Monday, September 20, 2010

Holy Time Passing, Batman

I just realized I haven't written on this thing in a week and a half.
Been busy.
Um...picture first:

This is me (and a well-placed hand rail)

Ok, so.  I'll try to hit the highlights and not force you to read pages and pages.  No promises though.

So the Saturday after I wrote last I spent the day exploring part of the Emerald Necklace, which is a string of parks throughout the city that were designed by Olmstead (?), who also did Central Park in NYC (that was a good run-on sentence).  I got to two of the parks since I go camera/exploring happy.  I walked till my feet bled (ok...till I got a blister and then it popped) but I got to see all of Franklin Park and hit up the Harvard Arboretum (which I learned later is pronounced Arbor-EE-tum, rather than Ar-BOR-etum).  The arboretum is basically a botanist-dork's paradise.  Bunch of trees, lots of grass, pretty flowers, etc.  It was a good place to walk and had lots of trails and sweet trees.  My favorite was the Japanese Red Elm.  Looked something (exactly) like this:

I like it's crappy arm thing.  Gives it character.  And it looked like it was trying to pick me up.
Here is the view from St. Peter's hill (he wasn't there) at the Arboretum:
Pretty.  Can't wait for all these trees to change color.

Sunday I had church.  The end.

Monday I had my second workshop with Robert Pinsky.  He decided to add a little time to class, so we now meet Mondays from 9:30am-12:00pm.  That way half of us (5) can workshop a poem every week, with roughly half an hour each (yay math).  I went third or fourth and presented my newest poem "Gun Show Samurai."  It's about me and Chad cutting up snowmen with our awesome fake samurai swords.  Most people got it, some didn't, and it basically got ripped to shreds.  Best quote of the day was Pinsky addressing a stanza that I put a little too much BS into (I always put in a little; it's a given).  He said, "I hereby accuse you of writing too poetically."  Good times.  Next time I go it'll be better.  In fact, today I wrote two poems:  "Time Machine" and "God vs. Stephen Hawking."  Boo ya.

Tuesday was mostly my lit classes.  I spaced out during Contemporary American Poetry till we finally got to Frank O'Hara (one of my influences) and then in Shakespeare and Film we watched Lawrence Olivier's "Hamlet" (recommended).  Then it was finally time for BASKETBALL.  And you all know how I live for basketball.  The stake center is ages away (an hour by train plus walking) but that's nothing when compared to my will to play.  The group was decent.  Had one or two really good guys, a couple of averages (like me), and only one or two sucky guys (not bad for Mormon ball).  I rolled my ankle in the second game.  Did that stop me?  Not a chance.  Did it balloon later?  It might have.  But it's all better for tomorrow.

Wednesday was our workshop with David Ferry.  David is one of those people that you automatically love the second you meet him.  Some interesting facts about David:  he's 80 years old, and he's a nationally acclaimed translator.  He translates Horace's odes and lyrics, as well as Gilgamesh.  I know, right?  The dude translates Roman poetry and Mesopotamian epics.  How can you not love this dude.  He's extremely personable, and he leans forward in his chair the entire time because he's just so excited to be reading our stuff and passing some of his thoughts on.  I don't workshop till next week, but it's two hours of awesomeness.

Wednesday night there was a reading by Adam Zagajewski.  He's a polish poet who is pretty famous here.  He teaches half the year teaching in Chicago and half in Krakow.  He had a wicked awesome accent and was so funny in between poems.  I should have bought a book and had him sign it, but in all honesty I'll live.  Best part of the night was when Maggie (an alumnus of the program) had forgotten to turn off her phone.  It went off right as Zagajewski was gonna start a poem.  He just looks up and says, "This is not my mobile" and then keeps reading.  Golden.  Afterwards we did the whole mingle thing (short lived since I'm not a mingler) and then I split.

Random Boston picture taken from a bridge over the Charles. (In case you're getting bored).

Thursday afternoon I had a good experience.  I was sitting on a bench near the BU chapel between classes and Sophie came up behind me and tried to scare me.  Lucky for me I'm not jumpy, but she sat and we talked for a while.  We got onto the subject of me being a Mormon (it happens) and I answered a couple questions she had.  Pretty legit questions I suppose.  She had told her brother we had a Mormon in our poetry group and he texted her some questions.  She had more when we hung out Saturday (account coming later) but it was fun to throw down some real-life information for her.  Anyways.

Thursday and Friday nights were readings.  Thursday's was in the coolest place EVER.  It's called the Liberty Hotel.  It's a five-star hotel in Boston, blah blah blah.  But get this: it used to be a prison.  Now it's a super nice hotel and they keep it really dark in the lobby.  The effect was even sweeter because it was overcast and just starting to rain when I got there.  David Ferry was reading along with Gail Mazur, who teaches at Emerson College, I believe.  Anyways, David read some of his own stuff and a few of the odes and Gail read from her up and coming poetry collection.  They're both such good writers.  Given, they've been doing this for ages, but you can definitely see how masterful they are at writing poems.  The Liberty Hotel hosts a reading once a month, so I'll be back.

Friday night's reading was here in my neighborhood (Brookline) at the aptly-named Brookline Booksmith.  In the basement, with the mystery section as a backdrop, there's an open room.  I liked this reading because it's much less formal than the others.  This would be because it's readings of the MFA students at other universities around where we're at.  Generally it's only UMass and Emerson, but we got the invite and we'll be in touch, so BU is here to stay.  There were three fiction writers and one poet.  The fiction writers were alright, but the poet, Molly McGuire, was hilarious.  She had written a series of poems based on "facts" that she had learned from beauty magazines.  They sounded a lot like poems that I would write, especially my personal favorite, "Taylor Swift in Hades."  One of the poems also had one of the funniest, most inappropriate verbs I have ever heard.  I won't put it on here, but if you ask me about it I may feel comfortable enough telling you.  When you're older.  Looking forward to the Brookline Booksmith reading series.

Saturday was pretty legit.  Slept in, didn't clean the apartment, got a little writing done, played Solitaire for a solid 90 mintes, and crunched numbers to re-remember how strapped I am for cash (yay college).  Anyways, afterward I texted Sophie to tell her I had sent her a poem (we write the most alike and therefore bounce ideas off of each other).  I informed her that I was being a vegetable but planning to go explore and invited her to come along.  So we did.  In case you didn't know, Saturday was National Cheeseburger Day (not to be confused for National Hamburger Day, which is in May).  I had found this place on the web called Mr. Bartley's.  It's been around since 1960 and they have a burger called The Viagra.  Being the world's foremost cheeseburger connoisseur, I had to try it, even if it did have bleu cheese dressing on it.  It was no Monster Burger from Red Robin (which, to my eternal bewilderment, they don't technically make anymore), but it was definitely a good burger.  And the atmosphere was way cool--too much wall decor, packed (line out the door), and good-sized fry helpings.

After burgers we went around the corner to Grolier's.  Grolier's is the oldest (and one of the only) poetry-only bookstores in the country.  It's tiny, but it's awesome.  The owner, Ifeany, was just chillin inside.  He's a soft spoken, well-established poet (from Kenya if I'm not mistaken) that has taught at Wellsley for like 30 years.  We got to talking and told him that we were in the BU MFA program (he obviously knows David and Robert).  We didn't stay long, so I didn't find anything worth buying, but we made a friend and I'll for sure be going back.  After that we had a little time before Sophie had to peace out, so we went exploring.  We found lots of cool buildings.  My favorite was Memorial Hall (first picture in this post).  It's huge and awesome and the roof tiles are all colorful (it's striped).  I dunno what it is, but I'll Google it or something. 

We also walked around Harvard and found a little art gallery in the Carpenter Center.  There was a ten minute movie about the Russians in space.  It talked about how astronauts went up when their country was the USSR and then came down when it was Russia.  (Most intriguing line:  "The city where you were born is no longer called Leningrad; it is now St. Petersburg).  There was sweet footage of a baby bird that they had taken into space with them.  One of the astronauts pulled him out of his cage and spun him a little.  The little guy tried to flap his wings but nothing happened.  I'm sure it sounds stupid, but it was so trippy.  But my favorite piece was a dangling projector that had all the covers of Time magazine flashing insanely fast individually and (I assume) chronologically.  I took a moment (pun intended) and pulled out my iPod so I could play "Time" by Hootie and the Blowfish while I watched time.  Personally, I think I added a dimension that would have blown the artist's mind.

Sophie staring at Time

Afterwards, Sophie had to go wait for the gas guy to come fix her house, so she split.  I went back to the Carpenter Center, where I got to do what I had been waiting to do all day.  Every semester at BYU there is a series of International Cinema where they show a few films every week.  Here in Cambridge I found the Harvard Film Archive (so offical sounding).  The difference between the two is that I have to pay for the Harvard one.  However, Harvard also tries their best to bring in the directors for the films they are showing.  The reason that I wanted to go was because they had a Portuguese director named Miguel Gomes.  He showed us two shorts and a film that he had made.  I loved the first short.  It was about St. Francis.  All the animals, for whom St. Francis obviously was the saint, want to be loved the most so they multiply as fast as possible.  The best shots were of a chicken farm, some fluorescent beetle having baby beetles, and sea turtles (my favorite animal) being hatched.  The film was done in two parts.  The first part is about a guy who can't grow up (you can already see why I liked this film).  Basically he's a teacher going to a party for the kids and he's dressed up like a cowboy.  A bunch of bad stuff happens and his surprise birthday party gets cancelled, etc.  So he decides to move away to a cabin.  Second half of the film this guy is only assumed to be there.  Instead, there are seven guys who also can't grow up.  Essentially they're the seven dwarves--each one has a specific thing that he does the most (one eats, one is young, one is angry, etc).  It was super funny, and most of the actors were friends of Gomes (a few directors, a screen writer, etc).  The funniest conversations were when two were stuck in a huge tree and one jumps telling the other if he doesn't move around not to jump, and then when the angry guy leaves and gives the youngest guy a coin that will make him invisible.  Eventually they all fight over the rules and end up going in to the forbidden room (basically, they're the parts of the cowboy that finally grow up).  The angry guy gets locked out of the house by the guy that eats a lot, who then leaves and never goes into the dark room.

More than you wanted to know about Portuguese cinema, I'm sure.  But I like it, so there.
Yesterday was church.  Today was Robert's class.  Tomorrow is literature classes and basketball.
I think I'm starting to get the hang of this Boston idea.


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