Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Halcyon Hooray!

Santa Doodle got me some memory for Christmas so I can finally upload photos to my blog! Yay! Here are some from last fall's trip to Halcyon Hot Springs. Those of us going back will raise a glass to those who miss out this year and we'll get Jordan to run naked through the woods to harden himself in honour of last year's shenanigans.

It Was Home, Home on the Free-Range

Paul and I made dinner on Sunday for my fambly out at the Ranch. It was fun, and exhausting-- and we're really grown-ups now!

Lessons learned:

1) A convection oven is a most amazing yet confusing appliance. The turkey took about 2 hours to cook, which meant it was done at about 1 or 2 in the afternoon-- and my family is not one of those eat-christmas-dinner-at-lunchtime families, so we set the turkey on the counter for a few hours, only to realize that my mom's fool-proof method of telling when the turkey is done (wiggling the leg) is not so fool-proof, necessitating a 5 o' clock scramble to put the rather cool turkey back in the oven and get it up to the actually fool-proof trick of meat-thermometer-at-170 F. (Speaking of scrambled, wasn't that sentence?)

2) No matter how fancy the apple-cider-glazed turnips with sage, the orange-dijon green beans, the maple-roasted brussels sprouts with glenfiddich, she cooking the vegetable dishes will be stubbornly referred to as a wonderful sous chef. Hmph.

3) It's really tiring! Cooking all that stuff! And Grandma even brought the cabbage rolls and the perogies already-made!

4) An afternoon cheese course from Janice Beaton got my Dad eating blue cheese (which he "hates") and my Grandpa to skip his nap and not grumble for dinner to start at 4 o' clock. Good to know for next time.

5) There will definitely be a next time-- it was really fun! And my mom really appreciated it! Points!

It was a beautiful sunny 12 C, we cooked with the porch door open and the fresh air coming in, listening to the chickadees and watching a piliated woodpecker through the window.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Stuffing Stalker

Last eve was the Writer's Guild of Alberta and Wordfest Christmas Party at the Rose & Crown Pub. Fun fact: the R & C used to be a funeral home. The party was also a reading-- Julia Williams and Melanie Little each gave a stellar reading and there was also an open mic.

Melanie read first, and she read a story called "Certain Things About My Mother," a short story which appears in a 2003 Annick Press anthology by the same name. I really liked the story and thought MY mom might like the story for Christmas. Melanie underestimated the demand for a Little literature though, and had only brought along her collection Confidence, which I happily bought instead. I think my Mom will ike that one too. The WGA presented Melanie with a family skating pass as a gift, which was very nice.

Julia read poetry from The Sink House. It's been a while since I have heard her read from that and I really liked hearing her voice with those words. She also read new stuff from her agoraphobic paranoid hypergraph project (see my December 7th post) and ended with the line "One day I will stop writing, even imaginary writing, and then even I will know I am dead." Good stuff! Samantha of WGA presented Julia with a skating pass too, which suited Julia just fine as she admitted she jumped at the chance to read alongside Melanie as she's stalking her. Heh.

I think we're all a little in love with a Little. Melanie sold some books to the WGA crowd, which was great! But Julia's book took a walk and Dave of the WGA had to track it down and threaten an elderly woman in order to get it back, prompting Julia to quip that her book doesn't make much of a stalking stuffer... er... anyway it was brilliant last night.

Fun facts: Peter and Melanie are staying in Calgary after the Markin Flanagan W-inR term is up! Peter is fond of punning to a degree only witnessed in db previously in this town-- so I think we need to lock the two up together in the Rose & Crown basement for an evening so they can work that stuff out of their system.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Jason's Cheese Log!

Yay! Fromage!

The Lady-Pirate Meme

JPF just sent me this link to Emily Pohl-Weary and Willow Dawson's project Violet Miranda, Girl Pirate. I love it! No word yet on whether Brea Burton and I have a publisher for our pirate-and-burlesque poetry, but when we do, wouldn't it be cool to have Willow Dawson illustrate the cover and maybe have Emily Pohl-Weary blurb us?

See how I think way ahead of myself? No wonder I get disappointed so often... I'm an ideas wench. Yaaarrr!!!

Slap-Happy dANDelion Launch Report

dANDelion Editor Natalie Walschots and Ass. Ed. Jordan Nail should be ecstaticly proud! The dANDelion launch on Friday night was a fun fun night of multi-media-multi-style performance and the issue looks terrific! Congratulations!

The night began with excited people milling about while Jonathan Ball screened short films sans sound, drinking Jonathan HiBalls, the Nedalie, the Jordan Nail. There was a mysterious series of curtains shielding the main gallery from the raucousness. I went in there for some quiet time, only to happen upon David Bateman rehearsing alone in the dark...

Josh Smith, Smithjosh, as he bills himself, performed next. People were likely enjoying The Smith, that is to say Molson Canadian, while he was playing. He is a talented musician and singer, and the crowd was enthused and excited.

We had a break, and people came to the bar to fill up on the Christian Bok, which is of course red wine, or, in honour of the upcoming performer, the ChiChi LaRue (white). Melanie and Peter arrived late and admitted Jordan had browbeat them into buying a subscription, but they were pleased to see all the fun stuff that included! We had dANDelion chapbooks, dANDelion buttons, dANDelion t-shirts, and people who bought the issue got to be entered in to the draw for the fabulous prizes!

David Bateman performed "Jackie-O--the Show She Never Gave"-- if Jackie-O had been a stand-up comedian and a crossdresser named David Bateman, then this would have been her last show! Pink suit, pillbox hat, and I believe those were at least three-inch heels! David came out with Josh accompanying him on guitar, and cheeky crowd-members (mainly Sharanpal) accompanying him with catcalls and wolf whistles. He mixed himslef a drink and sang a little song a cappella. The tremolo would break your heart! "Stand By Your Man" went over really well, as you can imagine. The performance has David's Jackie-O schtick (Jackie, you've got a tight box and no tits! John, get off my back!) morph into a sometimes sweet and often rather harrowing (yet still often hilarious) performance of nostalgia (something about the Christmas tree traditionally being on fire in his family in honour of a cross-bred dog who peed on the family tree in '93...) with slides. I love the slides. It is as if David is performing "university instructor" in addition to Jackie-O, "the poet," in drag... I love it when he sweetly intones "next slide please..."

When David was done, we awarded the fabulous prizes. I had to throw out Paul's ticket, since it would seem shady if my boyfriend won the grand prize (sorry Paul!), but as it turned out, Jordan's dad won the second prize... Heheh. Colin Martin of NoD fame won the first prize which inlcuded fabulous booty donated by McNally Robinson, Martian Press, a dANDelion t-shirt and buttons, a gift certificate for Purr, and a ceramic squirrel lamp. Fabulous!

We drank Canada Dry, or at least drank the Rodrigues (traditional), the Smarty Pants (Heineken) the dANDelioneer, or as I secretly call it, the Hartman Detox (Perrier) and the Papa-D (Strongbow) until derek finally had to chase us all away. Yay New Gallery! They are such good sports and donated the space as well as the liquor proceeds to the dANDelion cause.

Please please please consider buying a subscription to dANDelion-- we need to build up our subscriber base, and if you've ever read a dANDelion and enjoyed it, why not buy a subscription? It is a labour of love for all of us involved. I have to admit, I have picked the funnest job for a board member, which is to say, buying stuff like t-shirts and buttons and helping to plan the party, but it is indeed a labour of love and dANDelion needs community support! Ok, getting off the soap-box now.

See you at the next dANDelion launch of fabulosity?


Alright, the letter arrived. My secret unofficial good news is now officially unsecret-- I have been awarded an AFA Grant to complete the first draft of my poetry MS St. Ampede, Cowboy Poetry and the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!

I feel so happy, relieved, validated, excited to write! I know a lot of you reading this can relate to the constant feeling of tension and the frequent rejections that comprise the bread and butter of the writing life. I've applied for a few writerly positions in the last two years, and submitted my Booty MS only to have all my wide-eyed hopes (and sometimes my self-esteem) crushed. I've asked a lot of people to write me letters of support, too, and when I get rejected for a grant, or a Writer-in-Residence position, or have my MS rejected, I feel like I've let those people down too. Sort of like they backed a losing horse. Which is silly, because I don't feel like that when I lend my support to other writers, but there it is.

Thanks especially to Jon Paul Fiorentino, who wrote me a terrific letter of support specifically for the Stampede project, and to Paul Pearson at the AFA for being such a helpful, accessible contact. And-- I get to say this now for the first time in my life-- thank you to the AFA for their generous support! (although it doesn't kick in until the new year... gives me time to solve my problem with uploading images to this blog-- so I can paste the AFA logo here! Santa is bringing me more memory.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bait & Shift & Sift & tsk & Swish & Schist & List

The Calgary Launch of Shift & Switch happened last night at McNally Robinson. There were about 45 people in attendance, including our two lovely hosts Penn and Teller-- er derek beaulieu and Jason Christie, and readers Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Gamble, myself, Larissa Lai and Julia Williams. We read in alphabetical order, so I was the "hump" poet.

Ryan had a snappy little set, pulling out his cock
poems, apparently set free from the fear of parental disapproval (his parents refused to come out after JPF swore at the Post-Prairie launch a few weeks ago). No word on whether Julia's parents plan to attend a potty-mouth er poetry reading again. Ok, ok, I've teased Ryan, so now to the praise-- the poems were funny, full of faux-logical one-liners and non sequiturs. He very sweetly dedicated poems-- the first to his rarely-seen-sister Megan, who came out with his often-seen-sister Erin, and happy we were to have them there representing Ogden and all things Fitzpatrick. The next poem, something called, I think, "Why I Like Big Butts" was for Jordan Scott. I think we can all guess why. Then he read "My Penis Hurts When I Glue it to My Hand," for derek. No comment. His last poem, "A Life Less Originary" was dedicated to Jason. When Ryan has an appreciative audience, his deadpan delivery is interspersed with grins, although he tries to read the his poems as though, like a UPS guy, he's been charged with their delivery but is not responsible for the contents. Some lines are delivered as though he's showing us something he found on his shoe. It could be dog poop, or it could be dirt, or it could be some sort of magical mud pie that transforms into a time machine-- he's not sure, and so he doesn't judge. It's a very funny and effective style for his writing, which, after all, is culled, gleaned, collected, grown from found language. Google I think.

Jay Gamble was introduced by Jason. Jason promised that Jay would sing "Famous Blue Raincoat" at some point in the evening. (He was not wrong, and much much later, the Bear and Kilt was treated to a second performance from Jay with a little help from his friends.) Jay first read the inscription that Ryan had written in his copy of Shift & Switch, and I'll share that: "Jay-- how can I make a life out of poop?" Indeed. Jay then read a poem for Carmen, who was away with their son Lochlan. He read one of his very-long-sentence poems, the one about the french-kissing couple at the theatre with the torn screen from the toast thrown by the guy in his mother's dress who died while gardening... That was a paraphrase, or maybe a periphrase-- Jay's poem was much more dynamic as well as grammatically elegant. I love that poem. He also read some of the poems with no nouns, blaming Nicole Markotic for them- not really a dedication, more of... an injunction... (and by the way, all the really fun things happen after the readings in Calgary-- Jason and Jay told the story of how they met in Nicole Markotic's writing class, and Nicole was expressing how glad she was that she didn't have any students with the same name for once, and Jason whispered to Jay "but we're close" and how Jay put up his hand and said "We're close" and then felt like an ass. Oh, how we laughed! Hmm. Well, there were a lot of birthday shots going around.) Jay's poems enact his dissertation topic ("Nothing," "absence") in very creative ways. I'm really looking forward to seeing his MS in print.

Hump poet read next. That would be me. I dedicated some poems too, and not just cause it was the thing to do! I read some Booty poems for Brea, and a Booty/skating poem for Cara (...a fishwife a harridan a dirty nancy kerrigan...), "Deadman's Flats" for Paul, and a poem for angela:

wear your welcome
the word made flesh
the oldest profession a book

the language I use
is desire

did you expect me to talk about you
did you expect me to use language?

a thrush in the hand
sings in the bush
you kiss your mother with that trenchmouth?

We then had a break. Sometimes this doesn't work at McNally Robinson (though splitting the reading works perfectly and wonderfully at The New Gallery) because there often is an undercurrent of having to stick to a time-slot-- either there's a musical act coming on to play jazz for the non-reading-attendees, or even, as was the case with the Post-Prairie launch, another literary event following. But anyway, last night was somehow free of most of that tension, and the break was long enough to chat and circulate without being too long.

Larissa Lai humped her way up to the mic and read the "Rachel" poems that are in Shift & Switch. I want to see more of her poetry-- I am mostly familiar with her (awesome) prose. I hope she publishes the "Rachel" stuff as a book of poetry soon. And also, she and Jason Christie should publish a chapbook together-- the robot poems and the cyborg poems-- well-- they talk to each other. Seriously. The page Larissa was reading from mecha-meched into a mouth and called out for Jason's notebook. Jason mentioned that Larissa's work is being featured in an upcoming issue of West Coast Line-- very exciting and I can't wait to see it...

Finally, Our Julia stepped up. derek introduced her as "Calgary's Best Smart Aleck" and he's right, although I think the term "Smarty-pants" is more commonly used to describe Julia. She was looking ravishing in a rose sweater and chunky glass necklace, her pants stylishly cropped to reveal her cunning bog-green urban hipster boots. I love Julia! She then dazzled us with her poems about-- I know I'll get the phobias wrong here-- an agoraphobic claustrophobic hypergraph. This set of poems is brilliant. I love poetry with characters and/or a narrative of some kind. It gives the poet a chance to flex her voice-adoption techniques-- er-- I guess what I mean is that Julia is a phenomenal story-writer, which may not be widely known outside Calgary, since her first book, The Sink House, is technically poetry. I'm torn-- I love Julia's poetry, but her smart-alecky-ness really shines through when she adopts a voice for a narrative. So this new project about the agoraphobic hypergraph is wonderful. I loved the poem about the a-h breathing letters into the frost on the windows all winter long-- afraid to go out, uncomfortable in, hovering at the window and so compulsively writing that her very breath writes.

The reading part of the evening wrapped up, and we slowly gathered ourselves to go to the nearby Bear and Kilt, or, as I like to call it, the Impotent Scotsman (Bear...and...Kilt...Barren...Kilt...) Calgary-style literary-fun ensued! Many people from the reading came out to the pub, although we lost the Julias and some of the shyer attendees. Leonard Cohen was sung, db birthday shots were drunk and so was I. I have in my bag a series of important things to remember written on the back of a Christmas Party advert ("CHRISTMAS IS UPON US AGAIN") which, at the time, seemed crucial to include on this post, so, to honour that impulse of my last-night-self, I close with this:

Erin Bodner: "Ralph Klein = Madonna."
Paul Kennett:" Jill, you're my Ralph Klein."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Old-Fashioned Affliction. I Need my Smelling Salts.

Tonight is the Shift & Switch Reading here in Calgary. As has happened on a few occasions, I woke up (the day of a reading) with a migraine. I get them as often as once or twice a week if I am stressed or maybe not for months. Also sometimes I will get a migraine the day of some event-- like a reading, or a party-- the Martinis and Weenies Party we had in the summer was crummy for me for the first part because I was trying to be a '50's-style hostess while fighting off a migraine (the point of the party was genteel kitsch or something like that). Of course, migraines are sort fo '50's, so maybe that worked. But instead of writing something new to read tonight or rushing around shopping for something new to wear (two things I love to do the day of a reading if possible) I'm writing this frustrated update and then going back to bed to try to sleep it off. I'm in for approximately 6 hours of migrainity.

So, yeah, Chinooks aren't all they're cracked up to be. Dumb Chinook.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


I'd like an omnibus for Christmas. Except they're hard to read in the bath or in bed.

Wank wank

Sort of in response to Ryan's post on the Calgary blog about blogs (and Jonathan's comment)... Have you seen the "Word of the Day" and the "Word Match-up" I added to my sidebar? Not quite content, more like the blue light people put to glow under their car, or the fuzzy dice on the rearview, or the I heart Aberta Beef bumber sticker. The idea that a blog is public and personal... Some people change the colours and font etc. (like I do) but it's based on a template... Changes accrue over time, however, so that you (if you're one of those people who likes to personalize their template) have an aesthetic performance of individuality. Or the performance of a yearning for individuality.

And what's my blog for, anyway? The content consists (so far) of a pastiche of poetry, open letters, reports, shout-outs, embedded in which are apologies, plugs, maybe the odd dig. Who do I think is reading this? Why do I think they care? The comments option (which you can remove-- I hate it when people remove the comments option from their blog-- I think it is arrogant and closed-- heh-- them's fightin' words) and the site meter (an add-on) give me a filtered view. With the site meter, I can find out what site people came from, and what point of entry they used. It's kind of like spying. Or at least peeking.

What's this blog for? What does it do? What does it perform? Not sure yet, except that it is growing organically (metaphorically speaking-- there are no fungi creeping over my computer) and the AMOUNT of content is a shortcut to making it worthwhile. Worth something. Like Jonathan's mention of a museum piece in culture.

The blogs that seem to work the best are the ones with a focus, a theme, a topic-- cheese, or news, or whatever. Right? Or is the disjunctive mish-mash of content alright?

I started this blog, called it semi-precious press, to encourage myself to start publishing chapbooks again. I figured this site would be a place to announce each new chapbook's completion and availability. So I was using the blog form to be a motivational tool, to be repurposed as a bookstore when that function was fulfilled. I guess it is still doing that, although its purpose (or at least what I expect from it day by day) is to be an oblique communication with my friends and colleagues. But mainly friends. It's doing that quite well. I almost prefer it to email, in that I can communicate news to friends without the necessity or expectation of a response. The problem with that is that I can't be nearly as gossipy and innappropriate as I normally am in emails to friends.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Cat Tale (Groan)

There is a small orange cat with a pointed face in our neighbourhood who we call the Gremlin. He LOVES our cat Hunter, loves to hang out on the porch with Hunter (cat-hanging-out: sitting on opposite sides of the porch not looking at each other) but he doesn't like to be approached or touched by humans. He tries to come in our house when we let Hunter in, or when we leave. He does this to our downstairs neighbour Tonya too, who has an orange cat named Shudu. (Shudu's face is not pointed but his nose is a little funny-looking since he was in a car accident-- Tonya says he's had reconstructive surgery.)

At first I was annoyed that Gremlin was so anti-social (he will growl and maybe scratch if you try to touch him) but then I realized that he is Hunter's friend and not mine. So for the last year or so that he's been around, we just ignore him and try to keep him from slipping in the door (because he promptly goes under the furniture and won't come out), and it seems he and Hunter are happy as ever. (Our glassed-in porch is the primo cat-hang-out in the neighbourhood-- all the kitties come to pay their respects to the Godfather.)

One day, our next-door-neighbour Justin (who came up with Gremlin's name) came to the door and asked for our help in getting G to the vet-- the cat was bleeding from his head and skulking about. So Paul and Justin took G to the vet, and asked the vet to phone us if they couldn't trace the owner-- the way G eats voraciously from Hunter or Shudu's bowl, the way he's always around, hanging out on our porch for the entire day, had led us to wonder if G was abandoned. He has a collar, but of course never would let anyone get close enough to him to see his tag.

The next day, G was back in the neighbourhood with stitches on his head. Obviously, the owners DO live in the neighbourhood. So G is just a little difficult. Or maybe he's mistreated, and that's why he doesn't spend much time at his own home?

Last night Paul and I were skipping Rob Budde's reading (it was impossible to get a cab and grumpiness was quickly mounting). We'd gone to get Land of the Dead to watch instead. We heard a meowing at the door, and double-checked with each other that we hadn't let Hunter out (Hunter is a big cold-weather-baby like me-- he meows to go out, takes a look at the snow beyond the porch, and runs back inside-- kind of what I've been doing lately). I told Paul it was probably Shudu and to let him in. (We have a standing arrangement with Tonya to care for each other's cats, and Shudu and Hunter like to visit each other-- Hunter loves redheads.) But it wasn't Shudu, it was Gremlin. Well, it was -100 million degrees outside, and I thought we better let him in to warm up.

He perched under the futon by the heating vent. He wandered a bit and Hunter oversaw the sharing of his food. I love watching cats interact-- Hunter was totally being the host-- sort of following G around, or maybe escorting him around the house-- he was hyper-aware of G, where G was, what G was doing.

Well, G sat under the futon after cleaning out Hunter's food bowl. I opened the door a couple of times to see if he'd go out, but he didn't.

Cats are nocturnal.

All night long we were awoken by purring meowing sounds, pitter-pattering, etc. I got up a couple of times but didn't see G after this noise-- opened the door, but no one wanted to go out. Hunter looked at me with his gormless expression from the middle of the living-room floor, but I couldn't see G. Once I went into the office and turned on the light and caught the two red-handed under the desk. Playing I suppose, though they stopped whatever cat-thing they were doing as soon as I saw them. (Is the cat under the desk dead or alive? You won't know until you turn on the light...)

Did G want to leave in the morning? Of course not! And now he's just used Hunter's litter-box. Oh man. He hasn't been growling, though, and he's let me pet him briefly a few times.

Now, whether he's mistreated or not, his owners are probably really worried about him. It was deadly cold last night-- still is, for a kitty. I was hoping if he had to use the litter-box he'd want to leave, but no such luck. I haven't refilled Hunter's food- dish, in the hopes that G will want to leave to get some food at home. So far, no good (he just polished off Hunter's catnip, so maybe that's tiding him over.)

Well, this story doesn't have an ending yet, so I will leave it there for now...