Yesterday It Was My Birthday…

…I hung one more year on the line.

–Paul Simon, “Have a Good Time”

So now I’m the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. My husband, Inspector Spacetime, reached this age last month, and he doesn’t seem to be more enlightened yet. Maybe it takes a while to kick in.

Anyway, to celebrate my first full day of being a brand new age, here are a sampling of the callouts I’ve wanted to make for a while. I haven’t gotten around to writing them all down because I’ve either been chasing after small children, playing with poetry, lying around in a semi-conscious haze, or just generally being insane:

First, I’ve had some nifty Publication News in the past couple of months! (You know the Goddamned Writing Life? Sometimes it ain’t so bad.) I had a horror poem, “Mother Killer,” published in Spectral Realms, along with many a fine spec poet, such as Ann K. Schwader, F.J. Bergmann, Marge Simon, Mike Allen, and spec-poetry bigwig Bruce Boston.

I also had not one, but TWO essays published this spring: the first, “Rape Stories,” is a reprint from Mid-American Review but made its official Internet debut in Hippocampus Magazine, a journal devoted to memory and memoir. I have to say I couldn’t be happier about this publication. Not only did Hippocampus provide a new forum for a piece that is really important to me, the layout folks on staff found a picture of the fountain from my old stomping ground in Rome, where the essay happens to be set. Many, many heartfelt thanks to whoever found that picture. Even though I wrote about some fairly dark topics, the fountain itself takes me back to a beautiful time and place.

The second essay, “Dead,” appeared in the 2015 issue of Moon City Review, which isn’t online but can be ordered here. A really gorgeous journal, which also includes a piece by Curtis Smith, an amazing writer and all-around beautiful guy who incidentally helped me work on the very essay that appears in MCR. Lots more deep and heartfelt thanks to Curtis, whose workshop did so much to boost my confidence when I felt like I was starting from square zero.

Back to Hippocampus: this month, I had the overwhelmingly self-esteem-boosting experience of opening an email about a journal’s latest issue to see my name listed as a contributor. Yes, in case you missed the umpteen times I announced this in the past week, I’m officially on the schedule of Hippocampus reviewers, and my very first review appears here. The book is Elizabeth Alexander’s “The Light of the World,” a stunning piece of writing that shows what extraordinary innovations a poet can bring to prose. Definitely a must-read.

Two last things: as a birthday gift, I finally got the Poet Tarot, which is in fact a pack of Tarot cards plus a guidebook for “creative exploration.” This nifty item is produced by Two Sylvias Press, which is also currently running its poetry chapbook prize. (I personally covet the trophy they give out with the award, but I’m not sure I have anything on hand that’s especially prize-winning.) And I must say, I’m SO looking forward to playing with my Tarot cards and seeing what happens. I looked through them already and noticed a certain Mr. W.S. is not among the poets represented. Very ballsy, ladies!

Fie on thee, froward, fen-sucked flax-wenches!

And finally, April is over but the PoMoSco poems will be up for one more month! Here’s the official wrap-up post discussing the 3000+ poems that were written, plus links to some favorite individual pieces. Though my own work isn’t featured here, you should still explore the site for some excellent poetry! (And if you think I’ve forgotten about my proposed list of ruminations on my own found poems of April, oh how very wrong you are. I may just pick a few I like or want to grumble about, or I may write about them all in one lump, but you can be sure you’ll get bugged about them, yessirree!)

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Shakespeare Is Everywhere: The Simpsons Tapped Out Edition

I don’t know how many of you Fickle Readers play The Simpsons: Tapped Out. It’s an app game that lets you build your own Springfield after Homer accidentally blows it up (three guesses on how he does it!). As you go up in levels, you unlock different Simpsons characters and make them go on wacky adventures and build the show’s iconic structures, like the Simpson home, Springfield Elementary, and the Escalator to Nowhere, complete with an endless supply of riders. (So far, though, no monorail.) My husband, Inspector Spacetime, thinks this game is about as exciting as contemplating ceiling cracks, but it does have its charms. Quests include lots of snarky, meta, Simpsons-style dialogue, and you really can’t go wrong watching Hank Scorpio walk down a city street while testing his flame thrower.

Anyway, I just unlocked the level that includes Database, that quintessential curly-haired nerd with the untucked shirt, red-rimmed glasses, and annoyingly nasal whine. All he wants is to hang out with pals.

“Nyaaah! Somebody come and play!”

Unfortunately, he discovers that in New Springfield, the Superfriends are gone, and all the remaining nerd-leaning kids, because they’ve been in the game for a while, now consider themselves cool. Even Martin rebuffs his old chum, although Martin seems to have a long-standing grudge against the newcomer.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how Shakespeare comes into this! Mighty Tiny Bill sure is.

“More matter with less art, you prattling mediocrity!”

Yes sir, O He Who Is Trapped in his Original Packaging! Here’s Martin response to Database:

I seem to recall wanting to “hang” once upon a more convenient hour, only to be turned aside like a Timon of Athens or other lesser work of the Bard.

For those whose Shakespeare knowledge is mostly confined to the four major tragedies and Romeo and JulietTimon of Athens happens to be a play about a man who succumbs to the lure of flatterers and gives away his riches. When he goes bankrupt, those whom Timon once considered his friends shun him. So here, Martin is claiming he was once a friendless Timon. Oh, how the tables have turned! Martin seems to say.

Except that in the play, Timon flees to the wilderness, finds a giant stash of gold, and uses it to help a vengeful convict lead an army against the city and to help two prostitutes to spread STDs among the Athenian citizens. By identifying himself as a Timon, Martin is inadvertently showing what a bitter, vengeful jerk he is. In an app game. About two little boys who not only know who Shakespeare is, but know Timon of Athens and even the fact that it’s not much of a crowd-pleaser.

Ah, The Simpsons. Even when they’re an inch tall on a tablet, those tiny yellow-skinned characters still manage to out-nuance 99% of modern media.

Shakespeare Is Everywhere: Card Game Edition

Found out about this one through Wil Wheaton’s Twitter feed. Oh my God, I think I might have to get this strictly on principle.

Council of Verona (image from BoardGameGeek)

Here’s a description from BoardGameGeek:

The citizens of Verona have grown tired of the constant quarrel between the houses of Capulet and Montague. As ruler of the region, Prince Escalus has formed a council to help mediate the conflict and bring lasting peace to Verona.

In Council of Verona, players take on the role of influential citizens of Verona and act to use their influence to either add characters to the council or cast them into exile. Through thoughtful hand management of their cards and clever placement of influence tokens, players gain victory points based upon the agendas of the characters at the end of the game. The player with the most victory points wins!

We’ve all heard the story of Romeo and Juliet – now is your chance to steer the story and determine who will rule Verona once and for all!

Someone turned Romeo and Juliet, the sappiest of all love tragedies, adored by teens and pre-teens the world over, and turned it into a contest for political power? Oh, yeah, baby. Mama likee. (There’s even a “poison expansion set.” I think I might have drooled a little on my keyboard just now…)

For added ironic fun, check out this picture of some adorable little players who (according to the caption) were “very excited” their mother had “gotten a game about falling in love.” You can’t make this stuff up, I tells ya.