nora ephron | who are you?

24 09 2008

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No. 151| September 23, 2008

The Laugh’s On…(who?)

Editor’s Notes: Maybe what the country needs in this dark hour (these dark times) is a little humor. The old fashioned kind. The kind of humor writers, skilled in the art of working words and situations into belly laughs, once served up in our daily newspapers and monthly magazines. There’s so longer room for that in our culture. Nothing in America seems funny anymore unless you’re sticking it to the other guy—weapons off satirical destruction. Making ‘fun of ‘ so-and-so, instead of finding the humor in common, everyday situations. Once upon a time there was also room in this culture for something called “self-deprecating humor.”

I was reminded of all this when I came upon the piece below by Nora Ephron. Which called to mind a recent incident (just a week or so before yet another birthday, alas) when I carried on a long conversation with ‘a stranger’—who obviously knew me –Norbert Blei

WHO ARE YOU?

by
Nora Ephron

I Know You

I KNOW you. I know you well. It’s true I always have a little trouble with your name, but I do know your name. I just don’t know it at this moment. We’re at a big party. We’ve kissed hello. We’ve had a de¬lightful conversation about how we are the two last people on the face of the earth who don’t kiss on both cheeks. Now we’re having a conversation about how phony all the people are who do kiss on both cheeks. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. You’re so charming. If only I could re¬member your name. It’s inexcusable that I don’t. You’ve been to my house for dinner. I tried to read your last book. I know your girlfriend’s name, or I al¬most know it. It’s something like Chanelle. Only it’s not. Chantelle? That’s not it either. Fortunately she isn’t here, so I haven’t forgotten both of your names. I’m becoming desperate. It’s something like Larry. Is it Larry? No, it’s not. Jerry? No, it’s not. But it ends in a Y. Your last name: three syllables. Starts with a C. Starts with a G? I’m los¬ing my mind. But a miracle occurs: the host is about to toast the guest of honor. Thank God. I can escape to the bar. I will spend the rest of the night scrolling through the alphabet in an attempt to come up with your name. If I fail, there’s always Google. If only I could re¬member what that last book was about.

Have We Met?

Have we met? I think we’ve met. But I can’t be sure. We were introduced, but I didn’t catch your name because it’s so noisy at this party. I’m going to assume we know each other, and I’m not going to say, “Nice to meet you.” If I say, “Nice to meet you,”, I know what will happen. You’ll say, “We’ve met.” You’ll say “We’ve met” in a sort of aggressive, irritable tone. And you won’t even tell me your name so I can recover in some way. So I’m not going to say, “Nice to * meet you.” I’m going to say, “Nice to see you.” I’ll have a big smile on my face. I won’t look desperate. But what I’ll be thinking is, please throw me your name. Please, please, please. Give me a hint. My husband is likely to walk up, and I’ll have to introduce you, and I won’t be able to, and you’ll know that I have no idea who you are even though we prob¬ably spent an entire weekend together on a boat in 1984. And even though I have a secret signal with my husband that involves my pinching him very hard on the upper arm, a signal that means, “Throw your name at this per¬son because I have no idea whom I’m talking to,” my husband always forgets the secret signal and can’t be counted on to respond to my pinching, even when it produces a bruise. I would like to chew my husband out about his forgetfulness on this point, but I’m not ex¬actly in a position to do so since I myself have forgotten (if I ever knew it) the name of the person I’m talking to.

Old Friends

Old friends? We must be. You’re de¬lighted to see me. I’m delighted to see you. But who are you? Oh, my God, you’re Jane. I can’t believe it. Jane. “Jane! How are you? It’s been — how long has it been?” I’d like to suggest that the reason I didn’t recognize you right off the bat is that you’ve done something to your hair, but you’ve done nothing to your hair, nothing that would excuse my not recog¬nizing you. What you’ve actually done is’ gotten older. 1 don’t believe it. You used to be my age, and how you’re much, much, much older than I am. You could be my mother. Unless of course I look as old as you and I don’t know it. Which is not pos¬sible. Or is it? I’m looking around the room and I notice that everyone in it looks like someone — and when I try to figure out exactly who that someone is, it turns out to be a former version of herself, a thinner version or a healthier version or a pre-plastic-surgery version or a taller ver¬sion. If this is true of everyone, it must be true of me. Mustn’t it? But never mind: you are speaking. “Maggie,” you say, “it’s been so long.” “I’m not Maggie,” I say. “Oh, my God,” you say, “It’s you. I didn’t recognize you. You’ve done something to your hair.”

Nora Ephron, the author, most recently, of “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” is a contributing columnist/or The Times.

[From: The New York Times, August 12, 2007]

Nora Ephron, acclaimed essayist, novelist, screenwriter and director was born May 19, 1941 New York City. She is the daughter of screenwriting team, Pheobe and Henry Ephron, who wrote classic screenplays such as, There’s No Business Like Show Business, What Price Glory and Desk Set. She is the oldest of four sisters, Delia, Amy and Hallie. The Ephrons were a family that valued verbal jousting, and in an article in Vanity Fair one Ephron sister compared the family dinner table to the Algonquin Round Table. Ephron grew up in a household where both parents abused alcohol, but she has never let her sometimes difficult childhood defeat her.

Ephron graduated from Wellesley in 1962 with a degree in journalism, and became a reporter for the New York Post. In her autobiographical speech, Adventures Screenwriting, Ephron reveals that in college all she could think about was going to New York and becoming a journalist. She became one of the counrty’s best known journalists with her work in Esquire, New York Times Magazine and New York Magazine. Two collections of her essays, Crazy Salad and Scribble, Scribble were bestsellers, along with her novel, Heartburn, an account of the breakup of her marriage. Ephron was married to writer, Dan Greenburg before marrying Watergate journalist, Carl Bernstein. The couple had two sons, Jacob, 21 and Max, 20. It was the breakup with Bernstein that prompted her novel Heartburn. In 1987, Ephron married Nicholas Pileggi, a journalist and screenwriter. He wrote Wiseguys, which later became Goodfellas. Ephron lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband.





michael dickman | we did not make ourselves

19 09 2008

Poetry Dispatch No.252 | September 19, 2008

WE DID NOT MAKE OURSELVES

Michael Dickman

We did not make ourselves is one thing
I keep singing into my hands
while falling
asleep

for just a second

before I have to get up and turn on all the lights in the house, one after the
other, like opening an Advent calendar

My brain opening
the chemical miracles in my brain
switching on

I can hear

dogs barking
some trees
last stars

You think you’ll be missed
it won’t last long
I promise
——

I’m not dead but I am
standing very still
in the back yard
staring up at the maple
thirty years ago
a tiny kid waiting on the ground
alone in heaven
in the world
in white sneakers

I’m having a good time humming along to everything I can still remember
back there

How we’re born

Made to look up at everything we didn’t make

We didn’t
make grass, mosquitoes
or breast cancer

We didn’t make yellow jackets
or sunlight
either

——

I didn’t make my brain
but I’m helping
to finish it

Carefully stacking up everything I made next to everything I ruined in broad
daylight in bright
brainlight

This morning I killed a fly
and didn’t lie down
next to the body like we’re supposed to

We’re supposed to

Soon I’m going to wake up

Dogs
Trees
Stars

There is only this world and this world

What a relief
created

over and over

from THE NEW YORKER, September 1, 2008





norbert kraft | skinning a rabbit

14 09 2008

Poetry Dispatch No. 251 | September 14, 2008

FIELD-DRESSING POETRY

SKINNING A RABBIT by Norbert Kraft

I rip off
bobtail
pull fur
down back
peeling it
over belly
yank it
over head
across paws
drop it on
old newspaper
insert knife
where naked legs
spread apart
slash down
thru tender belly
as thin blood
drip drips
& guts bulge
stick hand into slit
grab handfuls
of warm guts
which I tear
from back
chop head & paws
off with hatchet
plop whole wad
on top of fur .
wrap corners
of newspaper
around bloody mess
compress it
into ball
to bury
in garden
drop leftover flesh
in pail of water—

staring down
at a shrivelled
pink embryo
in reddening water
I blink to
the large streaking blur
my shotgun
blasted so still
& wonder why
I pulled the trigger
with such fever
the knife
with such relish
the guts
with such satisfaction.

[from THE HEARTLAND II, edited by Locien Stryk, Northern Illinois University Press, 1975] http://www.twin-lakes-air.com/field-dressing-moose.htm





ed markowski | candidates 9/3/08

9 09 2008

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND… No.150 | September 9, 2008

THE POLITICS OF LITERATURE


candidates 9/3/08

election news a woman spits up sticks & stones

sharpening the darkness of her smile a poet

the color of a crow on the clothesline is perfect

-ed markowski

Editor’s Note: Sometimes you leave it to the power (political) of the poet to find truth in words. More of Markowski’s mastery of the small poem can be found at: www.bashosroad.outlawpoetry.com . “Candidates 9/3/08” will be posted there as well. –Norbert Blei





norbert blei | the politics of literature

7 09 2008

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND… No.149 | September 7, 2008

THE POLITICS OF LITERATURE

An Introduction, Confession, Explanation, Claims, Disclaims…and So It Goes…

(Kurt Vonnegut, Thou Shouldst Be Living at This Hour)

I used to deal with politics in various online writings: Blei-Lines, The Mourning News, Word Bites, etc. …but finally let it go. For any writer seriously devoted to crafting fiction, poetry, personal essays, getting into political word-slinging will eventually do you in, eat you alive. Turn you into the very thing you hate.

We all know the other guy’s an idiot, the other side is destroying our constitution, our county…you have the right to do this but not the right to do that and if you don’t think the way I do, you’re the enemy. The word is out, the deck is stacked, the system is in a shambles, the culture is corrupt, nobody’s telling the truth!…someone has to shout: “Fire!”

To get my life back, I had to diminish the sound. Spread the word in other ways,

Continue to mine what it means to be human. THAT path. THAT way. What makes us both idiots and saints in the same body/mind. Re-awaken the spirit as few politicians do. THAT”S what matters.

With the piece on censorship I sent out yesterday (mainly to my e-mail list), I saw an opening in the politics of the present moment where I might “get back into it” occasionally, just a little, by bringing to light situations where politics and literature crossed a certain line. And the fact (fact) that a Mayor in Alaska (who happened to be thrust into the national spotlight as a candidate for the vice presidency of the United States last week) had issues with what should or should not be read in the Mayor’s own city library…well…it needs to be made note of. http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/kilkenny.asp Especially since the mayor isn’t answering any questions—or allowed to answer any questions by party handlers. (Now, that’s a HOT remark…the kind I don’t want to get into as I consider occasionally exploring this new, sub-topic in NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND: The Politics of Literature.)

We all know the problem with the web is too much freedom. By now, almost anyone who uses the internet has been burned by one story or another that he or she felt was too good to be true and just had to pass on to someone else. Anyone can say just about any damn thing he wants in cyber space. (No different than a number of talk shows.) And frequently does. And you can “Believe it or not!” As Ripley once gave the reader a choice..

Freedom inevitably generates irresponsibility. Take the ‘truth’ of so many political ads on TV. But wait…I’m getting off-topic again.

Okay…a couple of people challenged that reading list I sent out yesterday. http://www.adlerbooks.com/banned.html (I did too). Did such a list exist? (Some of the titles and authors were even misspelled. I corrected them.) Where did the Mayor find the list? Or was it handed to her by someone, some other organization, some religious group?? How was it presented to the City Librarian? Was it?

All valid questions. Yes, it’s an old list. But censorship is an old issue—still fought every day in America. I battled it when I taught high school English. Many communities and schools are still battling it today. (Just Google the word. You’ll find enough to read on the issue from now till the next election.)

My main concern was the fact that a Mayor in America (now running for national office) tried to fire a qualified librarian of the City Library because she refused to remove some books that the Mayor wanted off the shelves.

There are lists and lists of books in America, constantly generated by one group or another that wants to deny any reader his right to read any damn book he pleases. And when any one, including a public official (paid by the taxpayer) says, “No. You are not allowed to read THAT book, my good citizen-American” That’s a problem. And, I would suggest, a really BIG problem for anyone seeking higher office in this country to represent our constitutional rights.

Below, is the original blog sent yesterday…updated with various links. If this is NOT the list, my apologies. If this list is incomplete, my apologies. If the Mayor would finally speak up, answer some questions from the real American public, tell us the truth about this book banning incident (and a few other things)…my applause! —Norbert Blei

P.S. A number of people also wrote asking that I link the original e-mail posting to one of my websites, so they might more easily forward the information. With this posting, that has now been done. AND, there will be further, additional postings to NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND: THE POLITICS OF LITERATURE, when the spirit (and information) move me. –Norbert Blei

WRITERS, READERS, CITIZENS: YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.Anne KilKenny, resident of Alaska

A list of books Sarah Palin attempted to ban in Alaska

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It’s Okay if You Don’t Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Ronald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

FURTHER (directly/indirectly related) FOLLOW-UPS:

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-oe-steinem4-2008sep04,0,1290251.story

And in case you missed this one (in the Chicago Tribune)…read & witness the YouTube video

http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/religion_theseeker/2008/09/palins-problems.html

Plus…

http://www.adn.com/sarah-palin/story/518490.html

Plus…Plus…

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/100/story/51821.html





jeffrey winke | the maverick

5 09 2008

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No.148 | September 5, 2008

MAVERICK

Hi Norb —

I’ve decided that I want people to refer to me as a maverick. As an opinion leader in the writing / publishing world, I’m hoping that you’ll take a leadership role in my image remake. Despite the fact that I’m living a traditional boring 8-to-5 life, I want to add zest to my reputation. I also like that being called a maverick can explain away any faults, errors in judgment and screw-ups. If there is the opportunity to talk about me to anyone — say for example the clerk where you pick up your dry cleaning, you might say: “Did I ever tell you about this guy I know, Jeff Winke? (soft chuckle) Well, he’s such a maverick!” You have to include the soft chuckle because that really seals the deal. It has to be the right kind of soft chuckle though. It has to be more of a boys-will-be-boys type of chuckle — not a sneering chuckle or a lecherous chuckle or a what-an-idiot chuckle.

Do you think you can do that for me? I appreciate your help.

Jeff “The Maverick” Winke

www.jeffwinke.com www.electricdaybook.com

Following a note from the webmaster:

Winke lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a downtown industrial loft with his wife, two-thirds of his children and a posse of four cats where he plies his skills as a PR counselor, magazine editor and adjunct university professor at the Milwaukee Center of Upper Iowa University.

Jeffrey Winke co-edited the first small press North American haiku anthology, the Third Coast Haiku Anthology, published in 1977. His most recent book, What’s Not There: Selected Haiku of Jeffrey Winke is a 2002 Merit Book Award winner. His motion graphis haiku collection called Chances can be viewed here…and has been designated a “Cool Website.”

Recent books include PR Idea Book: 50 Proven Tools That Really Work (Denver: Outskirts Press, 2006) and the haiku collection What’s Not There (Chicago: Deep North Press, 2002) and Coquette Sensual haiku (Milwaukee:Distant Thunder Press, 2008) which is available now.

Sensual haiku by Jeffrey Winke

Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Winke. Design by Steve Monsen. Distant Thunder Press, 234 N. Broadway, Unit 513 Milwaukee, WI 53202 USA. Cover photo “passion” by Lev Dolgachov.

attractive woman
her shadow falls
into my arms


5 EURO incl. shipment cost world-wide by clicking here…


That Smirking Face

by Jeffrey Winke

a collection of haiku and haibun by Jeffrey Winke featuring drawings by Matt M. Cipov Distant Thunder Press, 234 N. Broadway, Unit 513 Milwaukee, WI 53202 USA.

A collaborative broadside featuring Jeff’s dark urban haiku and haibun with original art by Matt M. Cipov. “I found his business card on the floor of a coffee shop and was compelled to look up his website,” Winke says. “His direct, edgy style reflects exactly the tone of the haiku and haibun I’m currently writing.”

5 EURO incl. shipment cost world-wide by clicking here…








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