Aug 26, 2011

The Great Sweatshirt Koan

So as many of you know, I like to wear hoodies. This has been a fairly continuous trend since High School, and remains to this day. They are warm and comfortable and so I wear them pretty much every day. Recently, my favorite sweatshirt has been one of my brother's old sweatshirts from Terrace. It is nice because it is black, so it mostly works in the zendo to not be distracting. However, there is this image on the back.

So, with some frequency, people have approached me and asked "What are these images?" I have pretty reasonable answers for the first two. The third image is the Koan of Stephen's Andrew's Sweatshirt. Feel free to guess what it is (except for Andrew, that would be cheating!)

Aug 25, 2011

High School Stephen: Superb

Hello Folks!

So this is the best thing that's happened to me so far today:

My parents received in the mail a letter from Mrs. Coker, my 11th and 12th grade English teacher who I greatly enjoyed and have not seen in a long while. I was surprised and asked them to send it along to me. I then forgot about it.

Cue this morning. Walking by the mailbox I looked in on a whim and found a letter from home! I opened it up, saw this letter (along with a gift card to Barnes and Noble) and was like "Oh Yes! I wonder what this is!"

The envelope had my home address on it (in my handwriting) and the return address was from Mrs. Coker. I opened up the letter and pulled out two sheets of looseleaf paper. They appeared to be blank. I unfolded them all the way and found the following paragraph.

This is the stupid letter assignment that Mrs. Coker is making me do. I'm really tired, kind of sick, and this is my last full day of high school, so I'm not putting any effort into this. Plus this is a really stupid assignment. I feel sorry that Mrs. Coker will have to pay the increase in postage to mail this to me. OH well.
-Stephen Strenio

I. I am so impressed with my high school self. 100% pleased.

My best guess is that there was a final assignment: Write a letter to yourself in five years in a self-addressed stamped, sealed envelope. This was my response. I love my high school self.

Aug 24, 2011

Reduced Villanelle

Hello everyone!

I've written this as some fun with the villanelle form!

The Story of Our Man Joe Who, Rejected in His Requests for Female Accompaniment, Decided to Play His Skin Flute Solo and Discovered an Unexpected and Unwelcome Audience, Thus Making Future Performances Difficult (But Not Hard)







Aug 23, 2011

Drawing and Oddly Located Disasters

Stephen moves to Rhode Island: DC submerged in snow for months.
Stephen moves to San Francisco: DC has an earthquake.
Stephen moves to Hawaii: DC has a volcano???

Here is the drawing I pledged:

It is drawn in blue ballpoint pen. It is a table with a singing bowl on top of it. It was done as an exercise to highlight the similarities and differences between writing and drawing. Among other things.

Aug 22, 2011

Poem from Sunday

Hello all,

Yesterday I went to poetry again. This time instead of several short poses there were two longer ones. The first was an interrogation of an object. Mine went like this:

How old are you?
Well it depends on what I am.
If I am just me as I am now, I have only been here for this instant.
If it is me since I've been in this place, it has been a lifetime.
If it is me as I've been in this shape it is longer still.
My being existed before that, but it was not me.
Why do you have that shape?
I was once part of a bigger shape, but then I was separated from it. Since then I have been getting smaller very slowly.
Why do you have these colors?
There is a solidness inside me that is the solidness of layers. As the solidness goes away, the next layer arises. The layers come in these colors.
Why are you here?
I have been placed here. I will move only when moved.
Does your shape imitate the figure turned away from you?
Only when you look at both of us at the same time.
Why does the figure face away from you?
What makes you think the part of the figure that looks like a face is that figure's face? Perhaps it is staring right at me.
How heavy are you?
Heavy enough for the ground to support me.
Why aren't there flowers by your base?
Because people come by and take them.

The second was actually a drawing. I will scan that and have it for you tomorrow!

Aug 20, 2011

Improv Success!

Hello again!

So last night I performed some improv for the first time in a long time and it went wonderfully. My partner was this wonderful guy, Chris, who had never before done improv. We practiced for about 45 minutes and he is a natural. He does not mind when things are ridiculous, he's physical, he says what's happening and he didn't freeze up at all (that I noticed, at least). We played "Should've Said" and "ABC". Should've Said ended with me rolling Chris into the crocodile infested river after covering him with sticky s'mores in revenge for ripping off my song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit". ABC ended after I took all of our jump ropes and revealed that I was the son of Xerxes! Suffice it to say, it went wonderfully.

In addition to our performance, there was a bunch of really fantastic stuff that happened. Some great singing, a poem, a reading, and some amazing dances. One woman danced an Indian-inspired ballet (Bhakti by Bejart for any ballet-ers out there) and one guy did basically a clown bit about a day in his office where he ended up dancing around like a fool. It was mindblowing. Simply amazing.

Now today is Saturday. I am feeling a bit like starting to actually work on this Magic The Gathering thing. I think the optimal format will be radio show. I will start with writing scripts. Then building characters' voices. Then recording. Then sound effects. Once I've got a few episodes done then I'll start sending it to various magic sites (first offering goes to Magic's brand manager, of course).

Feeling this way may mean that I start working or it may mean that I don't start working! We will see. Have a lovely weekend everyone ever!

Aug 18, 2011

Open Mic at the Zen Center

Hello Friends!

There is a skit night happening tomorrow night at zen center and I had been trying to think of things to do at it. Options included singing terribly, reading terrible poems, or passing around terrible cartoons. Then! I thought of improv! I can do passable improv! But, I did not know anyone at zen center who did improv. Then I mentioned it to a few people and now two people are doing improv with me tomorrow night at 7:30pm. So! That is exciting.

Also, I am coming up with a thing in my head that I would like to create and so I am working on it in my head and then later I will start work on it and then I will probably post it here and maybe some other places. It is a serial about the Magic: The Gathering universe that will probably appeal mostly to M:TG fans but I'm hoping to make it more broadly appealing as well.


Aug 16, 2011

Photo Dump

Hello Everyone,

So I hope you enjoyed my poetry dump yesterday. To reiterate: The title of each of those poems was the prompt given. There was then 1 or 2 minutes to write. Afterwards I just typed them up and published them. Today there is a drawing dump. These are drawings I just started and kept going until they presented me with an image. They are maybe a bit weird or disturbing. I hope you don't mind.

Glass Swan

Hairy Zit


Flowery Ball and Hand

Decapitated Clown and Eye

Aug 15, 2011

Poetry Flood

Hello Readers,

This week I again took a poetry class. I read my villanelle and it was critiqued in a very helpful way. There were some similarities with the lovely critiques my mother gave, and also a critique that I have received repeatedly when I have submitted writing for critiques: the writing is not specific. There is a sense of generality and also a sense of me excluding the reader from my particular life. This is probably because this is how I write (among other things). Here are the poses I did yesterday. All of them.

There Was Barely Room

Push through the gap
It will not open for you
So you must shrink to it
Like Alice you are probably going to eat it
But that in no way discourages you.
"I would just like to get
To the garden on the other side."

I Kept Waiting

There is a story of a flooding city.
A man of great faith climbed to his roof
and said to the surging river of main street
"God will save me"
Many people tried to save
him but he just kept waiting.

But This Time

The physical pain of growing
has always stopped me cold in my tracks.
Don't keep going, this is uncomfortable!
But this time
I trusted my body,
and it took away the pain.

She Didn't Turn Away

This was it.
Everything else was gone.
just left: her life
her hopes her dreams
and then, then they would
take down the eviction notice
Open House

I Realized There Might

The confusion between homonyms is a repeated and devastating battleground on the internet where you're ignorant spelling is shown widely so everyone can see your an idiot.
Once I realized there might was a misspelling it clarified the entire argument.
Their might IS terrifying.
'There might' is not.

I Didn't Know What Time It Was

One of the many disadvantages of
having your cellphone be your only
keeper of time
is when you are woken in the
middle of the night by a person who
needs nothing more than to feel your presence
on the other end of these collections of signals
and not even be able to ask
"Do you know what time it is?"
and have them believe you just want to know.

He Takes Me Aside

He takes me aside
"What are you doing here?"
"You're doing everything wrong"
"This is not the place for you and everyone hates you and you really need a shower and you are an utter failure"
"Please leave"
"My name is Chris. Welcome."

You Try It Anyway

No one lives for ever.
you get cancer
or alzheimer's
or hit by a bus
or, just as fatally,
you stop wanting to live for ever.
You try it anyway.

What About

Handwriting, like Handsewing,
like Handsawing, Handmining,
Handshaking, Handwaving,
is on the way out.
What about the future
doesn't like hands?

Aug 12, 2011

The Villanelle

Here is a villanelle I am working on for this weeks' poetry thing. I don't know what the title is yet. Feedback is requested about parts that seem out of tune or not particularly necessary. Thanks!

There's nothing left for me but to pretend
That death comes like the setting of the sun.
I'll force my lungs to breathe until the end.

I cannot tell if you are foe or friend:
If between us lies hate or love or fun.
I cannot tell so I will just pretend.

I hear your rattle and so I defend
myself. Limbs shake. Heart beats madly. And lungs?
I'll force my lungs to breathe until the end.

You've shown me all the holes I've yet to mend.
The punctures in reality that one,
or all, of us has made are not pretend.

Slowly, slowly, inevitable trend.
But even when it seems that you have won
I'll force my lungs to breathe until the end.

No strife or strength could force me to surrender.
But splayed before the things that I have done,
There's nothing left for me but to pretend
That I'll force my lungs to breathe until the end.

Aug 11, 2011

Poetry fer ever (profanity warning)

More poem (profanity included):

At the blending of the grey and white socks
There lies the fury of inaction.

pick sort pack

Going somewhere?
aren't we all

which of these socks is the right sock
is there even such a thing as a right sock
keep telling yourself to calm down
calm down asshole

Going somewhere?
trying to

why would they even make a sock that looks like this
there's no point for a sock like this
who needs this sock
this sock is useless

Going somewhere?
leaving now

nevermind the fucking sock
throw it out, burn it
shove it down your goddam throat
walk barefoot you won't notice anyway asshole

Going somewhere?
gone gone gone

Then can I have my mitten?

Aug 10, 2011

Another Poem

Another poem from the thing about poems that I did. Don't remember the prompt for this one.

Edges curves
lengths widths
everything that fills these spaces
and tries to make me forget
the distance
the gap
the place where there is no point on the number line
the volume under the curve approaching zero

Aug 9, 2011

Further Poems

Another poem from the thing I did Sunday.

It Just Keeps Coming Back

This feeling keeps coming back.
You know the one.
Where things seem to move for their own reasons.
Where light dances and appliances sing.
Where you breathe calmly for a few moments,
Before you get the feeling too.

Don't worry.

It's not real.

Go back to sleep.

Aug 8, 2011


So I took a poetry class and we did some poses, which is basically a prompt and then write for one or two minutes about it. I like some of them, so I will post them this week.

Nothing I Could Say Scared Her

she stepped forward
into the space that all her
doubts had sealed
with lace and spiderwebs and shadows

Aug 2, 2011

Wind-Down Bird

Hey kiddos,

So I am getting the feeling that I don't really have much more to say about my day to day life so I figure I'm going to be winding down that part of the blog. As such, I'll only be posting when I have some cartoon or story or poem or song that I want to have easily accessible. This may be infrequently.

Please do feel free to call or e-mail or facebook or what have you if you want to know more about things I'm doing.

Also, if you are expecting postcards, I have not done any yet. I am going to keep trying, but I make no guarantees.