Return to the Underground

Just got home from a far better than average poetry reading. There were poems that impressed me, poems that inspired me, poems that gave me insight into their writer’s character, for every poem, and every thing we say and do, gives some insight into our character, only one or two poems that totally bored me, a lot of new poets, in the end a fair few female poets, although they were still outnumbered unfortunately, many poems in foreign languages: French, of course, quite a few in French including a new guy who screamed his rage at the machine into the mike, I had no idea what he was saying but I was impressed, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, Icelandic and I might be forgetting somebody, a little bit of music and one poem that gave me an idea for a lesson plan. Also, we were back in Souterrain after about a couple year absence, and it was good to be back. Also, everybody loved my poems and lots of people brought weed so an excellent evening, all around.
There’s another reading on Friday, I’m really not sure who’s organizing it or the concept behind it but it seems to be English speaking poets only and a set line-up, but we’ll see what happens, I’ve seen these devolve into open mikes as well.
It’s weird having two so close together, and that seems to be a common thing, not just with poetry readings, but with any kind of event, you go for a month with nothing and suddenly a whole bunch are scheduled all together. It doesn’t give me any time to write anything new, so I think I’ll take along some of my books and read a Best of… type compilation. It goes back a way and there’s plenty of stuff nobody’s ever heard before.
All for now. Bon nuit.

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Make It So

I was watching Bill Nye Saves The World this afternoon, the episode about time travel, and the lone female panelist challenged the Star Trek writer, saying “Why is it that in your supposedly ideal future, men are still running everything.” My first thought was “Hey, what about Captain Janeway?” but I realized that argument wouldn’t hold up in an argument with feminists, because for every strong female character, they could point to three males, and despite 7 of 9 being a tough, intelligent, complex character, she was still there as eye candy.
To be fair, though, if you’re looking at the Star Trek universe, you’ve got to give them some credit for improving the ratio series by series. In the original, Uhuru was the highest ranking female, and she wasn’t all that high ranking. Probably behind Sulu and Chekhov, for total screen time. Most other female characters, crew and guests, were just there to fall in love with and be rescued by Captain Kirk. The next generation did a bit better, they had a female doctor, and a female ship’s psychiatrist, and a female chief of security until she got eaten by the slime monster. And Picard was far, far less of a chauvinistic prick than Kirk. Deep Space Nine, which may be my favorite iteration of them all, has Jadzia Dax and Kira Nerys, and an occasional visit from a female admiral who gives orders to Sisko, but I don’t think they really made too much progress in the women’s liberation direction. A bit, with the episodes in the alternate universe, where Kira was the captain and Sisko just her boy toy. Those episodes were kind of fun. Then, of course, Voyager, with a female captain.
The thing is, though, if we’re looking at the future of the human race, women should be 50% of any starship crew, same way that society should operate without money (unless you’re dealing with Ferenghi), and all diseases should be curable with a wave of a tricorder. And, it would be very easy for the writers to, in the immortal words of Jean Luc Picard, make it so. It’s not as if there’s a shortage of qualified actresses in Hollywood.

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Netflix Reviews

It’s late and I haven’t written a blog for a couple of days, so here is a throwaway blog about nothing important or relevant – I considered writing about Alec Baldwin but I don’t have anything to add to that conversation, except I’m surprised they use real guns at all as props. They are dangerous in the home, they are dangerous on a movie set. Everybody knows the blood in movies is fake blood, when you watch a movie about outer space, you know they aren’t actually filming it in space, so why use real guns? Couldn’t they just use a realistic looking plastic toy and dub in the gunshot sound? Anyway, horrible fuck up and I’d hate to be Alec Baldwin right now. But that’s all I have to say on the matter.
So, instead I’ll write about what I’ve been watching on Netflix lately, a couple of positive and a couple of negative reviews. Sometimes I like to watch shows that I missed but were popular with lots of people, so I’ll get the memes and cultural references and all that come up in conversations. So, I watched a few episodes of Orphan Black. The first couple of episodes I was riveted. But, despite the premise being interesting, basically it’s just a cop show, a murder investigation with a twist, bloody as hell, and I’m not into that. I lasted till about episode 4, and it’s five seasons long. So, screw that. Then, I decided to watch The Office, which I’d never seen. I found it cringeworthy from the start, and I’m sad to say that, because Steve Carell has definitely done funny stuff in the past. And, millions of other people liked it. Oh, well. I gave it two episodes, and I’m not going to give it any more.
With my wife, the only program we are intersecting on at the moment is a Danish series called Rita. The title character is a single mother of 3 children and an elementary school teacher. She is a devoted mother and a good teacher, quite popular with the students. She also smokes, drinks, swears a lot and occasionally drags strange men into the bathrooms of bars for random sex. I’m really enjoying it, especially the teaching scenes, because I can identify with that and think it’s a very realistic portrayal of school culture. I recommend this one.
My biggest binge of the moment, though, is Bill Nye Saves the World. Of course, it’s mostly Bill Nye explaining science stuff, with lots of bad jokes, but of the guest scientists he brings on it seems to me that a high percentage are really hot women. They are hot women with PhDs, he’s playing fair, but it does make the show more interesting. Also, there’s a segment called ‘Mad Scientists’ which is funny and interesting – featuring scientists from history who’ve gotten screwed out of the credit for their discoveries or have some other reason for being bitter with all of humanity. If you are interested in science at all, this show is an absolute gem.

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Weekend Goal

My goal for this weekend is to finish my next book, which I believe is going to be called Sentience, unless I can come up with a better title. That is the title of what’s probably the longest poem in the book, definitely the one I’m most proud of, even though it only got a tepid response when I posted it online and read it out loud at one of our recent poetry readings. I like it, and that’s what counts.
It’s an important concept, the idea of the poem being that sentience is actually a new development in the universe, and it stands the whole paradigm of physical laws and cause and effect and forest fires and floods as a natural and necessary part of the cycle on it’s head. We no longer have to accept the universe the way it is, we can create the universe we want.
We’ve been making sort of a half-assed, ill-educated attempt to do that for the past 65,000 years or so, but we’re getting better at it and may, if we’re smart, pull it off before we totally destroy the planet and commit mass suicide as a species, which also seems a likely possibility, but I’m against that.
I’ve got enough poems now that I can actually toss some of the rubbish ones aside so I think this book is going to be a good one. This weekend I must do three things. The first is to arrange the order, which I don’t waste a lot of time or mental energy on. I put my title poem first, try to come up with something snappy for the last page, and try to sort the ones in the middle so there aren’t too many long ones in a row or, which is more difficult, too many short ones in a row. The 2nd thing is the table of contents and the 3rd thing is the introduction. Easy peasy.

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Life Isn’t Fair

There is a phrase, which is often used to end an argument, but it is inevitably a bitter and unsatisfying end. “Life isn’t fair.”
Well, of course it isn’t. Life is nothing more than energized matter, which has evolved from single celled organisms to the plethora of living beings who inhabit the world today, including us. Along the way, billions of organisms have lived miserable, terrified lives before eventually succumbing to death, and it’s been incredibly unfair. If you are born as a rabbit, you are pre-selected to be food for a fox, and that is very unfair.
But, the universe today is not the universe that existed 100,000 years ago, at the dawn of mankind. Our existence, our self-awareness, our intelligence, has introduced a new element in the scheme of things. The sun and the moon do not care about fairness. The trees do not care about fairness, even though they are rooted to one place and never allowed to move, until they are cut down with a chainsaw and hacked into little bits, so we can eat food off of them.
But, human beings have, nonetheless, developed the concept of fairness. We expect it in sports, and we love our sports. We expect it in business, and in our legal system, although it often eludes us. Life may not be fair, but we feel, in the very core of our being, that it should be.
So, don’t tell me life is unfair. That’s what we’re trying to change. All our lives will be better the more our civilization embraces fairness. We’ve still got a long way to go, but it is a worthy quest.

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