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

August 14, 2008

got ONEsies?

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 2:31 pm

My alter egos all agree: We need to post more ONEsies [Odds-N-Ends] here at f/k/a — short, simple blurbs that succinctly point to, quote from, or opine upon stories or topics of interest. For one thing, they would cut a lot less into our (and your) nap time than the Editor’s customary prolix punditry. Denizens of this website know we’ve tried “one-breath punditry” before and (despite our poetic preference for tiny poems) have found it very difficult to be persistently pithy. Nonetheless, being curmudgeons, we’re all secret-optimists at heart, so here we go again — taking a deep breath and trying to keep it short, with a lotta help from Kobayashi Issa and his talented translator Professor David G. Lanoue.

the plowman
shows me a shortcut…

.. ..

Click to see a MySpace video of Caloon Saloon performing “Odds & Ends” by Bob Dylan with Antoine Gratton.

on my sleeve
catching his breath…
worn-out firefly

…. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

Speaking of Onesies: We’re still waiting for follow-up news on the Got Milk? vs Got Breastmilk? controversy that burst into the news a few weeks ago. See our “got jugs?” post from July 30th. So far, Paul Bratton, the Alaska Backwoods Lawyer who represents the artist who made the controversial Got Breastmilk? Onesies and t-shirts has not offered any updates. If you have information on the latest stage of this trademark battle, please let us know.

a baby boy
cries for milk…
glorious blossoms

.. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

.. Hillary Hijacking the Convention: Yes, we’ve pledged to avoid writing political commentary at this weblog and have tried hard to stifle the urge, but (thankfully) Maureen Dowd surely hasn’t. In yesterday’s NYT column, “Yes, She Can” (New York Times, Aug. 13, 2008), Dowd tells how “In just a couple of weeks, Bill and Hill were able to drag No Drama Obama into a swamp of Clinton drama,” making the up-coming Democratic Presidential Convention “all about them.” I was annoyed to see that:

“Obama also allowed Hillary supporters to insert an absurd statement into the platform suggesting that media sexism spurred her loss and that ‘demeaning portrayals of women … dampen the dreams of our daughters’.”

But, I’m pleased to quote Dowd’s response:

It would have been better to put this language in the platform: “A woman who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our daughters.”

his detested wife’s
all have bloomed

pretending not to see
his wife’s face…
defeated wrestler

… by Issa and Lanoue

.. Trolleys and Train Tunnels: On the same day that the New York Times has a big spread about the hopeful future of streetcars in our nation’s cities, the Schenectady Daily Gazette, its Upstate minor-league cousin, reports on the discovery — about a block from where I live — of what appears to be the first-ever railway tunnel in the nation.

  • In “Downtowns Across the U.S. See Streetcars in Their Future” (New York Times, Aug. 14, 2008) we learn that: “At least 40 cities are exploring streetcar plans to spur economic development, ease traffic congestion and draw young professionals and empty-nest baby boomers back from the suburbs, according to the Community Streetcar Coalition, which includes city officials, transit authorities and engineers who advocate streetcar construction.”

Your editor misses the streetcars that still ran in Georgetown, when he was a college kid in DC, and has fond memories of those that are still operating in the Boston area. If you’re interesting in trolleys and streetcars, go to the APTA (American Public Transportation Association) Streetcar and Heritage Trolley Site, where you’ll find an illustrated overview of urban heritage trolley or modern streetcar systems currently operating in the United States and Canada, with a background description, photos and maps of each system.

cold sky
a trolley headlight
cresting the hill

… by paul m. – The Heron’s Nest (2000)

  • Sorry, Cleveland: According to Schenectady City Historian Don Rittner, he uncovered yesterday “the country’s first rudimentary railroad tunnel, buried in the center of the historic Stockade district.” See “Find may be the first railway tunnel” (Daily Gazette, by Kathleen Moore, Aug. 14, 2008):

. . . . “The 15-foot-deep tunnel snakes its way across what are now a dozen or more private backyards. But in 1832, that land was a major thoroughfare — the foundation of the city’s prosperity and growth for the next century. . . . Hundreds of business owners and daring families rode through the tunnel on trains so experimental that they were considered too dangerous [due to speed and sparks] to be allowed on city streets.”

Cleveland already displays what it claims to be the first railroad tunnel. However, Rittner says Cleveland’s was built two years after Schenectady’s — whose entrance was also the first junction of two railroad companies, according to Rittner. He’s hoping to convince the McDonald family, which owns The Stockade Inn, to let him dig up a portion of the tunnel nearby and display it forever under a see-through cover.

a big snow–
the exit tunnel
is my lucky direction

.. by Issa and Lanoue

tunnel of love
she props the stuffed frog
between us

Ed Markowski

subway blues
strummin’ light
through the tunnel

.. by Pamela Miller Ness from pink light, sleeping
(Small Poetry Press, 1998)

Psst, Meester, Wanna Buy a Beeg Car?: If you’ve been shopping for a small, fuel-efficient car — whether new or used — you know they’ve spiked up in price over the past few months. The flip-side of that phenomenon, of course, is the rapid decrease in value of S.U.V.’s and pickup trucks. Yesterday’s New York Times describes “An S.U.V. traffic jam” (Aug. 13, 2008), saying “The market for sport utility vehicles is starting to look a lot like the housing market, spreading pain to consumers, automakers and dealers.” For many families, switching now from an SUV to a small car means “selling low and buying high,” but they are doing just that, even though crunching the numbers would suggest they hold onto that dinosaur a bit longer (and instead try to drive a lot less). The NYT article explores the logic, the psychological dissonance, and the stark reality for manufacturers, dealers and consumers, in response to high gas prices.

MeNeFrego Despite our long loathing of unnecessarily large vehicles, the f/k/a Gang is successfully avoiding the congenital urge to say “We told you so.” So far, EQ and empathy are winning over schadenfreude — but, we’re only human.

world of suffering–
when the gods travel, too
a storm

… by Issa and Lanoue

This time Scalia’s Right (about Legal Writing): We often disagree with the often-disagreeable Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (see our post “wordless Italian with Nino“). But, he made a couple of very good points last Saturday in a speech to “the Scribes” — the American Society of Legal Writers. See “Scalia: Legal Writing Doesn’t Exist” (ABAJournalNews, Aug. 9, 2008). In accepting a lifetime achievement award, the Crusty Justice to the Scribes “I do not believe that legal writing exists.” Scalia went on the explain:

“That is to say, I do not believe it exists as a separate genre of writing. Rather, I think legal writing belongs to that large, undifferentiated, unglamorous category of writing known as nonfiction prose. Someone who is a good legal writer would, but for the need to master a different substantive subject, be an equivalently good writer of history, economics or, indeed, theology.”

While teaching legal writing, a young Antonin Scalia correctly came to understand, “I as I think it must become to clear to anyone who is burdened with the job of teaching legal writing, that what these students lacked was not the skill of legal writing, but the skill of writing at all. To tell the truth, at as late a stage as law school, I doubt this skill can be taught.” The only hope to remedy that problem, according to Scalia, is the realization of two prerequisites for self-improvement in writing:

  1. “the realization—and it occurred to my students as an astounding revelation – that there is an immense difference between writing and good writing.” And
  2. “that it takes time and sweat to convert the former into the later.”

helping the child’s hand
write it…
the “Star Poem

walking on alone
I write on a wall…
autumn dusk

.. by Issa and Lanoue

computer weary Naturally, you knew . . .: Our perceptive readers surely figured it out long before the f/k/a Gang did: Writing a whole bunch of ONEsies, with poetry and images, saved us absolutely no time. We’ve frittered away almost an entire afternoon, on a rather balmy summer day. No nap or hammock time achieved yet today. None on the horizon. It’s back to the drawing board for a new strategy or Mission Statement for f/k/a.

weary cormorant–
no festival holiday
for you

so weary–
cool tree shade makes me
double back

.. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue


  1. A treasure trove

    coming out
    of the tunnel . . .

    Comment by Bill Kenney — August 15, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  2. ‘glorious blossoms.’ that’s just hilarious. :D and yet, quite apt, methinks. :)

    Comment by scatterhaiku — August 16, 2008 @ 6:35 am

  3. Thanks, Bill and Scatter. Forsythia are early-blooming; but, I wonder if that also means coming out prematurely.

    Comment by David Giacalone — August 16, 2008 @ 1:01 pm

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