Friday, August 7, 2009

Nationals 2009, Day 4

Decathlon Slam: Two words: Ass Cherries
FlagSlam: Two words: Semi Finals

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nationals 2009, Day 3

Yesterday was overflowing with amazing poetry.

The first event I went to was the Women's Showcase. The host was energetic, the poets were awesome, and the venue was cooler than I thought it would be. It was at a design boutique called Design Within Reach. So there was plenty of seating (on really cool chairs, and the space just looked really cool. The only thing that would have made it better was good enough acoustics for people to go off mic. The next showcase I went to had this.

The next showcase was the Death and Remembrance Showcase. This was a hard one, because it was over an hour of heart-wrenching stuff, but it was still amazing. One of the most amazing things about this event, was the audience. Normally with these side-events, the crowd is very transitory. Usually in an outward direction. People read their poem, or hear their friend read their poem, and then leave. This didn't happen. Nearly everyone was there the whole time.

Flagstaff had the early bout. I was the sacrifice poet for that bout. This was the first opportunity I had for performing poetry at Nationals. I did a poem that I had done only twice before in Tucson. But this time I pulled it off without messing up. There was loads of awesome poetry. I remember one guy who I had seen before judging another bout, and he was giving really low scores. He was wearing a tie, and a button-down shirt that was tucked in. I assumed he was a local yuppie, who had been wrangled into judging. Then he got on stage. His performance showed an exuberance I wasn't expecting. This is what I get for jumping to conclusions.

Flagstaff took second in that bout. Because we got first yesterday, we have a pretty good chance at making it to semifinals. We'll know for sure after tonight's bouts.

After that bout I went to get some ice cream, and saw some people filming on the side of the road. They were apparently making a video for the local paper's website. They were filming slam poets doing their poems. I did a poem, and when I find where the video is up I will link you to it.

For the late bout I saw Boston Cantab again. That slam was quite possibly the best slam I have ever seen. Poem after poem blew my mind, and made the whole room explode with the kind of energy you only see at poetry slams. After it was over I went back to the hotel. On the way there I saw someone running, and thought that looked like an excellent idea, because that bout had made me really pumped. So I sprinted for about a block, before my hours spent stationary caught up with me. Then I found a piece of wall to lean against and wrote a poem.

Once I got back to the hotel I found a cipher almost immediately. I got a chance to do two poems, and hear some cool stuff, and bask in the whole cipher energy. Later that night I found some cool people to talk to. We talked about everything from anime, and the originality of art, to gender identity, and the physical symptoms of fatigue.

Then because I knew I had to be up for the LGBT showcase I decided to go to bed. I set an alarm for 10:50, and then ended up waking up at 9:00. I suppose if I hadn't I wouldn't have had time to write this.

I'm hungry now, so I'm going to sign off, and eat some breakfast.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nationals 2009, Day 2

Oh ciphers, ciphers, wherefore art thou ciphers? This Nationals has too much talking to people, and not enough spitting at them. But enough complaining, cool things did happen yesterday, and I intend to talk about them.

I managed to print off a couple poems yesterday at the public library, as well as use the internet that wasn't capped at 15kb/s like the hotel's is. One of these days I'm going to write a manifesto about how internet is a basic human right that shouldn't be charged for. At 3:00 I got my first real taste of poetry. This was the rookie showcase. I had forgotten how awesome this art form can be. Just words spoken aloud can evoke incredible responses. There was a guy there from Paris, and his poem was entirely in French. I have no idea what he was talking about, but his performance was so enthusiastic, and exciting, I really don't care. One of the memorable poems, incited both cheering and booing. I did not think was the possible until I heard "This is a List of People Who Had it Coming" For fear of inciting a riot I will not repeat his words.

That night was beginning of the official bouts. The first bout was one that everyone was looking forward to. I was surprised that tiny bar wasn't more full than it already was. Boston Cantab, NYC Nuyorican, Houston and Madison. So many brilliant poems were on that stage. Last year at finals I mentioned a poem about rape, where a woman was on stage, but a man was doing the voice from off stage. That man was on stage that night, and his poem was almost as terrifying. He has officially become the most terrifying poet ever. He has the most brilliant voice. To use his words, "If I was your lover and all you had was my voice, it would be enough"

The next bout was Flagstaff, San Francisco, Kalamazoo, and Detroit. The judges were low scoring the whole night. Antranormous, our local MC from Flagstaff did a piece called the Wackest MC. It was all kinds of brilliant. Flagstaff dominated the whole night, and in the end came out on top.

After the bout was the comedy showcase. This was unfortunately not as cool as I was hoping. There was some funny poetry, but a whole load of people were in the back of the venue talking loudly, so it was hard to get into the spirit of things. I put my name in the hat, but didn't get called.

After the bout I tried to find a cipher, but was unable too, and was too tired to stay up and wait for one to start. It might have had something to do with me being up at 8:30 that morning. This morning I got up at noon, so I should be able to stay awake until people get tired of talking to each other.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nationals 2009, Day 1.

I have no idea what makes this true, but poets are usually pretty cool people. I've spent the last 24 hours hanging out with poets and it's been great.

I woke up at 4:00 Monday morning, so I could catch a 7:20 plane. As unpleasant as that was, I did get a bagel, and a new poem out of it. I really like this new poem, and I'm hoping to find somewhere to perform it today. The flight was okay, I met someone from Amarillo, who was also a slam poet. He also produced a comic, which he gave me a copy of. This comic is amazing, and is also a webcomic that you can find at: He gave it to me a few minutes before we were supposed to be boarding our plane, and I was so engrossed, I almost didn't get on the plane.

Upon arriving in West Palm Beach, the first thing I notice is the humidity. The air is sticky. I am not sure how this is possible, but trust me. This year may go down as the sweatiest Nationals (though I hear Austin in '07 was pretty bad)

I got some pizza, and then went to the kick-off party. This years kick off party I think was better than last years. Last year it was more of a dance party with loud music, which made conversations tricky. This year the event was much more social. And since I don't drink or dance, I come to parties to socialize. I gave away 13 copies of my CD. Speaking of that CD, it now has a different cover. This is it:

After the after party I went back to the hotel, looking for ciphers. For those of you who don't know, a cipher is when poets do poetry for each other, instead of for points on stage. It's really informal, and a huge part of the slam culture, not to mention a huge part of Nationals.

That's pretty much everything important that happened yesterday (or at least everything I'm willing to mention on the internet for everyone to read (I'll let you decide if I'm kidding or not)) I'm off to go and find some breakfast.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

it's just some words and stuff

In 10 days, 20 hours, and 5 minutes I will be departing to West Palm Beach, Florida for this year's National Poetry Slam. Last year I went with the Tucson team, and it was amazing. I blogged all the way through Nationals, and I plan on doing the same thing this year.

However, this year there is a notable difference. I am not on a team. I tried out for both the Flagstaff and the Tucson team, but unfortunately made neither of them. I'm traveling with the Flagstaff team, and plan on performing at as many side events as possible. Not to mention soaking in the general awesomeness that exists off stage.

Because I am not on a team, this means that less people will hear my poetry. And because I'm an egotistical maniac who thinks my poetry is the greatest thing ever to grace this plane of existence I decided to make a CD.

Because I'm not going to be on stage very much, I figure that asking people to pay 5 bucks for poetry they've heard very little of, is a bit unreasonable. So I'm going to give it away for free. I am casting off the chains of capitalism, and spitting in the face of traditional business, and [insert clever metaphor here]. Mostly I just want to get myself out there. I want people to have some idea of who I am, and what I do.

However, there are a few barriers to this plan. The most notable of which is that I have no blank CDs. I also have little to no money to spend on blank CDs, and I'd rather not spend the money that needs to be spent on food at Nationals. Also I need to print the cases, so it's a bit more than a CD written on in sharpie. Speaking of the case, I have a cover for my CD. This is it:

I'd like to get about a hundred of these,so if anyone wants to improve their karma and help me out, you would have my eternal gratitude. Also, I'll tell you a secret.

I hope to be blogging more than I have been, so I should have another post up here in another day or three.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thoughts on Star Trek

*The following post contains spoilers for the new Star Trek movie*

When I first heard about the new Star Trek movie, I was ambivalent. Most of my Star Trek experience is with the Next Generation crew, and a healthy helping of Voyager. I had little to no attachment to Kirk and friends, which is probably why it took me a week to go and see it. The only reason I saw it at all was because countless people including Wil Wheaton, sang it's praises. So today I went to see it. At first glance it was an exciting film with plenty of Trekkie indulging catch phrases, cool action, and even a compelling story with interesting characters. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize a very important, very terrifying possibility:

This film has the potential to destroy the decades of Star Trek canon that generations of fans have come to love.

Before the film came out, many people complained about the time travel aspect of the plot, arguing that the science fiction trope had reached the point of cliché. Maybe I haven't experienced enough science fiction to be tired of it, but I have no problems with time travel, and entered the film with high expectations. But then after walking out of the film, and comparing the events of the film to my knowledge of the events of the Star Trek world, I realized that Vulcan was never destroyed, and Spock never lost his mother. One of the most important aspects of a time travel plot is the point at which the "correct" reality is restored. This never happened. I have no problem with alternate realities, but they deserve only fleeting attention.

This movie will not be the last, it is doing very well in the box office, and there is every reason to believe that there will be a sequel, maybe even two. It is even conceivable that a new TV series will be created. But these potential movies, and series will be based on the alternate reality created by the latest Star Trek Movie.

The Star Trek canon consists of over 600 episodes, and 10 movies. All of that has been thrown out the window. That world, those stories, those people are being abadoned as a relic of the past. This epic canon is being replaced with one that will probably bear little resemblance to Gene Roddenberry's original vision. Star Trek is a story about culture, equality, and exploration. Those core values have no appeal to today's producers of TV and movies, and will likely have no place in this alternate timeline.

Ever since TNG, there has been conflict between those wishing to stay true to Gene Roddenberry's original vision, and stories, and those wishing to follow rating trends by leaping headfirst into the popularity contest modern media has become. It seems as if the latter party has finally won. All Trekkies should bow their heads, shed a tear, and mourn the loss of our beloved world.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spaceship Excellent

A few weeks ago I posted about the Spaceship Excellent concert I went to. They finally posted the video on Youtube, though it is a bit disappointing. They tacked Flagstaff onto the end of their Roswell video and made it seem like it all happened in Roswell. There is also almost no footage of me dancing with my free hugs sign, though there is about a second of it. They did include me hugging the lead singer on the street. I didn't even know they were filming at that point. Anyway, here is the episode.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Poetry Haiku #1

Cool! I won the slam.
I did cool poetry and
Everyone approved.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Excellent Day

This morning I went to a peace march with my "free hugs" sign. The march itself was a lot of fun, but I didn't actually get that many hugs. After hanging out at city hall for a bit, I decided I would head out. I hadn't walked a hundred yards, and a man in a NASAesque jumpsuit, got a hug, and asked me of I like music. When I told him he did, he told me that Spaceship Excellent had landed in Flagstaff.

"The Spaceship Excellent?"

I had seen these guys on YouTube. It was rather surreal to see them in real life. I hadn't ever heard their music, but they were on the internet, how could they be bad? It took me some time to find them (though I did give some free hugs on the way) When I did find them in a local taco shop, they had recruited about four people from the peace march. I spent the next two hours dancing three feet from the band, my free hugs sign in hand. There should be a video up on their website soon, and I will post it here.

I think this free hugs sign is changing me. I never used to dance. I have resolutely refused, to move from the wall at several parties. Maybe it was just because I didn't have to worry about what to do with my hands; maybe it was because this music was so easy to dance to; maybe because I was only a few feet from the band, but I would never have done the things I did today a year ago.

I have decided that I will do my free hugs thing on Thursdays when I only have one class. This free hugging business is quite addictive.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Best Day Ever

I normally don't smile very much, so I was worried, that I wouldn't smile at people. Who wants to hug the frowning guy? I feel like I've been smiling non-stop for the past 8 hours. My face is sore.

I showed up about an hour before the angry man said he would be there. I wanted to avoid making it seem like I was only there to oppose him. I walked to my post and held up my sign. About three seconds later a guy walks up and gives me a hug. I was hugged by a guy on a unicycle. I was hugged by about five people at once. And for every person that hugged me, ten walked by and smiled. It was those people that made this day amazing.

When the angry man showed up his wife looked at me and said, "The same demon spirit on every campus, free hugs. Why don't you hug Jesus?"

This made me very happy. Firstly because I got a response. I was hoping that they wouldn't just ignore me, though I would have had a great day even if they never showed up. Also because it means that people have had the same idea as me. These hate-mongers go to campuses around the country, and at those campuses, someone doesn't just yell at them, or ignore them, but actually takes productive action.

After the angry folk had been there a few minutes, someone from Student Life shows up and tells me I have to go to their other free speech zone, because this one is reserved by the religious nuts (well, she doesn't use that term, but you get the idea). Of course the other free speech zone doesn't have the same foot traffic, and foot traffic is necessary to my cause.

Fortunately there was a student organization fair nearby, so I asked the Peace and Justice group if I could go stand by them. Interestingly, though there was more people, I got less hugs. Even the number of people that smiled decreased. After thinking about it (one of the few pastimes a free hugger has other than smiling and hugging) I figured it out. All of the booths around me, made people pay less attention. They just wanted to walk by without someone handing them a flyer they wouldn't read, or try to make them sign something. Many people just didn't see me. Those people that did assumed I was part of a club. They wondered what I was trying to make them think or believe by giving out free hugs. A crowd had begun to form around the angry people, so I decided to relocate.

I stayed across the path from them, only occassionaly crossing over to get free hugs from the hecklers/spectators. After awhile I decided to be a bit more bold with my free hugging. The angry guy had already refused a free hug, but his wife had not. She was talking at the moment, so I walked over and asked her if she would like a free hug.

She told me it would be innappropiate for her to hug anyone other than her husband. She then went on to say that Jesus that would not go around giving out free hugs. I told her I thought he would, and she started quoting bible verses. But I plan to combat her. I have some bible verse of my own.

Ecclesiastes 3:5

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

Acts 20:1
And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

Genesis 29:13
And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things.

Genesis 33:4
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

Genesis 48:10
Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.

I may have someone else read these, so I can maintain my lack of confrontation. I won't be able to stay for as long tommorow, as I did today. (I was there for over 8 hours today) But if one person walks by and smiles, then my effort is worth it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hugging Hatred

Today on campus, there was a very incendiary, very hateful, "Christian" man. He espoused every hateful viewpoint you have heard Christians espouse. He shouted, condemned the gay students to hell, mocked those disagreeing with him, and was overall angry hateful, and close-minded.

Though there were exceptions, many of the students responses were inspiring. One girl in particular sticks out in my mind. She had been on several Mission trips and had helped bring dozens of people to Christ. She and a few others did one of the bravest things I have ever seen. They prayed for this man.

In the midst of all this hate (even some of the students were being rude to him) they showed a compassion that is little seen among today's people. In response to all that this hateful man said, I said "You're wrong, but I love you!"

He is going to be back tomorrow, and was planning on making a sign with those words, but I decided on something simpler. "Free Hugs" There is going to be a lot of hate at this gathering tomorrow, and I intend to bring some love into it. Though I wish it was, this idea is not an original one. A man in Syndey came up with it first, and it has sparked a worldwide movement. For more information, just google "Free hugs"

I'll be sure to post more after tommorow, and when I get my sign done, I'll post a picture of that.

Edit: Here is my beautiful sign.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Observations Haiku #3

Doing laundry blows
Hot air onto my clothing
And it really sucks.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Observations Haiku #2

All day spent reading.
My weak eyes are quite weary
Reality: blurred.