Monday, January 30, 2006

Going to the Dogs

So, the Year of the Dog started yesterday. Being of the dragon pursuasion myself, I am of course overjoyed at the thought of having to live through the year of the sign that most detests people like me. have this to say about my future year:

"You'll devote much of your time and energy to the task of bringing to a successful conclusion the projects that you have your heart set on, but some unexpected obstacles will slow down their progress and put your patience to the rough test. Also, you'll often be set against yourself, for you will have too much ambition and will forgive yourself no weakness or shortcoming. Try to be less tense and you'll be promptly rewarded, as this year the stars will greatly favor patience and tenacity.

"Casual encounters may very well end up as profound friendships. These relationships will prove most interesting to you since, apart from their sentimental aspect, a common intellectual research will give your exchanges a non-conventional character that will delight you. Remember that 'friendship doubles joys and reduces sorrows by half' (Francis Bacon)."
They then factor in my element (wood) and continue to impart the rapture:

"The influence of some stars will greatly increase your desire to exert yourself physically and to practice a sport. This will be the best way for you to preserve your fine figure. Be aware that swimming can give you a beautiful flat belly and long, long legs."
Oh, joy! I'm going to learn how to swim.

This site says fairly similar things:

"Dragons enjoy an unpredictable year rich with social invitations and increased visibility. Be cautious however, as the Dog year is your opposite sign and this may usher in the wrong kind of publicity. Whether in business or romance the Dragon finds the ideal climate in JAN's Rat-ruled month. Past projects are brought to their zenith and successful conclusion now. In FEB be sure to keep your word on any commitments during this rather stagnant period. Don't become frustrated by obstacles now as the New Year of the Dog makes it's entrance on the 29th. As the Rabbit-ruled month of MAR arrives, Dragons find the potential for career improvement and recognition for successful achievement. An award of some type may also be involved."

When I was unemployed (a long time ago) I took time out to study Chinese horoscopes and even did a few personality portraits for people. My own birthchart throws up the interesting fact that I am a double dragon (dragon year and dragon hour), but I also have a dollop of dog in me thanks to my birthmonth. This is a bugger, as dragons and dogs are not supposed to like each other - dogs see dragons for the charlatans they are, and dragons see dogs as tasty snacks to be played with. Add in my woody element and we've got a fun day out for all the family.

Of course, I consider all this astrology stuff - eastern and western - to be nonsense of the first order. So the fact that the 3 worst bosses I have ever worked for were 30 years older, 6 years older and 6 years younger than me - and thus curs to their very bones and pawpads (though very nice people outside the work environment) - is just one of those interesting coincidence thingies.

Strange world ...

Friday, January 27, 2006


I am sending a bucketload of joy to Julie for pointing me in the direction of this online test ...

The Anti-Hero

You scored 4 idealist points, 7 detective points, 2 kick-in-the-door points, and 2 help points!

You are the anti-hero, the near reverse of the ideal superhero. You walk a dangerous line between good and evil, more so than any other type of "hero," and in fact you can barely be called a hero at all. You get the bad guys using bad guy rules. Many other superheroes see you as a criminal, and may try to take you down. But that doesn't stop you from taking the law into your own hands. Examples: Punisher, Wolverine, Deadpool, Spawn.

Link: The Superhero Archetype Test written by rhombusoval on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I feel a ragged and dubious draft poem taking form in my blog-pulse ...


I dream I'm drowning, the floodwaters
blistering over the river's dirt bed -
a borewall of branches and snakes; leaves
lifted from the mountains wrap my limbs.

Change shall come, the flood gurgles
as it pushes my form beneath bridges,
hustles towards the salty storms where water
can rage unconfined. My bouyant lungs

fight the loving tug of gravity; my bladder
empties its rich stash of chemicals - they call
to societies gathering around me: breed!
Breed like the moon has crashed and drowned.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Poetic profiles

Hedgie is producing some interesting pen portraits of poets I'd never heard of before - check them out when you have a moment to spare.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Jojo at 6 months old

Originally uploaded by adleyrik.
This is Jojo - Dolly's sister - pretending to be asleep. She's about half the size of Dolly, and most people refuse to believe they were part of the same litter. But they were: Dolly was born first and Jojo last, about 6 hours later in the cat litter. She's made certain ever since that she will never be an afterthought again!

Dolly at 6 months old

Originally uploaded by adleyrik.
This is Dolly - who was rechristened Mr Dolly last Friday when we took him to the vets to be neutered (just in case ...)

Anthony Artichoke - line 1

To test out the ideas and structures in Wakat - the new conlang I'm currently developing - I'm going to do a bit of translating. I'm going to translate a funny-but-flawed poem written in the heat of NaPoWriMo. Here's the first line:

Anthony Artichoke loved to eat honey
(actually translating: he equates-to great-personal-value from-family pretty-food of-flat -branches, he likes the eating of honey)

jake' cowokrhapkeh'uf tanakus ejapxikuhs fejefy'lys, echfiniwachovjaateqs wafsakuhs rhajapyhpsof

Every poem I write

Some arguments are endless: what is the definition of a good poem? Should poetry impact on real life? Are professional poets better poets than hobbyist poets?

I'm struggling to rid myself of some of the more pedantic workshop mantras at the moment. The problem is that it probably leads to - lets say less good - poetry, at least in the eyes of those who workshop. I don't mind this, because I'm of the view that poems can always be "fixed" later on.

The thing is, I write to meet the needs and desires of this image of an audience that I cart around in my head. Sometimes the audience may be a particular person - an editor or commentator, for instance. More often it'll be a group of people whose opinions I've grown to appreciate over the years, whose views have become internalised into my skull-skulking audience. I will always redraft poems to meet the needs of these ghosts in my ears.

But almost all of my audience's opinions and views were forged in the workshops - real-life and online - and come with baggage which I'm not sure helps me write more enjoyable poetry.

Notice how I slipped in an "enjoyable" there? See, that's my current response to one of those workshop mantras: every poem I write will be better than my last poem.

Now there's nothing wrong with this workshop mantra - striving for eternal improvement is such an obviously Good Thing that to question it is surely questioning my own sanity. But what lies behind this mantra? What makes this mantra tick, and why must I question it?

Rolling the words around my mouth - passing (parsing?) the phrase across each of the areas of taste and concentrating on the separate flavours which emerge from the mantra - I find a distinct tang of Protestant Work Ethic underlying the concept. "We are not good people", the Mantra is saying. "We can only improve ourselves through hard work, discipline, duty and service to the Gods of the Muse."

Well there's one problem identified already. I do believe that with a little bit of creativity even the most boring of chores can be turned into a game, but sometimes I just don't want to work so hard for minor pleasure returns.

And then my Logic Meter kicks in with some views on the Mantra. Like: if the latest poem must necessarily be the best poem, why should anybody bother to read the obviously crap poems that I've produced prior to my latest draft? I mean, time is short and time wasted on poorer quality poems is time lost for reading the latest, bestest poem. But then what about rewriting some of the earlier poems to bring them up to the standards of the latest poem. I can see myself getting trapped in a whole industry of recycling my poems, each improvement better than the last, every poem except the latest redraft demanding quality review time. I mean, shit! I've written over 150 poems and they all need continuous improvement!

But where's the fun in that?

That view of mine that a poem can always be "fixed" later on? That's a direct, yet unexpected outcome from worshipping this Mantra - every poem I write will be better than my last poem. I BELIEVE! Every poem I write will be better than my last poem. I BELIEVE! Every Poem I Write Will Be Better Than My Last Poem. I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE!

No. I don't believe. I won't believe anymore.

Some of the poems that I enjoyed reading the most when I was younger are Flawed Poems. Yet reading them now I find that I'm not reading them, but rather critiquing them. I read Eliot's Practical Cats poems and I find my internalised audience offering up commentary on the poem: that's a bit clumsy or this could be fixed. I read Coleridge's Xanadu and a part of me wants to waylay the passer by before he interrupts and another bit of me wants to lecture the Poet on the stupidity of relying on drugs in the first place. The part of me that just enjoys reading the poem seems to have been bullied and shoved to the back of the crowd.

Like I said, there's nothing particularly wrong with the Mantra. In fact it is an essential part of the workshop toolkit when people are learning the craft. But it is just a tool, not a votive offering, and I will be rid of it. I will allow myself to write less-than-best verse as and when I see fit. The time has come for me to cast aside dogma and go in search of delight and enjoyment. Poetry must become Fun, both to read and to write!

I think it will be easier to give up smoking than to give up some of these workshop mantras ...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Testing Rik (again)

Another day, another personality test (thanks, Julie). The results of this one tell me I'm something called RCOEI, the description of which is not friendly and yet strangely familiar:

withdrawn, not wild and crazy, private, loner, not relationship obsessed, not swayed by emotions, insensitive to the needs of others, unhelpful, interested in intellectual pursuits, avoidant, does not put the needs of others ahead of self, thinks before acting, very scientific, not upset by the misfortune of strangers, avoids small talk, values solitude, private, does not get worked up about most things, fearless, unaffected by the suffering of others, calm in crisis, not easily excited, won't do much to avoid rejection, not known for generosity, not easily confused, cold, not prone to complimenting others, dislikes most people but tries to get along to minimize hostility, hard to get to know, more dominant than submissive, not easily hurt, driven by reason, influenced more by self than others, rarely worried, hard to impress, not that interested in relationships, hard to influence, not concerned about failing when trying something new, self confident, knows why they do things, not easily moved to tears, not prone to jealousy, not guided by moods

It goes on to say my ideal place of residency would be Guam. Is Guam subtropical?

Maybe I ought to learn to lie when taking these tests, or maybe blame the test designers for not taking into account the fact that I have been without a cigarette for over 400 hours, and without nicotine replacement patches for almost 100 hours, when they designed the test.

Ack! Time for bed. I feel the urge to deliberately write bad poetry creeping up behind me.


Oops! Long time no post.

I have my reasons. Work has been extremely busy, which is a bugger for someone like me whose ideal job would be some policy area so obscure you'd be unlucky to be asked more than a couple of questions a decade.

We've also had the kittens neutered. Mr Dolly's bollocks were getting scarily big and had to go. Ms Jojo got speyed alongside her brother as part of a package deal.

I've also been reworking an idea for a conlang I had a couple of years ago. The first attempt at the language had been a bit utilitarian and not very cohesive. This attempt - which I've been working on for about a month now - is coming along quite nicely:

I cook you

ejaqhabneat jaxrhaohf
we (both) burn the tree

ejaqhabnagat jaxrhaohf
I burn that (near) tree

ewakamixofjaqhabja'at jaxrhaohf
the farmer wants to burn the tree

omhwapuxnuxofjaqhabja'at jaxrhaohf
but the farmer might have burned the tree

Yep, it's a little bit polysynthetic. And I'm going to call this conlang Wakat.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Would you like eyeballs with that, Sir?

I've been trying hard not to say this in public, but there comes a time to admit defeat. Smoog is one of the best reads currently to be found floating through the damp and echo-y Halls of Quietitude that others call The Blog Land.

Evidence? Take this from her latest post:

Our violent destruction at the wings of fowl is only a matter of time. They thought they'd bring us down with DefBock 3 - Hell in a 9-Piece Bucket. We only came back for more. Then they stepped up their game with DefBock 2 - Meet McSalmonella. Now it's apparent they're pulling out all the stops. They've become desperate. They are using themselves as tiny little petri dishes, brewing up a delightful hemorrhagic cuppa for us all.

'Nuff said, really.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Gevile living #2: school and work

Continuing on the introduction to one of the cities in my conworld that I posted a few days back, a second instalment of the series - this time looking at school and work.


You almost certainly learned your beecuush (letters) on the knee of your favourite zgate (aunt or uncle), and would have attended one of the krasovnisuush (temple schools) between the ages of 7 and 10. The krasovnisuush are open during the afternoon; during the morning you probably earned some pocket money running ákhuebnisuush (chores) for various relatives or neighbours.

From the krasovnisuu, you would have moved on to one of the much more imposing krasovuush (guild colleges). Every profession and craft supports its own krasovuu, though much of the curriculum is the same (since the city decided to set minimum standards for education).

Some of the subjects you would most likely have studied include: Gevey (naturally); mathematics (with a special emphasis on geometry and monetary issues); health and personal hygeine; safety and first aid; history; using technology; civil responsibility; and contract law (in some detail). Religious studies may have happened at the temple, while arts, crafts, music and performance would have depended on which krasovuu you attended. There would also have been some component covering your guild's profession. You would naturally count in base 10, and found the idea that the rest of the world counts in base 8 a bit wierd. Studying other languages would not have been a priority - everyone speaks Gevey, don't they?

If you were bright enough, and made it through all six jinsuush (years) at krasovuu, then you might have had an opportunity to go to krasovjarhuu (university). The Krasovjarhuu Gevilizhuu (University of Gevile) is highly respected among its peers for its teaching, research and academic study. The Krasovjarhuu Jaakrizhuu (University of the Creator) is also well respected, though it limits its range of study and teaching to theology and medicine.

Much more likely, though, is that you completed three or four orbit's worth of study at krasovuu and then found employment either as a guild apprentice, or as an apprentice in a related guild, or as a city employee. Or you may have joined the family firm. Unemployment rates are not particularly high in the city, and there are plenty of jobs for those who want them. Nevertheless, training never stops and it will be a rare jinsuu when you won't return to your home guild to help out with the teaching, or attend a specialist course, or visit a different guild to learn new skills.


Gevile is not a single industry town, and the type of work you find yourself doing could include farming, mining, logging, light manufacturing and assembly (in particular pottery and ceramics, cloth production, tanning and dying, furniture production, or electrical goods production), civil guarding, fine craftwork, building and demolition work, or utilities development and maintenance (for water, electricity and sewage).

Service industries are also important, from banking, through city management and guild politics, to food preparation and service. Entertainers are highly appreciated throughout the city, as are professional teachers and healers. Religious workers are not held in such high esteem - despite the number of temples across the city, Gevile is not a very religious city.

Trade and retail tend to be more family-based enterprises, rather than controlled by the guilds. Shopping will almost certainly be an important (and enjoyable) component of your social life. Even so, Gevile society is not a wasteful society, and great store is placed on refurbishing old goods for reuse or resale, and recycling. Every street in Gevile has a glounezhlovuu (refurbishment shop), whose staff will be able to fix pretty much anything. You may be a glounezhliste (refurbisher) yourself!

Wherever you work, you are likely to work a pattern of five or six days at work and two days away from work. Gevey society does not understand the concept of a weekend, but is very insistent that people should have time away from the workplace to help out at infirmaries and temple schools, and to look after their karesh (nephews and nieces). Work tends to start soon after sunrise and wind down after midday, then start up again when the afternoon rain eases off. Some people will also have an evening job.

You will probably get paid once every 10 or 12 days. You almost certainly think your taxes and tithes are too steep, though you usually will not moan about paying a tithe to the Mother's and Orphan's Guild, or your city tax which pays for the civil guard and fire watch. You will definitely grumble about your own Guild's tithe, and will probably do everything in your power to avoid the Temple staff on payday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I don't know if this is a better poem. It reads better than the original, and is less tedious - I've included some images and varied the measure - but I don't think it's working the way I want it to work just yet.

Gach! Here 'tis:


He's tall in his pew, this ladding man:
his eyes are constant, blue beneath
a buzz of hair, soft as the sins
the preacher warns him about. He listens

with concentrations of lines embossed
faintly around the edge of lips
wasted on kissing: they want to worship
God - his God - with shapes and sounds.

"... this evil works by magic. Look!
It moves by curse to curse and teach
a lesson. God can not be bought
by sinners praying. God will not

"forgive the hateful sodomites
their lecheries, nor welcome home
the scum who rip the innocents
from wombs. For God will not forgive ..."
An image of fire curls in the eye
of the lad in his pew, a fire to take
the snoring congregation out
of their comfort, sloth. Redeem their souls

like the preacher riding his pulpit now:
a stallion galloping across the hills;
a trawler hauling fish from the storm;
a martyr thanking the Lord for his tortures.

"... that we atone for Adam's sin,
forsake our knowledge, learning; start
afresh, become as pure as steel
and sharp as swords. That we become

"His instruments to cut away
the cancer - slice the sins from flesh
to heal the people, strip apart
the souls of Idolators fit

"to clean them, make them fit for His
inspection. Nothing less will do!
The world is sick and we must make
it better! God will love us then!"
His fingers grip and bend the book
and his knees are locked: he will not bow
to worship - God demands he cleanse
his life; he knows the world must burn.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Promises and truths

Reports from the front line: 130 hours without a cigarette. The urges have decreased in volume - roughly 5-6 an hour - but their intensity have become greater. A random thought lodges in the brain and in less than 20 seconds becomes overwhelming: smoke! Smoke! SMOKE!

Tastebuds are beginning to recover - the inside of my mouth tastes like an ashtray, and my saliva at the height of an urge has a bitter, metallinc tang to it. My ability to smell is still hampered by low-level, but persistent, catarrh production. My hunger is (surprisingly) under control, especially now I've given up chewing gum which was making my jaws ache in any case.

Every change in my body fascinates me.

Looking back at the pile of shit masquerading as a poem which I drafted and posted here around 70 hours ago, I think there may be hope for my recovery - I'll have to try very hard to draft anything as tritely banal and pedestrian as that. But maybe as I grab more and more cigarette-free hours to my credit account I can reshape that dungfest into something slightly more interesting. We'll see.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Voice of God Speaks Words

I gave up smoking 60 hours ago. The lust for a cigarette comes in discrete urges which each last about 3 minutes. Each urge needs to be shouted down, loudly. I seem to be having around 15 urges an hour, and keep myself going only by the Nicotinell Promise that the number of urges will decrease over time.

I don't think any sort of withdrawal is conducive to writing poetry, and thus have a ready-made excuse for the following poem:

The Voice of God Speaks Words

He speaks about the Devil's salt,
and plucks a stone from Satan's eye
to give a chat on love and trust
to people snoozing pew by pew:

"This evil works by magic. Look!
It moves by curse to curse and teach
a lesson. God can not be bought
by sinners praying. God will not

"forgive the hateful sodomites
their lecheries, nor welcome home
the quacks who rip from wombs the lives
of babies. God will not forgive

"the evilists who teach that man
once lived in trees and swung by hooks
of hands from bough to branch. The Lord
gave Jesus life and death to teach

"us God will not forgive the hoards
who mock belief and will not pray
to Him or burn for Him! His love
is not negotiated! God

"does not forgive the liar's lips
nor give His blessings cheaply. We
must fight for Him to earn His love
and terminate the vile-most whores

"of thought and deed. For He demands
His children bow and worship Him
alone. Demands that we obey
the laws He made for us. Demands

"that we atone for Adam's sin,
forsake our knowledge, learning; start
afresh, become as pure as steel
and sharp as swords. That we become

"His instruments to cut away
the cancer - slice the sins from flesh
to heal the people, strip apart
the souls of whores and satanists

"to clean them, make them fit for His
inspection. Nothing less will do!
The world is sick and we must make
it better! God will love us then!

"For every pound and ounce of flesh
is God's, and every sin a sore
that must be atomised by force
of will, belief and action. God

"will love the instruments who cure
his Kingdom. God will love the men
who take his laws within themselves
and hone their thoughts and bones to do

"His holy work - whatever that
may be: to speak His truths in streets
and alleyways; to fight the sins
with words, with fists, with fire, with truth!"

And in the pews of snoring heads
sits one young man who listens hard
and hears some words to give his life
a point. His smile

explodes his face.

Sunday, January 01, 2006