Archive for November, 2008

“Control” – the Movie

Dear Reader,


I can’t stop thinking about the movie “Control,” a 2007 biopic about Ian Curtis, lead singer in the British band Joy Division. Why? I’m not sure. Is it because Curtis is dead? Because he hung himself? That he was only 23 when he did it? Or maybe I’m puzzled by his hip-locked arm dancing? His baby face? His epilepsy? His painful inability to carry on as a husband, father, boyfriend, and rocker? His music? That he wanted everything and in some way I wanted him to have it? His passion? Other’s passion for him? His drive to create? All of this? Yes, all of this.


The movie is based on Deborah Curtis’ (Curtis’ wife) memoir Touching From a Distance (1995). I’m curious about how it was translated from book to screenplay, so I’ll read the book and compare the two. I’ll also look that the DVD’s special features again, particularly the feature in which the screenwriter discusses how he gathered his information and decided the movie’s focus. (I love that stuff.)


Will you like “Control”? Again, I’m not sure. But I urge you to give it a look and try to enjoy the unique way the director chose to express Curtis’ deeply felt but short life.



“Ode To The Pacifiers”

Dear Reader,


A successful poem affects its readers. It refocuses inattention, spawns appreciation for molded rubber and plastic, and increases tenderness toward pacifiers dropped in a gutter to harden and crack, like the tenderness I felt for the pacifier I recently saw on the drive outside the Westminster Public Library. It was flawlessly pink and exposed to roadside grit, and I felt sorry–rather than disgust– for it. I wanted to rinse it under cool water then return it to the lonely little mouth that missed it. And what revised my attitude toward abandoned pacifiers?  

Michael J. Henry’s  poem “Ode To The Pacifiers.”


Do you want to read a little bit of it?


Comfort elixir, sleep-dozer, quiet-plug,

O how you have saved me,

O how you have buttoned and plugged

those grumpy weary O mouths,

O how you have waved sadnesses

away and made darkness for dreams.

Mam, Nuk, The First Years―3317,

molded in Austria, Germany, Taiwan, Philippines,

you are the juicy bait from which I catch

my babyfishes, pull them out of their ocean

of cry and fuss, gently drop them

into the hold in the hull of our house,

where they drift, the new cells

which I have half-made.…


What do you think?


To read the rest of this poem, go to page 76 of Michael’s new book No Stranger Than My Own (2008, Ghost Road Press). I’ll ask Micheal’s permission to post the whole poem.








What’s On This Editor’s Desk?

Dear Reader,

Professional organizers say a messy desk equals a messy mind. Well, I wonder what the mess of tidy items I have on my desk today says about my mind? My desktop holds:

· Kissing Doorknobs, (1998), a Young Adult book by Terry Spencer Hesser.

· A postcard of a black and white photo of a yawning Abyssinian cat sitting on a bookshelf. Found this in a book I was shelving for the Friends of Westminster Library Used Book Shop, where I volunteer and find lots of cool books.

· SCBWI 2008 Publication Guide to Writing & Illustrating for Children.

· Transcending Grief – A Journal of Love and Healing, (2001), written by Sylvia Browne and Nancy Dufresne. It’s a guided journal for people who are grieving. Note to self: study how they’ve set up the journal. Is it easy to write on its high gloss pages? Will ink easily smear?

· I Found All the Parts: Healing the Soul Through Rock ’n’ Roll (Nov.11, 2008). A spiritual memoir that’s waiting for me to post an review about it.

· Course booklet, How to Sell on, by Judy Murdoch and Mary Walewski.

· Third Thursday Poetry Open Mic signup sheet with notes scribbled on it: “Get Studs Terkel quote from J.D.” “Read some Joseph Campbell and John Ashbery,” “What’s the ringa poetry form?” “Write about Mike’s daughter hiccupping during the reading,” “Kimberly wrote ‘whitewash will chalk your shirt’” Note: Over the weekend I bought some John Ashbery.

· Backstreet Quarterly, #5, Ray Foreman, Editor. Tell my friend Victoria about it.

· Grammar Done Right, by Karen L. Reddick, (2008). Never leaves my desk.

· Colorado Symphony Orchestra program from 11-22-08. I’ve started an article about my minute music listening vocabulary, prompted by the way my attention flickered while I listened to the orchestra perform Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major, Opus 100. Perhaps there’ll be another article prompted by a post-performance comment made by one of the violinists: “Some of us have decided that if we were going to be stranded on an island and could only take one CD, we’d take Prokofiev.” And maybe another article about how stupid I should feel for never having heard of Prokofiev prior to that night.

· My journal. (Duh, of course.)

· Never Summer: Poems From Thin Air, by Chris Ransick. (2005) Find out what the Denver Poet Laureate writes about.

· A Dream Decoder: Eight pages with dials to line up 800 keywords and their associations. Why? Because it’s pretty.

· Notes from Dan Poynter’s October presentation at Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

· Field Guide to Gestures: How to Identify and Interpret Virtually Every Gesture Known to Man, (2003), by Nancy Armstrong and Melissa Wagner. I’m wondering if it’s shelved under humor. Read it to find out.

· Ticket stub from Secret Life of Bees movie. There’s a note to myself on it: “Owe Krista.”

· Note on paper: “The guy in the real estate office across the hall from me is singing a song about qualifying buyers before selling them a home.” OMG! Same paper: “A squirrel just bumped into my window. Write about the Italian guy and the squirrel in La Crosse, WI. Write about the squirrel on Sherman Terrace in Madison, WI.”

· Photo: I’m standing at a blackboard in a college chemistry classroom pretending I’ve written all the equations that cover it.

· The One Minute Manager, (1983), Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson, M.D. Find out why this book was a “runaway #1 National Bestseller!” Find out why people still copy its hokey story-telling style. More important, why they read it.

· Bipolar Disorder: Insights for Recovery and Beyond Bipolar: 7 Steps to Wellness, both written by Jane Mountain, MD. Read again then post a review about them.

· Across the High Divide: Poetry, (2006), Laurie Wagner Buyer. Find the lines I misread while I recorded for RFB&D. I said “incontinent” when the word was “continent,” and it appeared during a love scene. Eww.

· My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile, (2003), Isabel Allende. She talks about testosterone in Chile’s air. Write about that.

· How To Really Know Yourself Through Your Handwriting, (1973), Shirl Solomon. This is the book that will not die. I’m probably its 8th owner. Comment on what she says makes up wit.

· And more.

Note to self: Ignore what the organizers say about my mind. Write about professional organizers.


No Boys Allowed

Dear Female Reader,

I demand that before February 15th, you walk, bike, drive, bus, or fly to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to see Girls Only – The Secret Comedy of Women, a hilarious two-women show about a bunch of “girl” stuff. GIRL stuff: expert dating advice from middle-schoolers, a “serious” breastfeeding video, teen diary entries, a shadow puppet show, a pantyhose ballet … and, my favorite, a demonstration of uses for leftover Kotex products (Halloween costumes? earmuffs? more?) I mean, who knew?

Girls Only isn’t high comedy ― whatever that is ― and it’s not bra burning militantism either; it’s women laughing through the ridiculousness of being alive and incidentally… female. You deserve to experience this show, so get moving and get to it!


A Candy Corn Conspiracy

Dear Reader, 41rjnftvvcl_sl500_ss100_12

While I focused on the United States’ economic future, alternative energy sources, and the health benefits of serving Tofurky roast with Thanksgiving dinner, candy distributors staged a candy corn shortage. They shut down candy corn silos, posted armed guards at their corporate gates, and left candy corn addicts to fend for themselves.

And they’re feeling it… bad.

Last week a “friend” of mine got so desperate she rifled through 10 King Sooper shopping carts full of Peeps, Mike and Ikes, masks, and other Halloween rejects, only to see a stray kernel of corn on the floor, which she scooped up and popped in her mouth. Then she scoured every aisle of Sprouts for the missing barrel of bulk candy corn that was parked by the checkouts the week before.

After that she went to Walgreens and accused the employees of holding out on her. She demanded they clear their Christmas candy displays and reveal their cache of candy corn. They refused. The same thing happened at Safeway and Target, but they escorted her to the door with a warning never to return. I’ve never seen her this desperate. Desperate.

And I’m so upset I hope the candy corn conspirators choke on their succulent wedges of corn syrup, sugar, honey, and food coloring. I hope they choke good.


Double-Featured Poets on Third Thursday, Forza Coffee Company

Dear Reader,

Go to Forza Coffee Company on November 20th and double your poetic pleasure by listening to featured poets J. Diego Frey and Michael J. Henry read from their newly released volumes of poetry. I’ve read poems by both poets, and I gotta say, “They’re marvelous.”

J. Diego Frey will read from Umbrellas or Else, his first volume of poetry.  He says he enjoys writing poetry that is enjoyable to read. He takes less pleasure in the writing of complex and impenetrable poems; hence much of his work is simple-minded and lightweight. Such is the nature of art. He is a product of suburban Colorado in the seventies, so take that into account as well and you should have a pretty good picture of what you can expect with this particular poet. Also, he likes talking about underpants, cheeseburgers, and the vagaries of mysterious chance. JD lives very near to Denver, CO, the site of his kidhood.
Michael J. Henry’s will read from his collection of poetry, No Stranger Than My Own, published by Ghost Road Press in October of 2008. Michael received an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, and an undergraduate degree in English from University of Rochester. He is co-founder and Executive Director of Lighthouse Writers Workshop. He teaches at Lighthouse and University of Denver. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared in places such as 5280 Magazine, Georgetown Review, Threepenny Review, Potato Eyes, Pleiades, and Rio Grande Review.


THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES: The Movie vs. The Novel

Movie Poster
Movie Poster

Dear Reader,

Does the movie The Secret Life of Bees reflect the novel it’s based on? Yes and no. Yes because all the characters are present, and Lilly and August are still main characters. And because there still is Lilly’s quest to unearth memories of her mother, and there are the bees, and bigotry and poverty and black men and women who defy stereotype. There’s even that line from the novel that stunned me: “Before coming here, my whole life had been nothing but a hole where my mother should have been…”

And no, the movie doesn’t reflect the novel. The Black Madonna’s significance in August and her sisters’ lives shows up as a comedic interlude rather than as a bubbling story that fully revealed toward the end of the novel. The bees are there, as I said, and August loves and respects them, but the perfect purpose of each bee’s life doesn’t shine the way it does in the novel.

Did the movie move me in the same the novel did? No, but I was moved – to tears – when Lilly (Dakota Fanning) confessed she was unlovable. I owe this to Fanning’s right-on acting in this scene. But, do I recommend that you, dear reader, see The Secret Life of Bees? Yes… and no.