Tuesday, February 28, 2006

concert, poetry collection, publication

another concert, another artist added to my "seen live" list: katie melua, this time, the georgian-born (that is georgia the country, not the u.s. state) english singer. she's cute, she's got a terrific voice, and i enjoyed the concert. so did gudrun, who came along - it was her birthday present from birgit, sepp and me.

i thought katie was much more lively than on cd. her voice is no worse than it is on cd, in fact, i think she brings out its potential much better live. her set list included such diverse songs as just like heaven (one of my favourite cure songs, also on katie's latest cd piece by piece), lucy in the sky with diamonds, 19th nervous breakdown, on the road again (also on her album), and a goosebump-inducing georgian folk song which she performed alone with her guitar, especially for the georgians in the house. there was blues, and pop, and folk, of course her tribute to her idol eva cassidy (sadly passed away much too young), and her hits. i like it when artists talk with the audience, involve them in some way, and she did. she seemed to enjoy herself too.

i think her band drowned her out a bit too much occasionally, while at other times they might have been a bit more lively, a bit more daring perhaps.

but it was an evening well-spent. and that was good, as anything less would not have justified venturing outside on that chilly night.

i received ros barber's poetry collection how things are on thursday yesterday. i am about one third through it (have not had much time), but i was in love with it after about three pages. terrific stuff. i'll have more to say some other time.

two of my poems have finally appeared in the new issue of MindFire:

Behind Cupped Hands: Hanna and
Coffee Day

either click on the european section and then on my name or poems, or you can go there directly. i'm very pleased. :)

and i need to send out more subs - i only need time! sigh.
day 24 at the 30/30 forum, a poem about vienna's central cemetery. i wonder where that came from. an excerpt:

As sun starts to paint shadows in nooks
behind half-hearted crosses, hangs little
lights on branches too tired to dream in
colour, the sky turns blue with mood.

song of the day ... hmmmm ... lazy line painter jane by belle & sebastian (with monica queen), i think. yep.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

kitchen utensils, nigel, and requests for soup ladles

admittedly, that's a strange header. but i suppose those of you who come here regularly, and those who know me, won't be *very* surprised at that. still - my first question of the day has nothing to do with the issues announced in the headline: why, WHY is the weather pixie actually smiling when it is snowing again? honestly, that's not the reaction i would have expected, and certainly not mine. it's cold again, and i don't want any more of the white stuff!!

i have written more conversations with assorted kitchen utensils. they are going after me now whenever i come near the kitchen. my extra-long chopsticks attempted to pin me to the wall, and the garlic press threatened to crush me if i refused to speak with them and write about them. i've got ten days. if you do not hear from me again, you'll know what happened.

my new computer class has also brought some inspiration. they might not exactly recognise themselves in my poems, but they would certainly see me in a different light. no, lauren, they have no idea how loony i am. not yet anyway. *harhar*

and now it's the nigel hype over at the 30/30 forum. i swear i will never voice my opinion about names again (for instance ethel sounding like someone born old, and with dame-edna-like hair; or walter sounding like someone who's always dribbling and picking his nose in dark rooms like the guy sitting next to me at the movies yesterday; or tiffany reminding me of unnaturally pink frosting on cakes, the name alone makes my teeth hurt!). it all started with these lines:

i always assumed he was called nigel or archibald, some toothless / kind of name, limp like a nightshirt, spittle-coloured stains and all.
- and they were inspired by a short conversation with my friend birgit at the end of the latest harry potter movie.

now arlene has written a poem called Nigel Loves Michi, to which i had to reply, of course, with Angie Loves Nigel. What followed was arlene's Squeeze in which another nigel can be found. Next: Nigel Is Fuming (thanks to bo for the title - he works with a real, live nigel and my title is taken from bo's latest email). and today i found arlene's poem The Nigel-and-Michi Film: In Slow Motion. so, my turn again. and it's day 21 btw! :)

also, there has been some michi-arlene collaboration which had me in stitches last weekend. really delightfully weird stuff, in alphabetical order though, of course. *L* we have not posted it anywhere yet, but i would like to post at least some excerpts here. watch this spot.

re the soup ladle: i had a conversation with it, as you might have guessed. one thing it told me was this:
have you ever noticed the uneven distribution of letters in alphabet soup? / last time i encountered a Y, it was broken, addled with exhaustive loneliness.
sharon asked for a ladle in one of arlene's poems, and there it is now, and it won't budge. though secretly i believe the soup ladle, sticking out of somewhere, and being placed in someone's hands, is a metaphor for something else entirely. though, naturally, arlene claims innocence.

apart from all that madness: new computer class started on monday morning, first 7, now 9 students, they're nice, and we are getting on well. am teaching 6 hours per day now. more money!

new english class started on monday evening, a2 intensive, that means nearly 3 hours. 7 students, and we had a lot of fun.

two movies yesterday evening: walk the line, and good night, and good luck. i can recommend both, for different reasons; they are very different types of movies, of course.

i was surprised at the acting / singing in walk the line, kudos to phoenix and witherspoon. of course it would be interesting to know what mr cash himself might have thought of the film. reducing his story to two-and-a-bit hours of course means that things had to be simplified, and i am sure there are some cliché things in the film, but i have not read cash's autobiography and not followed his life that closely. one thing i learned was that june carter actually wrote ring of fire.

good night, and good luck. is an important movie, its 'subject' certainly not outdated; it comes in different guises today, and one would wish for journalists like those portrayed in the film. david straithairn's performance, in particular, is brilliant.

i have a new name now: minna. gudrun's son simon calls me that now. i like it. it's cute. :)

song of the day, or week, has got to be something by jenny lewis with the watson twins. probably rabbit fur coat, for its story, and the music, too. check out their album.

now news on subs. no chapbooks received. still no 'reviews' written. i'll be back, chopsticks permitting.

Friday, February 17, 2006

waiting, writing, ranting

okay. we've had plumbers, we've had chimney-sweeps. this week it was the postman i was not happy about. i'd been waiting for three books from amazon - the stupid ?*@! idiot of a postman seriously just left the parcel on my doorstep! i would not believe my (drunkard) neighbour last week when he said "have you got the package alright that the postman left here?" i asked "where?" and he said, "ah, he just put it there, on your doorstep". and i thought, nah, he probably wrote out the note for me to pick up the package at the post office, and may have put the package down for a moment. but when i did not find a note in my mailbox when checking earlier this week while i was at my place, i became a bit suspicious. i thought i could always ask the other neighbours, frau rausch and her sons (yes, she of the poem!), and they did indeed have the package - but not because the postman left it with them, no, because one of the sons picked it up outside my door so nobody would steal it! isn't that nice? i called the post office and told them i would be very happy if they did not just leave my things lying around in the hall. the guy on the other end of the line actually agreed with me that this was indeed not supposed to happen. i'm just glad that nobody made off with my new books!

got jasper fforde's the big over easy (now how to stay away from it until i have finished the vikram chandra novel?), making love by marius brill, and something naughty but cute: colleen coover's little favours, vol 1. :)

more ranting: editors! editors of magazines that promise replies within a certain time and never even say peep! i am especially pissed off with the editors of one e-zine who promise a response time of 6-8 weeks, and who, 5 months later, still have not reacted to my submissions nor to either of my two inquiries. and no, the magazine is not on hiatus, one issue has been published in the meantime, another is coming up. one print zine and another e-zine have not replied to my submissions of mid-october though they promise response times of 3 months max. inquiries have gone unanswered so far. i guess i will just regard the poems as no longer under consideration, what do you think?

i need to check out some more magazines that people have recommended, and submit submit submit.

day 12 of the 30/30 and today was the first tough day. i fought with the muse, and i won. yay! the result is another poem in my growing series of conversations with all sorts of kitchen utensils. i think i should watch it, folks, because i am slowly beginning to hear voices in my kitchen ...

here are a couple of excerpts from
conversation with a stainless steel wire whisk

depilation was the first word i heard on the train; the dingy orange / seat wheezed it out in large brown letters every time i crossed my legs.


announcements were made in running colours, particularly a wet cobalt / with puckered lips that went after every man exuding erotic competence.

i always thought lapis lazuli would complement my complexion. / just my luck that the great eggbeater in the sky vetoed blue foodstuffs.

yeah. i know.

am waiting for ms ang to answer the 26 questions in alphabetical order that i sent a few days ago. it's a kind of collaboration of the crazies.

i'm rediscovering stina nordenstam, the shy swedish singer. her from cayman islands with love is my song of the day (or night, as my clock tells me, unemotionally, that it's 01.49am).

Monday, February 13, 2006

poetry, quirkiness, and more music

while yoshimi is battling the pink robots (the flaming lips) on my media player and i am so not in the mood for prep work, i might as well update my blog, right?

so: i have made it to day #9 of 30/30, and i am almost done with today's poem, too! i am proud of myself, i must say. only 21 days to go now ... *waaah!!*

the weekend brought me not only a couple of very co-operative sessions with the muse, not only the pleasure of reading some very good poetry at the forum, not only laughs inspired by her royal quirkiness, ms arlene ang, but also the joy of email communication with said ms ang. i think when it comes to being weird, we inspire each other and egg each other on. i am very proud of last weekend's collected emails of angela and mikey, our alter egos (don't ask). the whole conversation had its roots in arlene's recent poems, and "her" erotic supplement over at poems niederngasse - since that time, arlene is seeing sexual symbolism everywhere, picking up sexual innuendoes that, frankly, are not there (yeah i know what you will say to this, ms ang!), and she claims that i have "a recurring problem with length". 'scuse me! EXCUSE ME! it's not what you think: it is about poems! honestly! because i did it again - wrote a poem for a contest which was too long, over the limit of 20 lines. (yes, i deserve to be hit over the head. thank you.)

anyway: to give you an idea of our wonderful and highly intellectual (that is when you sit in front of the screen shaking with laughter, right?) communication, here are a couple of excerpts (and yes, i did ask arlene and her spam assassin very nicely if it would be okay to post this here. they said fine, the spam assassin with a mad smile on his, er, face):

getting all these valentine spam on viagra and cialis isn't helping the situation. i'm seeing sexual innuendos everywhere! help! ...
did you read that essay in the png erotic? ... i think it's hilarious. it would be funny to interpret every poem phallically, wouldn't it? ...

from me:

the length problem, in my very humble opinion, is totally underrated and widely ... ignored. i don't know what to do about it other than perhaps raise awareness of it in my ladies' high tea meetings on friday evenings. of course one could always ask the women's institute for assistance. ...

i finally feel like i have found someone i can talk to about all these erotic, dare i say it, even sexual symbols i see everywhere, every day: in the milk, in the tea leaves, in my neighbour's face even!

i must confess i thought that these emails about viagra etc were specifically aimed at me, and i even suspected the neighbours' teenage daughters of being behind these jokes after that one blunder when i thought out loud into their father's face, asking if he had inherited the family phallus. meaning his nose. *blushing up to my pink curlers*

then my email was identified as SPAM at arlene's end of the line. tsk. how rude is that? this of course called for action of some sort:
i think i will have to do something about this, perhaps set the lovely ladies from the women's institute on you, get them to call you at every hour of the day and night and moan into the phone. yes, that could work.
arlene pretended to be brave in the face of this terrible threat:
mikey, your women don't scare me... because i'm protected by (on reading closer) the spamassassin 3.1.0. unless you've got 007 women, no one can beat that. teehee.
but do you think i was scared? pah!
tell the spamassassins that they have no chance. a word that includes TWO asses and not merely one can have no hope of frightening someone like me and my combat WI squad. they are getting ready while i am typing, putting their curlers into silk-lined boxes, worrying the ozone layer with cans of spray.

in the course of the email exchange, arlene was careless enough to promise an interpretation of my poem of the day as - and i quote - "a female chauvinist lust poem". boy. what a promise. not that it was too difficult, since the poem took half its inspiration from our wacky emails. but arlene did a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL job. again, i asked her very nicely, and she said i may share some of it here. first, though, the whole poem:
conversation with a tea mug

along with the appetisers, titbits of cheese and grapes, pricked
and speared by bored toothpicks, they offered me this man.

manners are really not what they used to be, nowadays it's all chip
and charge, no one has time for dumplings, watercress garlands.

had it not been for his frog eyes, the frightening curve of his
nose, i might have overlooked the faux pas of olive stockings.

even so, you have no idea what really hot means, breaking
into a sweat at first contact, and the smell, the smell!

perhaps levitra cookies, viagra burgers might cure his shocking
dress sense, the need to rub his hands up and down my arm.

quite endearing, your total lack of self-control, your insistence on
misinterpretation. the cookie monster could help, handles and all.

he said his sister dances the fandango on fridays, behind fuchsia walls,
torn veil dragging on concrete floor. appalling how f-words induce ptyalism.

wait until the women's institute hears of this, they'll scratch out your
lifeline, classify you as ****SPAM****, perhaps take me away on parole.

jotting a fake phone number - bell-bottomed sixes, headstrong nines -
brought out his squint and he crossed himself in all the wrong places.

i understand craving for latex gloves, ripples on a sunday surface.
whatever your score, leave me out of this, don't say i didn't warn you.

when the black-haired girl swung in through double doors with an aura
of aphrodisiacs gone haywire, i dipped chocolate in chili sauce and ran.

there's always something at the bottom of things, perhaps a bag
to trip up the assassins. they'll come. the great suspender will snap.

here's ms ang's take on a few not so private parts of this offering (shame you can't see the perfectly chosen emoticons!):

about the beginning:
hmmm... TITbits? then, "pricked and speared" -- that sounds very phallic. what am i to do with you, girl? *Shaking Head* toothpicks indicate a preoccupation with length... no getting out of that hang-up now. *ROFL*
re the lines about the phone number:
very fine illustration of the 69 position -- now i know where the bottom and head have to go *Harharhar*!!
and re the closing lines:
the sound of a great suspender snapping is a wonderful metaphor for orgasm. yes, yes -- you can't hide that from me, especially when placed so near the "bottom" of things.

if you made it this far: congrats. you are allowed into the club of sillies. spread the quirkiness!

music: my mp3 player is now officially in love with joana newsom's inflammatory writ (and quite frankly, how could anyone not be, especially fans of the quirky and wacky) and melys' your 'fuck me' eyes.

still, the song of the day is neither of those two but madrugada feat. ane brun - lift me. thanks for the tip, ida @ the richard hawley forum!

and hello to rachael, if you ever read this stuff: thanks for the wonderfully uplifting (and also partly zany) chat on saturday morning (your night)!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

observations about random play, pigeons and a poem

i, like many other people, have an mp3 player. i, like many other people, use random play. i, perhaps like other people, wonder why it is that some songs get chosen all the time, sometimes twice within an hour, and others don't. is it like it used to be at school, that some people are just so much more popular than others? but, in the case of the mp3 player: with whom? is there a little music freak sitting among the files and folders?

since i've had it, the wonderful little gadget has proven a distinct preference for the songs of adam green (almost all of them), the walkabouts, several of franz ferdinand's, omd's maid of orleans, martha wainwright's don't forget, the church's under the milky way tonight, joss stone's you had me, amy winehouse's fuck me pumps, and azure ray's november. on the other hand, it has never, as far as i remember, played goldfrapp's black cherry, damien rice's the blower's daughter, jamie o'neal's all by myself, or travis' only molly knows, and today was the first time in those many weeks that it played me sarah mclachlan's fumbling towards ecstasy.

two days ago i deleted some of the songs it kept repeating, and it is now choosing its new favourites, i can already see that.

fortunately for my happy mood, it seems to really like tom lehrer's poisoning pigeons in the park, which is just great as a first song to hear on a cold winter morning! :)

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
Ev'ry Sunday you'll see
My sweetheart and me,
As we poison the pigeons in the park.

When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide,
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.

so - how about your mp3 player / ipod?

oh and before i get off the topic of music: the latest belle & sebastian album, the life pursuit, is a gem, song after terrific song!

day five of the 30/30 madness, no poem yet. but i managed to come up with something quite long yesterday. it's funny sometimes. i jotted down three lines during a break at work, thinking "what on earth am i going to do with those?", but then it all fell into place. here is the whole thing. and please don't ask where this came from. go ask the muse. she is the one in control.

dream in c major

have you noticed how fish arrange
themselves in concentric circles
whenever i enter the room?

horses neigh backwards, tulips fold
themselves in origami-ikebana
style when i wink at them.

streets never grumble underneath
my feet, i sleepwalk them into
existence, dream their bends.

continents reassemble quietly,
volcanoes opt for extinction
before i've said a word.

i charted every inch of sky,
refused the sun a vaster
orbit, a pet snake god.

i left left no seam unstitched, no
threads untied, fingers fighting
their goddamn pride.

there is nothing my hands cannot
hold: pliable water, rigid streaks
of lightning, the number pi.

there's no syllable my mouth hasn't
uttered, tongue sore from brazen
letters, wayward sounds.

i stole the crumbs from hansel and i
will unravel your story, too, if you
don't say the word, if you don't

call me crystal-gazer, call me
clam in a shell, red-eyed
queen of night.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

rant, write, read

okay, i know, i promised a rant, kind of. the funny thing is that some of my friends who read the blog actually told me they were looking forward to it. *L* i hope nobody will be disappointed now. that pressure! *sigh*

this story actually begins in the spring of last year. once a year you have to make sure the chimney-sweep has access to your flat to do whatever they have to do, something that takes approximately 37 seconds, and messes up half your flat. but fine. they tell you that date months in advance so that is okay. if you cannot be there, you just make sure you are there either 3 months or 6 months later.

anyway, i could not be there, because a new class started that day. they left a note to be there 3 months later or else there could be problems. i rang their office. the lady on the other end of the line was not terribly friendly, but i managed to tell her that i already knew i would not be there that day in august, because we had already booked our holidays. she told me that in that case i would definitely have to be there in november but that would be okay. i asked whether it was possible for them to give me a time frame, and she said to call closer to that date in november. so that is what i did. the lady at the office told me that they would be there between 7 and 9 am.

so, little ms michi arranged for someone to stand in for her until about 10 on that day in early november and waited at home for someone to come. only they didn't. so i rang their office at 5 past 9 only to be told that "he will show up eventually at your place", to which i replied, "only i won't be here anymore". it took me about 5 minutes to get it into the woman's head that i could not simply stay at home, i had classes to teach. i actually went and rang my neighbours' doorbells, some were not even there, and those who were, told me they were just about to go out. so i talked to that woman again, and she said if i left now and the chimney-sweep could not do his job, then they might have to report that to some municipal authority. it took another little while to get it across that it was not my fault if they did not keep their promises. she did see my point eventually and promised she would make a note immediately that they would come and get things done in february, which was my "last chance", and i absolutely had to be there, and if not, then ... etc. okay. so february 1st it was.

i actually rang them on the 31st of january, asking about the earliest time they might turn up, and the lady barked at me "what do you want of them anyway?" this is where i should have told her that my husband was out of town, and once a year, her wonderful and charming colleague and i, we have this little tryst ... but i did not. i told her. she said "any time from 7 am."

so i got up at 6.20, which is nearly 40 minutes earlier than when i go to work (!), to be ready just in case, and then i waited. and waited. wrote emails, did some prep work, waited. had a cup of tea, waited. eventually, made myself some brunch, and waited. noon came and went, and i did not really expect them to come by anymore. but, i still waited. got more work done, watched some tv, waited. by 2.30 i was getting REALLY angry. by 3 i had typed up a letter to the company, and i was still REALLY angry. nobody showed up that day. they did not bother to ring either.

it's not like a day off isn't nice or useful, but it means not getting paid, and about 90 euro is a lot better than nothing. i try not to take time off work too often, because being self-employed means no work, no pay. i take time off if i want a holiday or a short break, but not for bloody nothing!! i was actually swearing aloud while writing that letter, and after. i was just about able to stop myself from calling them; it would not have been a good idea, trust me. i am usually a very friendly person, but i CAN get upset, and i doubt that the woman on the other end of the line would have been able to get a word in, not during the first five minutes anyway.

i really don't understand it, you see. they tell ME i absolutely MUST be there, or else. they don't say a bloody word the day before when i call their office. why? same thing with the plumber lately, at sepp's, who said he'd be there before lunchtime, or else he would call, and then - you guessed it, nothing. not the first time either. i have to ask my friend birgit whether her plumber has finally showed up. i think she stopped counting after the fourth time she waited in vain. it's so unnecessary, really. it's not like people don't have anything better to do. i think certain tradespeople know very well that we depend on them, there is always work for them, and therefore they can treat customers as they please. so. end of rant.

one of the chimney-sweep bosses actually called me as soon as they received the letter, wanted to talk to me, apologised for what has gone wrong, and said they'd just forget about this past year, and come by on the 3rd of may for this year's check. i hope i can leave the key with a neighbour so i won't have to take another day off.

[and bo: you are wrong! it is not because they don't like me! i am nice! i am a chimney-sweep's dream, is what i am! go ask my friends! *growl*]

i have been feeling under the weather since last friday, which is why i stayed in vienna on the weekend, and sepp went to his mother's 70th on his own. i would have made very bad company that weekend. today i felt better in the morning, but expected a headache due to the change in the weather and the wind. the headache did come, around 12.30, and it seems to have settled in just fine for the rest of the day. or week. we'll see.

on a more pleasant note: i am writing! in a moment of madness i joined the 30/30 forum again - after nearly two months. i had missed them, only stopped in occasionally to read a bit. i am on day four, have about three lines of today's poem written up so far, not much, i agree. but i am so not giving up. *L*

poems niederngasse's erotic supplement, edited by the wonderfully quirky (and very talented, and lovely) arlene ang, is finally online, with one of my poems in it: after dessert, in the bathroom. if you want to find out just what exactly is going on there, you'll have to go and read. make sure to check out the other poetry as well, and i can promise that you will come away all sweaty! ;)

a friend has suggested writing a review of my chapbook for an e-zine she contributes to, and i don't think i will say no to that offer. funny that there are a couple of reviews now, over a year after its publication.

annette marie hyder has told me about Poetry Super Highway's Great Poetry Exchange. interesting for poets who have published a (chap)book of their poetry. go read the guidelines, it does sound interesting, and i will participate.

dave, allen, and gary - i will write something about your poetry books. i have not finished them yet, but there are poems that i have read more than once, more than twice, more than five times, which is a good thing, surely. i will have something to say about what i particularly enjoyed.

have finished the shipping news, and am about 60 pages into vikram chandra's red earth and pouring rain, which sounded intriguing enough for me to pick it up in london last june.

a word about the madness that they call weather: first that horrible cold, then snow yesterday morning, and from early afternoon on a storm was raging, and it was raining so hard that the 10cm of snow were nearly gone by midnight, and completely gone this morning. *shiver*

missed out on last night's crossfield's trivia night - "my" team (husband and friends) were the best team of the night, with 19 out of 20 points, and had i been there, we would have got all 20, because i certainly know what ikebana is ... shame. but one day, one day those australian road signs will be ours!!

soooooo ... music: more walkabouts. love their cover versions, particularly disamistade and that's how i live.

came across katie melua live at croydon last saturday on cable tv, and decided that the ridiculously expensive ticket may be worth it after all, and bought one. so, a concert to look forward to, at the end of the month. and then element of crime in munich in march, and adam green at the beginning of april. unfortunately, kaizer's orchestra are not playing in vienna this spring, only in graz. *sob*

song of the day: the light will stay on by the walkabouts.

and if you bury me, add
three feet to it
one for your sorrow, two
for your sweat
three for the strange
things we never forget

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

hiss, books, kärnten/koroska

this is the equivalent of a quickie:

two poems published in the wonderful hiss quarterly - make sure you are over 18 and are not wearing too many warm clothes when you go and read them! *grin*

received gary blankenship's "a river transformed" and suzanne frischkorn's "spring tide" this week. more about those some other time.

für alle kärntner/innen und die, denen die ortstafel-angelegenheit allmählich auf den geist geht und - gelinde gesagt - etwas kindisch erscheint: unterschreibt auf prokaernten.at!

my rant of the day will have to wait, i am in a hurry, but i am sure i will remember.

oh and - the walkabouts rule! song of the day: loom of the land.