Aliens, God Bless America, Reading

Dinner at the DeLillo’s

“Please pass the ketchup.”
“Please pass the ketchup.”
“The ketchup.”
“Catsup. Cat soup.”
“Feline sopa de plasticine.”
“Midwestern salsa picante.”
“Mediocre mastication ameliorator.”
“The soft blop of the hardy tomato.”
“The spurt. The splooge.”
“A condimental climax.”
“Yes. Yes. Yes!”
“Yes.”
“Pass the fucking ketchup.”
“Okay.”

As it should be, beauty, cool, la musica, poetry, SCIENCE!

Electric Strings

A balloon is mostly empty space
but then again so am I
gravitating toward the ground
yet she can float up to the sky.
I guess it’s her propensity,
and relative density
that leaves me here on terra firma.

But terra, too, is hardly firma.
The space between the particles
is vast as planets ’round the sun,
the distance of their orbitals;
and it’s not hard, it’s hardly there
just tiny specks, to say, is fair:
like grains of sand spread far apart
that hold up ox and man and cart.

Now let’s dig deeper, to the protons,
electrons, quarks and, now it’s, jeepers!
Electric strings that make us all,
harmonized, lest we fall
through the earth, like unballoons
thank God he plays the proper tunes.
Some dissonance, oh, lord, that harp!
We’re gonna die, He’s playing sharp!”

Imagine that. Imagine God.
We’re good at that. We wink and nod.
But others like to look much deeper
find their truths, each one a keeper.
String them together to fashion a rug
that holds us up so we can shrug,
ignore the beauty beneath our feet
and gasp at heaven’s phantasmal feat.

beauty, cool, honesty, la musica, poetry

Rufus Cappadocia

Rufus Cappadocia beats the hello out of his cello
Wielding his bow whip – Whappity-Whap-Whap!
Scratching and clawing, pulling and mauling,
But lovingly like the guy in the O. Henry story.

I’ll bet that he’s sorry as soon as he’s done with
The smacking and whacking, backhanded slap hits,
He probably rubs her with oil so softly
And trembling hands and words that sound awfully
Like love songs.

A part of me wonders if she doesn’t like it
I’m judging by sounds that she makes when they’re fighting
Don’t judge me I’m not some sick sadist whose heartless
I’m quick to repel from violence that’s artless

But this guy can hit it, can hit it real good
Right in the sweet spot where pain meets the wood
And the vibrating strings where the pleasure reverbs
Through her beautiful body and elegant curves

And together they sing and both bodies ring
Flicking and clicking, plucking and

As it should be, honesty, Reading, the rest of us

Just a Couple of Guys Who got Me Thinking

I read the obituaries in the Star Tribune every Sunday. I like to learn about the people who died. Mostly there is nothing to learn other than age, where they’re from, who died before them and who survives them. But sometimes they are much more interesting – often poignant, every so often even funny. As you can imagine, I like those best because I can get a much better sense of the person and of those who loved them. There was one in particular this Sunday – a young man named Tyler P. Thoresen.

Yesterday’s paper also contained an article about a man named Jim Moore. Jim had a rather quirky sense of humor and one day when he was younger and lamenting the fact that no one wrote letters any more, he went to a map, picked Turtle Lake, MN, then picked a typical Minnesota name – Olson, found an Olson family in Turtle Lake, and then a few times each year he would send them postcards. “Hoping to go sailing tomorrow if the old leg isn’t bothering me too much. Jim” or “Was in Paris and saw Francois and Emilie. They send their regards. Jim”

I found that just spectacular – beautiful, random and kind of touching. The Olson family loved the notes. They had no idea who Jim was, but they still got a real kick out of getting the cards. They kept every one of them. Jim developed bile duct cancer and died in January. Jim’s friend sent the Olsons a note telling them about Jim, why he had written and that he had passed away. Jim was just 38.

Tyler Thoresen was just a month shy of his 28th birthday when he died. Tyler suffered from schizoaffective disorder and like Jim, the illness eventually killed him. Tyler’s obituary paints a picture of a great guy – funny, athletic and a lover of good food. What really got me was how his family chose to begin his obituary: “Tyler Thoreson, of New Brighton, chose to end his earthly struggles on March 20th, 2012…”

Mental illnesses are often sorely misunderstood and that ignorance leads to stigma – and that stigma, if you’ll excuse my terminology, is bullshit. People like Tyler, his family and loved ones face that stigma every day, despite all the amazing work that organizations such as NAMI Minnesota – to which they have directed memorials – accomplish. That stigma is tenacious. And that’s why I so appreciated their obituary.

Tyler’s family could have used some euphemism to describe how Tyler died, but instead they just said it and said it beautifully: “…chose to end his earthly struggles…” They went on, “While he was burdened with schizoaffective disorder for most of his adult life, that is not what defined him.” Indeed. And struggles they no doubt were as he took his own life.

Mental illnesses are just that – illnesses – and not only do the sufferers and their families have to deal with the illness, but with the stigma as well. This obituary is just one more step in the right direction. Take that, stigma. Screw you, ignorance.

I didn’t know either of these guys so it’s a bit presumptuous of me to be sitting here writing about them. But they both touched me. I guess that’s how we live on after death. The rest of us learn from those who left before us – in how they lived and how they died. Life is precious – and precipitous – so let’s keep an eye out for one another, reach out to strangers, and work hard to understand them and their suffering. Thanks for the lessons, guys. Godspeed and all that.

Full disclosure: My company has had the pleasure of working with NAMI Minnesota over the last eight or so years developing their educational materials, and it’s no doubt the most important work we do.

beauty, Uncategorized

happy easter

“Jesus’ doctrines were the practical commandments, the truly radical ideas that immediately leap out in the simple stories he told and which he exemplified in everything he did. Not simply love one another, but love your enemy and forgive those who harm you; give up all material wealth; love the ineffable Being behind all things, and know that this Being is actually your truest Father, in whose image you were made. Above all: give up power over others, because power, if it is to be effective, ultimately requires the threat of violence, and violence is incompatible with the total acceptance and love of all other human beings that is at the sacred heart of Jesus’ teaching. That’s why, in his final apolitical act, Jesus never defended his innocence at trial, never resisted his crucifixion, and even turned to those nailing his hands to the wood on the cross and forgave them, and loved them.”

Try living up to that.

As it should be, cool, Information, la musica, poetry, Politics, Uncategorized

Boggling Minds

Think about your mind. Think about the fact that you can think. Think about the fact you can think about thinking. Meta that. Imagine a green airplane with wings with rainbow feathers and a nose the shape of soft serve ice cream cone – chocolate brown, with a purple octagon shimmering at the tip. Think about your imagination.

You can read tiny characters in sequences and glean complex ideas and images from those tiny characters. You can look at a page of notes and translate that through your fingers into beautiful music. You can invent stories. You can imagine the future and remember the past. You can come up with brilliant, dangerous and hare-brained ideas. You can paint pictures and make movies. You can multiply and divide; add and subtract and maybe even do calculations that to many others would be beyond abstract. You can see, hear, feel, taste, smell.

The scent of baking can reach deep into your mind and pull memories of your grandmother forth for your review. A movement of a symphony can move you to joyful tears. Too much heat and your brain will yank your hand away, long before you conscious mind knows to. You can taste the difference between Chablis and chardonnay.

You can love a person with all of your heart. You can feel another human’s suffering. You can stand up for what you believe in. You can sit down and watch the sun set.

Your brain is unbelievably, unequivocally, undeniably amazing. Think about just how spectacular your consciousness is – your awareness! The breadth and depth and sheer enormity of it!

Now think about the fact that there are 7,000,000,000 (seven billion!) other equally spectacular minds humming along right now on this tiny planet.

Think about the power of that.

Aliens, honesty, meditation, poetry, the rest of us

I Know A Guy

I know a guy knows everything.
You know that guy? I know you do.
He lives right down the street from you.
No matter what you think you do,
he’ll tell you what you ought to do.

His wife, she knows he knows, it’s true:
“He says,” she says, “that red is blue.”
And certainly she’s certain, too,
That blue is blue and red is, too.

I know a guy’s done everything.
You know that guy? I know you do.
He’s done it all once more than you.
You say to him,
“I once fell from a jet airliner.
Thank god I had a carabiner,
For as I hit the atmosphere,
I passed a purple elephant ear,
Saw angels playing synthesizers,
And fans who cheered from balsa risers,
And landed on a 10-foot crow,
who brought me safely down below.”

“That’s nice,” he’ll bleat,
“but my crow was 22 feet.”