Saturday, December 31, 2011

C is for CONNECTICUT CRANDALL, 2012


Another 365 days have passed and the noise of 2011 will peak at the drop of the New Year's ball this evening. I have learned one thing this year: posting noises (videos) takes up more memory than posting text alone. With that said, I am resting the Cacophony of the year with my eyes set on the new world in Connecticut and its close proximity to New York City.

2012 is the year of Connecticut Crandall.

When I bought Douglas Coupland's new book (he's my favorite author) as an end-of-the-year present to myself, I thought of Cookie Monster, the ending of Cacophony, the Craziness of my dissertation, and the way the year will Cascade into another 365 days. For these reasons, I will stick with the alliteration.

Goodbye 2011 and hello to the millenial dozen.

It's about Crandall in Connecticut in 2012 and I hope you will join me as I continue to learn, grow, and evolve with a new state of mind - just a little east of the New York one.

Please join me in the new location for the next 365 days.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wow, 2011 is almost over


And I am finally catching up with the times through the purchase of an Apple IPhone and the introduction of Angry Birds, Words with Friends, and vocal text messaging. Nice to have a device that doesn't allow me much time away from it. Its just what I needed - access to the digital world 24/7 with more distractions and interruptions.

I am far from a luddite but I do long for the days where tv was the only white noise in the world and when you still could curl up on the couch and tune everyone out. Now I hear ding, Ding, Ping, ping all the time with a beckoning for more work to be done (or another word to be played).

I suppose 2012 will be the year of negotiating priorities with the world in the palm of my hands. I look forward to it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

They're back


Lots of good news yesterday, including a new puppy, Cynde's birthday, and possibliy...POSSIBLY...an offer on my house that will go through. In the meantime, the MUCINEX goblins have returned and are infesting both my mom and me. For her, they've moved into the chest and for me, they're hovering in the left nasal passage.

Nothing like the crud to add funk to an otherwise happy day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cynderballz! It's Your Birthday!


Well, IzzyBella, you are entering a wonderful home of love, hectic noise, chaos, cleaning frenzies, and bizarre reenactments where your new mother will occasionally lip sync to her favorite music, including Jack Wagner's.

Welcome to the family. May you chew what you will, but spare everything that is Cynde's. The rest of the items in that home are all yours.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

lights


I have never been able to go to Lights on the Lake, but yesterday I walked it with my friend Rhiannon and it was a nice, post Christmas experiment. I am not sure I would like to do it from a car, but it was nice to walk Onondaga Lake Park. Exercise, good company, and nice lights. It felt good to move and reflect. I am thankful for the experience.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It could always be worse


And as the record books take note of another holiday, I am most sure this will be a more memorable one. It's all good.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas


My favorite xmas song made in to beatbox. Go 21st century remix, baby. And have a blessed, beautiful, and magical day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

They Made It A Musical!


My favorite Christmas special ever is not a theatrical production. Go U.S.A! Keep it corny and keep it real! I want to be in a production of it next year. I want to play the Mayor Frog.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nikki 2012


Got to see Nikki in an early run through of her JV show dedicated to the Taj Mahal. Rumor is the backdrop is amazing and, for a preview peak, the girls looked really good. I am sad I won't be around throughout her season.

I think the woman with the nose ring in the video looks sort of like my niece. Perhaps my sister will let me take her daughter to get hers pierced. She's look good with a few jewels dangling from her nostril like golden boogers.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This Time Next Year


We dangle carrots before us in odd ways. Rumor has it that THE HOBBIT will premier in December, 2012. Although it is not the same story of Tolkien's other trilogy, it does provide another angle. Coupled with Peter Jackson's brilliance, the anticipation for the next 365 days. Might even be worth a high theater price and a bucket of popcorn.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Remember this, Mike?


I was thinking about Sammy Hagar as cars flew by me going 75 mph today on 95. The speed limit is 55, I think, maybe 65, but I was driving slow. I was thinking, "Man, do you remember when the max was 55? No wonder he wrote the song."

I wonder if speed limits go up when the pace of life also goes up. Of course, in southern Connecticut, it is lucky to get traffic moving above a crawl so today was rather lucky. For those you you who see little traffic in a day, feel fortunate. I am thinking about the back roads between Hamilton and Sherburne, New York, and the complete emancipation of open roads. It is hard for me to imagine that locations like that still exist. Instead, I live a bumper to bumper existence.

I am thankful for my books on c.d. - they make sitting in traffic tolerable.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hynka Style

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When I returned from Syracuse, my administrative assistant, Lois, decorated my office so I would feel like home. I complained about the awful sour milk smell and she hung air fresheners in the room and made a Christmas tree from branches she found outside the office. It was a wonderful surprise and it has made my week back in Fairfield festive and amusing.

Unfortunately, the older I get the more frantic the holiday season seems to be. I wish I had more down time to enjoy it all.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Summarizing 2011 with an Xmas parody


The year of Charlie Sheen. That is how the last 365 days might best be remembered. Winning. Got to love the ability to rewrite a classic! Funny stuff.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! In just a few days, you can share with me new recordings on your Road Runner DVR. How exciting is that?
I am anxious in my curiosity. What did she tape for me this time? Will it be Marlena and Roman? Sharon Osborne and Steve Tyler making out in front of Ozzie? A makeover of one of Chubby's regulars? Only time will tell.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Baby it's Cold Outside, but it's not snowing


Not that I want to shovel, but I feel like I should have a reason to be trapped inside grading all day. When I ran, I learned it was cold, but there were no flakes. I hear it is falling north and northeast of here, but not in these parts. I'm not asking for it, but with my xmas lights and couch-potato need, I would have enjoyed seeing white falling from the sky. Better yet, I would have LOVED to have a fire lit in my wood-burning stone. Alas, I don't have one any more.

Ah, but I have warm blankets and the potential to sleep in. I doubt I will, but I could dream, right?

Willie Nelson and Norah Jones. Really?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another Empire of Tacky


I was introduced to another story of ridiculous items for cheap prices. It is Ollie's meets Big Lots and, for a stupid mind like mine, I couldn't be happier. I wouldn't buy food there (that sort of freaks me out) but they did have wonderful, moronic gifts.

And I am very thankful today because last night I was taken out by new friends to celebrate my week and they bought me B-Movie figurines. They are little people running away in terror from a giant Teddy Bear from Outer Space. Talk about a perfect gift. It's so awesome, I'm afraid to take them out of the plastic.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reflection

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For years, I have listened to Natalie Merchant when I needed just the right words.

The words are few but the images of laughter, advice. listening, conversations, and support are many.

My greatest learning has occurred through relationships and community.

In the tradition of reflecting sonically and visually, I upload my thanks with love.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Times of Our Lives


I listened to Tom Brokaw's THE TIMES OF OUR LIVES on my way home yesterday where he reflected on his history, his personal witnesses, the changes he's experienced, and the predictions he made of what may come. Through facts, interviews, reflexivity, and speculation, he makes a case for a change America that still, he hopes, has a pulse to continue its unique mission.

If you get a chance to read his words, please do. I will return my copy of the audio book to NOPL during the holidays.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

3..2..1..


This is all that is going through my head.
That, and the fact that 12/13/11, 1 to 3, the 3,2,1 of the last four years will race through its final count down.

I don't have anniversaries. I rarely remember birthdays. Yet, this date I think will stay in my head for some time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lady Smith Black Mambazo


Sue McV and I went to see Lady Smith Black Mambazo when I first lived in Kentucky. I remember the concert at the Kentucky Center of the Arts as one of the memorable shows I've ever attended. Their music often pops up on my IPod and I always find it inspirational to run with.

There is something about the blending of their voices that seems rather celestial to me. It's spiritual and deep.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lights


One of the best parts of December is driving to and from locations at night and seeing the light displays on houses. I do my own home in white lights and keep it simple, but I'm mesmerized by the tackier, outrageous, and tantalizing houses with extravagant luminescence. In my dream world, I too have the power to dazzle the cold night skies with an abundance of holiday lights.

The tackier the better.

This is for everyone who shines a few bulbs in celebration of the holiday season. This man appreciates them, especially as I listen to Christmas carols and drive about town.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Silver and Gold


When I was a kid, Silver and Gold seemed like a dry song sung by a plump snowman, but now that I'm older, I see it as a classic part of the season necessary to keep the traditions going forward. It is the catalyst for all the Christmas specials to come. I now love the song and look forward to the singing snow man.

Let it bring snow flakes into your dreams. And let Rudolph follow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mockingbird


My colleague and two of her graduate students led a community event last night over the reading of Kathryn Erskine's MOCKINGBIRD. I read it in Chicago and fell in love with it. When I arrived to the book talk it was all 6th grade students. I had to laugh. I thought it would be all adults. Even so, the kids ran the show and had brilliant insight. I also loved that many generations discussed the book together, transcending the barriers of school/out-of-school literacy.

The middle school book is about a young woman with Asperger's who is trying to help her father (and herself) come to terms with the emotional loss of her brother who was killed in a school shooting. Written from the perspective of the young girl, the text does a phenomenal job addressing ways to bring closure to tragedies, but it also introduces the pure integrity of a child who is labeled on the spectrum.

I was impressed by how well the author made the character a strong role model for youth. I say, "MUST READ" peeps.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On What Standard?


Here's my Tuesday morning rant. Standardization. Do we really want this?

I'm talking about standardized testing en masse....where kindergarteners are now taking more tests in a given week to measure where they are than they are being taught to get them to where they should be. The testing industry runs schools and administrators, fearing public pressures (and private), are mandating more and more assessments during school so they can gage where the scores will be when the actual test arrives.

This is where I laugh. I am picturing Lucy (I LOVE LUCY) trying to keep up with the conveyor belt. It doesn't work. Human beings are not replicable in a machine and I call on Bart Simpson here to prove this. If all we do is test, then we don't create minds like Gary Larson, Bill Watterson, Judy Tenuta - or do we? Personally, I think the majority of students (and their teachers) see testing as STUPID, yet do it in the name of conformity. It is endured because that is way the system is policed.

Yet, beyond such drill, creativity and innovation exist. You have to have a Trey Parker and Matt Stone sense of humor to survive the schooling machine because it is absolutely ridiculous.

My career aptitude tests predicted me to be #1 - a doctor, #2 - a priest, and #3 - a farmer. I wanted to be Oprah Winfrey, however, and became a teacher. In my mind, that role encompasses all three, but these tests don't give space for writers to explicate why. It's not neat, tidy, or easy to replicate.

The more I interact with students and teachers, the more I see their desire to rebuild the schooling systems. Teachers want to teach, students want to learn, but the system completely shuts down either from happening.

Here, I suppose, I align with postmdodernists of late capitalism...it's an ugly truth. Everything is a percentage of a global market and viewed in relation to how the rich can get richer. Yuck. I just want to be happy and to help others find happiness. How foolish to think money does that (he writes, not knowing whether or not it actually does).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fall Six-Word Memoirs

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My Fairfield composers submitted six-word memoirs on a brief mini-lesson on digital possibilities. I upload them today to share with the noise of 2011 and to add their thinking about concise statements. Such memoirs always make me intrigued to hear more of the story. They are evidence, again, of the true individuality of the human condition.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Games of Hunger


I am always late to the arena. Perhaps that is why I didn't pick up THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins until my flight back from Florida. I began the book in the airport and stayed up late to finish it. I couldn't put it down and was mesmerized by the story, the way it was written, and how it led to a desire for more, more, more. I know, too, that a movie is heading our way.

Here's where I'm already disappointed, though. I watched the trailer after finishing the book. My imagination had been bursting for 370 pages and I saw the world in a completely new way. Viewing the trailer I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Unlike the Harry Potter series, the preview didn't align with my imagination. I suppose it is only an interpretation and I shouldn't be critical of a film. The book was spectacular, so the film needs to be the same. I want the spectacle to continue the spectacle.

Even so, the story is phenomenal: LORD OF THE FLIES meets THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME meets THE GIVER meets WOMAN WARRIOR. All three books are out and it will take everything in my power not to give in to my temptation to read the next two in the series --- the first book was that intriguing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Florida, Departed


Someone needs to work on a classier Holiday song for Friday. I do agree, though, that xmas in Florida would be extremely strange - the palm trees, the temperatures, the ocean. Actually, I think it might be quite nice. Hmmmm.

No snow. Now winter jackets. Yikes. That doesn't sound like Christmas at all.

Hello Connecticut. I'm back for a very short while.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An Nostalgic Run


I took a break from the conference to drive to St. Augustine and went for a run from the ol' Brown School La Fiesta to the pier and back. It was too cold to go in the water, but I did get to run along the lapping shoreline and have the cushion of sand to settle my stride.

It brought back all the memories from 2000 to 2007 when we brought seniors here (in 2000, only for a day). As I collect homes around the planet, this is one where my soul feels most settled. Sea food. Ocean. Palm trees and Lizards. It's all good and I hope that those who live here enjoy what they have. It's a special location.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

everybody


I thought of this video yesterday on my way home from the conference when I was stuck in traffic in I-95 in Jacksonville. I'm still not sure what was going on, but five lanes funneled into one lane to see 150 construction workers standing over a tub of materials. It was a lot of slow moving traffic for an hour to finally get to the point of seeing all the workers surrounding one object (and this was at 11:43 at night). Go figure.

Either way, I give into the ubiquitous nature of traffic and the inevitable screaming that goes on in cars cursing the inability to move. It is extremely frustrating.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mentor


One of the hightlights of the Literacy Research Association from this point on will be my reunions with my mentor, chair, advisor, and all-around guru, Kelly Chandler-Olcott. Kelly took me under her wing in 2007 as I transitioned out of the Kentucky classroom and into the national arena of literacy scholarship. Her patience, brilliance, and stellar guidance is a brand if mentoring that I'm unlikely to ever experience again in such full force, dedication, devotion, and utmost respect. She is central to much I know and I feel it has been a tremendous honor to have her sage expertise for this part of the journey. Words do not express my appreciation for all she's done for me.

In the noise of the everyday, it will be Kelly's tough questioning, strict revision, shrewd eye for editing, and absolute brilliance as an academic that will be carried forth in every step of my future. I am truly thankful for her wisdom and know, each and every day, that I'm a better man because of it. I am a lucky son of a Butch - that is for sure.