Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The heart's deliberate chambers of hurt

It is Frank O'Hara's birthday today according to The Writer's Almanac, but a little research uncovers a different reality: O'HARA, Frank (27 Mar. 1926-25 July 1966), poet, was born Francis Russell O'Hara in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Russell Joseph O'Hara and Katherine Broderick, who both came from strict Irish-Catholic families. O'Hara always believed he was born 27 June 1926, but his parents apparently lied about his birthdate to hide the fact that he was conceived before their marriage. Well, birthday or not, I still wanted to pay tribute to this "urbane, ironic, sometimes genuinely celebratory and often wildly funny" poet with one of his poems that is particularly close to my heart. O'Hara felt that poetry should be "between two persons instead of two pages" and sought to capture the immediacy of life, describing his work as "I do this I do that" poetry because his poems often read like entries in a diary. And yet, as Kenneth Rexroth noted, O'Hara's speech often manages to rise above its own colloquialism and is "moving in the way that only simple communication can be moving." This poem is from his collection Meditations in an Emergency published in 1957 and I can still recall the effect it had on me when I first read it in my freshman year of college; here was a voice that was at once urgent and wistful and I felt an immediate connection.


The eager note on my door said "Call me,
call when you get in!" so I quickly threw
a few tangerines into my overnight bag,
straightened my eyelids and shoulders, and

headed straight for the door. It was autumn
by the time I got around the corner, oh all
unwilling to be either pertinent or bemused, but
the leaves were brighter than grass on the sidewalk!

Funny, I thought, that the lights are on this late
and the hall door open; still up at this hour, a
champion jai-alai player like himself? Oh fie!
for shame! What a host, so zealous! And he was

there in the hall, flat on a sheet of blood that
ran down the stairs. I did appreciate it. There are few
hosts who so thoroughly prepare to greet a guest
only casually invited, and that several months ago.

Friday, June 23, 2006


It would be difficult for me to accurately describe exactly how I felt the first time I realized that rearranging the letters in ELEVEN + TWO would give TWELVE + ONE, but it is sufficient to say that the experience almost momentarily made me believe in a personal version of some kind of intelligent design. I have since then often pondered on what it is exactly that fascinated me so much then, and still does now; I mean, obviously, it's not just the case that we are looking at a particularly smart and surprising anagram, and I have come to believe my sense of wonder may have something to do with the delicate and elegant way this curious fact seems to tie up all of the three R's and attempt to bridge the gap between literacy and numeracy for one blazing moment.

In fact, I have always found puzzles that related words and numbers in unexpectedly intelligent ways particularly engaging. For example, try to explain the pattern and find the next number in this sequence:

3, 3, 5, 4, 4, 3, 5, 5, 4, ...

As you can probably guess, you will be wasting your time if you try to find a purely mathematical rule because all I have done is simply list the number of digits in the words:

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ...

Now, interestingly, 4 is the first number whose value equals the number of letters in it's name. But is it the only one? I suspect so, but I don't know if one could establish a rigorous proof for this assertion. In any case, it only makes sense to claim that the value of a number equals the number of letters in it's name as long as we talk about positive integers; the number of letters in the names of nonpositive integers and non-integers can never equal their value. I am certain this is a somewhat profound statement that will eventually lead us to the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, but I am just too tired to go down that route right now.

And besides, it's almost lunchtime.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Wonders will never cease. Who would of thunk it would be so easy? But... umm... I have a question. So why is it a gender changer if it is female to female?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

E-mail from Louise, followed by immediate response from Ben.

From: Louise
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 9:58 AM
To: Ben; Ryan; Krista; Amanda; Donald; Natalie; Jennifer; Partha
Subject: Ben's b-day

Hey guys,

Shall we do cake for Ben's birthday today? Does anyone know what kind of cake Ben likes? I figure we can't really go too wrong.

From: Ben
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 9:58 AM
To: Louise; Ryan; Krista; Amanda; Donald; Natalie; Jennifer; Partha
Subject: RE: Ben's b-day

Hey dudes,

Let's like, totally ask him.. maybe we could include him on a group email?

And, for those of you who were looking for a more nutritional post, here is some food for thought.

Friday, June 09, 2006

One Hand Clapping

Ben Neely, the extraordinarily talented inventor of the false rip, you are, like, totally my superhero, dude!