f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

December 29, 2007

you tell-em: hold the anchovies

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 10:40 pm

A recent article in the Schenectady Daily Gazette about police using too much sick leave and comp time to avoid the busiest patrol shifts caused a jarring bit of guilt on my part. Clearly, I’ve been shirking my duties on the haiku quality control beat, in the 6 months since issuing my fragnum opustoo many tell-ems: psyku lower haiku quality.”

You may recall that I’ve been lamenting the escalating trend of haiku journals publishing “tell-ems”, in which the poet “tells” what is on his or her mind (stating an insight or intellectual conclusion, or naming an emotional state) rather than “showing” us through images based on sensory experiences. As I said last May:

They may in fact constitute wonderful insights into the world, humanity, or the poet’s psyche. A few might belong in a list of the wisest epigrams or wittiest bon mots. Some readers might think they are excellent free verse poems despite their brevity. Nevertheless, psyku do not belong in our finest haiku journals and anthologies as examples of the best haiku or senryu being written in English — even if their authors are among the most respected haijin alive and the poem is structured to look or feel like haiku.

Sadly, despite voluminous research and quotes from a multitude of leading haiku scholars and luminaries, my complaints have been no more successful than similar attempts at this weblog to uphold the quality of legal services and viability of lawyer ethical rules and standards. Although I have recently sworn off lawyer punditry and playing the role of the conscience of the profession, I’m going to persevere a bit longer in pestering the haiku community about the dangers of “psyku” — especially, because the gap between my views and those of leading editors and awards-judges seems to be increasing, while my pleasure in reading many haiku journals, collections and anthologies is rapidly declining.

[orig.] Anchovies on the side: Some in the haiku community of poets, editors, scholars and readers might believe that tell-ems and the whole “psyku genre” are like literary anchovies — just a matter of an acquired taste (rather than of quality or definition), an option that deserves to remain on the menu of the best journals. If they are merely a matter of taste, tell-ems are a haikai flavor I am simply not willing to ingest, while waiting for my taste buds to be subdued, converted or numbed. Nor, as with anchovies, am I willing to succumb to pressure from purportedly more-adventurous or sophisticated peers, and to order up publications that contain tell-ems, with the understanding that I’ll just ignore them, eat around them, or place them to the side.

Every tell-em in a leading haiku journal, or in the winner’s circle of a kukai or award ceremony, is taking the spot that could have contained a better poem, while leaving an unwanted aftertaste and the growing risk of one-breath reflux on a tide of half-baked, three-line pseudo-tanka.


The anchovy analogy came to mind recently when I ran across one of my all-time favorite senryu in the course of a book review:

first date–
the little pile
of anchovies

. ……………… by Roberta Beary – from The Unworn Necklace (Snapshots Press, 2007); Frogpond (Winter 2007), 1st Place, Haiku Society of America’s 2006 Gerald Brady Senryu Contest

This poem works so well as haiku/senryu because Roberta took a familiar concept (that could easily have resulted in a poetic cliche) and deftly illustrates it for us, rather than spelling it out. She tells us what was experienced, not what she thought about, or what we should conclude on the subject. She leaves it up to the reader to fill in blanks and ellipses with insights, or empathy, or questions about what was on her mind and on her lips that night.

In the hands of a lesser poet — or one who was simply not willing to take the time to invoke “the first-date anchovy experience” with a sensory image rather than a mere explanatory phrase — we could have wound up with an epigrammatic “insight,” a wry-ku bon mot such as:

i know the rule:
no first-date

Or, perhaps a palpably inferior, regretful “sigh-ku,” like:

no goodnight kiss —
why did I have anchovies
on our first date?

The Beary Anchovy example seems to me to be a great teaching tool: an example that reminds us that the best haiku and senryu do not merely embody an interesting notion written in 17 syllables or less. The challenge of haiku — the task in crafting the highest quality haiku, at least as it has been practiced over the past few decades by those writing in the English language — is to share an experienced moment of insight, awe or heightened awareness and connection, by showing not telling.

As I said in my original tell-em essay,

Crafting the right juxtaposition of sensory images to evince the insight the haiku poet wants to share or suggest is not always easy, even for the best haijin. That’s actually my point: doing it right can be difficult, requiring special skill, creativity and focused effort. Taking the shortcut of direct explanation makes the poem — however else it might succeed — a second-rate haiku.

A tell-em is built on a lesser aspiration and gives the reader a lesser, restricted role in the overall exerperience of the poem.

Angry Anchovies logo

I’m still reluctant to draw direct attention to any particular psyku examples that I find in print or online. Although I’ve been willing to aggravate lawyers at this weblog over the past few years, I am not eager to alienate haijin — whose skin often seems considerably thinner than that of my legal brethren. Indeed, the perpetrators of some rather prominent tell-ems are in fact among my favorite poets, and even my best friends.

Nonetheless, I thought I might use anchovy parody poems to playfully illustrate the pitfalls of the tell-em phenomenon. For example, the Grand Prix winner of a recent A-Bomb memorial contest inspired me to pen this fishy shadow version of an anti-war “haiku”:

first date turmoil —
anchovies stifle the wishing
of the aging matchmaker.

Yes, the original poem was almost this loaded and awkward (and in fact read like a sentence written on three lines, and actually ended with a period).

Similarly, I don’t know what the HSA Executive Committee was eating when it chose the “best” poem from a recent issue of Frogpond, but it sure gave me indigestion. Although the original was written by one of the most honored and talented haijin on the planet, it precipitated the following, analogous small-fish “sighku/psyku” nightmare:

date’s end —
what made me think I needed

As I encounter tell-ems in high places, I will probably craft more anchovy parodies, so watch this space for updates. Of course, I’d much prefer that haiku poets and editors heed my plea from last May:

If only to spare themselves the pain of reviewing the ever-rising flood of wryku and sighku by the less talented [and more pompous] among us, editors should draw the line and exclude (or segregate) tell-ems. They shouldn’t be shy about returning a poem to its author with a note saying “nice idea with good potential; please see if you can convert this psyku into a genuine, first-rate haiku by substituting a sensory image for your explanatory phrase.” If it happens often enough, haijin will submit fewer tell-ems and produce better poetry — and our journals will contain noticeably better haiku.

update (April 10, 2008): As I mentioned, in our posting on the 2008 Anita Sadler Weiss Awards, one of the honored poems — which is favorably compared to a couple of classic poems that solely use sensory images — has won a place among our anchovie-ku:

between constellations
and anchovies
all I don’t know

That last line turned an interesting poem into an instantly trite psyku — half a haiku attached to a cliche. I can’t imagine how this poem — by an author of many fine haiku — garnered so much praise.  And, despite not wanting to offend the cream of the haiku community, I humbly offer my dissent.

December 28, 2007

the HSA 2007 members’ anthology arrives

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 3:56 pm

Almost lost in the pile of Christmas packages that arrived at my door last week was a thick envelope that helps prove the old saw “better late then never.” It contained a copy of “flower of another country: the Haiku Society of America 2007 Members’ Anthology” (edited by Wanda D. Cook and Linda Porter, 2007). The stubby volume (4.25 by 5 inches), with a purple cover and a lime green bookmark ribbon, presents 186 poems, one per page, written by 186 members of HSA. (As the editors prominently remind readers, each member is assured that one of his or her submitted poems will appear in the anthology.) I want to thank Linda and Wanda for undertaking a time-consuming and often unheralded and under-appreciated job.

Although I am far too lazy and self-absorbed (and tired of reading haiku in massive numbers) to ever volunteer for the task of editing the Members’ Anthology, I am also far too opinionated to refrain from making a couple suggestions to future editors and contributors, based on my personal preferences: 1) these annual anthologies deserve to be preserved on our personal library shelves, and can more easily be honored and housed if they are published in a more conventional shape and size (such as last year’s award-winning version, fish in love, which was 8 inches tall and 84 pages); 2) to make the HSA Members’ Anthology more valuable and memorable, the chosen poems should, to the extent possible, be previously unpublished; therefore, members should submit and editors should choose poems that aren’t already widely known and available in the most-read haiku journals; and, naturally, 3) for the sake of quality and pedagogy, “show-ems” should always be vastly preferred over “tell-ems.”

The 2006 anthology has been sold out for quite awhile. You can still order the 2007 edition: The price per copy is $11.50 in the United States, $12.00 for Canada / Mexico and $15.00 elsewhere. To receive a copy, send your check to Paul Miller, HSA Treasurer, 31 Seal Island Road, Bristol, RI 02809-5186.

As expected, most of our f/k/a Honored Guests participated in this year’s HSA Members’ Anthology. Here, in alphabetical order, are the 19 poems submitted by the f/k/a family and selected by the editors of flower of another country:

morning mist
a bent back sweeps
yesterday’s blossoms

…………. roberta beary – Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2006 (Highly Commended)

a dandelion or two
none of her new friends
best friends yet

……………… randy brooks

banana leaf
our small talk
in the rain

…………. yu chang – The Heron’s Nest 9:1 (2007)

in the garden
right by St. Francis
the woodchuck hole

…………….. tom clausen – Upstate Dim Sum 2006:2

that mosquito —
frog and I

…………….. david giacalone (see original haiga here)

a butterfly
so long at my window
summer dusk

………. carolyn hall – The Heron’s Nest 9:1 (2007)

no old habits–
the newborn’s

……………….. gary hotham – The Heron’s Nest 8:1 (2006)

the end before the end September rain

……. jim kacian – Kusamakura Haiku Contest 2006 (2nd place)

beer bottles on the table
a chess

…………….. david g. lanoue

Sunday afternoon–
butterflies sweep the slow end
of the soccer field

………… peggy willis lyles – Mayfly #41, 2006

snow patches
the bones of bears
in this dirt

……… paul m.

dinner with an old lover
the tang of unripe olives

……… pamela miller ness – Acorn #17, 2006

Indian summer
his name comes to me
then is gone again

…………. w. f. owen

first crocus
I make a promise
I can’t keep

…………… tom painting – Shiki Monthly Kukai, April, 2007

winter night
i lie in bed
and imagine it

………….. john stevenson – Upstate Dim Sum 2007:1

from this ridge
not another in sight–
wind and wheat

…………… george swede

mountain stillness
the loon call
held by the lake

……………. hilary tann – The Heron’s Nest 8:4 (2006)

into the lake,
our skipping stones’
intermingling rings

……………………… michael dylan welch

from deep in the forest
a haunting birdsong
sung just once

…………………… billie wilson – The Heron’s Nest 8:4 (2006)

p.s. If you’re still in the holiday mood, you can find year-end and New Year poems by our Honored Guests by clicking here, or take a look at the f/k/a Christmas Season Haiku page, as well as our Holiday Haiku from Schenectady.

December 26, 2007

a firefly under my tree

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:21 am

Don’t forget: Our holiday gifts to you: Two 12-page, printable 2008 calendars, the kitschy f/k/a Haiga Memories Calendar and the artsy Giacalone Haiga Calendar 2008, which feature a photo and linked poem for each month. Read more here.

Thanks to a thoughtful haijin friend, one present under dagosan’s Christmas Tree was “Lanterns: a firefly anthology” (Edited by Stanford M. Forrester, Bottle Rockets Press, 2007). Stan Forrester has collected 77 firefly haiku by “53 of the haiku community’s top poets” in this 5 x 6.5-inch perfectbound anthology.

I’ve always loved fireflies — whether it’s a lone male signalling for a mate in late spring, or a multitude creating a spectacular lightshow on a steamy August night — and have written quite a few haiku on the subject. Naturally, I was honored when Stan choose one of them for this collection.

cloud-covered night–
no moon, no fireflies,
no goodnight kiss

……………………… by david giacalone, Lanterns (2007)

As with all my haiku reading (as opposed to my ice cream consumption), I’m more likely to dip briefly into this lovely little book for a quick snack of firefly poems, rather than binge on the full buffet in one sitting. No matter how you approach it, though, there are bright delights to be found throughout Lanterns.

Nine of the 53 poets featured in Lanterns are f/k/a Honored Guest Poets: in alphabetical order, Roberta Beary, Randy Brooks, Yu Chang, Gary Hotham, Jim Kacian, Peggy Willis Lyles, Ed Markowski, Tom Painting, and George Swede. Here are the dozen poems that they contributed to this first-of-a-kind Firefly Anthology:

as far as the light goes —
my daughter goes
after the firefly

among the fireflies —
the children playing past
their bedtime

………………. Gary Hotham
“among the fireflies –” – Bare Feet
“as far as the light goes –” – Windchimes #26

firefly lifts off
from her open palm
another rain drop

……………….. Randy Brooks

dawn breeze —
it flickers, then goes out
the firefly

…………….. George Swede

lights out
. . . the firefly

…………….. Peggy Willis Lyles
HSA Henderson Award 1980 Hon. Men.

memorial day
he turns his back
to the fireflies

late innings
the shortstop backpedals
into fireflies

………………… ed markowski
“late innings” – Baseball Haiku (2007)

on my finger
the firefly
puts out its light

so much silence
on a path
lit by fireflies

…………….. Roberta Beary
“on my finger” – Shiki Internet Kukai

broken lamp
through the briar bush

………………. Yu Chang – from Reflections 2

paint flaking
from the porch rail

…………. Tom Painting

closing my eyes —
a firefly
still there

……….. Jim Kacian

December 24, 2007

ebenezer had a point

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 8:20 pm

Tonight I might just be putting the Curmudge into Christmas, and the grin into grinchosan. If it’s going to happen in 2007, I’ve got only a few hours to finally get into the Christmas Spirit. Not even making elfin frolics, nor creating all those holiday haiku and give-away new-year calendars has done it yet.  Rather than struggle, I shall allow myself to wallow a bit more, and nurture the pre-visitation Scrooge inside every (thinking) person — you know, maybe only watch the first half of a couple Christmas Carol movies.


A Christmas Carol (1999) (Patrick Stewart)

Christmas lights
my eye is drawn
to the house with none

………………………………………….. by Hilary Tann

Christmas eve-
the row of cut trees
no one took home

…….……………….. by Pamela Miller Ness

Scrooge (1970) (Albert Finney) ScroogeFinney

ready to assemble
another toy
hits the wall

——————– grinchosan

To get in the Scrooge mood, see Verlyn Klinkenborg’s musing in her The City Life column, called “ ‘Tis the Season” (New York Times, Dec. 24, 2007). VK reminds us that “the old Scrooge is as much a part of [Christmas] as the new one.” And, then ponder along with Sarah Kershaw, in “Enough of the Hills and Woods, Can I Send Grandma an E-Card?” (New York Times, Dec. 24, 2007)

first doubts
santa sounds
like Uncle Al

………………………. photo by Mama G. (larger haiga here)

no one here
to chop “gardunes” –
Christmas soup by Progresso

. . . dagosan

– check out Lio‘s self-help action vs. Santa.

victorian christmas
a trail of horse shit
down the main street

……………….. matt morden from Morden Haiku

A Christmas Carol (1984) (George C. Scott) ScroogeScott

silent night, holy night
at the bar

……………….. by David G. Lanoue from the novel Haiku Guy

christmas evening
the goose she raised
all summer

christmas eve…
we yank two ton
from the # 4 mine

there ain’t enough coal
to put in the stockings

………………. by ed markowski

Scrooged (1998) (Dan Murray) ScroogedMurray

Christmas pageant—
the one who had to get married
plays virgin Mary

another Christmas . . .
my parents visit
the son in prison

……………………….. by Lee Gurga from Fresh Scent (1998)

NoSantaGS One thing for sure, if I don’t get my butt off this desk chair and get my brain offline, I’ll be mighty grumpy when Santa gets here tonight. Hope you’ve got lots of Christmas spirit and have a joyous Eve and Christmas Day, however and why-ever you celebrate it.

Of course, I also hope you’ll be just as questioning and thoughtful as Linus was in 1968, when you’re asked whether you had “a good Christmas?”

  • Do you mean did I get a lot of presents? Or, do you mean did I give a lot of presents?
  • Are you referring to the weather or the Christmas Dinner we had? Do you mean was my Christmas good in a spiritual sense?
  • Do you mean was my Christmas good in that I saw new meaning in old things? Or do you mean . . . .

And, you better not just sigh, Charlie Brown.

breaking hillary’s heart (the end of an error)

Filed under: q.s. quickies,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 12:44 pm

There are people who will never vote for me. It breaks my heart, but it’s true.”
………. Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (quoted in NYT, Dec. 19, 2007; orig. image)

If I thought Hillary had a heart worth sparing (a heart that loved something more than the notion of Presidential power), I’d feel a little guilty about telling her this on Christmas Eve:

“Hillary, I will never vote for you. Indeed, if you’re nominated by my Democratic Party as its 2008 presidential candidate, I might end up casting my first vote for a Republican for President. If the GOP candidate seems even less honest, trustworthy and genuine than you, I’ll find a third party candidate to support, or skip voting for the top office next November. But, Never for Hillary is a certainty for this law-trained, liberal-leaning Baby Boomer, despite decades of supporting gender equality and women candidates . . . . . ..

. . . . . the f/k/a Gang interrupts this Dear Hillary letter to announce the end of political and (especially) law-related punditry at our weblog. Sure, we’ve said this before — see, e.g., our May 2004 post “poetry not punditry” when the site ethicaEsq was renamed f/k/a — but this time there will be no punditry relapses. Neither “our” hearts nor souls, brains or bodies, are up to playing the role of political commentator (or advocate), much less carrying the much bigger burden of the “conscience of the legal profession” (a futile and thankless job if ever there was one).

When Carolyn Elefant asked last week “Is Blogging an Antidote to Lawyer Depression?,” I immediately thought “not the way I do it; it’s a catalyst for more.” And when I discussed the role of cognitive dissonance in the phenomenon of lawyer depression, on December 17, I knew that I would have to come clean and acknowledge that making moral or ethical judgments, and calling into question the conduct of others is simply at odds with my own core beliefs about my function on this planet. And, that this time I will have to act on that bit of personal insight, and live it.

In spite of the ego-gratification or reassurance that comes from voicing an opinion and being heard (and getting little attaboys and even awards from people I admire), there is no pundit-payoff for me — other than the travails of cognitive dissonance and malaise of ignored values. I can’t even offer the excuse of the depressed lawyer who is making a good living at the expense of his or her soul or sanity. Some people enjoy playing opinionated pundit; but the role sucks me dry of energy and joy, and daily fills me with dread.

So, as of today, there will be no new posting here that looks or sounds like legal ethics or political punditry. Other than continuing to highlight new poetry by our two-dozen fine Honored Guests, I’m not sure just what I will do at this space — although the short-lived Haibun Pundit might soon make his return. Of course, the archives of this weblog contain far too much good haiku and important analysis of legal ethics and clients’ rights to tear the site down.

frozen river–
snow hides
the elm’s reflection
……………………… dagosan – Mainichi Daily News (March 5, 2005, No. 669)

As for Election 2008, I’ll let Maureen Dowd, and Stuart Taylor Jr, and maybe Althouse, along with the other candidates tell you the “The Trouble with Hillary.” I wish I could say that plenty of others will ride herd on the Bar on behalf of the consumer of legal services, but I can’t let the need suck me into this personal maelstrom again. Thanks again to all our readers and fans. We’ll understand if you drift away, and be mighty pleased if a more-enlightened, self-actualized version of the f/k/a Gang holds your interest.

big thaw overnight —
on the river

……………………… dagosan – from loose change: Haiku Society of America, 2005 Members’ Anthology

December 23, 2007

elves and echoes

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:32 am

. . . Elfin Fun: This is the time of year to think about friends old and new, and wish you could be lots of places at once (often, not where you actually are). Thanks to my First Niece (graphic artist Kara LaFrance of Calabash, NC, and Vive LaFrance Design), I discovered the wonderful ElfYourself website from Office Max this week, and created a couple of clips of my elfself having a jingle-bellishly good time with some of my favorite people:

Warning: Elfing Yourself is free, but habit-forming, often leading to strained laugh muscles (my cheeks have been hurting for days). Don’t miss the encore Elf who hangs on screen between performances.

Elf, I Need Somebody! Speaking of snow and friends, see/hear The Beatles perform “Help!” (lyrics).

tiny guestroom –
an old friend
on an old mattress

……………………… by dagosan

echoes 1 (Compiled by Jim Kacian and Alice Frampton, Red Moon Press, 2007; (ISBN: 978-1-893959-67-5, 78 pages, $10,00)

Recalling special moments with friends, renewing old acquaintances, and catching up on their news, are some of the best things about the Holiday Season. In the haiku community, the recently published anthology from Red Moon Press called echoes 1 offers a great opportunity for such joyous communing. Here’s how the publisher describes the book:

echoes is both a kind of yearbook and a compendium of outstanding work. It is an updating of the careers of the New Resonance poets which forms a community in its own right. It is also an almanac of the current state of affairs in English-language haiku, since so many who have appeared in this series have become the outstanding figures of our time in our genre, as poets, volunteers, speakers, officials, judges and most generally as the face of haiku today.

A New Resonance: (Red Moon Press, 1999)

starry night —
biting into a melon
full of seeds

…………………… by yu chang
Frogpond XXI:1 (1998), Museum of Haiku Literature Award

A New Resonance 2 (Red Moon Press, 2001)

Many of my first encounters with our f/k/a Honored Guest Poets came from reading the early volumes in Red Moon’s series A New Resonance: emerging voices in English Language Haiku. Each volume gives you enough poems from each poet to get a feel for his or her talents and unique voice, while leaving you wanting more. Yu Chang was featured in the first New Resonance volume in 1999. A New Resonance 2 (2001) brought Roberta Beary, Barry George, Carolyn Hall, Rebecca Lilly, paul m., Matt Morden, Pamela Miller Ness, Bill Owen, and Tom Painting into my ken and my home. And, I first concentrated on DeVar Dahl, Alice Frampton, and Billie Wilson, after seeing their work in A New Resonance 3 (2003).

loved ones return home
a harvest moon rises
over the bridge

…………… by DeVar Dahl – Shimanami Kaido 1999, 3rd place

Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted poems from echoes 1 by Carolyn, Paul, Matt, Roberta, Barry and Dr. Bill. Here are selections from echoes 1 by DeVar and its co-editor Alice Frampton:

the flat ends
of a new pencil–
first day of school

a bare space
under the willow
overdue books

……………………………………… by DeVar Dahl in echoes 1 (2007)
“the flat ends” – Haiku Presence Award 2003 2nd place
“a bare space” – Haiku Canada Anthology 2006; Red Moon Anthology 2006

field of marigolds
a young boy uses
both hands

blossoms . . .
I dust off the last
jar of cherries

mallard pair
he rocks
on her wake

………………………… by Alice Frampton in echoes 1 (2007)
“field of marigolds” – Haiku Friends 2
“blossoms” – Hon. Mem, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2006
“mallard pair” – Hon. Mem., Harold Henderson Haiku Contest 2006

A New Resonance 3 (2003)

starXmasIt’s not often these days that I find myself thinking “this haiku book isn’t big enough.” But, that’s definitely my response to echoes 1. Three poems each from the 70 New Resonance Poets is simply not enough. I know haiku publishers have to worry about budgets, but echoes 1 would have been far more satisfying for me, if each of these poets got a two-page spread, featuring a half dozen poems or more. Or, at the very least, another poem was squeezed in and the Christmas Letter-esque litany of achievements shortened or moved to an appendix. Despite that traditional family-holiday gripe, I say from the heart that echoes 1 is a great $10 stocking stuffer, or the perfect little gift to yourself for quiet moments after the holidays.

A New Resonance 4

December 22, 2007

solstice again

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:13 am

The Winter Solstice occurred early this morning, bringing with it the ancient desire of all peoples to rekindle and celebrate the light of the sun — and light the candle of hope and forgiveness. Like our weblogging friend George M. Wallace, the f/k/a Gang always marks the day with a little philosophy and a little poetry. While some choose to celebrate this Season of Light in ways that are exclusive, we prefer an inclusiveness, in the spirit of these words from Universe Today:

The season we call “winter” begins on the Winter Solstice. The word Solstice means “sun still”. Because ancient peoples knew nothing of the earth’s tilt, the southward march of the sun was a troubling time. There was fear that one day the sun might continue moving south until it was lost entirely. Many cultures conducted rituals to encourage the sun to move north again and when it did there were great celebrations. These celebrations, regardless of culture, all had a common theme that of rekindled light. Not surprising then that many of the traditions and customs of ancient Solstice celebrations have survived to the present day. Although we know that the sun will begin moving north without any encouragement from humans, we still use this time of cold and darkness to celebrate the theme of rekindled light. From the Hanukah Menorah, to the Scandinavian Yule log, to the lights of the Christmas tree, during this season we seek to push back the darkness with light. Although the forms have evolved over the centuries, we can still see the spirit of many of the old ways in our present day Solstice celebrations.

[photo Daily Gazette, by Ana Zangroniz, “Winter arrives today, veiled in darkness” (Dec. 22, 2007)]

Here are a few poems for the season by our haijin family: starXmas

winter solstice
a flock of starlings
takes a new shape

shortest day –
all of the yellow
beaten out of eggs

before solstice
a darkness in the frost
that’s blackbird-shaped

……………… by Matt Morden
“winter solstice” – The Heron’s Nest III:3; echoes 1
“shortest day” – The Heron’s Nest V:3
“before solstice” – Morden Haiku (Dec. 17, 2007)

winter solstice
our son reads a fairy tale
to his unborn son

snow swirls
in the pitcher’s paperweight . . .
the longest night

……………………… by Peggy Lyles from To Hear the Rain

shortest day
the highrise disappears
into indigo

winter solstice
I unravel my knitting
and begin again

……………………… by Pamela Miller Ness
“shortest day” – from the haiku sequence “Can Collector’s Red Socks” (2003)
“winter solstice” – The Hands of Women (2007)

a candle
in every window
strangers light our path

winter solstice
adolescent wiccans
flunk a spelling test

……………………………….. by dagosan

winter sun
lifting his round face
to catch it

…………………. by w.f. owenManichi Daily News (No. 669)

For more holiday spirit, don’t forget the f/k/a Christmas Season Haiku page, as well as our Holiday Haiku from Schenectady. . . click to print the free 24-poem brochure of poems by Schenectady’s Yu Chang, Hilary Tann and myself.

three generations
peering down a gopher hole
winter solstice

………………………………. by yu chang

And share the spirit throughout the New Year by printing out one of our 12-month 2008 calendars. Each calendar page has a “haiga” – a combination of an image with a subtly-linked haiku or senryu. The f/k/a Haiga Memories Calendar 2008 has b&w photos taken around 1950 by Mama Giacalone of her three darling children.

The Giacalone Haiga Calendar 2008 combines photos by my brother Arthur Giacalone with my poems. Most have been published or are pending at online journals. You may print out any page or all of them. Here are thumbnails of each month’s image:

comes too soon

…… Simply Haiku (Spring 2007)

round and round with you
on thin ice

…………….. magnapoets jf (Dec. 14, 2007)

December 20, 2007

focus on law office bullies

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 10:58 am

Oops! A little premature exposure at TCL.

(Dec. 21, 2007): The f/k/a Gang apologizes for any confusion. When we enthusiastically told you about the focus on office bullies in the upcoming issue of The Complete Lawyer yesterday, we forgot that the crew at TCL is still in the final stages of putting together the entire edition. That means that the links provided below will indeed take you to the featured articles, but you can’t yet navigate around the TCL site from those pages to see the entire Jan-Feb. 2008 version of The Complete Lawyer — because it doesn’t yet exist. The complete package won’t be available until the first week of January. So, please enjoy this preview, but blame the f/k/a Gang and not Don Hutcheson’s crew at TCL for links that take you to their prior editions, and not to the understandably not-yet-ready-for-blog-time Vol. 4, No.1.

Of course, you could do a lot worse — while clicking around in cyberspace instead of producing billable hours today — than serendipitously checking out the TCL archives, which strive to provide “Tools and insights on professional development and quality of life and career issues that impact every lawyer’s success and satisfaction.”

bully Victoria Pynchon of the Settle It Now Negotiation Blog has a great little gift for anyone like myself needing help procrastinating over that Holiday To-Do List — a preview of the newest edition of The Complete Lawyer magazine, which will focus on law office bullies and nasties. (via Stephanie at Idealawg) In her post “The Complete Lawyer to Out Workplace Bullies,” Victoria tells us about, and links to, her own contribution to the new TCL edition: “Why Lawyers Are Unhappy… And Make Others Unhappy, Too,” which she says “is a personal confessional of workplace misbehavior. In fact, it’s just about as personal as you can get without committing professional suicide.” Pynchon points out that striving for power, wealth and prestiges is a very unlikely path to happiness, even if you achieve them. (Although she focuses on lawyers who are “feeling trapped by our own success,” I must say that an awful lot of bullying seems to come from people who are feeling trapped by their lack of success and taking it out on those below them in the law firm pecking order).

As you might have guessed, the inspiration for this topic was Robert I Sutton’s book “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t,” which was released in early 2007. f/k/a focused on Sutton’s prior writings about Lawyer A$$H©les in a post last February. A key point was made by quoting Aric Press of American Lawyer:

“At a minimum, what I’m suggesting is that you [law firm managers] ask yourselves this question: Why do we put up with this behavior? If the answer is 2,500 value-billed hours, at least you will have identified your priorities without incurring the cost of a consultant.”

By the Way:  I recently learned at David Maister’s weblog that The No Asshole Rule was given the 2007 Quill Award as best Business book of the year.  The Quills honor “the year’s most entertaining and enlightening titles.”

under mistletoe —
the CEO flashes
this year’s bonus checks

…………………………………………….. by dagosan donkeyS

Sutton, a Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, has an article in the new TCL, “The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton.” Although it does not deal directly with lawyers, it is a good summary of his thoughts. The article concludes with:

DeleteButtonN “Treating people with respect rather than contempt makes good business sense, although it won’t always be enough to help save a troubled company. We can never know what the future will bring to our organizations and our lives. But if you work with other people, you know with 100% certainty that your days will be filled with face-to-face and phone conversations, email exchanges, meetings, and other kinds of human interactions—and that your moments, hours, and days at work will be more meaningful, peaceful, and fun if you work in a place where the no-asshole rule reigns supreme.”

Victoria provides links to four additional articles from the TCL focus on workplace bullying, in Vol. 4, No. 1 (Jan-Feb. 2008):

Now, before I get even grumpier about my unattended Christmas card list, I’m gonna sign off for today, and leave you with a few poems from the f/k/a Christmas Season Haiku page:

Christmas morning–
misty breath of cows
rising where they lie

stockings on the mantel . . .
the child’s eyes follow sparks
up the chimney

………… by Randy Brooksfrom School’s Out

solstice sunset
beside dad’s pink slip
her christmas list

two nights before…
tiger hones his claws
on the christmas tree trunk

………………………..………. by ed markowski

– a public-service announcement that warms our heart:

Maryland DOT/SHA

December 18, 2007

holiday hell week in family court

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:03 am

While I finally attack my Christmas card list, I’m re-publishing a post from one year ago today at shlep.

ides of december –
santa asks the judge
where to find the kids

……………………………. by dagosan

espMazeG Holiday spirits are put to the test in mid-December at family courts across the nation, as divorced or separated parents battle over how and where their children spend various portions of the holiday season. While serving as law guardian for many children caught in the middle of such disputes, I saw how often the parents placed their own emotional/ego needs ahead of the needs of the children — and, how often lawyers made things worse by stoking the yuletide fires. The South Carolina Family Law Blog has a number of postings that might help to avoid court or to bring out the estranged parents’ better spirits. (via Kansas Family Law Blog)

Their Dec. 15, 2006 posting Tips to Help Divorced Parents Avoid Holiday Visitation Issues has some good advice, and is based on this article by Dr. Ruth Peters, which covers keeping it civil, accommodating schedules, coordinating gifts, respecting each others’ religious traditions, and more. The posting Ten Tips to Minimize Divorce Trauma During the Holidays is also worth reading by parents and, if they have them, their lawyers. [via California Divorce and Family Law weblog] You can find a link to an article on Holiday Blended Families issues, here. I suggest you wait until after the holidays to deal with Tax Deductions and Non-Custodial Parents.

Christmas Day
the exchange
of custody

…………………………….. John Stevenson – from Some of the Silence

from Mom’s to Dad’s
the clickity-clack
of suitcase wheels

. . . . by alice framptonNew Resonance 3: Emerging Voices (2003)

Family Advocate magazine, from the ABA’s Family Law Section, often has excellent materials on parenting after divorce and finding alternatives to ugly divorces. Many editions are turned into Client Manuals. For example, check out:

espMazeN Here are my own Tips on Parenting-Apart, which I used with a course for separated parents. If you’ve been warring with your “ex” over parenting issues, consider changing your ways in the New Year — for the sake of your children.

where I sat as a child
I wait out the storm

………………………….. by Hilary Tann

afterthought (2 PM): When not billing those hours, lawyer-poet Roberta Beary (of The Unworn Necklace fame) is a frequent f/k/a visitor. She is also the haikai world’s Divorce Diva, and the Siren of Separation Senryu. Roberta just emailed me this sharp-edged gem:

custody hearing
inside my pocket
her letter to santa

Which is a good enough excuse to reprise (again), one of her senryu classics:

custody hearing holy family.
seeing his arms cross
i uncross mine

…………………………………. by roberta beary
“custody hearing/santa”- RAWNervz X:3 (2005)
“cutody hearing/uncross” – pocket change; and New Resonance 2

almost sunset
the weekend dad
drags a sled up the hill

……………. by David Giacalone – frogpond XXIX: 2 (2006)

Holiday Haiku from Schenectady. . . click to print the free 24-poem brochure

Need a 12-month calendar for 2008? Love haiga, the combination of pictures and haiku? We’ve got two 2008 Haiga calendars for you to view and print for free.

Don’t forget our Christmas Season Haiku page

December 17, 2007

now that’s depressing

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 1:06 pm

The Wall Street Journal and the blawgiverse have once again discovered the issue of Lawyer Depression. It started with Sue Shellenbarger’s Work & Family column for WSJ, on Dec. 13, 2007, titled “Even Lawyers Get the Blues: Opening Up About Depression.” She says that “More attorneys . . . are breaking taboos against talking about mental-health problems,” and bar associations, firms and law schools are learning lessons about “allaying isolation, easing overload and making career choices with care.”

Peter Lattman responded to Sue’s column in his WSJ Law Blog, by asking (again) “Why are so many lawyers so depressed?” (Dec. 13, 2007). He notes “some studies show nearly 20% of lawyers battle depression . . . because of the adversarial nature of the work and the non-stop deadlines. Others, including the ABA, criticize the billable-hours system as ‘corrosive’.” As is her wont, Carolyn Elefant summarizes coverage, and added an interesting twist question, in the post “Is Blogging an Antidote to Lawyer Depression?.” See also “Lawyer Depression Comes Out of the Closet” (ABA Journal News, Dec 13, 2007); and Jim Calloway’s discussion at his Law Practice Tips weblog.

This is an important topic that deserves continuing coverage (and action). Our post in March 2006, “do lawyers choose to be unhappy?,” is sharply opinionated about possible causes of lawyer depression (and the tough choices that individuals must make about their values and sustaining them); it has useful links. Four years ago, we wrote about Professor Patrick Schiltz’s “Sermon” on lawyer happiness and mental health, and still believe it should be required reading for anyone who cares about lawyers. Read and consider: “On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession,” 52 Vand. L. Rev. 871 (81 pp pdf.; condensed version here). Here are some quick thoughts about the current wave of online discussion:

  • A small but important point: It’s great that more lawyers are willing to discuss their depression, get counseling, and find group support. One thing the profession should do for them, however, is to help make sure that seeking professional help doesn’t end up disqualifying the lawyer when he or she seeks disability insurance. See our post “Lawyer Therapy Can Affect Disability Insurance ” (March 8, 2004), which notes that many insurers deny coverage to a lawyer who has (even in the distant past) been on antidepressants and seen a therapist — because depression is at the top of the list of reasons why lawyers seek disability.
  • More important: It seems that too many of the proffered “causes” for lawyer depression seek to blame the system, with the individual lawyer as the victim, rather than focusing on the responsibility of each lawyer to understand his or her own values and take the steps necessary to find, shape, create a career position that jibes with those values. For example, you can’t complain about a crushing billable-hours quota — which is meant to generate a certain amount of fees from your work — if you are not willing to work for less income (elsewhere, if necessary). Far too many lawyers entered into the profession because they wanted wealth and status. The fact that so many realize how hollow those goals are, and how seldom they lead to personal satisfaction, is a good thing. I’ve come to believe that depression [Mr. D] is our psyche telling us “you’re not living right. Know your priorities and act on them.”
  • It’s a nice coincidence that this depression story arose again the same week that Legal Times ran the article “The Man That Got Away: Judges dreamed of having Barack Obama as their clerk. Why did he turn them all down?” (by Tony Mauro, December 10, 2007). It says a lot about the strength of Obama’s values that he knew what he wanted to accomplish with his law degree and walked away from prestigious clerkships, when he graduated from Harvard Law School, to go home to work on civil rights and poverty issues. It says even more about the legal profession that we are so shocked that any graduate would “give up” that prestige and the train to glory, power and riches that it promises.
  • Too many young people go into law without doing the hard self-assessment and reality-testing (about what lawyers actually do) that such an important decision deserves and requires. (For example, law school was for me a “default position” when I didn’t know what I wanted from life and wanted to keep my options open.) It is very good, therefore, that schools are putting more emphasis on “career decisions.” But, as our Prof. Yabut explains and proclaims in “1L of a decision” and the road to “L” is paved with inattention (Sept. 4, 2005), the work needs to be done before entering law school, and then throughout the academic years — and continued as you and your career evolve or devolve.

ooh Cognitive dissonance — “a psychological term describing the uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs” — can often be the cause of depression (see, e.g., “Cognitive Dissonance, Halo Effects, and the Self-Esteem Trap” by Daniel S. Levine, discussing the problem of ” (a) high self-esteem combined with (b) frustration about inability to get what one wants from others.”) Because so many lawyers, by nature and training, live in their heads and readily see and understand contradictions and inconsistencies, I believe that Cognitive Dissonance is at the root of much lawyer depression. That’s because we as a profession constantly profess to principles — e.g., putting the client’s interests first, seeking justice, demanding the highest ethical standards — that are demonstrably violated or ignored in daily practice. For example:

  1. Jim Calloway said this week that “We search for the truth in adversarial courtroom settings.” But, many lawyers instead see their role in the adversarial process (as required by our ethical duties) as tailoring the presentation of the “truth” so that their client is most likely to win, and not so that some objective truth or justice is accomplished. They let the judge figure it out (or hope she doesn’t.)
  2. Despite the PR about highest ethical standards, isn’t it more accurate to say that our codes of professional responsibility in many ways represent the lowest-common-denominator standards, and are then poorly enforced? (see our “sustained objection” to the inadequate discipline system)

WolfDudeN Speaking of the potential for Lawyer Cognitive Disonance, here are a couple examples from current stories in the news:

California Lawyers are Still Fighting Malpractice Insurance Disclosure: Bar groups love to tell you that they are toiling hard to improve the profession for the sake of our clients and the public. [we think they act more like turf-protecting, rent-extracting guilds] For more proof that lawyers in gangs work for for their own financial interest, see “Calif. Bar Panel Amends Proposal on Malpractice Insurance: One member says whole idea should be canned for sake of solos and small-firm lawyers” (The Recorder/Law.com, Dec. 17, 2007); and “Calif. Bar Board Members Butt Heads on Malpractice Insurance Disclosure” (The Recorder, Nov. 13, 2007). See our California coverage and discussion here, ; HALT’s submission on behalf of consumers; and also our general argument on behalf of malpractice disclosure.

. noloShark It’s estimated that one-third of all lawyers carry no malpractice insurance. The unified California Bar proposed last year that — since clients in general believe lawyers have such insurance and consider it important, the profession likes to tout that we do, and (heck) we are supposed to be fiduciaries — California lawyers should let clients know in writing when they do not have malpractice coverage. They quickly ran into a firestorm of opposition — led by the very bar groups that love to call themselves “consumer” and “justice” lawyers — because (gosh) lawyers without malpractice insurance might have lower self-esteem. (see our turn offs post) We’re not psychotherapists here at f/k/a, but we bet that this behavior might indeed cause a bit of Cognitive Dissonance among the more thoughtful and sensitive members of the bar.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the Lawyer Dignity Capital of the Nation, Sean Conway is being disciplined for negative remarks he made about a judge in comments at a weblog. (Howard Bashman first picked up this story, “Lawyer may lose license for blog entry on Broward judge,” Sun-Sentinel, Dec. 13, 2007) At LegalBlogWatch (Dec. 14, 2007), Carolyn Elefant says: “Yes, we all recognize that the lawyer could have criticized the judge in a more tactful manner. But does he deserve a formal reprimand or suspension of his license? Hardly.” And see, “Lawyer’s License at Risk for Blog Post” (Dec. 14, 2007); Lattman at the WSJ Law Blog; and Greenfield at Simple Justice. The Sun-Sentinel reported:

In the Halloween 2006 posting on a blog, Conway denounced Alemán for what he said was an “ugly, condescending attitude” and questioned her mental stability after, he says, she unlawfully forced attorneys to choose between unreasonable trial dates or waiving their clients’ rights to a speedy trial.

“She is clearly unfit for her position and knows not what it means to be a neutral arbiter,” Conway wrote in his commentary.

The Florida Bar signed off on its finding that Sean Conway may have violated five bar rules, including impugning the judge’s qualifications or integrity.

Fred Haddad, Conway’s lawyer, sums it up well:

“There’s absolutely no reason that politicians, and that’s all judges are here in Broward County, aren’t open to criticism.” . . . “We’ve got a [Florida Bar] grievance committee that can’t even conceptualize the First Amendment.

Conway stands by his words, saying: “She was giving people one week to prepare for trial and as soon as the blog exposed it through powerful words she stopped it.” He concluded: “And that’s why I stand by what I did. Sometimes the language the bar approves of doesn’t get the job done.”

In September, we agreed with the federal district judge Arthur Tarnow, who threw out similar charges against against the far less likable Jeffrey Feiger, in Michigan. Vague disciplinary rules that go after lawyer speech outside the courtroom or pleadings, because they are deemed to be “undignified or discourteous conduct” toward judges, are simply too vague and overly broad to be allowed under the First Amendment. If, however naively, we believed that the lawyer disciplinary process is there to help protect clients and improve the justice system, we might surely find ourselves awash in yet more cognitive dissonance.

lipstick on his
coffee mug —
steam rising

[orig. haiga here]



Need a nonprescription antidote to depression, or holiday season blues? Jim Calloway’s tip last week –“be alert for your own mood changes and to take care of yourself this holiday season” — points the way for us: check and (and maybe even print out) our new brochure Holiday Haiku from Schenectady, which has two dozen haiku and senryu by Yu Chang, David Giacalone & Hilary Tann, from Schenectady, NY, USA . We’re going to do just that from our desk along the Mohawk River, in the Schenectady Stockade District (and maybe even get those @%&*!! Christmas cards finally written, before this time-consuming weblog creates even more dissonance in my life.)

red envelopes
the sound
of children’s laughter

three generations
peering down a gopher hole
winter solstice

Christmas snow
my father’s footsteps
bigger than mine

  ……………………… by Yu Chang  

Holiday Haiku from Schenectady. . . click to print the free brochure 




December 16, 2007

christmas and winter don’t mix

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,Schenectady Synecdoche,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 11:17 am

The Ides of December have once again betrayed our budding/brooding holiday spirits. Tens of millions of Americans, from Missouri to Maine, are waking today to the many horrors of a winter Nor’easter. See “Second Storm in a Week Moves East” (Wash. Post/AP, Dec. 16, 2007) Here in Schenectady, the Daily Gazette headline says “Wintry weather expected to take its toll on region” (Dec. 16, 2007). Not only are roads treacherous, with snow “expected to change to sleet and freezing rain by mid- to late morning,” but the hectic rush to complete holiday shopping chores will have to wait for snow removal duty — with shoveling made especially strenuous due to the heaviness of “wintry mix” precipitation, and snow blowers of dubious assistance dealing with the “dense, icy mess.”

wintry mix
we make a snow buddha
for Santa

—- by dagosan, in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady (Dec. 2007)

It looks like a Winter Wonderland, but it has me wondering yet again why we jeopardize our physical and psychic health every year trying to perform an already-stressfully long list of holiday chores – – and accomplish the related travel — in the time of year that is most likely to have the most inhospitable weather. Whenever I make that observation, I am told (in tones of total resignation), “it’s traditional.” To be honest, such reasoning almost never makes sense to me when a change can greatly improve a situation, and can be done in a cost-effective way that shouldn’t offend reasonable people.

where I sat as a child
I wait out the storm

……….. by Hilary Tann, in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady (Dec. 2007)
orig. pub. in Upstate Dim Sum (2004/I)

holy family. As you surely know, the historical person whose birthday is being celebrated on Christmas, was almost certainly not born anywhere near the 25th of December. As the website All About Jesus Christ respectfully tells us in Was Jesus born on December 25?:

“It wasn’t until A.D. 440 that the church officially proclaimed December 25 as the birth of Christ. This was not based on any religious evidence but on a pagan feast. Saturnalia was a tradition inherited by the Roman pagans from an earlier Babylonian priesthood. December 25 was used as a celebration of the birthday of the sun god. It was observed near the winter solstice.

“The apostles in the Bible predicted that some Christians would adopt pagan beliefs to enable them to make their religion more palatable to the pagans around them. Therefore, some scholars think the church chose the date of this pagan celebration to interest them in Christianity.”

The All About Jesus site also explains why it is far more likely that Christ was born in in the spring or fall than in a cold month:

“The Bible itself tells us that December 25 is an unlikely date for His birth. Palestine is very cold in December. It was much too cold to ask everyone to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. Also the shepherds were in the fields (Luke 2:8-12). Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter time. They are in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus’ birth in the spring or early fall. It is also known that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter – making the date around the September/October time frames.”

So, “tradition” surely need not be a barrier to choosing a more sensible time of year for staging our society’s biggest holidays — unless, we still want to make Christianity more appealing to the pagans among us and we are going to let the pagans dictate our schedules. Needing to have snow on the ground to be in a holiday mood seems, let’s be frank, a rather childish, and far too Northern-Euro-centric notion. We need to get over it — if only to help assure that as many of our loved ones as possible can travel in safety and with some assurance that they will arrive and depart when planned. As a bonus, we wouldn’t have to dig our cars out, before heading (in bulky, hot clothing unsuitable for indoor shopping), on treacherous roads with ineffective defrosters, to mall parking lots cluttered with space-stealing snow banks.

update (Dec. 21, 2008): Encore post “let’s move Christmas to May“.

red bows decorate
the ‘Closed for the Season’

…… by Hilary Tann, in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady (Dec. 2007)

For now, we’re stuck with Christmas in December. If the current storms are impacting negatively on your holiday spirits or plan today, or you simply want to amplify your Christmas-season joy, click on our newly-created collection of “Holiday Haiku from Schenectady” (December 2007), which has two dozen poems written by three haijin who hang out in Schenectady: Yu Chang, Hilary Tann, and myself. [They are presented in a Word Document that can be printed on both sides of a letter-size sheet and made into a tri-fold brochure.] A few of the haiku and senryu are sprinkled in a joyously seasonal mix throughout this post. Many thanks to Hilary and Yu for agreeing to join in this project.

December rain
a starlet
sheds her tears

……………… Yu Chang, haiga in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady (Dec. 2007)

warm yule
the ice-fishing hole
mostly hole

……………………. by david giacalone

the paperweight –
another snowstorm

……………….. by hilary tann

Christmas snow
my father’s footsteps
bigger than mine

………………….. by yu chang

Holiday Haiku from Schenectady” (December 2007) – real haiku & senryu by Yu Chang, David Giacalone & Hilary Tann, from Schenectady, NY, USA – click to print the free brochure.


December 14, 2007

. . . and an “artsy” 2008 haiga calendar, too

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 11:39 am

As often happens around here, the f/k/a Gang ganged up on me last night, not long after I posted our message gratefully sharing the f/k/a Haiga Memories Calendar with our readers. My opinionated alter egos started complaining that I was ignoring all the f/k/a fans who might eschew cute baby pictures and the whole nostalgia shtick, and who expected something a bit more artistic from this weblog and its Editor — especially when it comes to the haiga genre. As usual, they had a point.

I’ve therefore spent the morning putting together a more “artsy” holiday gift calendar, and am happy to announce the online availability (for free, of course) of the Giacalone Haiga Calendar 2008.© Like the Haiga Memories edition, it’s a 12-month calendar, created as a printable Word document (14 pages, including the covers). The 13 included haiga each combine a full-color photograph taken by my brother Arthur Giacalone (the talented solo practitioner from East Aurora, NY) with a haiku or senryu by your Host [a/k/a dagosan]. Most of them have been published, or are pending, at the online journals Simply Haiku or HaigaOnline.

. . . the Giacalone Haiga Calendar 2008©

No matter which haiga calendar is your “cup of tea,” we all hope you’ll
enjoy them, with our thanks and best wishes for a joyous, prosperous,
creative New Year.

round and round with you
on thin ice

………………………………. dagosan

December 13, 2007

our gift to you: a 2008 haiga memories calendar

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 8:13 pm

The f/k/a Gang has had a lot of fun over the past year creating and sharing haiga (a picture with a linked poem) that combine photographs taken more than half a century ago by “Mama G” (Connie M. Giacalone) with haiku or senryu penned by her son, your f/k/a host, David Giacalone. The expressive faces — whether impish, sheepish, or cherubish — of Linda, Arthur and David, the three Giacalone sibs, bring back memories and suggest timeless childhood themes, many of which are echoed in our adult lives.

You can find many of those haiga scattered around the MagnaPoets Japanese Form group weblog, and in miniature form here and there at this website. But, to help spread the cheer and to thank our many readers this Holiday Season, I decided to bring a dozen of the Giacalone Nostalgia Haiga together in one place, and to give them an aura of utility by packaging them as a monthly calendar. Just click this link to find the fka Haiga Memories Calendar 2008. It’s presented as a printable Word document (in landscape mode), and comes to 14 pages, with the front and back covers.

You’re allowed to giggle and even snicker, but please-please don’t use what our “a” friend Aurora Antonovic (proprietress of MagnaPoets and haiga editor of Simply Haiku Journal) calls the “a-word” — adorable. Prof. Yabut would blush. Please enjoy — with our thanks and best wishes for a joy-filled, inspiring holiday season and New Year.

afterthought (Dec. 14, 2007):   As explained here, we’ve also created a more “artsy” (less kitschy) calendar for your pleasure throughout the New Year.  See the Giacalone Haiga Calendar 2008. .

. . . the f/k/a Haiga Memories Calendar 2008 ©

[Calendar Cover, Art & Connie Giacalone,
married September 13, 1947]

home for Christmas –
nana calls the baby
by her daddy’s name

………………………… by dagosan

twelve days ’til Christmas —
the tree and her cat
both shedding

……………………………… by dagosan

w.a.s. legal news #1

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 11:11 am

Whether we’re reporting on dui cherry cordials and the motorist with the “wrong kind of hot chocolate,” or memorializing the hijinks of the Musty Money Mob, the widow sued for calling an aging counselor a “so-called lawyer,” the sad “man in a tree,” or the deadly argument over treating a seizure victim, f/k/a is known for sharing the strange legal news out of Schenectady, New York, and the nearby Capital Region. [And see the picture-frame burglar tale.] Now, thanks to the unveiling on Tuesday of the revamped, again-free Daily Gazette website, we can confidently begin a regular W.A.S. — Weird Around Schenectady — News roundup, letting you know when the Daily Gazette or other media sources in our neighborhood have uncovered remarkable stories from our local justice system.

after the verdict
the tireless lawyer speaks
in falling snow

first murder trial–
the D.A. arrives
in new gloves

…………………………………………. by Barry George, J.D.

Due to a minor slip-n-fall accident yesterday, the f/k/a Gang is nursing a bum arm and will have to start slowly (and visit a friendly orthopod) this morning, with just two tales out of criminal court.

W.A.S. News #1:

Hiring a Stripper Could Get You a Sex Offender Label: If James “Jed” Conboy, the D.A. in next-door Montgomery County gets his way, 22-year-old Greg L. Soucia will be slapped with the label Sex Offender for “using a stolen credit card to hire strippers.” The Gazette explains, in “Case is Montgomery County’s first under new sex law: Defendant must register as offender” (Dec. 13, 2007), that Soucia “is the first defendant in Montgomery County to be prosecuted under a new law that stiffens penalties for sexually motivated crimes.” Gazette reporter Edward Munger continue:

Soucia [of the Schenectady County village of Delanson] told an investigating deputy that he took a Visa credit card from inside the [burgled] house and while at the residence, he used the credit card to hire two strippers from Sheer Pleasure in Schenectady.

The investigation report states that the two strippers “performed in front of him for about an hour,” and charged him $600 for the service.

Since there was a sexual motivation for the crime, Conboy said, Soucia was prosecuted under the “Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act,” which became state law in April. . . . “If you commit a burglary and your goal is because of your own sexual gratification, it’s a sexually motivated felony,” Conboy said.

The law in question is the SEX OFFENDER MANAGEMENT TREATMENT ACT (Laws of New York, 2007, Chapter 7, Article 10), which our Division of Criminal Justice says “establishes an Office of Sex Offender Management and creates a new crime of a ‘Sexually motivated felony,’ and provides for enhanced terms of post-release supervision for all persons who commit felony sex offenses.” SOMTA’s § 10.03 gives us the following definition:

(s) “Sexually motivated” means that the act or acts constituting a
designated felony were committed in whole or in substantial part for the
purpose of direct sexual gratification of the actor.

Of course, I’m not an expert in criminal law like Scott at Simple Justice and Jeralyn at Talk Left, or professors Yung at Sex Crimes and Berman at Sentencing Law & Policy, but I’m going to go out on a limb and use some fancy legal terminology and analysis: No matter how much of a hard-on politicians have for sex offenders, “stiffening” the penality for crimes — and saddling people with the Sex Offender Label and all the consequent registration and supervisory obligations — whenever a prosecutor “proves” that a felony was motivated in “substantial part” for the defendant’s “sexual gratification” is simply un-American. It will throw a lot of cold water on a lot of immature male hormones. Increasing penalties because a person commits a non-sexual crime while presently or imminently horny, is a rather broad-sweeping approach to stopping sex abuse and sexual predation. Prosecutors should consider reading a constitution or two, or taking a cold shower, prior to drawing up charges under SOMTA.

D. A. Conboy told that Gazette, that in the absence of the sexually motivated felony, Soucia could have faced a prison term of one to three years. Instead, he faces a three-year determinate sentence with five years of post-release supervision.” As with the sex offender residency laws covered so often around here, I’ve got to say that, if this kind of law makes you feel more righteous and — especially — like you’re making our children and women-folk a lot safer, you appear to need a major reality check, and a significant boost in your EQ.

Final Note: A recent article in the Arizona Daily Star, “Arrest made in sexually motivated crime cases” (Nov. 2, 2007), suggests that law enforcement agencies may be applying the same over-reaching approach across the nation. The Tucson Police Department told the Star that: “a sexually motivated crime could include obscene phone calls, pictures or indecent exposure.

mid-argument –
Her Honor
catches me staring

……………………………………………….. dagosan

update (Dec. 16, 2007): Columnist Carl Strock of the Daily Gazette reported today that “Law creates new way to become a sex offender” (at B1, Dec. 16, 2007). Here’s a little of Carl’s analysis: “This means that if I, as a horny American crook, break into a house and steal money so I can wine and dine a woman I have my eye on, with a view to getting her into bed, she being entirely willing, I too would be a sex criminal, per New York law, and if the residents of Scotia, for example, learned I was later living on their block they would put up yellow caution tape on their hedges and would not allow their grandchildren to visit for fear I might attack while their backs were turned. Elected officials would flourish tape measures at public meetings to show how close I was living to innocent children.”

medbag Respected House-Call Doctor on Trial: Another story in the local news deserves a lot more attention than I can give it today, but should interest aficionados of either criminal law or health care reform. Dr. David Hornick, 64, was well known and appreciated for making house calls to his severely disabled patients, and basically operating out of his “mobile pharmacy” car. He was arrested 18 months ago and charged with serious drug-dealing crimes (see “Doctor Charged With Stealing Pills From Patients” (North Country Gazette, June 7, 2006). He is now, however, facing “only” eight misdemeanor counts, alleging he illegally possessed painkillers and failed to document them properly. You can get a good taste for the story from the Daily Gazette, in “Defense calls prosecution of doctor a ‘witch hunt’: Hornick accused of mishandling meds” (Dec. 12, 2007), and in the Albany Times Union, “House call doctor may take stand in drugs case” (Dec. 12, 2007).

Here’s how the Gazette described the government’s approach to the case:

Prosecutor Michele Schettino portrayed Hornick in her opening statements as a doctor who didn’t follow strict rules for handling, dispensing and destruction of such medication. That medication included morphine, Oxycodone and Fentanyl.

“This case is about one man who thinks his license to practice medicine extends to him a blanket shield from criminal prosecution,” Schettino told the jury, “and a blanket shield to disobey the law.”

The Fentanyl patches found in his trunk, according to testimony, were sealed, but not in their normal boxes and did not include the required information about where they came from.

Hornick’s attorney had quite a different take, per the Gazette:

In his own opening statement, defense attorney Joseph Gardner called Schettino’s account of the evidence “quite optimistic” and the prosecution a “witch hunt.” The evidence, he said, does not support the charges. “This is persecution, rather than prosecution,” Gardner said.

Hornick, he told the jury, has practiced medicine for nearly 40 years and runs an unconventional practice. He sees severely disabled patients, many of whom suffer tremendous pain. The drugs, Gardner told the jury, were for his patients.

That, Gardner said, is something that he is allowed to do under the law. The investigators from the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement don’t understand that, he said.

If convicted, Hornick faces up to a year in jail. The effect on his ability to practice medicine is unknown (at least to me and the local reporters).

his side of it
her side of it
winter silence

………………. Lee Gurga – from Fresh Scent (1998)

update (Dec. 18, 2007): Dr. Hornick was convicted yesterday on on seven misdemeanor counts of illegally possessing and dispensing prescription painkillers. According to the Daily Gazette, in “Doctor found guilty on drug counts: Jury’s decision surprises Hornick” (Dec. 18, 2007), “The decision came as a surprise to Hornick, who could have pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor improper record-keeping before the trial began. Hornick refused the deal, saying he would bring the issue to trial “no matter what.” His lawyer, Joseph Gardner says Hornick will appeal. He will remain free on bail until his sentencing, set for Feb. 12. He faces up to two years in jail or $7,000 in fines.

update (Dec. 19, 2007): Should Dr. Hornick be allowed to continue his medical practice? Schenectady D.A. Robert Carney seems to have the right approach. See “Prosecutor: Niskayuna doctor should keep license” (Daily Gazette, Dec. 19, 2007). “What they ought to be looking to do,” Carney said of the state Department of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct, “is allow him to continue practicing, but ensure that he follows the rules.” According to the Gazette, “A [Health Department] spokeswoman said a criminal conviction itself was considered misconduct. What consequences there would be could be determined after a hearing.”

update (July 3, 2008):  See the Daily Gazette article, “Doctor fined over drugs in trunk of car: Judge says case is about following rules” (July 3, 2008)  Although he did not fault Dr. Hornick’s motives, City Court Judge Vincent Versaci decided that there had to be a punishment because rules were broken. The District Attorney had asked for no jail time, but wanted the maximum fine to be imposed, $4000. The Judge imposed a total fine of $1,000.  Defense council Deborah Feathers indicated that Dr. Hornick plans to appeal to County Court.

We’re pleased that no jail time was imposed, and that Judge Versaci, according to the Gazette, “also admonished Hornick for his practice of keeping medication in his car [where they could be readily stolen], especially the powerful painkillers.”  The state Office of Professional Medical Conduct will consider sanctions against the 65-year-old Hornick because of the conviction, but both the District Attorney and the Judge hope the doctor will be able to continue the practice of medicine.

don't forget To Help Your Favorite Holiday Hostess: We usually only “do” haiku-like poetry around here, but I really want to share a poem I discovered yesterday. It’s from the book Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother’s Wisdom, by Marilou Awiakta (Fulcrim Publishing, 1993). Flipping through Selu yesterday at the Whitney Used Book Store, I found the following brief verse that underscored my traditional pangs of guilt this time of year — when I notice that my female friends and kin seem to be doing almost all of the preparations for the holiday season.

Awiakta says “I think most of what I learned about being a woman and a poet can be summed up in one poem.”

On Being a Female Phoenix

Not only do I rise
from my own ashes,
I have to carry them out!

As Ann Althouse said yesterday in a different context, “I hear you,” working women and female poets of the world. dagosan shared a similar sentiment recently:

men washing dishes –
an early alarm
ends her Thanksgiving dream

………………………………………. dagosan

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