Friday, October 24, 2008

Candidates' Debate II and Another Conference

In my last post I mentioned my son the professor was invited to attend the Presidential debate at Hofstra University, where he works. Well, he invited us to join him, and my wife and youngest son went. They didn't get to sit in the hall, but they were in a viewing room with a big-screen TV right next door. It was a lively event, and though they didn't meet the candidates, they had a swell time. (My older son got access to the press tent, and met Mitt Romney and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog - either of which would have been a better running mate for McCain, by the way.)

My big event last week was attending a writing conference, "Push to Publish" at Rosemont College, near Villanova University outside Philadelphia. It was sponsored by Philadelphia Stories, a very good (and free) lit mag in the area. It was a good day - I attended three workshops: one on chapbooks and how to get them published; one on poetry craft and what editors consider a "good poem"; and a session on the pro's and con's of enrolling in an MFA program in writing. There were also "speed-date" sessions, 15 minutes each, with a variety of editors and agents. I got to meet Conrad "Bill" Weiser of Philadelphia Stories and Rosemary Cappello of Philadelphia Poets, another good local journal. I also saw some friends and acquaintances who were on the panels, including Eileen D'Angelo of Mad Poets Review and Peter Krok of Schuylkill Valley Journal. I schmoozed with some fellow writers too, of course, including a gentleman with a heavy German accent who teaches geology at Penn and is working on a book of essays in a pop-science vein, sort of like Isaac Asimov or Stephen Jay Gould.

Or should I say, "Get going, Phillies!" They're tied one game each with the Tampa Bay Rays (I keep wanting to call them the "Devil Rays", but they dropped the "devil" a few years ago. Probably some evangelists raised a stink.) Anyway, they need to start scoring guys on base if they want any chance at winning this World Series. They were lucky to get a pitching gem in Game 1 from Hamels, Madson and Lidge, but in Game 2, they just couldn't put it together. Rollins and Howard are in major post-season slumps, and even Burrell and Utley could be playing better (though Utley hit a two-run homer to help win Game 1). Here's hoping they get in the groove again when they return Saturday night to Philly.

Music: WXPN, my favorite music station, finished their fifth annual 885 countdown - this time the theme was "885 Essential XPN Songs" - not necessarily the greatest songs ever performed, but the best songs that represent the alternative-music spirit of XPN, as voted by listeners. (We were invited to send a ten-song list, and all the votes were tabulated. In the end, eight of my ten songs placed in the top 100,and two in the top 10, including the #1 song.) Here's their list, if you're curious - you'll find it interesting that the Beatles did not place a song in the top 100.

Poem of the Week/Month:

...but who's counting?
I wanted to offer a poem that tied in with one of the above topics, but failing that, I dusted off an oldie that was published in the journal which I now help edit, Up and Under, the QND Review. (By the way, we are now accepting submissions - check the website here.)
So here's the poem:


It’s a miracle this leaky old boat
has made it so far.

Long as we have ploughed
through whitecaps and whirlpools,

everything the pissed-off Poseidon of life
could throw at us,

your rudder-steady hand has navigated
past Scylla and Charybdis,

and so many lesser hazards.
And the sirens, oh the sirens.

If it were up to me,
we would be dashed upon the rocks.

We will make it through this voyage,
Even if you have to lash me to the mast.

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