Monday, November 26, 2012

5 things that happened in the past 10 days

1. My latest essay on "The Poneme" went up at Lemon Hound (new issue with lots of good stuff). I wrote about Darcie Dennigan's mysterious use of ellipses in Madame X. Here's an excerpt from the essay, "Elliptical Machines":
The ellipsis is often used casually (in email, for instance) to indicate a pause or a trailing off. But technically it means “omission,” something excised or left out. And this is why ellipses can be frightening. What is being withheld? 
In Madame X, the ambiguity is doubled – it feels as though we’re receiving the message (via radio? a telegram? a Ouija board?) in bits and pieces, but it seems equally possible that the poet “received” it that way herself, that she is merely transcribing the poem, a la Jack Spicer’s “poetry as dictation,” wherein the poet records transmissions from an “invisible world.” Is she withholding something from us, or is something being withheld from her? 
Read my essay and read Darcie's book!

2. John and I watched this video about five times, until it started to become slightly less hilarious:

3. I saw the Art of Scent exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City on its opening day. I talked with Chandler Burr about the exhibit back in February of 2011, so perhaps I'd had too much time to build it up in my expectations, but I was mildly disappointed. The implementation was cool: It's an empty room with twelve indentations in the white wall. You step up to one of these indentations, lean over it, and a little nozzle at the bottom automatically sends up a wee puff of scent for you to breathe in. It's not the same formulation as perfume in a bottle, so your face doesn't get wet and the scents don't disperse into and mingle in the air. It's similar to the impression you get when passing someone on the street and catching a whiff of their sillage. Also cool: The descriptions of each scent on the wall fade in and out (they are provided by a light source, not printed directly on the wall) so you don't always know what you're smelling. Some of the reasons I found the exhibit a little weird/disappointing:
  • The indentations are shaped such that it kind of feels like you're sticking your face into a urinal. 
  • Because the context for each scent is so minimal, the experience is not very different from going into a Saks and sniffing 12 perfumes in a row, aside from the fact that Chandler Burr has "curated" which 12 perfumes he wants you to sniff. This made the $15 entry fee seem mildly exorbitant, though it gets you admission to the full museum, not just the perfume floor. Putting perfumes in a museum makes you experience them differently, yes, but most of the time, the art you see in a museum isn't accessible anywhere else. You're paying for an exclusive experience.
  • This effect was magnified because the 12 scents are all pretty commercial and all still in production. I imagine Burr was limited in his choices by which companies were willing to sponsor the exhibit. Still, a few of the choices seemed odd. Angel and Pleasures, though ubiquitous, were structurally groundbreaking. But Light Blue? The most perplexing choice to me was Prada Amber. Amber perfumes have been around forever, and Prada's version isn't even a very good amber.
  • Burr has claimed he is "completely opposed" to the "idiotic reductionism of works of olfactory art to their raw materials," but most of the descriptions of the scents include mention of raw materials (vanillin, aldehydes, dihydromercenol, galbanum). In any case, it is not unusual to discuss the materials used in other forms of art, if something interesting or innovative is being done with them.
I guess that the exhibit would be most interesting to people who have a passing interest in perfume, not aficionados and collectors like me, who have kinda smelled it all before, and don't need convincing that perfume is an art form.

4. I did karaoke at a real cowboy dive bar, Rocky Flats Lounge, which is between Golden and Boulder and across the street from a superfund site (our friend Katie has a tank top that says "I Got Nuclear Wasted at Rocky Flats"). This is me rocking out to "Wanted Dead or Alive" (I sort of want this to be my author photo):

And here's John, taking the Johnny Cash version of "Hurt" very seriously:

5. I won this goofy little web award from Westword, the alt weekly in Denver, for "Best Artist on Social Media." How did that happen?! And who said I'm an artist? Thank you to whoever nominated and declared me the winner. I'm excited and confused! 

I hope my American friends ate well and traveled safe. What have you all (international audience too) been up to?


  1. You and John both give very good karaoke face.

    1. Good ... but not as good as Michael Bolton.

  2. Replies
    1. Huh, never heard that one before. In real life I think he's closer to Peter Sarsgaard. He's also gotten Judge Reinhold and more recently Jason Segal.

  3. You *are* Debbie Harry in that shot.

    1. That's the best thing anyone's ever said to me.

  4. Quiet long weekend here, no cross-country travel.

    What I've been up to is proofreading the galleys for my next book, a New and Selected Poems of me. Somewhere approaching halfway through. (I'm going to do two full readthroughs, and I'm near done with the first readthrough.) Enjoying it, though I need to take breaks of a day or two to avoid burnout wipeout.

    Regarding the photos of you and John, I can see what you mean about him looking a little like Peter Sarsgaard. I keep seeing a touch of Art Garfunkel in his face, in this photo. The photo of you (the expression on your face) makes me think a little of Cyndi Lauper.

    I've never done karaoke, though my idle fantasy if I ever do is to do the Doors song Roadhouse Blues. (The first track on their album Morrison Hotel.)

    1. Have you seen Art Garfunkel's movie Bad Timing, from 1980? We love it.

  5. Thank you so much for using sillage. I've been dying to learn that word since god knows when.

  6. uhm, is that michael bolton thing real? it sounds dubbed... Idk if that makes it more or less funny...
    and ellipsis! when I think of ellipis in poetry I think of Chelsey Minnis' Poemland.

    1. Definitely dubbed ... did you listen to the whole thing? It starts off semi-plausible and then gets worse and worse.

      Yes! I talk about Chelsey Minnis in the piece. Love her.

    2. yeah, I was pretty confused the first time through which led to confused laughter.