The Morning After

My mom has all kinds of pseudo-new age wisdom, based on spirituality and life experiences that I almost always take for granted until I’m slapped in the face with its profoundness at 11:45 pm in the Rosauers’ check out line as I’m buying a meat stick and an orange. But  preemptively I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to be doing New Year’s Day because for the past few years I’ve been haunted by what she told me several years ago on a NYE: “Whatever you’re doing on New Year’s Day, you’ll be doing all year long.” Read more »


duplicate, reduplication, reproduction, identical, replicated, alternate, chain, continued, cyclic, cyclical, frequent, over, habitual, intermittent, isochronous, periodic, perpetual, recurring, regular, repeated, redo, rehearse, rehash, reconstructed, rerun, recapitulation, reiteration, tautology, imitated, echo, knock-off, indistinguishable, self-same, invariable, look-alike, clone, counterfeit, mirror, echo, ditto, dwell upon, many times, do it again, xerox, day in day out, same old same old, perennial, sing the same old song, two peas in a pod, chorus, come again, never hear the last of it, go over and over again, humdrum, blah blah blah, encore, long long ago happy new year, etc.

Resolutions for Writers

I will write about that person or place or thing (you know the one I mean) I keep meaning to write about, even if I do it terribly and show no one.

I will write about a robot, humanoid or otherwise, at least once.

Happy New Year, happy you.

I will learn to sit and type ergonomically, because without working wrists and fingers, writing is awfully hard, and voice recognition programs are a feign plain bane pain in the but butt.

I will keep a box of scratch paper and actually use it, even if it means defiling page three of the second draft of my favorite story, which I never needed to print, with a shopping list.

I will stop printing things I don’t need to print.

I will use those beautiful journals people are constantly giving me for my birthday/Christmas, and stop telling myself they are prettier than any words I could possibly put in there.

I will try writing longhand before I type.

I will read every day, and not just blog posts and street signs, but books.

I will give e-Readers a chance.

I will try to learn a new fact every day.

I will ask for advice.

I will remember that animals might not be people, but they can be characters.

I will make up my own words.

I will try to write a play.

I will make time to people-watch.

I will persist.

bad lip reading with the GOP

because there aren’t any actual, direct political messages in these videos, i think we can get away with calling this a “culture” related post for bark.  i could also call it the funniest thing i’ve seen on the internet in 3,000 years.  i could also also call it “the post no one will even see because it’s the week between x-mas & new year’s and everyone is off on holiday and enjoying non-webby things.”  for those lucky few who are slaves to their screens, enjoy these fine samples of bad lip reading from funny or die…


“free bananas!”


Read more »

New Year’s resolutions: dumb or not dumb?

I resolve to wear a party hat everyday, all year long, not just on New Year's Eve. (photo by Holly Occhipinti)

I used to think making New Year’s resolutions was super lame. Everyone in America promises themselves they will start going to the gym 18 times a week, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, and finally finish reading War and Peace. Then no one actually does any of those things. So what’s the point?

But a few of years ago, I went to a New Year’s Eve party where, shortly before midnight, the host asked everyone present to write a resolution on a scrap of paper, share that resolution out loud, and then place the written resolution in a large metal bowl on the coffee table. We did as instructed and when the clock struck twelve (to use a ridiculously tired trope), our host dropped a lit match into the bowl, setting our resolutions ablaze. I thought this was actually pretty cool because 1) when you have been drinking a lot and it is late at night, a small living room fire is always a good idea, 2) sharing resolutions out loud made them sound like they might actually hold some weight, and 3) no one said anything about the excessive gym visits, the soup kitchen, or Tolstoy. The stuff people read seemed like goals that were significant and personal to them – things they might really do.

Over the course of that year, a friend who had been at that party and I would congratulate each other whenever we observed the other making good on her resolution. It was kind of a joke at first because neither of us had written terribly serious things on our pieces of paper. But then, after a while, it wasn’t. The fact of the matter is, it’s always gratifying to accomplish a goal, even if it’s a stupid goal.

Read more »

Assembly Required: High Church Liturgy, Distant Wolf Cry And Punching Bag Apparatus… On Christmas Morning!

On Christmas Eve, after a lengthy service at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral (very nice FYI), we arrived home at approximately 12:20 and I lit a fire outside.   This last activity, I think, will be our new family ritual — sitting in the cold, shivering by the flames, sipping something smooth, nibbling on fudge… and…

And, right in the middle of my reading of Thomas Merton:   “Into the world where there is no room Christ has come to those for whom there is no room…”  (Raids On The Unspeakable).  Right there, on the second “no room” we heard a howl in the distance.  We heard either coyotes or wolves… or a quartet of genuinely harmonic terriers.   Yes, in the wake of all the pageantry,  both high church and low church, there came late the sound of the canine other.   Hoooowl…  (No Allen Ginsburg in sight!)  And all during the assembly-process of my 17 year old son’s used Everlast punching-bag apparatus, I could not help but think of that passage in which the Canaanite woman approaches Jesus and leaves him speechless.   She says, after the Anointed One issues the exclusive caveat — that “the Son of Man” has come only to the house of Israel:  “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat crumbs that fall from their master’s table!”

Nice, come-back.  Eh?

I don’t know why these problem verses flash into and out of the sieve of my mind, but they do.   And when these sacred texts are somehow bracketed or emphasized or enjoined by the grunts, snorts, rooster-crows, bird-chirps and, in this scenario, the stylistic howlings of some far-off, somewhat distressed beast in the dark — it’s important that we take notice.   These moments are perhaps the temporal version of what the Ancient Celts refer to as “thin places” between worlds, places where we might inadvertently punch through a wall.   For me though, with my holy-day antennae up and fully functioning, the metaphor might be extended.   Whether a pack of pesky coyotes, one of the three mating pairs of wolves which are permitted to roam eastern Washington, or the 101 domesticated dalmatians with a Disney contract — it’s so clear that the neighbors are noisy.

I’ll say it again:  the neighborhood — as in the entire creation — as in the Ever-Expanding Universe — as in every sink hole that opens up in the  spring, every worm-hole that sucks down a morsel of dark matter and every blessed and bruised bending of the space-time continuum — ALL THIS — cries out.

You may wonder, at this point, two nights later, if the mechanically-challenged poet (me) figured out the punching bag apparatus and the answer is happily, yes.   At precisely 2:30 in the morning (PST), Christmas morning, I finished tightening the last bolt.   But I had been helped by the lingering howls.   The cries in the night haunted me like either Charles Dickens‘ Scrooge, or like Martin Bell‘s Barrington Bunny…
Read more »

The Welding Ways of Umlauts

The Quintessential Sound Changer

I’ve recently been wishing for an umlaut rich keyboard, which made me curious about the history of the umlaut. When I typed that curiosity into Google, the first result was “metal umlaut.” Being a dense and literal person, I expected an entry on welding and metal art.

Once I started reading Metal Umlaut, I no longer needed any other information about the umlaut. This entry on Wikipedia is wholly satisfying. It is such good reading that I want to find out who the author is. It is also “the personal favourite of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.”

Here are some of my favorite parts:

A metal umlaut[1] (also known as röck döts)

Umlaut roughly means changed sound or sound shift, as it is composed of um-, “around/changed”, and Laut, “sound”

Lemmy, the lead singer of Motörhead said about the band name’s umlaut, “I only put it in there to look mean.” Read more »

A Message with Wings

The original form of Tweeting

I’m home for the holidays and asked my history-loving father to recommend some books on WWI.
I should have known better. Our taste in books is very different. Our methods of information-intake and communication-style are very different.

He presented me with 3 books and halfway through chapter four of “A Storm in Flanders: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front,” I was no closer to understanding what I’d read. The excess of minute details made me cross-eyed.
I next turned to “Gallipoli” and after struggling turned to “The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War.”
I was about to give up on this book as well, began flipping through the pages at random, and came across an interesting detail: There were over 100,000 carrier pigeons used in WWI. And they apparently rocked at their jobs since they performed with 95% accuracy of message delivery. Read more »

2011 Looked Like This

Despite a deep and abiding hatred of cold weather, I’ve always had a soft spot for December. Not only is it the month of Christmas and my birthday and extended breaks from school, but it is also a time for reflection as the year winds to a close. Below, you will find the most significant highlights of 2011. You’re welcome.

10 Weirdest Life Forms of 2011

I'm just as cute as a panda.

It’s kind of cool that we live in a world where new species are

still being discovered. Saving those giant pandas seems a little

less important now.

Read more »

Ten Things You Might Need to Know This Holiday

How to drink wine.

How much to drink.

How to remove stains.

How to be fashionably late.

How to dress your hostess gift.

How to start conversations.

How to introduce people.

How to handle conflict.

How to dress a wound.

How to cure a hangover.

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