Wednesday, January 19, 2011

La di da

  • Really, what is the big deal about the trenta? It's for iced drinks, right? A 31 oz cup full of iced coffee does not contain 31 oz of coffee, which is 99% water anyway, not pure liquid calories. When you order an iced tea in Texas, by default the glass is like 48 oz (and with so much ice you leave the restaurant with a wicked chill in your bones, and have to sit in your sun-loaded car for five minutes baking back to a normal body temperature). Anyway, I'm pretty sure people who drink a lot of coffee actually tend to be thinner, so why is the media turning this into a "This is why you're fat" situation? Have you ever been to a Starbucks? They're mostly full of good-looking affluent people. Guess what, weight and health in general correlates a lot more with the size of your paycheck than the size of your beverage. (In related news, studies show people who drink alcohol weigh less on average than people who don't.)
  • I got my contributor copies of The Monkey & The Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics, which includes my essay on "moves" in poetry. Poetry teachers of the world, take note! Here are a couple of excerpts:
  • The Throwaway Pun
    The Throwaway Pun can be distinguished from a pun proper by intention and context. Similar to the Poetic Allusion as Joke, the Throwaway Pun tries to “have it both ways.” It’s an overtly authored joke that seems to apologize for itself or admit its own limits (outside the context of, say, a limerick, a pun is a cheap kind of humor). Take the following line from “Play it Again, Salmonella” by Jeffrey McDaniel: “I’m a cardcarrying member of a canceled party.” Even the title seems to come equipped with built-in groans. Another: “ACTUALLY SAY LA VIE” from Karl Parker’s “Horn o’ Plenty.” This move is borrowed directly from the school of American comedy that celebrates bad jokes as good jokes as long as they are told with awareness. This is a variety of camp.

    Intentional Ambiguity
    Intentional Ambiguity is another product of postmodernist/deconstructionist criticism (i.e., the reader’s interpretation is as valid as the author’s intention; neither has primacy). Take, for example, the phrase “I run a toy glue factory” from “I Had My Headphones On” by Karl Parker. This could be interpreted in at least three ways: 1) I run a factory that makes glue used in toys. 2) I run a factory that makes toy-sized or pretend glue. 3) I run a glue factory that is itself toy-sized or pretend. In the unreal, or nightmare-real, world of the poem, these options seem equally likely. By withholding any disambiguating signs or information, the poet suggests that such “facts” have no consequence, and that poems do not traffic in facts in any case. In a way, Intentional Ambiguity is related to the unreliable narrator of fiction.
  • Lunch was rigatoni with pea/parsley/almond pesto. SOTD is Bulgari Black.


  1. Just came across this discussion of ambiguity from a hilarious interview between Kenneth Koch and John Ashbery:

    KK: Could you please give me an example from your own poetry, to make it clearer?

    JA: I think it's already clear enough but I will if you insist.

    KK: It is quite brilliant.

    JA: Nonsense. "Night hunger / of berry...stick." This isn't such a good example as a matter of fact.

    KK: Why?

    JA: What with the prevailing climate in poetry, these lines seem perfectly crystalline to me and should to any reader with a normal I.Q.

    KK: When you say "crystalline," do you mean that the lines mean only one definite thing?

    JA: Well, not more than about four at the most.

    KK: It does seem obvious. A man is hungry for berries at night and goes out to get them with a stick. Or else he goes out to get them and he is touched on the face by a stick (part of a branch). Or the berry itself is hungry at night and looks to the stick for refreshment, which it does not get from it. Or the berry is so hungry at night that it dies, its whole branch dies and later becomes a stick. Or a man is hungry for berries at night, goes out to get one and it sticks to him. Or the berry gets so hungry at night that in its hunger it attaches itself to something else and gets stuck to it. These seem to me just a very few of the meanings related to all the possible meaning as our galaxy is to the sum total of all galaxies.


    I love this graphic. The stomach opening looks like a straw--like a straw you might find leading down into a 916 ml trenta. For the new trenta, Starbucks should design a plastic cup shaped like a stomach--but with a side chamber for 16 ml overflow.

  3. That interview really is hilarious.

    Liz, I usually drink out of a wine bladder anyway.

  4. Cool to hear about your moves essay! I'm going to snag a copy of the book and post about it on HTMLGIANT.

  5. Oh, cool! You have a big credit in the essay, of course. :) I actually have three copies of the anth -- send me your address and I'll mail you one!

  6. Hi Elisa! I admit to citing some of the moves you and Mike put together in that HTML Giant post when writing my lit theory paper last semester. I think the moves list is very helpful and true.

    I will be getting a copy of this book!

  7. Oh nice! Yeah once you start thinking in terms of moves, you see them everywhere ... luckily this doesn't cheapen poetry for me. I'm just like, "Ooh, nice move!"

  8. Oh, I love these researchers who came up with the result that "people who drink alcohol weigh less on average than people who don't". :)
    Another reason for never giving it up.
    Congratulations on getting your essay published!

  9. Thanks Ines! Yes, these scientists are the best, right?