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Thousand Rook Microprobe

October 5th, 2013 · No Comments

“Welcome Sergeant’s Daughter”

You are the fulcrum
rider of our next century. Every
you turn is
like a beer with peacock feathers.
It was as if you, a
lawn, visited upstate New York in
the summer. Your attack
was hardly three pronged though.
It involved a small
Asian girl
that was not your girlfriend and
a large book called
Stephen King’s The Stand. We were
visiting. The timezone was,
for us, not the
world’s end. But still,
when my grandpa would examine his garlic
plants, I’d turn my music off

“Tusk To Kill”

You make me
think of Africa. Out on the tundra I
envision myself drunk and
running through the sage brush,
killing people
in the dusk light to whiskey like
I’m Papa. Spain
means nothing to me, bitch

“Flashing Half Turn Saves the Date”

You never know, you
might order malevolence at the
drive thru.
There might be fries,
finger banging or even
Later on in life you’ll
drink beer and do acid while driving.
Timing is everything

“European Vacation”

This particular rivalry went back four
ozones. The last time it
broke, the families were hoping
that it would all
end without redness.
out not only were there
no trenches, but
people ended up developing poems about
the whole musty thing. But
at the end of time, we
all looked
back (from the vantage of
eighteen Shakespearean binoculars)
to finally
cut some throats out

“A Picture-perfect Finder’s Fee”

Aptitude mongers need
not apply
or if they do they can slink back,
scantily clad, to their
own private supermarket.
After all, Egypt just
fired ten empty rounds into their
afterlife. But
Neil Young tells it differently. He
claims that humans should
in the corner, like
cowboys, and
prowl the beaches. It doesn’t
matter that there’s
just prowling just
prowl, he says

“Wedding Signals”

Enter there, then barn yourself because
new things can come even
to wedding guests:
those that tell tales about
bird necklaces; those that write about
where the stars are.
Either way, you’ll see them
playing pinball at
the bar with a pint glass sliding slowly
down. They see themselves as
‘wasted’ or ‘plants in the
winter’, instead of owls in the day-

“The Five of Glass”

Glassed on a balcony
somewhere, I wish I
was Leo Tolstoy because
then you’d see what a drag it is to
hang out
in places where every-
one wrings their
hands together. But
I have five hands
and each of them dispenses
playing cards
into an afternoon
that’s more of an entry point and if it’s
important to focus on it then
I guess

“Sandwich Machine”

As you go down the slide you realize that you,
a lawyer and a person with
no children and nothing to live for, are
drunk on beer

“Hopeless Endeavor Begets a Tree”

The wretched task ended
as they all do, like
of rain in your hand. Good
folk songs and
glasses of beer will pass.
People will always
doff caps in high spleen and
killers will always
top them in spring. This
will happen even
if your own
personal favorite football team wins or
whether your college girlfriend
to put out for you again,
even though you are both older and
have read many more books since
the last time you
put your fingers in her vagina.
The whole thing, like
ages. It all might as well
have happened under bar
tables though: the telecast
foretold good news about
something; it was
just that neither of us could figure out
which tree it was


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NETWORK MOMENT: Thoughts and Fugue State Revelations Following the Penultimate Episode of Breaking Bad

September 24th, 2013 · No Comments


Hip E.:

It’s just weird having had all these characters in pretty steady positions and roles for 5 seasons and now in last night’s episode they are in such new and weird positions, it’s disorienting. Hank being dead sucks, he was one of the best characters. Who gives a shit about the Nazis? But Todd is obviously the saving grace there. If he was any less interesting I think people viewers would be rebelling. It felt slightly deus ex machina to have that Charlie Rose interview pop up while they were talking about him. Like when Syd Barrett wandered into Abbey Road during the recording sessions for Wish You Were Here, overweight, bald and with no eyebrows, and sat there for 45 minutes without anyone recognizing him. The band hadn’t seen him in 2 years, and it happened to be the day that they were recording the vocals for Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Whoa.

Anyway, also gimme a break, the stock price is going down because one of the founders of the company, who hasn’t worked there in 20 years, turned into a criminal 18 years after parting ways with the company, to the point where they get a spot on Charlie Rose? Still, even a clumsy thing like that they somehow handle 10,000 times better than anything on LOST. It is just incredibly impressive how they have had the balls and skill to set up a functioning fictional world where all the interlocking pieces of motives and capabilities and stuff have a logic and make sense, and then follow them out to their logical conclusions even when that means killing Hank and Andrea, curb stomping the most sympathetic character, Jesse, repeatedly, and having a teenager purposely choose to be called “Flynn” instead of his real name.


Todd is fucking weird and creepy. Awesome character. He’s like a mini-Walt in a way. He has the capacity to be “good”, but int he business he’s in does whatever he has to do. Only differnece is Walt makes tons of excuses for it.

Everyone is going to die.


I agree with the last line, I think Todd and all the Nazis are going to eat it, I think Jesse is toast and if I’m throwing out random guesses, I think Walt is the one the ricin is for. Walt, Jr., Skyler and Marie look like the only survivors at this point. We don’t have cable and so watch the show a day late, somewhere between Jesse pathetically asking for the tarp to be taken off and the emotionless orphaning of Brock I realized that this show hasn’t been ‘fun’ to watch in quite a while. Compelling, amazing, absolutely mandatory watching, but not fun. Already psyched up for next week.


I agree that the fortuitous timing and context of the Charlie Rose interview felt forced, in part just because the Charlie Rose show seems so out of place in a seedy bar to begin with (even despite the bartender’s protests), but in part also, of course, because the one time Walt watches TV in what seems like months he just happens to see his old business partner talking about him. The problem is that even I, as the casual viewer, came with a few possibilities in my head that could have avoided or at least mitigated the strained aspects of that scene. First I thought, what if he saw the TV guide preview for that interview in one of the papers that Robert Forester brought him and then that was one of the reasons he wanted to go to the bar. Then I thought, well that seems a little trite when combined with his plan to call “Flynn” and make plans to deliver bones to his family. Then I thought, what if, at the bar, he saw an article about Grey Matter, including the comments about Walt. That would have been a bit forced as well and would not have been as clear as the interview. Ultimately, I think a better resolution would have been for him to (1) call Flynn at the bar, (2) have a drink and absently watch the bartender channel surf for a while, seeing nothing significant, (3) having thought about it for a while, decide to turn himself in and then make the call, (4) go back to the bar to find CNN business news playing where the Gray Matter comments are just a soundbite, instead of a Charlie Rose interview. Maybe they didn’t have enough time to set something like that up (the episode was already over an hour, including commercials). The other potential problem with the Grey Matter back story is my sinking suspicion that they are not going to tell us why Walt not only parted ways with the company, but did so in such a way that prevented him from becoming anything more than a high school chemistry teacher. To a certain extent, this back story feels like it may have been grafted onto an initial, simpler concept of Walt as mere underachiever (as opposed to Walk as aborted business genius). While Elliott and Gretchen were certainly involved earlier on, the nature of the Grey Matter story didn’t get fleshed out until this season. And maybe that explains why the show seems poised to end without giving us an explanation for Walt’s departure. Maybe they just don’t have one. The problem with that is that this type of plot line is not one that will result in a noble cliff hanger (of the type that ended the Sopranos). It’s a background point that will just seem sloppily unresolved. It just goes to show how difficult it is to orchestrate every single plot element to perfection over the course of five years while having to contend with all the complexities of funding, resources, actors, and serial structure. Not even this show, which has almost certainly done a better job of it that any other show in history, is immune to the occasional hiccup. And there were a few in this last episode. For instance, the basis for Uncle Jack allowing Todd to continue with the meth cooking, which necessitates the continued kidnapping, torture, and harboring of a known fugitive, as well as killing Andrea, is a bit flimsy. I’m glad that Uncle Jack finally came out and said that there’s no reason to cook the meth now that they all have millions, and letting Todd continue so that he can impress his crush and, since he’s maybe a son figure to him, finding that endearing is fine, but the decision needed to be labored over a bit more. This goes to a more general problem with the Nazis, who, as Hip notes, have started to take up a surprising amount of screen time, especially given their relatively recent introduction. Although I don’t share Hip’s concerns in this regard — I actually think that the creators are making a very craftsmen-like point that bucks the typical TV show trend, which is to establish characters and then manipulate those established characters through time. Here, I think the point is that running a meth empire involves unleashing and utilizing an escalating series of unsavory persons. If anything, the story of Walt’s demise is his inability to control the increasingly rabid assistants that he needs to keep his business growing. It’s one thing to have Saul deal with Badger, it’s another thing to have Nazis take out 10 prisoners in jail. The message being that the forces needed to unleash the latter, while successful in neutralizing the immediate concern, cannot be ultimately contained. In other words, the end did not justify the means. The real problem with the Nazis, however, is that, in their initial role as underground hit men (”I think this is something for my Uncle Jack”), they had to be shadowy and ill-defined. Their arrival on the scene marked Walt’s transition from using amoral but at least human (and funny) facilitators like Saul, to having to use helpers that are pure evil. However, as the plot has required the Nazis to take a more prominent role, their lack of a back story, or of motivations in general, is becoming a problem. For instance, we didn’t really even know that they had a compound until last episode. And who are the other guys in the group? When they were just a resource for Walt, it didn’t matter, but now it would be kind of nice to know at least the name of the guy with the mustache. And while a flash back to Uncle Jack’s childhood would not be desirable at this point, perhaps a small amount of background could go a certain way to making the recent decisions more explainable. Even Todd, one of the show’s best characters, is wearing a bit thin. I couldn’t help but think that his “it’s nothing personal” line to Andrea was not as shocking as it was meant to be, if only because, at this point, we’ve heard Todd make those kind of comments repeatedly. Ultimately, I do like the fact that Andrea got killed. I really think that this will end up being the show’s low point. Even Hank was portrayed as unsavory prior to his death, particularly with regard to his cavalier attitude towards Jesse’s welfare. But Andrea was an entirely innocent victim, killed for almost no reason. In that sense, it continues the show’s downward progression, not with regard to Walt’s empire necessarily, but with regard to Walt himself, since he was the one that set this in motion by giving Jesse over to the Nazis, and by, of course, enabling the Nazis to begin with. Walt’s immoral acts are now reaching entirely beyond him, and sullying his character to a greater extent than even past transgressions (at least those were perpetrated against willing drug world participants).

With all that said, allow me to provide my prediction for how the show will end, which came to me in a fugue state last night: (1) Walt escapes the cop siege at the bar by stealing the bartender’s keys and taking his car just before the cops arrive; (2) he drives to his cabin and hides the car in the snow; (3) after the dust settles he ventures out to contact Lawson, his old gun dealer, with whom he arranges to pick up a new car and a huge gun; (4) he meets Lawson at a Denny’s in New Mexico (the first flash-forward scene) and then continues on to his home (the second flash-forward scene); (5) with the ricin in hand, he goes to Uncle Jack’s compound and tells them that he’s eaten through much of his money in order to go into hiding and that, either way, he can’t pay his family because of the feds, so he proposes helping them cook the rest of the meth if they will find a way to get the money to his family (Walt says he doesn’t want any of this because he’s dying); Uncle Jack then tells Walt that they already have someone to help them cook and reveals Jesse; however, before Jesse is introduced Walt poisons their food, some of which is delivered to Jesse, who Walt therefore knows will die; (6) meanwhile, Skyler decides to turn in Lydia, having gotten assurances that she will be relocated, protected, and sparred from prosecution; Lydia, in turn, implicates the Nazis in order to get a lesser sentence; (7) we return to the Nazi compound where they have still not eaten any of the poisoned food, finally one of them does and starts to get sick, but that is interrupted by the feds raiding the place; (8) Walt takes hiding and during the shoot out decides to fire on the Nazis (they don’t know he has a gun), turning the tables in the fire-fight, during which Walt is shot and killed; Todd, severely wounded, is taken alive to face the knowledge that Lydia ratted him out; (9) flash forward to Somewhere, Middle America, where Skyler has been relocated; she is working at something like a car wash and her sister comes in randomly and they have a heart-felt reunion; (10) we see baby Holly in a car seat in the back of the car as Tyler and his sister talk; Holly is holding a new, pink teddy bear, and the final shot is a zoom in that reveals it to be of the same type that Walt fished out of the pool at the beginning of season three.


What the fuck? I can’t believe I read all that.

I felt like the reasoning for his leaving Grey Matter was well enough resolved in that there was some sort of romantic issues that arose, she left him for his partner or something along those lines at a time when they were just three crazy dorky kids out in the middle of the desert with not much to any of their names, and that he was essentially bought out at a bargain basement price because the company hadn’t gone big yet, but that it was his ideas that helped for the basis for the eventual billions in success. I don’t care at all to hear any more about it, the storyline served it’s point that our hero is a brilliant scientist who never got the recognition, praise and money that he deserved (as he sees it).

I hope that Andrea’s execution is the low point, considering how fucking low of a moment that was and that I’m not sure I want to be taken much further down than that. I hadn’t really felt at any point that I needed or wanted to know more about the Nazis, they are what they are, career criminal low-lifes, the sort of people you end up talking yourself into working with when you need to accomplish certain highly profitable and highly illegal things. The fact that they are on screen a bit more now doesn’t really bother me, since I still just see them at this point as a vehicle for Jesse’s continued storyline. I thought the best moment for Todd wasn’t so much the execution, but the small little smile that started to spread across his face as he realized what part of Jesse’s interview was being fast forwarded to….that was cold.

This Network Moment was brought to you by Shark

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A Seemingly Dumb Thing About John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

July 27th, 2013 · 1 Comment

While illuminating sundry aspects of the heavenly reign, both before and after the revolt of Satan, Milton glosses over any explanation of exactly why God decided to create both a son and a human race (or Earth itself for that matter). The former was the stick in Lucifer’s craw, leading directly to the schism, while the latter was a foreseeable disaster for both God and humans. Regarding the first, a son, by definition, must follow a father. Milton clearly strains to tell this implication while, at the same time, maintain God’s status as the perfect, inalienable cause of all good. But why would such a god, all knowing, create the son who would lead to the creation of original evil? Milton seems content to say that Satan’s ambition is to blame, and that is undeniable from the set-up. Yet unless there is a colorable reason for creating the son, why do it, knowing that it will goad Satan to open rebellion? Similarly, regarding the second, why create man? The lack of explanation shows that the otherwise thorough Milton could not conceive of an articulable reason. As a result, man seems to serve as an amusing snow globe for God, and one that ends up being clouded — as opaque as the explanation for its existence — with the murk of temptation and sin that God brought upon the universe by creating his superfluous son. No wonder readers associate more with Satan. Both his goal and his motivation are clear. Thus, it becomes natural to root for his mechanizations, and he, as a result, becomes the clear protagonist of the story. To quote Nietzsche, “a yes, a no, a straight line, a goal.” [FN1]


FN1: Twilight of the Idols; “Maxims & Arrows,” 44 (Hollingdale trans.).

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July 21st, 2013 · No Comments

After taking the deposition of a stucco foreman all day I came home and was listening to “Time After Time” when I had this extremely profound moment of Proust-style involuntary memory where the song brought me, in the form of real feelings, way back to when I was a kid, like 5 or 6, and the boundaries of my life were riding my bike around the street, maybe making it down the hill to visit neighbors, but also driving around with my mom and listening to pop songs on the radio, when music like that was just something wafting in from somewhere, and me just uncritically accepting it, feeling vaguely the emotions in it and, apparently, keeping those feelings in my brain somewhere, but somewhere beneath where I would later simply file the song away as a Cyndi Lauper hit from the 80’s, down somewhere that can only be reached when the sounds are refracted perfectly off certain random shards of existence, in certain circumstances, at a certain time, when, hearing it, I felt compelled to put my head in my hands and almost cry from the flood of feelings from a time in my life that I don’t fully understand and will never have back.


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A Conversation

July 17th, 2013 · No Comments

An afternoon at The Office.

SHARK (looking through the freezer): I’m hungry. Please tell me this is your frozen pizza.
HIP E.: Nope.
SHARK: How about this vat of frozen fat?
HIP E.: Could be. Not sure.
SHARK: And the folded blue jeans?
HIP E.: Oh yeah, those are mine. Grab those, I think they’re done.


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Twelve Slake Meadowland

July 6th, 2013 · No Comments

“Certain Man Runs Amok”

Our farm’s gotten swollen, Kate,
or else my sword,
flashing, forgot the
importance of soil
turned clay
before a couple of flimsy
battles here, gods
of aftermath

Made up of skirmishes.
I’m flipped, you
know, like a cuirass as
maintainer of lines, letter of
bowls that the earth
needs, I guess, or

When eleven men die, I sit here wondering
if it’s better than one;
eighths of
a chariot splintered before
wailing Automedon
of whom now
carrion begets food

“Ruinous Fire for Hell’s Sake”

Worries are what I traced
down the walls of the cove.
A few things that
I knew but now don’t
look at during my orgy. I’m
touched by
nymphs, my contented run down.
You would know, if
you had run back from where I
cut a man in two

Striving, time-deprived mother
fucker. Your
anticipated about-face is a shole
on the turn. Rifle through
five women you
love and count
which among those have turned with you

Anyway, while I have my knife, I swear
going to stab anything I don’t like. It
will simply sit on the platform,
at all costs, and wait
for the boat, collecting certain
on its back. Have you given?

“Ceramic Icon Receives the Sunset”

I touch your leg in
in my mind
while a nymph slides
across my body and
I can’t know if I was sleepy or
drunk but
the sun was definitely
at our backs, with
the land behind us faking
a departure

Like everyone who
deserves better, Kate, you’ve
opened up
to the escarpment and given back


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Letters I Wrote to People 1

July 6th, 2013 · No Comments

To: Prof. Mark A. Peterson, UC Berkeley
Re: Question re: Colonial History
Date: 7/6/11

Dear Professor Peterson,

I understand that you teach early American History at my alma mater UC Berkeley, and write to you in hopes that you can answer a question that has vexed me and my friend Bret for years. I have cc’d Bret on this email. As first-year history majors at Berkeley, we both took colonial history with the late James Kettner. During that class, Professor Kettner made a distinct and memorable reference to a colonial pamphlet called “A Pamphlet on the General State of Things” or some variation on that title. This pamphlet discussed the exceedingly poor conditions of one of the early American colonies, including such sordid details as to the exhumation of corpses and cannibalism. It was perhaps a pamphlet regarding the Starving Time at Jamestown, but we cannot be certain that it was not related to another, lesser-known colony. Indeed, we have spent several man-hours scouring the Internet for a pamphlet with such a title related to Jamestown, but have had no direct success.

The reason that we are so committed to tracking down this particular primary source is that, quite simply, its title, in light of its grave content, is hilarious to us. Often during our first year one of us could be found plying the other with the question: “So how is the general state of things?” to which the other responded with something like “Things are not good. I ate my shipmate’s wife yesterday, who had but three days earlier died of acute dysentery.” Things like that.

Do you know the pamphlet that I am referring to?

Unfortunately, we do not have any grant money to offer in support of this research; we are just a poor lawyer and an electrical engineer, respectively. But we would certainly be extremely grateful and would, to the extent possible, be very interested in providing the University library with a fresh copy of said pamphlet, so that future generations may benefit from its wisdom and darkly humorous title.

[Shark] (’02)

Response: none


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May 19th, 2013 · No Comments


from Paradise Lost, Book I:

With these came they who, from the bord’ring flood
Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
Of Baälim and Ashtaroth—those male,
These feminine. (For spirits when they please
Can either sex assume, or both; so soft
And uncompounded is their essence pure,
Not tied or manacl’d with joint or limb,
Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,
Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose,
Dilated or condens’d, bright or obscure,
Can execute their aery purposes,
And works of love or enmity fulfil.)


from The Tempest, Act V:

MIRANDA: O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in ’t!

PROPSERO: ’Tis new to thee. …
But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have requir’d
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This aery charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.


The last entry in Ted Berrigan collection of poems called The Sonnets:

“A Final Sonnet”

to Chris

How strange to be gone in a minute! A man
Signs a shovel and so he digs Everything
Turns into writing a name for a day
is having a birthday and someone is getting
married and someone is telling a joke my dream
a white tree I dream of the code of the west
But this rough magic I here abjure and
When I have required some heavenly music which even now
I do to work mine end upon their senses
That this aery charm is for I’ll break
My staff bury it certain fathoms in the earth
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.
It is 5:15 a.m. Dear Chris, hello.


from “Creature Song” by The Mountain Goats:

I can see the look on your face now
Bright light dancing all along your eyes
And you covering your mouth up with your hand.
Bracelets jangled against your arm.

Oh brave new world
That has such people in it.


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Patsy’s Top 15 Disney Movies

May 6th, 2013 · 1 Comment

15. Bedknobs and Broomsticks
14. Sleeping Beauty
13. Robin Hood (1973)
12. The Parent Trap (1998)
11. Peter Pan
10. Hocus Pocus
09. Alice in Wonderland
08. Return to Oz
07. Mary Poppins
06. Freaky Friday (2003)
05. Toy Story
04. Aladdin
03. Up
02. The Little Mermaid
01. The Parent Trap (1961)


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Four Code West

April 7th, 2013 · No Comments

“October in the Alcove”

for Eyeball Chambers

In the beginning there was “It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October,” and I was holding up a couple of Philip K. Dick novels with my left hand. There was also lots of smoke in my eyes and two beers across the left quadrant. Someone– it could have been Ajax Minor if it was anyone– was traipsing up the stairs. Then somewhere down the angle, more books falling, I realized that it was not October and instead of “a time” it was “my springing,” and I definitely did not have anything to read except for, maybe, a screenplay. The refrigerator looked as if a picture of Slayer couldn’t be made to close its eyes to its own sunblindness. Ha ha La Monte Young. I almost killed my kitchen with my drinking; students ran around excited. I told them that if they thought hard enough Ferdinand de Saussure would appear wrapped in egg salad. Basically, like his, our carapace is egg salad, and we are singing some sort of Modest Mouse song– a highway stretched out before us like, I don’t know, a crepuscular frontispiece? Children jumping around, born to suffer. They, more than anything, know the descent of flowers.

“The Code of the West”

for Fitzgerald (trans.)

If only I could constantly abjure. Things like today, and rough magic. If only, instead, I were a dung beetle, the stars actually telling me things

(Dear Ted Berrigan,
Cross the bridge with both hands!)

as I navigate a perfect ball of poop past a stick. Trains or birds; the town blows away. Enter you (to something by Leonard Cohen) stage right; or is it, like home plate, the other direction? Either way, there are a lot of you in that sunken grove. Thankfully swords were brought too (no togas this time), and, at the end, you could almost feel the lines de-brained with each drink. And then just you: on the roof, five hats on your head, decoding the West in small shoes.


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