Saturday, May 23, 2009


The robin chicks took turns leaving the nest today. I'm not sure it was intentional.

The third one to hop into the world took a dive from the nest, located on our side porch, and into the neighbor's peonies. The peonies probably saved its neck--it was headed straight into the brick wall. If it flew any better it would have had the loft to clear the peonies but not the neighbor's house. It'd have smacked it head on.

The robin mom and dad were apoplectic. They screamed and squawked. They attacked anything that looked remotely like a predator. They hovered for hours, obviously not trusting the capacity of their young to handle themselves in the world outside the nest. And they were right to be that way--anything could happen. Cats, dogs (it's a good thing Buster is blind and deaf--he posed no threat), bigger birds, brick walls--lethal threats lurked behind every corner and flew in the sky. 

As the birds hopped around the yard, they grew further apart, driving the parents into a frenzy. The adult birds tried to corral the chicks, but they couldn't be everywhere at once, and when they paid attention to one, the other two would be moving independently, often away.

One robin--the last holdout--stretched its legs at the edge of the nest facing the peonies and wall. The chick is still there, pondering the risk. I wonder, when it launches into thin air, if the red-breasted dad will hold his breath; if the mom will cry. According to the people who study these things, only 25% of young  robins survive the first year. 

No wonder the parents are freaked. I know the feeling. It's a big scary world out there, and I am more than willing to build a bigger nest and continue the supply of worms.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For the Lazy - The Bad Poem

OK. For those of you too lazy to move your finger and settle your cursor over the link and push down, here's the poem. It's really bad, so please don't send me your complaints about stomach pain, nausea, cramps, or that woozy feeling. I warned you; now you're on your own. I will publish my acceptance speech tomorrow.

The Fish I Didn’t Catch

Walleye eludes me.

Slimy catfish, full of industrial toxins, jump at my lures.

Sucker carp, all bulging doleful eyes and slate brick scales, raise their fins to beg,

 “Catch me! Catch me!”

A bluegill also volunteers itself. Surrenders to my will.

But my heart is not satisfied.


Walleye eludes me.


Why, oh why did I pay ten dollars

to register for the Freeland Walleye Festival Fishing Tournament?

Why, oh why did it rain all day that Friday?

Why, oh why did my nightcrawlers overheat in the car window,

            congealing into a mass of gray flesh,

            taunting me with their lifeless forms,

            laughing from their Purgatory of worms?


Walleye eludes me.


My wife says, “Curse the walleye and die!”

But I’ve spent too much already.

            The license

            The rod and reel

            The tackle and the box to hold it

            The really, really big boat

I must fight on. I must endure. I must be victorious. I must.


Others pass by on the right and on the left.

They hoist their larder high, rubbing it in my face.

“They’re biting tonight!” they shout.

“You can catch ‘em in your hands!” they scream.

“My two-year-old caught a ten pounder!” one large round specimen brags.

I fantasize about big hooks and big poles.

Big stinky fishermen being landed with big nets,

De-scaled, gutted, coated with corn meal and fried delicately.


Walleye eludes me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm a Really Bad Poet!

I won Chip MacGregor's Annual Bad Poetry Contest!

Chip, a respected literary agent, hosts the competition every year on his birthday. On a lark I wrote what was on my heart - a poem about fishing. And it was bad enough to win.

As I was reading Chip's blog today, reading through the competitor's horrible work, I came to fifth place, Don Juan of Motor City, and I thought to myself -- no way I can be worse than this! But I was!

Here's where the contest starts.  (Entries are in the Comments. Be sure and click on the little tiny arrow at the bottom to see all the pages of Comments.)

I'm supposed to get a lava lamp as a prize. Woot!

If you'd like to read good poetry instead, check out my son Jeremy's viral blog - The Aloha Project - easily one of the classiest blogs out there. If you like good poetry and artistic expression on post cards, send the link to all your friends. If you write good poetry and like to make post cards, send in an entry.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Idol Results

And so it is. This is the best final three ever. Each of them could win. Here's how:

- Danny: He's got to pull out all he's got and leave it on the stage. Make us laugh and cry.
- Adam: He's got to go "non-Adam"--he's gotten predictable in his unpredictability. He needs to do a folk ballad and make it stick.
- Chris: Must take it up the next notch--he's moved a few rungs on that ladder each week, so if he just keeps moving up, he'll make it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

American Idol

Idol Last Night: I don't often disagree with the judges, especially Simon. But last night I think they got it completely wrong. First, everyone assumed it was Adam's night. I think his performance was everything everyone expected it would be. It sounded just like Led Zeppelin. So? We all knew he could do this. There's nothing special about it. Nothing really new in his rendition. No surprises. No shocking change-up. Just what we knew he could do. So why all the raging about how perfect it was?

Ditto with Alison, although she was still shy of great because she's not comfortable with the whole thing.

For Chris and Danny - the condescension of the judges was pathetic! "We know that this kind of music is not your thing . . ." Please! These guys are great, and they rocked. They both picked perfect songs for them, and they brought origniality and novelty to their performances that the other two didn't. Alison sounded like Janis, Adam sounded like LZ. Who did Chirs sound like? The Beatles? NO! He sounded like Chris! Did Danny mimic Aerosmith? NO! He made that last scream all his own, like it should be, and Simon blasted him for it.

I've never considered the judges on AI guilty of an attempt to sway the audience voting. Until last night. I think Chris or Danny should win it all.

So now you know it - I'm an American Idol nut. So? You wanna make something of it? Good clean TV. Hard to find.