Monday, July 30, 2007

Night in Venice

Ocean City's Night in Venice is the party of the year. Just sit on the deck and drink as millionaires parade their badly-decorated boats on the back bay. We don't like Night in Venice for the lame decorations and stupid boats. We enjoy it for the socializing, food and good conversation. Like that old 1970s beer ad said, "Here's to good friends, tonight is kinda special." Or something like that. Anyway, it was a chance for me to relax with some friends from work. Highlights include: heckling the mayor as he rode by, the great massages given by Rosanne, fetching beer for Leslie, sharing a laugh with Chris, watching Sam make the shrimp boil, eating the shrimp boil, and devouring various desserts brought to us.




Friday, July 27, 2007

Poetry Night III

This is the third night I've read my poetry at Sky Cafe. It's a good venue, albeit a small one. We do get a few curious people who walk in off the Boardwalk and listen to our regular crew. Tonight we had two comedians, two musicians and me, the lone poet. I read five of my poems: "To the Russian Girl on the Boardwalk", "My Beautiful Distraction", "Cancer", "Old Souls Die Young" and "Phone Call to Karen". The poems this week were very heavy and serious. Uncle Milt, one of the comedians, remarked how I write "good stuff" and seemed impressed. I'm reading a lot more poetry and I'm oddly inspired lately. I'm reading T.S. Eliot, Anne Sexton, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. Each a different style, each one a master at their craft.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Pad



Paraphrasing the Big Lebowski, the Persian rug ties the room together.

I spent some time cleaning the new place; vacuumed the carpets, scrubbed the kitchen, mopped the floors and cleaned the sinks and toilets. As I sat at my new kitchen table, I couldn't believe this was my pad. I really like it. It's a Victorian house from 1890, one of the very few left in Ocean City.



Taking time out from cleaning the pad.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Star Trek

I went to a Star Trek convention in Cherry Hill this weekend with my friend Carl. He's been to a few and said it was really a good spot for geek watching. I've heard stories of the fanatics dressed like Klingons and had to see it myself, especially when he said the guests on Sunday would be William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock were my favorite characters in the original incarnation of Star Trek, and I gladly paid the $50 to enter the convention. Surprisingly, there weren't the thousands of people at the show, maybe a few hundred. The ballroom was packed for Shatner and Nimoy, and occasionally members of the audience were allowed to stand to the side and take a few pictures. I don't know if it was the large auditorium, the dim lighting, my crappy camera or a combination of the three, but my photos were blurry and dark, but I did snap a few fair shots. Nimoy came out first, and was really fun. Then Shatner took the stage and the place went wild with applause. Shatner had a good time poking fun at Nimoy and the legion of nerdy fans who asked him stupid questions. The thing about Shatner I like is what I liked when I saw Kevin Smith a few years ago - he loves countering his geeky fans with sarcasm. Shatner and Nimoy addressed questions about the new Star Trek movie, a prequel to Star Trek featuring a young Kirk and Spock, and plugged his upcoming novel set for an October release. Both Shatner and Nimoy talked about the early days of Star Trek and shared some humorous stories of playing practical jokes on the set. They then touched on their individual careers, debunked a few myths and took questions from the audience.
The only gripe I have is the way the convention was set up: you could only get a photo taken with Nimoy or Shatner if you paid $70 extra at registration. The same for autographs. You have to pay. Now I know they're in it to make money, good for them and capitalism and all that, but it is a bit much. I guess they have to find a way to manage it or everyone would get their photos and autographs and where would that lead? Anarchy, that's where!
It was a very good show and I have to say William Shatner is a great and funny guy.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More Poetry

I attended the open mic night at Sky Cafe again. There were a few more people this week, plus someone from where I work came out. I read some more poems: "Last Illusion", "Girl With Black Hair", "Argument", "Cocktail Party", "How Love Dies" and "Pacific Ocean". The people applauded and even remarked how good the poems were. One of the musicians remarked before the event that he remembered a poem I read last week. "There's the guy who wrote Descending the Stairs." It was a bittersweet moment. I haven't written poetry in a few years but lately I've been so oddly inspired. I keep a small notebook with me and jot down various ideas and poems that come to me. My dark mood and emptiness does have a bright side to it after all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Bed, A Table and Some Chairs

I bought furniture today for my new apartment. I've been looking for weeks and going to different places and today I finally bought a bed at Ashley Furniture and kitchen table and chairs at Pier 1 Imports. I'm pleased with my purchases: the bed is a queen-sized with padded leather headboard and the table and chairs are counter-high, with hidden drawers in the sides. They'll be delivered to my new apartment in a few weeks. I wanted to get furniture before moving in, and the bed is the most important piece of furniture. I'm going to need something to sleep on, and don't want to rely on a sleeping bag or air mattress for that. Since Pier 1 Imports was having a sale, I was recommended there by a friend, and wasn't disappointed. Good bargains with the table and chairs I bought for half off. In the coming weeks I'm going to get a microwave oven, a dish set and living room furnishings. It'll be about a month or so before I have everything I need. Tomorrow I give the landlord my deposit and can begin moving my stuff in.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Take that, America!



POTUS showing us some love.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Poetry Night

Sky Cafe in Ocean City featured an open mic night last night. Comedians, poets and musicians performed and it was a splendid evening of local talent. I read five of my poems, "Poppet", "Drowning", "Morality Play", "Descending the Stairs" and "In Defense of Poetry". It went really well; the audience was really receptive and applauded wildly. All in all, there were two poets, two comedians and three musicians and we started at 7:30 p.m. and wrapped up before 9 p.m. I enjoyed reading my stuff to a live audience. Comedy is hit or miss, but poetry strikes deeper. I'm looking forward to writing and reading more poems.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

SiCKO

I saw a matinee of Michael Moore's new film, "SiCKO" today. The film is an exploration and denouncement of America's health care industry, with special emphasis on the health insurance companies. I have a mixed impression of Moore's work. I saw him give a lecture live in 2004 and he was friendly and punctuated his points susinctly, but he tended to be partisan towards the left and a little bit whiny. On film, I loved "Roger & Me" and most all of "Bowling for Columbine" (why did he have to go after Dick Clark in that film?). "Fahrenheit 9/11" just made me mad at Bush and was purely a partisan film. However, "SiCKO" was even-handed, mature and totally gut-wrenching. Moore solicited stories from Americans who suffered health insurance nightmares where they couldn't afford health care or their insurance companies wouldn't cover certain ailments or medical conditions, flatly refusing treatments and operations. When you hear from the woman whose husband needed a bone marrow transplant and was refused because the insurance company deemed it an "experimental" procedure, and he later died, it makes you think about how greedy the insurance companies are. Then Moore goes to Canada, England and France, where they have socialized health care and the citizens pay for the nation's health care through taxation and it really is an eye-opener. Visits to the doctor and hospital are free and as a result, the infant mortality rates are lower and life expectancies are higher in those countries. The final, moving scene in the film is the one where a group of rescue workers who responded to the World Trade Center terrorists attacks on 9/11 were denied operations or charged exorbinant amounts for medicine they needed from injuries sustained responding to Ground Zero in Manhattan. Moore takes them to Guantanimo Bay, Cuba where the terror suspects are receiving free health care at the U.S. Naval Base there. When that fails, Moore takes the rescue workers into Havana where they receive free medical care. The film ends with the American rescue workers receiving thanks from Cuban firefighters who pay their respects as bretheren.
The film asks many questions, chiefly, how can the richest country on Earth treat their own people so terribly? The wost scene in the movie showed an elderly homeless woman who couldn't pay her medical bill dumped out of a taxi cab on the curb of a rescue mission, still in her hospital gown.
"SiCKO" is a difficult film to watch, but it questions why Americans still cling to a system that's not working. One of the most powerful interviews in the film was with a retired Labour member of Parliament in England, who said his country's national healthcare system came in 1948, after World War II when everybody in the country felt it was a duty to have free health care. People needed to take care of each other, he said. Such a beautiful sentiment rarely vocalized or practiced in this country.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rush

Went to the Rush concert at the Tweeter Center in Camden last night. Rush is one of my favorite bands and the Canadian power trio put on a fantastic show. They played some of their greatest hits; "Tom Sawyer". "Witch Hunt", "Subdivisions", "Train to Bangkok", "Circumstances", "Freewill" and "Spirit of the Radio". They also played a lot of their new stuff from their current album "Snakes and Arrows." This was the third Rush concert I've attended - the first was for Power Windows in 1986 and the second was Roll the Bones in 1992. Rush is one of those bands that puts on a great stageshow; the cartoons, lasers and pyrotechnics were visually stunning. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Pert are some of the greatest rock musicians today, with skill and dedication that's improved with the band's 33 years of performing. It was really one hell of a show and I have to say this: Neil Pert is the greatest drummer I've ever seen, bar none.