Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael Bierut's Notebooks

If you love notebooks in general, and love notebooks filled with observations and sketches (not confessions and angst) in particular, go read Michael Bierut's archived post titled "26 Years, 85 Notebooks" over at DESIGN OBSERVER: WRITINGS ON DESIGN AND CULTURE. "No fancy Moleskines for me," says Mr. Bierut. For the first few years, he re-designed the covers, but now he just numbers them. A photo of 72 of them is posted above. Hurrah for the lowly but practical, affordable, hard-working marble-covered composition book. Here's another photo of the notebooks. Aren't they beautiful?

is one of my favorite websites. I never fail to fall hard & deep when I visit (and when something pulls me back to the real world, hours have passed....) And these people love Princeton Architectural Press books the way I do. When you have an hour (or two or three) check the PAP catalogue. It is full of strange and wonderful books, especially the titles about design and popular culture (I'm saving pennies -lots of them - for Katherine Harmon's new book, THE MAP AS ART. )

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A.B C. Jeu D'Esprit.

Quick note: I'll keep these poems up for my Poetry Friday contribution!

There's no stopping a double abecedarian. It's like a rickety old roller coaster (not like a Great America version - no, it's definitley Coney Island's Cyclone, circa 1940.) Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect set the challenge, to write a single abecedarian, and the example given was one of single-word lines. I have trouble with that, coming up with single-word lines that spell out a story - the narrative doesn't hold and it ends up sounding forced. I'll try to come up with one before the end of the week. Meanwhile, here are my own results - Double ABC's - A-Z down the left hand side, Z-A down the right.


Alphabet poems doubled aren't E-Z.
Basically, you have to go A to Z, B to Y,
C to X, etc. And you hit that X,
Don't forget, coming and going. That's raw
End a line with a V? English words don't end with V.
Figure our next what ends with U. Ugh. I mean U-
Gh. Some letters are just
I guess for
Jugular-vein, you've got the final Q.
Kills me every time, trip-trap
Little goat, the big troll is singing, O!
Meanwhile, the easy ones like D and N--
nice, numerous, dull, dim.
On the other hand, I love every opening vowel:
Plump a-e-o's, i's thin, u's thick.
Quick, jump over the Q. Find a DJ or a raj
Ready to help you solve the mini-
Situation with the final J. Then look for a bush
That burns, and see if you can find a dog
Under the table. By the time you get to an ending F,
Very late in the game, you'll have committed the
Worst possible mistakes & gone mental, you'll have had
X slap you down twice, you'll go to bed with that ABC
Yacking away inside your head, you'll be ruined, you'll be gob-
zacked. Gob-sacked? Gob-smacked? As in l-m-n-Oh, Mama.



A man goes into a bar with a donkey. A small jazz

Band is playing, and the man says, “Hey, my donkey

Can play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on a sax.

Drinks on the house if he can’t.” “No way,”

Everyone in the bar says. A woman named Bev

Finds the donkey a sax, but the real sax player, Lou,

Gets annoyed. “Any idiot knows you need a clarinet,”

He says, “for Gershwin’s opening glissando.” Everyone agrees.

“I’m not sure,” says the donkey. He and his owner confer.

“Just get me outta here,” the donkey whispers, “P.D.Q.”

“Keep your shirt on,” says the man, who has his hopes up.

“Look,” he says to Lou, “how about Bernstein on a cello?”

“Maybe I Feel Pretty…?” calls out another man.

“No, no, no,” says his date. "Play Dance in the Gym!"

“On a cello?” everyone snorts, and she begins to yell.

“Please get me outta here,” whispers the donkey again. “Quick.”

“Quickly,” corrects the man. “it’s an adv. not an adj.”

“Right, I stand corrected. But I really think I….”

Suddenly the bartender, a big guy with tattoos, says “I wish

The donkey knew some early Louis Armstrong.”

“Under the circumstances,” the animal concedes, “if

Virtually everyone in the bar will sing along, I’ll be fine.”

“Woody Allen should be filming this,” says the drummer. “And

Xavier Cugat should be the bandleader. That's basic."

“Yeah, or maybe Spike Lee and Calloway." "Calloway?" "Cab.”

“Zubin!” someone shouts out. “Spielberg and Zubin Mehta!”


Like I said, they go where they go. Jeu d'esprit.

(I can't believe I found that photo of donkeys in a bar. The internet was made for poets!)

Friday, June 19, 2009

For Poetry Friday: Getting Stretched

First things first: I want to wish Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and physicist, a Happy Birthday. He was born on June 19, 1623, and he would have been 386 years old today, if he had made it. He's the author of this lovely line: "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from mistaken conviction." That's a very generous attitude, don't you agree? I've thought of it many times over the last eight years. So, Happy Birthday, Monsieur Pascal!
I hope that when I'm 386 years old,
I'm as convinced of man's basic desire to do the right thing as you were.

Now then: Poetry Friday! I admit to feeling a little like an old Slinky lately - with my stretch wearing out, and the poetry stretches over at The Miss Rumphius Effect getting harder for me to complete. Read what the assignments were by clicking on the links, and follow them to see what other people wrote. At least getting nudged keeps me writing, and it might do the same for thanks for that, Tricia.

1. This week, we were asked to "generate a list of rhyming words inspired by your surroundings and then write a poem inspired by them." Here's mine:


Quiet in the house, not a sound.
It's all moonglow, though mallow whispers from a pitcher
near the sink. Then Day comes. She turns Night around--
the flowers shout and the stunned house, which her
chirrups fill, begins to spin-- Day makes the tea tins
tremble, she makes the thin-bowled silver spoons clink
on the counter, she makes the cups shake and the dog blink
and cockatoo whistle in his cage. In fact, Day wins
the day and keeps on winning all day long until, once more,
Moon knocks like at neighbor at the back porch door.

2. Last week the stretch was to write a poem based on a folktale, fairy tale or legend. I chose to set a fairy tale mood rather than to use one speific fairy tale figure.


Three gold coins,

three wishes wished,

three magic seeds

and three magic fish,

three bad guesses,

three real tears-

now the sea is salty,

now the seeds are years,

now the threes are doubles,

now the doubles one,

now the world is spinning

'til it comes undone.

Now you are a changeling,

now you are a haunt,

now you're hardly here at all

and now you're not.

Now you're just the wind

as it moves through trees,

and I can hear you counting--

One, two, three....

3. And the week before that we had to write poems "based on food." I got a double dactyl from that (well, double dactyl meter anyway - I didn't add in the six-syllable word in the next to the last line. This one goes out to Lang and her husband, the owners of Mandarin Chef in Seattle's University District, on the Ave. just north of 50th Ave. NE. They serve delicious food, and they are such nice people.

Higgelty pigglety

Mandarin Cheffery

uses some spices,

some garlic (and how....)

Even when I'm in the

Great Land of Noddery,

I am still dreaming of

Lang's hot kung pao.

Oh, yum. They do make their kung pao very HOT HOT HOT! You'll find Poetry Friday today over at Carol's Corner. Thanks, Carol.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Poetry Friday: Happy Birthday, Mr. Sendak!

Today, I just want to say Happy Birthday to the most wonderful Maurice Sendak, who turned 81 on Wednesday, the 10th. He's a national treasure. Many happy returns of the day, Mr. Sendak!

Here is a little ditty (how I love ditties, the littler the better) from Chicken Soup with Rice, in honor of the coming of summer:

In June I saw a charming group
Of roses all begin to droop.
I pepped them up with chicken soup.
Sprinkle once, sprinkle twice,
Sprinkle chicken soup with rice.

You'll find the Poetry Round-up this week over at Critique de Mr. Chompchomp (I can't believe I just typed that name. Chompchomp -that's a wild thing of its own, isn't it?)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Poetry Friday: A Poem from Book Titles

This was fun. The challenge was to create a poem from real book titles, no filler, no connective tissue, nothing else, just the book titles. Here's my response (and if you feel like adding a book-title poem in the comments, be my guest.) Don't miss Tricia's version, titled "Nobody's Fool" over at The Miss Rumphius Effect - it's wonderful. The only rule: you have to provide the titles and authors of the books you use. If you can link to a Book Title Poem you've posted, that would be great.


What's really wrong with you? Eating Chinese food naked,
walking naked, praying naked, dancing naked
in front of the fridge, dancing naked
at the edge of dawn, under the naked
sky....On the other hand, I've seen a lot of people naked,
and they've got nothing on you.

* * *

Books Used:
Naked by David Sedaris
What's Really Wrong with You by Thomas Griner
Eating Chinese Food Naked by Mei Ng
Walking Naked by Alyssa Brugman
Praying Naked by J. Francis Stroud
Dancing Naked in Front of the Fridge by Nancy J. Sipes
Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn by Kris Radish
Under the Naked Sky by Denys Johnson-Davies
On the Other Hand by Rachel White Adams
I've Seen a Lot of People Naked and They've Got Nothing on You by Jake Steinfeld


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Sara Lewis Holmes over at READ WRITE BELIEVE. Go on over, see what people are offering up today.