Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cool as a Cucumber

by Catherine Giordano

My news print poetry project requires that I write a poem a day, a “found poem” taken from something in the Orlando Sentinel. Sometimes I find a beautiful poem, and sometimes I go through the newspaper four times and can’t find anything.

Wednesday December 19 was one of those days—nothing!  In desperation I checked the “Ticked-off” column—a daily collection of reader complaints about things great and small. Usually the latter.

I saw a complaint about cucumbers. I turned it into a poem. I thought it reeked of desperation, but it reminded me a little of a very successful poem by William Carlos Williams entitled “I Should Have Told You.”  It’s a short simple poem about how Williams ate two plums from the refrigerator without telling his wife.

Plums. Cucumbers. What’s the diff?  I decided to post the cucumber poem. I entitled it “Ticked Off.”  

It was a Christmas miracle!  It got more than twice the number of hits as the typical poem.  More importantly, it got more than twice the number of ‘1+’s” from Google Circles. (On “Google Circles” a “1+” is like “liking” on face book.) It got more “+1” endorsements than any other poem for the whole year.

I was almost ashamed to post it, and it turned out to be a fan favorite!

Here is the William Carlos Williams poem.  You can read my poem on my blog.  Click here.

I found this picture at
This Is Just To Say                     

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

A New Author Credential

by Catherine Giordano

A magazine arrived in the mail this week and it had my essay in it. The magazine is The Florida Writer, published by the Florida Writers Association. For each issue, they ask members to submit a short essay on the theme they have chosen for the issue.

The current issue asked us to write about children.  I submitted an essay entitled “The Accidental Kidnapper.” It was about adopting my son years ago from Guatemala when he was five years old.  For me it was an adoption; for him, it felt like a kidnapping. (I did not actually kidnap anyone—I just used that title to be provocative.)

I have submitted essays twice to The Florida Writer published by The Florida Writers Association. Both times my essay was selected for publication. So I’m two for two; I’ll have to try again when the theme is of interest to me and try for three for three.

The first time was back in January and I wrote about organization. I’m very organized so it was easy to write on that topic—I just wrote all about my organization compulsion. That time I got an e-mail about a month before publication telling me my essay was selected.

This time, no e-mail (unless I missed or deleted it). I thought I hadn’t made the cut. So it was extra special to turn to the table of contents and see my name.

I’ve also had an essay published in the LIFE at UCF newsletter.  It was entitled “A Beautiful Woman.” The essay is part of my “The People I Have Almost Met” series—a bunch of essays about chance encounters and the relationships that ensue, but only last a couple of minutes at best. This one was about a chance encounter in the supermarket.

It’s great to have someone think my work is worth publishing. My next goal is have that someone be someone who can pay me for my work.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Light and Dark

by Catherine Giordano

Yesterday I wrote about my disappointment to find that some of my page views came from robo-spam and not real readers. Not only was I disappointed to discover I had fewer readers that I thought, but also I was angered by people who have to take a beautiful thing like the internet and try to ruin it. OK—spam is rude, but I can understand that the sender is doing it in the hopes of making money.  But viruses! Why would anyone want to create and send malicious viruses to random strangers?  (I guess for the same reason, someone would go to a kindergarten class and shoot beautiful little five-year-old children. There are sick evil people in this world.)

Now back to my pity party. I’m going to list all my other blogging disappointments, times where I thought something really good was happening, and then I learned it wasn’t nearly as good as I thought.

There was the time I thought my posts were really high in the google rankings, coming up in the top three of searches.  Then I learned that google tailors search results to the individual.  My posts came up high on my computer because google thought that Catherine Giordano is interested in Catherine Giordano. Other people using the same search terms would probably not find my posts at the top of the list. (Isn’t it interesting, strange, and a little scary that there is no longer any privacy. Anyone with access to the data knows more about me that I know about myself.)

I was thrilled when I discovered that Showtime had put a link to my Premium CableReviews blog on the “About Dexter” page of their website in the “In the News” section.  The link to my website was the only link provided. I got so many hits to that review.  The next week, there were links to several other websites and my review was not amongst them.  A week or two later they linked to another review.  This time there was only a small bump in hits because my review was one of several.  Still I appreciated the recognition.

My disappointment is that Showtime has not linked to any of my other reviews.  I clicked on the “Contact Us” button to thank Showtime for linking to me and to ask what criteria they use to select which reviews they link to.  I said if I knew the criteria I would try to write reviews that met the criteria—maybe a particular length, for instance.  I wrote several times.  Each time I got a robo response saying my request was received and someone would respond.  No one ever responds. So now, I’ve given up.

I don’t know why those two reviews made the cut and others didn’t. I think all my reviews are equally well done. I think all my reviews are excellent.  I always write positive reviews because I only write about shows I like. I write in a unique style because I identify a theme for each episode and discuss the show in the context of the theme.  I recap the plot, but not in linear fashion. Instead, I tell the story, adding my own comments, the same way I would relate real events. (The episodes usually skip back and forth giving us the story in little pieces. I stitch the pieces together.) I focus on the characters and plots and not on technical issues like the quality of the acting or the writing.)

Another issue—search engine optimization, platforms, promotion, i.e. how to bring attention to my work so people can find my work. There is so much to learn. Further, the learning and the doing is very time consuming.  I’ve barely dipped my toe in those waters.  It feels overwhelming and I don’t understand it very much.

I started blogging because I started giving speeches which led to me writing books which led to me writing blogs. The blogs were supposed to call attention to my books and my speaking career and vice versa. I was hoping for a synergy. I was hoping the blogging would lead to something really good. I don’t know what—life surprises us sometime. So far the blog hasn’t led to the sale of books or speaking engagements or anything else. I’m still hoping.

And that is what it is all about, isn’t it. Try one thing, try another thing; it is hard to know in advance which will be the thing that pays off.  Like Thomas Edison said when he was trying to invent the light bulb—I haven’t failed. I’ve found a hundred things that don’t work.  And now, I’m writing this in the middle of the night because I have a light bulb to provide light.

And now I am going to start thinking about all the good things that blogging has brought to my life, and I’ll write about them in my next post.

This picture is from

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Robo "Readers"

I just learned something new and it really has me depressed.  I learned about referrer spam (often spelled as “referrer spam” with only a single “r” in the middle of referrer.)

Google gives me stats about page views. One of the states I get is information about where someone clicked to land on my page. For instance: google, bing, facebook, etc. 

Yesterday I noticed as a referrer site. Ad Sense is the name of Google’s program that puts the ads on my blog pages. It’s how I can earn a few cents. “Watch dog?”  I was concerned—did I inadvertently do something that might cause me to lose my ad privileges.  Naturally, I clicked on the link to see where it would take me.

Exactly what the spammers wanted me to do!  Later I googled “What is adsensewatchdog?” And that is how I learned about referrer spam.  Spammers do this to trick bloggers into going to their websites. These are often porn sites. The spammers do this to get traffic to their sites and to raise their rankings on google. (The more hits, the higher the ranking for a site.)

Often the link has some innocent sounding name.  When I see the link, I wonder why that website has linked to my blog, so I click on the link. I’m lucky all I got was a bit of spam.  Sometimes, people get very malicious viruses that can’t be blocked by anti-virus software and that could have destroyed my computer.

Some of the innocent sounding robo-spammers that I have encountered are ontimemarketing, escapefrommassachusetts, videoshub, topblogstories, kallery; ourmeets some robo-spammers with names that give them away are are vampirestat, zombiestat, villianstat. Do not click on these referers!
But what really got me depressed was not my computer’s close brush with death, but learning that some of my page views were not real live readers, but robot-generated views.  No human eyes on my precious prose and poetry!

I studied my stats.  I now knew the names of the most widely used robo-spammers.  Maybe 10% to 20% of my views came from this spam.

Now I have precious few readers as it is.  I thought I’d have way more followers and page views after a year of blogging. Learning that I had even fewer viewers than I thought really hurt.

I work very hard to provide good content on my blogs News Print Poetry 2012 and Premium Cable Reviews.  It’s practically my full time job. It hurts to know that hardly anyone wants to read them.

I practically beg readers and friends—I take that back—not practically, I actually beg readers and friends to read, share, and leave a comment. Virtually no one does.  Now I know one reason for the low rate of comments is that my readers are not humans, but robots. However, the 80% who are humans are doing very little reading, sharing, and commenting.

When I add the spam to whatever percentage of people that land on my web page while searching for something else, it’s very depressing.

I’m going to finish out the year because when I make a commitment, I follow through.  Next year?  I don’t know.  I think my ‘career” as a blogger may be over.

I very much enjoyed blogging, but it kind of takes the fun out of it to know that I have so few real readers.

I think I need to work really hard on trying to re-establish my market research business that fell off a cliff because of the recession.  That job pays me real money, and I need some real money.
On the plus side, the blogs “forced” me to do a lot of writing. All this writing has made me a better writer. A paid published writer in books published by real publishers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Politics of Raising Taxes

by Catherine Giordano

It's been a few weeks with no political posts. Today, I saw a letter to the editor in the Orlando Sentinel about taxing the rich to increase the prosperity of the United States. I couldn't resist turning it into a poem. I had already done my poem for the day so this is a bonus poem.

Raising Taxes

Higher taxes?
I’m fine with that.

Higher taxes on the wealthy
are important to prosperity.

We are a more cohesive society
when the gap between rich and poor
is not as enormous as it is today.

Extreme inequality
is the way
of banana republics
not our democracy.

Higher taxes for me
and my family—
Bring ‘em on.

© 2012 Catherine Giordano

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Doing Too Much Trying

Yesterday I absolutely could not find a story in the news paper to use for my poem.  Finally, in desperation, I looked at the Horoscopes column.  Yes, I could take a line from each of a few of the months and weave them together in a poem.  A sorry excuse for a poem, but a poem.

Then a funny thing happened.  I started to like the poem. It expressed how I feel right now.  Overwhelmed. It included the little pep talk I give myself at times like this. I told myself that I was taking care of the problems.

Second stanza is me telling myself—who are you kidding?

Third stanza, especially after I changed out one of the lines, is about me restating the problem.  I thought using inversion on the first line to turn it into the second line was just a cheap trick.  But when I read the poem at my poetry seminar today, everyone liked that line the best.  The instructor said it was not just a trick because the inversion added to the meaning of the poem   

The fourth stanza, only one line long, with just a little bit of tweaking, resolves the poem with a happy ending. 

You can see the two versions of the poem below. 

I called the poem Horos because the rules for news print poetry say that the title must come from the headline.  Dumb title!  No, not so much.  “Horos” means dance in Greek, and dance is an apt name for this poem.  The poem is about the dance I do with my emotions when I am feeling overwhelmed. 

I liked the poem because beginning each line with an “ing’ verb, reminded me of waves coming again and again and again. (It also provided rhyme.)  And the short spare sentences suggest weariness, problem piled upon problem.  

And last but not least I found the most wonderful picture to go with the poem.  (See it below.)  a little sailboat all alone on a big ocean trying to make it home amidst the roiling waves.  The waves aren’t that high, but just high enough so it is not smooth sailing. It's the little sailboat that could.

This painting of a sailboat is from Laurie Justus Pace.
Horos  (News Print Poem)                                        Horos (Revised)

Feeling overwhelmed right now.                                Feeling overwhelmed right now.
Chipping away at the problem.                                   Chipping away at the problem.
Clearing the slate.                                                       Clearing the slate.

Walking the walk …                                                   Walking the walk …
    or just talking the talk?                                               or just talking the talk? 

Trying to do too much.                                               Trying to do too much.
Going beyond the call of duty.                                   Doing too much trying.
Seeking a conclusion.                                                 Seeking a conclusion.

The rest of the way is smooth sailing.                         Hoping for smooth sailing.

So, now I have explained my poem.  If I have to explain the poem, it is not a good poem.  But you guys got the poem without the need for explanation, right?
Also, I know a lot of people feel overwhelmed around the holidays.  Overwhelmed with too many things to do; overwhelmed with emotions.  So I hope my little poem helps you out with that.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Wall

By Catherine Giordano

A marathon is about 26.2 miles. Many marathon runners report “hitting the wall” around mile 20. The body is exhausted, yet they must push on.

I feel like I have “hit the wall” with news print poetry. It’s been almost 11 months of doing at least one poem taken from a news paper story every day. Every single day.

On Thursday I just didn’t want to do it anymore. None of the stories in the newspaper that day inspired me. Maybe , it was just time to quit.

I forced myself to push on, and I found a poem. On Friday, I got my second wind. I felt a new burst of energy because I found this marvelous story about a mysterious planet-like celestial body. The “celestial seas” and the “orphan planet” are such beautiful poetic images.  It worked on me like a dose of carbs works on a runner.  Read "The Orphan Planet."

Today I was back in the doldrums.

When I lived in New York City, I used to walk over to Central Park to watch the race just a few hundred yards from the finish line. Sometimes I was there to see the winner, but many times I’d be there for the 4th and 5th hour. The runners approaching the finish line at that time were really hurting.  

The viewers, like me, would stand on the side of the road and shout encouragement. It was wonderful to see how it perked the runners up. It gave them the strength to finish.  They picked up the pace and crossed the finish line. 

That’s where I am now with this year-long project. Could somebody cheer for me?  Shout out a few words of encouragement? Help me get across the finish line?

This picture is from

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Two Weeks Later

by Catherine Giordano

It’s two weeks after the presidential election and republicans (and everyone else) still don’t especially love Mitt Romney.  

My news print poem, written way back in June, has been, and still is in the top ten posts with respect to the number of hits in the past 30 days.   

If you haven’t seen it yet, click here: Republicans Don’tEspecially Love Mitt Romney
What I love about this poem is that this poem was taken from a news paper column that was advocation for Mitt Romney's election.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

You Never Know

You never know what is going to catch the public’s eye. 

I write some great poems on serious subjects with  important messages, and people pass them by. I write a silly poem about Twinkies, mainly because the newspaper has given me nothing else that day, and it gets a whole of hits. It even generates comments.

I review “Real Time with Bill Maher" (Episode 267 11/16/12) and it leaps to the top of the pack. I look at my stats to see why. Maybe someone linked to it. I discover when I look at the search terms people used to land on my page that the reason is Ana Navarro. This silly twit made a stupid comment about horny men, I mentioned it in my review, and evidently everyone wants to read it.

Poems from months ago, like NBA, Nascar, Traffic and Sandscapes, that never made the top ten, suddenly show up in the list of the top ten posts with the most hits in the past 30 days.
I never know what is going to catch the public's eye.
Click the links to read the poem and review that everyone else is reading.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Update: Good News

It appears that Showtime is once again linking to my reviews on the Dexter homepage at  It's nice to have the recognition. 

I put a lot of time and effort into doing the reviews.  It's nice to know that more peole will read them.

Read my latest review. Dexter "What I Did for Love."

I've read the other reviewers and bloggers that are linked in "In the News." I think I offer an unique viewpoint. It's part review, part recap, but the most important part is commentary.  I identify a theme in each episode and that becomes the subject of the piece. I bring in real-life isues related to the theme. his unique approach is why some readers have told me they have enjoed my reviews even though they have'nt seen the show. 

by Catherine Giordano


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Political is Poetical

I saw Obama give his victory speech on TV in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.  It was a very inspirational speech that sought to heal the divisions of our country.

Today, I read the transcript of Obama’s victory speech. I was impressed at how poetical it was. 

I decided to try the techniques of news print poetry on the speech.  The result is below.

Obama’s Victory Speech

The task of perfecting our union moves forward;
it moves forward because of you.

We are an American family;
we rise or fall together,
as one nation,
as one people.

For the United States of America,
the best is yet to come.

We believe in a generous America,
in a compassionate America,
in a tolerant America.
That's the future we hope for.
That's the vision we share.
That's where we need to go—
That's where we need to go.

I've never been more hopeful about our future.
I have never been more hopeful about America.
Something better awaits us—
so long as we have the courage
to keep reaching,
to keep working,
to keep fighting.

We are more than a collection
 of red states and blue states.
We are, and forever will be,
the United States of America.


we will continue our journey forward.
we will remind the world
that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you America.

© 2012 Catherine Giordano

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Monday, November 5, 2012

News Print Platform

News print poetry uses newspaper stories to create poems. This year, a lot of stories were about the 2012 election. That makes this blog a platform for me to advocate for my political views.

On this Election Day eve, I thought it would be interesting to link to the political poems I did this year. Even if you only read the titles, it’s the “year in review.” (Click on the titles to go to the webpage with the poem on it.

Monday November 5      Down to the Wire
Monday October 29      Souls to the Polls
Sunday October 28      America   
Saturday October 22    Insight
Wednesday October 17   Obama Up
Tuesday October 16     Malarky
Friday, October 12     War on Reality
Thursday October 4     Debate
Monday September 24    Switching to Dems
Wednesday September 19 Romney Controversy
Saturday September 15  GOP Lacks Blacks
Wednesday September 13 Libya, Obama, and Romney
Monday September 10    Do Little Congress  
Sunday September 9     Dueling Conventions
Friday September 7     Four More Years
Tuesday September 4    Two Peas in a Pod
Saturday September 1   The Empty Chair
Wednesday August 29    Nominee Romney
Thursday August 23     Legitimate Lunkheads
Sunday August 12       Romney’s VP Pick
Friday August 3        Obama Talks Taxes
Tuesday July 31        Romney Rouses Outrage
Friday July 13         Politicians Drone On
Saturday July 7        Obama on the Road
Tuesday June 26        #DontDoubleMyRate
Friday June 15         Stop the Voter Purge
Wednesday June 13      Republicans Don’t Especially Love Mitt Romney
Tuesday May 29         Obama Delivers for Veterans
Thursday May 10        Obama Endorses Gay Marriage
Saturday March 24      Obama on Trayvon
Monday February 20     Obama Will Win Florida
Sunday February 5      Obama Focused
Wednesday February 1   Florida Romp
Sunday January 22      Beating Obama
Tuesday January 24     Black Voter

Saturday, November 3, 2012

PSA Poetry Today

It's been a long campaign.  I know Obama is favored to win, but there's no such thing as a sure thing.  So I'm reminding my readers to vote for Obama, especially if you live in Ohio and Florida.

Get Out the Vote

Obama’s campaign,
Romney’s campaign,
chasing every last vote
in the Sunshine State—
the precious votes. 

Regular voters
Occasional voters
New voters
Early voters
Election-day voters
Armies of volunteers

It’s going to come down
to who comes out.

A long campaign will come to an end on Tuesday.  Cast yur precious vote for Obama so this country can continue to move forward.

© 2012 Catherine Giordano

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Gridiron Girls

by Catherine Giordano

Someimes I write a news print poem that just begs to be rewritten without the restrictions of the form.  You can read the original Gridiron Girls and compare it to my rewrite.

Gridiron Girls

Girls are sugar and spice and everything nice?
Girls are all frilly and pink?
Girls are all dainty and sweet?
Forget the stereotypical image.
Meet the Gridiron Girls!

These girls don’t care what you think.

These girls love the punishing pursuit of football—
Tackle football.

These girls love blood-stained uniforms.
They love the dirt, the sweat, the spit,
the feel of their muscles, flexing, contracting, pulsating.

These girls give it their all.
These girls love it all.

These girls are women,
women who have the gall
to play the gridiron sport
in an all-women’s league
crossing the line of scrimmage.

Oh the horror; the unspeakable horror.

Why on earth would women want to play tackle football?
Why on earth would men want to play tackle football?
They enjoy it.

Let your little girls play tackle football,
and when they are women, they will be unbreakable.

© 2012 Catherine Giordano

The picture is meant as an ironic comment on the poem.

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