Thursday, December 30, 2010

Plugging A Blog: (Can you DO that?)

Just a quick plug for another blog.  My other blog.  

I started Baker'sTake in April 2008.  It was to be poetry and opinion pieces.  The poetry just didn't seem to fit with my opinions, so I set up Efficient Agony in 2009.  After that, I didn't do much writing on Baker'sTake.  

Lately I've been trying to make time to write there a bit more often. If you venture over there's no telling what you'll think about the rants, raves and screeds I post.  One might think I'm a rabid conservative, or liberal socialist, or just plain nuts.  I'm none of the first two, but some of the third!  

Anyway, I have had Baker'sTake in my blog list for some time now. Have a visit if you like.  Maybe you'll agree, disagree, be fired-up, angered, or none of the above. Sometimes I'll be serious, sometimes not. But it further serves to help keep me off the streets! 

Thanks to all who have been a support and inspiration!  I truly appreciate your support, comments, and blogging friendships!  

December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Magpie Tales Photo Prompt 46: Wooden Soul

wooden soul

did I 
doff a 
heart for

beside your 
wooden soul
even my 
hoary hands
now wrinkled 

softer than

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo courtesy of Tess/Willow at Magpie Tales 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

day of alms 

seek a posture of 

this day 
in all its revelry 
is a day of alms 

and quiet 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo created by Pastor Stevan Sheets, Shippensburg, PA.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Christmas Music Rant: Just Indulge Me, Please!!


It's nearly over.  But before anyone calls me a Scrooge, indulge me, please.  Just lighten up, 'cause this little rant comes from 30 years of retail and having to fight the wars of some of the worst of the worst of shoppers who, well, you know what they do...

But this isn't about that.  This is about Christmas music.  At work we listen to the same loop of songs played through infinity, it seems, from early November until after Christmas.  This year's selection had to have been selected from the worst of karaoke night.

And online today, there is an article by Paul Grein on a music blog called "Chart Watch" that talks about the "top-selling holiday song of all time," and how it "beats out seasonal classics from Bing Crosby and Burl Ives".

The song?  "All I Want For Christmas Is You."

The artist?  Mariah Carey.  Oh puleeze.....stab me with a Magic Marker.

First and foremost, I'd rather scratch all 10 fingernails on a black board than to listen to the warbling, yodeling, 30 octave screeching of Mariah Carey.  Ya know, just SING.  Stop with the vocal acrobatics, already!  And if  you can vocally reach octaves that don't exist, DON'T!

Fact of the matter is this:  According to the Guinness Book Of World Records, the number one selling Christmas song of all time is "White Christmas" by good 'ol Bing, with estimated worldwide sales in excess of 50,000,000 copies.

Mariah?  1,794,000 downloads, more copies than "any other holiday song in digital history," according to Mr Grein.

Ha!  I knew it!  Digital smidgital!  Downloads! Who cares?

So here's my not so humble opinion about what artists and/or Christmas songs should NOT be played ever again:

1.  Mariah Carey.  Nuf said.
2.  Any song by pre-pubescent Michael Jackson.  Just creepy.
3.  Bruce Springsteen.  I mean, who told that man he could sing in the first place?
4.  The song "Santa Baby".  By any artist.  Rated R.
5.  The song "All I Want For Christmas Is An Alien" by Fountains of Wayne.   Huh?
6.  No Christmas "music" from ANY rap artist, Beyonce, or TLC.  Period.
7.  American Idol contestants.   Get a job.  Go back to school.
8.  "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee.  Sounds like she has the hiccups.
9.  "Little Drummer Boy."  Second most annoying Christmas song ever.  RumpumpumEEEK!
10. "Carol Of The Bells."   Most annoying Christmas song ever.  Take it into war, play it full blast at the enemy 24/7, and they'll surrender!

Oh, I could go on, but enough!  Just give me Bing, Burl, Andy, Ella, Dean, Nat, and yes, even Alvin and the Chipmunks!

Merry Christmas to you and your families!  May you all find joy, happiness, and love this coming year!

Rick Baker
Rochester, NY
December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice: Let There Be Light

abide with me

the long morning
each day 

season extolls
"abide with me,
my light 
will prevail." 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2008 by R. Burnett Baker 

Friday, December 17, 2010

On Growing Older

harbors of time

on fear we are 
fused as one
to twig beauty 
as centuries brittle 
our bones

through fading eyes 
clarity is ferried on 
memories cached in 
harbors of time 

and into sunset 
we shield our faces
as temptress light 
teases horizons 

just beyond our 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2008 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo taken by R.Baker along the Hudson River just north of the George Washington Bridge, 2008. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"I've witnessed all suffering,"
the jaded one spoke,
"no one escapes - 
season to season
reasons for living 
made prisoner by 

"I've swallowed all sadness," 
the jaded one mused, 
"joy heralds darkness,
anger fells peace, 
reflections of lives 
we've squandered 
and used." 

"I've heeded each silence," 
the jaded one thought,
"with eyes wide open
eternity sleeps for 
paradise dreamed, 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo by Tess Kincaid, "Magpie Tales" 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tis The Season

we are risen

the animus 
of our lives, 
boxed shelved faced
fronted gimmicked
disposable new
improved door-busted

praise the lord 
along the aisles
between shelves 
of pietistic fervor,

for we are risen
and paid for: 

the season of 
our cross to 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Magpie Tales Photo Prompt 44: Slay The Beast


against a wall
a crossbow, 
I thought.

from a
hilltop trigger
I'll pierce
the heart 
of winter,

slay the 
beast of 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo courtesy of "Willow" at Magpie Tales 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Settles In

December 1st, the beginning of meteorological winter, did not disappoint.  Western New York is snow covered.  More is on the way throughout this coming week.

I don't really like the idea of re-posting previous poems, but here goes.  This is one of my own favorites and since it is nearly two years old, I've decided to share it again.  


wind sun snow

my breath cloud
on frozen        wind

to winter's       sun 

fearful of 
the virgin 

Poem © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo taken by R. Baker in Highland Park, Rochester, NY, February 2009. 

Monday, December 6, 2010


there were
prayers and 

I whispered
to my 
curious soul, 
"be silent." 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2005 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo taken by R. Baker at Wang Tai Sin Temple, Hong Kong, 2005

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Six Months Later

the gloaming

half a year
is twice a 

and I've 
tried to 
the last time
I heard your

when you 
left us we 
you and 
carried on
with our 

the precipice 
of the gloaming
taunts the 
memory of 
our yesterdays, 

but not 
the strength 
of your 

(To the memory of Eugene M. Baker, 1923-2010)

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo© 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Magpie Tales Photo Prompt 43

two steps 

virgin snow 
dares footprints.

I want to peer 
inside your 
windowed door,

to leave my mark
two steps at a time.

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo courtesy of Willow @ "Magpie Tales" 

Monday, November 29, 2010

tides of rapture 

that bridge 
an ocean 
met our bay 
with tides of 
caressing the

roiling fog
merged water 
and cityscape
to melodies of
wind on steel. 

yearning and chill 
held us fast:  

was the 
road beyond. 

Poem ©2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Efficient Agony, Indeed

(Photo of Black Friday "shoppers" from The

This is a weekend for which I have strong opinions.  It is Thanksgiving weekend.  It should be about reflection and celebration of family, friends, and the abundance in our collective American lives.  But I am a cynic.  

Yes, after nearly 30 years in retail, I am a cynic.  I believe that the Thanksgiving/Christmas "holiday" season is an abomination. And we all have created it and allow it to happen.  Yes, many of us do give thanks, and many Christians do celebrate the Christmas season in the spirit of love and giving.  

But let's be honest, folks:  We all, me included,  participate in this travesty of economic madness.  Not enough of us stand up and make noise about how shallow it's all become.  So shallow, that, in my opinion, there isn't any water in the pool. 

I work in retail.  So I'm part of this madness.  I have to pay the bills like everyone else.  But I absolutely do NOT shop this weekend.  Every year I've tried to "encourage" my friends and family to stay at home this weekend and savor the time.  But it's not enough.  The madness continues and grows year after year.  

And for that, we've collectively created an efficient agony, indeed. 

Below I'm reposting two essays from my other blog "BakersTake" that I wrote in 2008 and 2009.  Just as a reminder. The second one, "Single File, Please, Or You Will Be Shot" was a follow-up to the "Black Friday, Blood Red" essay.  Some of you may take offense to a few of my statements, but I make no apologies and stand by my feelings.  

In the news just this morning, more mindboggled "shoppers" were trampled as they sprinted through ONE door at a Target in North Buffalo, New York early Thursday morning.  ( see CNN online) 

Thankfully no one was killed, but do we learn NOTHING from the recent past?  

Has Target heard NOTHING about Wal-Mart's past travesty? 

Are we, as consumers, just that stupid to continue this pathetic insanity every stinking year?  

I sincerely wish everyone well, and hope that as a nation, we can return to the meanings of our holidays, celebrating them with kindness and love. I have faith that my blogging friends are kinder, more thoughtful, and sensitive souls.  Let that be a guide and inspiration for celebrating the truly important aspects of our lives.   

November 27, 2010

Black Friday, Blood Red
(Originally posted on "BakersTake",  November 28, 2008)

On Thursday we gave thanks.  This Friday morning we trampled a man to death. 

Yes, at 5AM today Long Island, NY  Wal-Mart employee, Mr. Jdimytai Damour, trying to control the doors just before opening, was knocked down by crazed shoppers forcing their way into the store, running for those oh so freakin important bargains.  

They trampled him to death.  

All for Samsung flatscreen TV's, Bissel vacuum cleaners, and The Incredible Hulk DVD's for $9.  Black Friday has taken on, not the color of green, but the color of blood red.  

Happy Thanksgiving!  Merry freakin Christmas!  

Having been in retail for over 25 years, I long ago lost any respect for customers overall, and I absolutely loathe the holiday period from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.  As my college classmate, columnist,  and close friend Andrew T. Durham has said many times, "Everything has the potential to be meaningless."  Today selfish, greedy, thoughtless, lowlife, consuming scum in a New York Wal-Mart showed that to be true.  

A Wal-Mart spokesman issued a statement today saying that the security and safety of Wal-Mart employees is a "top priority."  A meaningless statement.  Otherwise Mr. Damour would be alive tonight. 

And ALL retailers must be held accountable for this as well.  They have purposely created the monsters called customers who literally commit manslaughter to boost traffic, sales, and profits in the name of free enterprise and yes, Jesus!   

If security and safety were a priority for any retailer, none of them would be open at 4AM or 5AM or 6AM.  Period.  They would open when daylight appeared.  They would have ample security for crowd control.  And ideally they would not have these idiotic "door buster" sales and promotions to lure these braindead shoppers to their doors in the first place. 

None of these shoppers - I repeat NONE of them - are shopping early in the spirit of love and giving.  No, these jackasses are shopping for themselves.  I've seen them, waited on them, and been "polite" to them (meaningless) just to satisfy the corporate masters' desire for higher comp sales.   

None of these retailers'  balance sheets,  profit margins,  shareholders, or dividends are important enough to help participate in the meaningless death of an employee. The authorities should ensure that Wal-Mart is heavily penalized in some way as a form of accountability.  And if, through reviewing surveillance videos, the police can identify and arrest those responsible directly and indirectly for the depraved indifference that caused Mr. Damour's death, they should be put in prison for life as examples to other crapheaded shoppers who push, shove and potentially kill to buy junk they don't need with money they don't have.  Let 'em rot in jail! 

And folks, I'm being restrained here as to how I really feel about retail and customers during this time of year.  It was Harry Selfridge of Selfridge Department Store in London who, in 1909 coined the phrase "The Customer Is Always Right."  It's hogwash.  

Today customers should be ashamed of themselves.  They could never be more wrong as they were in Long Island this morning.  

Today retailers should be ashamed of themselves.  They could never be more wrong about making Black Friday green:  Their dollars are the color of blood red. 

Merry Christmas! 


Single File, Please, Or You WILL Be Shot
(Originally posted on "BakersTake" November 14, 2009) 

That's my little Black Friday fantasy.  That nasty little day is less than two weeks away, but in my perfect world, there would be no Black Friday. Thanksgiving would be a four day holiday with blue laws in effect.  Gas stations and grocery stores would be allowed to open.  That's it. No Target.  No Sears.  No Best Buy.  And especially NO WAL-MART. 

And come Monday morning, stores would be allowed to open their REGULAR hours.  Period. 

I'm here to remind you all of Mr. Jdimytai Damour, the part time Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death as he opened the doors on Black Friday last year in Long Island, New York. I wrote about that last November in my essay titled "Black Friday, Blood Red."  

This week I heard about a website called  Oh yeah!  They give you all the latest about door busters (aptly named) in various retailers, and these mercenary businesses are helping sponsor this site.  God only knows how many websites and blogs there are out there to fire up a little excitement among the throngs of recession-weary consumers.  No doubt they'll be lining up at 2am to purchase the latest iWad.  

As for Wal-Mart, I suggested last year that they should have been held accountable for the death of Mr. Damour, as well as the serious injuries sustained by a pregnant woman whose fate I never heard any more about.  

Well, Wal-Mart got a slap on the wrist.  Had to set up a $400,000 "victim's compensation" fund, and give $1.5million to social services programs and nonprofit groups!  Are you kidding me?  Social services programs?  Let me go out on a politically incorrect limb here and suggest that some of those programs may be offering financial benefits to the very "customers" who trampled Mr. Damour to death!  

Additionally, Wal-Mart was required to create crowd management plans for all of its New York stores.  You know:  How to enter the store. (Single file, please, or you WILL be shot!) Where to place the 50 cent plasma TV's.  Check out line control.  Store exit procedures and so on. Supposedly the company consulted with safety experts who have experience with the Super Bowl, Olympics, and concerts.  I'm sure Mr. Damour's family takes great comfort in all that. 

So, I'm here to request that NONE of you participate in Black Friday.  If you do:  Shame on you! 

And if you know anyone who does participate in this travesty of commerce, do all you can to convince them to STOP IT NOW.  

Enjoy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the three days following by sharing them quietly with friends, family, or alone if that be the case.  And do it with peace and love in your hearts! 

Rick B. Baker 
November 14, 2009
Rochester, NY 

© 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

silk on skin

the light of 
my desires
I shield 
my eyes 
and vex not 
the goddess
of mercy. 

serenity is 
velvet to the

silk on

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo © 2005 by R. Burnett Baker 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Magpie Tales Photo Prompt 42: Trophy of Power

brass posing

trophy of 
my power
took shape
and its footing
on the 

was the 
bell of brass

in the 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo courtesy of Willow at "Magpie Tales" 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

to rebel




Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2005 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo of an outdoor wall sculpture in Hong Kong taken by R. Baker, 2005

Friday, November 19, 2010

across an eon

not unlike 
summer thunder, 
cascading noise 
swallows pebbles,
the strand 
under waves 
of my 

along a 
lover's brink 
I stumble across 
an eon of 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Magpie Tales Photo Prompt 41: Illusions of Time

as Chuang Tzu dreams

am I a man 
dreaming I'm a butterfly,
or a butterfly 
dreaming I'm a man? 

am I eleven 
on my face, 
or nine 
from inside out? 

hour hand dreams
circle time, 

fragments and 
on the 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo courtesy of Willow from "Magpie Tales" 

Monday, November 15, 2010

upon leaves

I walk lightly
and with reverence
upon leaves,

careful not to 
disturb what 
cannot be 

on the chill of 
warm November 
colors I follow 
my vapored breath
through the 

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker