Wednesday, November 28, 2012


it tasted like sour milk supernova
but others HAIL HAILed it as ambrosia
a change we had to make it come
build a corral
drive out some of the buffalo
preferably off a cliff
we didn't have enough specialness
but now there's more than enough
for those who always were special

we're no longer buffalo
we now fluff our feathers
engage in the public act
of studying
how to become bison

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

LIZ AND DICK: the camp-fest that wasn't.

Robert Fure's column (linked to above) makes this wise observation regarding Lifetime's LIZ AND DICK:
"Movies like this serve a minor purpose and are often correctly judged on their merits compared to other like films. You don’t compare a high school baseball pitcher to someone in the pros; and you don’t compare a Lifetime movie to something opening on 2000 screens this weekend."

Larry Thompson, one of the producers of LIZ AND DICK, once made a TV-movie in the early 90s about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (I was an extra on the film, cast as a bellboy).  It starred a pre-GENERAL HOSPITAL Maurice Benard as Desi and a pre-TITANIC Frances Fisher as Lucy; reputable old-fashioned director Charles Jarrott (ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS) was at the helm.  From what I remember of LUCY AND DESI, it was a docudrama meant to both get ratings and be taken seriously by its intended middle-of-the-road audience.

LIZ AND DICK seems to have been made for the same reasons.  And the casting of Lindsay Lohan, snark aside, was an acknowledgement that she still has some degree of bankability--trainwreck personal life and poor career choices (remembering all the hooting over the film I KNOW WHO KILLED ME a few years ago) aside.

At least the actor playing Richard Burton (though he looked more like Bryan Brown) tried to evoke Burton vocally, as well as his tendencies towards both well-read intellect and self-pity.

But Lindsay Lohan didn't even bother with acting the role of Elizabeth Taylor--causing some of the film's few "camp" moments to come from Lohan 's get-it-over-with line readings giving the false impression she had never acted before in her life.

Yes, LIZ AND DICK is a Lifetime movie that probably peaked during the high-style opening credits sequence set to Dean Martin's Nelson Riddle-arranged recording of "Just In Time."

And, for the remainder of its running time, the film isn't delectable camp or unintended hilarity.  It's just a made-for-TV film that wants to be sincere about celebrity, romance and material excess and, instead, tastes like flat nonalcoholic sparkling grape juice.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Comedian/Actor Kevin Pollak has a favorite-anecdotes book coming out.,88852/

I just found this review on THE ONION's AV CLUB, which brought back memories of my being a stand-in for Wallace Shawn on a 1996 family comedy called HOUSE ARREST (which starred Jamie Lee Curtis....and Kevin Pollak).

HOUSE ARREST is not the best of the mid-budget high-concept films that came in the wake of John Hughes' conversion to kidpix after the megasuccess of HOME ALONE in 1990.  But it had a fair amount of talent behind the camera (Michael Hitchcock, who now co-produces GLEE was the screenwriter) and in front of it (the cast included Christopher McDonald, Jennifer Tilly, Caroline Aaron, Ray Walston, Ben Stein and the then-teen-starlet Jennifer Love Hewitt).

Hoping that Mr. Pollak (who seemed to have an edgy-comedian awareness he wasn't making a masterpiece) may have some entertaining anecdotes on working with a talented ensemble which was blessed with shooting most of the script in sequence (i.e. the "adults trapped in the basement" scenes).

Here's a copy of the trailer (apparently taped from a TV broadcast) posted to YouTube:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tina Brown on THE WASHINGTON POST--and, inadvertently, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.

Lots of things can be said about editor Tina Brown (who had her greatest U.S. successes with VANITY FAIR and THE NEW YORKER--and is now known for tabloiding the print edition of NEWSWEEK to death), but in the midst of a kiss-kiss conversation with Michael Kinsley (original editor of the webzine for NEW YORK magazine, she has some dead-on words for newspapers that make too many cuts for the sake of profitability (and commit journalistic hara-kiri in the process):
"Well, I think their [THE WASHINGTON POST's] whole decision to be a local paper was not the right decision. I mean, I think that they destroyed their influence and brand by becoming so local. They had some of the world’s best writers on that paper. But they’ve somehow shrunk—the more local they’ve become, the more they’ve shrunk their whole footprint".

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Something Eric Morago and I have in common.

What's that something, you, the poet, might ask?

Both Eric Morago (don't know him personally, but he's a Name in Long Beach/OC and occasional reviewer of poetry books for and I have been beneficiaries of anonymous attacks.

Recently, Mr. Morago took to Facebook and discussed his situation (a remark left on the Goodreads site).

Here's the remark intended to wound his pride:
To draw comparison Eric Morago is to poetry what Colonel Sanders is to food. You see it everywhere but it's cheap and tasteless.

Another poorly-written and uninspired work. This author has no concept of the desires of the human condition implied by the title because of the priveledged status he enjoys. Due to being personal buddies with
people in local venues and publishing he has no incentive to produce anything good.His arrogance and those of his croneys are just shameful.
If you listen critically to him next to other poets he's shown-up every time.
Those who respect the art do not respect Morago.
He'll be forgotten.

Read the book review by Jason Thornberry in the "Adirondack Review".
It's an impartial review because this critic is not part of the local poetry circles that cater to Eric.

Here are a couple of responses to Eric's post (which you can see in its entirety on his Facebook page/wall):
Andrew Hilbert--Fuck that guy. Sounds like an insecure poet who is jealous of having friendships within the community. I hear these gripes of cronyism all the time. Having social relationships with like-minded people isn't exactly ground breaking. It's the nature of nearly all human friendships. This guy just doesn't like to smile and perceives people who do as arrogant. I'll say it again: Fuck this guy.
[oddly enough, that could be used to describe me by some people]

Danielle Mitchell--Hey E, I feel for you and I totally understand your desire to speak out. Remaining silent when you are attacked is the worst thing you can do for yourself. It's like being attacked twice, once by the insecure, jealous low-life and once by yourself. So I hope you continue to speak out whenever and wherever you come across bullying efforts such as these. That said, after reading these "reviews" it's pretty clear this guy isn't a brilliant writer, in the reviews written under the name "Emmet" there are multiple typos. And all of them are clearly biased, ridiculous, and petulant outbursts from a feckless bully. I don't think anyone who comes across them on their own will put any confidence in them. I hope that gives you some comfort at least. Stay strong and know that you ARE loved and respected by your poetry buddies! Always.

Now my opinion: I'll agree with Danielle on the remark about remaining silent when attacked being "the worst thing you can do for yourself."  And I'll disagree with Andrew a bit on his remark defending like-minded people (which can also be translated into words like clique and circle).  Oftentimes, we fail to comprehend outsiders with issues when we are part of a circle of "like-minded people."  I can testify to that myself during my early years in the poetry community of SoCal (roughly 1998 to 2002).  When you're "in", you regard those who are out as one-dimensional losers.  And, to be honest, the allegations of cronyism may not be totally off-base as the community shrinks in membership and becomes more intolerant of perceived amateurism and greater conformity on what is or is not "good" poetry.

At the same time, anonymous attacks deal out unnecessary stress and anguish to their victims.  Eric Morago is handling it in a more restrained way than others would, thankfully.

But perhaps it's time for his nonfan to sign his/her name to the criticism and start a rhetorically nonviolent conversation as to why he/she feels like a misfit in the LBC/OC area.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Preferring Pete Townshend's music to his politics/worldview.

From Pete Townshend's tour diary on November 7th (highlighting by me):
"Great to be in the USA on election day. I would have been happy for either candidate to win. There are pros and cons. The only longing I have is for the President to work more closely with the UK than he appears to have done before. As unpopular as they ended up with the deep thinkers, George W Bush and Tony Blair were friends, and that – to me – exemplified what I feel is most important about the relationship between the UK and the USA. We are above all else friends. Friendship is not ‘special’ (as in the ‘special relationship’), it is normal, and accepting…"

You don't have to be a "deep thinker" to mourn the outcome of the friendship of George W. Bush and Tony Blair--all the people unnecessarily killed in the unnecessary "pre-emptive" war in Iraq (including both American and British soldiers plus Iraqi and other nations' casualties).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why some of you aren't seeing me these days.

"Once you have been branded, its hard to make it go away...its like an unwanted nickname, human nature and american social structure feeds that sorta bullying and as long as you keep playing the part, you will continue to be held in that regard... and believe me, from the folks that i [know in the SoCal poetry community].. most now, because of your attitude, consider you little more than comedic entertainment. Again.. im not saying these things to be HARSH.. im saying them to help you come to grips with the reality YOU have CREATED for yourself. no one else is responsible but you.."--Lob Instagon to me circa December 2010

"You wonder why I don't get out much."--lyric from George Harrison song "Devil's Radio" on the album CLOUD NINE.

Jennifer Lawrence's silentmoviephobia.

Mainly a routine NEW YORK TIMES puff piece on Jennifer Lawrence focused on her role/performance in David O. Russell's possible mainstream hit THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

But Ms. Lawrence's candor heads towards unapologetic ignorance in this passage:
“I like making movies, but that doesn’t mean I want to watch a black-and-white, freaking boring” — here she amped up the sarcasm with an unprintable word — “silent movie,” she said.

It's easy to say that her attitude is common to her generation--haven't seen too many, don't wanna see them, they're all boring.  And she lives in a time where "old movies" tend to be the Rob Schneider vehicles she buys for her home library.

And it's probably useless to convince her that old "freaking boring" silent comedies such as Harold Lloyd's SAFETY LAST, Buster Keaton's BATTLING BUTLER and Charlie Chaplin's THE KID might have greater long-term value than say, Schneider's THE ANIMAL.

Plus it's a waste of time to say that late-period silent dramas such as BEGGARS OF LIFE, PANDORA'S BOX (the first two starring the never out-of-date Louise Brooks), UNDERWORLD and THE KISS have greater visual and dramatic sophistication than Ms. Lawrence's modestly entertaining (due to performances) but shaky-Cammed and timidly adapted THE HUNGER GAMES.

So, I know to keep my freaking mouth shut should I ever encounter Jennifer Lawrence in Los Angeles.

The battle for her cinematic soul has been won.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Amazon blurb for Paula Broadwell co-authored book on David Petraeus.

Reprinting this description of ALL IN, the book about David Petraeus and his experiences in the long-running Afghanistan War, without comment:
General David Petraeus is the most transformative leader the American military has seen since the generation of Marshall. In All In, military expert Paula Broadwell examines Petraeus's career, his intellectual development as a military officer, and his impact on the U.S. military.

Afforded extensive access by General Petraeus, his mentors, his subordinates, and his longtime friends, Broadwell embedded with the general, his headquarters staff, and his soldiers on the front lines of fighting and at the strategic command in Afghanistan to chronicle the experiences of this American general as they were brought to bear in the terrible crucible of war. All In draws on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with Petraeus and his top officers and soldiers to tell the inside story of this commander's development and leadership in war from every vantage point.

When Petraeus assumed command in Afghanistan in July 2010, the conflict looked as bleak as at any moment in America's nine years on the ground there. Petraeus's defining idea-counterinsurgency-was immediate put to its most difficult test: the hard lessons learned during the surge in Iraq were to be applied in a radically different theater. All In examines the impact in Afghanistan of new counterinsurgency as well as counterterrorism strategies through the commands of several Petraeus protégés.

To inform this unprecedented reporting of Petraeus's command in Afghanistan, Broadwell examines his evolution as a solider from his education at West Point in the wake of Vietnam to his earlier service in Central America, Haiti, Kuwait, Bosnia, and Iraq. All In also documents the general's role in the war in Washington, going behind the scenes of negotiations during policy reviews of the war in Afghanistan in Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House.

Broadwell ultimately appraises Petraeus's impact on the entire U.S. military: Thanks to this man's influence, the military is better prepared to fight using a comprehensive blend of civil-military activities. As America surveys a decade of untraditional warfare, this much is clear: The career of General David Petraeus profoundly shaped our military and left an indelible mark on its rising leaders.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Glenn Greenwald again says what progressives/liberals doesn't want to hear about Obama.

Once the incense of last night disappears, we're likely to get the Barack Obama of the first term doubling down on capitulating to the GOP, continuing drone strikes, perhaps doing some social good by enouraging voluntarism, perhaps also ensuring that the 2016 elections have fewer glitches and chicanery--and not using the Bully Pulpit to curb Wall Street greed at the expense of Main Street (can't offend Goldman Sachs, especially after the firm and its members supported Mitt Romney).  But at least Obamacare (the health care reform once known as Romneycare) looks to be safe from harm.

Glenn Greenwald walks us through a too-likely scenario on how the Left may gradually accept a Grand Bargain where Obama gives in to GOP demands for entitlement cuts as the price of a higher tax rate for the very rich:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

War Against Humanity blog--updated with corrections.

First, I'll offer an apology to Rick Lupert: Rick did not create the War Against Humanity blog.  Rick and Amelie Frank were most helpful in terms of helping to ensure the situation with the blog was resolved.

From the earlier post:

"Not expecting too many people reading this to care, but the blog (another example of some in the SoCal community wanting me to "shut the fuck up" as was quoted in the previous post) caused a lot of needless stress and mental anguish to me.  And it was intended as a mixture of cowardice and malevolence: intended for the blogger to have lots of fun imagining me running around, making unfounded accusations to people, and with hopes that I might lose my temper in public--causing me to be banned from poetry venues and professionally/personally ostracized."

I did find out that the person (still wanting anonymity) sent Rick an e-mail apologizing for the trouble caused and stating that the War Against Humanity blog was taken down (which I noticed around 9:00 p.m. Sunday night).

The blogger's ironic pen name: Jesus Christ.

The perils of speaking your mind in the poetry community--a past example.

Excerpted from a comment made about me on a listserve during a period when I was a bit more blunt and tactless (and unfiltered) than I tend to be these days.  Made by a Published Poet who will not be named here:
"....many of us have asked him to shut
the fuck up about us, mind his own business and
reputation, quit telling others how to run their lives,
etc. But he's a sorry, needy, sick child and infanticide
is forbidden in this country. So YOU talk to him and
see if he'll go away."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quotes from two poets via LUMMOX magazine.

Kudos to RD Raindog Armstrong for giving rebirth to LUMMOX magazine as a mammoth annual issue (now onsale).  It throws a wide net in terms of poets and writers--and includes people from places other than Southern California.

Here are some quotations from the interview/essay portion of the issue:
"...I know there are plenty of people who will disagree with me on this, but I feel the battle between academic poetry and performance poetry, which seemed so important ten years ago, is largely over.  Sure, there are still disagreements over what constitutes good poetry (or even what constitutes poetry at all), but the divisions are not entirely as clear.  There is much more of a spectrum these days.  I hear poets with MFAs doing stuff that would have been considered pure performance, and I hear poets with no formal education writing poems as finely crafted as anything out rhere.  Maybe it's not all liked, or even appreciated, but it is all accepted as poetry."--from interview with G. Murray Thomas of NEXT magazine and NEWS CLIPS AND EGO TRIPS.

"Far and away the worst most flagrant element is the rampant and utterly rapacious careerist ambition practiced by increasing numbers of poets and would-be poets, a kind of relentless, compulsive self-promotion, which it it weren't so damaging would be almost comically ludicrous....unabashed status seeking...continual seeking and cultivating reading opportunities...intense conferences in restaurants talking only "shop"-which these days means comparing strategies to get published; which poetry "prize" to pursue; taking every available workshop and of course sucking up to celebrity poets.  These "name" folks are cultivated to 'get ahead'; attending no readings except your own and those of certified eminences and the ne plus ultra of this utter betrayal of the traditional poet's stance: contriving to secure a co-featured reading with the big-shot poet."

"It's hard to bust someone for undertaking an advance course of study so as to earn a living teaching about what [he or] she loves.  But "let's put it where it is": the MFA is a "union card".  And real poetry does not come from the Academy.  It comes from the confrontation of the nakedness of the poet's soul with 'being-in-the-world'.--excerpts from Steve Goldman's essay "The Coming of the YUPOETS".