Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ellen Bass, Poet Laureate

Ellen Bass: poet laureate, Santa Cruz (2014-2015)
Ellen Bass was recently named the new Santa Cruz County Poet Laureate. Her poetry includes “Like a Beggar” (Copper Canyon, 2014), “The Human Line” (Copper Canyon, 2007), and “Mules of Love” (BOA, 2002), and she coedited “No More Masks!” (Doubleday, 1973), the first major anthology of poetry by women. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and The Kenyon Review. She teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University. (From Santa Cruz Good Times) Visit Ellen's website.

When my wife Betsy and I first moved to Boulder Creek, Ellen Bass was one of our neighbors. She lived right across Highway 9 from us in a cottage along the San Lorenzo River. In those days (early '70s) we visited Ellen often for tea and talk. And Betsy for some time took writing lessons from Ellen.

Now Ellen is (locally) famous.

Congratulations, Ellen Bass. Since we first met I have visualized you wearing the poet's laurels. Now you wear that poet's wreath for all to see. May you not "rest on your laurels", and continue to be blessed with fresh insights into this odd homo sapiens incarnation.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Red-Light Bardo

Kelly Evans: Bold bard of the trance dimensions

After slipping from peace in the field of Love
From the non-dual space often called White Light
The refreshed soul stripping its higher bodies
Through a series of dream-like events like life
Encounters experiences evoked by personality
The waves woven in Aether called Habit-in-Life
The sex bardo is one of the grand central lines
A fork in many roads leads to the erotic red light
And many pass through this place within places
Lovers scientists entrepreneurs athletes and sloths
Bums mechanics servants politicians mothers fathers
Deviants artists cats dogs flowers bees atoms and trees
Not everyone but not just good or bad sinners or saints
Many are drawn to union communion passion and bliss
And so among the erotic hallucinations of real feel porn
Angels and demons yogic avatars slip into dream bodies
The fantasies formed in response to each individual
Through sympathetic communicative properties of nature
Phenomena and events resonant with personality threads
Warm bodies and sex appear from vacuum flux
Complete with histories and futures attuned to the soul
So that some couplings are autoerotic and some real
Some of the soul-on-soul action are crude astral affairs
Some soar into more refined realm of mind and spirit

And good and bad spirits pluck the self streams
The schizophrenic weave more or less individuated
From self-to-self from rope-to-cable to solid core
From frazzle and disintegrate to cloud and moons
The elements of the Person are related in many ways
Making their own music then harmonizing and jamming
Sometimes with other ghosts and then with emissaries
The many realms intersect the flesh feel in the soft red
And through the caress of the climax and force of the fuck
Can transport the soul instantly through a quantum leap
To Heaven or Hell or one of infinite births and lives
To a myriad of planets dimensions or types of reality
Down the road to a million more lives or free right now
The working girls of the Bardo Red-Light District come
In all shapes and sizes every species and order of being
Scintillating in this infinite space of passionate pullulation
Where everyone can be a sex star and feed life or go nova

Arnold Böcklin: Pan Whistling at a Blackbird

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring 2014

E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)

you shall above all things be glad and young
For if you're young, whatever life you wear

It will become you;and if you are glad
whatever's living will yourself become.
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
i can entirely her only love

whose any mystery makes every man's
flesh put space on;and his mind take off time

that you should ever think,may god forbid
and (in his mercy) your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies,the foetal grave
called progress,and negation's dead undoom.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance 


Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me:
'Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah's night
And twofold always, may God us keep
From single vision and Newton's sleep! 

---William Blake 


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Guinness Made Me Do It

Continuing to pursue his project to discover new ways of connecting with Nature, Nick Herbert invokes his inner Irish tenor at a St. Paddy's Day party in Aptos. Accompanied by Kim Fulton Bennett on wooden flute, Nick renders the traditional Irish folk song "Carrickfergus" while other members of the band "Blarney" look on. In addition to Kim and Nick, "Blarney" consists of August O'Connor on guitar and bodhran and Matt Johnson on banjo and Irish whistle.
Matt Johnson & August O'Connor

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Catfish and Earthquakes

Magical Method of Earthquake Protection: This protective print which claims to prevent earthquake damage to one's home if attached to the ceiling, shows a group of remorseful catfish apologizing to the god Kashima for causing earthquakes while he was away.

 "In November 1855, the Great Ansei Earthquake struck the city of Edo (now Tokyo), claiming 7,000 lives and inflicting widespread damage. Within days, a new type of color woodblock print known as namazu-e (lit. "catfish pictures") became popular among the residents of the shaken city. These prints featured depictions of mythical giant catfish (namazu) who, according to popular legend, caused earthquakes by thrashing about in their underground lairs. In addition to providing humor and social commentary, many prints claimed to offer protection from future earthquakes."

Kashima restrains a namazu using the kaname-ishi rock
A namazu engaged in a fierce game of "neck-tug-of-war" with the god Kashima. A group of earthquake victims root for Kashima, while those who typically profit from earthquakes (construction workers, firemen, news publishers, etc,) root for the catfish
 "The popularity of namazu-e exploded, and as many as 400 different types became available within weeks. However, the namazu-e phenomenon abruptly ended two months later when the Tokugawa government, which ordinarily maintained a strict system of censorship over the publishing industry, cracked down on production. Only a handful are known to survive today."

You can view 37 more of these rare namazu prints at the wonderful Pink Tentacle site which hosts a varied collection of Japanese graphics, videos and odd news from Japan such as the development of life-like robots.

"Researchers from the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University have teamed up with robot maker Kokoro Co., Ltd. to create a realistic-looking remote-control female android that mimics the facial expressions and speech of a human operator.

Modeled after a woman in her twenties, the android -- called Geminoid F (the "F" stands for female) -- has long black hair, soft silicone skin, and a set of lifelike teeth that allow her to produce a natural smile.

According to the developers, the robot's friendly and approachable appearance makes her suitable for receptionist work at sites such as museums. The researchers also plan to test her ability to put hospital patients at ease.

The new Geminoid F can produce facial expressions more naturally than its predecessors -- and it does so with a much more efficient design. While the previous Geminoid HI-1 model was equipped with 46 pneumatic actuators, the Geminoid F uses only 12.

In addition, the entire air servo control system is housed within the robot's body and is powered by a small external compressor that runs on standard household electricity.

The research is being led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, who is known for creating teleoperated robot twins such as the celebrated Geminoid HI-1, which was modeled after himself."

Geminoid F and her human counterpart, wearing outfits by fashion designer Junko Koshino
Also from Pink Tentacle comes a list of 60 popular Japanese phrases, among which is "ria-juu" or "reality-filled" which is "internet slang that describes people who lead fulfilling lives in the real world (as opposed to the virtual online world). Examples of "reality-filled" people include those who enjoy relationships with others in the real world, those who attend parties or participate in group activities, and those who pursue non-otaku interests."