He Was Big

I was reading student essays as required by my professorial duties when I came across the following sentence:

"The Elephant Man was big in his day, but not because of his head."

I love the authoritative "brio" of the assertion because this is the stuff of poetry.

"April is the cruelest month…" Poetry asserts. It feels right. Even when it isn’t true.

This is of course why politicians love poetry. 

I wish we had a little more poetry in the presidential debates.

I would really like it if Wolf Blitzer asked each candidate to recite aloud his or her favorite poem. This would be revealing I think. And much more useful than hearing about their respective faith in God.

I, by the way, always spell God with a big G because "she deserves it.

Here are some speculative poetry samples for some of the current candidates:

Hillary: "How strange to give up all ambition." (Robert Bly)

Mitt Romney: "This is just to say I have eaten  the plums that were in the icebox…" (W.C. Williams)

John Edwards: "I sing and celebrate myself…" (Walt Whitman)

Rudy: "Call the roller of big cigars, the muscular one, and bid him whip in kitchen cups concupiscent curds…" (Wallace Stevens)

Barack Obama: "A narrow fellow in the grass…" (Emily Dickinson)

John McCain: "How do you like your blue eyed boy now Mr. Death?" e.e. cummings)

Dennis Kucinich: "Do I dare to eat a peach?" (T.S. Eliot)

You can of course make up your own list of  potential poems for potential potentates…


Channel Surfing in America

What is it about American television that so distresses me? Forget the advertising and the trivial programs. I believe in "brain candy" just as much as the next guy–heck, I even bought a copy of People magazine last week. Jeez. I’ve even been known to eat "Slim Jims" when I think no one’s looking.

This morning I was switching between NBC’s "Today" show and the MSNBC morning talk program  formerly known as "Imus" and I heard sequentially from Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who is a Republican candidate for President of the United States, and blip! back on NBC there was Dr. Jack Kevorkian, otherwise known as "Dr. Death".

Gov. Huckabee was talking about the need for America to have good health care. Blip. Dr. Death was talking about the need for America to have good euthenasia. Blip. Gov. Huckabee was talking about getting the government off our backs. Blip. Dr. Death was talking about euthenasia as a human right.

I was shaving. I use the Braun self cleaning electric razor which gives me a superior shave and which smells citrus fresh every morning. I was channel surfing and having a good shave and a cuppa coffee on an ordinary rainy summer morning in Ohio. I was comfortable. I felt good.

I wanted to join the TV Land conversation. Wanted to bring Ann Curry of the Today Show and Amy Robach of MSNBC and Dr. Death and Gov. Huckabee together for a good grape whalloping session. I wanted the TV to reflect a disability perspective. I wasn’t going to get it this morning of course. But I did have a good shave thanks to German technology. And here’s the problem as I saw it while shaving:

Many people with disabilities are distressed by the grassroots efforts to legalize euthenasia for the simple reason that it is conceivable that the disabled will be put to death by a corrupt medical care system. This is a serious concern and that’s why I wanted Dr. Death and Gov. Huckabee in the same room. We can’t guarantee quality of life for our citizens with the present health care crisis in the United States. Until we can provide everyone in a democracy with good health care it seems to me that introducing euthenasia into the current health care system is like rearranging those famous deck chairs on the Titanic. If we can’t deliver health care to over forty million people than we shouldn’t be delivering euthenasia either. I believe what I’m saying. But the thing with TV is that the medium won’t allow for this sort of articulated conversation. And this is why the blogosphere is so compelling these days.

I suspect that Gov. Huckabee is a nice man. I suspect that Jack Kevorkian is a creep. And I further suspect that they are both correct in their respective positions. But the quality of human life is the most important issue and TV doesn’t lend itself to that subject. I wish that it did. Personally, I’d happily pay 7 dollars a gallon for gas like they do in Europe if it meant that everybody had health care and could be protected from H HMO fraud and heartlessness.

This is a "disability" perspective and I suspect that it’s also a mainstream view.

Maybe we need a "quality of life" channel?


Random Thoughts

I was watching "Meet the Press" today and a group of Democratic strategists squared off against their Republican counterparts. They were talking about the ’08 election and what emerged most distinctly for me was a curious sense that both parties are looking for a way to run on the status quo but without saying so. What this means is that what will "really happen" is that we will stay in Iraq for a long time to come. We will likely continue to privatize every single governmental program we can think of. We will fail the nation on health care reform. We will do these things while pretending it’s the other guys fault.

I wish I felt better about this political season. I said earlier on this blog that I think the wrong guy from "Law and Order" is talking about running. I want Jack McCoy in the White House. And I think "Ice T" should be the VP.

It’s hard these days to remember, but even Nixon played the piano and had some occasional charm. Who amongst these candidates has a little charm? I’d like to see all these candidates play the bongos like Richard Feinman and recite improv poetry instead of having more of these dishwater dull debates.

A guide dog can dream can’t he?


Why Ask Why?

When I was a teenager I wanted very much to join the Navy. There was a problem though: the Navy didn’t have any proven need for blind sailors. I was genuinely disappointed by this and so I took up anorexia and by the time I went to college I weighed 102 pounds. On the bright side, I was a very fast 102 pounds and I was able to outpace a University of New Hampshire hockey player in a long distance run. On the dark side, I ran faster than the hockey player but I also ran into a fence. 

Nowadays I counsel everyone I meet to avoid the kind of behavior I once engaged in. But I still have these wild moments. I climb on top of rickety chairs to reach an upper shelf just because I thrill inwardly to the possibility of something orthopedic and dreadful. Women like to call this kind of behavior "testosterone poisoning" but they have it too.

I don’t know what I will do today that will be reckless, but it’s sure to be self evident to others. "Look Mommy, that man over there is trying to catch a bumble bee with his arm pit!"

Or something like that.


Must See TV

UPDATE to post below:

[with]tv: a television channel of, by, and for people with disabilities….and everyone else

Here is a link to this brand new blog as well as a request to sign this guest book
as a show of support.  (Tell ’em the Kuusisto’s sent you!)  But there
is more to be done.  We encourage you to continue following links to
learn more. 

Join us in this effort won’t you?  Help us spread the word…

Happy Blogging!

~ Connie

Original post:

Once again, we need to thank Scott Lissner, ADA Coordinator at The Ohio State University for passing this along to us.  (Scott, I don’t suppose we could talk you into being a contributor to this blog could we?)

Are you someone who lives with a disability?  Are you a friend or family member of someone who lives with a disability?  Do you or have you ever provided service to a person with a disability?  The chances are very good that your answer is YES to any or all of these questions. 

Since I can say YES to any or all of these questions the following letter, forwarded to us by Scott, caught my attention.  I decided to write to Mr. Howard Renensland and ask for permission to copy his letter in a post on our blog.  My inquiry was answered with in a couple of hours and to my delight, we had a warm exchange and well, who knows where this might lead.  I’m hoping it will pique your curiosity as it did mine because Howard and his team (including Scott Rains of the Rolling Rains Report!) are looking to spread the word and garner support.  I’ve got a few ideas already.  Steve and I are ready to roll up our sleeves.  How ’bout some of the rest of you?  You know who you are!  Monica, Scott, Lance, Penny, Kay, Amanda, David, Kathryn, Ed (of Project 3000), Bill , Rod , Georgia…Georgia, you need a blog…

Oh, I could go on and on but for now, I’d like to introduce to you Mr. Howard Renensland…

~ Connie

From: Howard Renensland Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 9:32 AM
Subject: [with]tv

May 23, 2007

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Howard Renensland, CEO & Founder of [with]tv, a television channel of, by, and for people with disabilities…and everyone else.

On August 13, 1984 a wonderful event took place. My daughter Victoria, a person with a disability, was born. Watching her grow over the past 23 years and advocating with her for her inclusion has helped me to understand that the single most debilitating factor that limits people with disabilities is not their disability, but their image in and access to mainstream media, where their needs and participation as consumers and employees are almost totally absent and neglected. When profiled, they remain objects of extreme pity or extreme inspiration for those without disabilities. This image is not one of their choosing, but it is what sticks in the minds of the people. As long as others define you, you do not exist.

As I write this letter, there is no mainstream television channel in the world addressing the needs of and targeting people with disabilities as consumers, participants, and viewers. Today we correct that by creating [with]tv, an inclusive media outlet that defines all people by their talents and the quality of their stories, rather than by disability; a place where Victoria and everyone else with a disability can work in a universally designed workplace with a welcoming, inclusive workforce.

People with disabilities have a global need as individuals and as a community for access to information, employment, artistic expression and control of their image. [with]tv will provide all people with disabilities and their advocates a constant mainstream media voice where all issues important to the community can be explored and highlighted in news, information, reality, sport, dramatic and comedic programs. Furthermore, the need extends beyond people with disabilities. The disability community is a grossly underutilized source of talent and market-share for companies, making[with]tva win-win solution for individuals, society, and business.

Please be kind enough to visit our preliminary web site http://www.with-tv.com/. There you will find our Mission Statement and Statement of Purpose on our Home Page. Under Investor you will find our Business Plans Executive Summary, a copy of which I will attach here. You will also find our April Update, which will highlight our recent progress.

Howard Renensland         
President & Founder
P. O. Box 685                                       
Wilton, Connecticut, 06897                              

Book Signing Update: Running for their Lives

Two years ago now Steve and I were each struggling with knee
injuries while training for a "Train to End Stroke" marathon.  Thanks
to many of you, we managed to raise a total of ten thousand dollars and
although disappointed to not be able to run 26.2 miles because of
complaining knees, we did each run and complete the Kona, Hawaii half

That’s how we met Karl Gruber.  He sold us sneakers.  Several pairs
as I recall.  Karl is an expert when it comes to sneakers, and for good
reason.  Having run 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise funds and awareness to fight Leukemia, he’s probably spent a small fortune on his own sneakers.Running

We’re pleased to inform you that Karl has written a book about his experience called "Running For Their Lives"

"The text tells the story of Gruber, a marathon runner from Hide-A-Way
Hills, Ohio, who left his home and job to travel across North America
and participated in fifty-two grueling marathons within fifty-two
weeks. Calling the tour a “Super Run for the Cure”, Gruber did it all
to raise money and awareness regarding leukemia research. From TV to
radio and print media interviews, Gruber worked tirelessly and
religiously to inspire as many people as he could in one of the most
amazing displays of heroism by an athlete."

Karl.  We’re proud to say we know ya.  What?  You say your first book
signing is on Sunday, May 13 from Noon to 5 PM at FrontRunner" (1344 W.
Lane Ave., Columbus, OH)?  OK.  See you then!

Connie and Steve

UPDATE 5/11/2007:  Karl has informed us his book signing has been postponed.  Hopefully he will keep us informed.
UPDATE 5/24/2007:  A new message from Karl:

The book signing of my book "Running For Their Lives" has officially been rescheduled for Sunday, June 3 from noon to 5PM. at FrontRunner on Lane Ave. in Upper Arlington (Ohio).  I really look forward to seeing any and all of you who can make it! Let your friends and family know, too!        "gotta Run!",     – Karl


The Book Blog

Bill Eichenberger, friend and book critic of the Columbus Dispatch, has started a new blog and we are proud to introduce it to you here on the Planet of the Blind.  According to Bill, his goal for The Book Blog

"is for the blog to be, in a modest way, all things to all book lovers.
And I hope the comment threads can give people in central Ohio (and farther
afield) a place to converse."

Visit his blog and the first thing you will learn is that

"Bill Eichenberger joined The Dispatch in
1985 and became the pop music critic in 1989, a position he held for
nine years until he replaced George Myers, Jr. (the original Dispatch
blogger) as the book critic in 1997.

Eichenberger contends that he added 50 points to his IQ the day he became book critic and insists
that “my worst interview with an author was still better than my best
interview with a musician.”

Eichenberger will blog about books — at least until Americans forsake the written word and give themselves over entirely to American Idol."

In one of his very first posts this month Bill asks the question "The future of book reviews?" and links to an article in which there is a quote by Maud Newton, who has been writing a literary blog since 2002.  Our readers know that Lance Mannion, besides being a literary blogger (among other things), is our friend and mentor and he says that Maud Newton is "To Be Read First Thing in the Morning".  Check his blogroll.  You’ll see.

Bill Eichenberger has done Steve the honor of reviewing both his books, in print  – in the Columbus Dispatch – and we are pleased to find this little way to "pay it forward". 

Gosh, and while I’m thinking of it, I’ve got to find a way to introduce Bill to ohdave of Into My Own.  Ohdave (yet another friend/literary blogger) has a weekly feature he calls "Sunday Reading" and he too was kind enough to review Steve’s book and to post some of his poetry. 

So Bill, meet Lance and ohdave.  Lance, meet Bill and ohdave.  ohdave, meet Bill and Lance.

There.  I think my work here is done for the day.

~ Connie


I feel like changing the subject here this morning.  My dear husband bought for me over a year ago a gift certificate for two for a horseback trail ride in the Hocking Hills of Ohio and two days ago my dear friend Sharon and I finally went on our ride.  What can I say?  It was a picture perfect day.  We enjoyed our chatty guide, the scenery, and especially our mounts.  It’s been a long time since I’ve gone horseback riding.  I almost forgot how much I REALLY enjoy it.

I used to take lessons, first as a teenager then as an adult, but then life got in the way and well, need I say more?  I took dressage lessons.  Learned a few (very few) moves.  Learned to jump a few fences.  Learned what it feels like to fall off.  I was never really any good.  There is only so much you can accomplish on horseback with a once a week hour long lesson.  But I certainly learned to appreciate the sport. 

If you’ve never taken lessons and you’ve never tried to ask such a large animal to do something akin to "horse ballet" it might be hard to truly appreciate the following video clip.  But even if you haven’t, this clip is worth seeing.  Suffice it to say that this rider is working very hard to get his horse to do this using his hands, fingers, legs and pelvis.  But you’d never know it by looking at him.  Both rider and mount make it look so darn easy.  Watch this mare dance to music while her rider helps her to keep tempo.  Keep watching.  It only gets better!  To me this is pure majesty…  WOW.

Thanks for sharing the clip Sharon.

~ Connie