Thursday, March 10, 2005

Scansion: A Poem

In honor of Philip A. Ellis
(sung to the tune of Ian Dury's "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll")

Trochaic pentameter
Stresses and unstresses me
Iambic tetrameter
Has only got four feet

Try to versify your preference for spondee
The bards of every age hate octametric pyrrhees
You’ve got to understand the rhythm of dactyli
If all you ever read is epics you don’t like

Iambic pentameter
Consists of many feet of five
Iambic hexameter
Is what keeps me alive

Every bit of Shakespeare ought to make you giddy
Sonnets of old Petrarch are nearly always witty
I really love the drama of Greece’s Euripides
See that poet, he’s called Byron, I know it’s going to fit

Pyrrhic feet are double-stressing
Anapestic, it has three
Don’t read nothing without meter
Free form is for dumb hippies
Master every rhyming device
Watch enjambment ordinary
Immerse yourself in that small wonder
The joys of prosody

Iambic pentameter
Trochaic hexameter
Spondaic tetrameter
Anapestic trimeter
Dactylic octameter
Pyrrhic heptameter
Syllabic-accentual song
Rhyming couplets all night long

Versification of meter
Is very good indeed

Sentiment Porn

I don't know why people insist on sending me little "inspirational" sentiments. You know, the ones that are forwarded around from person to person like spam e-mail with a family touch. By far the worst offender in my life is my stepmother, who is both Catholic and very sappy (she loves Rod Stewart--get the picture?). At least twice a week, I get some of those e-mails that are meant to make you smile and feel better about your life/strengthen your resolve/support the troops, etc. And they always go the same route, starting with a meaningless story: "Erica loved milk, but one day she spilled it" and blah blah blah. And then a seemingly insignificant event leads to some kind of revelation of the face of God or the state of the universe or the interconnectedness of matter or something, and it ends with some kind of simplistic aphorism like "Dance like no one's watching" or "Pull close the people who matter most" or "Support our troops."

Why do these things fascinate people so damn much? I mean, I guess I could almost see a short term moment of happiness for some people, but really they're like pornography for people who need a quick fix of sentiment so they can shed a little tear and say to themselves, "I felt something today." They're like masturbation--it's not real sex, but it holds you over for a few hours.

I found out last night that my 12-year-old sister has bone cancer. You'll forgive me if little snippets of sentiment porn do nothing to make me feel better about how unfair the universe is. Unthoughtful monologues on footprints in the sand are meaningless right now, and aphorisms only sound cruel to me.

And telling me you'll be praying for her will just make me want to kick yours and Jesus's asses.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I Don't Know Why My Girlfriend's Trying to Murder Me

I have a checkered history with video games. When arcades were popping up everywhere in the early eighties, I completely owned the console on Pac-Man. But the Atari 2600 was my first experience with disappointment and frustration in digital form. I was awesome at Asteroids, cool at Combat, rocked at Raiders of the Lost Ark, and quazy for Q-Bert (hey, I needed an alliterative, sue me). But Pitfall... the one fucking game I could never get the hang of was Pitfall. And after enough time passed, I just stopped trying.

Then Nintendo came along. Like everyone (except those poor Sega Genesis posers) I had a Nintendo. Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and Metroid were awesome games, games that could be won eventually. But along came Mega Man, and others like it, and I soon got tired of putting up with the incredible amount of frustration I would invest in these things. Seriously, my blood would race, and I would throw shit around.

Well, I was able to remove myself from it for a long time. I still enjoyed the odd arcade game, sure, and I grew to like some PC games. I would even rent the occasional DreamCast console and take out my job-related rage on Crazy Taxi. But then Sony came along and fucked up my life again.

When I first moved in with my girlfriend, she suddenly came home with a Playstation 2. I looked on it in horror, knowing that the second I started getting involved in video games again, my already high blood pressure would explode through my body, launching my heart out of my mouth and into orbit. And sure enough, I got sucked back into video games. Frustrating, nonsensical, stupid video games. I think my girlfriend and EA Games are in a conspiracy to get me into an early grave. Put on a racing game like SSX Tricky or a combat game like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and I lose all sense of time. I can feel my blood racing just thinking about them.

For Christmas, she received (from my dad) the game for The Incredibles. And suddenly, the game taught me how to be patient. True, I have stopped playing because I've reached a level that's very, very boring. But the other levels... well, after I evened out that amount of emotion I invested in the game, I reached some kind of karmic state of clarity. It was amazing, a new consciousness, and a lot of fun for me. Finally, a game that didn't feel like it was out to get me personally.

Last night, she started playing SSX Tricky again.

If I ever meet the genius who invented Playstation 2, I'm going to punch him in the nuts.