Sunday, October 19, 2014

Steely Dan, etc.

This challenge comes at my request from Brennan Marks, my brother Sam's friend. Brennan founded "The Steely Dan Conversation Group" while they were in high school, and I've read some of the really funny speeches and poems he's written from the group's annual banquets and for Facebook birthday posts.

So naturally, I wanted a challenge from him. I figured it would have something to do with Steely Dan. I didn't realize it would have to do with so many other things as well.

His challenge:

Write a poem explaining how Steely Dan is the greatest band of all time in a non-ironic, non-sarcastic completely genuine manner, how your dear cousin Adam Witcher Greene agrees that Steely Dan is the greatest band of all time, and that basketball is the greatest sport of all time.
Must be iambic pentameter
  • ABAB rhyme scheme (can be slant rhyme if necessary)
  • 10 4 line stanzas (or more than 10 if you need them but no less)
  • Must reference former Alabama Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron
  • Must use the phrase "Quoth the GAYven" 
  • Must use the phrase "isometric indifference curve"
  • Must quote a portion of the following Biblical verses: Leviticus 19:27-30.
  • Must incorporate this in a line exactly as quoted: "Barack HUSSEIN Obama"
  • Must use phrase "I'm better than Nabokov"
  • Must make reference to the Rothschild banking family
  • Must make reference to Ben Grimes

  • My poem:

    All We Know Is This

    When sunlight bangs against the moon, that's jazz.
    My cousins think the sun is a basketball.
    Cousin Adam says the moon is just a spazz
    whose soft white forehead is a moving backboard.

    Our president plays basketball, the sport
    of passing, our president, the papers say
    Barak HUSSEIN Obama is a part
    of the ending nation, part of the sad play

    full of actors who strut and fret and reel the years
    as Donald Fagan says, the mastermind
    of the world's greatest band, oh losers don't fear--
    there's a name for you when you win, and it's Ben Grimes,

    my brother, author of the ballad "Gynn Tarry".
    But I digress! My kin and their opinions
    could fill eleven stanzas, outstar stars.
    "Steely Dan," says Adam Grimes, my cousin,

    "is the world's greatest band," and that's the sum
    of some law and knowledge, plus do not
    tattoo your bodies for the dead, plus some
    of my kin would say I'm better than Nabokov.

    He's dead, and I'm not. And basketball, yes,
    my cousin Brennan Grimes says (I agree)
    it is the best sport, almost as powerful as rest.
    Old quarterbacks don't die, they just impede

    the progress of the team with bloated ghosts.
    Remember former quarterback, AJ
    McCarron, how he was known to say, "Quoth
    the GAYven, 'I believe in second place'."

    But cousins, brothers, countrymen, I do
    believe in second place, in the gutrot "okay",
    the redemption of our ugly, hated, foes,
    and sometimes being worse than Nabokov.

    It's impossible to say just what I mean!
    With all things being equal, an isometric
    indifference curve, your spleen is worth my spleen.
    My kin believe my attitude's pathetic.

    All Grimeses of the world, unite in panic!
    Our reign is but a portion of the Rothschilds',
    but it lasts as long as we can fit
    jazzlight, sport, and words into our lives.

    Brennan's masterful review:

    Review of All We Know Is This
    The stanzas flow like the River Nile
    The imagery in the first stanza ain’t chopped liver
    Love the first line; will have to keep in my file
    Congo, Niger, Orange, and Limpopo are also African rivers
    Fame equals length is what the kids say
    It’s a nice tie-in that Obama likes basketball
    And the poem I’m reviewing reminds me of flowers in May:
    Sweet. But with Obama in charge, do the cherries blossom on the National Mall?
    Third stanza, we finally get to the Dan
    But my one complaint is that FagAn is misspelled.
    Should be FagEn, Adam Greene is his #1 fan
    But of course, you could easily fix the typo after thereview and send me to Hell
    And here, the overall theme of the poem comes out
    Truly this is about the importance of family and
    Achieving immortality through family and art, a Grimes would know no doubt
    That family is immortal and of all time, Steely Dan is the greatest band
    But back to the previous stanza real quick
    “Outstar stars” is a genius phrase in my opinion
    Some lines from Leviticus really make me tick
    And Nabokov couldn’t do this or my name isn’t Brennan
    This stanza, I really like the last line, and how it transitions
    I also like the analogy to rest
    Rest, I agree, is important and deserves to be mentioned
    Right before the QB who will always be second best
    To Adam, in his heart, and to Steely Dan musically speaking
    AJ McCarron really adds depth to this poem
    The perfection of Steely Dan and basketball compared to this weakling
    Shows that most of the world is flawed but we must keep on rowin’
    And as you said in this stanza, it’s okay to finish in second
    And that’s quite an all right sentiment
    Which is what the poet in all of us might beckon
    But the poets among all people perhaps are first at being sentient
    For instance, until this poem and all poems by Ivy, myfavorite poem of all time
    Was the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. How did you know, unless you could tell
    From my prompt, that I would love this stanza’s first line
    Much more than sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells?
    But the theme hits hard in this final verse.
    Family and imperfection and immortality perhaps even love, which is mighty
    So I appreciate you not making my difficult prompt terse
    I enjoyed what you did with it, well-done, thank you Ivy!

    No, thank you, Brennan! Hopefully we will work together on poems and poem-reviews-in-poem-form in the future.

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