Monday, 28 February 2011

Monday's Quote - Me!

"The problem with The Secret is, well, apart from the other problems, that it stringently requires visualization in order for manifestation to occur.  However, visualization is then limited to the individual’s imagination.  And life, life is infinite, and full of surprises, detours, and serendipities we could never envision.  I surmise that this insistence on prevision might actually make life more ordinary and less rich.  One must leave room for the beauty brought about by complete release of the will."

- E. Amato

I'm quoting myself here.  Why?  Well, cause I ran outta quotes from actually cool people?  Not so much.  Partially because lately my life has taken some very strange turns and detours I could not have imagined.  I could not have imagined them, at all, but if not for them, these sort of "mistakes" that life throws at us, some possibly new roads would not exist.  And partially because I'm curious if this is true for anyone else.

Have you ever been so pleasantly surprised by a twist or turn in life that it actually shook your foundation?  (There's a handy comments section below.)

Perhaps this also has to do with seeing The Sunset Limited at Rogue Machine this past weekend.  A two-hander about faith, the play by Cormac McCarthy is not perfect, but brings up so many interesting issues about the difference between what we think we see and who it is that is doing the seeing.  That doesn't agree grammatically, but I'm fairly sure that is what I mean.  It runs one more month and the performances are vibrant and the production crisp. 

Friday, 25 February 2011

Swimming Through Amber up on Amazon!

It's official!  You can finally get SWIMMING THROUGH AMBER on Amazon!

For personalized signed copies, you can still click on the PayPal link to the right ->->->->->->->

There are also signed copies available at the store at Beyond Baroque in Venice and Down Home's home - Cafe Bolivar in Santa Monica!

Both of those are excellent places to go visit, even if you don't want a book!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Monday's Quote - James

"Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit."

- William James


You can still vote for me!  Thank you! 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Things That Make You Go Yum - Dallas Edition

Wow!  Wait - I keep saying that.  But WOW!

Dallas was awesome!  Apparently it is impossible to fly from OKC to LA direct, so I found the city I wanted to stop in and spent a day.  I've got friends there from NY and new internet friends whom I'd never met.  Between them they are writers, singer-songwriters, editors, software programmers, film programmers and reviewers, festival organizers, foodies, vegetarians, oh just super-cool people.

My friend T picked me up from the airport and took me to my fabulous hotel.  Seriously, fabulous, and thanks to my friend - a gift!

T and I went back home where I finally met his sons.  Turns out, they got grown while i wasn't meeting them, and are just in that stage of not caring at all about their parents friends.  Ok.

We went en famille, minus T's wife, who was on the road touring with her music, to a Tex-Mex place.  T and I started with a margarita - they make em big and strong out there.  Then once we got seated, the endless tortilla chips and yet another version of fried avocado arrived.  I got my fave, chile rellenos, and eventually the boys got slightly interested in me, but I had to sass them first.

At the end of dinner, I heard the phrase, "Your money's no good here."  It wasn't the first time in my 24-hour whirlwind tour of Dallas that I'd hear it.  Texans are generous.  (And/or they have completely different currency than the rest of us.)

After that, I met up with @oldpoet for a drink.  I called him as we were leaving so we could find a place to meet up and said, "I'm facing the Whole Foods on [some street I forgot already]" and he said, "I'm in the parking lot there.  I pulled over to answer the phone."  So when that happened, I figured we were all on track.  T dropped me off, and Oldpoet and I found a spot to drink and talk movies for a few hours.  He reviews movies for Red Carpet Crash, as well as working with his wife, @crydecker on programming the Asian Film Festival Dallas.  They are kinda film pracitivist super heroes, really.

Next day, CryDecker came and got me for a day she'd planned top to toe.  Before my 10:30pm flight, we had a day of girl stuff, arty stuff, and food stuff planned.  We'd never met, but it felt like we'd known each other for a good long time.


Hot enough for you?
We started at the awe-inspiring King Spa.  What can I say?  Korean Spa Disneyland?  Kim Chi and screening room?

The women's area had about 6 or 7 pools - all hot - just a matter of how hot.  I got to admire CryDecker's new tattoo - let's just say I wish I'd thought of it first, and we talked some girl talk.

The massage area inside had these glass panels that separated it from the open space with the pools.  These panels were decorated with - I kid you not - Homer and Bart Simpson.  No idea.

The Pyramid Room - one of the rooms we baked in
After that, we put on our little pink uniforms and ventured out.

There were about 5 hot rooms with various properties.  We baked ourselves silly and then put on our face masks and sat in reclining chairs and watched other people watching football.  Soccer.  You know what I mean.

After that we had lunch, including eggs slow-baked in one of the oven rooms we were in earlier!  The rumour is that this bakes the cholesterol out of them (say what?).  We had to beg for Kim Chi, since the meals we ordered didn't come with it, but we got it.

So whole families come here.  And there is seriously a screening room that shows movies all day.  And it's 24 hours!  And it's CHEAP.

The menu.  No substitutions.
There's a kid's room, for dropping them off to play, they do karaoke, it's cavernous, and really, you never have to leave.

You don't need to make a reservation for treatments, you don't need to worry about anything while you're there, except that you've got your little uniform on when you're outside the women's area, and not on when you're inside of it.  They're pretty strict about that.

I think I want to live at King Spa.

But onward! CryDecker had more plans for me...


Spalding Gray Picture
Spalding Gray
We  stopped back at the hotel, got changed, signed books (well, I did), and then went off to meet Oldpoet at the newly refurbished Texas Theatre. 

Now the Texas Theatre is NOT in an arty part of town.  It's an old theatre that looks lovingly restored and where they play arthouse and revival house fare.  They have their work cut out for them in terms of bringing in audience, but they seem up to the task.

On a Saturday afternoon, we three were there to see Steven Soderbergh's documentary about the late Spalding Gray, And Everything is Going Fine.  Soderbergh worked with Gray on Gray's Anatomy and had now tackled the subject of Spalding Gray in a compilation of available footage.  The work is scarily honest at times, haunting, sometimes obvious, sometimes abstruse and frustrating - perhaps very much like it's subject.

The kind of talk therapy performance art that Gray did must be said to be some part of the lineage of spoken word.  As such, seeing this uber dose of Gray on film was both haranguing and enlightening.  However, for the sheer beauty of seeing a writer talk about writing and somehow unlocking their inner secrets of process, it was sublime.

David Lynch Organic Coffee, House Roast Whole Bean, 8-Ounce Canisters (Pack of 2)
David Lynch Coffee.  Go figure.

Not only is the Texas Theatre super cool -- they sell David Lynch coffee!  David Lynch Coffee?  David Lynch has coffee?  He does.

The blend they had going that day was "Inland Empire" - one of my favorites, movie-wise.

But wait...they weren't done with me yet....


Eggplant Pomodoro and Eggplant Parm
They whisked me off to the amazing and organic vegan Spiral Diner.  Normally, they like some meat, being Texan and all, but they also like a good food experience.  This was definitely going to be one.

The Spiral Diner is the kind of place I can accidentally spend an hour looking at the menu.  Being vegetarian, it's not often you have more than one or two items to choose from in a restaurant.  So suddenly having pages and pages of yummy things was almost excruciating.  I wish I could've taken leftovers on the plane or eaten two meals at once!

In the end I got the Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta, which was great.  We had lotsa nachos, too, and everyone's food was yummy.

After dinner, I was whisked away to the airport, where everything went fine...til I got back to LA....(to be continued?)...

Thanks to all my Dallas friends for showing me the real city and great hospitality.  Can't wait to come back!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


WOW - well, yeah, wow.  Couldn't be more excited to be going to WOWps (oh, yeah - Women of the World Poetry Slam) to compete in March!

I submitted as a storm poet (thanks, Rob Sturma, for the push) and I actually got in.  There are the most amazing women who are going to be there, from the US and Canada.  This is super-huge!  Yay!  Lots of memorizing needs to happen.  Rounds are not all 3 minutes!  Eek!  Kinda cool, though, to take out the other poems and get some scores.

Am all about the being there.  Definitely want to bring it, but the emphasis is on the experience of it.  Traveling around and hearing so many wonderful poets lately, I know that I am privileged to be able to be in this company for 4 days.

As getting in was a huge surprise, the expense of it is, too.  There is a Video Slam happening online.  The winner gets part of the costs underwritten.  If you have time to vote, that would be smashing.  You can, apparently, vote hourly.  If so inclined.

My video refused to upload for several days, so I am WAY behind in votes.  Your help is appreciated, as always.


...and I can't believe I'm not done with winter!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Monday's Quote - Rilke

"For there is a boundary to looking.
And the world that is looked at so deeply
wants to flourish in love."

- Rilke

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Monday's Quote - Close

"Inspiration is for amateurs.  Just get to work."

- Chuck Close

Yeah, it's Tuesday now.  Technical difficulties.  Night.

Friday, 4 February 2011


When I left everything, I left everything.

In the last 2.7 years, the question I am most frequently asked (after "How do you memorize all that?"), is:

"But what about your stuff?"

"What stuff?", I reply to their great disturbance.


It's everywhere.  It's omnipresent yet has no sentience (at least I think not).  People are supposed to have it. They are supposed to cart it around in cars (stuff), rent rooms for it (made of stuff) and invite more stuff into the stuff rooms brought there by stuff cars.

You'd think we were Thanksgiving turkeys. (Wait for it...)

Ok - I've got stuff.  Some of it is hanging out in my friends' houses while they use it.  Two suitcases worth travel with me.

But all my stuff -- ALL my stuff -- would fit comfortably in one of those 5x5x5 storage units I'm researching.  (I would not - I would bump my head.  If I wore heels.)

Yeah - it's the one key that makes him intriguing
I was always intrigued by James Spader's character in sex, lies and videotape - I loved his idea that having only one key - the key to his car - was some kind of freedom.  For a while I had no keys.  Now I have one - to a PO Box.  Soon I might have another, to above-referenced storage unit.

I seem, however, to be collecting key chains, a strange phenomena I've noticed in the last few months.  I've got 3 now.  One from Big Truck Tacos, one Hello Kitty, and one red telephone box.  I think what I really want is a Tardis key ring.

Putting a book into the world (oh - yeah - there's a little button on the right if'n you want to order it!  I just did that and I'm pretty proud of it!) had me questioning my relationship to stuff.  And why stuff can be cheap, but moving the stuff around is so costly.  Shipping the books costs more than the actual books.  Each book ends up being shipped, carried, or carted at least twice before it leaves my hands.  Sometimes more.  This is not a good equation.  If you stop to think about it, it only gets worse.  Having a book on a shelf is a nice thing, just don't go too deep into it.

Last night I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a long, long, time.  Stuff came up pretty quickly, as it does, and he asked if I'd seen The Story of Stuff.

The Story of Stuff?

I think that's my next book.

He said to google it, and I did.

Here's a clip - or you can watch the whole thing on their website.  If it doesn't make you want to change your life and your world, then you must already be living right.  So kudos to you.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

what's in a week

Exactly a week ago, I met a Moroccan gentleman at a cafe.  My friend introduced us, and we talked about Morocco.  He had left almost 40 years ago.  He said it was not the same  now.  He said when he was young, it was French, Jews, everyone mixing together.  He said these people, they are not Moroccan - they are coming from other countries and bringing their fundamentalism with them.  He's religious, and he's a Muslim, but he misses the Morocco he left, where there was more mixing of cultures and trust.

He expressed that the world was about to change.  He said that he'd soon be willing to go back.  He thought that the events in Tunisia were going to bring about a massive shift in the region.  He told me it would be quick and I would see.

I thought he was shockingly optimistic about the power of the populace.

Now I think he might be prescient.  The actions taken by people in this last week have been swift and vast and will demand great changes.  It seems as though positive change could occur throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  Perhaps that might lead to change further south.

For a moment, I thought, maybe Israel, a functioning democracy in the region, could actually take this opportunity to lend support to the change.

But that was just a dream I had.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Things That Make You Go Yum - OKC Edition

At The Poet House

When I rolled through OKC recently for a few days, I was expecting, well, not much.

Oklahoma City?  I have friends there, and thought the book tour was a great opportunity to go visit.  I expected to feel kinda bad for them, stuck in the middle of nowhere, some tiny city, with nothing but pick up trucks and Fox News addicts.

The amazing thing about travel is the constant challenge to assumptions.  Go to a foreign country, or just another American city and you may find that your idea of places are nowhere near their reality.

Veggie sausage and veggie gravy

After getting an efficient and cheap shuttle from the airport, I landed at the famous Poet House.  There awaited me the warmth of poet friends old and new and a coffee cup with some Maker's Mark.  We stayed up too late, but in the a.m. I rolled up and out and across the street to the Red Cup Cafe.

Possibly/probably the ONLY vegetarian hippie cafe in OKC, they had me at a "Black and Tan" (chocolate AND vanilla latte), or when she asked, "And how many shots of espresso would you like in that?"

The Full Plate was a southern vegetarian version of the Full English - how could I not be hooked?  They had yerba mate, too, loose.  And a great playlist and a big vacuum that seemed to suck in every arty hipster or academic in town.


Rob on the mic
That night, I had my Red Dirt Poetry feature.

I didn't know what to expect, so when I arrived there and the house quickly filled up (oh, poets are ON TIME in other cities!) with a very diverse crowd - from teens to seniors and 31 other flavours - I was nervous and excited.

The open mic artists were so honest and each came with their own unique voice.  The tiny WOWps slam had 3 beautiful poets competing for a slot, and was also very high level.


On top of all that, the Meat Santa was present, bringing packages of meat to OKC poets.  Fresh, local, organically fed and raised meat.  If you gotta eat meat (I don't) then that's how to do it.


Picture of Yippee IAAfter a late night, my friend C woke me to the smell of some fantastic coffee.  Locally roasted yummy coffee by Elemental Coffee Roasters.

This was just one aspect of the many-faceted local foodie scene C wanted to expose me to.  Our day started off as a snow day, with kids at home and subsequently in tow, but we still managed to do EVERYTHING on the uber list of OKC landmarks and fun places as we ate multiple meals in rapid succession.

Oklahoma City has a large Vietnamese population and Pho places abound.  We went for pho - often vegetarian un-friendly, so I opted for a pho-alternative.  C, Miss M, and I were wowed by the fresh soy milk and the gilled sugar cane. Of course we couldn't finish everything, so we packed up the remains for later.

Two doors down we found a tofu store -- all kinds of tofu and veggie things!  We got some taro bao to add to our ever-growing supply of food and leftovers.

Directly after lunch, C wanted to take us to...


Bread pudding muffin.  Tasted like dulce de leche bread pudding.  Great coffee.  Hummus red onion blue cheese bread.  Cake bite lollipops.  Yum.  Prairie Thunder  had all of our eyes bigger than our stomachs, which means more LEFTOVERS!

After a driving tour of some of the neighborhoods and the new park being built that has the cool sculpture installation commemorating the opening of the land in Oklahoma, we regrouped for - what else - dinner!


I am not a taco person.  Maybe it's cause vegetarian tacos tend to be boring.  Big Truck Tacos is about a year old.  They have a restaurant, two trucks and a store.  They've been on network television.  They are smart - you can tell by reading the menu.  They love food.  They are not afraid of melted cheese.  All of these things are good.

After a family dinner - which meant being able to order lots of things and also queso dip all over my dress - I said, "We're coming back here for lunch tomorrow, right?"

Standouts - besides the queso - which is literally a BOWL of melted cheese! - would be the Crispy/Cado tacos (yup, fried avocado) and the "Fifth" - a rotating taco you just have to trust is something you want to eat.  (Usually not veggie.)

This is my favorite place.  I will be back.  C and I spent some quality time in the store, and I can now often be seen in my BTT hoodie.

Oklahoma City was impressive.  There wasn't a lot of any one thing, but there was at least one of everything you might want.  And it seems to only take ten minutes to drive anywhere.

Slightly against my will, on a freezing cold day, C took me to see the memorial.   I didn't want to see it, but I went.  We got a super fast personal guided tour from the head ranger who carefully explained the significance of the parts of the memorial while keeping us shielded from wind in the tiny spots of sun.  The memorial itself is quite beautiful and serene.  It is a place of reflection and openness, and as described by the literature and the designers and the ranger, healing.

You may not know that not one, but sixteen buildings were destroyed during the bombing.  OKC is not a big city.  Sixteen buildings is a tremendous number.  Near the memorial stands a tree that burned on the day, yet still survives.  It has been incorporated in the memorial, as have other remnants of the destruction.  Forgiving and healing while not forgetting seems to come natually to this community.  It was clear from my short time there how interconnected everyone was, and how strongly they are aware of it.

This is a good place.  I'll be back.