Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Many people have said that I am the finest haiku writer of my generation. Here is some long-lost evidence.

Nearly all of the haiku I wrote in 2002 and 2003 was lost at the end of 2003, when the original Daily Dave mysteriously disappeared somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle.  While we have lost all hope of ever reclaiming the original content that made up America's Favorite Blog Before Anybody Knew What A Blog Was, a team of forensic poets have been working since early 2004 to reconstruct all of the haiku.

After five years and nearly $5 billion, 99.8 percent of the haiku has been recovered and is ready to present to the public. These poems will illuminate the aesthetic and zeitgeist of an America that existed long ago—and provide fresh insight into our own time, values, and morals. Reposting these haiku to the Web might prove to be the most valuable contribution to literature in the information age.1

On Tuesday, February 12, 2002, the very first Daily Dave post combined my two greatest loves, donuts and haiku:
And now, my first senryu for the Tally office:

Golden glazed donuts—
Treats for your heart and belly.

They're from Krispy Kreme.

A second post later that day included another haiku:
Today is Florida Space Day in Tallahassee, and any organization or company with ties to NASA has set up a booth in the Capitol building. Here's a nice litle senryu to celebrate the occasion:

Astronaut squeeze toys,

"Ground control to Major Tom"—
Free ballpoints for all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Friday the 13th,
Unluckiest day of all.
Wednesday? No problem.


So, what exactly is the difference between haiku and senryu? The way I understand it, both are Japanese poetry forms that follow the 5-7-5 syllable scheme, but haiku generally deal with nature and senryu can be about pretty much anything else. Therefore, if you're reading a poem about cherry blossom leaves, you're mostly likely looking at haiku. If the poem mentions dental floss, Derek Jeter or the Dow Jones Industrial Average, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that it's senryu.

Speaking of donuts, let me just state for the record that little powdered donuts are quite tasty. I've probably written a half dozen senryu about these torus-shaped slices of heaven at Simanoff.com. Sadly, all of these were written in the unenlightened days when I called all 5-7-5 poems haiku because I didn't know any better. I must thank Gregg Easterbrook and his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column at Slate.com for lifting me from the abyss and showing me the senryu light.

According to my former Japanese history professor, Mark Ravina, this is how you pronounce senryu:

It is actually tricky because the ryu is one syllable—not "ree-you" but something that would rhyme with "shoe." Then the final sound "u" is lengthened. So it rhymes with "shoooo." The sen rhymes with "pen." Hope that doesn't clarify anything—it's not like you're still paying tuition or something.

Of course, most of my linguistic crusades are short lived, and you should expect me to drop this one pretty quickly and revert back to using the word haiku so that people know what the hell I'm talking about. That's probably a good thing, since explaining the difference between haiku and senryu would take time away from my single-handed effort to keep the subjunctive mood alive in American English.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002
The Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Productivity this afternoon inspired not one but two senryu, which I have lovingly copied out of my reporter's notebook for your enjoyment. Here is the first one:

Chunky lobbyist,
Swolen with power and pride.
Pig nose. Toothy smile.

This next senryu talks about the various hair styles I saw:


Combover and toupee,
Bleached poofy Southern hairdo,
Distinguished gray, bald.


Here's a haiku inspired by a front page story in today's newspaper. Let me be absolutely clear on this issue: I want no part of this trend.

Pantyhose for men—
It's not just for cross-dressers,
Says Wall Street Journal.

Monday, March 4, 2002
A Republican senryu, inspired by a beggar in Tallahassee on this bone-chillingly cold day.


Homeless guy, freezing,
In the Capitol's shadow:
"Got any change?" No.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002
A beer truck hit a school bus in northeast Tampa this morning. There were no children on the bus, but apparently beer is spilling all over Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Here was my haiku-style response, which I filed on the Trib's message system:


Precious tasty beer,
Spilling all over Bruce B. Downs—
Where is my straw please?


Here are some of the responses:

A haiku? Geeze, I'd forgotten what a haiku was since gradeating 
hi skool!
(YHAMMETT, 3/13/02 11:23)


beer on a school bus? shocking!
(COPS, P MORGAN, 3/13/02 11:24)

RE MSG 3/13 "Where is my straw, please?...": Who drinks beer 
with a straw? Be a man.. go out there and drink from the 
source.
(NGREGOIRE, 3/13/02 11:26)

big beer truck go crash/I spy cans rolling on ground/think I'll 
call in sick
(COPS, LENGELL, 3/13/02 11:32)

beer spills; down drainpipes; bypassing consumers
(COPS, BRENNAN, 3/13/02 11:36)

suds pool languidly/ slaking canine, feline thirsts/ tempting 
reporters.
(COPS, BARRY, 3/13/02 11:40)

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
A Tallahassee senryu:

Senators babble.
Meeting enters fourteenth hour.
So bored. Butt is numb.

Friday, March 22, 2002
It's supposedly the last day of the Legislative session here in Tallahassee, and the bureau chief here sent the following message to his reporters:


Be bold with your strokes and scrawls today boys. Let's make 
it all forward-looking and highly energetic reading 
tomorrow...Weave show-don't-tell details with sharp analysis 
and perfectly chosen quotes. Like we do every day, but more so.
(TALLY, WARK, 3/22/02 13:32)

My response, of course, was to suggest that we instead write all of the stories in haiku form. 

The bureau chief's reply:



Instead, let's write every story in haiku form. (TALLY, DSIMANOFF, 3/22/02 13:38) See, and you all thought that reminder was un
warranted.
(WARK, 3/22/02 13:42)



Wanting the last word, I responded with this message:

Haiku are more fun
Than inverted pyramids,
Whatever the story.

Thursday, April 4, 2002
My latest Tallahassee senryu:

Lawmakers—source of
Limitless stupidity.
And they're boring, too.


Friday, April 5, 2002
After four months of disgust up here in Tallahassee, my faith in our political process was restored today when the Florida Senate, forced into an all-or-nothing situation by the House of Representatives, decided to throw out an important, 1,800-page school bill.


Their reason? The bill contains a very short but broadly worded section that allows religious proselytizing in schools. Since the Senate couldn't excise that small provision, they stood up for their principles and dumped the entire bill, despite heavy pressure to adopt it from Gov. Jeb Bush.


It was a justifiable case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, in my opinion.

Here is a haiku I wrote earlier today, when things were starting to heat up on the Senate floor. I have been informed that "conference" is three syllables, although it sounds like a two-syllable word when I say it.

Done deal comes undone.
Conference bill has blown up.
A big clusterfuck.

Monday, May 20, 2002
A haiku on the 13th anniversary of Gilda Radner's death:


Riotous Gilda!
Exuberant, beautiful—
It's always something.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Today's haiku, written as I stare longingly out of the newsroom window:

Tuesday, 3:40.

Across Hillsborough River,

Tiki Bar beckons.




Andrew Meadows' response, in haiku form:


Dave buys the first round,
Seconds thirds fourths fifths. I pay–
Time for a cab ride.


Jerry Stockfisch's response:


I curse the Tiki Bar for taunting me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Here's a little senryu about weblogs I wrote for Pauly McGuire:

When you have a blog,

Everything is blogworthy ...

Except this haiku.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Just for the hell of it, here's the plot of "La Boheme" in haiku form:

Joyful poor artists.

Mimi's hand is freezing cold.
Now she's dead. Life sucks.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Today's iPod opera is "Carmen" by Georges Bizet. Here is my synopsis in haiku form:

Time for a smoke break.

Hey, look, it's the bullfighter!

José kills Carmen.


Miss Cherizon suggested I write a haiku about "Les Misérables." Here's what I came up with:

Run away, Cosette!

Here comes the Revolution.

2-4-6-0-1.


America's Favorite Personal Finance Writer Scott Nelson suggests three more haiku-worthy operas: Beethoven's "Fidelio," Verdi's "La Traviata," and Mozart's "Le Nozze Di Figaro."


Fidelio:

Husband imprisoned,

and lady looks like a dude.

Great overture, though.


La Traviata:

Tuberculosis

used to be called consumption.
Either way, the girl dies.




Figaro:

The count wants his way

With the barber's fiancee.

Comedy ensues.

Miss Cherizon gets the credit for the last line of this one:

Die Zauberflöte:

On Tamino's quest,

Papageno finds fowl love.

Magic glockenspiel!


Okay, here's the last one for today -- I swear:



The entire Ring des Nibelungen series:

The fat lady sings.
Her Viking helmet sprouts horns.

Wagner hates the Jews.

Monday, January 20, 2003 (MLK day)
Connor's dogs are dead.

Ignorance, stupidity,

Are enemies still.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003
Assistant Business Editor Katrina Ferreira brought a box of snack-size candy bars to work today, prompting me to write my first staff haiku in a long time:

All hail Katrina,

Bringer of sugary treats.

Alas, no Twix left.



I hope we get Kit Kat bars next time!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
It looks like Lord & Taylor is saying bye-bye to the Tampa market. Here's a haiku that's made up of snippets of a message Miss Cherizon sent me:

I never shopped there.

Um, did you ever shop there?

Oh wait. Once. That's it.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
A haiku for Thursday afternoon:



A missed gayness clue:

Social dance course in college.

One, two, three, cha-cha!

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
And now, just for the hell of it, here is a senryu composed entirely of anagrams for "Ohio State Buckeyes" —

Beastie coke youths.

Ethics: yoke to abuse.
I see buttocks, oh yea!



The syllable scheme is 5+6+6, which isn't perfect haiku form but still adds up to 17. Another good anagram is "Touchiest obese yak."

_______
1 Actually, that's a complete and total line of bullshit. I'm posting these as a reminder to Lee Barnes2 that I'm quite proficient with three lines and 17 syllables.
2 That's right, Barnes. I'm talking to you. Writing one clever haiku about Harley-Davidson owners several years ago doesn't even put you in the running to be considered as one of the finest haiku writers of your generation! So there.

Here's my analysis of all advertising on television right now

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Four Questions feels Twittery

Q. What is Dave wearing?

A. Dave is wearing his orange striped polo shirt and a pair of khaki pants. It is a fairly standard issue business casual outfit.

Q. What kind of mood is Dave in?

A. Dave is fearful.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood?

A. Dave worries that if the right-wing Republicans don't get him, then swine flu will. Dave doesn't want to be killed by teabaggers nor non-kosher disease. I have been Twittering about some of these fears.

Q. Is Dave excited about any of the upcoming movie releases?

A. Dave has unrealistically high expectations for the new Star Trek movie, which opens next weekend. Dave is about as excited as a nine-year-old Japanese schoolgirl receiving her first Hello Kitty1 cellphone. Yes, the phone that will show Chococat and Cinnamoroll and the rest of Sanrio menagerie dancing on clouds and rainbows every time a friend calls to say she has also received an officially licensed Sanrio product. Dave is indeed that excited.

1 For more thoughts about Hello Kitty, go here.

About music titles, this new post is


I was recently rummaging through some old papers in my nightstand drawer (hello, Mr. Shredder!) and I came across a strip of US Airways comment cards that I had ripped out of one of the airline's magazines several years ago. After looking quizzically at it for a few moments, I suddenly realized what it was: several years ago, on a particularly boring flight, I was listening to Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" on my iPod and, for no logical reason, I started laughing because I realized that if Yoda had sung the song, the lyric would be "Die young, only the good do."

Britt (who was also listening to his iPod) looked at me, widening his eyes as if to ask why I was laughing. That's when I ripped the cards out of the magazine, wrote down the Yoda lyric, and passed the paper to Britt.

Britt smiled, took out his pen, added "The walrus am I," and returned the page to me.

For the remainder of the flight, Britt and I passed the page back and forth, putting song titles and lyrics through Yoda's famously garbled syntax. Here's the list.
  • Dave: Die young, only the good do
  • Britt: The walrus am I
  • Dave: To the hotel California, you are welcome
  • Britt: Phunk with my heart, do not
  • Dave: Hurts, does everyone
  • Britt: Want me, do you not?
  • Dave: Preach, papa, do not. My baby I will keep
  • Britt: Talk about sex, let us
  • Dave: Bananas, this shit is
  • Britt: To rule the world, everybody wants
  • Dave: A beautiful day, it is. Away, do not let it get
  • Britt: With your best shot: hit me
  • Dave: One more time, hit me, baby
  • Britt: Speak, do not
  • Dave: The oyster, your world is, when one night in Bangkok you spend
  • Britt: On me, take
  • Dave: For the devil, sympathy you must have
  • Britt: To the jungle, welcome
  • Dave: On, my heart must go
  • Britt: Hold your hand, I must
  • Dave: The children, the future are. Believe this I do
  • Britt: My religion, losing I am
  • Dave: On fire, the roof is, the roof is
  • Britt: Let the dogs out, who did?
  • Dave: Of this sweet dreams are made
  • Britt: Walk the line I do
  • Dave: On a jet plane, I am leaving. When back again I will be, I do not know
  • Dave: Something to talk about, let us give them

Monday, April 20, 2009

Two reasons I will never be Miss America

1. I don't look good in a tiara and sash.

2. I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or another. Um, we live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what? In my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be—between a man and a woman. Thank you!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Now that the tea party is over, what about a book club?

Watching some of the footage from Wednesday's tea parties, I couldn't help but wonder if many of the party participants had ever read a book. Oh, I'm sure many of them had purchased books—most likely not as reading materials, but as kindling. And, to be fair, I'm sure a great many of them had mouthed their way through Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh books, secretly wishing that the titles had been converted into Michael Bay movies (because, sheesh, reading is hard).

Why do I poke fun at the reading habits (or lack of such habits) of tea party participants? Because, from the pictures and video of Wednesday's tea parties, it is apparent that many of the people who went to these parties don't possess a rudimentary grasp of history, political science, sociology—many of the important ideas that are expressed quite well in, you guessed it, books. Instead of an independent ideological grassroots uprising, I saw flocks of mynah birds repeating what they had been trained to say by Fox News.

So, I'd like to make a modest proposal. Let's start a book club for our friends in the teabagging1 community. Here's the reading list:
  • The dictionary: We will start with the words "fascism," and "socialism," as I saw many people struggling to define those words, and others using them interchangeably.
  • "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell: As the teabaggers don't seem to be able to articulate exactly how our current national predicament reflects fascism, this novel will provide an excellent point of reference. It illustrates what life would be like to live inside a true, functioning fascist, authoritarian, totalitarian state.
  • "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand: This incredibly long book, a favorite of libertarians, should serve to show teabaggers that they have little in common with Objectivism superheros Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, and John Galt. Perhaps they will wonder why they should side with incredibly rich and powerful people who embrace an ideology that doesn't care for them.
  • "The Diary of Anne Frank" by Anne Frank: Apparently, this group believes their concerns are comparable to those of Jews during the Holocaust.2
Are there additional books to add to the reading list? Send me a comment.

1 Insert Beavis-like chortle here.
2 In Chicago, one teabagger held a sign that said "The American taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's ovens." Regrettably, this is only one of the countless offensive signs that people hoisted at tea parties all over the country. See a sampling at this Huffington Post article.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some thoughts about tea parties and history

For the most part, I didn't concern myself too much with the tea party rallies held around the United States yesterday. My theory is that these events had little to do with tea and taxation, which was their stated purpose. Instead, they were an orchestrated effort to keep a certain demographic group in our country riled up1 about something, anything, so that they remain blindly aligned to a political cause that rarely aligns with their economic interest.2

I summed up my attitude about the tea parties yesterday in my Facebook status message: "David thinks the tea parties are a wonderful idea! The people who participate in those things will enjoy the day off from their usual routine of book burning and gay bashing." I may have actually used the word "idiots" on Facebook instead of people.

The tea parties do perturb me a little bit, and that's mainly because of the historic symbolism of the original Boston Tea Party3. Consider that the Boston Tea Party was not as much a statement about higher taxes as it was a protest against the Colonies' lack of representation in Parliament. The most likely parallel today would be a protest over state representation in the federal government. The last time that happened in the United States was the 1850s: the dividing issue was slavery, and the outcome was the Civil War. Also, remember that the Boston Tea Party was the prelude to the American Revolution.

This all makes me wonder if somewhere, deep down, organizers and participants of these tea parties truly want to revolt and reshape the United States in their image.

A few more notes from the history books:
  • Members of the Boston Tea Party did not announce they were dumping tea in the river ahead of time, or invite the public to show up, or have an official media sponsor.
  • There were no tea bags at the Boston Tea Party. Tea bags didn't exist in the 18th century. They were invented, I think, in the early 1900s.


1 Cf. the Two Minutes' Hate passage in "Nineteen Eighty-Four."
2 For further reading, see What's the Matter with Kansas?
3 As an American who grew up in the UK, I have had the benefit of learning about the American Revolution from both the US and British perspective.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I do not want what I haven't got, part VII

I received a Garmin GPS navigation system for my birthday nearly two years ago. I was originally skeptical of the gift, as I know how to read a map and I didn't imagine much value in a device that could bark directions to me. I was wrong. The Garmin quickly proved itself a handy companion for local driving and an indispensable tool for out-of-town tips.

I have started to consider buying a replacement GPS system. Britt's Garmin functions as a Bluetooth hands-free speaker for his iPhone. My Garmin doesn't have any Bluetooth capabilities, so an upgrade looks tempting. (Britt's model also provides real-time traffic information. That's also quite cool.)

Here's what I don't want, though: the Spotter GPS Navigator Dale Jr. Edition.


For one thing, I don't want to hear Dale Earnhardt, Jr.1, the NASCAR2 star, telling me to "hang a left," "back 'er down," "or "park it—we're here!" For another, I'd be quite suspicious of directions from any person who makes his living by, essentially, doing nothing by turning left. I'd worry that all of the directions would sound like this: "Turn left. Turn left. Turn left. Turn left. Go faster. Turn left. Turn left. Turn left."

Yup, I think I'll get another Garmin. I do not want a Dale Earnhardt, Jr., GPS system.

1 I have been informed that this man is, in fact, some kind of famous athlete, even though his sport requires him to sit in a car and drive fast. I do much the same thing when I am late for work, and yet I am not recognized as a famous athlete.
2 I have been informed that this is some kind of professional motorcar racing league and not, as I originally assumed, an ongoing scientific program to maximize the surface area on vehicles and uniforms for company logos and other corporate branding identity marks.

Jon Stewart + Mahna Mahna = Yay!

Long time, no posting

I apologise for the lack of posts. I usually update the Daily Dave in the mornings, but I have been rather groggy for some reason over the past two weeks or so. Instead of heading to Starbucks to sit for an hour and type down random tedious thoughts that, for some reason I still can't comprehend, a handful of people decide to read these excellent musings about life, love, and logorrhea, I have been slapping the snooze button repeatedly. Here is a flowchart that illustrates my typical morning routine:



Here's what happened since my last blog post:
  • Passover started. I can haz bread? No, I can not haz.
  • I started using Twitter again, for no good reason. It is not nearly as fun as I remember, but it's a fairly good social networking complement to Facebook. Now I post my random thoughts about the world on Twitter, and my random thoughts about my life on Twitter. Why? Why not. My Twitter account is here.
  • I taught myself how to make rudimentary flowcharts on Microsoft Visio.

Friday, April 03, 2009

A kitchen confession

Whenever the topic of cooking comes up, I am quick to admit that I am useless in the kitchen. I make the usual plaints: I can't boil water, I can't operate anything more complicated than a microwave or a toaster oven, I leave all the cooking to Britt.

This isn't exactly the truth. I actually can cook. I make fairly good brisket, matzo ball soup, and noodle kugel. But the facts are these: I have worked very hard to make myself useless in the kitchen. I would love nothing more than to be one of the guys on teevee--the ones who always seem to know exactly what they're doing and make everything look so effortless. I would love the the guy who can leave work at 5:30 p.m., toss some salmon and herbs on the grill, and sit down to a homemade meal by 6:30 p.m.

However, I got so fed up with cooking and baking when I was single that I vowed never to do it again, unless it was absolutely necessary. Cooking for one person is always an exercise in futility: There is no food in the house, so you have to start every meal with a trip to market. The more ambitious the recipe, the exotic the ingredients--and more expensive the bill. I'd wander the aisles in search of honey-infused saffron extract, which would probably cost $15 a fluid ounce.

I'd get these ingredients home, and most of them would never be used again. They'd end up on the shelves or in the fridge for a few months, go bad, and end up in the trash.

When it comes to recipes, I follow directions to the letter. If something calls for three cups1 of tobacco-marinated Australian Aboriginal lawn clippings, I will locate and use exactly three cups of tobacco-marinated Australian Aboriginal lawn clippings. I am afraid to use any other product, or vary the amount. I could not, for example, replace the tobacco-marinated Australian Aboriginal lawn clippings with shredded lettuce.

No matter what I did, whatever I cooked turned out--well, I shouldn't say it was bad. It was always edible. And sometimes it was pretty good. But it always felt like a disappointment. It was never nearly as tasty as I had anticipated. And I always had so many leftovers. I was stuck eating the same meal for several days, and usually had to throw some away.

It all seemed so futile. So I just gave up. I admitted that cooking was not one of my strengths. I told myself that no matter how much I tried, no matter how many recipes I prepared, I would never turn out the kind of meals that I saw on the cooking shows and in magazines. I also acknowledged that I would always be a slave to recipes, and would never have the know-how to make things from scratch. Cooking was a hobby--an expensive, unfulfilling, wasteful one--and I walked away from it.

Now I specialise in just a few meals. I will share them with you here:

Spaghetti with red sauce: Boil some water. Add spaghetti. Cook it for the time marked in directions on box. Dump jar of spaghetti into separate saucepan. Heat according to directions on jar. When it's all done, serve. Give it the additional Dave touch by adding some black olives (without pits) before serving!

Box of raisins: Open box. Eat raisins.

Grilled cheese sandwich: You need a toaster oven to make this. A regular toaster won't do. First, toast bread. Then, put a slice of cheese on each piece of bread and toast it again. Put the pieces of bread together, with the cheese on the inside, and eat.

Chocolate chip cookies: Open tube of chocolate chip cookie dough. Eat dough directly from tube. Tell Britt that if he really wanted fully cooked cookies, he should have purchased fully cooked cookies.

Soup: Dump can of soup into saucepan. Heat according to directions of label. Note: some soup requires you to add a can of water.

Chili: See directions for soup. No additional water will be required. For fun, serve over spaghetti. Note: wash out pot before the chili gets too cold and sticks to the sides like concrete. You'll be happy you did.

Carrot surprise: Open bag of carrots. Eat. There is no surprise. What did you think you were eating--Cracker Jack?


1 Let's not forget that I grew up in a country that used the metric system. I have no idea how many cups there are in a hogshead, or whatever silly medieval units of measurement you use over here. Pints and quarts? Srlsy? No wonder I couldn't revise the recipes for, say, 2 people instead of 4.