Friday, March 31, 2006

Where Where These When I Was On the Street?

AOL News - City Uses Enlarged Ambulance to Handle Obese Patients

"The company recently put into service a $250,000 bariatric ambulance, which looks like its other 80 ambulances, but is extra-wide and has a larger gurney, a winch and ramps capable of loading up to 1,600 pounds.
Clark County spokesman Bob Leinbach called the need for the larger ambulances obvious.
"If you don't think it's needed, all you have to do is look around," Leinbach said. "Americans are heavier."
The county's other ambulance provider is awaiting delivery of a bariatric ambulance and recently bought four electric gurneys capable of handling patients weighing up to 750 pounds, said Matthew Cox, a spokesman for MedicWest Ambulance.
"There's less stress on the paramedics' backs and it's a better stabilizer for the patient," Cox said."

Amen......There's a reason I had to have 6 1/2 hours of spinal surgery that left me with very little feeling in my left leg and foot......this would be a big part of that reason.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bush and Blair and Plots and Ploys (or Where Oh Where Will That Pilot Come From?)

(excerpt from linked article)
Discussing Provocation
Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.
"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."
It also described the president as saying, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's W.M.D," referring to weapons of mass destruction.
A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea. these are my questions -

1. Isn't assassination illegal?
2. Aren't presidents liable for illegal acts under the law? (Never mind, I already know the answer to that one)
3. If we HAD painted a reconnaissance aircraft in U.N. colors, who were we going to get to FLY this aircraft while hoping it got shot out of the sky? Last I knew, the United States didn't HAVE suicide bombers on staff.
4. Where was this alleged "defector" supposed to come from? And how were "we" supposed to "find" him? And what W.M.D.'s was he supposed to report on - seeing as how there were none?
5. How many lies does a president have to tell before he gets called out on them?

I talked to my 82 year old aunt on the phone yesterday. She's a sweetheart who remembers more than I've ever known. Due to a physical disability she's bedridden and in a nursing home but her mind is as sharp as most 25 years olds - maybe sharper since she's got time and experience to back her up. In the course of the conversation she said to me, "You know, Laura, your Uncle John and I have been Republicans for all of our lives. I've never missed an election and I've always voted a straight ticket - but this Bush guy, he sucks, doesn't he?" and then she giggled and apologized for using the word "suck."

I figure if an 82 year old bedridden Republican woman from a small town in Indiana knows, we should all know.

So how come we don't?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Good New All Over the Place!!

This has been a good weekend for me. Not only did we go to my favorite casino in West Virginia and actually come home with cold green cash - I also received an acceptance from an anthology AND an encouraging request for submission from another anthology AND I've been "shortlisted" by an exclusive UK poetry magazine!! I won't mention names of the shortlist or the request because I'm a firm believer in the powers of "jinx" but I will tell you about the acceptance. Saturday morning I received a very nice, very funny letter from Dr. Neil Harding McAlister in which he accepted my poem "Vomiting Jonah" for inclusion in the second edition of "New Classic Poems" - contemporary verse which rhymes.

That's me!!! Not only am I alive, which makes me contemporary as hell, but I also rhyme most all the time! It's so very nice to have it recognized as occasionally important. There are so few poets who do so and many of those that do do it, do it badly and without regard for metrical accompaniment. As far as I'm concerned, there IS no good rhyme without meter holding it's hand. It's a lot like dancing without a partner.

Anyhow...the first edition of "New Classic Poems" is available as a PDF online here - - if anyone is interested in checking it out.

They are also still accepting submissions until April 30, 2006. If anyone is into "formal" verse, this might be a good opportunity to show your stuff to an editor who will appreciate your formality.

I'm also very excited about the "shortlist" poem. It's one of those poems which is one of my personal favorites, which I've had around forever, which everyone who reads it seems to love, but one which no editor has ever showed any interest in publishing. The magazine which shortlisted it is a very reputable and fairly exclusive one - and it would be my first foray into having my poetry published "across the sea." That alone would be accomplishment enough to make me smile for months.

Keep your fingers crossed. I'll find out sometime in early summer.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pipe Dreams it's not Clueless George....It's still fun!!


Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Please, Take Back The Sparrows"

Normally I do not like prose poems.....normally I hate prose poems. Today I am lifting my self-imposed ban on prose poems. Not only am I reading one, I am recommending one. (When I rescind something, even temporarily, I rescind it fully.)

For some reason this particular poem by Suzanne Buffam (whom I've never even heard of) hit me directly in the gut. There's not a thing in here which isn't true and concise and for prose poetry, it's quite baldly stated. It's stark, it's simplistic and it's profound in its stark simplicity. The ending is (to quote a fat-friend's favorite phrase about food) "to die for."

"They bathe in dust." How good is THAT?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Clueless George

Many thanks to Rebecca Loudon ( for this one!!

You can use your mouse to unstick him - personally I love the look on his face when he's stuck, though. (My friend, Tod, says you can throw him into the bubbles, as well. Leave it to a guy to figure that one out!)


Monday, March 20, 2006

Swift Satire Poetry Competition 2006

If there's any one particular brand of humor which totally tickles me and which I am totally incapable of producing - it's satire......biting and witty and well-written satire. It's a totally underappreciated form of poetry (and a totally sincere form of flattery) and it takes a special sort of skill to write it even half-way successfully - a skill I regrettably do not possess.

These people do, though, and some of them possess it in abundance. Don't take my word for it - check it out!! I've picked out my favorite, I'd love to hear yours. It's so much fun to pick a "winner" before the judges do.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Delirious Submissions

Sounds like a Harlequin Romance Novel, doesn't it? It isn't....what it is - is stupidity. And I have no one to blame but myself, although I will blame fever as the primary instigator and boredom as a secondary factor.

It's been four days now and I still feel like bird-turd. Still coughing, still aching, still sniffling and sneezing and not sleeping. My head hurts, my chest hurts, even my toenails hurt. I whine when I speak, I can hear myself. Poor Dan's getting pretty disgusted with the whine, as well as with all the various snotty sounds - to say nothing of the fact that he's not only got to drive himself to work and back, he also has to keep reheating the same lasagna over and over again if he wants to eat. Me, I'm just sucking popsicles, drinking tea and losing weight. Not a bad thing, normally, but I don't weigh all that much to begin with, and the bit of soft stomach that I'd like to loose is stubbornly staying put.

Interesting as all this is to you......I'll quit now. In a sudden fit of "Look, Dan, I'm actually sitting up" pride, I decided this morning that I would take advantage of the enforced down time to cull some poetry and do some submitting. And what did I do???? I sent things to The New Yorker. Of ALL places!!! What the HELL was I thinking? Was I thinking? (The correct answer here is "Obviously not.") The New Yorker is not going to like my stuff. The New Yorker doesn't even like the stuff of anyone whose stuff I like. I write rhyme - they seldom publish rhyme. I write short things - they like long things. I don't use simile or metaphor or descriptions - they like simile and metaphor and descriptions. I have no "Name" - they tend to publish nothing but Name.

Why do I even want to GET into The New Yorker? (Same reason I want to get into Poetry Magazine or Atlantic Monthly -- I am a masochist)

If I really want/need the validation that I obviously somehow think comes with being published in one of "those" places, the real question should not be "Why?" The real question should be: "Well then, what can I do to make them seriously consider me?" "Write the kind of poetry that they like" would be the practical answer. But what if that would mean writing poetry that I don't like myself? Is that even possible to do? Having never had the benefit of schooling, I've never learned the discipline that comes with being forced to write something I didn't want to write.

The New Freakin Yorker!!!!! Have I lost my mind????? Last month I sent a few things off to Poetry for their special humor issue.....I thought that was bad enough, but I do it every year and I get rejected every year and I'm kind of used to it by now so I did it again anyhow. But The New Yorker?????

You do know what this means, don't you?

If the words "Computer Generated Rejection Letter" come to mind, you win!!! I don't have a prize to offer, but I can share my flu if you like.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Can You Play "Name This Lawyer"????

Depending on her motives, this woman has either failed miserably or succeeded wildly. If nothing else, she's proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that women in politics can be every bit as stupid and as dangerous as a man. Any idea yet of who she is? Try here:

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Better Late Than Never

Sorry it's taken me so long to say of the "kitty babies" became deathly ill on Saturday and the entire weekend was consumed by cat puke, cat poop, visits to the Cat ER, Cat-IV fluids, and it still ended up with the resultant and dreaded - Cat Coma. As he miraculously became better on Monday morning, I became ill myself....damn the flu, anyhow. So it's all cough-cough-cough and hack-hack-hack and muscle aches and bone aches and feverish deliriums. Kitty-Baby is returning the nursing favor, though, so at least I'm not laying in bed dying alone....he's loyally laying there next to me tearing up the kleenex box and trying to drink my 7Up.

Anyhow....drop by here: and say "Congratulations" to Rob on a job well done.

News like that just rocks.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Going Out Of Hope Sale

"Catholic Charities stuns state, ends adoptions "

Well damn - talk about "washing your hands" of the whole thing.

For 103 years, Catholic Charities of Boston has always been the one consistent ray of hope for hard-to-place, orphaned and/or abandoned Catholic foster children in the Boston area as well as for the responsible birth parents who understand (for whatever reason) that they are ill-equipped to raise a child but are deeply concerned that their child be given the best possible chance at a good home with strongly committed Catholic parents.

Apparently the good Bishops of Mass. have summarily overridden the lay board of The Catholic Charities of Boston, thrown a self-righteous, pseudo-religious hissy fit, cut off their children to spite their gays, and decreed that they will no longer be in the business of providing hope to orphans, their birth parents, any of their wanna-be-parents, or to society in general if it means they must also provide hope to a small group of prospective adoptive (and gasp!) homosexual parents as well.

Why does John 8:7 come to mind? You know the one. It starts out with "Let he who is..." and ends with "...cast the first stone." Maybe it's too old to be of any value in today's modern world....maybe it only applies to Pharisees and not to bishops....maybe people ought to clean their own house before they go passing judgement on the cleanliness of others....oh wait, that brings us right back to the aforementioned and probably outdated John 8 again, doesn't it? When will I ever learn?

Friday, March 10, 2006

New Link

It is always a pleasure to hear that people are reading your blog. I am always amazed and delighted to find out that it is so. I am especially delighted when a previously unknown blogger takes the time to write me an email requesting reciprocal links. Unfortunately, unless I think that a majority of people reading will be interested in what they have to offer, I just can't bring myself do it. How grand it is, tho, when someone asks you and you're not only surprised by the request, but pleased and honored as well.

If you've got a minute (or two or ten, since literally everyone seems to be in Austin this weekend) drop by John Baker's site.

John is a novelist and short story writer from the UK who manages to be both an interesting and informative blogger - and that's a killer combination in my book.

Check him out. I sincerely doubt you'll be sorry.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Birthday Headlines for Joe

Ugh...what kind of a world am I leaving for my children to inherit?





Gitmo Prosecutor Denies Detainees Tortured (but he can see why some investigative techniques could be viewed that way.)

Happy Freakin' Birthday, Joseph.....from a world gone to hell and a mother driven to despair.

I'm sorry, Son, I really am. You don't know this part of me, but I once marched and chanted and passed out flowers in a Chicago park and got gassed by orders of a Democratic mayor. I was much younger than you are now when all this took place. You see, I was a part of the "Baby Boomer" generation....We were the generation that was going to "make a difference." We fought and marched (and a few of us died) for freedom, for peace, for civil rights, for woman's rights, for the rights of children, for the rights of the physically and mentally handicapped, for animal rights, for liberty, for justice, and for honesty. We railed against Lyndon Johnson, against The Viet Nam War, against segregation, against prejudice, against political corruption and cover-up. We were Anti-War and Pro-Choice. We fought to take specifically-based religious prayers out of the public schools and put back into the churches where they rightfully belonged. We were all about freedom of religion and human rights. We lobbied for sex education, not only in the home but also in the school. We supported the belief that all women had the right to make an educated personal choice in the way they kept their bodies through the use and the teaching of ALL birth control methods, not just the abstinance method that is federally funded today. We supported Roe VS Wade, we campaigned for Jimmy Carter, we campaigned against Richard Nixon, we demonstrated for an end to the Viet Nam war, we called for justice to be served in memory of the victims of Mai Li, we argued for the humane treatment of our own incarcerated population, we argued against the death penalty and for rehabilitation. And when it came to prisoners of war, well, we then believed in The Geneva Convention. We set up clinics and shelters for the mentally ill, for the physically ill, for the poor, for the homeless and for the hungry. Some few of us joined the SDS, many, many more of us joined The Peace Corps.

If you look at the majority of the Baby Boomers who are currently running this country, the ones who are making the rules, the ones who are voting (or not voting, as the case may be) for those people who do do those things, you'd never know it, but once upon a time some of those people truly believed in the concepts of freedom for everyone and that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were inalienable for all of us.

We were the children of Camelot and we thought we were winning.....until we grew up and somehow turned into the very machine we had raged against....and from the sounds of today's headlines, we've not only become that machine, we're well on our way to perfecting it.

Happy Birthday, Joey, from your mom - one of the few remaining imperfections.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I've Forgetten

how strange I can appear at times. Actually, like all good little weirdo's, I don't really think I'm strange at all. I'm ok with that. I don't suppose being different is all that much to brag about in most places, and I remember enough feelings of uncomfortableness during my formative years that I try to keep a big wide space between the "benignly strange" and the "dangerously weird" in my life and in my personality.

It helps that I'm fairly reclusive, I'm sure. I don't go out much and so I'm not constantly having to face my differences or to compare my lifestyle with the lifestyles of others. I know that poetry is considered "weird" in many circles, but I stay out of that loop for the most part, and when I'm in it, I know enough to keep my mouth shut and my smile fixed. Dan will occasionally push the issue and tell his friends or some work-type acquaintance that I'm a "poet" but he's aware that it bothers me and he's fairly careful to keep it light and not let anyone press the issue with either of us. He's much more apt to show my work to people than I am. I've gotten used to it, but I'll never be comfortable with it.

Occasionally, tho, I'll be reminded that the things I take for granted in my life - the things I enjoy, the conversations I have - they are not considered "normal" by even other abnormal people...such as the "poetry people" I know and admire.

Case in point - I recently workshopped a poem here on Eratosphere:
Four out of eleven people remarked on the unlikelyhood of people in a relationship waking up and talking about God in the morning. I agree with many of the other comments - "unshaven skin" does NOT keep the cold from creeping in.....cold always "creeps in" and so to baldly state it in a poem is redundancy supreme...."comparision" is not only rhyme-driven, it's just plain wrong......but the part where people had trouble with the AM conversation - well, that part threw me. Am I to take it, then, that people do NOT routinely wake up and discuss God over coffee and bagels? Is this one more way that I am "different" and somehow flawed? Or, looking at it from my point of view, (always dangerous) am I just uncommonly lucky that Dan is willing and able to bypass the usual "car needs gas" and "we're almost out of milk" conversations and move right on into the interesting stuff? It helps that he has a major in Religion, I'm sure....there's not a question I can come up with that he can't answer...and it also helps that he's a non-practicing Jew who has no trouble believing in his faith, yet some difficulty believing in God and I'm a lapsed Catholic who has no dificulty believing in God but all kinds of trouble with organized faith. The truth is, we DO wake up some mornings (many mornings, in fact) and discuss God-ism...and creationism and Darwinism and Buddhism and Judaism and Catholicism and every other "ism" we know of. We discuss, we argue, we rant, we rave, we laugh and we snarl over these things regularly. It's nice....I enjoy it. I had all those years where the conversations that filled the entire day went something like "Don't forget your key, I'm on call today" and "Damn it, don't you let that cat outside again" and "Mom, we need milk, bread, cereal, money, etc etc" I realize that I am at that point in life where I don't have to be consumed by all those little details that make up marriage and parenthood, but still....don't other people in other relationships talk about God in the morning? Is there a better time? A more proper time? Is it the morning hour itself that caused a problem or the conversation in general?

It's perfectly natural here in the Halberstein/Heidy household. The following books are on Dan's nightstand - " Where God Was Born" by Bruce Feiler, "The Holocaust Chronicle" by Publications International and an often-read and favorite Bible which I borrow all the time. On my side of the bed, you'll find "To Heal a Fractured World - The Ethics of Responsibility" by Rabbi J. Sacks and "The Celestine Prophecy" by James Redfield. (There's also a copy of Cosmo and one of Glamour as well, but we won't talk of them right now.) The downstairs bookshelves are filled to overflow with books on religion - from a dozen books on the Crusades and the Knight-Templars to several dozen different historical books, written both in English and in Hebrew, to a well-worn copy of the Quran and a King James version of the bible with the New Testament included. Why would we not speak of our interests in the morning? Isn't that what people DO in the morning when there's time? And if there isn't time, and the questions are important, don't they MAKE the time?

If this is strange behaviour, let me paraphrase St. Augustine and say "Lord, make me normal, but just not yet."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oh Where Oh Where Has that Sestina-Thing Gone?

I am unsure about leaving poems up for any length of time. I never intend to submit poetry, but inevitably, I end up forgetting my good intentions and doing so anyhow. Because it seems to be considered "previously published" to have appeared on a blog (but not in an internet workshop which deletes after a certain time limit) I'm happier just putting it up for a few days (usually under 3) and then removing it. I seldom post the finished version. This particular sestina underwent major renovation in the last 24 hours or so. I'm almost happy with it, although, truthfully, I'm never really happy with anything. Close enough to consider it "finished", however, and that's an accomplishment. There's not much market for sestina - other than McSweeneys. I've submitted there once before and received back the sweetest rejection letter I've ever gotten. Maybe I'll try them again. I'd like to send them Dan's sestina, as well. He and I used the same end words and each told the respective stories of our first divorces. I love the contrast of the two of them side-by-side - the similarity of the form, the exactness of the identical end words and the screaming differences of the tales and the tellers themselves. How very very versatile the English language is. How absolutely amazing that his world and mine somehow collided. Life is almost as strange as poetry.....and infinately more interesting.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006