Friday, February 29, 2008

Entertainment at the Leap Year Colony

This kiosk normally reads "free."

According to the Shedd Aquarium, this is one of three things lizards ever bother to communicate. See? They're not all that different from humans. Well... at least the second part of that expression.

My Caucasian readers might also enjoy this website.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Order of Things

I have spent the last several days trying to put these images to words only to fail, time and again.

I have framed them from the context of insomnia

of beauty

Of decay and fatigue.

I have tried talking about ideals

by comparing them to reality

Never satisfied with the final product but ever-plagued by a single thought:

I am finished.

I have been putting square pegs into round holes, forcing words onto images when pictures alone would suffice.

But the thing is: I want you to know. Want you to know about the insomnia and the decay. The living and the dying.

The saved and the condemned

The beautiful and the superficial

The perception and reality

And so every time I write, I am split into a thousand directions — all of them diverging, and all of them as discursive as the next.

But this is life, I tell myself.

This series of unending dualities. This polarity and inequality.

This is nothing new, I say to myself, pulling the covers to my chin and praying, dear God, to awaken some morning and know precisely

where I belong.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Everlasting Yawp

On more than one occasion, I've been asked how I came up with my blog title.

"What is a 'yawp'?" readers sometimes ask. "And why do you call your blog that?"

Previously I'd addressed those questions individually as they arose, and I did so again when a friend — who apparently wasn't paying attention in literature classes we took together — looked up "yawp" in the dictionary and informed me that to "yawp" meant to "clamor" or "complain."

But upon further inspection, I found out the the connotation of "yawp" is far different from my intent — or Walt Whitman's, for that matter:

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.
("Song of Myself")

In which case, for me, "yawp" has nothing to do with "raucous or querulous speech" ( and if my blog has more to do with "a noisy, foolish utterance" (also, then I've completely failed in my objective (though I'm be the first to admit there's plenty of that here, too).

But for this "yawp," you'd have to look to Whitman for a definition — to understand the sort of earth-shattering emotion, universality, spirituality and cosmic understanding that goes into a yelp of "barbaric" proportions.

Which isn't to say I'm trying to compete with Whitman (I can't), but that sometimes I understand the burning desire to shout over rooftops.

Even as I fail, time and time... again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Once (Movie Review)

Speaking as a girl who generally despises musicals, Once (2007) symbolizes — for me — everything a musical should be.

Rather than the typical scenario whereby actors suddenly — and unrealistically — burst out into song, Once is far more subtle. It chronicles the interactions of an Irish street musician in Dublin and a Czech ex-patriot peddling roses in the same vicinity.

Though never given names, this "Guy" and "Girl" set about to intermingle their musical proclivity, with his talent on the guitar — and her soft tickling of the ivories — resulting in some rather beautiful, touching melodies.

[Yes, I (legally) downloaded the entire album after my first viewing.]

Thus, the "musical" aspect of this movie is very... fluid. Natural, never forced. But of course a charming Irish boy and an attractive Czech girl can't make beautiful music together without, eh, making beautiful music together.

But for each their love of music — as well as their clear attraction to the other — is punctuated by emotional baggage (who can't relate to that?) and so a fair amount of tension. The end result: possibly the best "musical" I've ever seen, and not at all bad if you instead count it as a "romance" (another genre I generally despise).

It's cute. Funny. Sad. Touching. Well-written. And, at only 80 minutes of run-time, it knows precisely when to quit.

I'll be adding this one to my permanent collection.


CAUTION: Comments section contains spoilers. It's OK to click and comment, but don't read previously posted comments if you haven't yet seen the film (and have any intention of doing so).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spiderwick Chronicles (Movie Review)

I'd never heard to this series of children's books prior to a preview for the film; I was, however, immediately impressed and later gave one book to my nephew as part of his Valentine's gift.

As I read the first couple chapters to him, I was amazed first by how much he already knew about the series (he was filling me in on missing gaps); and second, by how compelled I was to read further.

So I decided to watch Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) to help me "relate to my nephew" (read: because I have a soft spot for well-told children's stories, but I don't always want to admit it).

And while I wouldn't say my breath was taken away, I did enjoy it well enough and found it to be a great PG film with a couple PG-13 moments.

In short: Spiderwick Chronicles is about two brothers and a sister newly transplanted from New York City to an old farmhouse in the country. When one of the brothers discovers a book and fails to heed the warning to not open said book, he awakens an underworld of goblins trolls, ogres and other fantastical creatures.

He and his siblings enter into a battle essentially to save the world, their quest bookmarked with goings-on that borrow from a familiar canon: there are bits of Lord of the Rings, Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe and other similar works, with some unique plot devices thrown in for good measure.

Overall, a great film for kids 6-12 that'll appeal to parents (and aunts!) as well.

I may actually see this one again — if my nephew hasn't yet had a chance to, the next time I'm home.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Look Who's Coming to Dinner

As you may recall, Maude does not deal well with other cats.

Previous stints with her fellow felines have resulted in all manners of hissing, growling and stalking.

Granted, she adapts well enough to another cat with time, but for the most part she's an entirely different cat the first few days (weeks) she has company.

So imagine my... concern... when I volunteered my pad to a friend coming into town to pick up a Scottish Terrier puppy for he and his wife.

Maude's never seen or heard a dog before, except for maybe through the comfort (and safe distance) of my well-sealed windows, possibly watching the passersby down below. So I had no idea how she'd respond to sharing her living quarters with another species when she gives other cats such a hard time.

When my friend first walked into the room, Maude was clearly curious — begging for affection, rubbing up against his legs, as is custom for this person-friendly cat.

But she hadn't noticed the pet carrier in his hands, and when he set it down on my living room floor — and the carrier moved — and then barked...

Maude was none-too-pleased.

But she neither growled nor hissed — simply looked at the carrier and slowly retreated (so as to maintain her dignity and not let on that she was scared) to the safety of the rug underneath my bed.

She stayed there for two hours.

When she later emerged — creeping across the floor of my living room, getting closer and closer to the sleeping pup — it was apparent she wasn't strictly anti-dog.

At one point, she even let him sniff her (and she sniffed him back), under our careful surveillance to make sure the pup (who was very curious about her and clearly wanted to play) mostly kept his distance (because we all know that what to him would be "play-time" would to her imply she was "under attack").

But he was a good little dog, just staring at her and wagging his tail, trying to get in closer but not putting up a fight when we'd hold him back.

And Maude's response:

She watched him, never growling or hissing, and even purred when petted (when she's around another cat, nothing can get her to purr).

My hope is that this means I'll be able to get a dog at some point in the future — or maybe it's just that she liked this particular dog?

Can't say I blame her.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hot Fuzz (Movie Review)

What a smart comedy — clever, well-written and just enough twists and turns to keep our modern day (that is to say, "short") attention spans on the hook.

By no means is this "slapstick" or anything of the sort; I wasn't howling with laughter until my stomach ached. And yet: I never lost interest in this film, and was always amused on some level or another — with my face contorted somewhere between a chuckle and a grin.

Hot Fuzz (2007) is a British comedy wherein London's top cop, Nicholas Angel, is forcibly relocated to a small rural community when his big-city colleagues determine that by being so good at his job, he makes the rest of them look bad.

So it's off to the supposedly crime-free village of Sandford, a sleepy little town with a murder rate of zero and an "accident resulting in fatality" rate that's off the charts. But Angel is alone in realizing the word "accident" is used a little too loosely in Sandford, with only a goof ball partner (who Angel himself arrested his first night in town) to offer him backup.

Hot Fuzz is a tad more violent than I'd been expecting — hence its "R" rating — but it was also far more amusing than even its stateside previews gave it credit for being. It's from the same guys who did Shaun of the Dead — a comedic zombie spoof — if that gives you any idea.


Billy Elliott (Movie Review)

This isn't a bad movie, though I was a bit frustrated to realize — after letting it sit on my shelf for two months — that I'd seen it a few years ago and had simple forgotten about it.

Billy Elliot (2000) follows the life of an 11-year-old boy in Northern England; the boy's mother has recently passed away and his father and older brother — both coal-miners — are on strike. Little money is coming into the house, and yet Billy's father scrapes together enough money for Billy to attend boxing lessons.

Imagine his surprise when he stops by one day only to see Billy practicing ballet rather than dancing around a boxing ring. Billy struggles to reason with his father to allow him to continue his private lessons, and even struggles with how others perceive him, often asserting that just because he likes ballet that doesn't mean he's a "poof."

Overall a touching story even if it is a it melodramatic at times.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just My Luck

I have long joked that if I were escorted into a room of 100 empty chairs — and only one of said chairs was susceptible to collapse — I would invariably choose that one.

Because that's just my sort of luck.

If you think I'm exaggerating, here's a "humorous" example of a just what exactly it means to be me:

A couple years ago I went to see a local acting troupe perform. The cost of admission is $5 plus the roll of a die.

In other words: anywhere from $6 to $11.

All around me people are paying $6, $7 and $8 to get in. In fact no one has paid $11 when it's my turn to roll.

"Twelve dollars!" declares the ticket-taker.

"Twelve?!" I said. "But that's not even possible!"

"Oh, yeah, you're right," he said, moving in for a closer look at the die. "Eleven dollars!"

I paid up, thrusting a fistful of dollars onto the table, my lips curled in a commingling of amusement and disgust.

Suffice it to say that though my bad luck often results in humorous stories and unique anecdotes, it is not always so benign. In fact: sometimes it instead results in trips to the hospital, rare allergies to life-saving drugs, and the occasional loss of limb.

[Just kidding about that last part.]

All a long way of saying I felt I had reason to be concerned when I saw this story regarding space debris.

When I am gone, remember me fondly — and, please, don't forget to feed Maude.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Road Mistaken

Very seldom do things work out precisely as you plan. You will find yourself loving people you'd never planned on loving and staying in places you'd never intend to stay.

But this is life, and you can take it or leave it — as the cliche goes — and so long as you're avoiding the latter, you may as well make the best of whatever time you have.

But sometimes it is... difficult. Like listening to one of your favorite musicians belt out one of your favorite songs, experiencing the moment as if only by proxy

Your hands too often on the shutter

As though wanting to share a moment that is — you acknowledge with a sigh — entirely your own.

But there are others all around you. Hundreds upon hundreds, your uncommon life experiences most common among this crowd.

The consensus undeniable as a stranger turns to you during intermission and says, "So what do you think so far?"

"Brilliant," you tell him. "But then again — I've never known them to disappoint."

From there two strangers politely converse, united for a moment by a shared fondness for sound and a fear of passing time in silence.

But no moment lasts forever, and with the end of intermission — and then the encore — you rise from your seat and turn from one another as if strangers again.

"So this is life," you think, joining the crowd in a chest-to-back rush for signs marked "EXIT."

You look over your shoulder and return your mind to the empty stage, a little sick to note that the one once closest to you

is now the furthest away.

Political Question of the Day

Do superdelegates get to wear capes?

Friday, February 15, 2008

You Know You're Immature When...

.... your friend orders a “12-inch Hawaiian” at the pizza place and you:

  • Start cracking up such that she has a difficult time finishing her order

  • All you can think is, “I didn't see that on the menu”; and, "I'd like to change my order"

  • You glance at the remaining 1/2 of the pie after she's finished and you say: “Looks like the 12-inch was a little too much for you” and “Maybe next time, settle for a six.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love in a Time of Melancholy

The thing about a gym on the night of Valentine's Day is the not-so-conspicuous absence of wedding rings.

The young eyes looking askance across the room, stretching their bodies as though an offering to the gods.

The older ones hiding their left hands as though ashamed of their bare skin.

But, oh, what a vibe it is. Frustration mixed with longing, seeping from pores and permeating the room as a 20-something mans duels punching bags to the finish and a middle-aged woman does laps around him, her eyes focused on the green rubber track beneath her.

The buff men watch their muscles expand and contract in 360 degrees of mirrors, their eyes wavering only to watch the occasional female pass them by. The girls pretend not to notice but give themselves away by walking a little straighter and arching their backs to accentuate what God gave them.

I look around me — ashamed to be among them — and I wonder: how does one recover from... this.... and ever trust again?


I travel miles upon miles, never getting anywhere until I return to my car, an eastern European couple in their late-30s just a few steps ahead of me.

We're in the cold now; his hand keeping hers warm as he says something — maybe in Russian — and smiles at her, pulling her in to his chest, looking down, and kissing her wide-lipped, square on the nose.

They both laugh.

She says something to him; they release one another's hands and turn in opposite directions towards different cars on separate ends of the parking lot.

"You better hurry," I imagine she said to him. "Or your wife will get suspicious."

Special recognition goes out to M@, who has also made interesting observations about the embarassment one feels in acknowledging the bare skin on their left ring-finger.

Happy S.A.D.!

Today somewhere in America, one friend of mine will be receiving the following homemade card in the mail.

Now, I know what you're thinking: the thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy has friends?

I'm as surprised as you are.

Anyway. Because I like you all so much I thought I'd share with you an electronic version of my handiwork, outside and in.

Now before I go, just a brief reminder that it's OK to be alone on the 2nd most depressing day of the year. Your melancholia just might do the world some good. Besides, who cares if you're miserable so long as everyone else is happy....

Monday, February 11, 2008

And Then There Were None

She looked around the table, recognizing that though there were only three people gathered --including herself -- to celebrate her father's birthday, as recent as four months ago that count would've been in excess of ten.

Three home sick. One in war. Another three lost to bad weather. And another, well... another one, simply... lost.

But she tried not to think about that, picking up one of her nephew's toy pirates and engaging him in battle, dueling over broken nachos and spilled salsa.

"You'll be six soon, won't you?" she said, lightly jabbing him on the shoulder with a short, flexible spear.

"Yes," he said, laughing. "I'll be six. And then I'll be seven. And then I'll be eight. And then I'll be nine..."

He continued to count, pausing again at "18" to remind his aunt that when he turned 18 he'd be "able to drive" (he then went on a brief tangent to reveal that he'd even be so kind as to let his girlfriend ride in his car so he could take her out on dates, perhaps even driving so far as to visit his aunt in the big city).

He then resumed counting, picking up his pace the further along he went, half-bored with a process he'd mastered ages ago.

He stopped at 101.

"And then I'll be dead!" he said cheerily before turning somber.

"I won't be able to see you any more," he added.

She looked at him, pausing for a moment, sorting through a million thoughts in an instant. She wondered, half-sick, if she should tell him that she'd be gone long before his 101st birthday.

But she didn't say a word, opting instead to commend him for his long life.

Of Tradition & Learning

Sometimes traditions — habits, if you will — are passed from generation to generation in much the same way priceless heirlooms weave their way through the bonds of nucleic acid, outliving their original owners ad infinitum.

Take, for example, a small child — a ten-month-old boy in the nascent stages of developing language skills.

He says words like "Ma" and "Da da" and refers to all varieties of animals as "gogs" as he pats them on the head (OK, so it's not quite "dog," but it's close). He'll say "no" while shaking his head to whirled peas, and he'll say "down" when he's feeling restless in someone's lap.

All in all, a cute little boy who's ahead of the curve in this regard, stunning nurses and caregivers alike with an early grasp of language that his parents insist actually started at six months.

Now imagine the pride a first-time father must feel as his son crawls towards him, smiling and saying "Da Da," dragging his sippy cup along the floor.

The little boy sits at his father's feet, laughs, lifts his sippy cup to the world and bangs it on the floor — not just once or twice, but over and over again, yelling a single word with each hit:

"Beer!" he says. "Beer! Beer! Beer!"

The boy's father looks down at him, beaming, just as his grandfather had once done to him.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Paradigm Shift

There's no telling when it will happen.

At a busy intersection.

Alone in your apartment.

Or watching your socks spin around one another at a busy laundromat.

But when it does happen — when you feel all of those layers melting from around you —

When you have ceased to protect yourself with the television, the book, the humor,

(those inanities designed only to distract)

You will be left with nothing

but the worst of yourself.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Ugly Truth about V.D.

For those of you pleading shamelessly for your significant other to buy you any variety of expensive jewelry for Valentine's Day — or you boys who are seriously considering such a purchase — I would just like to take this moment to remind you first that if love could be purchased, Hugh Grant would've committed no crime.

And second: "Blood Diamond" isn't just a movie title. In fact, those shiny things you poke through your ears and slip over your finger don't just cost a lot of money. Rather, there's a decent chance any number of people died as a result of your gross mis-estimation of beauty. No offense.

Have a nice day!

An Open Letter to Mother Nature

Dear Mum,

I have long supported you when others accused you of cruel indifference; I've even jumped to your defense when co-workers referred to you as "poor-mannered" and "unkind."

Truth is, for the most part I rather appreciate your work — thunderstorms, steady rains, and large snowflakes especially.

But I've noticed recently that you don't call up snow on the weekends or other sundry days off. Rather, we seem to only be getting snow and ice storms on weekdays (or late Sunday night, into early Monday morning), just before the morning commute, or during the return trip in the afternoon.

This is getting little short of ridiculous, particularly in an area that should be prepared for this sort of thing but seems nevertheless to be infested with idiot drivers and inadequate winter road maintenance.

So I beg of you, please, let's bring this insanity to an end. By all means, give us your snow — but please reconsider your hours so that your few remaining supporters might continue to have reason to stand in the defense of you and your Four Seasons.

Yours always,

The Third Worst Poet

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

One Letter Changes Everything

Today on the news so-and-so was getting all political but then threw me through a loop by talking about "Vito threats."

Took me no more than a split second to process the phrase and realize she'd said "Veto threats."

But, man, if I didn't get really amused thinking about what our country would be like if the Sopranos ran our government.

Which isn't to say they don't...

Super Fat Tuesday; Or, "Float the Vote"

So the life of my goldfish, Jude, has ended and I believe the snails I most recently added to my aquarium are to blame.

Poor Jude. I discovered him late last week, still alive but lethargic with brown spots near his gills and his fins tattered and torn as though infected with leprosy.

Most likely some parasite, so I removed him from the aquarium and put him in a bowl with an antibiotic. The brown started to clear away, and I thought he was going to get better... but 36 hours later, and he was dead.

Go ahead and make fun of me, but I felt a little sad watching him lifeless and limp on his side, moving only with the water's flow.

But as is tradition in this calloused world of fish ownership, I cleaned the original aquarium, spent a day of mourning, and then went to the pet store not only for another goldfish (I wound up with two), but also for a beta to put into a tiny, low-maintenance tank I'd finally been given the go-ahead to bring into work (after making my initial request a year ago).

But I quickly resolved to leave the beta at home; in part because I didn't want to open a can of worms at work even if I did have approval; and in part because it's rather amusing to watch Maude have fits observing this new creature, which is out of her reach but not her field of vision.

So, anyway, I haven't named any of the new fish. The goldfish will either be "Dido" and "Aneas"; "Barnum" and "Bailey"; "Lavinia" and "Ophelia"; "Echo" and "Narcissus"; or "Prudence" and "Eleanor" (those snails didn't really live long enough to claim title to their names).

The beta will either be Narcissus (because male betas are notorious for their big egos and brilliant colors); "Milton" (for the bottle-cap glasses guy in Office Space)or "Swingline," for similar reasons.

In honor of Super Tuesday, I thought I'd do the democratic thing and enlist your help in naming the newest members of my ever-growing dysfunctional family. See the upper right column of this page to float your vote.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The "Big Game" and the "Big Game" Ads

As you likely know, if you use the "Super" word and the "Bowl" word in print or broadcast mediums in too near proximity, the "NFL" will hunt you down and sue the living bejesus out of you.

So for the purposes of this post, the "Big Game" will henceforth be known as the Upersay Owlbay.

Anyway. I was quite pleased with the end result of the game; though my allegiance should lie with New England, I figured they'd had their moments of glory and it was time to bring the "Brady Bunch" back down to earth. Not to mention, part of their winning streak likely had something to do with Patriot coach Bill Belichick cheating and I was looking for a little cosmic justice to rectify his wrong.

I mean, I didn't care too much about this particular game really — it was nothing like last year for me. But as the game went on I found myself rooting more and more for the younger Manning and his Giants.

And so: I was quite excited those final three minutes of the game, hoping for the miracle that happened with just :35 left on the clock.

But here's the question I have: what on earth was up with those "Sales Genie" ads? I don't think I'm being overly P.C. when I say I've never seen such blatant racism in Upersay Owlbay commercials.

Otherwise, the ads weren't magnificent, but as a whole were a substantial improvement over last year's.

Rambo (Movie Review)

I'm not saying I saw this movie, but if I did I'd probably admit it wasn't as awful as I'd expected. Which isn't at all to say it was good.

Rather, I'd seen the previous Rambo films when I was a kid small enough to be traumatized by the violence, though I discounted it as being fiction/fantasy in large part to protect myself from the harsh reality of the world beyond my bubble.

But in hindsight, scenes from Rambo became a laughable collage, a mockery of reality that was often further parodied in sketch comedy shows.

So when this newest installment came out, I figured if nothing else, it'd be good for a laugh.

But if I were to see it — because, remember, I'm not about to incriminate myself here — I'd probably say it's far too violent/bloody to get in a good laugh.

Though when the violence died down towards the end, I did burst out laughing when John Rambo ripples his cheek, the closest he can come to mustering a tear.

Anyway. In this Rambo, the Vietnam Veteran killing machine is working as a boatman in Thailand, and is enlisted to help some American missionaries make their way to war-torn Burma ("Myanmar" to everyone outside of the U.S. and the U.K.). Naturally, things go terribly wrong and Rambo is forced to kick some very serious butt.

Some unbelievable things happen (go figure), but I've got to at least give Sylvester Stallone props for underscoring the human rights violations reportedly occurring in Burma (which mirror what we've also seen/heard of Darfur in Africa).

Otherwise, though, this film was mostly what I'd expected it to be — just a little too violent to laugh about until the very end.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Rain Man (Re-Cut)

Clever editing, background music and the tone of an announcer's voice can change everything.

Friday, February 01, 2008

No Child Left Behind