The Friday Fives

1. Do you have an automobile lifehack?
Spend the money on good windshield wipers and replace them often. There is nothing worse than going 60 miles per hour over Vail pass in a snowstorm and those babies start acting up and doing a crappy job.

2. Do you have a great kitchen lifehack?
Keep your knives very sharp and run them across a knife sharpener/honer before using – every time. You’ll thank me in the end.

3. Do you have a great bathroom/shower lifehack?
I have saved up about 14 prescription bottles and labeled them for am/pm for each day of the week and then use them for daily prescriptions and vitamins and such so I don’t forget to take them.

4. Do you have a great computer/entertainment lifehack
Go with Linux.  Trust me – you really will not miss Apple or Microsoft.  This way your computer is cheaper and no one is watching your every move while you work. I am taking to you Cortana and also you, Siri.

5. What is your life change lifehack that everyone must know?
Imagine the worst that can happen for any given circumstance. If you can live with it, then don’t stress and manage through it.  If you can’t, then take an action.

The Friday Fives

1. Following the logic of Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider and becoming Spiderman, what’s the best radioactive animal to get bitten by?
Well, let’s see. We have Antman, Spiderman, Black Panther, and I am sure a host of others. How about being bitten by a radioactive wasp and have the powers to fly as quickly as those pesky pests do and give a sting as your power (Is this the basic premise of The Green Hornet? If so, can I have Bruce Lee as my faithful sidekick to help kick ass?)

2. Blade Runner(1982) takes place in 2019. What technologies from today would seem like science fiction to people from the year 1982?
First, I must say, one of my favorite films. That said, let’s postulate, what do we have now that would wow? Probably the ubiquitous cell phone/smartphone. That’s some pretty advanced technology right there.

3. You have unlimited funds and are tasked with reducing crime. You can’t spend any money on the police. What do you spend it on?
Universal basic income. Everyone gets $20,000 grand a year and they can supplement that with whatever job they want/need. Economic issues are the cause of most crime.
Sociology folks. Look it up.

4. Other than your usual clothes, what’s something you feel naked outside your house without?
A wristwatch. It may be a generational thing but for most of adult life I have worn a watch and it is weird when don’t have one.

5. What’s the one job that robots must not be allowed to take over?
Bread baking. When done by machines, it sucks, but when homemade, it is divine.

Friday Fives

The Consumer Electronics Show starts next week. In that light:

1. What is an electronic gadget/technology that you can’t live without?
Probably my smartphone, with my kindle as a close second.

2. What is an electronic gadget/technology that you can do without?
Radar detector beat speed traps – no need for one. I rarely speed and rarely, rarely get pulled over. I don’t need this gadget and for those of you who know me, passing on a gadget is a big deal.

3. What is your favorite gadget
Our apartment is now in mourning over the death of our coffee air roaster. After nearly decades of use – the Fresh Roast 2 is no longer made and we are desperately searching for a replacement, which, as I understand it is on back order.

4. What needs to be invented but hasn’t
Any of the excellent technologies portrayed in the Jetsons. (Flying cars, robot maids, auto grooming/dressing station. Also, I wouldn’t mind a Star Trek transporter.

5. When did you get your first cell phone?
1999 – a Qualcomm from Sprint. And one day, I left it on the bus. Sad. Then months later I got a job at Nextel and they provided a free phone and service. In fact it wasn’t until 2016 that I had to actually pay for cellular service. Those were the days.

Poetry 180 – A Turning Back To Poetry

This year, one of my resolutions will be to talk more about one of my big mysteries – and that’s not the JFK assassination or the Nixon administration – no, indeed to talk about poetry.

Billy Collins was the poet laureate of the United States during the Clinton administration, and he has struck me as one of the most approachable poets I have stumbled across.

One of his efforts was a two-volume collection of modern, approachable poetry.

“Poetry 180” and “More Poetry 180” collects poems edited and presented to high school students as a resource for teachers to keep up with poetry in it’ modern form, while also acting as a way to educate young up and coming poets about poetry, the importance of reading poetry and especially as a resource for those who write poetry but don’t find themselves reading in the genre.

From the introduction of “Poetry 180.”
Billy Collins:
“High School is the focus . . . because all too often that is where poetry goes to die.
What some students experience when they are made to confront might be summed up on a frightening syllogism:
“I understand English
This poem is written in English
I have no idea what this poem is saying.”

Been there and done that and I agree.

I have struggled to be a fiction writer but realized that I am not a fictionist, but instead a poet. I write snippets that capture a moment in time that often need not be expanded upon – especially into something as expansive as a novella or longer.

I joke that my real job is to be that television show scene writer who drafts that first scene for a crime thriller when a body is found and to then put the scene to dramatic tempo starting with the discovery of the body to the witty comment from the frumpled detective that closes the scene before the opening credits roll.  That is as deep as my fiction writing gets.

James Dickey wrote “Deliverance.” An all too memorable film but an even more powerful novel.  But all most no one knows that before his only novel, Dickey was another Poet Laureate of the United States and considered an artisan of the free verse and approachable “everyman” verse

Whitman was the first poet I stumbled on as an adult when a gun wasn’t placed to my head to read a poem and contemplate. As an English Literature major in college in Gunnison – poetry was considered an afterthought and I put off taking the required poetry credits until my last semester – with the gun to my head to pass and graduate and be done with it.But in my senior year of college, I found Whitman and the ease and expanse of free verse. (Apparently, one could write a poem and not have that tick tacky singy songy rhyming meter. – what a revelation.)

Over the next 360 days, I will publish the poem of the day and provide my take and maybe even a poem of my own as inspired by what is there. The source(s) by “Poetry 180” and “More Poetry 180,” edited by Billy Collins and sourced from the Library of Congress as part of the Poetry 180 project.

Let’s do this together and experience “A turning back to poetry.”

Friday Fives

1. Do you enjoy receiving books as holiday or birthday gifts?
Yes, I do. And I am that guy who gives books for presents. I think my favorite books that I have gotten were pop-up books left under the tree at Christmas.

2. What book are you reading (or, what is the last book you read)?
I am currently rereading “Pastoralia” by George Saunders from 1998. It is a novella and short story collection.

3. Are you enjoying (or, did you enjoy) that book? Why or why not?
I loved this book the first time around and even digging it more on this go round. It has a tone and a sparseness of language that is beguiling. And its message told in a sag, sarcastic voice – channeling a feeling of anger and losslessness told by worlds populated by the underserved and underappreciated. It is as topical today as it was 20 years ago. And despite all that, it is really funny. Saunders has become one of my favorite authors. I put in the class of Vonnegut – he creates this alternate reality and uses the space and characters to talk about today’s issues in totally imagined settings. His voice is focused and intentional and yet fresh and somewhat raw.

4. About how many books do you read in an average year?
Probably 25 or so. I am a voracious reader and also devour online news and magazines as well as whatever is stacked up on my Kindle.

5. What are some of the books on your to-read pile (or list)?
“Accidentally Like A Martyr” by James Campion (a biography of Warren Zevon) and Cibola Burn by James Corey (part of The Expanse series) – as well as a few crappy sci-fi books for mindless reading.

The Friday Fives

1. Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?
It used to be “It’s A Wonderful Life” and I always watch “Die Hard” around the Christmas season – but I think my favorite Christmas movie is “Elf.”

2. Do you have a favorite Christmas song?
Nat King Cole’s “Silent Night.”

3. Do you have any Christmas sweaters?
One – inspired by “The Christmas Story.” It’s Fragile’.

4. What’s your worst Christmas?
First one while in the Amry in Germany – kind of a lonesome time.

5. How can Christmas change to be more fun?
More explosions.