Sunday, December 28, 2008



We rode from Camelback and Central to downtown. Rumor was there were hours-long waits in Tempe to get back to Phoenix, so we hopped off at Van Buren. Then what?That's the rub. We walked over to the Arizona Center, which was empty at 4 p.m. on a Saturday. So we rode back up to Camelback.

It was very crowded, both ways. People were enthusiastic. The general patter was that it would be a good way to get from Phoenix to Tempe when not so busy as on this, its opening day, and free. The ride was smooth and fun.

It's not a replacement for automobile travel, but it's a great alternative.

I have to admit a certain fondness for the "Camelback corridor." We go to the Biltmore a lot for books at Borders, snacks at Haagen Dazs, and the sales racks at Macy's. It's a pretty little outdoor mall; excellent people-watching, especially at the corner of the lawn by the Apple Store and the MAC make-up shop.

For another billion dollars maybe we could hook that up with light-rail, too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fireplace Tile

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Plath: Before the Coming


Compelled by calamity's magnet
They loiter and stare as if the house
Burnt-out were theirs, or as if they thought
Some scandal might any minute ooze
From a smoke-choked closet into light;
No deaths, no prodigious injuries
Glut these hunters after an old meat,
Blood-spoor of the austere tragedies.

Mother Medea in a green smock
Moves humbly as any housewife through
Her ruined apartments, taking stock
Of charred shoes, the sodden upholstery:
Cheated of the pyre and the rack,
The crowd sucks her last tear and turns away.

Sylvia Plath

1959 may have been the best year of Plath's short life. Married to Ted Hughes and back home in Massachusetts, she studied with confessional poet Robert Lowell and met fellow poet Anne Sexton. Then Ted and Plath spent the summer traveling and camping throughout the western part of the United States. Upon invitation, they spent the fall at Yaddo. Sylvia also found out she was finally pregnant, after long fearing she might have been unable to conceive.

This was one of the last poems she wrote before her "Ariel" voice began to emerge. Even here though, Plath deeply and darkly mines herself. But maintaining form; in this case another sonnet.

The Ravaged Face, written just a little later that spring, was probably the last time Plath resorted to the sonnet scheme.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cats Eat Tinsel, I Do This

I am without lid.

I've flipped my lid.

My lid is gone. My lid has gone away.

I slept with one lid open.

My lid is over there someplace. Over the rainbow maybe.

Everyone must pop their own lid.

Put a lid on it.

The first one to open the lid and get the peanut butter.

I was talking up my man George and he says he's so old he remembers when you could score a lid for forty dollars.

They kept a tight lid on it.

I need a lid remover.

The paint color is on the lid.

He cracked him on the lid.

When one door closes, another opens. But when one lid closes, that's it.

Eyelids are doors.

As you can see, one thing lids to another.


I love the music of Carla Bley.

Only thirty more days. Even less if you live in Minnesota.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Season's Greetings

There was this one semester in college when I scheduled all my classes just on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This left me with some unstructured time and I was free to other interests I had, such as film.

My best day was Monday. I started the morning by sitting in on a general "introduction to film" class. That's where I saw The Battleship Potemkin.

There's be discussion by the teacher afterwards. This is also where I first saw movies by Renoir, Chaplin, Welles, Kurosawa, and the like. After that class I'd do my usual campus thing and then go to a French cinema course. In the evenings there was a "women in film" class. So on Mondays I went to three movies accompanied by lectures and student talk. It was great.

I saw a lot of movies back then and to this day I tend to look at them through film student eyes. The professors instilled in me a way of distinguishing classic film-making from all the rest, and because I've seen a lot of movies I appreciate originality. Repo Man, see quote above, is certainly quirkier than it is "good," but that's why I like it. Same goes for Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which is the best time-travel movie ever.

The stoner philosophy really gets me. You can fall in love with people from the past, and some of them are very interesting. You can teach yourself to duck in a timely manner. It's just a silly little caper film, but it's final conclusion is epic: Be excellent to one another.

What a lovely and profound sentiment. Be summarizes all of existentialism. Excellent is "the" aesthetic and ethical goal for us. To points in the direction of the real world, the one outside our minds. Bill and Ted go there. It's big. One acknowledges other individuals, and Another established our commons.

It's what nurses try to do, I guess. When we are given time and resources.

I'll be sporting a 12-hour shift on X-mas. I've got your back in case anything bad happens. But don't worry; it won't.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oak Panel

Click to enlarge.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Little Duck Big Sea

A long time ago I had a classroom teacher who introduced us to something called The Parable of the Invisible Gardener. It goes along these lines: two guys stumble across a garden flourishing in the wilderness. One of them is a skeptic and he just thinks it's a lucky find, while the other guy is a "believer" who attributes it to the "invisible gardener."

They devise all sorts of tests to capture evidence for the gardener and these all fail to provide any, but the believer is undeterred and continues to insist that there must obviously be some gardener tending the plot. James Randi, a magician and debunker, refers to such believers as "unsinkable rubber duckies" because their beliefs persist despite lack of evidence.

Without an observable corresponding phenomenon, what exactly is a "belief"?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Burr Grinders

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Death by Borders

Discharge instructions:

Patient advised to seek out assistance from the consulate of their country of origin.

Patient should return to their country of origin to obtain treatment of their liver mass.

Patient to avoid alcohol and illicit drugs.

We made up a taxi voucher and arranged to get them to a shelter before it closed for the evening. They could get their prescriptions filled there and they'd store the pain meds so the patient wouldn't get mugged for them.

As warmly as I could (through the in-house interpreter) I told the patient that if they got sick I'd like them to come back to our hospital.

I wish you could all have seen the look on the patient's face when they left. I wish you also could have seen the look on the face of the attending doctor. She didn't want it to be this way. Nobody does.

Well... almost nobody.