Welcome to the middle path

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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Cleaning Up-- revelations of Icelandic poem and first letters

A little deconstruction for those of you who played the poet games.
The Icelandic poem was by the prolific and brilliant author and songwriter Sjón.  It's a beauty.

(night of the lemon)

mist from the sea
the streetlights grew bigger
a lantern shone in every drop
on my spectacles
we sat out on the balconies
and sliced lemons
threw the slices away
so they covered the street
eye to eye
in the night

(of the lemon)

The first letter poems are (P) Prayer, by Galway Kinnell
and (WIMJ) What's In my Journal by William Stafford.  Both are worth looking up.

And now we go back to our regular programming.  But first, listen to Kinnell's counsel to a student, despondent over a broken heart.  There's something there for all sorts of broken hearts.

Monday, January 30, 2012

January 31st Challenge: Le Grand Finale'-- 10en20!

 Oh, it's been a good ride, chitlins.
    We made it 30 out of 31 days, enough to please the Wabi-Sabi gods, who are offended when we pretend to approach perfection.
     I'm looking forward to sending your prizes, so please email your address (infoATjanasvobodaDOTcom) if you haven't already.
    For the final day of our creativity challenge, write 10 poems in twenty minutes.  Don't obsess except about beating the clock.  If you don't want to post all of them. leave what you will in the comment section.  If you're just feeling shy, e them all to me if you like and I'll keep them virtual and unseen.

 ----------------drum roll----------------------THE TITLES-------------------drum roll--------------------

1)  Bad Food
2)  Before I Was Married
3)  My Secret Superpower
4)  Shower Song
5)  Splendor in the Mass
6)  Remote Vibe
7)  Bug in a Jar
8)  Test Your Mettle
9)  Us and the Raft
10)  Icelandic Poetry

I'll miss your creativity.  If any of you want to continue on a yahoo group, e me and we'll get it going on.  Play is an underrated virtue.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 30th Challenge

Titles for the 10en20 are going a little slow.  Hope you found some Sunday creativity.
I'll hold out for 10en20 for our finale' day on Tuesday. 

Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.  --Robert Brault

Here's an easy Monday challenge:  Practice some uncommon courtesy.
Looking forward to hearing what you did.

Lots of resources linked below should you need a little guidance.

Jimmy Daggett's daily kindness challenge blog (not updated in a while, but scroll on down when you get there for good ideas).

February 13-19th is National Acts of Kindness week.  Gear up here.  

From last year's challenge list:  Be generous (it needn't be with money).

100 Kindness ideas from another Kind Blog.

Another list from LifeHack.

Today's video:

Friday, January 27, 2012

January 28 Challenge: Design a Restaurant (and prep for Sunday challenge)

Canned biscuit  et al special:
If this is on the menu, I won't be there.
Here's a free-ranging way to exercise your imagination this weekend:  design your fantasy eatery.  It can be anything from a coffee-shop to a five-star, and you can go as far with it as you want.  What's the name?  The menu?  The decor and the vibe?  What will it be known for and who will be a loyalist customer?

ALSO:  HEAD'S UP FOR SUNDAY'S CHALLENGE, which requires a little advance planning.  We'll be doing 10en20s-- ten poems in twenty minutes.  Sounds like pressure, but in a way, it's not at all-- because if you get one you like out of it, gravy!  A good poem in 20 minutes.  And if you hate them all, you've just exorcised ten bad poems and wasted very little time in the offing.  The poems are meant to be short, three or four lines.  But we're not sticklers for rules, as long as you're honest about the time limit.    Submit your titles in the comment section below or e me through the contact link.
My title:  Bad Food.  

We need nine more.  If they aren't on by noonish Sunday, I'll supplement.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 27 Challenge: Fragment Poem

This one is stolen straight from the old poet game I poetrix'd on the web year ago.  Thanks to St. Louie poet/musician Chris King for letting me cut and paste for today's challenge.

charmed, i'm sure
Orhan Veli, the Turkish poet through whom Jana found me (and eventually
Stefene), died with an unfinished poem found wrapped around his toothbrush.
His title was "Love Parade" and it's just that, a parade of all of his
lovers. (Of course, the song we wrote from it is called "Love Poem Found
Wrapped Around the Dead Poet's Toothbrush", couldn't resist.)

Anyway, several lines and almost one whole verse are lost because of
wrinkles and stains from the poem being wrapped around that damn toothbrush.
This is all of the verse from the stanza about the third lover that Defne
Halman and I could translate:

....... go out
....... hang out in the neighborhood
....... in spite of
....... side by side, the walls would be written
....... in the places of fire

So the game is to write a poem about your third lover, however you want to
count them, making use of these pieces of language. The tripple gainer
version would be a five line poem where the lines end with these phrases
(that's how Orhan Veli reads), though I may take the belly flop option and
just use them some way some how in a poem of a different length. Have fun!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 26th-- Exhuming that Obscure Object of Desire

new game.  fun with friends but virtual will do.  from A Book Of Surrealist Games, and I encourage you to support our tenuous economy and dirthery of poetry by purchasing one for all those you love.

someone, name an object.
ok-- not that i don't trust you but for expediancy,
i will name the object, by looking about this room.

the object is:

candle-less silver candlestick

now, in 15 minutes or less, answer the following questions:

1. what is the weather of the object?

2. what religion does it follow?

3. what language does the object speak?

4. what is the secret desire of the object?

5. what is the recurring nightmare of the object?

6. where should the object be placed on the woman, sleeping?

7. describe the temperament of the object on tuesdays.
herrings and accordions, indeed

8. how has the object failed?

9. how does the object instruct us in living?

10. who despises the object?

11. who provides steady companionship?

12. why is the object afraid?

13. with whom is the object competing?

14. what is the object's favorite treat?

15. who pleads the case for the object?

16. what laws are broken by the object?

17. what is the sin of the object?

18. how does the heart of the object get restless?

19. how does one befriend the object?

20. how does one kill the object?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January 25 Challenge: Create Your Character for Our Play

We're writing a play, plot to be announced as it thickens.

Your job:  create a character and give a brief but clear description.  Then write 3-5 lines of dialogue for your character, with stage directions as appropriate.

1 week left to get your January challenges in!

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 24th Challenge: Be a Vague Scientist

...and proud.

 Did I mention (like, 300 times now) that I am an info junkie?  Thanks to the web, I think my periodicals are currently down to less than 2 dozen subscriptions.

One of my favorites is the UK's New Scientist-- the weekly "People"-type magazine for geeks, full of byte-size articles one can peruse in those 5 minutes, say,  between appointments.  New Scientist was recently lovingly (!) parodied by cartoonist Stephen Collins in London's  Guardian newspaper.  I am sure they will let me know if I am violating any fair use by showing you the fab strip here:Stephen Collins: Stephen Collins: Vague scientist
Did you know Starfish are the chief source of global warming?
To be on the safe side, at least visit Collin's or the Guardian website and heck, subscribe or patronize their advertisers or something.

Right, the challenge.
In Vague Scientist Style, list a few sketchy headlines, give an abstract for an ersatz study, explain some phenomena ala Dr. Science (He Knows More Than You Do!),  etc.  You get the vague drift, eh?

And while you are at it, how about joining me in a PR blitz to bring New Scientist production editor Mick O'Hare to this part of the pond?  He's got lots of books to sell full of fascinating scientific odditiy ponderings (see list below), and he's a really good guy and I owe him a present which I can't seem to get together to mail to the UK.  So bring him here, and maybe while he's at it, he can explain to me exactly why those Kardashian woman are so famous. Now THERE's a mystery.

Titles worth perusal, edited by ex-rugby turned science reporter O'Hare, cut and pasted from that font of truthiness Wikepedia.  These make great Groundhog day gifts.
  • Does Anything Eat Wasps? and 101 Other Questions, translated into German language
  • How to Fossilise Your Hamster: And Other Amazing Experiments for the Armchair Scientist
  • Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions
  • The Last Word: Vol 1, Mick O'Hare, illustrated by Spike Gerrell
  • The Last Word: More Questions and Answers on Everyday Science Vol 2, Mick O'Hare, illustrated by Spike Gerrell
  • Do Polar Bears Get Lonely? And 101 Other Intriguing Science Questions
  • How to Make a Tornado: The strange and wonderful things that happen when scientists break free
  • Why Can't Elephants Jump? And 113 More Science Questions Answered
PR nudges could be sent to:  The Person In Charge of Mick And His Schedule, c/o info@profilebooks.co.uk

I lost at pinball tonight.  Hey, all that shrieky lackering was very distracting.  Cheer me up with some entries in the comment section, will ya?
Off to the salt mills,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 23rd Challenge: Mindless Monday-- Introduce a New Slang Word

How long does it take to get a new expression into the daily lexicon?  Seems like only yesterday I'd never heard of chillaxing, LOLing, and bromances.   And if I never heard them again, that would be ok too...
Bill:  no square-ass.

My dad, a bit of a Beatnik back in the day, claimed this fall to have been the genius behind the phrase "square-ass," which I suppose meant anyone not as hip as he was.  I don't think it quite made it as big as ROLF, but it's got a good ring to it.

What's your word?  What's it mean?  Drop it into conversation, status or tweets today.  Super bonus points if anyone repeats it later. 

Hope it's qual jinks (excellent material).


January 22 Challenge: Micro Fiction

I'm slogging off to a late start,  and here I was going to give you something a bit more toothy for a lazy, rainy (at least here) Sunday.

Give it a shot anyway.  And I'll make Monday easy so you can catch up.

Write a Micro Short Story.  A paragraph to a page is all you need, but it's a short story, so it should have a plot in there somewhere: a little conflict, character, theme, what have you.

If you need inspiration, there are several microfiction web sites as well as books.  I'm a fan of the Flash Fiction series, edited by James Thomas et al.  Need more guidance?  This site has good information even if a really lousy webpage aesthetic (sorry, bud).

January 22 post: Count Your Blessings

Hmm-- I'm slacking a bit

Saturday, January 21, 2012

January 21st Challenge: Name Your Superpower

Congratulations!  You're a superhero.  What's your power, name, costume?

 (It's Brevity Day).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 20th Challenge: Belatedly Piercing The Darkness

What dark, wet days.  According to the calender, we're "more than halfway through the darkness now" (as Doctor Who said).  I think it's going to be a while before it seems that way.  

Apparently January 17th was a Pierce The Darkness Day.  Sadly, I just found out about it, but I figure it's never too late to lighten things up, especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest in the winter.  

Your job:   leave a note of encouragement.  See below.

By the by:  doubtful it'll happen, considering the landslides and flooding, but I'm supposed to be on the coast this weekend at a remote place.  Unlikely I'll have internet access.  If you don't see a post on here by Saturday afternoon, your challenge is this:  Post a challenge for us.

WORLDWIDE EVENT: It's happening wherever YOU ARE AT!! January's event is super easy: Leave a Note. On January 17th, take 30 seconds to write an encouraging note on a piece of paper. Leave it anonymously somewhere that someone who needs it can find it - and let destiny do the rest!

On top of a stack of cans in the grocery store? Post-it note on the bathroom mirror at work? Written on the back of your bill at a restaurant? Scribbled on a napkin and left on a bench? Scrawled on a piece of notebook paper and slipped into the locker of someone you don't know? Yes, yes, yes! All of these are perfect. The idea is to make someone smile, give them hope, encouragement...and pierce the darkness that has overcome our world.

The purpose of Piercing the Darkness is to help be a source of light in the world in these times of darkness. We do easy, simple things that help others feel a little better, and in turn, we feel a little better, too. It's a baby step towards bringing light back into this perpetually darkening world.

Each month, we have a small, simple event. Something super easy that anyone can do, anywhere in the world, to make the world a lighter, brighter place. Please join us as we spread joy, hope and love - and invite your friends and family, too! And to be invited to future events, please "Like" our page, and join our Group!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 19th Challenge: Create A New Fortune Telling System

Admittedly, this fish is apropos of nothing at all.

Huh.  Forgot to post my rules.  These are oft repeated in my office, and when I follow them, I am a happier gal.  

1)  Don't Suffer In Advance.  If what you dread doesn't happen, you suffered for nothing. If it does, you suffered twice.

2)  Putting off what you dread means hell to pay-- with interest.

3)  Neither indulge nor deny.When in doubt, take door number two:  the middle path.  

4)  These things are good-- make sure to get enough:  sleep, nature, play, sunshine, connection.

5)  Kindness counts.

On with the games!
There's a sucker born every minute, and here's your chance to cash in.  Develop a new method for divination based on whatever you like-- foot shape, month-plus-day of birth number, dog breed ownership.  Describe at least two of the variants.

For example:
Did you know you can tell a lot about a person by their apple preference?  

art thou vexing these  goodly rotten apples?
Red Delicious lovers are conservative by nature if not by vote.  They tend to collect their pennies, have overstuffed sofas, and prefer novels with tidy endings. They are better at geometry than algebra, and are attracted to persons with shiny, fluffy hair.  They are both extroverted and anxious in crowds, and may suffer frequent dyspepsia.  

Granny smith lovers enjoy a good jigsaw puzzle but get way too much thrill from the crime news.  Flat feet and high dental arches are common.  They are very quick at assessing trustworthiness in others, and like to pay off their credit cards monthly.  Common magazine subscriptions are Sunset and Consumer's Digest.

Go have some fun now, Friday we're starting a day late and a dollar short on an international quest to deliver notes of encouragement throughout the world..  Apparently the grand universal send out was yesterday, but as creativy deeds exist outside of ordinary time/space vortex, we'll do just fine,  We're perfectly capable of starting our own happy revolution of encouraging surprises, gentle anarchy style.
But wait, there's more!  We've got ten en twenties, sound poems, ephemeral sculptures, object games, thank you notes, and self-portraits just around the corner.  The Grand Prize box is BURSTING at the seams to come to your house,  And each day a precious few minutes less on the dark side-- give it creative due in encouragement.   Stayed turned for details.
Not comments section following RIGHT BELOW so you can add on your Creator swag and be emulated and encourage others.


keeo your dial turned to the middle path for details.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 18th Challenge: Bad Country Jukebox

Nice bunch of rules-- don't quit now.  You can continue to add to the posts all month long by clicking on the "comment" link below each.
Wednesday's challenge:   Bad County Western Song Titles.  Bonus points for writing a verse or more to go with them.
Here's a few real song titles to get you in the mood:
"Her Teeth Were Stained, But Her Love Was Real"
"She's Got Freckles On Her But (t-- I Love Her)"
"How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?"
"You Can't Have Your Kate (and Edith Too)
"How Could You Believe Me When I Told You That I Loved You (When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life)"
"I Changed Her Oil, She Changed My Life"
"Drop-Kick Me, Jesus, Through The Goal Posts of Life"
"If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet?"
"The Last Word in 'Lonesome' is 'ME'  "

And as a token for your muse:

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 17th Challenge: Half a Dozen Rules for Life

Hmm.  So far just one response to the channeled poet game.  And it was a long weekend for most of youse.  Keisha, your prizes are piling up.

It's not getting easier.  Today's challenge was going to be doubly daunting:  anagram a poet's name into a title, and write a poem in their style.  The game was inspired by Frances Heaney,  the brilliant and extremely funny  author of The Holy Tango of Literature.

But I can sense you all may not be up for that one, on a Tuesday-- so just go buy his book instead, and try your hand at this simpler challenge.  Then Wednesday it's back to the books for the lot of you.

List six rules for life.  Profound or profane, what are some truisms you live by, or wish were in place for the rest of the world?

January 16th Challenge: Facilitate A (Postcard) Writer

Talk to the Hand.. today's Goodwill find

The Challenge:  Find or make a postcard.  Stamp it and address it to  Art at Large, PO Box 1313, Lawrence KS 66044.  Keep the writing part blank except for a tiny note that says "Please complete in any way you choose, then mail" or something to that effect.  Alternately you can write the instructions on a sticky note and attach.  Now find somewhere wonderful for the card to rest until it meets its maker-- perhaps on a table in a coffeeshop, an active bulletin board, or tucked into an interesting library book.  With any luck, the finder will send it on its merry way.  I'll keep you posted on the results.  Can't part with the inspiring card?  Write and send your own.  But seed some, too.
Still hoping to see some Poet Challenging (yesterday's game).
It was sweet to see snow falling on the firs last night.  Spent a warm evening catching up on poet games with friends in the Coastal mountains.  We'd been invited and looking forward to a weekend at Seaside, some three hours north, but the wintry weather kept us closer to home.  We missed our friends but enjoyed the games .

You're Either On the Bus or You're Off It, said local hero Ken Kesey

A flight of Swifties:
"I prefer Brut," she said, dryly.
"I love R.E.M," she said dreamily.
"Watch out for what happens after the third one," he said forewarningly.
Bovine Powered Tilling:  "Little" the Cow.
Stay on her Good Side
"My bed's upstairs", she said loftily.

Too many titles:

Irritable Vowel Syndrome:  Why Americans Won't Learn Icelandic
Finding Your Porpoise:  Aquatic Mammal Spirit Guides
Till--The Cows Come Home:  Bovine-Powered Field Work
Days of Whine and Poses:  Hipsters I Have Known
On With The Bloody Show:  Cockney Guide to Labor
The Contraction Attraction:  Why I Became A Midwife
As a Matter of Fact, You ARE Full of S***:  Roughage Deficiencies in the American Diet

A mail in from Carolyn brings us to the Science Section for
"Splendor in the Mass"
and onward to Gardening with:
Bin Here, Dug That
Musings on the Bounty
Beet Here Now

-----------and we loaded the most crowded shelf at the title store (sampling only----
You've Got Ale:  The Beer-Lover's Guide to Oregon
You've Got Trail:  Hiking in Corvallis
You've Got Grail:  Collecting Holy Icons
You've Got Bail:  How to Manipulate Loved Ones into Getting You Out of the Slammer
You've Got Quayle:  Mistakes We May or May Not Have Made in the Present or the Future
You've Got Yale:  How to Get Admitted to Ivy League Schools
You've Got Pale:  Fighting Vitamin D Deficiency in the Northwest
You've Got Shale:  Oil Refining on a Shoestring
You've Got Rail:  Hoboing 101
You've Got Kale:  Low Maintenance Winter Gardening

There were also translations, first letter and bad and recipe poems, lots of new superstitions and proverbs.  Someday we will hand-bind these into a handsome volume for prosperity.  For now, it would be good to plump there numbers.  We're half way over the hump now!   Keep those cards and letters coming.

PS Don' forget to honor the Good Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King today-- make the world a better place in whatever loving and tiny way you can.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 15th Challenge: Channelled Poems


Today, ask your muse to make contact with another poet, living or dead, and write a poem in their style.  Psuedo-cummings?  Ersatz Suess?  Fake Frost?  Give it a go.

For super-bonus points, write a poem meta-channelling--  Mary Oliver in Shakespeare style, or Billy Collins as voiced by Poe.

PS:   I found out at least one reason why the comment section is tricky--it's hard to find on some browsers. To  post your entries,  to post there, look BELOW each blog and click the tiny "comment" link. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

January 14 Challenge: Turn a Headline into a Poem

Now that you've sharpened your teeth a little, take a bite out of this challenge:
Find a headline that intrigues you, and turn it into a poem.  You've got a whole leisurely Saturday to do it.

I hear the commenting section is buggy.  If you can't use it, e it to me on the contact link or via my facebook page and I'll post it for you.  Make sure to let me know it's ok to post it.

Boog pre-empted  us during haiku day by shear serendipity.  He's always been ahead of the curve.

The bishop busted
Six hundred naughty pix and
A handheld device

Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/world/americas/canada-judge-frees-jailed-bishop.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=%22handheld+device%22+priest&st=cse

Mine's old, from a Gazette Times Headline:

 It starts out innocently enough. 
The llama had been seeking the field mint
It knew grew sweetly on the south hillside,
The mint had been seeking a bit of shade there,
Near the edge where the forest bled into the
Pasture.  The cougar had been seeking deer,
Having no geographic or recent genetic reason,
Before such animals bled from one land to another,
To want for the taste of llama.  The trapper
Was after nutria, another import wreaking havoc.
But a job’s a job, and the llama owner, taking all
Of this much too personally, is after revenge.
We are all seeking one thing or another.  We have
Lost track of our edges, we want to pretend we can
Move outside where we belong, and no one will
Notice; nothing will end up bleeding.  This is the
Misfortune of poorly directed hungers. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 13 challenge: Create Your Own Superstitions (and PRIZES!)

the scary fine print
this could be yours!

It's Friday the 13th, a perfect day to make up new superstitions.  Bonus points for convincing someone else they are old ones.  Fake proverbs also encouraged.

with superior cracked paint
"A potato a day keeps the bedbugs away".
"See Prada by noon, it's a bad hair day soon".
"Friend in a Jetta?  You better forget her."

does it go with the sofa?
The weekend's a great time to catch up on the first two weeks of challenges.  Check the sidebar for your prize possibilities.  From a piece of bad art to a random selection from my eclectic book collection-- the possibilities are as varied and frightening as one of my desk drawers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 12 Challenge: Book Titles

these clowns want to know why you're not writing
Ok, kiddos.  I can see the translating just wore your muses plumb out. Or maybe you're in the midweek doldrums.  I had a total of two entries to the Jan 10th challenge.  Don't worry:  you can still answer any or all challenges until the Feb. 1st deadline.

To appease your weary brains, I'll narrow the focus.  Give me three to five book titles. You don't even have to write the books.

Try one or more of these categories for inspiration:  Self Help, Memoir/autobiography, Current Events, Science, Cookbook, Crafts, Sociological or Other Academic, Religion, History.  Humor and imagination encouraged.  Posting here encouraged.

I have some tougher challenges in store, so whittle those pencils.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 11 Challenge: First Letter Poem

What lovely little muses you have!  There were great submissions to the Jan. 10th challenge, with many sent via private methods.  Wish I could share them all.  Remember to check back in at the end of the game to see the original translation of the Icelandic poem.

I'm tempted to give you a Turkish poem to translate, but I promised a new game a day.  When this blog goes back to Regular Programming, any of you hungry to keep poeting are inviting to join me under a new format.

Today's challenge is to take the letters below and create a poem around them.   You're seeing the first letters of two poems by two authors.  Punctuation is intact, including capitalization.  Try either or both.  Let your muse talk for you.

W  h. W
w  i  i  i  w
I  w.  O  t.  B  t.

O t, l a b d. M
t, f, b i y h.
B m t. A g f b a.
J c, v
d.  S f k, a f
A. E t h m, o t b.
C t l n, t n c
a.  D o, t k
t t g. C i c.
L o. M t y a
a n g.  P y k e
b y c f t.  S t
i l s, m m.

January 10 Challenge: Translate a poem

Gets your pencils out.  You don't need to know Icelandic to play this game-- and if you do, email me and I'll send another in a language you don't speak.

Sound out the words and listen for the poem inside, and write your translation.  I'll post poem and author info in a few days in the comments section.  If you're playing catch up, don't peek til your poem is done.  

Fjord on, brave poets-- hope you made someone smile Monday and took some time to go to that nicest place.

nótt sítrónunnar

mistur af hafi 
götuljósin stækkuðu 
eitt ljósker skein í hverjum dropa 
á gleraugunum mínum 
við sátum úti á svölum 
og skárum sítrónur 
köstuðum sneiðunum fram af 
svo þær þöktu götuna 
augu og augu 
í nóttinni 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 9 challenge: Make somebody smile

it's ok, little rabbit
Creativity comes in all forms, and even though I had a poet game for you, I feel compelled to interrupt our poeting to give you a different sort of task for Monday.

Make someone smile.

Don't care how you do it, but I want to hear about it.  Comments section preferred, but you can e me if you'd rather.

There are all sorts of therapists in the world too, and some are those blank slate types and by gosh they have their place.  But I've always figured that if I am going to spend the majority of my waking hours at a job, Real Me should show up.  So most of you know that I lost both my father and my ability to enjoy food/smell this year.  And tonight that combination felt like a sucker punch.  Two nurturing possibilities are now out of there.  I was a sad sack.

When I stumbled on this link a few minutes ago (posted at the end), I got not only a smile but a good cry out of it.

We're human.  We enjoy, and we suffer.  And we need each other.

Go out there and increase joy in the world.  What a radical Monday idea.

Click me:  http://thenicestplaceontheinter.net/

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 8 Challenge: Turn a Recipe Into a Poem

On this sabbath
turn thy muse to that which sustainteth thee,
and craft your poem from a favorite recipe. 

Any form is fine-- haiku, sonnet, bad poetry, limerick. 
Here's mine.  Yeah, it's old-- whatever.  I'm challenged enough just coming up with 31 days of this stuff.
Gumbo Sonnet(ish)

when one makes a seafood gumbo
first procure a stewpot, jumbo
sized. and the holy trinity
of onion, bell pepper, celery.
to the market for crustaceans;
dispatch them with proper ministrations.
separate body from shell, in manner caesarian
out of sight of persons vegetarian.
as to this meat, refrigerate,
while stock materials you congregate.
into pot throw shell and claw
of crab, oyster and fish-(craw),
or shrimp if mudbug you have not,
then also throw into that pot
a bell pepper, seeded, and some grease
(i use canola-- but most like beast),
a carrot, some celery, an onion or two.
don't fuss-- coarsely chopped will do.
bay leaves-- two-- and garlic cloves- four;
cayenne, enough to make one roar,
now basil, thyme and oregano.
while it simmers, turn on the radio
to Bodreaux on Monroe's KJUN;
you can two-step while the roux's begun.
here's the hard part-- listen well:
if you burn the roux, it's gone to hell.
take one part oil, to one part flour
in a heavy skillet, stir a quarter hour
til the color's gone coffee au lait
(or darker if you're of cajun sway).
put it aside in a little jar;
stock needs three hours, or four.
spend the time how you like best:
listen to "slow soup" if you need suggest-
ions. after stock has made a lovely smell
get a colander; strain it well.
in a skillet: holy trinity, diced;
a pound of okra, freshly sliced,
two more bay leafs and some salt
(tears if you wish-- but it's no one's fault)--
some savory, more oregano;
saute it up ala Thibedeaux.
when the onions start to clear
the time for gumbo's getting near.
best to start a pot of rice.
any kind's fine; basmati's nice.
throw the saute in with the now-strained stock
crank up Beausoleil, hide the clock.
scour the cabinets for the file'
(sassafras to you not out creole-way)
and put in in along with the roux
to thicken up this tasty stew.
throw in tomatoes, paste and diced,
simmer till the rice is riced.
last minute throw in the crustaceans
and begin thankful prostrations.
dish some rice into your bowl
ladle on gumbo and let the good times roll.

for while this may be bad poetry
it's one hell of a good recipe.

Friday, January 6, 2012

January 7 Challenge: Write some Bad Poetry

Now that you've limbered up with some of the shorter structures, it's on to fresh territory.
Writing crap poetry intentionally can loosen a stubborn writer's block, and getting the bad stuff out of the way may make space for better verse.

If you find you love this form, rush to your nearest independent bookstore and beg them to order "Very Bad Poetry," edited by Ross and Kathryn Petras.  Among the gems you will find this personal favorite:
cheese making, like writing bad poetry, takes skill,
dedication,  and hairnets.

Ode to A Mammoth Cheese

We have seen you, Queen of Cheese,
Laying quietly at your ease
Gently fanned by evening breeze
Thy fair form no flies dare seize--

All gaily dressed soon you'll go
To the great Provencial Show
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees--
or as the leaves upon the trees--
It did require to make thee please,
And stand unrivaled Queen of Cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to send you as far off as
The great World's show at Paris.

Of the youth-- beware of these--
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek-- then songs or glees
We could not sing o' Queen of Cheese.

We'rt thou suspended from balloon
You'd cast a shade, even at noon;
Folks would think it was the moon,
About to fall and crush them soon.

            ---James McIntyre, 1866

Inspired?  Come on, let's see your worst.

Link of the day:
Send your masterpiece in for consideration.
  I did, and now I am an internettedly published Very Bad Poet.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 6 Daily Challenge: Limericks!

come on, play along, whydoncha?
Some fabulous haiku emerged from yesterday's challenges, and you only saw some of it-- the rest trickled in via facebook and email and the ether.  Looking forward to seeing more of your brave creative selves in the remaining 25 days, especially in the comments section here.  Don't be shy.  OK, be shy-- make yourself a memorable pseudonym and hop on in the game.

Sticking with simple poetic forms, let's wreak some limerick havoc.  The Irish version of  playing the "Dirty Dozens", in a past poetic life we'd have wonderful limerick wars on my online poet game group.

Long A
Long A
Short B
Short B
Long A

good morning my comrades in meter
this poeting couldn't be sweeter
i've loaded my pen
limericking again
don't like 'em? use your deleter--

myself, i'm not so inspired.
my rhymer a little bit tired
but i have a prize
for a verse that draws flies--
back later to see what has transpired

so get going, and with grace and luck
your form here won't completely suck
if i like yours most
be watching the post
for goodies from the usp truck

(i hope this doesn't seem pressure.
do it for fun, for pure pleasure.
five lines, two rhymes
it's limerick time--
all to good end in good measure).

das poetrix

January 5 Challenge: Haiku

Our first poem challenge is a haiku.
Simple format:
5 "on" (a Japanese word meaning a phonetic unit-- but in English we usually translate that to syllables)
7 "on"
5 "on"
Haikus traditionally invoke nature imagery. From Wikipedia:  The essence of haiku is 'cutting' (kiru).[1] This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas[2] and a kireji ('cutting word') between them, a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colors the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related."

Below is my favorite haiku, by Mizuta Masahide  (late 1600s).  In the English translation, it doesn't follow the sound form.  But the haiku essence of opposition, kiru, and imagery remain.

Barn's burnt down
I can see the moon

Try one.  Your haiku needn't be formal, or even serious-- but play with the kiru.
Till tomorrow--

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jan 4 Challenge: TOM SWIFTIES

smiling faces:  more fun-whiz-bang!
The quest continues to limber up your Inner poet.  Today's challenge is to write two or more Tom Swifties:  "adverbial" puns that first appeared in a 1920s comic strip. Here's a few examples (don't moan):
"Love your vintage RayBans", Marge said retrospectively.
"I resent all things apairian", he said begrudgingly.
"I could use a little polishing up my look", he admitted lacklusterly.
"Sure wish I could have won one of those horrific paintings being offered as a prize in the month-long poet games", Chip said artlessly.

Looks like quite a lot of you are playing.  It's great to see your additions in the comment section.  If you're behind, find a friend and play catch up.  Remember, you can add your comments anonymously-- but be sure to email me if you want to be in for the prizes.  Challenge continues all month.

--das poetrix

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 3: Let the Games Begin!

2012 vision board, created
by one of our participants.  WOW!
Flex your brain.
To ready for the harder core poet games, let's start with some simple creativity-flexing exercises-- two or three small ones a day.  Try to do them all, but if your brain sticks, don't sweat it.  Something's better than nothing.  We'll begin by working to increase inter-cranial connectivity.

Today:  Sensory blending.  Synethesia (when one sense is interpreted in ways usually associated with another sense) is often correlated with creativity.  Some folks are born that way-- but you can build yours up.

1)  SMELLS:   Research suggests that language and other forms of cognition often trump olfaction.  That's allegedly why most of us have a hard time describing smells in any uniform way.  And during one study, people in a scent filled room being directed on a time-intensive task never noticed they were being blasted with lavender or vanilla.  Our brains like to do one thing well, and make the rest background.

Go smell something,  Now write about it.  A line or two will do.  Describe it as best you are able.  Does it bring up any associations?  Emotions?  What color is the smell?  What is it's texture?

2)  VOICE:  I've always been synethesiac to sounds.  They have heft and texture.  Describe a favorite singer's (or instrument) voice.  Use color, texture, or feel analogies.

3)  FEEL/TOUCH:  find something with a texture.  Any texture.  What personality traits can you associate with the way it feels?  Does a color come to mind when you think of that particular texture?

See you tomorrow...
And don't forget, if you're willing, to post all or some of your responses in the comments.

Don't Blink- It's already Jan 2! Time to Get Your Genius In the House

Bill's Shrine.  He liked a good poet game.
Today's challenge is to learn a little more about creativity by watching a short talk with author Elizabeth Gilbert. Find it at the end of this post.  Then take a little time to create an inviting shrine to your muse/genius.  It can be tiny and portable; elaborate and juicy, or written in your imagination.  CHOICES, you get choices.  Trust me, these get easier.

My shrine is made of a matchbox cover with Joss paper.  It has a shell, a rock, a little burning bowl for the isolation of block, a sweet for enticement, and a mirror.  It can be opened and inviting, and I really like that it can be shut when muse is regenerating.

Your version of this assignment could be physical like mine, or much simpler (a special tablecloth at your writing desk).  It could be a written proposal for your ideal shrine.  It could be symbolic-- a seed you carry in your pocket.

Get the drift?  Get your shrine on.
The's poeting afoot.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! Day One Challenge

let's get jiggy with it, folks.
Hope some of you've had a chance to do our first Challenge of Burning The Old Year.

If you're catching up:  I'll be posting a new creativity-inducing challenge every day during January.  Most will take thirty minutes or (much) less.  Please invite friends to join us!

See how many of the 31 challenges you can complete.   Post your results in the comment section if you're willing to share-- I'd love that.

And this year, I have prizes!  I am creatively reducing my biomass by lovingly recycling some old crap beloved belongings to participants.  JUST FOR PLAYING (one or more efforts posted) you win your choice of a 4X6 pic print from the blog or the collector's version of the One Less A$$hole bumper sticker.

Anyone brave or creative enough to do ten or more will receive something rummaged from my attic a bigger prize. It may be a genuine piece of Bad Art from my carefully curated collection, a book of poems, a strange artifact or found object.  Who knows?  You'll be surprised.  Maybe not pleased, but definitely surprised.

Be the first to do all thirty-one and get thirty one tiny surprises mailed to your door.  

You don't have to do them the day they are posted, but to receive the Grand Prize all challenges should be met before 02/01/12 11:59 pm PST.

Shy but still want to compete?  E your efforts through the contact button, or just say "Done!" in the comments section.
READY for today's quest?
The Challenge :  You've burned 2011, now invite 2012.  Make a list of what you want to see manifest in 2012.  For super-over-achievers, do a vision board (click for instructions).  Otherwise a simple list is fine.  This ain't for Santa Claus-- focus on positive ways you'd like to expand your potential and what sorts of feelings/awareness/characteristics you want in your life this year.  Peggy's video offers great ideas.  
Let me know if you did it, and if you like, share one or two things from your list.

Hope you had a good start to your new year--
back tomorrow,