The Voice in My Head

New Music

Spoon – Kill the Moonlight – I really like this one.  Another hat-tip is owed to E-6’s random 10 lists for pointing me in this direction.  It’s got a little more pop feel than a lot of the stuff I usually listen to, but there’s enough rock in there to catch my ear.  Favorite tracks are numerous, but they include ‘The Way We Get By’, ‘Stay, Don’t Go’, and ‘All the Pretty Girls Go To the City’.

Random 10 songs:

  • Blue Day – Heartless Bastards – All This Time
  • All Apologies – Nirvana – Unplugged in New York
  • 90 Hour Sleep – Dredg – Live at the Fillmore
  • Been a Son – Nirvana – From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
  • Stoner Hate – Scars on Broadway – (self-titled)
  • Hole in the Earth – Deftones – Saturday Night Wrist
  • Violent Pornography – System of a Down – Mesmerize
  • Genocide – The Offspring – Smash
  • Israel’s Son – Silverchair – Frogstomp
  • Nutshell – Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies

Random Ten Story

It was 6 A.M. and already the voice in my head had started in:

“Good morning, we don’t have much going on today, looks like it’ll be a clear blue day for you.”

I growled a response “I don’t believe you at all, apologies if that offends, but there it is.”  I tried to flex what was left of my right hand, remembering the last time I was promised a clear day –

It was on the last 4 hours of a 90 hour sleep-free shift, and I was wondering why I couldn’t just go home if everything was under control the way they said it was.   I was getting paid double because I was covering for the other guy, Israel, who had taken off  to try to find his runaway kid and convince him to come home.  If there had been a son like his in my family, I wouldn’t have wasted the effort, that kid was downright committed to causing trouble.  I was thinking about that kid, his drugs, and his stoner hate for his old man and I decided I wouldn’t trade places with that poor dad if someone paid me.

Next thing I knew I was lying with my entire right side on fire next to an enormous hole in the earth.  The pipe bomb had gone off exactly as I turned the corner.  I lay there, trying to extinguish myself without moving (it hurt every time I moved).  The TV crews got there at the same time as the firemen, and started filming their violent pornography that would air right after whatever daily genocide led the news that night.  Israel’s son told me later that broadcast, watching the man he thought was his dad burn and scream, was what scared him straight.  Of course, it turned out it wasn’t his father, it was me – trading places with him because someone payed me.  My life in a nutshell.

What’s Next?

I don’t have any kind of system for choosing what I read next, so I thought I’d open this up to the multitudes of regular readers here.  If you have an opinion, let me know.  If you don’t have an opinion, pick one at random.

Kay Ryan is the current National Poet Laureate, August Kleinzahler won the National Book Critics Circle Award this year, and the Philip Schultz book was the other book I was thinking of when I chose the Doty collection.

My Alexandria by Mark Doty

My Alexandria by Mark Doty

I chose My Alexandria because I wanted to read something by Mark Doty, who came to my attention when he won the National Book Award in poetry for his collection Fire to FireMy Alexandria was an award winning book in its own right (it won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1993), and I found a copy that was available for free, so I decided to start there.  These are long poems, most go at least three pages, some significantly longer, and the book is divided into three sections.  I thought the final section was by far the strongest, nearly every poem in that section struck me in some way, and I found myself rereading that section a couple of times after I had finished.  There is an underlying feeling of doom in a lot of these poems, AIDS is a persistent theme (as is the related theme of death), and it makes for an intense experience at times.

From the final poem “Lament-Heaven”

if we are continuous,
rippling from nothing into being,
then why can’t we let ourselves go

into the world’s shimmering story?
Who can become lost in a narrative,
if all he can think of is the end?

Doty works with a deft enough touch that the theme of sickness and death doesn’t become a preoccupation, but rather a filter which informs a lot of the observations and poems in this collection.  I have seen this book classified as ‘queer lit.’ and perhaps that is because it dealt with AIDS at a time where that disease was considered synonymous with the gay community, but I didn’t find much that resonated with my perception of that classification.  Granted ‘queer lit.’ isn’t a genre I’ve explored much, so it is entirely possible that there is more to the book than I appreciated.

The poems in this collection were not particularly dense, with a couple of passes through each one I felt like I grasped the key metaphors and messages.  After reading this piece written by Doty on his poetry-writing process, it seems like that’s how he constructs his poems.  He teases out the metaphors from his experiences and tries to write them into his poems.  I think his poetry succeeds because of these keen observations and beautiful writing, not due to some ability to pack haystacks of meaning into a mere needle’s worth of words.

I really enjoyed this collection, it was dark and a bit morose at times, but the poetry was lyrical and beautiful, and I appreciated a great number of the compositions.  My particular favorites were “Human Figures” about private moments that become public; “No” which begins with children and a turtle, but turns into an almost theological query; and “Brilliance”, a poem that approaches death head on, but does it in such a beautiful way that you can’t help but be moved.

…he says I can’t have

anything I can’t finish.
He says it like he’s had enough
of the whole scintillant world,

though what he means is
he’ll never be satisfied and therefore
has established this discipline,

a kind of severe rehearsal.
That’s where they leave it,
him looking out the window,

her knitting as she does because
she needs to do something.
Later he leaves a message:

Yes to the bowl of goldfish.
Meaning:  let me go, if I have to,
in brilliance…

FOODGWOP

I have come to the realization that I don’t have any interest in writing the Series Previews anymore.  Part of it is the uninspiring Twins season so far this year, part of it is that they take a lot of time to put together, and part of it is that with the move and everything starting to come together here in Kansas (after three days, we found an appropriate coffee table!) I haven’t been terribly inspired to spend time on the same stuff for this site.  So there will be a bit of a shift in direction here whilst I figure out how the schedule is going to go in the new stage of my life.  Bear with me.

With some time off betwixt my triumphant completion of graduate school and the beginning of my postdoc appointment, I’ve actually had some time to do a fair amount of reading.  One of the books I finished was a collection of poems by Mark Doty, My Alexandria.

I’d been distracted from this one for a while, but in finishing it up last week, it re-awakened my interest in poetry.  Now, I am not a poet (occasionally I’ll knock out a verse or two for Mrs. Mak but I’m not sure that really counts), nor have I read any extensive amount of poetry.  In fact, I can count the poetry collections I’ve read on one hand.

E. E. Cummings – ViVa

Robert Hass – Praise

Mark Doty – My Alexandria

The Cummings book was bought on a whim during my college years at the bookstore – and yes, all the punctuation and capitalization makes it odd, which is kind of what initially appealed to me, the ideal of intellectual, borderline pretentious rebellion.  But what ended up sticking with me from that collection is the finishing lines in poem XIX:

… i mean the
Rain is no respecter of persons
the snow doesn’t give a soft white
damn Whom it touches

I don’t think it was any deep understanding which caused those words to catch my eye, I just liked the verse, lyrically.  Since then, I’ve tried to occasionally pick up some poems here and there.  So here’s my plan, in recognition of my scratching the poetry itch again, I’m going to declare this the First Occasional Official Daneeka’s Ghost Week Of Poetry (FOODGWOP).  My plans are as follows.

Mon – introduction (you’re reading it right now)

Tue – My thoughts on my most recent poetic adventure

Wed – A favorite poem -or- some discussion of relevant links/sites

Thur – What poetry will I read next?

Hopefully, I’ll be able to stick to that (at least partially)

Lost and Found

I don’t think it’s possible for me to walk any slower without actually stopping. Some curmudgeon and his creepy porch shouldn’t intimidate me, but here I am desperately trying to avoid a confrontation with the 86-year old recluse of the neighborhood. I began to count my steps coming up the street. On step 36 I reached the gate, took a breath and headed for the front door.

My uneasiness was enough of a prod to force me quickly up to the door.  I crossed the porch expecting creaky boards and unusual sounds.  Instead the only sound was the rush of the wind below the house, which gave just enough of a moaning sigh to satisfy my spooky quotient.  All of this caused me to jump about a foot in the air when I realized that the door was already open and the old man had been watching me for some time.  ‘Hello there, sorry for depriving you of the chance to use my door-knocker – it’s modeled on the holy mountain of the island people of Northwestern Scandanavia – I used to travel there every summer for a few months.’

I stood, mouth open, amazed and dumbstruck.  He completely ignored me and just kept prattling on.  ‘They used to make the most comfortable sweaters actually, they were warm and soft, actually an awful lot like cashmere sweaters, but so much more organic, you know you just can’t beat handmade clothing.  Like this hat I’m wearing now, I got it in India, or maybe it was Pakistan.  You know what? It was in that disputed province… what was it called?’

I interrupted the man before he could come up with more obscure geographical nonsense.  ‘I’m sorry sir, I just wanted to ask you if you had seen my cat, he’s a white cat with black paws who answers to Kashmir. If you do see him, could you let me know? I live right down the street, number 2541.’

He stared past me out into the street, watching a sedan, delivery vans, and a few pedestrians who hurry by his eyesore of a house.   He didn’t say a word, but turned and went back into his house, closing the door and leaving me standing on the porch, wondering what had just happened.  I turned and walked away toward the next house to continue my search.

Behind me, the old man came to a window with a kitten in his arms, ‘Don’t wory Kashmir, you’ll be safe here until he comes back, I’ll entertain you with my stories of surfing the cherry waves of the Red Sea back in my younger days.’

Random 10

Good lord, I’m really dropping the ball on this blogging thing… Anyway, just to make E-6 happy, here’s my random 10.

  • Curmudgeon – Nirvana – With the Lights Out
  • 86 – Green Day – Insomniac
  • 36 – System of a Down – Steal This Album!
  • Prod – Mudvayne – L.D. 50
  • Wind Below – Rage Against the Machine – Evil Empire
  • Holy Mountain – System of a Down – Hypnotize
  • Amazed – The Offspring – Ixnay on the Hombre
  • Kashmir – Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
  • Sedan Delivery – Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps
  • Cherry Waves – Deftones – Saturday Night Wrist

Story is on the way. Here’s some numerical titles that also populate my iPod.

3005 – Scars on Broadway
1979 – Smashing Pumpkins
4+20 – CSN&Y
999,999 – Nine Inch Nails
3’s and 7’s – Queens of the Stone Age
6 to 8 – AFI
9-9 – REM
22 going on 23 – Butthole Surfers

2009-2010 Wild Schedule – My Wish List

The Wild have released their 2009-2010 regular season schedule, so it’s time for the annual tradition of making my wish list of the games I want to attend. I usually end up with about 82 games on the initial list, which then has to be pared down based on feasibility. Here’s the top five for the upcoming season. In an ideal world I would get to see all of these in person.

Minnesota @ St. Louis [FRI – 10/23]

St. Louis is the closest NHL city, and there is some family of Mrs. Mak’s who live there, so a weekend game should work out. I’ll get to add St. Louis to my list of NHL arenas visited (it currently contains only a paltry 2 arenas – Xcel Energy Center [MN] and United Center [CHI]).

Minnesota @ Nashville [SAT – 12/5]

Mrs. Mak’s brothers both live in Nashville and we’ve been threatening to visit for a few years. I think a hockey game is just the excuse we need.

Minnesota v. New Jersey [SAT – 1/2]

Jacques Lemaire returns to Minnesota for the first time. And on a date where I might also be in Minnesota. What are the odds?

Minnesota v. Columbus [SAT – 1/23]

For the last three years, the Wild traveled to Chicago within two weeks of my birthday (which is the same as Wayne Gretzky’s – is it any wonder I’m a hockey player?). To keep that “hockey on my birthday” tradition going, a trip back to MN might be in order.

Minnesota @ Buffalo [FRI – 3/12]

One of my friends from grad school is a native Buffalonian, and he told me he’ll be back in Buffalo this weekend. Sabres games are a whole lot of fun, and with a guide, it should be a lot of fun.

There they are – the five that have the best chance of me being in attendance. To add to all that, here’s 10 more games that I would really like to see in person, but surely won’t be able to get to.

Continue reading

Random 10 – Final Chicago Edition

Thanks to those who offered congrats below.  Here’s the final Chicago random 10 (flying out to KS for good on Sun.)

  • Manic Depression – Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
  • Renegades of Funk – Rage Against the Machine – Renegades
  • Legions (Aftermath) – Zoe Keating – One Cello x 16: Natoma
  • No Bones – Dinosaur Jr- Bug
  • Poison – Prodigy – Music For the Jilted Generation
  • Aurora Borealis – Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets II
  • They Say – Scars on Broadway – (self-titled)
  • We Only Come Out at Night – Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
  • Could Be So Happy – Heartless Bastards – The Mountain
  • Freak Scene – Dinosaur Jr – Bug

A Little Roleplay

Peephole – System of a Down – (self-titled)
You Make Me Feel Like a Whore – Everclear – Sparkle and Fade
Over and Out – Foo Fighters – In Your Honor
I’m Designer – Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris
South Bound Saurez – Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door
Till the Morning Comes – Neil Young – After the Gold Rush
Shame – System of a Down & Wu-Tang Clan – Loud Rocks
No. 13 Baby – Pixies – Doolittle
Good Times, Bad Times – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I
Far Pavilions – … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – The Century of Self

I checked the hallway through the peephole before I eased the door open and ventured out into the hallway. Unlike you, I really don’t have anything to hide, but you make me feel like a whore in church with your constant admonitions that no one find us out. At least this time you let me use the hallway instead of the balcony, going over and out into the night from the second floor is great practice for my second career as a cat burglar, but completely unnecessary. Especially in shoes like this. “I’m designer” they shout as they rip into my feet walking down south bound Saurez Boulevard back to my car, parked a discreet 3 miles away. You’ll stay in the room till the morning comes, fighting your shame.

“Here comes No. 13 Baby!” you shouted as the 20-sided die spun out of your hand. It clattered to a stop showing a seven – and your troll died a grisly death. It’s really sad how often this happens, strategy has never been a strong point for you, always relying on a single roll to determine if good times, bad times, or disaster will befall your army. Last night was especially poor, your lead troll was killed while still in view of your home country’s camp, his anguished screams heard by all except those in the far pavilions at the rear. Soon they too would be demoralized by tales of my decisive victory. We really have to work on your gameplay before anyone else is allowed to see it.

Leading Off

Denard Span has without question been the Twins best leadoff hitter and one of the reasons often cited for that is the fact that he sees a lot of pitches early in the game and forces the pitcher to show all of their pitches so the other hitters know what they are up against.  The fact that Span is more patient when leading off the game is pretty indisputable.

Stat Leading Off Other Total
PA 66 243 309
Pitches/PA 4.38 3.86 3.97
0-strike 2 (3%) 54* (22%) 56* (18%)
2-strike 35 (53%) 98 (40%) 133 (43%)
Full 11 (17%) 32 (13%) 43 (14%)
* – includes 4 plate appearances without a strike thrown (3 four-pitch walks and a HBP)

He sees a significantly larger number of pitches in the first inning than his other at-bats (of course a small sample caveat has to be applied to this whole exercise).  He waits for the first strike almost every time when leading off (as opposed to putting the first strike in play more than 1 in 5 times otherwise) and gets to two-strike counts in over half of his first inning plate appearances.

But it seems like he may be taking the patient approach to the point where it is detrimental to his production.

Stat Leading Off Other Total
PA 66 243 309
BA .211 .312 .291
OBP .318 .395 .379
SLG .228 .427 .384
OPS .546 .822 .763

A .546 OPS is nearing Punto (2007 version) territory and it’s clearly not reflective of the hitter that Span is.  It’s nigh impossible to calculate the effect the extra pitches seen have on the rest of the lineup, but it is at least a disturbing pattern for the Twins leadoff man.  More 2-strike counts will depress anyone’s numbers and it seems to me, the Twins would be better served if Span focused less on maximizing the number of pitches he sees, and more on putting the ball in play when he has the best chance for success, which seems to be earlier in the at-bat for him.

Bang On!

Banks and banks of humming machinery.  I’ve never seen so many knobs.  We’re going to have to do something Charlie, try pushing that button there.

No.

How about that one?

No, not that one either.

I know, I’ll try pushing this one.  Hold my hat, would you?  There’s a good fellow.