Random musings on a writer's life & times, with occasional input from acquaintances


Friday, February 27, 2004

I went surfing on the internet to find information about hobbies for something I was trying to write, and I was startled by the range of activities people identify as a hobby.

Cloud watching is a hobby? You can buy books about clouds to help you identify which types you are seeing. Bell ringing is a hobby? You can buy sets of little hand bells to ring in sequence and play songs. There are sites that offer tips and/or sell hobby gear for juggling, lock picking, clog dancing, candlemaking, beach combing, pyrotechnics (shooting off fireworks), soapmaking, performing magic tricks and puppetry. You can even acquire tips on dumpster diving.

I guess my hobby these days is stat league baseball. I waste an awful lot of time on it about eight months out the the year. I must admit, though, that stat league’s appeal has waned in recent years. I may need to take up another hobby.

I think it’ll have to be metal detecting -- scrounging for dropped coins with one of those electronic sticks that beep if they sense metal under the sand or grass or even, I guess, ground. You can buy one off the internet for a mere $143.95. Think of all the pennies and nickels I could salvage from Westmoreland Park, the Willamette River beaches west of Oaks Bottom, the grounds of Duniway Elementary School. I could recoup my investment in no time at all!

I’m gonna get me some big ol’ brown Richard Nixon shorts to droop low on my butt, some black mid-calf socks to wear with white therapeutic walking shoes, a red wifebeater tee shirt and a Navy blue baseball cap with gold lettering that says I once served on the USS Busted Flush. You’ll see me cruising Waterfront Park in downtown Portland every foggy dawn during the Rose Festival, kicking aside beer cups and hotdog wrappers to search the muddy grass with my Garrett Treasure Ace 100.

Beep-beep! I can hardly wait.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Hey! Check it out! One of my poems was posted on the internet today by an electronic magazine called The Fossil Record. The address is www.thefossil.com

My poem is entry #41 on the site. Titled "Feeding the Monster," it's about a strange machine I encountered a couple of years ago in the tiny northeast Oregon town of Sumpter while passing through on the Oregon Bike Ride.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Champagne on Strawberries

Walking Harvard Square
in cold, bright October
light, I find myself trailing
a tall woman
in a dress of blinding
red. Blonde hair
pours on shimmering shoulders
like champagne on strawberries.
She is angular, high-hipped, maybe
a Vogue model come to Boston
for a shoot, out to see
how the Crimson live,
all dolled up in a dress
to suit the occasion.
Her black, patent-leather
pumps glisten as she
swivel-steps precisely
along the gritty sidewalk.
A traffic light stops her
and she cocks
her weight on one slim
leg, sweeps her hair
aside, gazes into a jewelry store
window. In profile, I see
she has an Adam's apple
the size of my fist, a wispy
goatee, a hard squint
like a spaghetti-western gunslinger
on a sunny day. So much
for champagne on strawberries.

--by David Jordan (first published in Homestead Review)

Monday, February 23, 2004

Mr. Black & Blue offers advice to the lifelorn.


DEAR MR. BLACK & BLUE: When “Stan” and I got married 23 years ago, I kept my maiden name. He objected at the time, but I told him I wanted to keep the name I was born with. If he wanted us to share a last name, he should change his name to mine, I suggested. He said this was a “stupid” idea and refused.

I thought Stan would get over it, but he hasn’t, even after two kids and all the other ups and downs a long marriage entails. He still gets angry and/or sulks if anyone comments on our separate last names. I tell him it would be silly of me to take his name after all this time, but he disagrees. What do you think?


DEAR ROSE: First off, allow me to point out you were not “born” with a name. Your father gave you his last name, if you are like 99.9 percent of the people in the United States. He and your mother could have given you some other name -- how about Tangelo Martinique? -- or given you no name at all, if they preferred. Check out the birth certificate on an abandoned baby sometime -- there ain’t no “born” name on it, unless it’s Jane or John Doe, and I doubt your original name was Doe unless your old man was a crossdressing deer.

It is a tradition of Western society that a wife takes the last name of her husband when she marries to symbolize passage from her father’s household to her husband’s. The assumption is that the wife should love her husband more than her father, and her allegiance should be to the new family she is creating ahead of the old one in which she grew up.

Your husband wanted to give you his name at marriage, Rose, just as your father gave you his name at the time of your birth. By refusing to take your husband’s name, you declared your allegiance to your father and his family ahead of your husband and the family the two of you supposedly were establishing. No wonder Stan remains ticked off.

You have stayed with Stan for quite a while, which is surprising. I would have expected you to retreat to Dad, and Stan probably did, too. After all this time, though, you have a lifetime of experiences shared with your husband and your children. You should share a name with them, too (assuming you allowed Stan to give the kids his last name).


DEAR MR. BLACK & BLUE: My best friend is a 20-year-old male. He is cute, intelligent, caring, and sweet — an all-around great guy. Recently he started dating a new girl. This wouldn't be a problem, but she's only 15 years old! I've expressed my distress to him many times, but he remains unconcerned. I don't want to see him ruin his life by doing jail time over some little slut in a push-up bra. Can you suggest something I might say that would make him stop and think?


DEAR PERTURBED: The first thing you ought to say is: “Dude, I have the hots for you.” I can’t tell from your letter if you are male or female, but it’s obvious from your description of this “friend” and your handwringing over his social life that you are jealous of the teenybopper because she is cutting you out of the action. Stop blowing smoke about the rival’s age and make your play.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

For your existential crossword puzzle, the hint for 7 down is . . . churchday words from Peoria Dave. [Answer at bottom.]

1) What are you wearing?

Gray Mickey Mouse sweatshirt with blue hood (inherited from my wife, who purchased it during a cold snap at Disneyworld); beige Eeyore t-shirt (brought to me from Disneyland by my sons); blue Levi’s jeans; black socks; black Florsheim loafers I bought off the internet (I’m testing them for size).

2) What are you reading?

“The New York Trilogy,” by Paul Auster. Still. It’s slow going, because Auster keeps the reader off balance with mind games about identity and truth. Fascinating, though.

3) What’s for dinner?

Something home-cooked, I hope. My wife has been out of town since Friday, and my son Andy is back on a soft-food diet because of recent surgery, so our culinary repertoire has been exceedingly limited. How many take-out orders of noodles and rice can we eat?

4) What’s the best thing that happened this week?

I had three poems accepted by a little litmag in Massachusetts, the Fossil Record. I publish, therefore I am.

5) What’s bugging you?

The University of Oregon’s basketball team has collapsed. I keep telling myself I’m not going to watch ONE MORE GAME on television, but then I get sucked in. It’s like watching film of a train wreck over and over again.

6) Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

Pelican, Wisconsin

7) What’s it all about, Dave?

Staying agile, mobile and hostile.

[Answer: It’s the Sunday Seven, dummy!]

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