Friday, November 18, 2011

a hobby that got a little out of hand (Friday's Sunday's Poem/ Hot People.)

Pizza: A student's dietary challenge - a googlism poem

by Frances Simon

Pizza is a slice of life
like mother's milk,
moist and funny-

The crust is where it's at,
the outer most layer
a brittle solid-

Sauce is the art and essence,
key to success,
a sheer rumor-

Cheese is the source of all,
the secret to what it is
a thing of beauty-

Toppings are the quality of their naturalist staff,
an informally organized partnership,
a hobby that got a little out of hand-

Pizza is food for mind and body.


About the poem: So many thoughts, tumbling over themselves in my mind like Happy Kung-Fu ClamsTM, so let's get to them.

One of the first things I heard on the news this morning was that pizza is now a vegetable, according to the government, and while some (me) might have heralded that as a sign of the apocalypse, others (also me) might have rolled over in bed and said "Did you hear that? Pizza is a vegetable. Which means I'm the healthiest person I know. I'm going to eat vegetables for breakfast."

To celebrate, I then went looking for poems about pizza, which I figured there had to be, and there were, as shown by this poem, which is about pizza.

But then I got intrigued by that title, and that this is a "Found Poem," because I didn't know "Found Poems" were even a thing, but apparently they are.

The poet, when she posted the poem, said this:

A found poem is a poem that is composed of words encountered in random situations such as on signs or overheard from other people's conversations. This poem is written with the assistance of It is the digital equivalent of a found poem.

That amazed me, because without ever knowing that there was such a thing as found poems I had once done (and kind of gotten away from doing) something I called the found alphabet, which I should really get back to, but anyway, found poetry is a thing. From

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.

Examples of found poems can be seen in the work of Blaise Cendrars, David Antin, and Charles Reznikoff. In his book Testimony, Reznikoff created poetry from law reports, such as this excerpt:

Amelia was just fourteen and out of the orphan asylum; at her
first job--in the bindery, and yes sir, yes ma'am, oh, so
anxious to please.

She stood at the table, her blond hair hanging about her
shoulders, "knocking up" for Mary and Sadie, the stichers
("knocking up" is counting books and stacking them in piles to
be taken away).

Which is also amazing because I can make poetry out of stuff I see at work and I am TOTALLY going to do that now, and also because I actually did this myself without knowing it was a thing.

AND I did it almost exactly two years ago to the day: Back on November 12, 2009, I posted "A Mandolin For Your Thoughts," a "found poem" -- my words I used without knowing that it was some kind of official poet thing -- that I'd made up entirely of words underlined by the prior reader of the book Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Which all more or less confirms that I'm a genius, which I knew, but coming on top of the fact that I've been eating Congressionally-approved vegetables daily, and in light of the fact that I'm leaving work at 1:30 today, makes this perhaps one of the most awexome Friday's ever.

And which just leaves me wondering what googleism is, and so I looked it up and here's what it is:

Googlism is some thing that will find out what Google thinks of you, according to the Googlism site. I don't know what that means, so I put my name in for a trial run, and got this:


Way to bring me down, Googlism. Seriously. I was having a great day, and then bam! You lowered the boom. You know what? I don't know YOU. There. How's that feel?

I'm going to go eat some vegetables to cheer me up.

About the Hot People: I said last week that anyone can nominate anyone for the Hot Actress post, and Rogue Mutt went for the jugular with Betty White, who, as annoying as it has been to have to live through her late-career resurgence (I don't mind Betty White; I do mind that she was suddenly everywhere and that all people could talk about was Betty White, but I mind that whenever it happens to anyone, so I wasn't being a rabid antibettywhiteite) is not actually unattractive for a 133-year-old woman; if I look like that when I am her age...

...well, I'll be surprised, because I'm a man, but you get the drift. So I suppose in her way, Betty White is okay, but I think you have to agree with me, it was overdone there for a while, making her a triskadekagenarian version of James Franco. She's settled back down now and we've heard less of her, which is about the level of fame she should have.

Want to see your own Hot Actress/Hot Actor/Hot Who- or What-Ever? Leave a comment and pick one; I'm going to work through all the suggestions by posting two per Friday's Sunday's poem, so here's the one suggested by Erin O'Riordan to close out the post:

And here's my favorite song ever by Christian Bale, sort of:


If I remember to do that, I mean.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

If you think the way I do, you will inevitably end up super-rich. You'll see why. (Question Of The Day)

How happy are clams, really?

Not very, judging by that. And, yes, I know that Marcel is not a clam, unless he is, in which case, I'm right and you're wrong, but it doesn't matter anyway because seashells can't really talk, and I would know the difference also if I'd followed through on the very first career I ever planned to have -- oceanographer -- but I didn't which is why right now I'm sitting and wearing jeans and a t-shirt and typing on my blog while I wait to drive up to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to take a deposition and then drive back home, meaning that 90% of my work day will consist of "driving and listening to podcasts," which isn't a bad life because while oceanographers get to be outside in the sun and surf, my worst occupational hazard is carpal tunnel syndrome while oceanographers' is sharks.

The other day, I tucked Mr F into his bin of blankets in his closet (long story)(actually not-- it's pretty self-explanatory) and said "There. Happy as a clam." That made me think two things:

1. Why didn't I go with snug as a bug in a rug? What's wrong with me? and
2. Why do we assume that clams are happy, or edible?

According to the site "The Phrase Finder," which ought to know, the expression "happy as a clam" comes from one of two sources: Either it's because clams look like they are smiling

I suppose, a little, but that could also be a clam being aghast

Or it could be a clam pirating the superfamous emoticon I invented, "Righteous Indignation":

You can see the similarities there, right? The point of that being, I'm going to have to sue clams for copyright infringement. *cracks knuckles, mutters 'let's do this thing'* .

Those people at that phrase site disregard the Smiling Clam idea and instead say that the expression actually comes from the phrase Happy as a clam at high tide, which is when clams are free from predators, they say, and they trace that expression back to 1844, which makes me wonder, then, why a clam? Why opt to talk about clams being happy because they're free from predators? Why wouldn't the expression be happy as fox when the hounds are asleep, which would be perfectly serviceable? Was it because we already assigned foxes slyness in the animal emotions world and all animals only get one emotion?

(E.g.: Dogs: friendly. Chickens: fearful. Pigs: lazy. Cows: inanimate. Wabbits: wascally.)

And, people who investigate phrases, maybe both versions are true: maybe people thought clams looked happy, and asked themselves why clams were so happy, and then decided that it was because of high tide, and the tide coming in made them happy. Who knows? They were very simplistic people back then, not all sophisticated like we are now.

Pioneers, as I've noted, were reputed to have hard lives, what with typhoid and small pox and Indian attacks and railroads, and... um... sod houses. Whatever. They were reputed to have hard lives but in reality they sat around reading magazines about kids being taught stuff by guys in an alley behind a hotel, and now we find out that they had nothing better to do than sit around and discuss the emotional lives of clams, which, it turns out, actually exist: Clams have emotional lives.

Provided, of course, that (a) you mean by "emotional lives" "having nerves" and (b) you are willing to take the word of a bunch of people on a chat room debating whether or not fish and clams have feelings. Everytime I feel as though maybe I'm not living such a productive life, what with the driving and podcasting and all, I remind myself that I didn't spend a bunch of time creating a web forum to debate whether clams have feelings.

(Of course, I did once ask a web forum to tell me what might go wrong with my eating a 100-day-old Twinkie, but the web forum did not respond; also not responding? Doctor and The Medics, who never answered my email asking that same question.)

The web forum answer about The Secret Lives Of Clams that I liked best was this demonstration of scientific rigor:

Clams do respond to stimuli, but that doesn't nessecarily mean that they can "feel" anything. You can build simple robots with good wiring that makes them respond to stimuli in a similar way to clams (having said that, i don't know if anyone's done a wiring diagram of a clam before, they might be more complex than i think - im no expert). I would expect that you'd need something a lot more complex than that, more like a brain, in order to have anything close to sentience (however, clams taste disgusting and are hardly an important part of a diet, so i like to use the excuse of being a vegetarian to just steer away from the things regardless!).

That is the single-most-helpful thing a scientist has done for me all day: declared that clams are disgusting. Now I have science backing me up, so everyone who believes that velociraptors actually existed also has to believe that clams are disgusting. Believe one, believe 'em all. That's my motto.

As always, though, with science, we have to go back to music to answer all the hard questions. So here's "Clams Have Feelings, Too" by NOFX:

A little thrashy for me. I like this better:

That's "Do The Clam" by Elvis Presley. That seems to me to not give a conclusive answer to the question, so I went for a tiebreaker by trying to find the classic song "Surf Clam" by The Mel-Tones. Only I couldn't find it, so I settled for "Kung Fu Saturdays" by that group:

From which I conclude that clams can do kung fu, and that we all probably should be afraid of them because, I also learned, clams can move:

And so it's probably not very much longer until we are all besieged by Happy Ninja Clams, which is the name of the cartoon series I am now going to pitch to the Disney Network and I will be a bajillionaire, which is a real number of dollars to have, and I'm going to have them. See you suckers later!

UPDATE: I realized why that sounds like a bajillion dollar idea: It's because there are already Ninja Turtles. But the pre-existing ninjas are not happy, and they are not bivalves. So, in a way, it's like my idea doesn't infringe on that idea at all. And if it makes you happy, I will change it to
Happy Kung-Fu Clams, which equally rips off the ninja turtles and Hong Kong Fooey, and if I know anything about the law, the rule is that if you rip off everybody equally, you've ripped off nobody. *crosses fingers, hopes nobody sues him for anything written in this post.*

(You can buy that Righteous Indignation t-shirt here