Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books



domingo, marzo 22, 2015

The Busted Brackets

This year it was the pundits who led me astray. If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, lots of information is worse. Far worse. And so it was that Eastern Washington/Iowa State and their Cinderella spokesmodels led me astray. Once again, as two years ago, my brackets are pretty much busted.

That means it’s time to recall the story of Diane (not her real name). About five years ago members of her extended family encouraged her/bullied her to fill out a bracket and enter the family $100 pool. $5 per person. She probably felt this was just another attempt to filch money from her. She acknowledges that she doesn’t know anything about basketball (but has a loyalty to Illinois) and the pool wouldn’t be the first time she was played for a sucker. She ponied up the fin and set to work.

Her method was unusual. It’s Applied Kinesiology, in other words: use a pendulum to choose the winner of each game. This is very time consuming. She filled out the full bracket, but Diane never put it up on line. That was a level of commitment she didn’t quite summons. I was a part of her family pool also: I came in second.

After the tournament, noting that she didn’t actually post the bracket at ESPN, I asked her how she did. Said she, “Well, I got them all wrong.”

“You mean almost all of them, right?”

“It’s embarrassing. I got them all wrong, every single one.”

When I first heard this, I was astonished. I immediately thought that she must have asked the wrong question of the pendulum or didn’t know a yes from a no or maybe she just should have inverted her choices. She, of course, didn’t recognize that hers was an incredible achievement.

Mathematically, it is not as hard to get all of the choices on a bracket wrong as it is to get them right. That’s because after you lose the first 32 games, all of the following ones are also losses. You don’t need to worry about the second round or the Sweet Sixteen or the Final Four. All of your teams are on a bus home after Friday.

In comparison my brackets are clear, muddy mediocrity. The better of them (yes, I did 2 this year) now has 67.1 percent correct and is ranked 3,812,839. The other is far, far worse. My hope, the same as at all other times, is just to beat the President. He is hard to beat because he is very conservative (not just in basketball predictions) and does not get inveigled by the Georgia States, Iowa States and Eastern Washingtons of the world. He doesn’t like me automatically try to pick a 9 to beat an 8 or a 14 to overturn a 3. Unlike me, he’s not trying to bring home the long shot. So let me note that right now, the President has 56.2 percent correct and is ranked 5,065,809.

You're welcome to draw from this whatever conclusion you like.

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viernes, enero 30, 2015

Even Less?

Your Bloguero notes that Andrew Sullivan has decided to quit blogging. He has two reasons:

The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.

The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

Sounds familiar. Your Bloguero has ruminated frequently on blog death. In fact, the demise of this blog. Would he just let the blog entries become further and further apart until one day there were no more? A fade out. Or would he write a farewell, a Good Bye Cruel World entry explaining himself and the end in detail? If only your Bloguero took himself and his output so seriously. Or his imagined significance to his readers.

And so this Blog limps along. Breathes shallowly. Seems to be sleeping. Or in a far deeper state of repose. Is it alive? Is it expiring? Will it stand up suddenly, Frankenstein like and bellow? That seems unlikely.

Meanwhile, your Bloguero has been listening to and thinking about winter night sounds. The sirens and the flashing blue and red lights. The car horns. The wind in the trees. And about radio signals, that invisible cloud in the sky. There is probably no more room for a novel or short story about that. David Foster Wallace, Daniel Alarcon having weighed in, there's not much left. Your Bloguero remembers how Jean Shepherd sounded half a century ago, but when he sits upright, awake in the dark, searching for the idea, your Bloguero cannot find it. Perhaps it will come.

Your Bloguero is working on a third novella. He can no more rush it than a cook can hurry a souffle.

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viernes, enero 02, 2015

The End of the Haiku Road

On New Year's day your Bloguero posted his 600th Facebook haiku. For now, it is his last. He felt it was enough. He stopped (for now). The repeated "for now" seems to have something to do with obsession.

He still has the odd habit of having a thought, thinking of a line and counting its syllables on his fingers, but that will pass soon enough. He hopes. That has something to do with obsession also.

In the meanwhile, he notices his present disinterest in "social media." This reveals itself in fewer and fewer blog postings (here and elsewhere), the end of the haiku project, few FB posts, an absence of tweets, a dirth of Instagram photos. Maybe it means that the next thing is about to arrive. Who knows what that will be? It might also mean that the "next thing" has already arrived, your Bloguero has missed it, and it has irretrievably passed him (and maybe you) by. This is a problem only if you or your Bloguero remains at all concerned about keeping current about the latest things. Or at least knowing what they are before the New York Times discovers them.

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martes, diciembre 23, 2014

Season's Greetings From The Dream Antilles

Felices Fiestas! Queremos tomar esta tiempo para ofrecerle nuestros mejores deseos a usted y sus seres queridos. Esperamos que su hogar este lleno do gozo, cordialidad y buena voluntad durante esta temporada de fiestas. Que usted y su familia gozen de paz, felicidad y buena salud durante el nuevo ano.

Seasons Greetings! We'd like to take this time to extend our very best wishes to you and your loved ones. We hope your home will be filled with joy, warmth and goodwill during this holiday season. May you and your family enjoy peace, happiness, and good health throughout the coming year.

The bird at the top is a Caribbean laughing gull. In Spanish its name is guanaguanare. This bird always appears when the fishermen are unloading their catch after a day of fishing. The bird hopes for a fish to be dropped from a basket as the boats are unloaded so it can whisk it away. Manuel Acero (you remember him from the novella "The Dream Antilles") has watched the guanaguanare for his whole life. Whenever he unloads fish, he saves a few to throw to the gulls. He wishes them and you a joyful Holiday Season and ease and prosperity in the New Year.

martes, setiembre 02, 2014

The Haiku Road

I know how it began. In high school someone showed me haikus by Basho. They were unbelievably profound. So some classmates and I tried writing them.  Eventually, the novelty wore off. We stopped.  Fast forward to the New York Times Haiku contest in 2014. I forgot to enter it.  But in April, fed up with pictures of cats, brunch and boobs, I decided that Facebook was best used for photos of the sky and haikus.  I don’t know exactly how this idea arose. Maybe Twitter was better because then the little poems would disappear in an ocean of words, never to be seen again. Oh well.  After a while, I lost count of how many I had posted, so I put a number on each one, like a upc on an organic tomato.

I continue. Today I posted number 471.

Why do I continue? A great question that deserves a legitimate answer. Unfortunately, I don’t have one.  Maybe it’s a sign of my obsession.  Maybe it’s because there is no logical stopping point. Maybe I’m deriving some special benefit from these.  Maybe it’s simple. I enjoy it. And I was right, Facebook is a great place for collecting Haiku. And it’s contagious: some of the comments have themselves been haiku.  That’s wonderful.


Is there some benefit from this? I hope so. I was stuck on the manuscript for a novella. I haven’t worked on it for a few months.  But I notice that all of the haiku are gently loosening up whatever obstructions there are in the manuscript. We’ll see whether I go back to it, or whether it becomes one of those projects that just gets abandoned.

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jueves, agosto 07, 2014

Dearly Beloveds

Your Bloguero notes that it's been 3 long months since he tickled the ivories at The Dream Antilles.

That calls for an update. Here it is now.

Your Bloguero is busy writing haikus. He is posting them regularly on Facebook. He has posted more than 400 of them. You can see what he's writing if you click the link.

Why haiku? As John Lennon wrote, funny you should arsk. Haiku because most of what your Bloguero sees on the Internet is so dehumanizing. And ironic. Cat videos, photos of brunch, selfies, political screeds, verbal barking. Ooof. All this when Social Media are so perfect for evanescent poetry. Like Haiku. Of which there is not a ton. Your Bloguero cannot imagine an Internet inundated with poetry.

Your Bloguero laments that he is no Basho. He regrets that he will never write a haiku as perfect as this:

Blossoms on the pear

a woman in the moonlight

reads a letter there.

It is perfect, isn't it.

But he will try again and again to write a good one. If practice truly makes perfect, a proposition about which your Bloguero nurtures significant doubt, your Bloguero is practicing. And trying.

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miércoles, mayo 07, 2014

Not Good Bye Cruel World

Maybe there are Bloggers who announce that they have come to the end and are retiring from posting, that the Blog is over. Maybe they write a last post summing everything up and saying farewell, but that seems rare. It seems that most just run out of steam, post more and more infrequently, and one day the post is their last. Most often, it probably doesn’t seem that a final post is one, when it goes up; it’s just that it turns into one. Something lets the air out of the tires. The battery dies. Things fall apart. The blog becomes a corpse. The blogger walks away.

There are by now probably millions of corpse blogs. Some might have a single brave entry announcing what is expected to come next, but didn’t. Others have thousands of entries, series of essays about various topics. The posting stops. The end. Corpse blogs are like ship wrecks on the bottom of the ocean: you can find them if you search, but nobody works on them any more. They’re visited only infrequently and then only by divers who like wrecks.

Is this blog about to join the under sea wreckage? Your Bloguero fears it’s so. He didn’t post for two months and didn’t miss it. He didn’t feel compelled to announce any of his opinions to his readership. What a surprise. Instead, he wrote many haikus and posted them on Facebook. That is fun. It will continue. But writing a blog post? Your Bloguero cannot give assurances. Sad. He wishes he could.

Your Bloguero notices a potential pattern here. In the old days, he wrote a listserv denouncing the death penalty. There was no last post. Eventually the listserv had no new original content written expressly for it, and was used only to transmit links your Bloguero’s blog posts on the topic on this blog. Then there was nothing. The last post there was in September, 2011. Your Bloguero posted frequently from March, 2002 until June, 2006, and only sporadically thereafter. Then he just stopped. It wasn’t because he stopped fighting state killing. No. It was something else.

This blog, The Dream Antilles, began in August, 2005 and has now had 1460 posts. But it’s been silent for 2 months. Your Bloguero hopes this isn’t the last post. But he can’t say it won’t be. Just in case, thanks for reading The Dream Antilles. Thanks for your comments. And thanks for being there.

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