Saturday, September 17, 2005

Time To Weigh In On The Teddy Bear Debate

For those of you who are not from the Edmonton area let me fill you in, first, on what the whole hullaballoo is about the teddy bears.

Michael, what's all this we hear about teddy bears in the Edmonton area?

Calm down. Calm down. Let me get to it.

So anyway, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, or its more apt name The Event That Made CNN Forget About Natalee Holloway, local radio station 96 X decided that the best way for Edmonton to help the survivors of the natural disaster would be to start a teddy bear drive. Are you with me so far? Good. After pushing and pushing this thing for a while Edmonton came up with over 1 million teddy bears to donate to the hurricane ravaged city of New Orleans. The problem is, though, according to a column in the Edmonton Journal by one Paula Simons, is that teddy bears aren't really high on the list of priorities for survivors of Hurrican Katrina. In fact, teddy bears are probably the furthest thing from the survivors' minds. In fact, receiving teddy bears as some sort of consolation prize for losing their houses and their livelihoods might just be enough to send them into a murderous frenzy of cannibalism and wanton destruction of public property. In fact, this is the most I've ever used "In fact" to start a sentence. In fact.

So naturally there is a debate going on in the media. It's 96 X radio versus the Edmonton Journal of the newspaper community in an all-out battle to the death over which medium is more pious than the other. Or something like that.

Okay, maybe not.

But what bothers me is that nobody came to me to ask what I thought of the whole teddy bear debate. Nobody came knocking on my door and asked, "Michael, what are your thoughts about all this teddy bear bullshit going on right in your community? The public has a right to know!"

Seriously, you want to know?


Okay, here it is. I'm all for the teddy bears, actually. I don't even think that 1 million teddy bears gathered so far is even nearly enough for the affected area of New Orleans. I think we need hundreds of millions before we've proven that we are innovators.

Here's why.

Did you know that the average teddy bear can absorb roughly twice its body weight in water? That's a fact. So try to estimate how much 1 million teddy bears weigh. It's a pretty impressive mass to be sure. What I think we should be doing with the teddy bears is dropping them en masse right into the heart of the flood. Presto! We have instant absorbtion. Why, with enough teddy bears and B-52 Stratofortresses dropping them as super-absorbent payload over New Orleans we'd have that whole flooding problem licked in no time.

You see? That's why I'm an outsider of sorts. That's why I never get invited to all the cool parties. It's because I sit at home and think about shit like this. I'm an innovator, an inventor.

If you bombed millions and millions of teddy bears on New Orleans you could have everything soaked up and then with a team of bulldozers working around the clock you could have all the soggy plush pushed right into the gulf.

This is why I'm never put in charge of large public projects. If I had had my way, I would have had a teddy bear, pancake mix, and Bounty Quilted Quicker Picker Upper drive for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina because once we get all that water soaked up we can begin to rebuild a great, great city instead of engaging in wars of words in the media.

So the message I'm trying to make, then, is that survivors of this horrible disaster are, by and large, faced with a very daunting task of trying to rebuild their lives. How is nitpicking over what is and what is not suitable to donate in the media really going to help them? Last time I checked when you take time to really start debating something like this, it's basically time that could better be spent actually helping the people who need the help. At this point there are people who are grateful to take whatever they can get.

For anonymous:

For Jordan:

That'll be $200.00 each, you dirty, dirty people.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Vapor Trails

Vapor Trails

Stain of last night’s nosebleed

on your pillow.


I was thinking of something else,


awash in light

you and I floating

in a religious triptych

angelic sort of way---

not really choking each other out.

not hung up on mortality.

but perfect holy bodies

making love to eternity.

Wrinkled bed sheets.

Ransacked drawers.


Knowing instinctively

your shoes will have walked away;

your toothbrush

has found its way from my cup.

I let my guard down

just long enough

for you to steal away

and the stealth your steps

were made of

was almost of floating

in a religious triptych

angelic sort of way.

I’ll wash the pillow

and the stains on its case,

stand on my balcony

and look for your footprints

in my morning dew.

No notes.

No lipstick on my mirror.

A half-eaten bowl of cereal.

Just like that

you’re vapor trails.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

One From The Vaults

Last night at work some coworkers and I began a discussion on the morality of prostitution and since I have very little time to hash out something brand new from my brain for you folks and since I'm also just a generally lazy bastard, here's a rant I wrote on the subject of prostitution.

Prostitution And You:

Why We Smell Ass Every Time We Inhale

It doesn’t take a slide rule to figure out that humans, in general, have their shit all fucked up when it comes to certain facets of their existence. It has been demonstrated, time and again, that sometimes our priorities are completely wrong, that we are capable of making wrong decisions, that we believe some of the idiotic things, and so on, and so on. Really, a person could dedicate a whole series of books to everything that humans got wrong since the beginning of time and I’m one hundred percent positive that even after reading that whole series of books there would still be fucktards who still make the same fucking mistakes because they are just that fucking dumb. One thing that has always baffled me has been the way most of the free world approaches the subject of prostitution.

Prostitution, in essence, is the sale of sex. That’s it. Selling sex is not only frowned upon in most of the free world, it’s illegal. How fucked up is that?

But Michael, it’s an immoral act to sell your body for another’s sexual gratification.


Newsflash morons: if you’re having sex you’re paying for it. What exactly is the difference between exchanging sex for money and, say, exchanging sex for dinner and a movie? What exactly is the difference between exchanging sex for money and, say, exchanging sex for a wedding ring? What I’m getting at here is that directly, or indirectly as the case may be, sex is costing you something. At least with giving over cold hard cash for a fuck you’ve basically admitting to yourself, and to the whole world, that you understand how the sexual world works. It’s very rare to find an individual whom you can just ask for sex in exchange for nothing at all.

You see, nobody wants to look at it that way, though. People want to fool themselves into thinking that they are not whores. To them, being a whore is something filthy. Well, to avoid being a whore, then, you have to just give orgasms away for nothing at all. And, my friends, when you just fuck somebody for free, no strings attached, no dinners at expensive restaurants, no engagement rings, no cab fare for a ride home, when it’s just sex and nothing else, that just means you’re a bunch of sluts. Dirty, filthy sluts. And ask yourself: would you really want to play hide the salami with somebody who just goes at it with no expectations of repayment? We’re talking some seedy, seedy sluts here. You’d probably catch gonorrhea from having one of those fuckers breathe on you. Yuck.

Now I know that there are probably a million internalized dialogues going on here trying to re-establish the who dichotomy between getting paid for sex with cash and getting paid for sex with a fucking wedding band and what may very well be divorce papers a few years down the road given the current social climate we find ourselves in. There might even be a few of you whose minds I just blew because it’s not often when you find out that sex comes with a price tag almost always and that we’re all part of the sex trade even when we say we aren’t. So, fucking, what? Who gives a shit? So we’re not as pious as we like to think we are. That’s not really news to me. You just have to change the way you look at the world.

But Michael, what my spouse and I have is a magical, wonderful thing that goes beyond sex. You can’t equate what happens in our marriage bed with what some filthy whore does for a handful of nickels and punch to the gut.

If sex is part of the marriage, it’s part of the deal. It’s still costing you money, directly or indirectly. Just accept it. I’m a whore. You’re a whore. We’re all fucking whores. Big deal.

So then, here’s a good first question. Why is prostitution frowned upon? Why are we not celebrating the whore as a profession? We’ll give fucking medals to a soldier for napalming hundreds of innocent people in some fucking war that doesn’t make any sense, but what do we do with the men and women who put their health at risk to sell complete strangers the satisfaction of an orgasm or two? We put them in jail. How fucked up is that? We can fucking give a ticker tape parade to hired thugs and murderers for the state, but goddamned if we’re going to buy a fucking cake and throw a surprise party for a hooker. And I’m not saying all this to belittle soldiers or our armed forces because they’re doing what they’re supposed to do, what they are hired to do. I will, however belittle the state that tells them to do some of the shit that they are doing because that’s just fucked up.

But now I’m getting off track. Back to the point.

You know what I would like to see? An international prostitution day. We have days set aside to celebrate just about every line of work under the sun, Secretarys Day, Proctologists Day, maybe even Circus Elephants Ass Wipers Day, but no Prostitutes Day. That’s a fucking travesty. These are people who, as I have already stated, put their health at risk to bring a bit of pleasure into the world.

Which brings me to my next point. Why are so many legal jurisdictions prosecuting the solicitation of sex? Prostitution is known as the world’s oldest profession. Many people know that when you say the words, “The World’s Oldest Profession,” they know you’re talking about whoring. Do you know what that means? It’s been around a long fucking time! So how the fuck are you ever really going to stop it? The civilized world has had thousands of years to brings whoredom to an end and has anybody ever successfully stopped it? No. Will they? No. So why the fuck bother fighting it? Am I the only person who sees a total lack of fucking logic here? I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the sheer ego of any lawmaker who thinks he has the power to wipe out prostitution. What gall! What ego!

Chew on this you egomaniacal fucks who think that one day we can live in a world where nobody sells sex disregarding, if you will, my earlier point about all of us selling sex one way or another. In most of the free world selling sandwiches or bookmarks or toothpicks is perfectly legal. Now if somebody, say, was selling sandwiches or bookmarks or toothpicks at astronomical prices that would be perfectly legal too, but perfectly insane from a business standpoint since sandwiches, bookmarks, and toothpicks are relatively low-priced consumer goods. However, say this certain somebody who was charging these completely ridiculous prices for cheap goods was kind enough to just have sex with whoever would be generous enough to shell out like $200.00 for a sandwich. The way I see it if I ran a business where I was selling sandwiches, bookmarks, or toothpicks for hundreds of dollars per and my livelihood depended on me moving this merchandise I would probably be grateful enough to my paying clientele to have sex with them. And it would all be perfectly legal since I would just be giving sex away for free! Last time I checked there was no law forbidding private entrepreneurs from social fraternizing with their customers. And if somebody is dumb enough or friendly enough to give an entrepreneur hundreds of dollars for a sandwich more power to them.

But Michael what of the children? Somebody has to think of the children!

You know what? Somebody does have to think of the children. That’s why I think the only sane, ethical way to approach prostitution is to legalize it and regulate it.

That’s right. If you legalize prostitution you can establish rules for its practice. You can establish a minimum age for licensed prostitutes.

But Michael, the pimps will always have child prostitutes as long as there is a demand for them.

Yes, but you know what you can do with a regulated system of prostitution? Whatever the fuck you want to kill the competition. It’s a free market system. So, if you wanted to drive the pimps who push the underage girls and boys into whoring undercut their prices so that the demand goes down. Make it unprofitable for them to continue operation. Can those private pimps who abuse children avow for the cleanliness of their merchandise? Most of them can’t. But you can. Give licensed whores health benefits; make STD testing mandatory and regular; make condom usage mandatory. Ask yourself, “If I were a customer looking for a whore to have sex with would I go with the government sanctioned brothel with workers who are STD free, licensed, and as cheap as fuck or would I go to the shady guy in the alleyway who can’t avow for anything regarding his prostitute and charges too much since he’s a private entrepreneur trying to stay under the legal radar?” You’re a fucking dummy if you’d go to the alleyway.

But no, our society maintains its head-up-its-own-ass stance on prostitution and continues to fight a battle that can’t be won since, in one way or another, we’re all guilty of prostitution. What a bunch of fucking hypocrites we make sometimes. It’s all quite comical.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mehndi Vine Ode

Mehndi Vine Ode

I want your picture down on this page / so

I can veil you in my words, / soft,

platonic words / scrawled

carefully by careful digits /

calculated words / to

make you fall / in

love with / me

Shoulders: / swoon / beneath “swoon”

wilt / most lovely / in my shadow, /

where I scrawl / clumsily, /




between / infinite stalks / of your hair.

Coming up for oxygen.

I don’t want to / breathe,

but blow ink / through henna red teeth

and / paint splotches /


on the insides

of your thighs. /

A Rorschach.

Dip nib into / navel /

or moistened / orifice: /


And back / for another verse.

I want your picture down on this page / or

your nudity / down as a page might be / and

my words, / soft cover

where only / my eyes /

Can pry.

-Michael Appleby

September, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Back To School

Last week I was given the opportunity to take in a few classes at Grant MacEwan Community College here in Edmonton thanks to my close friend Jessica who was rather timid about attending the first day of classes alone. So as a service to my friend I told her that I would go with her for her first day of school to keep her company. I reluctantly agreed to actually physically sit in on two of her afternoon classes that day: a comparative literature class and a statistics class.

The comparative literature class was, as one would expect on the first day of classes, a snoozer. The professor of the class, whose name I really never bothered to learn since I'm not a GMCC student, basically gave a run-down of how the class would be conducted for the rest of the year. At one point, the prof asked one of the students in the class to count off the number of bodies in attendance. There were 31. He remarked that that was odd since the class was only supposed to have 30 students. Naturally, I felt guilty about being the phantom extra body, but because I did not just want to bail on my friend I kept my mouth shut. Towards the end of the class a questionaire was passed out asking what kind of backgrounds in English we had at our disposal and, given my natural perpensity to brag about my glorious history garnering a Batchelor of Arts Degree in English, I told the truth. However, since I was the phantom student I made up an alias and made up my student I.D. number as well as a fake email address where I could be reached. The kicker was that when the question was asked if there were any suggestions for how the class should be conducted for the rest of the year I made a comment along the lines that the room we were studying in was rather cold and while it would be impractical of me to ask the professor to turn the heat up with natural gas prices being through the roof it might behoove him to provide his students with complimentary blankets and/or varsity sweaters from the lost and found (gently worn of course). So if you are attending a comparative literature class at GMCC and you have found an abundance of sweaters and/or blankets awaiting you each time you arrive for class: You're Welcome! And if you're the professor of a comparative literature class who found himself at a loss when it came to explaining why there were 31 students on the first day of class and now there seem to only be 30 it's because I dropped the class when I found out that since I am not a student at GMCC I don't actually get credit for going to your class.

The statistics class was a lot easier for me to blend in and not get noticed as it was significantly larger in size. Just to be sure to blend in, though, I did take notes and as a service to all of you out there currently enrolled in a statistics class and who may have missed the introductory class I will now transcribe my notes from said class as a benefit to you. Now remember kiddies, if I wrote it down in my notes then it has to be true.

My Notes From Statistics Class by: Michael Appleby

Statistics: What the fuck is it, man?
-what the fuck you can say about shit that's like diarrhea because it's all fucked up. I mean you can't even see corn or peanuts, but statistics clears all that up and you can almost see the whole fucking colon.
-the stool that makes you feel most relieved when you get off the toilet.
-statistics is the science of:
1.) collecting shit.
2.) analyzing shit.
3.) applying shit. (i.e. find out how many brits think that Posh Spice is the most unnecessary celebrity in existence as noted here)

Statistics: Why the fuck would you do that?
-so you can be up-to-snuff on porn purchases including abnormally large sex toys and garish lubricants with names like Fric-B-Gone
-making wiser porn purchasing decisions [author's note: there was a whole story that was told to back this up, but it was rather long and I was trying hard not to laugh myself into convulsions since I had no idea that statistics was such a dirty thing, but relaying the story now would prove to be a very painstaking process, but suffice to say it ends with somebody grunting like an ape before rolling over to take a nap]
-evaluate porn from a mathematical point of view. (i.e. decibels of moans, quantities of astroglide, etc. etc.)

Misc. Notes
-there can be more than two variables, but never three because three is a non-existent number in theory. It has been demonstrated time and time again and the number three was officially revoked by the International Council of Weights And Measures in 1918. The campaign to put an end to threes was spearheaded by one Sir Walter "I Hate 3's" Douglas, who had four children, officially, by unofficially it was 2+1
-For example, if you told me to meet you at the pornography store for some official statistical analyses at 3 p.m. what you are actually supposed to be saying is "meet me at the pornography store at one hour past 2 p.m." Never say three. It's completely wrong, statistically speaking. Being wrong makes you look dumb. You don't want to look dumb. Hey, is that a squirrel?
-Also, what is up with neck beards? I mean they're everywhere. Dungeons and Dragons 2+1 edition geeks wear them instead of scarves. See also: tit beards.
-Statistical pirates ruled Belgrade between A.D. 1237 and A.D. 1417 at which time they were ousted by a band of calculus barbarians. Damn barbarians. I said 1237 because three was still considered a real number back then. The 1930's, on the other hand never happened unless you say "1929 and 1+[whatever year in that 10 year span you wish to talk about]"
-Radio stations are dumb, statistically speaking. Possible term paper topic: Why I hate modern radio and all the on-air personalities who have the collective I.Q. of last night's rump roast: a statistical journey of whimsy and delight.
-A sample is what the urine test is so that you can't do drugs and drive and ambulance for a living.
-Nonresponsive people are the ones who don't answer any of the questions in your stupid polls. Punch them in the neck, it's in the name of science.

[author's note: the class ended at this point and I was relieved to be out of there because I forgot how boring it was to take notes]

Okay, I have to admit that towards the end there my eyes could hardly stay open. But now you know your shit for the midterm. I can't avow to how much of this information, if any, will appear on any of the upcoming tests or, dare I say, the final, but it's always handy to have around in case you find yourself cornered at a Hooters Restaurant by a bunch of statisticians and they want to make some sort of "conversation" with you on the topic of introductory statistics.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Photographic Account Of My Recent Road Trip

Saturday, September 10, 2005:
The trip down to cowtown for this past weekend's poetry reading was quite a harrowing experience. The weather was absolutely not agreeable as you can tell by the picture of the cloud cover over The Donut Mill, which is where I stopped at the half-way point of my trip for an Oreo Donut and some hot chocolate, served by a girl who bore an uncanny resemblance to a very, very young Meg Ryan. Anyway, once I got south of Red Deer the mild showers that plagued the journey from Edmonton to Red Deer turned into full-on downpours. Every time I approached a tractor trailer on Highway 2 (which is now called the Queen Elizabeth II Highway now) I couldn't see but three or four feet in front of the nose of my 1977 Monte Carlo, which has a hood of about 27 yards so I guess I had pretty good visability considering, just a really big car.

Once I got to my friends' Jordan and Lori's apartment the drinking pretty much began since it was already getting on into the evening timewise. Because all I had had to eat up to that point in time was the aforementioned Oreo donut and a handful of Cherry Blasters (yum) getting drunk took no effort at all.

Jordan, Lori, Ian, Heather and I ate at F.A.T.'s Bar And Grill that night after a brisk, wet walk from the apartment. I got drunker and drunker waiting for a decent meal. Jordan and I split one of the best pizzas I've had in a long time.

We played poker when we got back from the bar and had more drinks.

Sunday, September 11, 2005:
Woke up the next morning with bad hangover. I started to flip through my bag of poetry to see what pieces I should present at the reading. The hangover made all my poetry look mediocre at best.

Jordan, Lori, Ian, and I went for some brunch, though I can't remember the name of the place where we ate (sorry whatever Calgary bar and grill you were; I just have a shitty memory sometimes). After that we did some shopping while we killed time before the reading.

In the shops I was able to pick up a copy of Alex Grey's Sacred Mirrors as well as Alex Grey's 2006 calendar. I also bought some kick-ass sunglasses and Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins And The Pursuit Of Happiness In America by Dan Savage.

Pictured above you can see me frantically trying to piece together a set of poems that could wow the audience gathered, which was bigger and more conservative in their appearance than I had hoped for. Reading from Sometimes Sinister began to seem a lot more daunting all of a sudden because the older crowd may or may not understand what I was trying to work with as far as a concept goes in that series of poems.

Here is me reading to the audience. This picture was taken by Lori at my request. The setlist I went with was a couple of charming pieces followed by two darker ones from the latter stages of Sometimes Sinister. It went as follows:

1.)"Wishing"-a poem I posted here for you a while back and can be found in the archives here.
2.)"Mehndi Vine Ode"-one of my latest creations. I'm not sure if this fits into the framework of Sometimes Sinister because it's more abstract, but I thought it would fit in well with the idea of an idealist being deconstructed after falling for the wrong woman, this poem representing an idealist viewpoint.
3.)"Chewbacca"-One of the funnier pieces from Sometimes Sinister that describes a roommate's wookie-like sex noises. This one shows the pragmatism beginning to rear its head within our protagonist.
4.)"Matt"-A poem that mentions Cleveland Steamers and Donkey Punching. If you don't know what these terms mean you might want to google them, but I'll just say that they are very raunchy sex terms. Given my older, more conservative looking audience, this was the one that I was most hesitant to read.

After the reading was over I was approached by some radio guy who recorded the show and said that he would be broadcasting it at some point, asking me for some contact information. I signed a couple of autographs, and finally met Selina face-to-face, one of the audience members from my Calgary reading two years ago.

It was all a success!

Here you see Pages Bookstore in Kensington where I read. I was up on the second floor it that matters to you. You can even see a few of the people leaving the bookstore who were at the reading. I would like to think that at this moment one or two of them would be turning to a lover or a close friend and asking, "Honey, what's a donkey punch?"

What's a donkey punch, indeed.