Monday, December 25, 2006

the seed of American spirits

The Youghiogheny River fell out of Maryland when we weren’t looking. It fell down a mountain through game lands and small towns, gathering streams and joining the Monongahela before Pittsburgh. There’s only one flat farm field before this confluence and Jim drove past it that day. “I used to plow this field when I was a kid. It was nice to plow a flat field. They grew rye on that field. This is whiskey country here boy.”

This is the original whiskey country, the seed of American spirits. The river took it south into the wilderness, beyond the reaches of taxation and regulation.

We followed the bottomlands along the creek for miles. Climbing steeply up the other side looking down below, a long large broken brick building stretched out rigidly along the banks. Broken down, black and burnt, rusted machinery and cars in the yard. “That’s the Old Overholt distillery, or it’s the old Old Overholt distillery at any rate.”

Here we are standing below the log cabin and firing shotguns toward the creek. Here we are two hours later doing the same. Starting off one at a time, then two targets at once, then two shooters at once, then three clays and four. The sun set and it was cold. We could see our breath. We were tired and content.

Enlarge the pictures by clicking upon them.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

how do you over cook soup?

Ignore the title of this post. It has nothing to do with anything when you think about it. It's perfectly possible to over cook soup. Especially the noodle varieties. This is why I have switched to a completely macrobiotic, no-cook, vegan, whole foods, Jungle Jim diet: crap in, crap out's my motto. The human body is exactly like computer programming: you have to harness the whole power of the whole body-mind-spirit dasein-geist. DNA proves that god exists and that he's a big fan of macrobiotica. Deepak Chopra told me that.

There is lots to say here folks. A story about the Whiskey Rebellion and 30-06 rifle fire and my impending trip to NYC. Flash fiction and the impending birth of poetry-prose, not to be confused with prose-poetry. My impending trip to Tidioute, Dunn's Eddy and, wait for it, Wolf Creek. And, of course, Benwah's new case of syphilis. It's no laughing matter.

Here is my new piece. I like the first paragraph and the description of the lager, but other than that I think Matt Dunn fucked it up pretty good. Click the picture please.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

two things

I was on the Good Beer Show last week and it is posted here.

There is a very cool article about recent human evolution in the NY Times here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

indianabeer all up in here

The webmaster continues to come up with clever new titles for my Indianabeer pieces. Excelsior: climbing a mountain in winter.

Click the pic to be magically transported through the interblag tubes.

Monday, November 27, 2006

pennsylvania black bear

I scoop them up all in my hand and cast them on the table like dice. They clink and clank like a wooden wind chime, a rain stick, the black bear claws my brother gave me for my birthday. I’m some sort of Iroquois medicine man looking to predict the future. I read the claws as they fall.

The smell was overpowering when the wind swept down the steep narrow valley and passed over us as we caught crayfish and built dams in the creek. It smelled like only a 400 pound mass of rotting flesh could smell. My grandfather played dumb. “I don’t know what the hell that smell is, but if you kids run across any big dead animals in the woods you let me know right away.”

It was July 1992 and I was 13. My friend Mike and I were spending another week at my grandfather’s house. It was a lot like summer camp but with less regulation and more four wheelers. He lived in rural north central Pennsylvania. His house was tucked back in the woods a mile off the road along a small, nameless creek that tumbled into the Clarion River from obscure headwaters high up on the Allegheny Plateau. My mother dropped us off once a summer and we shot BB guns and went fishing and rode in the back of my grandfather’s truck just like all good Elk County folk did.

There was one summer, after my grandmother died, when we subsisted entirely on ham and cabbage soup. My grandfather made 20 gallons of it the second day we were there like a lumber camp cook. Ten heads of cabbage, five pounds of ham, 10 pounds of onions and five hours of boiling made things simple for him, “I don’t know anything about cooking for these damn kids” he said to my mother. We also ate a woodchuck one night. “Um, Mr. Haight, there’s hair on this piece.”

You could see the dead bear from the kitchen window, a big black spot on the far bank of the creek. It took us a couple days to finally stumble over it. The carcass was flat but appeared to be breathing, pulsing up and down as the maggots gorged themselves. Flies in our eyes we ran back to my grandfather.

“Grandpa, grandpa we found it! It’s a bear!”

“Good. Now you boys go cut the claws off.”

He handed us a pocket knife and a pair of tin snips. We were a touch taken aback, confident for once that our rudimentary microbiological knowledge surpassed his sage wisdom. That bear was rotten. It was fouler than foul. If our parents had taught us anything it was that we shouldn’t be playing around in a rotten bear carcass. That’s a sure way to catch a cold or something. But this is why going to my grandfather’s was special.

So we set to it. Easier said than done. Tendon, ligament, bone, cartilage, and muscle were resistant to our snips and knife. But we persisted. Practically swimming in the fetid tissues of this former north country denizen we finally began to make progress as the claws yielded one by one.

It turns out that my grandfather “accidentally” shot this bear one night the week before we had arrived. He was having a lot of trouble with the bears. They were getting into his back porch and almost into his kitchen. They tore down the screen and tore up the porch. He’d had enough. So one night, when he heard crashing and gnashing at the back door, he rose from bed, grabbed a gun, POP! POP! POP!, that bear no more.

I knew my brother had the claws but I wasn’t sure why. I seem to remember that he was involved in their removal. I’ve been asking about them for a while now. I want to make a necklace. To remind me of Pennsylvania.

Monday, November 20, 2006

the circumnavigator perseveres

Part III has been posted. Trout and beer together make me very happy. And it's my birthday. Happy birthday me. Clicka the pictura to go there.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

look at miss ohio, that slut

Gillian Welch is a Great Blue Heron. David Rawlings is a Brook Trout. The tumbling mountain creek slows to half speed and they are in perfect sync.

Click on the picture to watch some video I took at one of the best shows I've ever seen.

Monday, November 06, 2006

the town, part 1

The town ran on trees. The men fought in wars. The sons cut the grass. The daughters did the dishes. TV was family entertainment. There were no tits and ass. Old fashioned black and white morality. It snowed hard in the winter, but everyone had a very nice garden.

Though the growing season was short, the gardens were prolific, the gardens were productive. A sizable portion of every back yard devoted to the straight rows of agriculture.

The squash, the sweet corn, the chard.
Cabbage, cucumbers, green beans.
Tomatoes, potatoes, rhubarb.
Zucchini and spinach and greens.

There were apple trees, pear trees, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes sometimes. They made jams and pies and wines and cakes and casseroles canned the rest.

The men hunted. They shot deer and bear and duck and rabbit and geese and squirrels and elk. The occasional woodchuck. They fished for trout and walleye and perch and pike and bass and musky and catfish. They ate most of it.

All the homes were heated by wood stoves. The trees were felled, the logs were split, the cold cast iron boxes glowed a gained red.

The land yielded.

A bountiful harvest.

Skinny and Boots Gorski were typical town folk. Funny nicknames. Right ancestry. Skinny worked in the paper mill. Boots raised the kids.

Skinny Gorski’s parents came from Poland in 1913. Shoemaking was his father’s trade, but in the town he worked at the mill. Just like everyone else. Just like Skinny would. He turned a particular set of valves or threw a particular set of switches or hauled a particular type of load for almost forty years.

The paper mill was like a fat, sweaty, swaying, drunken man squatting over the Clarion river trying to shit; his torso a gigantic, smoking, clunking, sputtering, leaking vacuum cleaner with various complicated attachments erupting from the shoulders where the neck would be; noisily and odiferously slurping the magnificent northern hardwood forest off the Allegheny Plateau. Manuum vacman, model T-4JY98. The trees went into the shredder, the digester, the black liquor, single nip, shoe nip, Larry car, pusher car, two felts, open draw, watch the wet end breaks now boys! Just so long as everyone hauled their load and threw their switches and turned their valves with perfect synchrony a single large tree could span the entire hulking mass of machine: every Saturday evening roots dangled from one end while Norman Rockwell’s sentimental America was posted at the other. A fluid, seamless gradient from rough wood to smooth paper.

The marvels of modern industry.

Terrific technology.

The mill smelled bad. Made the entire town smell like rotten eggs. Sulfurous and lecherous for the tight virgin land. But the oft repeated refrain amongst the good townspeople went a long way to justify their lives amongst the stink: “That’s the smell of money.”

And so the town prospered under the generous but smelly tutelage of the paper mill. Old growth forest stretched south into Maryland, north into New York, west to Lake Erie and east to Wilkes-Barre. Penn’s woods. Still mostly intact here in the hinterlands. It’d take at least a hundred years to use it all up. And by then, well, by then we wouldn’t even need paper anyhow.

And so the town grew. Its citizens were good and productive and friendly and generally naïve and uncritical. They were Americans goddamit. All the women were strong, all the men were good looking, and all the children were above average. The boys were Eagle Scouts crammed full of physics. They all went to college to study engineering and chicken breeding. Make a better egg. Before we know it, before we know it there’ll be a colony of humans on the moon, harvesting cheese at their leisure and generally living a very fine life. We already split the atom for Christ’s sake, it’s only a matter of time. So keep them clean cut, crew cuts. Make sure they’re polite. Yes sir. No ma’am. Please mister, I’ll have your daughter home by 10pm. The girls will need a curfew. Better make it 9pm. If we didn’t keep an eye on those little sluts they’d be out fucking the first crew cutted Boy Scout this side of Salamanca, come home pregnant at 15.

Johnsonburg was ripe and lusty.

A busy baby boom.

Boots Gorski’s father was some sort of Swedish. Nordic blue and silver. Her mother was from Tidioute. Native gold and amber. Born on the banks of the Allegheny river. She sold eggs to the raftsmen on their way to Pittsburgh or Cincinnati or Louisville or New Orleans.

The raftsmen rode the trees.

Friday, November 03, 2006

two beery developments

There have been two very positive recent developments in my life that have to do with beer and they are as follows:

(1) A while back I mentioned that I missed the deadline to submit a chapter to a forthcoming book called Beer and Philosophy. Well, it turns out that the editor still needed a chapter so I wrote one about the semantics and metaphysics of beer styles wherein I rehearse Hilary Putnam's famous Twin Earth thought experiment but in terms of beer. I think it's pretty funny. And it kind of works as an argument too. Kind of. The book won't be out until fall 2007.

(2) I will be flying to NYC this coming Thursday with a beer wholesaler to check out some breweries. Then on Friday we'll drive to Albany and then to Cooperstown to check out more beery things. Then on Saturday we're supposed to head back to NYC and maybe kick around Mannahatta for a while. I am under the impression that everything is being paid for which is pretty fucking sweet. I just need to document the whole thing and write about it when we get back.

Every once in a while, life throws me a frickin' bone.

Monday, October 30, 2006

halloween 2006

When you're in your mid to late 20s, Halloween is pretty much the most important holiday. See Halloween 2005 here.

Friday at the House of Love (English grad students), Saturday at Grant and Ben and John's house. Please enjoy these digital images.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

more poetic spam

The spam keeps getting better. The artifical intelligence behind this spam is pretty cool.

"A frustrating paycheck assimilates the steam engine. Some pork chop over a grand piano pees on an inferiority complex living with the garbage can. A knowingly dirt-encrusted photon falls in love with the fruit cake. An umbrella brainwashes another parking lot. Some pork chop for the mortician, some globule, and the fractured industrial complex are what made America great!"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

step up efforts to control the killing

She was very thirsty. Most of her body’s blood had spilled onto the concrete.

From the hole in her side.
From the placed it had pried.
Away the taught youthful skin.
And busted her bones in two.
Her liver disinterred.
Grated on impact and leaked all its juices in blue.
And gray and red and green it ran out of her body to sidewalk and through.

It a man walked, shaken confused, he’s lost all his mind, forgotten of time, he limps.

Like hot red shrapnel had pierced his thigh which it had he cried out loud:

“Why, oh why, must this girl die a painful death on the street?”

“Mothers and fathers and friends are dead.”

“I’ll probably die soon too.”

”So fuck the world and fuck the bombs and fuck the riflemen there.”

“Fuck you! I said, listen to me, fuck everything that's true.”

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I've been super busy lately doing philosophy. Philosophy is funny.

This passage struck me as particularly funny. It is from Hilary Putnam's "The Meaning of 'Meaning'".

"Imagine that we someday discover that pencils are organisms. We cut them open and examine them under the electron microscope, and we see the almost invisible tracery of nerves and othe organs. We spy upon them, and we see them spawn, and we see the offspring grow into full-grown pencils. We discover that these organisms are not imitating other (artifactual) pencils - there are not and never were any pencils except these organisms. It is strange, to be sure, that there is lettering on many of the organisms - e.g. BONDED Grants DELUXE made in U.S.A. No. 2. - perhaps they are intelligent organisms, and this is their form of camouflage. (We also have to explain why no one ever attempted to manufacture pencils, etc., but this is clearly a possible world, in some sense)...In a way, the case of pencils turning out to be organisms is complementary to the case we discussed some years ago...of cats turning out to be robots (remotely controlled from Mars)." (p.242-3)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

big red

She worked at the coffee shop on the same block
of the biggest beer store in town.

I used to hate her, now I bait her
to look in my direction.

I yell out things like "Yo, bitch! Nice Ass!"
(which always works).

She looks over and I smile wide
and try to look fly but stumble on the sidewalk.

One time she flipped me off which I consider to be progress
because typically she just doesn't notice.

Which seems odd. She's got to wonder who the big hairy dude yelling obscenities from across the street might be.

I mean, come on. You'd think she'd call the cops or some shit yo.

She must be one of them weird, creepy specimens that I don't wan't to have anything to do with.

Peace out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

the liaison

The liaison between my s and my vowel makes for a cute pair. Vous aimez-vous? Lascivious little liaison, they laugh like loons. The cutest thing you've ever seen? A particular fille jeune. But sitting there in the field, minding each others ears, a cow walks up that doesn't notice them there on the page so little in the middle all alone in the sentence, MOOOOOOO!, that's right, just back up a little bit here, chewin' my cud, da da daaa, I'm sooo full of hay and corn, ahhhh, FLAP FLAP FLAP PLOP FLAP, the little pair no more.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I missed the deadline

I cried a little bit. Just read it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

4:15pm, progress is made

Making progress feels good. It might be the best feeling thing I can think of revealing right now. At least after weeks of stasis. Regress. Weeks of ideas running splat into walls, slowly, sticky, sliding ideas coming to rest in a glycerine puddle on the concrete floor of my brain. All used up, turned out, crumpled and vacuous from the start anyway. I peeled the layers of disguise away to realize that, they all turn out to be crap. This one will probably too. I just hope it has thicker skin than the others.

I’m sitting in Encore Café. I was here last night too, but not to make ideas. I’m here now to make ideas and to write them down on this computer. I enjoyed several cups of coffee, accidentally putting soy creamer in the first. That was a bummer. I just saw the ‘cream’ part and poured away, without a care in world.

Now I’m enjoying a late lunch of carrot-potato soup, garlic roasted potatoes, and a hefty turkey sandwich on a baguette with red onions, cucumbers, and herbed cream cheese. Rather spot on with my bottle of Stone IPA. They wouldn’t sell me a bomber of Runination to drink here. I says to ‘em, I says, “Well I can buy two 12oz bottles and drink those right?”

“Well, yes sir, but we can’t sell you the 22oz bottle to be consumed on the premises.”

This is when I kind of freaked out and shoved the fat girl who was ringing me up. She slammed into the wall and slid to the floor quite like my ideas although with more of a thud. It created a scene. Several bike hippies tried to contain me but I’m big and they’re not.

So I’m sitting here now in the corner eating my sandwich and drinking my beer and typing away on my laptop like nothing happened, everybody’s looking at me, the manager talking on the phone, probably with the police.

I should leave.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

the funk explosion of 2006

Click on the picture for a very large version.

Our bodies were covered in lava colored battery acid. The explosions gained momentum as the night progressed. Despite common stereotypes, the Belgians are a corrosive people. Particularly the Flemish. First it was the hop. Gut wrenching acids introduced into early 15th century England cleverly attached to an otherwise perfectly pleasing and functional plant. Moving west, across the ocean, Flemish Manifest Destiny has arrived on out own shores. This time under the guise of otherwise innocuous microorganisms trained to produce low ph metabolites. Puckered were our cheeks. Denameled were our teeth. Exhausted were our salivary glands. A night to be remembered. A night to be feared.

When I left, Ryan and Dar were cowering in the corner crying in each others arms with a bottle of ammonia at the ready, “You’ll be neutralized you bastards! Don’t come near us!”

First, out of the gate, Melbourne Bros spontaneously fermented strawberry ale. The odd spontaneously fermented beer from...England. Smells like musty jam. Very jammy. Rich. Jam. But with a hint of musty, brett like character. Very sweet on the palate. Like diluted strawberry jam. Jam. Fairly tart finish, but is it from the strawberries? Pectin? Jam? One can’t know for sure. Would later be used as a salve for the inside of our cheeks.

Then Ryan’s homebrewed raspberry lambic. Maturing very well. Now four years old. Really nasty in the nose. Spot on. Like very yellow urine. The pisser hasn’t drank anything but raspberry syrup for days. And mushrooms and mildew. The pisser was pissing on a patch of rotten horse manure. Well, not that bad. On the palate this beer backs off a bit. Drier than our last tasting. With a solid acidity, but nothing like that to come. A pleasant, clean finish with a hint of raspberry. Bravo Ryan, Bravo.

The Vichtenaar sour ale was well past its best before date of June 2005, but it was actually better than the last bottle I had. Very sweet, but well balanced by a hefty sour side. Well assimilated. Get some oaky notes and kind of a chocolate covered cherry sort of thing even though there are no cherries here.

The Petrus sour ale was also well past it’s best before date, but it too had held up well. Not very tart or sour after the Vichtenaar it showed a nice malt character in the nose but more so on the palate. Special B? Chocolate malt? Very nice.

The two De Proef Primitive ales were interesting. Each about the same color, same strength, 9% abv, about the same carbonation, about the same final gravity. But the bottle with the “pig nun” and the “little armored thing” on the label was a much calmer ride. Fairly smooth all the through. A bit of funk in the nose but subdued. Big fermentation character, maybe a touch tart in the finish, hefty hopping, but all in all a very easy ride. The bottle with the “red caped bird” on it was an adventure. Massive dry hopping in the nose and maybe some spicing. The palate was herky-jerky all over the place. Much hoppier, big spicing?, much more tart in the finish. Reminded me of a slightly sweeter, spiced Orval.

The Rodenbach Grand Cru was much more intense than expected. The nose is absolutely funk-a-licious. Straight up cheese. Or smelly shoes. Really funky. Really puckering on the palate. Very sour. Definitely the most sour so far. Fairly sweet with a decent malt character underneath it all though. But still really tart.

The New Belgium La Folie was a whole new level of acidity. Supposedly brewed to be less sour than Rodenbach, our opinion was that this beer blows Rodenbach out of the water in terms of sourness and sheer acidic power. Much drier than Rodenbach, or at least so perceived, this beer strips teeth of enamel and sets your saliva glands to pumping out copious quantities. Much less complex than Rodenbach, but more aggressive. My bottle is marked 05-2030.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

pennsylvania autumn time

“Quit starin’ at my mouth, boy.”

I’m staring at his mouth. His lower jaw juts out sharply to the left. Broken bone that never healed quite right? Black, vegetal flecks of Copenhagen stick to his lower lip, a thin trail of brown saliva navigates his significant stubble. It rounds his chin. He sees me tracking its progress. Wiping the juice away quickly with the grease-stained cuff of his untucked blue Dickies work shirt he yells “Quit lookin’ at my goddamn mouth!”

He’s a short, wiry, dark haired man with a mustache and long tangled locks boiling out from under his dirty, boxy, mesh-backed ball cap. He’s got a long, bony face with deep sunken eyes and bushy brow. Big ears and a big nose. His once-blue work pants are now darker with grease and oil. Large black leather boots are out of proportion with his very skinny frame. He’s filthy. A mechanic maybe? Waving the rifle around now, veins and arteries ribbing his skinny, sinewy, red neck. He’s worked up. “You fuckin’ college boys come up here like you own the place. Well you don’t. I own it! And one of these days I’m gonna’ shoot one of you little shits for trespassin’. Now tell me you’re sorry and that you won’t never come up here again.”

“But sir, I just wandered off the trail. I was looking for a shortcut down to the river and I certainly didn’t mean to cause you…”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Screaming this slowly, breaking the phrase into three distinct parts, daa da-daaa daaaa, his voice broke. Frothy pods of brown chew spit sprinkle my face as he pronounces the f. He was clearly drunk. Or completely insane. Couldn’t be reasoned with either way. “Do you want me to shoot you? Cause I will you big piece of shit. You ever see what a .243 ‘ill do to a deer? Blow it’s shoulder clean off from 100 yards!”

“Ok man, ok. You’ll never see me again. I’ll never come back up here.”

“Now start runnin’. If you’re not out of my sight by the time I count to thirty I’m gonna’ start shootin'. Now git!”

The only way to go is up. Open forest as far as I can see down the hill, there’s no way I’d cover that distance. I’ll try to make it up and over the rise. Big strides, trying to run but it’s steep and the new fall leaf litter slides against the old. I slip and stumble and my muscles ferment. Holy shit please don’t let me die in the woods, shot dead by a drunk mechanic. Almost there. CRACK! and a again CRACK! he shoots. The rifle’s deafening. My ears are ringing. Jesus fucking Christ I don’t want to die. CRACK! CRACK! One of the bullets ricochets to my left and sounds like a tightly wound spring being plucked. My body is vibrating with adrenaline. I’m melting. I scramble over large rocks and fall into a tangle of logs and mountain laurel. CRACK!

“And stay the fuck out!” I can barely hear his maniacal laughter over my breathing and heart beating. I vomit a little in my mouth and it burns. I let it run out and into the dirt. A small, bright blue metallic beetle clings to a blade of grass just inches from my face. Precariously perched, preening antennae.

As the African continent forced the rock to fold, a river cut a notch in the ancient sandstone.

One thousand feet deep.

Barree Gorge is a rugged, roadless place where Tussey Ridge is cleaved in two by the Little Juniata River. The red, orange, and yellow of late October cloaks the ravine in autumn brilliance and cold, crisp air makes the fresh fallen leaves crackle underfoot as I walk shaking. The dark blue water tumbles round rocks, swirling in pools serene from above.

I plot a course far west of the trail through the trees to avoid any more unfortunate encounters. I’ll walk along the river back to my car. It’s overcast. I should hurry.

But descending towards the river the water becomes white. Thick heavy cream lumbering through rapids. Red maple leaves swell to plump, fist size raspberries and float in the cream’s current. A pale, beautiful, naked woman sits in a small rock pool, breasts full and bulging. She says something softly to me in a delicate French accent: “I am sorry”.

I eat her slowly with a large silver spoon.

She’s sickly sweet.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

the hangover

my hangover undulates in periodic motion
slowly surging
nausea builds

dizzy shriveled brain unhappy
very gassy
garlic sausage melted cheese
four eh em
bad eye dee


Friday, September 22, 2006

the circumnavigator perserveres

I have finished part two of my piece for The Scottish accent of the Segway gang leader doesn't come through very well because of a formatting error, but such is life. Click on zee picture to read it.

poems for michael, five of five

MB Pell smells
Like Pall Malls Lolly

Airplane hangers
purple daggers
Ukranians publish pain

poems for michael, four of five

Descartes' abolition of wonder,
We can know, we can know!

Gal-lee-lay-o, Gal-lee-lay-o

Lemery, Lemery
Mechanistic chemistry
epicycles everywhere

Little Willy Ellis,
Walking down the row,
See the Thames soft water pumped,
infused brown malt mash a lump,
a chemist on the go.

Lay the wort thick through the backs,
entire guile small beer stacked.

Hop it man, hop it good
in ropy, ramous, viscous atoms
rigid acids stood.

"Break up the Fox!"
"Reynard no more!"
Little Willy shouts.
A mechanism for everything,
he has another stout.

Friday, September 15, 2006

poems for michael, three of five

Talked today
Walked today
Made a knife today
Built a fire today
Buried her today
wrote about it all today in Olmec.

Shipping wine down the Euphrates from Georgia: round skin boats loaded with casks delivered to Babylon

Supped barley beer from five liter bronze pots on the ground through lapis lazuli straws

City states at war
Charlemagne no more

Revolution Newton.

Larry car
Pusher machine
coke side deceit

gas and steel and more I make
a living being beats

Charge the ovens, lidmen move
quench car runs its course

A dirty job, PROGRESS!
it's what it takes to eat

Thursday, September 14, 2006

poems for michael, two of five

Malt sugar in your coffee
The burly way to be

The burly way's the best of ways
the best of ways for me.

"That is just transitively marvelous!"

Parvo virus

Burly beards
burly shirts
burly work
barely there

fairly thee to question me authenticity

for to be burly, a matter of mind alone I doubt

live it bitch
breathe it, kitsch?
get dirty with the cow

PBR doth not a burly man make
without shower and shave 7 days neither

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

poems for michael, one of five

With a little luck and a little life
a little mettle, a little strife
whittle twigs and bid "well gone!"
a tragic end to forgone yawn

MB Pell! The blaze of leather!

across Sonoran skies he rides
one for gun and one for reins
one for woman, one for pain
four hands on him this freak doth has?
four hands makes sense when you look past

1541's the year

conquistador glory and pueblo fear

a town of gold he seeks for Spain
a town of mud, his search in vain

aux chats grise: the poetry of french class

Monsieur Simonet pretends to be a plant
as I storm around the living room pinching people.

To flatter mutually?
The question reigns here to descend along hot cat.

Voilà pourquoi on le garde dans ce cachot chaude chat.
Ce cachot-ci?
Oui, ce cachot-ci chaude chat.

Cachot chaude chat
Cachot chaude chat
a little buddy mine
a little gray cat

a little hot gray cat
clinging to the screen

Clinging to l’ècran du
Monsieur Simonet

Running in la rue du
ville du Cullowhee

Running out of life
Running out of heat
Running out of being
furry on my feet

Running out of being my
petite chaude chat grise.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

a long

Along the watch
along the way
along the deep blue sea

A manatee approaches poaches
eggs and makes strong tea

A little long
a little wide
a little rotund sow

A little rotund for a view
a little pleasant plow

All along the watch
along the way
a long dim light

A long dim light
a piercing ray
into my left eye

Into my left eye I preferred the light to shine because left is best.
Best to get jet set block top cop pop lock.


Lop it off cough.
Lop it off cough.
Warm it up Kris.

I’m about to.

Warm it up Kris.

Cause that’s what I was born to do.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the life of an academic

This little op-ed piece is awesome. I completely concur. The reason I am attempting to be an academic is because I like the lifestyle. I can sit around all day drinking beer if I want to. Then I have to work all night long, but that's fine with me. I get to decide. Of course some who know me well might insist that I need some more structure in my life. Bah! Structure schmucture.

I also need to read the author's book: Tom Lutz is the author of “Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers and Bums in America.”

As my favorite poet says: "I lean and loafe at my ease..."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

indianabeer all up in here

Part 1 of 3 has been posted. The circumnavigator rides.

Friday, September 01, 2006

breakfast log #A-4659

Alas, I have run out of both my primary jam AND my back up jam.

The breakfast log phenomenon catches fire in the midwest!

the undercut bank

Click for bigger:

Friday, August 25, 2006

my boss takes bees home in his trunk from work

"Finds the queen bee, puts it in his trunk. All the other bees follow her. He shuts the trunk and drives home to Ohio."

Or so R tells me.

There's a lot of corn in Illinois. This is the password. Don't forget it. It will become very important as the weeks wear on. Trust me.

So I have thusly returned from my circumnavigation of the upper midwest, or at least the portion that I was interested in. I suppose I actually circumnavigated some spot in NW Indiana. From Bloomington to Lafayette to Chicago to Madison to Dodgeville to Fennimore to Coon Valley to Madison to New Glarus then south through Bloomington ILLINOIS and east to Indy finally arriving back in the liberal bias of southern Indiana around 10:30 your time last night. I'll be honest with you, it was touch and go at times. When I accidentally put skim milk in my coffee in Lafayette I almost called it all off right then and there to flee back to my Bloomington cocoon.

But I perservered and it was well worth it.

I will here recount only small bits and pieces of the 6 day adventure because I am writing a three part piece for to which I shall dutifully link when they are posted on aforesaid website.

OK then. Chicago was great. Tracy is the hostess with the mostess and the little buddy Mia. I should have taken pictures of that little buddy. We drank a lot of beer and saw a lot of things to see including a really sweet Marching Band of street performers. I have video of it and will hopefully post it soon. I like Chicago a lot. My first trip there. Tracy is so urban.

Then I went fishing in the driftless region of Wisconsin. This place is called driftless because the last continental glaciers never touched it and thus never left glacial "drift" there. The driftless watersheds are tributaries to the Wisconsin River east of La Crosse. Kind of superficially looks like central PA what with the ridges and the farm land and the trout, but it is actually very different. All the relief is caused by erosion not acutal mountain building. Also, while all the excellent trout streams in the area are limestone spring creeks, like central PA, they have a much much lower gradient, flow through very large, flat bottomed, intensely farmed valleys, and have mostly silt, sand, and mud bottom substrate. They are also narrow, deep creeks. There is a TON of plants and algae in the stream as well. They are very hard to fish. The wading is difficult because of the soft bottom, deep water, and tangly aquatic plants. The casting is difficult because the rivers are narrow and the grasses and plants come right down to the water; no nice rock banks. The water is also crystal clear and the wild brown trout are wary and very selective so a perfect presentation and fly choice is necessary. This is very technical fishing.

But very good fishing if you can hack it.

I fished Mt. Vernon Creek, Big Green River, and the Coulees area. I only fished for an hour or two on the Mt. Vernon and Big Green. I spent most of my time on the Timber Coulee and it's tribs. The trout populations are very large in the Coulees. I saw more trout than I've ever seen anywhere. 50 trout a hole. Big trout too. Saw some 20" inch fish. The biggest one I caught was probably 14 or 15". The vast majority of the fish I caught were between 8-10". But I caught a lot of them. They are beautiful wild brown trout. I also caught one big brook trout the first night on the Coulees.

The big brook trout:

Click to enlarge:

Click to enlarge:

This is all for now. The first Indianabeer piece will hopefully be posted in the next day or two.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

the anatomy of a snort

I seemed to have developed a snort. The ends of my laughs are now infected with a distinct up-sucking of breath simultaneously through nostrils and mouth. This vigorous inhalation seems to be so far regularly accompanied by the rapid, staccato flap-flap-flapping a lacquered slick back passing of soft palate through nasopharynx.

Or perhaps my uvula is involved. It's hard to tell. I'll use the mirror here in a few minutes to really give it all the once over. Get this thing figured out. Solve the mystery. Hard the puzzle. Answer the question that's been burning a hole in my brain for days and days of restless sleep will wear a hole in one's head if one is not careful one may learn something one may not want to know the best way to incapacitate an attacker Bas Rutten style with the magic of Pancrase grappling technique! For only $9.99 learn the secrets of Muay Thai masters Bas Rutten and Ken Shamrock!


That's not all!

We'll also throw in a 45 minute Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu workout DVD by none other than Royce Gracie himself which includes a detailed explanation of his finishing moves from UFC 1, 2, 3, AND 4!! At no extra cost! This deal is just too good to pass up!


I'm not sure how permanent this whole snort thing is going to be. I'm not even sure how I feel about it right now. But have no fear, I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 11, 2006

misdirected affection

Up early this morning. 11am. Days upon days of sloth and pot, good for nothing lay-about lout. Get my act together today. Gonna go to Encore. Gonna do some work.

I’m on Myspace a lot. It’s not so much that I’m addicted to Myspace as I’m addicted to the interwebs. Myspace is just one more thing to do on the interwebs. Anyway, in this young woman’s “Who I’d like to meet” section she writes “henry miller in 1920s paris”. Well, honey, Henry Miller didn’t spend so much time in Paris during the 1920s. Apparently a couple months. With his wife. Most of Miller’s time in Paris that is chronicled in, for example, Tropic of Cancer, was during the 1930s. The Paris that made Miller’s themes so unique was the Paris of the 1930s.

The case could be made that had Miller been in Paris in the 1920s he would have never written the kind of books he did write. Tropic of Cancer is about poverty and a kind of perverted asceticism, irresponsibility, and bed bug ridden malaise. All of Miller’s friends are incompetent, weak, and disgusting in some form or another.

Paris of the 1920s was Hemingway’s Paris. Post war Paris was a very happy city. Everyone had enough money. Everyone had enough food. There was more absinthe than they knew what to do with. All of Hemingway’s friends were talented, famous, and powerful. There were no “gutters running over with sperm”. Hemingway could never have written A Moveable Feast in 1930s Paris.

At least this is my untutored assessment.

resplendent shiny foil, flicker in the night
hands so tight do toil, brave but mundane knight
altogether now we go, along the fields so brown
a wavering malicious beast, looking king a crown

their king a naked head for now, a naked head no cause
a naked head no cause for fright, great metallic jaws!

great metallic jaws descend, upon the party’s line
“seek not your glory now, your king for feast is mine!”

the wavering malicious beast, with middle section gone
draws bows to arms and takes good aim, let loose the arrows fly

clinking off the cold steel jaws, falling back to earth
cold steel jaws no right thing for pursuits pure amorous

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Being that I am now ensconced in my native interwebs browsing environment, I have once again been taking Rocketboom regularly. The new host, Joanne Colan, is, um, very attractive. More attractive than Amanda Congdon I must say. I think it's the accent and the slightly more polished but still somewhat amateurish performances. She is apparently a former MTV Europe VJ. She is much more polished than Amanda Congdon. But she is not nearly as quirky or creative. But I don't think Rocketboom has suffered. the only thing missing is Congdon's quirkyness, which I guess is fine. I guess Rocketboom is going to go more "mainstream" and that's fine. I think Rocketboom wil continue to grow and find easier access to traditional media with Colan as the host. But then they won't be able to say whatever they want and be as creative as they could be, but such is life. Life is shit, you do what you can.

Editor's note: this Joanne Colan episode is fairly creative. I like it. This one too. And oh my good lord, they did an episode with Tiki Bar TV. That is fucking awesome.

Monday, August 07, 2006

the now slightly more common double posting: "I can go anywhere!"

"Take a look, it's in a book - Reading Rainbow."

I have discovered a very excellent website. It's called and it rules. They have a whole slew of weather data for cities all over the earth. Average monthly temperatures, precipitation, days with x amount of sunshine, etc. It further confirmed my belief that Columbia MO is a bit hotter than Bloomington IN and both are much hotter than West Chester PA.

I have also discovered another very excellent website called xkcd. The comics are pretty funny. I like them a lot.

And finally, these are some images I got from Google Earth today. Google Earth has added a lot more high quality images in the last 6 months or so. These two images are from the Amazon Rain Forest. They can both be enlarged by the click.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

weather in the middle or not

106°F. Humid. The long gray road looks rubbery in the heat. Burnished, pliant metal; two portions rolled out elastically and equidistantly from St. Louis and Kansas City. They meet in marital tolerance beneath the firey haze of Columbia. Brown, dormant grass along the shoulder gives way to scrubby trees, more grass, and perhaps another road.

Downtown was mostly devoid of pedestrain activity. The few people that did brave the heat seemed to be choreographed: slowly, but rhythmically pacing from one spot of shade to the next. As little loitering as possible.

The diner was a real diner. A very small, low profile but bulging building perched on the very edge of a very large parking lot, isolated; across the street and across the parking lot, larger buildings loomed against the orange heat. Michael and I each had two eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, and one biscuit with gravy (I had coffee as well). We argued over breakfast for sport. Mike is hard to argue with because he oozes persuasion from every pore. I never quite know how he has convinced me, but I am typically convinced. We talked about the usual upbeat stuff, you know, human population growth, the impending crash? how? when? ebola? asian bird flu? nothing new? under the sun?


Everyone at the diner was very nice.

Beatrice was a skinny, tiny, wirey, 65 year old, white haired woman who got very excited about things and laughed a lot. She had a warm, melodic, wide ranging, crackly southern voice and beautiful wrinkly, milk chocolate colored skin. Beatrice was the janitor in the Biology Department at one of the local colleges who whistled a lot. She drove a giant 1978 Dodge Ram. Beatrice was a very bad driver. It was a good thing she worked nights when the lot was mostly empty: Beatrice took up two, sometimes three parking spaces.

She would often pop into the lab to "get the trash", which really meant, "talk to you for 20 minutes when you should be working." But Beatrice was a very cool lady. She had learned enough about science to have a good sense for how knowledge is produced. Beatrice would say things like, "What's your null hypothesis? Are you shooting for a tier 1 journal? Data analysis is the worst!" She wanted to be a scientist very badly, but Beatrice had a learning disability which made reading hard for her. Beatrice still took physics and biology classes now and then, just for fun: "Wheeeel, it is free, so I like to take advantage of that, you know."

She was also very fond of robots. She never married, had no kids, one sister in the next town, but her house was filled with robots. For a while she made robots that were like remote control cars but were robots instead. They actually moved around and what not. For the last couple years, however, she just made robots because they look cool. She had a couple displayed at the library in an exhibit called "Science and Art: Bridging Boundaries: the In Between: Space".

They are mosaics of discarded scientific accoutrement, these robots. Orbital shaker base, 10 empty petri plates, bits of autoclave tape as well. She asked me for two 1ml pipette tips so I gave her four and a couple 100μl tips for good measure. She said they would look very "coooool" on her new robot.

Beatrice lived in a trailer in a bad part of town where there was, for some reason, a lot of sand in the road. Her trailer was not air conditioned. Beatrice died while we ate our biscuits and gravy at the diner.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

LIVE FROM BLOOMINGTON...M.B. Pell weighs in on a beer

D. Carnegie & Co. Stark-Porter, Argang 2004

As dark as the African continent in the 18th century. Voluminous head a surprisingly light color. Sweet Sassy Molasses in the nose. Big nose. Big flavor. Camp fire cooked marshmallow, sweet but burnt.

Perfect for pumpkin pie or autumn time dessert.

"This is a damned good beer."

It's so rich for 5.5% abv.