Saturday, July 31, 2010

Printers' Ball Poster (Poem: Serenade)

I was unable to attend yesterday's Printers' Ball, the annual free Chicago literary extravaganza summer event that the Poetry Foundation sponsors, but I did participate in a way:  artist Jenny Beorkrem, the founder of Ork Inc., a poster design company, and I collaborated on one of the posters that was displayed at the event.  As part of this project, I selected one of my oldest and most straightforward poems, "Serenade," which I thought would be design-worthy, and this is what Jenny came up with.

The first image is the mock-up of the poster. Jenny wrote that she wanted to play with abstraction (though not because of Seismosis, which she looked at, she told me, after completing her design), and, I imagine, to convey some of the poem's rhetorical, lyric and narrative movement.  The refrain literally--as opposed to just figuratively--pops out:

And here is the final (my name was inadvertently left off the bottom, but the poem is copyrighted, so...):

If any readers attended the Printers' Ball, please do let me know how it turned out!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday TV News FAIL + New Animation(s)

Why on earth do I waste any time watching the Sunday morning and afternoon TV political shows?  If the definition of madness is doing something you know to be wrong again and again--

To give just one example, I stomached about two segments of Candy Crowley's CNN show State of the Union, by which I mean I was able to stomach two consecutive doses of hard-right-wing propaganda before I started commenting loudly back at the screen, and C suggested I turn it off. In the first, billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman and multimillionaire Steve Forbes represented the ideological range and diversity of opinions on the current economic crisis. As you might imagine, their responses to Crowley's non-sequiturs-as-questions had little to do with the reality of the world most of us live in. Zuckerman, on a "deficit" hysteria high, ranted about business leaders being very unhappy with (business-friendly) President Obama and the failure of the stimulus, and suggested that we needed fewer regulations so that businesses would be happy, and lower taxes for the "middle class" to turn things around, while Forbes suggested that we needed a three-year "moratorium" on the new health insurance reform bill and financial regulations, and of course, a continuation of the massive deficit-increasing W. Bush tax cuts, and like magic, the economy would be booming again. Oh, and both slammed Obama for the 9.5% unemployment rate, which resulted in part from businesses' "uncertainty," and not the fact that they were sitting on cash, that bailed out banks weren't lending, or that the vicious cycle of unemployment, tightened credit and financial distress meant no return to the consumerism of the last decade and a half.

Crowley noted that from her (wrong) understanding of economics, "raising taxes" (i.e., allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire) on the wealthiest Americans during a tough economic period like this would be the worst thing we could do, in line with and to the approval of Forbes, but Zuckerman, to his credit, disagreed with her and noted that in fact, the slightly increased tax burden on the rich wouldn't be that much of a burden, really, before quickly returning to his mantra of cutting the deficit and having fewer regulations. After several rounds of this, with Crowley offering no serious challenges to anything they were saying, including Zuckerman's non-response on rising foreclosures--he went on about the "bubble" and the failure of people to buy houses--she effusively thanked them for their expertise (!?), and then proceeded to her next guest, former Bush CIA director Michael Hayden, who, when questioned tepidly by Crowley about the host of deeply troubling allegations in the recent multipart Washington Post series by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, "Top Secret America," on the dangerously secretive, inefficient and possibly unconstitutional National Security-Military Industrial complex, graciously responded by emphasizing that an attack on Iran was "inexorable"....

I'm aware that quite a few people no longer watch these shows, and that they exist primarily to reinforce the echo chamber in Washington, but I guess that's what disturbs me most, that echo chamber effect and its ramifications on the policies that emanate from the White House and Congress. It's not enough that corporations, their lobbyists, and the megarich have the ears (and pockets and throats) of those in power, but they also have this self-reinforcing medium to propound and pound, day in, day out, their propaganda. One might argue that it does offer a window directly into what their aims and preoccupations are--more wars; more secrecy; more corporate socialism and wealth transfers to the rich; more shredding of the already threadbare social safety net; etc.--but the cynical and frustrating aspects of this include the inability to directly challenge them or force them to change course. And speaking of courses they're on, high among their priorities is slashing Social Security, with this President's and Congress's direct help.

And speaking about the successes of disaster capitalism, in Detroit, they're getting skilled labor for a song. Now, I ask you, did any of the GM or Chrysler executives pay back any of those bonuses or the compensation they received during the years they were running these companies into the ground?  Were they forced to, by the government, the courts or anyone else?

+ + +

Shifting gears, here're two newer animations, the first on soccer (I created it the night Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup), the second on the theme of art. And speaking of soccer, welcome Thierry Henry!



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wylie's seismic venture + Writers' homes + Better writing? Start blogging

It was only a matter of time before an agent took this step, and unsurprising to anyone deeply familiar with the Anglophone publishing world is the person who's done so: Andrew Wylie. Bypassing the major publishing houses, he's established a deal with Amazon to produce and publish ebooks, under a new imprint he's founded, Odyssey Editions, by some of the 700 authors under his representation, including some of the best known in the world, like John Updike, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Salman Rushdie. Odyssey will start with 20 ebooks, including Rushdie's award-winning Midnight's Children.

Publisher Random House, part of the Bertelsmann publishing conglomerate and print publisher of some of Updike's, Roth's and Rushdie's books, is so upset at Wylie's tack that they are refusing to conduct any new business on English-language books with the Wylie Agency. Other print publishers of his authors, like Simon & Schuster (part of CBS), and Penguin (part of Pearson), remain mum.

Quoting the article,

"The Wylie Agency's decision to sell e-books exclusively to Amazon for titles which are subject to active Random House agreements undermines our longstanding commitments to and investments in our authors, and it establishes this Agency as our direct competitor," Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum said in a statement.

"Therefore, regrettably, Random House on a worldwide basis will not be entering into any new English-language business agreements with the Wylie Agency until this situation is resolved."

Friday, July 09, 2010


Slowly but surely I'm learning new tricks with the iPad I inherited. In addition to drawings, I've now figured out how to create little animations, something I used to do years ago with a Gif builder program, though those ran on a continuous loop and were really images, whereas these are mini-movies, something I've wanted to create since I was small. They're crude, but I'm just learning how to use the software. Here are four: "Paul's World Cup"; "Music"; "Catness"; "Butterfly" (the very first one I did). Enjoy!

Paul's World Cup




Thursday, July 08, 2010

Congrats to C: First App, TrendTalk, at iTunes Store!

I finally can announce it: Congratulations to my partner C (CAC-IT!), whose first official iPhone/iPad/iPadTouch app, for MBF TrendTalk, is now available for free download at Apple's iTunes store!

This customized project required a tremendous amount of work, but C accomplished it, and now everyone with access to iTunes and three of Apple's best-selling products will be able to stay on top of the worlds of green fashion and design, by following one of the world's leaders in this area, MBF Trend Consulting!

Here's what the TrendTalk app looks like on the iTunes store:

And here's the link for you to download the app for free:


Click on the link to download and urge everyone you know to download it as well!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Blackberry-Blueberry Pie

I haven't posted any garden or food-related entries in a while, so here's one. Yesterday, C and I harvested some of the many blackberries, and the few raspberries, that were ripe, and then, for the holiday, I made a blackberry-blueberry-raspberry pie.  I'd never made one of these before; in the past we've eaten the blackberries and blueberries for breakfast, used them in smoothies, made blackberry mojito sorbets, and so forth, but yesterday I thought, why not try a pie? I tried Mark Bittman's recipes for the crust and the filling from How to Cook Everything, and think it turned out well. C agrees! The blackberries were sufficiently tart that they paired well with the sweetness of the blueberries and the sugar in the recipe, and the buttery crust. Photos (all by C or I):

Harvesting the blackberries (on a ladder)
Putting them in the collecting cup
The blackberries and blueberries
The blackberries divided up
Making the dough and rolling it out
Putting it in the Pyrex pie pan
Pricking the crust
Adding the berry filling
Adding the top strips
The finished pie, before baking
Putting the pie in the oven

The finished pie, from above
The finished pie!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

A little reminder (especially for that 26% of our fellow Americans who're unsure of who the US colonies declared independence from (hint: King George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, etc.). Of course not everyone living in the US was "free" or "independent" that day or for more than a century afterwards, and civil, political and economic equality are an ongoing problem, but....

Here is the complete text of the Declaration of Independence. The original spelling and capitalization have been retained.

Declaration of Independence
(Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776)

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776