



Wind is filled with the breath of the dead.
A trillion-trillion exhales build up,
A molecular history of who and what were here before
Drawing life from the world.
That life does not come back, but
It does get recycled,
Broken down to carbon dioxide and former carbon dioxide
(Oxygen and former oxygen)
Which go up.
Which then go where weather patterns move it to —
High pressure pushed to low, but, within that, infinitely malleable,
Infinitely mixed,
With rising/lowering moisture
To add weight
To this gaseous shell of life
That holds in all of Earth.
We move through it.
Sun rays reach the air, reach through the air,
And warmth happens:
Another trigger for our kind of life,
Another trigger for rain
To cycle the water used by us.
The air and water were also used by the former us,
The Late Us;
To so much life from the Great Oxygenation Event onward,
This was needed.
...What if the air knows this?
What if molecules of memory
Linger?
What if the past we breathe in
Diffuses,
Brushing past and hovering near all of us all the time,
Trying to reach us,
To help us recall as it recalls?
What do we infinitesimally touch as we move?
All of what we were and are is still here
— all people, even those who've flown beyond Earth's air-shell, have (so far,
--------one way or another) returned
— All of what we were may be unrecognizable,
But re-purposed,
Over and under and within us
And perhaps — perhaps — prepared to be remembered.

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How much do you remember from high school freshman year?

Me? At first, almost nothing.

I got to wondering that recently, and only scattered memories came to me. It's not like fall 1988-spring 1989 just didn't happen, it's not like I entered James Madison High School of Vienna, VA, walked through a time warp and left it a sophomore, but I had trouble with specifics.

Yeah, I wasn't as engaged in things then as I could have been.

My memories of junior high, at Thoreau Intermediate on the other side of town, are more vivid. And more maddening, because junior high is often something we don't experience so much as survive. (Junior high is also when the region's 1987 seventeen-year cicada brood came out, and WHOA that's a memory.) But that's maybe another entry another time.

One major freshman year memory isn't even mine: my high school got visited by freshly-inaugurated President George Herbert Walker Bush. I didn't see him...but my brother, a senior, did. He'd wound up alone in a corridor and was surprised when Bush and some Secret Service agents came around a corner. The President spent part of his visit in the cafeteria, eating lunch with students.

Speaking of the cafeteria, I wasn't there that day. Or most days, either. I usually ate lunch by myself, outside and out front, brown-bagging it and sitting under the flag pole. (The following year, a new rule required us to eat in the cafeteria. Assigned seating. Luckily I sat with good guys I became good friends with, later. Eventually.)

Scattered memories: September '88, me asking a teacher in front of a class if the space shuttle Discovery, the first shuttle to launch since the loss of Challenger, had successfully launched (it had launched safely, thank everything), and a jackass I knew in that class said "Yeah, it blew up." I got mad. I don't remember how I showed how I was mad. (No, I didn't hit him, but the urge to yell "Oh, f--- you" was likely strong. But back then I was even more inhibited about swearing in public than now.)

A decent library. We had one. It also wasn't ever closed for major remodeling, the way my junior high's library had been. Speaking of Discovery, later in the day when that jackass had "joked" about the shuttle blowing up, I confirmed the shuttle was in orbit, then went to the library and saw video of the launch. I'm glad I hadn't watched it live: a trick of the light made it look like the shuttle, before jettisoning the solid rocket boosters, was venting from the side of the launch "stack." Even knowing it was an illusion and that the shuttle was fine, I was nervous watching.

A more general memory: the second floor front hall of the school, where I had my locker, always seemed surprisingly dark, darker than the other halls. You know, by then I'd seen The Breakfast Club, and had wondered if schools were likely to be that well-lit. Only in movies, I guess (I didn't know yet that the film's library was specially built in a gym), but it seems more newer schools and more recent remodels are generally brighter.

I was there, I was learning, and it must have been foundational learning: brick-laying. No one remembers putting down every brick, so to speak. I was an OK student, not great, but I honestly wish I remembered more of what I was doing then. Maybe I was just boring. *wryly grins*

The big sign I was getting more engaged and focused in high school: in 10th grade I joined the school newspaper, the Hawk Talk. It was more magazine format-y, but still, newspaper, by students for students. Which meant writing, which I'd been doing on and off since grade school, but (finally) more of it. I think — think — that I didn't join freshman year because my brother was on it, but maybe I simply didn't think of joining. But I'm glad I did. I was on it for three years, becoming the Entertainment Editor my senior year of 1991-92.

And, at different times during senior year, had crushes on two others also working on the paper. *thinks back and smiles* Nothing happened beyond friendship and working together, but still, feeling that was nice. Ah, Kathryn. Ah, Carmen.

I still have all my issues from at least my senior year; I possibly have all three years' worth of my Hawk Talks, but I don't want to dig through them to be sure. (I've even republished one Hawk Talk movie review, my review of Alien 3, here on this blog.) I think my working better on the paper made me a better student overall; joining it was definitely one of the best decisions my young, budding writer self made. And I met good people through the paper, including a friend I'm still friends with 25 years later.

Those were four years where I was reasonably productive, decently learning, and managing to grow as a person. I was lucky to be a Navy brat who did not have to change high schools, so I never had that disruption; I'd just had it earlier, attending five grade schools over the course of six years. And that's nowhere near as many moves and schools as some kids with military parents have had.

I wasn't exciting. But at least I was learning.

Thoughts toward a place I have not been

A place I've never been/ a place I'd like to see: New Orleans. And that's not just because next week the city will be in the 60s and 70s (though not yet: today's New Orleans high was 40, but compared to Portland's current temps fluctuating between the teens and the 30s, even that would be nice). I've yet to visit a city like New Orleans: people who lived there have called it a Caribbean port that somehow got moved to the American South, so it's in in the South but not quite of it. A place surrounded by a much different place, and living with the potential contradictions that implies.

(I'm fairly inexperienced with the American South, too, but I try to look at it through the filters of people I'm fond of who live or have lived there. I listen to their experiences. Or try my best to.)

Poppy Z. Brite's stories about Rickey and G-Man, longtime partners who cook in the city, give me some of my inherited image of New Orleans, and Brite knew what he was talking about when he wrote these. (Those stories are some of my favorite writing by Brite, period, but keep in mind I'm a fan of Brite's. Have been for over a decade.) It's a more religious city than I'm used to, but it seems like New Orleans doesn't mind if its residents and visitors are religious or not as long as they respect the city. (I got a different vibe about religion when I moved to Hermiston, Oregon, the first genuine and non-suburban small town I lived in, in 1997: I think some who met me expected me to join a church and do so in a high-profile way, and didn't know what to make of me when I didn't. I remember feeling like one church I visited for a Hermiston Herald article was selling itself to me, seemingly hoping I'd become a member, and that rubbed me the wrong way. This was likely more a small-town issue, and obviously New Orleans is not a small town.)

(I did not expect this entry to go there just now.)

Respect. I like the idea, and appreciating the act, of respecting a place. There's a stereotype of a tourist who does not respect where they visit, instead just loudly barreling through a place, and I cringe at that stereotypical image. I hope those who live where I visit don't ever cringe at me as I pass through.

So. New Orleans. I would not be completely sure what to expect, but I look forward to the time I can try the city, see what I think of it and what it thinks of me.
Ahem:



Terry Christmas hates his name;
His folks thought they were clever.
Each year ’round, it is his aim
To do what-must to sever
His hated name from any claim
To corporal form — however,
No one lets him just declaim
His true name to be Trevor.

(...Mary Christmas is his drag name.)
— 12/26/2016


* * *

...sometimes, something like that comes out.

As I write more, not just writing more poems but writing more of other forms like stories, I (like other writers) will get used to Writing When I Think The Words Won't Easily Come. I wrote that the day after Christmas, out at my parents' house, wanting to get something down but not sure what I'd come up with, and having trouble getting started. I'd last written in my poetry notebook December 4th; I was missing the act of writing in it; I tried that time to make it easy on myself. And this happened.

Didn't feel very inspired — I knew it shouldn't be too long, anyway — so I wrapped it up quickly. And, I hope, amusingly. It's an odd poem for me, and I debated whether or not I'd share it, but I decided I'd keep myself honest if I did. Plus I like the habit of sharing what I come up with. I don't want to be an overly precious George McFly, not wanting anyone to read my stuff because what if they don't like it?

By the way, by the Rules of Writing, the above is going to be someone's favorite thing I have ever written, and they will think I was nuts to consider not sharing it. More power to you, hypothetical Chris fan. I give an amused and slightly chagrined thumbs-up.

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My Geek Trivia, Part 2

For those who came in late: In 2011, I wrote questions for Geek Trivia, hosted by Cort Webber and Bobby Roberts. Here's some more of my questions; these, and the rest I'll share, weren't used, but I still enjoyed the writing exercise. Keep in mind I was trying to imitate as much as possible the writing style Webber and Roberts used, as well as their format. One category of questions was true/false, but named "Truth or Poop?" One of those questions is below.


5. Stoner flick question! There are two films with the line "Dude, Where's My Car?" One is Dude, Where's My Car? What's the other one? Bonus point: what's the main thing the two films share?

6. The 1986 song "Land of Confusion" —


— was one attempt by Genesis to write a socially relevant protest song, but what's far more memorable is its video, made by the makers of what satirical Eighties British puppet show?

7. Before it was the classic 1987 film, The Princess Bride was a 1973 novel also written by William Goldman. The novel is presented as Goldman's abridgement of the original 1,000-plus-page book (that book does not exist; this was a conceit Goldman used when writing it). The novel's official full title is "The Princess Bride, S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure: the 'good parts' version, abridged by William Goldman, author of ________________." Fill in the blank.

8. Truth Or Poop? Before he was a late-night TV smartass, David Letterman tried to break into films. He auditioned for the 1977 sketch film "The Kentucky Fried Movie," to play the newsman who appears throughout and also somehow sees the young couple having sex. Letterman didn't get the part, but the filmmakers liked one of his improvised lines so much they added it to the script.

9. What did Neil Armstrong mean to say when he set foot on the moon? It's not what you think.

10. Alfred Hitchcock had a ridiculously long career, directing films from the 1920s to the year before the release of Star Wars. What was the last film Hitchcock directed? Bonus point: what do that film and Star Wars have in common?


More questions on another day, when I feel like posting more.


5. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. The bonus point answer: both films were directed by Danny Leiner. "The same director" would also have been a valid answer.
6. Spitting Image
7. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
8. Truth! By the way, the line Letterman came up with was "The strike there is, uh, what's happening in Japan with those Japanese."
9. "That's one small step for *a* man, one giant leap for mankind." Snopes has a page for whether Armstrong actually said "a," and concludes he didn't. By the way, Armstrong did not plan to say "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." He said that off the top of his head.
10. Family Plot. Bonus answer: both were scored by John Williams.

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