About this blog

August 10, 2012

I’m going for the fake FAQ format here and answering questions I assume readers might wonder about other than the autobiographical. Like all other post-dated entries here that disappear and reappear, this one was retrieved from the waste bin for revision.

What about the quotation under the blog title?

It’s from a poem by Robert Browning called Fifine at the Fair.

Why ravens4rooks?

One obscure King Arthur legend, transcribed from a Welsh oral tradition by a monk or aristocrat long before The Once and Future King became a standard, includes a battle in which King Arthur and one of his enemies marshaled their armies, but chose to do battle on a chessboard between themselves instead, to decide the day without sacrificing their men. Magically, their game board moves were acted out above by armies of crows.

Also, Charlemagne is in the best punchline of the Indiana Jones franchise. Umbrella on the beach beats chase sequence by cheating at the chase sequence and ending it.


Why “Many fandoms, one love?”

You don’t choose the fandom, the fandom chooses you. And while it’s commonplace to obsess more over one than the others at any given time, you don’t really leave a fandom behind once you’ve figured out how to think in fan references. My most recent fandom is The Legend of the Seeker, known for the One True Pairing with the epithet: “To know Richard, is to know Kahlan.”

What are your writing goals?

Prose instead of poetry is a relief, from several years of practicing film commentary in meter and rhyme and trying to use the characters played by some of my favorite screen actors as narrators to experiment with perspective taking in the imagination. It’s just easier, even if some of the pressures of description on one’s sense of integrity still apply.

Writing in the realm of observation seems more dangerous than it probably is when you’ve had encouragement at it.

On the kitchen table under the harsh light
.. as if it still wished
To hide beneath soft down that gross entrance which
Your pellets made, the stiff wing lies folded.

.. I must try in words to catch
That something .. missed
As wild and shy, the squawking mallard rose
Abruptly up from the shore grass – to a grand, majestic
Flapping into twilight, its graceful neck outstretched
Its webbed feet flush with ..

Tom O’Malley’s poem comparing himself to a hunter talking up the proof of experience where a “wild-duck lies, a green sheen on its stiff neck” reveals how strangely self-conscious writers get looking over their own accomplishments, using the metaphor of a mallard on a table top.

And the science and public health curios?

Information handling theory and health research practice are still interesting to me, but I’m getting far more tentative about the contributions I can consider myself qualified to make.

Quality of health services research is even more daunting, coming out of a wild goose chase for signs of embarrassment or eagerness for explicit attempts at problem-solving within the health professions, when it comes to injection safety lapses and HIV in Africa.

I should not have looked so far from home for disappointments. A hospital poem like “In the Land of Wince and Whinny” lands one credible moment in “a vanilla slice” encountered between shifts nearer “a copier on speed” making “computed-tomography-scan snaps poems I have written” feel subjective in attitude but not committed, more like “poems I have yet to write.”

The intellectual privilege and self-absorption attributed to research professionals by those who haven’t ruled out joining their ranks someday by going back to school likewise seems a foolhardy level of social tolerance for the retreat of the otherwise unemployable into intellectual nooks and crannies where errata production can escape oversight more easily.

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