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Archive for June, 2007

I have a personal interest in the Brotherhood of Jobs, and that interest explains the rationale at the website listed in the Blogroll to the right of this column. I’ve created this separate posting with the name in hopes of attracting readers who scan posting titles and whose interest and action after reading the spiel shared at my Brotherhood of Jobs web site will help Jobs find each other. The site, which I’m happy to include here, is

http://www.civag.com/brothjob.htm

I believe I would have been a different person if I had been named Paul, or Luke. Those are my two fave first names for fellows; names I would have hoped to give my sons if I had fathered any. For the record, my two favorite names for women are Anne and Margaret. I wish I could have married at least one in my life..

When I was growing up eveyone knew how to correctly pronounce my name. Finding a stranger today who pronounces is correctly the first time is a rare blessing in my life. I take their intelligence personally, and I celebrate it, letting the person know I appreciate his or her uncommom awareness of the name.

I have sensed the stand-offisheness of strangers when they learn my name, the same needless reserve as when meeing a Kyneshia, or a Kobowaleshi. If I were a Paul or Luke, I would not be eating one freaking meal a freaking day. I would haave a house on a hill, far away from Springfield, a wife named Anne and two kids. But that’s okay. I’m not blaming anyone, and I do feel a modicum of pride in my given name.

But iIF YOU KNOW someone named JOB as a first name or with Job part of their last name (like Antonio Carlos Jobin, which ever Roller Derby fans know how to pronounce) please tell me — writer@eosinc.com — about that person and tell that person about Brotherhood of Jabs. I am looking for a sense of connection to humanity, and I’m not finding it. Finding other Jobs will help.

Live long . . . . . amd proper.

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Introduction: Mostly Martha first appeared in my third book of poetry Bear’ sKin, available for $10 post paid by emailing me — writer@eosinc.com — and asking for more info.

Mosty Martha
— written June 23, 1999
—— by Job Conger

I am not the man I was at age 17
when I learned the joy of
amateur gymnastics performed
in the back seat of my parents’ 1959 Buick Electra
across the drive from
the Washington Park tennis courts.
I am not the man I was at age 27
when I drove from Denver to Springfield
in a mad dash after vacation
stopping only for fuel
knowing I could find the meaning of ife
and all the rest that mattered only
after I returned
to the apartment on Edwards Street
where the Fountain of the Babbling Brunette waited for me,
counting the minutes, she said,
who today has forgotten I ever lived.
I know I am not the man I was at age 47
even though I still get a kick from Champaign dreams.
I know this because
I am in love with Martha Stewart.

She looks me right in the eye
from the front page of the Big K advertising supplement in
last Sunday’s State Journal-Register
and she smiles. Not the pouty Brigitte Bardot pose
or the Demi Moore dare,
not the empty-headed grin of Jennifer Aniston and
not even the cerebral puffery of Madonna.

Martha’s smile is the confident, just-ate-the-canary smile
from the other side of the polished silver dollar of life
that transcends the implicit invitation to
romp in the heather
(Does anything mean more than romping in the heather?
You BET!
and that is how I know I’m getting old.)
but she doesn’t deny, with that twinkle in her eye,
at least the outside chance it could happen.

I am in love with Martha Stewart.
From the vapid disorder of self-absorbed princesses
who shun the clock,
who denigrate the practice of making good on primises and
who snipe at my idols while worshipping none of their own,
she brings order, competence and congeniality
and if love comes along, that’s okay too.
I want to kow her. I want to know her family
if she has any, but mostly, I just want to know her
and her vandellas —
ooops that’s a different Martha.

To wrap my arms around Martha Stewart,
I would happily relinquish the
Benjamin Franklin Junior High School
locker rooom dream of
tasting Bo Derek on a beach.
Our love would be a love,
not of innocence, but of happy embracing
mutual assent,
and mutual ascent.

For her embrace of only slightly zaftig physicality,
I would soulfully surrender my
chance to court the emaciated drug-tracked blues singer
who throws smiles like candy mints to the crowd
the way politicians throw Brachs to cubside children
on downtown Springfield streets during the Christmas parade.
She tells me with her eyes that I can
I can
I CAN deliver my part of the equation!
I don’t sense this optimism, this joy of life
wityh the paper doll cut-outs
prowling my city’s Saturday night “meet markets.”
Besides, she is no further away
than the artificially gravied
local cuts of veal and cat,
and she is just as real to my tomorrow
as the crowded room distant untouchables who walk away.

This live is not for someone I can catch;
it is for someone I can believe.
I sense in her eyes the greater reward somehow
as I stare at Martha Stewart on the front page
of the Big K advertising supplement in the Sunday newspaper.
And that’s okay. Don”t feel sorry for my dream,
and I won’t feel sorry for your reality. Fair deal?

I know there will be no love’s olabors lost,
no vinegar lips after
no future housekeeping.
The stars in her cosmos will never harmonize with mine,
but unlike Romeo, I will live.
I am in love with Martha Stewart.

(addendum: I wrote the poem before Martha went to jail, but the honest personal regard for the woman remains, revealing, confirming perhaps a more naiive poet than there ought to be in the real world. But that’s okay. Don’t feel sorry for my dream, and I won’t feel sorry for your reality. Fair deal?)

In other news, I’m still drinking my coffee without sugar. The intense hunger pangs that gripped me the first afternoon I stopped adding about half a level teaspoon to my Instant Folgers did not continue the next day and have not resumed since. I BELIEVE I’ve sensed slight improvement in circulation since relegating the sugar bowl to a top cupboard shelf. Even so, coffee isn’t a pleasure anymore. I drink it warm or cold, usually in several sips over two hours or a rush of several fast gulps to empty the cup. It’s medicine to keep my eyes open now. And I’m drinking less of it: from five or six cups a day to three or four. I guess that’s progress.

Live long . . . . and proper.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on Charlie Rose for the hour Wednesday night. I almost didn’t watch the program because I dreaded what I was sure would be a litany of alibis. Of course, the show was all of that, and it was educatiional in helping understand the game; not unlike a fenced area where thirsty canines, ill at ease the the heat and conspiratorial oders of their bretheren and sistern warily circle each other and bark, but never engage each other.

The leadership I voted for last November was leadership which would have begun bringing troops home from Iraq not in March of 2008 or August of 2007 as Senator Luger (R-Indiana) bravely suggested a few days ago, but before the snow melted in my frikking driveway last spring. If the Dems and the Reps were so deaf to the mandate of 2006 that they did not think the legal public of the USA meant what we said with our ballots, they are closer to the heartbreak of Alzheimers desease than at least this voter thought possible at the time.

The malaise can’t be blamed on a particular party. Put Fred Thompson into a dark room with Dick Durbin, roll a caged lion into the room and robustly jab him in his hindquarters with a stick, and you can be sure, the esteemed gentlemen will be of one accord in their resolution to take their timely leave of that room. I don’t blame parties; I blame the perils of cohabitating in the same sleepy snake-oil Gommorah with the bold egos of Washington DCeit.

Ask any June US high school graduate what offices comprise the three parts of national government, and you will learn they are the courts, the legislature and the executive branch, the latter comprised of president and vice president. You don’t have to be fresh out of high school to know this. You can be sure there are adults in Zaire, Bulgaria, Argentina and China who know this also. No wonder we can almost hear the “loud sucking sound” of our integrity stealing away from our shores the way picnickers put distance between themselves and a festering deer carcass on the edge of a clearing. Vice Dick’s sudden disavowal of his role in the executive branch is such an obvious fart into the face of the constitution that it’s hard not to physically retch just thinking about it. Put him into a room of embryonic stem cell researchers and the room will be overloaded with Goebbels-esque perversity . . . until he departs to strut with his fellow bold egos. How can men and women of good will keep their silence? With pricks like this, who needs enemas?

People of both “potties” have lost the will to stand for the integrity of law. Though there were several negative aspects to the defeated illegal immigration law, we can take small solace in the failure of Congress to sanction living in the US illegally. Does the traffic cop on the interstate say “There’s no point in my arresting speeders because gee whiz, you can’t expect me to get every one. That’s impossible.” No. He or she takes retributive consequences to those he or she can pull over, and he or she keeps at it because that is what enforcing the law requires. NOT GUARANTEEING deportation of every person who entered the USA illegally, who we can catch, tells the world how little we care about the law and how spineless our congress persons are, despite the logic which should have been branded into their failing consciences since they were old enough to stop at stop signs and signal before turning. Establish a priority: deport convicted criminals first, and while the A team is doing that, send the B team to deal with the rest.

#43 no more wanted the illegal immigration bill to pass than he wants to go “pro life” by eliminating in vitro fertilization and ordering our troops home NOW. The travesty of both “potties” lacking the intestinal fortitude to show some backbone is a blight on our land. Here’s hoping that in some gathering of brave men and women in that Potomac whistle stop, solutions are being formlated that will put more “starch” where it will do some good; not only for US, but for the rest of the jaded world.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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“While you’re up, get me a beer!” — Yes, there are myriad things I’ll never post at Central Illinois Visual Artist Gallery pages, but I want to share visual-arts-related thoughts with readers who have never attended a gallery reception. In 2000, I had attended one, and that was in Decatur for Dave Bishop, a former compatriot.

If you’re not washing your hair or attending a Republican witch burning Saturday night, please accept this blogger’s invitation to attend either or both gallery receptions coming up June 30, from 5:30 to 7:30. One is at Springfield Art Association Gallery, 700 N. Fourth. That’s the “Old Edwards Place,” the oldest home still standing on its original foundation in Springfield. It’s worth a visit on a non-reception day just to get the guided tour. They are pros there, and they know their history. SAA’s reception is for their new exhibit 1830 (degrees) F; Contemporary Expressions in Clay, featuring the work of several well-known local area practitioners. The other reception is in the H.D.Smith Gallery hosted by Prairie Art Alliance in the Hoogland Center, just south of Captol on Sixth Street. It features paintings by E. Vern Taylor and Sheri Ramsey, plus several other PAA members. Be sure to take the elevator to the third floor to visit the simultaneous reception hosted by Sangamon Watercolor Society. They’re all good folks.

Receptions are THE TIME to purchase art in Springfield. Every painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramic you encounter at the Saturday night events have been “juried” into the exhibitions. That means that a panel of artists has reviewed slides of art submitted by their creators and approved each for display in the slated showing. This is a major positive factor for the neophyte potential purchaser. Some bodies (the jury) thought enough of what you encounter to vote the creations in. What really matters is how each creation “speaks” to you. As in life, comedy, drama and everything in between can be found on walls and pedistals. At the receptions, chances are good you can meet the artist who created the painting that appeals to you. Ask at the reception desk at PAA and ask the greeter at the SAA event. Word travels fast when the sweet smell of a potential sale is in the air. Ask the artist about the painting that speaks to you; why it was created; what other artists he or she likes. It’s amazing how many red dots appear on frames by the end of these gatherings. The dots indicate “SOLD.”

Don’t let what you may have heard about art prices scare you. Many creations sell for less than $300. You’ll be surprised.

Consider the fading “whatever” in a frame in your upstairs hallway. How much it “talk” to you? How often are your eyes drawn to it? Have you tried to “read” what’s on your walls and gazed deeper than the obvious?

At the receptions Saturday night, look for textures and colors you’ve not seen.there before. Does the reflected light of that painting by E. Vern Taylor (an almost architect and all around likable hummin’ bean) make you think of something that has not occurred to you until that magic moment? Can you believe what Sheri Ramsey does with the same kind of paint your daughter dabbled in during fourth grade art class? What kind of signature is that in the lower right corner? Is that the mark of a proud artist or a tentative early smudge where the N A M E should be? Should that ceramic gem be in a New York museum? Yes? Why not take it home to your office study or dining room instead? These are creations by real people from Springfield; not copyists in poorly ventilated sweat shops in Peru and sold by the gross to Sears and Roebuck mass retail art buyers These creations are from people you almost bump into at the supermarket.

And of course there’s wine and hors de oevres. Some people call them snacks; Some call them dinner. Whatever you call it, the tasteful adjunct is fun and “full filling.”
Besides taking new art home with you, there’s the pleasure of meeting people who not only share similar visions with you; they transfer their vision to canvas, fabric and clay. You might be inspired to evolve from TV aficionado to aficionado of Garry Groves, Jim Edwards, Sonia Lang, Katherine Pauley, Roland Folse or Jerry Josserand.

MOCK YOUR COLANDER and plan to attend at least one of these events. If you see me, approach me and mention this blog posting, I will GIVE you one of my books of poetry, which I will have in the car, waiting for your encounter. Expand your mind and confuse your friends and family. Support these events and the talented artists and organizations which make them happen!

Live long . . . . and proper.

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If I had not watched a fascinating Charlie Rose show last night in which a panel of nutrition experts discussed progress science is making in understanding hunger and what’s good for the old collective body organism, I would not have decided to drink coffee black — and only black — today. During the program I came to more fully understand how the body goes into “keep the weight” mode when deprived of the nutrition it expects to receive. Food is like a barbed hook that slips easily into your thumb, or midriff, but does not come out without extreme effort on your part to get it out.

Coffee has served two functions with me over the years. In the morning, it takes the “edge” off, the tentativeness of the new day. If that sounds like what booze does, so be it. I don’t go near alcohol before 6 p and when I’m substitute teaching, I don’t touch it if there’s a chance the sub scheduling service will call me to work the next morning. In the afternoon, and sometimes in early evening, as I described earlier this week, coffee sustains me, as though it is nourishment, and keeps the depression at bay.

The Charlie Rose panel Monday night had convinced me to walk away from sugar. Dutifully, early Tuesday afternoon, I put my sugar bowl and spoon onto a high shelf in the kitchen cupboard, and vowed not to add sugar to my Folgers Instant for the rest of the afternoon and maybe for the forseeable future. About an hour and a half had transpired since my previous cup with about a half teaspoon of “refined white” a/k/a table sugar in the mix. Since I have not eaten breakfast or lunch for almost two weeks now, I was looking forward to the infusion of sustenance and resolution that would carry me from about 1:30 after I fded my dogs until about 3:00 when WUIS comes on with Fresh Air with Teri Gross. As usual, I was too involved with AeroKnow keyboard data entry to remember the fresh cup until it was room temperature, and by the time I remembered I was ready for that infusion. I quaffed the contents in one easy breath and waited.

It didn’t happen. Ten minutes later I could tell there was a body reaction to the coffee — a tentative edginess’ nothing potentous — but in place of the anticipated sustenance was something new to me: hunger. I don’t know what precipitated the change in reaction. Perhaps the sustenance element in the brew had not been the caffein talking; it had been the sugar. For the rest of the afternoon, despite two more cups of sugarless, black coffee, I frikking stayed hungry and it almost drove me a mite bonkers!

I’ve decided that my flirtation with my Ramen noodles diet (two packages, boiled and drained with a dash of Kraft Catalina dressing and on Sundays only, a package of Budding sliced turkey or chicken and a dollop or two of Hellman’s Mayonnaise, is not a excercise in “nutritious minimus” for me; it is a Zen thing or at least an intellectual quest. Approaching it that way has allowed me to shrug off the murmering pangs at bed time. Last March I would have eaten a peanut butter sandwich and tossed down a glass of Carlo Rossi Burgundy in response to those pangs at 1:30 and happily hit the hay.

It was obvious to me that by 5:30 my “inner peace” was disintegrating into something approaching despair. I held off another 55 minutes before starting the water for the Ramen noodles, and allowed myself early dinner: 6:40 instead of 7:10. I was so hungry I even had a peanut butter sandwich for dessert.

And then I napped intermittently in the easy chair for about two and a half hours — I have not napped since going on the new diet, and it was obvious the peanut butter was the culprit here — before awakening to another fine Charlie Rose featuring the co-author of a tremendous four-part Washington Post series about Dick Cheney and the another interview with the fab managing editor of New York Magazine. Then into the office to write this blog posting.

I am going to stay sugar-free at least through Wednesday before reassessing. Perhaps my reaction today was “withdrawal trauma” from the sugar. In the meantime, there are no other nasty consequences.

As I write these words, I sip a tall glass of Lipton Instant Iced Tea: Lemon Flavoring and Sugar Added.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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cantaloupe11.jpg
Pictured above: my refrigerator at 4:55 pm, June 25, 2007.

Webster defines “cantaloupe” as a muskmelon (definition 1) AND as a muskmelon resembling the muskmelon known as a canteloupe (definition 2). For all I know, the canteloupe in the picture may not be a canteloupe at all. It may be a muskmelon that resembles a canteloupe. When I purchased it at Shop ‘n Save last July, I recall a label with a price near it, so I will take their word regarding what it is.

At the time I purchased it, I was riding a crest of infatuation with cantaloupe which came to me late in life, specifically when I began attending gallery receptions at University of Illinois Springfield and Prairie Art Alliance. My Uncle Turner Anderson, a physician of impeccable credentials and good taste (I’m guessing here. I never tasted him.) began every morning with half a canteloupe during the years I visited him and Aunt Stelle and their son Durwin (later Attorney General of the State of Florida) as a dazzle-eyed seven and 10 year old. (Memo to self: write about those days soonly!) Uncle Turner offered me bites of his broken fast, sprinkled lightly with pepper and fresh as the dewy dewy fog. But I was not enthralled during the Leavenworth, Kansas visits. The orange . . . orange. . . .WELL, in Springfield, our family were not “melon people.” If it came from the cereal aisle, that was breakfast. But I’m more reckless lately. I ride roller coasters I wouldn’t go near when I was 30 or younger. So I bought a cantelope last July.
cantaloupe2.jpg
(Pictured above; melon art. If you look closely and close one eye while inserting your left index finger into your left ear, you can see the vegan Mary or an unhappy Charles Laughton.)

As you can tell, I didn’t dig right in when I brought it home. As I delayed over a month or so, I noticed it was getting a wrinkle or two, like the party balloon in the corner of your bedroom that you brought home last Martin Luther King’s Birthday. I realized into the third month that I would not eat it at all. I would not touch it WHY?

Because if was no longer merely food; it was becoming an “art form,” no pun intended. As the first anniversary of its arrival approaches, I’ve still not touched it. It’s “art in residence” in my Kelvinator, and lately, almost the only item “in residence” there, and that’s okay.

I like the sense of perspective it provides. Can’t hardly reach for the mayo or a stick of Imperial Margarine ( Ta ta-da DAH!) without thinking of last summer and wondering about summer 2008. Life is a trip, y’ know?

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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What TV show, hosted by David Frost on NBC do you think of when you see TW3?
Who sang the show’s theme song?
How did my week go?
Answers follow in reverse order.

It was a productive week if you can get past the fact the production did almost nothing to generate near-term income which is what I most earnestly need at this dime — make that time. Make that NOW..

I’m pretty much, officially espikkin, “the poet in self-exile.” It was already a “de facto circumstance.” My formalizing it Monday in essence allowed me, the guy in the electric chair, to throw the switch myself and make it official. I had resisted the temptation to post a blog headline: Is There a Curare-Tipped Needle in the House? and I’m glad I did.

I’m not fried. I’m just in solitary confinement. I can live with that. Ardent Aaardvark — Newcomers: read my Party Hardly posting to catch the code — wrote me Monday expressing his view that my absence at Smooth Wolverine’s last-Saturday gathering was of concern, and asking if I was feeling okay. I replied with a short blurt of what led to my absence, and I asked him to read my Birthdays and Party Hardly postings for the full story. I don’t know if he did, but the outcome is the same. I am saddened by the outcome but I understand a good 80% of the “final cut” was made by my own hand. There is a reason for that. It is absolutely essential that at this time in my life, I should love, desire, require as little from life as I can. I almost said “as I possibly can,” but I don’t require or desire the extra word. And as for a curare-tipped needle, metaphorically speaking, I already have one.
office1a.jpg
Pictured above are notecards which have occupied two to seven hours of the week just concluded and today. They’re connected to an index to aviation articles in the AeroKnow collection, an A to Z listing, first of airplanes built in the USA and of airplanes built worldwide.

During the 80s I spent many hours with these and a few thousand more notecards, noting contents of the magazines in this collection and then cross referencing their contents by subject on other notecards. Before the internet was part of our lives, I new I would eventually transcribe the notecard info to a computer and those (and other) databases would be important elements in a thriving (in my dreams) aviation history enterprise. Recently I determined that for AeroKnow to have a chance of enlisting support, I need to have the aircraft indexes posted at the web site. The amount of transcribing data already placed in notecards to the Aircraft Data Index at AeroKnow is hard for most folks to imagine, and easy for the world to avoid supporting at this stage, but I am convinced that getting just the gazillions of notecard entries of US aircraft posted to the web will elicit a change in a stingy status quo. That has been my MISSION over recent weeks. Being a poet, even in exile, is an enterprise in stasis now. I must finish this project before I can spend serious time with anything else.

I almost earned some food last week. Successful, personal interaction I had enjoyed with another living hummin’ bean (believe it or not, I HAVE proven myself capable of such wildly anomalous activity) led me to anticipate generating income Saturday. That’s how I could spend inordinate hours transcribing notecard info. He told me to call him Friday to discuss some photography for hire.

I called Friday, and the anticipated activity was off the table. He wants me to call him Tuesday. We’ll do lunch, maybe. Okay, but I’m going to spend more time actively pursuing honest income without pinning my hopes on clouds that drift with changing wind.

The week ahaid will be better than the juan gone by. I hope the same for you and yours as well.

Nancy Ames sang the theme song for the knock-out Americanized British import weekly news satire show entitled That Was the Week that Was. TW3; get it? David Frost and his cronies combined were almost as funny as Dennis Miller is today when he’s hot. TW3 was a precuror to the Daley (Dailey? I don’t have cable) Show and almost as good as the Saturday Night Live News with Chevy Chase and Jane Curtin which came later.

Live long, y’all . . . . . . and proper.

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