Bulletin Board, excerpt

From (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board, October 22, 2004

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Writes Poet X of PDX: "I'm a 'Jeopardy!' junkie and don't mind watching Saturday's syndicated reruns of old shows. Today (Saturday), a first-time challenger was introduced who I remember as a repeat champ a few years back. I know who's about to win this game!

"When Ken Jennings's games hit syndication, they'll run an entire year of Saturdays!

"Awhile back, I said that the 'picked up his hammer and saw' verse was the closest my grandma came to telling a joke. I didn't mean to imply that she was humorless. It's the easiest thing to remember her gentle giggling. She found humor in plenty of everyday things; it's just that jokes, per se, weren't her usual form.

"However, I frequently recall a riddle she asked when I was a child:

" 'What happened to the man who (let go a posterior breeze) in church?'

" 'He had to sit in his own pew.'

"Because I learned it when I was so young, that joke remains to me the epitome of a joke that's Older Than the Hills.

"Speaking of handles: Like a few other contributors, I'm on the second incarnation of mine. Back in BB's earliest days (the topic that got me hooked was discussion of 'Who killed Laura Palmer?' on 'Twin Peaks'; to give you an idea of the year: '90-'91 [Bulletin Board interjects, to give you a better idea: The headline for Bulletin Board on April 26, 1990 a month to the day after the column began was: "Who killed Laura Palmer? You make the call"), which I remember well, I had suffered a creative (writing) dry spell long enough to consider myself a 'past poet' and called myself Poet Past.

"That was followed by the move to Portland (PDX, according to our airport designation and local [ego-inflated reference to LAX] shorthand), Ore., where I discovered a trivia game which demanded a log-in handle of six letters or less. Still considering myself an ex-poet, I christened myself Poet X for that game. It became a name that stuck to the point where, like 'Norm!' being called out on 'Cheers,' I'd be greeted with 'Poet!' upon entering the bar where I played the trivia game.

"That I've returned to writing (and returned to lapses in writing) since adopting the name that was meant to say I'm an 'ex-poet' doesn't bother me, of course, because of the flexibility and enigmatic quality of 'X.' It's more than just a handle for me; it's a separate identity. When I set up a personal Web site (now it would be called a 'blog') back in the late 1990s, it was a natural to attribute it to 'Poet X.'

"Although it'[s been a few years now since I've been in the bar or played trivia as 'Poet X,' I'd still turn if someone were to call out 'Poet!' as if a name. That's me."

BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: Wouldn't "That is I" be not only more grammatical, but also more poetical?