a tongue-twisting tale of terrific terror

Catherine Cummings contracted a condition called cowpox;

she coughed the color of carbuncle and cut a contusion from convulsions.

She caught cankers and cold sores and cavities from caries,

cataplexy from collywobbles,

and cholera from chronic colitis.

 

Christopher Columbus came cruising along,

he gave her chlamydia, crabs, and the clap.

She concussed and collapsed into a coma.

Catherine’s cousin contacted Columbus to crack the code

of Catherine’s casket of commodities.

 

Columbus quickly cracked the code of Catherine’s casket

only to see a clear, cold curse:

May he who cracks this code contract cowpox, convulsions,

caries, collywobbles, cholera, colitis, chlamydia, crabs and the clap.

Happy Happy Happy George Harrison’s Birthday

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGKPHFrHVVY

May you always walk on cloud nine
May the gnomes in your gardens always be grinning
May your Wellingtons never be heavy
May you always have a ukulele handy
May you always know what life is
May you always be best friends with your mate
After he just boinks your wife
When I say love one another
You don’t have to take it literally
But anyways
May your guitar never weep
May the sun always rise
And always handle each other with care

Today is George’s 71st birthday! I wish it were a national holiday. We could celebrate by sitting cross-legged while learning how to play sitar.  However, I can’t sit cross-legged due to spinal fusion surgery so I’d have to stand and play the tambourine.

There are only a few songs that make you stop whatever you are doing or thinking and experience the moment. “Here Comes the Sun” does that for me.  Of course, the majority of George’s songs does that to a fanatic like me but that song I’ve heard since the womb.  Today’s kids have heard Mozart in utero. I heard the Beatles.  So there.

I must lead the creative life: my correspondence with Ray Bradbury

“Tom! Come see the play next Sat night. -Ray” Bradbury thought I was a guy named Tom which was perfectly all right with me.

Ray Bradbury died this week. and his death couldn’t have been timed more perfectly.  I had been out of the routine of writing every day because as most insecure writers feel, I did not know if what I think means anything new or important.

A quote by Bradbury flashed through my mind a few days ago.  Sometimes that happens before I learn of someone dying.  I don’t think it’s a sixth sense, it’s more kismet.  The quote is from Zen in the Art of Writing:

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together. Now, it’s your turn. Jump!”

His routine was to write a thousand words in the morning (the landmine) then spend the rest of the day editing (putting the pieces together).

About 3 years ago I was mesmerized by an English teacher friend who had been corresponding with Bradbury for years.  I thought I’d give it a try and send him two of my poems.  He sent them back to me with this note scrawled:

“Tom!” AI (I think) Thanks! – Ray” I guess my handwritten name might have looked liked Tom to the 89-year-old Bradbury.

He included the next item which is my favorite piece.  It’s a brochure about Fahrenheit 451 in Spanish.  You can see the ragged edges, where he cut it to fit into the envelope I included with my poems:

“Tom! Love!”

Here is the play he invited me to, Falling Upward:

Although I included an envelope, I mistakenly forgot to include a stamp.  Luckily Bradbury had a stamp of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he referred to as “Ray’s Papa.”

In a story he tells on his website about how he became a writer, he talks about meeting a magician named Mr. Electrico at a carnival:

Mr. Electrico was a fantastic creator of marvels. He sat in his electric chair every night and was electrocuted in front of all the people, young and old, of Waukegan, Illinois. When the electricity surged through his body he raised a sword and knighted all the kids sitting in the front row below his platform. I had been to see Mr. Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, “Live forever!”

It was then, Bradbury said, that he knew he must lead the creative life.  And through that creative life, he did exactly as Mr. Electrico commanded him.

our Easter painting

easter egg prepping with white crayon

dipping them in our vinegar and food coloring concoction

letting them dry on a paper towel

adding a minecraft creeper egg to the mix

the eggs drying leave a painting behind

a hippie's tye-dyed dream

and viola! the planets collide together waiting for breakfast peeling

flat stanley in hawaii

Flat Stanley here again!  Thanks to my friend Tony I visited the beautiful islands of Hawaii.

Yay! I'm in Hawaii!

On the front lawn!

Bobby Brady? Where are you?

Check out my hula dancing, y'all!

I'm stuck in a tree!

Then I flew over here. Can you spot me?

Now for a relaxing walk on the beach.

Hey, that water is getting kinda close.

What does "Oh no, Mr. Bill" mean?

Whew! I'm okay.

I think I'll try some surfing...

Uh...maybe not.

I think it's time to come back. Thank you Tony and thank you Hawaii!

 

the secret world of flat stanley

Cover of "Flat Stanley (picture book edit...

Hi!  I’m Flat Stanley!  One day a billboard flattened me (don’t worry, there’s a happy ending) so I’m able to travel the good ol United States through snail mail.  Thanks to my friends Bud, Mark, Tom, Gwen, Mary Katherine, Rowdy, Sarah, and Steve, here are pictures from my travels.

Special thanks to blogger Slim Paley for helping make the pictures look extra special!

I hit the road by crossing a bridge in Burlington, Iowa. Hang on!

Finally, I jammed with a band called Two 4 the Road. Rock on!

retyping the classics with hunter thompson

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Image via Wikipedia

I watched the Gonzo documentary before going to bed so naturally I dreamed of Hunter Thompson. He was with me at a party with all the young dudes as the David Bowie song goes.

I convinced these young men that Hunter was alive and well and within these 4 walls. They all got up to talk to him like teen girls with the Beatles in 1964.

I learned from the documentary that he had a sweet side which you can see in the way he touches his chin in an episode of To Tell the Truth. Both of his wives said he had a vicious side, like when he screams at one of them to find his g–damn medicine.

I also learned that Ralph Steadman, Hunter’s illustrator, is not a crazy person. I mistakenly thought so based on his work as you can see here:

image via signatureillustration.org

He appears normal and well-spoken, like a nice gentleman you pass in the supermarket as shown here:

British cartoonist and caricaturist Ralph Stea...

Image via Wikipedia

In the film Hunter said he typed the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Great Gatsby) over and over just to get the flow. Did it work for him? Obviously.

So to get over the dreaded writers block that possessed me over the holidays I’ll do what Hunter did with the Gatsby.

Instead of writing I rewrite.

I checked out classics from the library by authors like Bradbury, Faulkner, Conan Doyle, and Fenimore Cooper. What a way to feel like the author to retype their words, to see what they saw and what made them get it all down on paper. You don’t get that by just copy/pasting.

So because of Hunter sneaking into my dreams I remembered the most vital part of writing: rewriting. I’m ready for more trips into the subconscious as long as the Steadman drawings stay at home.

kodak easyshare by flowers and candlelight

Who knew Kodak could be so…romantic?  I used the Flowers and Candlelight options on my formerly buried treasure Kodak EasyShare:

portrait of a dying rose

view from the table

flower mom with her little ones in tow

view from the top

inviting some friends to the party

but sometimes prefers to be alone

not sure if we're in the pink or feeling blue

a curious pup looks for the neighbor

salmon or melon color?

shadows creep where thorns make their home

dear today’s shopping mall, I unfriend you

Dear (insert every city’s major indoor/outdoor shopping mall),

As a teen, I fell in love with you.  I visited you with friends to buy the trendiest of clothes with my meager wages.  I got Orange Julius though I didn’t know what was so great about it.  I walked by girls (and boys) getting their ears pierced since it was the eighties. I snatched up every pair of parachute pants paying full price because getting spotted in K-mart was worse than leprosy.

Then in the nineties something smart happened.  You became the place  for The Intellectual.  Electronic stores invaded, major book stores opened for the now mature shopper who no longer needed hair scrunchies and leg warmers.

One could sample music through headphones while sitting around other people like a music bar. Game and puzzle stores laid out chess games for passers-by to play.

You bore toy stores stepped up from the usual Barbies and fake flipping barking dogs.  You sold science experiment kits and (gasp) art supplies.

If an artist or scientist suffered at an impasse, a trip to your glittery cages and “mall air” cured what ailed us with a salted soft pretzel, of course.  Like when we eat ice cream while suffering sore throats.

Then the recession of ‘Aught 8 rolled in.  Electronic devices blew up with books, music, movies and games that nobody had to touch except for touch pads.  Book stores dropped you and set themselves up outside your parameters with no weary shoppers to wander in.  Hot potatoes be damned.

Today, if we want to open a book we must do so whilst standing because big name book stores no longer offer comfy chairs to relax and browse. We must buy the magazine we want to look at along with a drink otherwise we can’t sit at the tables.

But face it, we get magazines solely to read in the bathtub because we can’t risk dropping our iPads in the water, unless you have a bowl of rice and a heat source handy to dry it out.

There’s hardly nothing left to touch before we buy.  The only place left in your vast expanse for The Intellectual is the overly sterile Apple store. There’s nothing colorful to feast on except the casings for their devices.

All that’s left now, Dear Shopping Mall, are stores with clothes, shoes, shoes, clothes, clothes, jewelry, and shoes.  And you know the sad part?  Nobody’s in those stores.  High-heeled Lady Gaga shoes sit on stands, shining their rhinestones and leopard and cheetah prints, lonely and soon to be forgotten in 2 months when they are shamefully out of date.

I shouldn’t complain, Shopping Mall.  I’m typing this on a software program that provides me with links, articles and pictures to accompany me which is pretty nifty.  I just wish something nifty was left over in your glass-windowed hallowed halls.

Sincerely,

The Average Intellectual Shopper

midnight in paris: on a whim movie review

Salvador Dali with ocelot and cane.

Image via Wikipedia

I was in the mood for an artist’s date yesterday and in true form, I planned nothing ahead except for bring with me a free movie pass I won in a raffle.

Without checking to see what was playing, I went to the theater to see what movie was starting next.  One couple bought tickets to Midnight in Paris.  I’m not a movie goer so I’m not familiar with anything on the silver screen that doesn’t involve Harry Potter. The couple said it was a Woody Allen film.  I’ve loved his movies for many years but got creeped out with him marrying Mia Farrow’s daughter, but I thought I’ll give it a shot.

And what a shot it was.  We hear but not see Owen Wilson as Gil Pender talking to his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) about how tired he is of being a hollywood hack and how he wants to live in Paris to write a novel but she wants to stay in Malibu. They are in France on business with her parents so they take in the sights.

Gil goes for a walk at midnight and on a whim he gets picked up in a cab from the 1920s with some partygoers. At the party he meets Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, while Cole Porter entertains on the piano.  The Fitzgeralds take Gil to a bar where they meet Hemingway then see Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) where he gives her his novel to critique.  By the way, Picasso is with Stein analyzing a painting I swear looks like something my 7-year-old concocted, but hey, it’s Picasso.

Other artists from the 1920s make appearances such as Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali.  I never knew Dali could be so sexy and crazy at the same time especially since he only spoke of rhinoceroses.

This is the kind of movie I’d write.  Or it would at least be in my dream journal.  It was like walking through all of my lit and art courses in college.  If this movie existed back then, I’d have straight A’s, no problem.  We want to see the people we study come to life.

After the movie I felt inspired as an artist so on a whim I walked to Michael’s.  I still felt like I was in the movie as I walked by an Italian restaurant as a street performer sang, “It’s a wonderful night for a moon dance.”  I walked straight to the artist supplies and saw sketchbooks on sale, so I picked one up with some charcoal pencils.  I plan on using these at the beach today like Reginald Marsh as he sketched by the ocean.

What a terrific unplanned artist’s date’ it’s something we all need to unblock our creativity.  I give this movie a rating of all the stars Vincent Van Gogh ever painted.