Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back from over the hills

Thanksgiving with the parents was great. All told we had about 24 people come over to the home of my childhood for dinner. We had 21 babysitters for the weekend, which was spectacular.

Unfortunately, I left my camera at home.

Anyway, highlights of the trip were of course the family and the non-stop eating of very non-traditional Thanksgiving foods like lechon and pancit. Don't get me wrong, though. We did have a turkey and we did have mashed potatoes, but we mostly had some variation of a Filipino/Chinese dish.

Another highlight was marathon stretches of Guitar Hero with the younger cousins. The youngest of my cousins who came is thirteen and the oldest is twenty-three, so they were all thrilled by the XBOX. I had to buy a second guitar controller, but it was worth it.

The lowlights were the actual travel--it took us ten hours to drive to Ontario. We hit very dense fog in the mountains which slowed us to 30mph, and we could barely see 100 yards ahead.

Another lowlight was, unfortunately, the town itself. It's a very different place from where I had grown up--poorer, empty. There's a maximum security prison nearby which wasn't there during my childhood. Consequently, the families of lots of the inmates have moved into town to be near their relatives and it's drastically altered the culture of the town. My folks had their business broken into a couple of weeks ago and there has been a rash of burglaries. Never happened in my childhood.

Which brings me to the other lowlight--I had to pack up all the crap from my childhood room. My parents, as I've mentioned, are moving to Bellingham. They didn't want to touch the stuff in my room because they 1) didn't want to pry and 2) they had no idea what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to trash. Honestly, I'm not very nostalgic for things, so I ended up dumping a lot of things in the garbage. The room's fairly empty now, except for the furniture.


Meredith and I got to take in Quantum of Solace which was a bit more like the traditional Bond films in terms of some elements. Craig's Bond is arrogant, almost joyless, but clearly a physical weapon. I liked the first film with Daniel Craig as Bond a lot better than this one. At least the poker scenes in Casino Royale created suspense. I don't think I ever felt suspense in the new film . . . just disjointed.


It's official. Heroes sucks. It's a victim of bad writing. Seems like the creators of the show don't read comic books. What made the first season great was the various Heroes discoveries of their powers and the human elements--estrangement, uncertainty, discovery, and joy. The last two seasons show a steady decline in the writing.

Here are a list of some problems I have with the show:

Hiro is too powerful and over-relied upon for narration. The time jump thing was novel at first but it's created some problems in the writing. I mean, hell, if he can jump through time AND space, then why can't he just fix everything? At least make his powers debilitate him in some way.

There are too many power absorbers--Silar? Peter Petrelli? Daddy Petrelli? No, no, no. So then what's the point? Marvel does it right with their character, Rogue whose ability causes her great emotional hardships.

God, I'm such a nerd. Let's just say that I was skeptical of the television series to begin with and now in its third season, my predictions for the show are coming to fruition.


I've been in the process of writing multiple series poems. They're all for different manuscripts, I'm certain.

Series 1 = Self Portraits (I've got twelve of these poems)
Series 2 = Simile Poems (I've got about eight of these. Titles have this characteristic: _________ as __________)
Series 3 = Fatherhood Poems (I've got maybe ten of these)
Series 4 = Manong Poems (Fifteen of these poems. Historical fiction poems focusing on a few Filipino migrant workers back in the 1940's).
Series 5 = Dear Empire Poems (Twenty or so in various states. Epistolary prose poems)
Series 6 = Nocturnes (Three poems)
Series 7 = Eschatology Poems (Six Poems)

Series 1, 2, 3, and 7 seem to fit together in a manuscript because tonally they're similar. The POV is the same or can be easily revised so that the POV is consistent.

Series 4 is all by itself.

Series 5 and 6 seem a likely pairing. The Noctures are in third person and very objective while the Dear Empire poems are quite intimate. Perhaps a bridge series is needed.

Looks like three manuscript projects to me. Each project has had its share of some pubs--The poems from series 1,2,3, and 7 have had the most pubs, followed by the poems from Series 4. Series 5 and 6 just had a few picked up in the Summer, so it's a burgeoning collection.

I don't normally work this way, mind you. I'm just finding that my writing energy comes in spurts. I'll bang out a few poems in a series, come back to the series, run out of energy, and start something else.

More on this later in the week as I do a bit of thinking.


Current Spin: Neutral Milk Hotel

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Want to Use a Theremin During My Poetry Readings.

DeVotchKa "C'est Ce La" from Marshall J. Baumgartner on Vimeo.

The above video is of DeVotchKa performing their song "C'est Ce La," live at The Vogue in Indianapolis.

Dig the theremin. ;-)


Speaking of theremins, wouldn't it be an interesting poetry reading prop? I know a couple of poets have a shtick, maybe the theremin could be mine. I'd open each reading with the Original Star Trek Theme Song. I'd boldly take the audience where no man has gone before . . .


As you can see, I'm a bit loopy. I need a vacation and it's coming up. The family and I are heading over to Ontario, OR, as I've mentioned in previous posts. Ontario's my childhood home. It may be the last time I see the place for a long time since my parents are moving to Bellingham. They just bought a house in town. Let me tell you, Meredith and I are relieved. We love L., we just need help. Our house is way out in the country, so our working logistics are complicated. We've been handing off L. between classes. Meredith's classes end at 11:50AM and mine start right at 12PM. We literally hand the baby off in his stroller in the hallway. With my parents moving here, not only do we get free babysitting, but Meredith and I will also get time to actually spend time together. As I've mentioned before, I've not seen a movie in a movie theater since this summer and there are a number of films I want to watch.


My uncles and aunts will also be going to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. It'll be very crowded. Growing up, we had no family in the states. For the most part, we were the only Filipino family for miles. My dad has successfully petitioned all his brothers and sisters over for citizenship and most of them live in Portland, OR. So not only will my parents be closer to us, but they'll be closer to my aunts and uncles on my father's side. That's a relief for me as an only child. My parents are getting older. It's visible, the way they move around now. They're still quite active, but they're slower and they're very concerned about our hilly Western Washington.

Ack, didn't mean to be glum. The bottom line is we'll have a crowded and happy banquet come Thursday.


L. just squawked at Gordon on Sesame Street. I squawk at Gordon too. Dude was around when I was watching Sesame Street and he aged very well.

Current spins: Calexico's "Carried to Dust," and The Rachel's "Songs for Egon Schiele." The Rachel's is good writing music. Very moody.

Current reads: I'm ashamed to say that I've been reading these books and nothing "literary."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Interlude: A Conversation with Mama de la Paz

[Telephone Rings]

ME: Hello?

MOM: How's Lucas?

ME: Um, hi mom.

MOM: How's Lucas? What's he doing? Can you put him on the phone?

ME: Sure. (putting the phone next to Lucas)

LUCAS: (breathing heavily and reaching for the receiver)

ME: How's that? He's playing with something right now so he's a little distracted.

MOM: Oh. Your Tita bought him some clothes.

ME: Great! (hears a slot machine sound in the background) Um, is that a slot machine?

MOM: We're at the airport.

ME: What? Why are you at the airport?

MOM: We went to Las Vegas. I told you that. Didn't I?

ME: No.

MOM: I don't like Las Vegas anymore. The Mirage is changed. I couldn't find the buffet, and when I did, it was $27. They had a Japanese food section, a Chinese section, a Thai section. (slot machine sound in the background)

ME: Um, are you playing a slot machine now?

MOM: Yes. I put five dollars in. I have to go. Bye. (hangs up phone)

ME: Mom? Bye.


Neil Young fans, go here

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sexy Sexy

MiPo's Sexy Issue is up! Check it out here. There's a great interview with Terrence Hayes.


Speaking of sexy, here's Jenny Lewis:

Strangely, she's also here on the Bolt soundtrack. I wonder if she was "drop[ing] acid on [her] tongue" for this newer production? Gotta love her, though.


Rec. letters that were on my plate are now finished. I can now resume my normal life. My students are great, but some of them really need to research their prospective schools. Some of them just don't fit the school's aesthetic at all. Perhaps, though, that's the point. Maybe they're trying to go in a different direction, though I doubt this is truly their intent.


Thanks to CDY for my latest internet addiction. I'm currently listening to a sample of Ryan Adams.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Warm Sounds

Mr. Bobby "Blue" Bland for you. I first heard "Two Steps from the Blues" when I was in grad school at ASU. I was over at Michael Guerra and Thea Kuticka's house and Michael had this song playing during a party. They had stained cement floors throughout their rental house, so the sound kicked into every single room. On top of that, the deep tones of this particular song shook the windows. Wow.


Speaking of my ASU days, much has been made of the current crop of potential grad students who have asked for letters of recommendation from me. And I've been a bit whiny, so sorry for that. Thinking back on what I did for grad school, I was no different. I had been a pre-med student prior to my rebirth, but a lot of the core principles of my pre-med lessons were still intact--namely when you want to get into med. school, you've got to apply to a lot of schools because it's ultra competitive. So I applied that practice when I applied to MFA programs. From the top of my head, here's where I applied back in 1995:

American University
Arizona State University
Penn State University
University of Maryland
University of Oregon
University of Pittsburgh
University of Virginia

Mind you, there weren't as many MFA programs out there. I didn't apply to U of Iowa because, well, as you can see, most of my selections were coastal or semi-coastal. I didn't want to live in the Midwest because I had been living in Los Angeles for five years and I figured I wouldn't be able to stomach the cold (sorry Midwest people). I got into all the schools I applied to except UVA.

ASU called me first and they were actually the VERY last application I had filled out. I even had to send it via FedEx because I was running out of time. If I remember correctly, the deadline for the ASU app. was at the end of January and I received a call from them the second week of February. Penn State and U of Oregon called me, maybe a week or two after ASU accepted me. Then came U Maryland and U Pitt. Emerson and American never called me, they just sent me a mailed acceptance letter. UVA's rejection letter came fairly early, like in the early months of February.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say about this whole process is that I don't think it's the same process any longer. I think it's much more competitive. There are a lot more schools and there's a lot more attraction to MFA programs for undergrads. Additionally, a lot of schools are now creating Creative Writing majors, which really wasn't happening when I was in school. Mind you, these are my observations. They're not based on any statistics or statistical analysis. It's just what I see.

So I GET why my students are applying to so many schools. Totally.


Almost done with the letters, so I'll get parts of my life back soon. Until then, I've got three letters I have to create and a few more that I have to print and stuff into envelopes.


The budget crunch has hit Washington State and I'm worried, especially since WWU is a state school. We're a union school now, so there's a bit of a safety net, but still, something will get squeezed at it will affect the family in some way, I'm sure.

I want to go to a movie.


I know what I want for Christmas . . . how about debt relief?


Currently reading American Born Chinese for my Asian American Lit. class next quarter. The special theme of the course will be Asian American Masculinity--because I am the prime example of the Asian American male (chuckle).

Currently spinning Paste Magazine Sampler #49.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Kid Koala on the turntables, ladies and gents. One in a line of many Asian American turntable gurus. And damn, how did he know exactly where the individual notes were on the record?


I've been chatting (grumbling) about all the requests for letters of recommendation that I've been receiving and I've been having conversations with Mere about why I do so many. Because of the sheer volume of the requests this year, I've been a bit grumpy about the process, but you know, I chose to be an artist in academia in order to support fledgling artists. Does that take away from what I do in poetry? Sometimes--these rec. letters are difficult and time consuming, but ultimately this is the path I chose.

It's not for everyone. There are lots of non-poetry things that I have to do in order to be a part of academia and, I'm sure you're all aware, that sometimes it can seem like hoop-jumping.

Still, there's nothing more gratifying than when an undergraduate student that you've been working with closely has been accepted into a grad school (not just in poetry, but in any discipline).

I was a teacher before I was a poet--when I was an undergrad at Loyola Marymount, I was a chemistry T.A. and a biology T.A.. This was long before I decided to go into the writing field. So, I've had the teaching bug for awhile now. Handling the teaching bug takes effort and so does writing rec. letters.

Okay, I've talked myself back into finishing up my rec. letters. Thanks for listening to me talk myself off of the roof.


Heading to Eastern Oregon for Thanksgiving. While I'm looking forward to seeing my family I'm not excited at all to be driving ten hours with an 7-month-old. Yuck.


Current spins--The Grey Album. I could tell you how I acquired this illegal bit of art, but I won't. I did not obtain it from the link, I can tell you that much.

Current readsNational Geographic Magazine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Sometimes Don't Know What I'm Talking About

First, go here and check out these MP3's of Johnny Cash singing with Bob Dylan: An Aquarium Drunkard's Music Blog.

Then, tell me . . . isn't it Miranda July in this Blonde Redhead video? Strange.


Other music news, Neil Young is going to release a 1968 Live Album. I heard the "Sugar Mountain" track here.


A student asked me how to read line breaks and I found myself saying something I heard from an old teacher--that a line break was "half a comma." WTF?! I'm sounding more and more like my old profs. I THEN followed up by saying, "Yes, a line break is musical, visual, and narrative in nature, so you need to honor them as you read them." Woah. There are some gray beard hairs in my milk.


Current spins--See the above Dylan/Cash link.

Current reads--Student poems. Want a peak?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Steady as a Freight Train

DVD Teaser Trailer for Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison.

I'm not sure if the film has actual live footage of Cash performing. It seems like it's mainly interviews and photos. Still, might be worth putting on my Netflix queue.


48 Hour Rule in place. As soon as a rejection rolls in for a batch that is not simultaneously submitted, out it goes again. So, today a batch is going out. There's no time to grieve.


We're at the high water mark of the quarter, where papers are coming due, students are catching flu, and the sky is no longer sunny and blue. (Sesame Street taught me how to rhyme today).


Looks like it'll be a partly sunny day. I need more sunlight--feeling a bit slothalicious. I need a million dollars, too. Got a grant from school which'll help me survive the summer without teaching, but just barely. People need to pay artists. let me tell you . . .


Currently reading Tinderbox Lawn by Carol Guess. ;-)

Also reading the latest issue of The Missouri Review and the latest Rolling Stone. Interesting article about Republican gaffs in the recent election found in the latest RS.

Currently listening to St. Vincent, Madlib, and Cold War Kids (shout out to Lee H.).


HA! Word Verification=acelit

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Freak Folk--Those hairy dudes from Seattle do good.

Fleet Foxes - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

This video combines two things I love: Paris and spontaneous (or seemingly spontaneous) musical activity. Watch it all the way through.


I know I've been complaining a bit 'bout time and all that (L. is falling asleep in my lap as I'm typing), but it's good for us to gripe once in awhile. I generally don't complain--it's not how I'm wired. I'm just a bit overwhelmed.

For my work, I've been bombarded with a tremendous amount of requests for letters of recommendation. By my count right now, there are at least ten students who are applying to multiple schools that are requesting letters from me. Their dossiers range from completely organized to absolute messes. And truth be told, while a lot of these students may get accepted into some schools, chances for funding are slim. I'm just being real. I want all my students to get into grad schools, if that is truly what they want, but it may not happen for a number of them. That's a big part of my stress, I suppose.

On top of all that, we're nearing the end of the quarter, so students are, for the most part, check out of classes already.


Since classes started, I've only written one poem. That's the usual pace when I'm teaching. Maybe a poem or two here and there, but for the most part long bouts of nothing. This year, though, I'm finding I'm quite frustrated by my glacial writing pace because I really am almost done with my third manuscript and I've started a fourth. I've never had so many projects going at once. I just wish I had time to finish what I've started.


So the Fleet Foxes video is to calm my stirring brain. Deep breath. Deep breath. Sigh.

Daddy's Glee (or There Must Be Indie Hipsters on the Sesame Street Staff)

Tilly & the Wall on SESAME STREET from Team Love on Vimeo.

Saw this Tilly and the Wall bit. They're a funky little band. All their percussion's done by the tap dancers you see in the video. At first, I thought it was a gimmick and that it'd die quickly, but they're actually still around after a couple of years.


Mixed day on the writing front. On the one hand, I've been getting handed rejections left and right. On the other, I did get a mini-grant from the school so that I can at least write this summer.

I'm very close to finishing up my third manuscript. All I need is two weeks. Just two weeks. Maybe Christmas break will be productive.


I'm mightily tired these days. It gets dark at 4PM here. I need a vacation.

Luckily Thanksgiving is around the corner. I was hoping that I wouldn't be traveling, but it looks like we've been summoned to go to my parents house in Oregon. It'll be my last Thanksgiving in the house where I grew up. My folks are moving closer to the grandchild very shortly. They're closing on a house. I'll be grateful when they get here because Mere and I do need the help. It's tough work raising a kid in a household of professionals. Don't get me wrong. I love the little guy. We both do. We just need an hour here and there for our careers which allow us to take care of the little guy.

I can't wait for free babysitting. So I suppose the travel to Oregon will be worth it. I'll take a few last photos of the place. Maybe see a few old neighbors and friends . . .


I want to see Quantum of Solace very badly, but I can't seem to find the time. It's been over four months since I've seen a movie in a movie theater. You just can't go to a movie theater with an infant.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stephanie Strickland at WWU

Stephanie Strickland will be reading from her new book, Zone:Zero.

The reading will be held on Thursday, November 13th at 4:00-5:30 at Western Washington University's Wilson Library, Room 167.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why we love Keith Olbermann and Countdown in the de la Paz Household


Props to CDY and Collin for posting this on their blogs.


Perez vs. Sharp, another civil rights case in California, happened in 1948. Sixty years is not that long ago. . .

Sunday, November 09, 2008

We got a good one

Barack Obama and Joe Biden: Champions for Arts and Culture

Adding a few things

Added a few links to music blogs I follow, since so much of my brain has been involved with music lately (politics aside). More links to come.

Nothing Profound

Nope. Nothing profound to say. Just posting out of some weird feelings of obligation.


Okay, maybe I'm thinking about changing/updating the blog look. I'm a little bored of the all-black background and also the focus of the blog's changed a bit over the years. Originally I thought I'd be speaking eloquently about poetry and teaching, but after a long day of teaching the last thing I've wanted to talk about was poetry. Don't get me wrong, I still love talking about poetry . . . but I can only blog in very brief spurts, so I'm finding my discussions about poetry or anything that I sincerely care about beyond my family has been clipped.

Like, I'm having interesting conversations with my students about the prose poem, but . . . baby's crying. Ack. See?


I'm rambling. I know. That's ok, I suppose. Maybe I'm in a blogging rut.


HA! Word Verification: buster

Mornings are this

Originally uploaded by odelapaz.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I've been underwater

Meredith, L., and myself attended a spectacular election day party on Tuesday--complete with fireworks. Lots of cheers. Lots of high-fives. We drank champagne.


My students were amped for the election. During small groups workshop, I told them that the youngest person should be the first reader. As I was walking around the room hearing their ages, I realized that for a number of them, this was the first election where they could actually vote. A handful of my students who reside in different counties missed the Tuesday class because they were voting.

Boy, it was hard to keep them focused in class.


While I feel relieved and elated that Barack Obama won the election, I'm incensed at the passage of Proposition 8. My sister-in-law and her spouse plan on being a part of the litigation frenzy that will happen and I absolutely will support them both monetarily and spiritually.


GLAAD and Asian Pacific Islander Outreach:

GLAAD Works with No on Prop 8 for Asian Pacific Islander Outreach

GLAAD has been working closely with the No on Prop 8 campaign to share its messages of marriage equality and fairness with people from all across the state including communities of color. GLAAD and the No on Prop 8 campaign collaborated to conceptualize and produce print, radio and television advertisements reaching Asian Pacific Islander communities across the state. The ads in Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese and Japanese feature prominent Asian American leaders including California State Controller John Chiang, Board of Equalization Chair Judy Chu and Rev. Dae Jung of the First Congregational Church. Both Chinese and Korean advertisements were created to counter false claims about marriage for same-sex couples impacting schools and churches.

GLAAD also recently partnered with Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California to secure media coverage for their joint press conferences in Los Angeles and San Francisco on why Asian Americans should vote no on the unfair ballot initiative. High-profile Asian American public officials, community leaders and celebrities spoke out at the event including actors George Takei and John Cho, Survivor: Cooks Island winner Yul Kwon, journalist and scholar Helen Zia, Board of Equalization Chair Judy Chu, and California State Controller John Chiang.

George Takei

Check out It may be slow because I know it's been receiving heavy traffic lately.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dance Off!

Election Watch

Currently, I'm flipping channels while watching a sleeping baby. So much riding on this election . . .


I lived in Pennsylvania in 2000, and I remember going to bed thinking that Gore had won. What a horrible thing it was to wake up the next morning hearing otherwise. I was tuned to NPR constantly.


My students were anxious during class. They were watching the clock and talking excitedly about the elections--so good to see.


Been listening to The Pretenders lately. I don't know why.