Day 215 1/26/14: Roomba Jaws Cat

Is this cruelty to animals? I certainly hope not. I admit the hammerhead shark costume on this dog seems a tad tight, but I couldn’t resist the absurdity of the Roomba cat underscored by the gravity of the JAWS soundtrack. The cat seems to relish his role as shark, or at least not mind it, while the duck doesn’t know what the hell is going on….


Day 213 1/24/14: “A Breath of Fresh Air”

sharkptgIt’s a pretty big deal when someone paints a painting for you. So yesterday when my former student  Ani gifted me with this picture, I was, as they say in England, “dead chuffed.” Ani wasn’t even a “shark student” of mine, she took my literature class last fall. Like me, Ani loves the Beatles. Unlike me, she is incredibly together at 22 years old.  She runs a cake pop business with her sister. She writes poetry and has an untainted enthusiasm for language and literature that I admire, sometimes wistfully.

One day after class, Ani showed me a poem she was working on. The poem centered around a pomegranate, a powerful symbol of love, death, renewal and the feminine. I remembered that Pre-Raphaelite painting of Persephone holding the pomegranate in her hand. I recalled the pomegranates on the funerary sculpture of the unmarried women in Ancient Greece.   But Ani wasn’t thinking of all that symbolic stuff when she wrote the poem. She just wrote it. The poem had a lovely, strong female voice, both archetypal and modern.  It made me shiver a little. We talked about the poem for a while–about Persephone, about Armenian history, about images vs. words until afternoon shadows lengthened and it was time to go.

As soon as we stepped outside the classroom, we saw a young guy sitting on a bench. He pulled two pomegranates out of his sweater and handed them to a friend. Ani and I both shrieked with delight.

Had Ani’s poetic invocation caused them to surface in the real world? A correspondence between Ancient Greece and Glendale, California?

I like that this shark seems to be on some sort of dream stage, rising in front  of a curtain of blood. The title is “A Breath of Fresh Air.” The shark seems both to bringing this much-needed freshness to the world and rising out of this dark and light aqua sea in search of it. And the more I look at the deep, rich red background, the more I think of pomegranates and marvel at the palette of images, colors and words we share across time. I like to think of the language we employ and all the echoes it carries. Sometimes this echo is a burden, miring us in old stories we’d like to forget and other times that resonance is the tremor of eternity we need so language becomes a living thing, closer maybe to music.

Lovely things can happen when someone lets you into their poetic process. It doesn’t happen every day.

So thanks Ani, for the poem and for the picture.

Day 199 1/10/14: Peter Benchley’s Working Titles for JAWS

I am doing my homework, preparing for the February 22 benefit reading (JAWS: An Evening of Relentless Terror And Really Awkward Sex) and I stumbled on Peter Benchley’s early working titles for his novel.  Think how different all of our lives would be if JAWS had been called:

The Grinning Fish

Letter on Mundus

Leviathan Rising


The Coming



The Fish



Clam Bay


The Edge of Gloom





The Survivor

The Unexplained








What have we done?

Day 195 1/6/14: Cartoon Shark Cavalcade

7920893-a-hungry-cartoon-shark-splashing-in-the-waterI can’t vouch for the quality, but here’s an assortment of shark cartoons & shorts.

1. Street Sharks stars bad ass sharks that have human legs & torsos which makes me nervous. There’s also a lot of saxophone in the theme song. Here’s an episode called Shark-n-Roll.

2. I love Pangea Seed! Their fun little short takes on Shark Week sensationalism & the real threat of finning and hunting.

3. Kenny the Shark lives in a house and watches TV.

4. On this edition of Goofy’s Extreme Sports, he descends in a shark cage and feeds a picky great white. (Why is Goofy’s voice so weird now?)

5. I haven’t seen the movie, but I like this animated review: Two-Headed Shark in A Nutshell.