Friday, December 14, 2007

A list, and a meditation

My brain attempts suicide every time I go to the front page of yahoo, and see that the top story involves a celebrity (ie. Worthless news). It jumps out of my ear, and looks for a ledge to jump off. It screams, “Babylon has fallen!” I have to tackle it, and shove it back into my skull. Every time. Well, I’ve made a deal with my brain, so that I never lose it: I’ll highlight interesting, yet useful news. (Let’s define ‘useful news’ as stuff that has the potential to affect you and me politically, economically, et et al.) So, here are five articles I found which I felt fit that description.

1) In South Korea, scientist made fluorescent cats. Let’s play catch in the dark using the kittens!

2) In Pakistan, President Musharraf lifts state of emergency. Shit is still scary.

3) NATO plans to stay in Afghanistan. Educated hookers disagree.

4) New Jersey votes to end the death penalty; first state “since 1965 to repeal capital punishment.” After having a governor in-the-closet, a peculiar scent, and a high crime rate, it is also still the weirdest state since 1965, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 eliminated segregation, which occurred in the southern states,1,985658.story?coll=la-news-politics-national&track=crosspromo

5) A list of New York State’s most wanted fugitives. I hate the human race.

I hope you all noticed the references to the Bible and Chris Rock. RAWR


The following is a brief meditation:

Predators attack the meek. Predators attack those they think will be easy targets.

Some of you will remember that a certain individual raped and tortured a Columbia graduate student for 19 hours. This occurred last spring. Now, this event is absurd in its details, and most violent acts don’t even resemble this one. But they are similar in the general event—one person attacks another to own them. As simple as that.

Weeks ago, police arrested a mugger who attacked women. The mugger often pretended he had a gun.

Most events similar to this are mundane. As simple as two men walking down the sidewalk in opposite directions, and staring each other down for no other reason than they want to punk the other one out. But nothing happens because both of the dudes are afraid the other one has a gun. They each want power over the other, but don’t want to get hurt, either.

Power. Power. Power.

You rarely hear about “one unarmed man robbing four wrestlers.” Even an attempt.
Most of these fuckers don’t have the balls to attack their victims on equal terms. Any asshole can pick up a few guns, and pretend to be the Punisher until his bullets run out, or a police sniper puts him down. Without the guns, without their buddies, and without the big bad sneer they are just punks. Mice.

They act tough until they run into somebody they know could whoop their ass. In the end, for these people, power results in victory, but survival is good enough.



Alberto L.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snippet of something

I don't know why I wrote this, it just sort of popped into my head.

Within the first week of college, my writing skills hit an all time low. It wasn’t syntax. It wasn’t punctuation. It was spelling. With my mind thisclose to simultaneously exploding and imploding due to the stress and pressure of adapting to my new lifestyle, little space was left over for basic English skills developed back in elementary school. Consonants were added, endings were dropped, and “u”s were added in places that even the British would consider downright bloody well ridiculous.

For comfort, I now and then reminded myself of a concept I had learned in my introductory psychology class. Humans have the tendency to seek out evidence that supports a pre-constructed hypothesis, while ignoring perhaps equal evidence that supports the contrary.

You’re right, I told myself. You’re not even considering all of the words you are spelling correctly.

Excerpts from a poem I'm working on.

A man and a woman lay by each other in bed.
The man: “I love you. Forever and ever, I will.”
She blinks.

A woman and a man walk hand in hand through the park.
Woman: “I love you. Forever and ever, I will.”
Man: “Uh.”

In a 1939, a Nazi Gauleiter (District Leader) and his Jewish mistress lay together in bed.
Mistress: “I love you. Forever and ever, I will.” Then, the wife walked in.
Two weeks later, soldiers gassed the wife to death in a gas chamber.

A man eats dinner with his brother.
Man: “I love you, forever and ever, I will.”
The brother punches the man, and calls him a faggot.

A woman sits with her sister. Christmas.
Woman: “I love you, forever and ever, I will.”
Two day later, the sister removes $500 from the woman’s bank account,
and escapes into New Jersey.

A man and his foster son sit in the living room, and play a football video game.
The man: “I love you, forever and ever, I will.”
The Orphan later steals the foster father’s girlfriend.


They kneaded the thigh, their breaths heavy and warm and wet. Their breaths swirled. A cup of water boiled and the steam

waved over you. The touch was like a rag rubbed over your chest. His breathing, theirs--wet, from the throat. They moaned from the throat. They made little jokes, and rubbed, and breathed, and coughed, and moaned, and made another little joke, and breathed, breathed, breathed.

They washed their hands, and closed the door behind them. Your father played poker in the dining room. Your mother slept on the couch in the living room.


Our enemies kneaded us. They pounded us flat on a pan. They sliced us out with a cookie-cutter in the shape of people. They flipped us out and left us in the over for 9 minutes, temperature 350 degrees Fahrenheit. They left us to cool on a windowsill. They decorated us with icing. They gave me 3 eyes, and you five nipples. They gave you a frown, and rested a smile on my stomach.
Hours later, at 8:43pm, we plopped into the toilet.

You: “No!”
Me: “What?”
You: “Nothing.”
Me: “Please.”
You: “What?”
Me: “Nothing.”
You: “Please.” And then you began to climb out.
Me: “No!
You: “Shut up!”
Me: “What?”
You: “You going to hit me?”
Me: “What? No!”
You: “Then what made you angry?”
Me: “Nothing.”
You: “I’m leaving.”
Me: “No!”
You: “Why shouldn’t I leave?”
Me: “Please.”
You: “Why shouldn’t I leave?”
Me: “I love you, forever and ever, I will.”

Because what should be ours shall be ours. We’ve waited longer than a cold night in which our knuckles fall to white, chipped skin. We have waited so long that we ignore the beggar asking for 80 cents. We’ve been lonely for so long that we hope for others to live alone too. We bathe in our victories. We bump into people on the street and do not say “excuse me.” We curse when we get a problem wrong on the quiz, and punch the wall when a stranger calls us a “bitch” in the hallway. We count the times they cursed us, we write the number in our journals. We sigh because the Iraq War has yet to become WWIII.

We have forgotten the names of our aunts and uncles, and we refuse to call people we’ve only known for a week. We imagine people talk about us behind our backs, and we expect that tomorrow, the sun will emit yellow, and the moon will resemble a man’s face, and it will rain, or it will not. It snows, or the sun shines. Someone shoots someone else, or someone robs someone else. Someone emerges from the womb, and someone slips on the wedding ring. The news begins, and the moon dissolves in the light. The news begins, and the sun disappears behind the house. The stars hover in place for centuries. Shit smells like shit and flowers like flowers, and flowers dipped in shit smell like shit. The alarm will snooze.

Autumn Birth (a three-minute exercise)

The hanging fall sun is
nicked by billboards and weathervanes

and splits, a broken egg yolk
dripping thick golden glaze

on sugar-puff exhalations
warming worn-in bricks and lonely city trees.


(I like writing small simple poems about small simple things. Why yes, I am a Hicok/WCW fangirl, how did you know?)

what do we gain by blinking?

Here is a poem i wrote on a facebook wall, recently.

i heard you dripping out the corner of my eye
but didnt sound like tears
you ran down my cheek skipping and jumping
and singing and yelling
and no one but the cows heard
pushed aside the whiskers on my face
like so many sheaves of wheat or other tall grasses
ducking down it is so easy to lose yourself
amidst strange textures and windful tremors
the breeze brushed about
ruffling your hair like your father
moistening your eyes like your
mother and you
and i
and eye

~jss 11/29/07

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Psalm 4

On Your Appearance in Literature


You spoke to me some time ago
For some time.
You may be speaking to me still.
I don't mean that—
or any of this—
but perhaps – literarily.

I had just finished reading
Paradise Lost or His Dark Materials or
Some combination of the two—
Which the latter is already
(only ONE of the ways literature defies physics);
It was a dream;
Most things are.

You said to me: "Boy, look at me."
I looked at what I thought was You
Although the fact that I could
Look at You means it wasn't You.
I said: “I am here.”

You said: "Do


Look like someone who
Could be destroyed by a Subtle Knife?"
"You do," I said,
"But that's only because what
I see and what I know are different things.

"If there were such a thing as a Subtle Knife—
And there isn't, right?”
And here, I dart a worried glance
At You
Which You answer with a
Bemusedly indulgent shake of the head—

"If there were,
You would be
as much
its Substance
as its Creator.

"So even Paradise Lost
And its literary roots
Are just silly.
It's a foregone conclusion, sure,
But the fact that it’s a story at all
Means that it's not quite
A foregone conclusion,
The notion of which is absurd."

"People hit things when they're angry,"
You said, "even when they
Don't expect them to give."

"Since when do You use contractions?" I said.

"Since when do


Have a tail and whiskers, for that matter?"
And I looked and behold!
I had envisioned You as a giant housecat.

"I guess You‘re meant to
embody self-satisfaction,
but in an unselfconscious way,"
I said, "which
when you think about it
chokes on its own paradox."

"Everything does," You responded.
"Imagine how


Feel, who do think about it."
"Anyway, yeah. People hit things
when they're angry and that's as
close as You get to a
between lashing out and lashing in--"

"Raskolnikov and Tarquin take note," You purred.

"But," I continued
over Your interruption,
"The idea that angels have personalities
and such, like people,
is pretty Hellenistic."

"Well, maybe angels behave like people
The way


'm a cat,"

"But there are people who believe this shit like it was..."
"In the Bible?"

"You make me laugh, You know?"
"How else would You laugh?"
"Why don’t more people see this side of You?"
"Why don't you see every other side of me?"

"You're worse than Freud."
"How would You know?
Mind, you didn’t finish exhonerating
Milton in your mind,
which you were about to do.”

"Oh, like he needs me to
say nice things about him or he’ll cry?
Anyway, You're worse than
my mother, who's a Freudian."

"Again, how would you know?
No, he doesn’t, but the only way
you can read anything
is by making
it a part of your thoughts
and so by arguing with him,
you argue with yourself."

"And so I need to finish
the argument to reconcile
with myself? I have arguments
with myself all the time which
I don’t finish. Why should I treat
him-as-me better than I treat

"You’re worse than Proust."
"How would You--
oh, right."

Monday, December 10, 2007

This is the title of this post

Greetings phellow phlogers. I am posting in order to give some more visibility to the “field” of self-reference, which I find rather intriguing. After all, what is more human than the need to reflect on one’s self, for the brain to ponder its own existence?

One of the most accessible areas of this “field” is self- referential sentences. This, essentially, means any sentence whose referent is the very sentence itself. (“This is a self-referential sentence” is a basic, basic, example. They get better.) I have posted several of my own making below:

This sentence hardly has any adverbs.

This is a horribly written haiku.

This sentence may come up later.

Well, this sentence doesn’t like you either.


This sentence isn’t particularly funny.

Forget this sentence.

This sentence may come up later.


I realize that not everyone is as “into” this as I am, but on the rare chance that you are, I would recommend reading Douglas Hofstadter’s Metamagical Themas. Also, David Moser has composed an absolutely brilliant and hilarious short story entitled “This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself” (found here:

Enjoy, and best of luck with your self-referential adventures!

This is the last sentence of this post.

~Sam :)

~ Converge! ~

To me my holy men!
Let us smear our souls messily
across the sky.
Dip in fingers and wipe
on tunics, modestly cut, revealing
only our crafty beauty.
We be not famous. We
slip unseen back to anonymous realms
like dolphins from their arcs of motion.
And yet We will live
forever & more for Death can not
silence the echoes of unknown caverns.
We burn, propulsory jets in
the stratosphere. We disappear.
We are never done.
We scamper down busy
streets. Desperation clinging to
every step. Raindrop eyes glance
off teflon men, and We go through
life unknown.
We yearn for contact,
the beauty of an earnest
embrace, or a deeply planted,
"fuck you."
We will travel to the end of time
and record every name.
We will never be remembered.
You will never be forgot.

~jss, 2/11/05

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A preface to "Humor, Facades, and Dignity."

This little article serves as my warm up for an essay about humor, how it ties into facades, and what role, if any, does dignity play into this relationship. As of now, the ideas are still coming together, so if you want more specifics, wait for the Bigger Essay…I have yet to know how it will end up, except for the overall tone and concept.

The first purpose of this post: to remind people that the Phlog is going to be updated on a regular basis, and that Mr. Schwartz’s poetry post is the beginning of a good thing. So, hello, bitches. For now…

The second purpose of this post: to set establish the context for the Bigger Essay. The following list of people includes a few things I want you to know about them. My main point: humor does not always come from a place of bliss. In fact, it often doesn’t.

(I may or may not reference these individuals in the Big Essay. You may read the essay and wonder why I even mentioned them here. Again: I just want to set the tone.)


George Carlin: In a recent televised performance, he said, “…I have absolutely no sympathy for human beings whatsoever…no matter what kind of problem humans are facing, whether it’s natural or man-made, I always hope it gets worse.”

Joseph Heller: Yes, his novel, Catch-22, is a comic-masterpiece, but after the half-way point, it becomes as somber as grave full of Holocaust victims. The use of humor can seem problematic and surreal (even disturbing) in the midst of death, rape, and all kinds of moral depravity. But, understand that Heller’s work shows an appreciation for life as sincere as Carlin’s disdain.

Dorothy Parker: A-class smart-ass. “I’m too fucking busy, and vice versa.” Also, attempted suicide thrice.

Richard Pryor: this man dealt with drug addiction, lit himself on fire, and let everyone know it. And he had seven marriages, and had (at least?) four kids. Also, one of the most respected comics ever.

Jonathan Swift: wrote an essay about eating Irish babies. Yes, he was only being a smart-ass, but just because he felt that the Irish were getting the shaft in terms of economics. So, like any A-class smart-ass, he shoved this fact in everybody’s face.

Mark Twain: hated a lot of people. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn seems like a kind-of-grandfather to Catch-22; full of murder, child abuse, and all kinds of moral depravity. Yes, it is funny, but any one who calls this a children’s book, thinking it’s like Barney, has not yet read it.

Kurt Vonnegut: tried to commit suicide. In World War II, witnessed the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden, and wrote a novel about war's traumatizing effects (Slaughterhouse-Five).


- Alberto

PS. Read more Phlog.