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.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday Song


This was the song I drove with from the airport to the hotel. I have always found it catchy, and at the same time, it's symbolic of the last few years. I post it today as theme music from Jacksonville, Florida.

By the time you hear it, I'm hoping I had a good night sleep, too, in my Best Western hotel.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Heading to LRA 2011


Last year was in Ft. Worth, Texas, and this year I'm off to Jacksonville, Florida - where for many years my seniors and I landed to celebrate their graduation from high school. I don't present until Saturday, but I look forward to seeing many friends accrued over the last three years. I don't know many of the faces in this video, but I know some.

And I love that a song for Kathy Hinchman's birthday concludes the video...we will celebrate another this Friday night in honor of her Syracuse University presence and commitment to this conference. I look forward to landing and seeing the city once again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Testimony To Her Power


I tried to find Ruth Stone reading her poetry, but found this clip instead. Ironically, it is a video rendition of one of her poems created by a student at Kentucky Country Day (KCD). I find it fascinating that a student took her words and created a video of images based on her poem, "In The Next Galaxy" at a school the Brown School often played in sports. It is testimony to the digital age and how visuals can be another interpretive tool to show how a student makes meaning from another's words. I'm also interested in how the student chose music to coincide with the interpretation of Ruth Stone's work.

Ruth Stone died last week in Vermont. I think of her often as one of my greatest inspirations and my time spent with her as an undergraduate was irreplaceable. When I did Bread Loaf School of English and lived in Rochester, Vermont, I contacted her and thanked her for all her wisdom. We had a great talk and I sent her copies of poems I wrote in recognition of her powerful influence on my life.

I will spend a few minutes today revisiting my words. RIP.

Rip

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thinking Ahead


It's the time of year to think ahead, and to help my family choose something I need for under the Christmas tree. So, I create this list to better assist them and their shopping desires.

10. A toaster oven (I have no ability to make toast)
9. My weedwacker went whack. Kaput.
8. My electric drill went with the weedwacker.
7. A winter coat.
6. Wind Up toys - I gave most of mine away.
5. Ties - I like ties.
4. This Douglas Coupland book (I don't have it)
3. A new dog. I miss Baby (but I can't have a dog)
2. A New SUV (it's on my horizon)
1. Their company - I always enjoy that.

Actually, as usual, I don't want anything, really. I'm just thankful to be part of the holiday festivities.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

And a song to drive to


One of my favorite songs came on when I was driving from Syracuse to Connecticut - of course, I also missed my exit and needed to continue to NYC and cut over on 1-95. Traffic is such a beautiful thing.

Either way, this is the song that kicked me into action for much of the late nineties, early 21st century. I had my long locks and loved the tap dancing bee girl. As long as she's tapping, I'm a happy man.

And also, I watched the Making of the Macy's Parade on NBC last night. That was extremely interesting. That is a task I wouldn't want on my plate: crowds, mother nature, choreographing timing, and missing out on the comfort of home. Even so, wow. What a great undertaking.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mart of the Sacred K


I haven't been to a K Mart in a long, long time. And luckily for me, I went on Black Friday because I ran smack into the one and only, Jodi Burnash, diva extraordinaire and lead singer of Rhythm Method. She was enroute to get her new Jeep Liberty and I was simply about looking for any excuse to be out of the house.

And as for shoppers on Black Friday. Give me a break. That is simply insane. People, are we really that pathetic?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday


Time to get in the holiday spirit now that everyone is screaming at one another and frustrated over the festivities of Thanksgiving. Tis the time to get really irritable now and to think xmas shopping, crowds, a lack of money, baking, and a lack of sleep. Aren't we thankful?

Happy day. No one punched anyone yesterday, although they came close.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

And I missed opening Night


So, my favorite friends ever have a new movie. I'm around family and not a single member invited me to opening night. That's gratitude for you.

Sorry, Kermit. I am very sorry that I couldn't be there for the 2011 debut. Blame it on every blood relative I have.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday didn't happen


I met with my advisor. I then edited in the last 24 hour marathon. Basically, this building is my metaphor. It's time to rebuild my world. The posting is late because, well, my parents computer and I currently aren't speaking. It's a PC. If Apple wants me to do a commercial for them, I will. I have good material.

Not there yet, but she's warming up


A couple more weeks, but materials were printed out today and, well, out of my hands. That is a step in the right direction. And all apologies to the RLAC copier. Lord, that more thing was sizzling by the end of the day. Poor thing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Driving Music


I was channeling Nick Drake as I packed up my office, prepared to drive to Syracuse University for meetings, and prepared for the New York state roads. By the time this posts, I will have settled in, once again, to a new destination in my November of much movement. That is why I am thankful for the calming music of Drake.

It accompanies the autumn sky nicely.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sort of like this


Flying into Tweed at New Haven airport is like stopping at a mom and pop grocery store for a loaf of bread. One runway, and not too much action. Still, flying from Philly to the airport was nice. You coast along Long Island and then slip north into Connecticut and over the sound. It's beautiful. And you know what...if Long Island was to wash away, (sorry tives), Connecticut would get the waves and become a real ocean state.

Not sure whose footage this is, but it's about the same view I had yesterday. I guess it was worth the wait of returning home. Oh, wait, I'll be on the road again very shortly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shoot


Trapped in Philly, I didn't have cameras chasing me around or watching what I ate. I did have a Philly cheesesteak in my hotel (um, at the bar. Many stories here, as I learned much about Friday night hotel bars and their clientele).

But, what can I say? This overnight stay is officially paid for by UsAir. I can't go wrong with that. What is crazy is the fact that these beds are so much nicer than the swanky ones in Chicago that were outrageously priced. We are such a strange animals, we humans. I can't figure out how we justify or make sense of anything.

Bryan

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hotel Life


What they don't tell you in their advertisement (looks nice, huh?) is that they charge by the hour for internet service - ridiculous - and their beds are made of plywood and coiled springs. Uncomfortable. The pillows, too, are rocks. Not soft.

Otherwise, it's rather nice here and worth it. As a 21st century composer, I get annoyed when hotels make money off cyberspace. At least here you can get it. In Disneyworld last year Mickey and Goofy high jacked all uses of modern communication in the name of having fun and spending $42 for a bagel and glass of orange juice. We're not held captive this year. Instead, it's more affordable and there's much going on. The city if very alive (at least that's the way it looked from windows). We were kept away from life for most of the time here.

And then I return to Connecticut. That fast. Whoosh!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Land of Da Bears


In posting two of my short Chicago stay with the National Writing Project, I am recalling John Goodman and the famous SNL skit of the Chicago Bears. The city is alive with midwestern urbanites, and their tribute to America's favorite past time always cracks me up. I wish, I suppose, I was going to game rather than meetings, but that is not what the trip is about.

Ah, my priorities are askew once again!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

off to Chicago


Well, I'm enroute to Chicago today for the NCTE/NWP conference. It made me think of Liza Minelli and the famous musical. I think this is from the remake. Not sure.

Send warm traveling wishes my way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm doing it all wrong


I believe I've hit an all-time low in my bachelor eating habits. In the stir of a chaotic life I've grown to eat 8 pm dinners of instant oatmeal in the microwave. There aren't vegetables or fruits. Just instant-packets that take two minutes to warm up. Shoot, it isn't even Ramen Pride pasta. I'm a complete loser with my poor eating habits and after watching this, I realize I'm more pathetic that I thought I was.

I so crave a salad.

Monday, November 14, 2011

There's no use


In my final sprint around the mountain, I am laughing about my own writing. Once upon a time, I thought I knew how to communicate with words, but the more I write, the more perplexed I am about the grammar rules I'm supposed to follow. I taught English for many years and, if letters from students is any indication of my performance, I seemed to know what I was doing. Yet, I only had one teacher, in 7th grade, who taught out of a grammar book. Otherwise, grammar instruction never occurred.

And I read how grammar can't be instructed unless it is in the context of what a student writes. I envy anyone who can point to the names of what things are called when they pin point the exact errors in a student's grammar. I'm like my kids. I say, "I do that because it simply sounds right. It's how I hear people talk."

Unfortunately, this is not the practice of language nazis and I am jealous that I was never in the bootcamp to learn specific rules. Instead, I was taught to be creative and to find my own way to express what I mean.

I suppose, too, I should give extra credit to all the Catholic School kids reading this who are very able to note exactly where my prose falls apart. Such individuals will always have great power over me. I don't know what it's called when I make moronic mistakes with my writing. I simply admit, "Yep. I'm an idiot."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This from West Coast soul


Thanks to Nadia, post Veteran's Day, for her posting to Facebook Marvin Gaye's national anthem. I know when I hear his voice it's going to be a good day and that soul still exists in the universe. I never heard this recording before witnessing it on Facebook and I feel thankful to have stumbled upon it. If 2011 is about stumbling upon noise, I feel I was led to one of the most magical voices of the 20th century. It would benefit our world to have man of his integrity writing lyrics with meaning and purpose.

Here's to him.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

small distractions


In the sprint of my life, I am thankful that a friend distracted me shortly yesterday through impersonations of Sylvester the Cat and reminders of Looney Tunes of yesteryear where cartoons seemed a lot more fun. I commented that each cartoon was only about six minutes long and speculated that the short-attention span of today's youth must have been known for yesterday's children. The stories aren't that long, but they're entertaining in a fun way.

Hearing the opening music, I was brought back to many joys experienced as a kid. Tweety, Bugs, Porky the Big, Pepe Le Pew, Road Runner and good ol' Elmer Fudd. A barnyard of friends before Elmo stole the show and tranformers captivated a more electronic audience.

So, this is posted as a memory. If you have a few minutes, you may walk down nostalgia lane.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I guess this will do


Seemed like I received a lot of emails yesterday with doomsday reports about America's future, education, the economy, and global reality. I wondered if the chaos is more of the same, but that modern tools allow more people to be worried about it all. I kept thinking, "Man, is chicken little in charge or what?"

The optimistic in me feels today is as bad as it's always been, but equally as good. The pessimistic joins chicken little on the farm of doom. I do think, however, that life is never better than it is right now or ever worse. It's the same. Our attitudes are what we have to factor in.

Those calling for the end of the world, I always speculate, "if only we could be so lucky." I can only predict one thing about what's to come: it will be crappy and beautiful, amazing and shitty.

The Greeks had it right. Joy and pain.

May you get all your wishes this 11/11/11. Cool, historical day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's okay, Charlie Brown


Say hello to Juliette for me. Give my regards to Chipper. Let Harley know I'm thinking of him. Keep an eye out for Zoie and find a tennis ball for Smoker. Tell Dusty, the old guy, he's still on my mind. Remind Jake he's missed. Look for a pal named Frankie. I think you'll like him. Perhaps Catt with two t's will finally play with you.

But most of all, R.I.P., Baby. You served your purpose and remained with me through a lot of transitions and life changes. You kept me centered, helped me to remain sane, and reminded me that it's good to lay in the sun every once in a while.

You deserve to rest. I was a hard person to keep track of, but I know you enjoyed the long walks as much as I did. Be free. How many dogs have spent their life between Kentucky and New York? Not many. You'll always be my beautiful Baby and I know, my Baby's mama, Lacey, loved you as much as I did.

And you owe much to Butch and Sue. They did a lot for you. Keep an eye on them, okay?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

where I am


Sneezing. Sneezing, and Sneezing.

In fact, I leaned over student today to give her help, and I had to back off. I came so close to having snot run out of my nose and onto her paper. I'm not sure what is in the air, but my allergies are out of whack. So, I'm back to Nyquil territory so I can sleep without my sneezes keeping me up all night.

I need the rest. Rest will rejuvenate me to fight on.

Is this Nathan Lane in the Nyquil commercial? Is this before he became famous? It sure looks like him.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

31 years ago


I was looking for a Donahue clip that snowed him in full action - my memory of his afternoon talk show. I used to watch it and he drove me nuts. He's ask a question and then totally talk over his guests as he projected his thoughts over them. This clip, though, seems moderate. He's actually listening.

Why am I posting this? Well, I was thinking about life in its simpler days where there were fewer commentators and news was more reliable. I started to reflect on how Donahue offered his opinions, but also how there were few opinions on television. Now there are many. I can't help but think this is the result of prosperity. The more prosperity, the more voices allowed to articulate their thoughts.

Yet, this was 31 years ago. Has any of it changed? For those in my generation, do we know a world that doesn't rely on mass media, consumer choices, and privilege? I don't think so. To put his show in context, history must be revisited. When did American truly begin to seek its mission of true diversity - perhaps after the 1960s and the civil protests. How did these protests come to be? Children of men and women who worked in factories to build prosperity in this nation and who fought in wars overseas to secure stability in the Unites States so others could benefit from its fortune.

31 years later, we have the highest number of immigrants in U.S. history and their coming here for jobs, opportunities and hope that they weren't allowed at home. Whether or not our nation has the resources to sustain their dreams is an item for speculation. If schools are an indication - including higher education - then I might grow cynical. What we need is a visionary who works for social justice, who is practical with the resources that are needed to make it happen, and who puts people to work, holding them accountable. This might also require a vision that caps/contains the extreme wealth that has grown amok in the 21st century. It is exciting to think about, and dreamy to view, but it is insane. Greed? hmmm. Not so sure. Excess? perhaps. But equity, too.

I don't know where this is coming from.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday - Guilty Pleasures, admitted on a Monday morning


I prefer mindless television, only because it is easy to do other work while watching. Included in this is THE AMAZING RACE that airs on Sunday evenings. Somehow I missed this episode and now I'm reconsidering a recent idea I had to send an application to the show. The Dean's Assistant, Pam, and I have been speculating our representation on the show and how we'd help their ratings because of our whacky sense of humor and inability to stay focused on one task for too long. Although we'd probably end up last rather quickly, we imagine that people would write in to bring us back.

Ah, that is all speculation. Even so, how great would it be to go on hiatus for a while to travel the world in a made-for-television saga. I'm up for it, but is CBS?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

R.I.P. Andy


I have to admit I was sad to see that Andy Rooney passed. I like to know someone made a career ranting about their opinions and thoughts, and because he was from the greater generations of America - albeit sexist, racist, and prejudice - I valued his wit and sly commentary one items that sometimes irked me, including manufactured goods that don't have the ingredients they claim to have.

We've lost a bit of a legend. His pieces were always memorable and I can see why people were drawn to what he had to say. I am thinking about one lifetime and tipping my hat to show respect for this legend.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Well


I was at a bar last night and they sang karaoke. One of the men who sang told me I should check out this Joni Mitchell song,
Dry Cleaner from De Moines, live version, as the best song ever recorded. I posed the question to the table to name the one song they'd want with them when they were deserted on an island alone for the rest of their life. This is what he named. Never heard of it, or heard it, although I know Joni Mitchell.

So, if you had only one song to listen to on a deserted island for the rest of your life, what would your song be?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Huskie Basketball


I went to UCONN today to meet with their Connecticut Writing Project director and he took me to see the 2011 NCAA trophy. He also showed me how to get into the arena, which I did, and was witness to Alex Oriakhi shooting with a trainer. I don't think I'll make any of the games during the season because tickets are hard to come by, but it was sort of cool to be in Jim Calhoun territory. The campus is in a rural area, HUGE, and a mini-city. It was rather awesome being able to visit.

Here's Oriakhi's foul-shot blooper against Pittsburgh.

I'm sad to see the Big East fall apart. After all, now I can be a fan of Syracuse, Louisville, and Connecticut.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Last Night


I was heading home from work when I saw that Anne Fadiman was speaking about the artwork of James Prosek. I didn't know that the writer taught at Yale and I couldn't believe that there wasn't more hype for her. The art of James Prosek intersects with the way humans categorize and make sense of species in the world. He likes to mix ideas, including my favorite piece, "Flying Fox" which showed a stuffed fox curled in a ball, sleeping, with crew wings. I thought it was gorgeous, although several others thought it was sick.

Anne Fadiman read from one of her essays about her passion for collecting animals and learning about them, but interesting challenged who chooses to name others and under whose paradigm do we follow the rules for such naming.

She is an exquisite writer. I can't believe I was in the same room with her, let alone in conversation.

A lot can go by in the world and we say, ho hum, another day, but this was not that way. Spur of the moment, I listened to very interesting people discuss their work. It was brilliant....and very obvious that they were cultivated in worlds very different from the educated worlds I've lived in. It was a great chance to see a panel discuss Prosek's work and follow Fadiman's essay. Neat.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What does it mean?


There's no sound to this. It is an artist's video posted on YouTube. I saw her work in Denmark and, admittedly, laughed. I showed this clip to my students yesterday to get them to think outside of the box. "What is this artist trying to convey to others?" Is she tempting my mother to do a similar act with her blue eye shadow? Is she portraying my little sister and how she wore her makeup in high school? Is it an impersonation of Jack Nicholson as the Joker? I don't know.

I imagine her nose cartilage is sore, though, from her performance on a piece of glass. And I should note that this is a famous artist, Pipliotti Rist, who makes much more money on her films than I do as a teacher. Some may say I've chosen the wrong career.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Next Year


I told my administrative assistant, this is what we should totally be next year on Halloween...Carol Burnett and Tim Conway. And while I'm at it, I totally think the Carol Burnett show should be resurrected. We need a variety show to laugh at in the early 21st century.

Happy November, everyone. Let the holiday season overwhelm us once again!

Monday, October 31, 2011

For Mom, Day After Da Dome


Every November in Cherry Heights that I can remember meant the end of Cynde's Field Band Season, the arrival of turkey, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and a thursday of field band and drum corp competitions on PBS. Knowing Nikki, Cynde's daughter, was performing last night in the dome, I looked up the DCI to see what the latest national bands were up to. It is good to know the sound and drill is still fantastic, alive, and neat to watch.

I'm sure my mom (even my dad) will enjoy this brief compilation of the 2011 World DCI championship. After all, drumbeats and horns were a major part of the music knew when we were young. As my mom often says, "I still get goosebumps when a band performs at their best."

Congratulations, Nikki, on another year at the Dome, following in your mother's footsteps.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I am a teacher


Dave Eggers continues to support teacher initiatives by investing in those who educate and exposing the reality of the profession. Teachers spend out of their own pockets, teachers take second jobs, teachers can't provide for their families, and teachers burn out rather quickly. This, of course, needs to be put into perspective with the fact that although teachers make must less than other college-educated individuals, they make more than the national average.

Even so, it is something to think about and I hope to catch a screening of this documentary next week in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In anticipation of a warm sweater


Pam Kelly of Fairfield University shared with me that she and her friends are dressing as penguins this year for Halloween. She also pointed to the knitters in New Zealand who are knitting sweaters for birds who are pecking at their feathers because of the slick oil spill. It seems to be working. I wonder, though, if the sweaters get heavy when they're wet and if some of the penguins are picky about what pattern they get to wear. Perhaps they'd like Ugh! boots, too.

We live in strange times. There's hope in human ingenuity, however.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Memorable moments in my education


As a junior in college, Dr. Carol Boyce Davies showed us a documentary that traced images of Black people in American history through entertainment, books, and (at the time) sitcoms. I remember the documentary had a huge impact on my thinking and, twenty years later, I think the academic research of this scholarship is still important. Historically, constructions of Blackness arrived in its relation to how White society viewed people of African descent. An awareness of school books used for children, portrayals of Black individuals in film, and how history was portrayed in textbooks is relevant to everything 2011.

Why?

Yesterday's constructions make today's reality.

I revisited the clips with a student in my office yesterday who was asking questions about being a smart Black male at a primarily White institution. I was helping him shape his thinking by offering him resources to help him think through his ideas, including the online version of this film, and many books from my shelves. I've kept up with books...not so much in film.

I'm glad my resources were allowed to come to life once again. And I'm inspired to keep building on them (after all, twenty years after Ethnic Notions, much more has been contributed)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where I am


My body wants me to be sick. I always know this because it begins with my sinuses and then I am drained completely in complete exhaustion. I can't think. That's the hardest part. It is difficult to concentrate on anything, because my shoulders, eyes, ears, mouth and brain are simply exhausted.

At night, one nostril decides it wants to wrestle with allergies and drip, while the other nostril chooses to become sinus pressure and clogged breathing. The result is water eyes and a headache.

One medication caters to one nostril and the other caters to the other nostril. It's a no win situation. I think with orange juice and solid sleep, I will get better. I need my brain. It is central to the work I do and when it shuts off, well....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This was always an indicator that Xmas was coming


You know, we didn't have Pixar or 3D. Our stories were basic, simple, and yet they conditioned us to trust particular morals and values. I miss having only a few channels and occasional opportunities to view a kid film. Now, everything is so accessible. It makes us crave more when we want it. We're spoiled.

But it's a good thing. Creativity sparks creativity...and I suppose there will be a day when all the Charlie Brown films are made to captivate a more modern audience. There's not all the hype and pizazz, but the stories still held meaning and got us excited.

Yesterday I posted on Willy Wonka (old skool). The new school version was a flop. It didn't create excitement or urges in kids. It simply annoyed them because it wasn't fantastic enough. I remember how excited I was when Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Willy Wonka, or Mary Poppins came on television. Finally, a story for us. Now, well, there's little to satisfy, because it is so constant.

"I got a rock"

For some of us, it's the story of our lives. (Ah, but Rudolph will be on soon - "A Charlie in a Box!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Everlasting Gobstoppers


I found Everlasting Gobstoppers on a clearance rack at a nearby grocery store which reminded me of my all time favorite judge of good character, Mr. Wonka. I purchased the candy to give to my students this week (and anyone else who I should run into). I also put the poster I got from Denmark in my office that featured the new Wonka movie with Johnie Depp, although I was extremely disappointed. All the magic was removed from the remake.

Given that it is sugar week and time for Halloween, I will miss trick or treating with my older sister and her husband. It became a Syracuse ritual that I loved immensely. This year, sigh, I won't have anyone to dress up for.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Written in the Sky (and Happy Birthday, KC)


Yesterday morning, I was working when I looked up to hear this story - the story I've taught to my freshmen this year and that resonates with the research that I conducted at Syracuse University. I learned of this woman's work at the soccer practices I attended with the boys from Somalia, Sudan, Congo, and Liberia. We all read the book together, and now I teach it. It was strange to look up and see a report on CBS and learning all the incredible updates made in Clarkston, Georgia. To be honest, this is the sort of work I see myself doing. I need to be on the ground working with kids and building their futures.

If you have not read OUTCASTS UNITED by Warren St. John you should. It tells the story of Luma Mufleh, from Jordan, and her work to promote the wellbeing of refugee youth through soccer and tutoring. She's become a mother to many, many kids and now is building a school to best support them.

The truth is, all youth deserve this sort of support and ALL youth can achieve when someone or a community of someones are devoted to seeing it happen. Her dedication should be a model for all schools, all teachers, and all adults in the Western world. It takes a lot to help a young person to achieve, but it can be done.

We just have to get out of our own. We can make it happen.

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SIS!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

cuz I don't have Handy Man, Mike


I wanted to budget my heat this winter so I installed a programmable thermostat as my brother-in-law Mike taught me. Knowing I'm a nincompoop with home repairs, I relied on YouTube videos to help me along. The first system I bought didn't work at all. I thought I totally screwed it up, but then I realized the buttons weren't working once I hooked it up. I returned it, got another, and had much better success.

In fact, the heat just kicked on so I am feeling rather proud of myself. I hooked the wires up correctly and didn't need to call Mike once. Even so, I'm paranoid I did it wrong and I'm waiting for the my electricity to go out because I've caused a short or something. I guess only time will tell.

I tried calling the 1-800 number the first go-around, but YouTube (and this man) helped me to problem solve. Got to love modern technology. Now I can sleep cool and wake up warm. Wusah.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thinking of Emelia


In 2001 (two g's and a dollar), a young woman introduced me to this song by Joni Mitchell. With her warmth and energy for the world, she sang this at graduation and dedicated it to me. The song has always had a place in my heart and, last night, when I went for a run, the song kicked on my iPod and and I had a reflective spirit, thinking about the youth I had at the Brown School, the diversity of their personalities, and the irreplaceable magic they held to my heart.

These kids, the class of 2001, are now adults - older than I was when I taught them - and I think about the perspectives they offered my world. It was karma and an irreplaceable experience to have the same crew of kids during their freshmen, sophomore, junior, and then senior year. We were a case of each other.

And for this song, whenever I hear it I dedicate it back to the rainbow fish who first introduced it to my world. The song represents the freedom of American history and a period of time when music connected people and was less commercial. It was more folk and the lyrics had meaning beyond the dollar sign.

A taste of the lyrics:

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I remember that time you told me you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

And I am still on my feet thinking of the joy I had with the youth who changed my life forever.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tis the Season

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

A friday rap. I didn't cut the mouths correctly, but I did get a kick out of making the video on Jib Jab. Wusah.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Your Job: Make Wind Sounds, Howling Wind Sounds


Last night, the northeastern, code for a heavy wind storm, hit Connecticut. When the winds howled, I thought about finding a video that captured the sounds I slept to...no luck. But I did find this one of a duck and her ducklings. It struck me as sad, but also inspirational. What's a few tumbles anyway? There's more quacking to do. Roll a little, bounce a little, find yourself in a new location, and move on with your journey.

I can't help but see this short clip as a metaphor for my life right now. I hope you are making the wind sounds still. I'm still waiting to ruffle my feathers and find a nice pond to settle in. At this point, I'm still bouncing along in the wind wondering when I'll be on my feet again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Calling all my creative friends


Around the world, there are contests where individuals are challenged to take their dissertation work and turn it into interpretive dance. Hmmm. It got me thinking. This was a recent winner who studied food, I believe, and so I'm wondering about my work with 'perspectives of eight African-born male youth with interrupted formal education on writing in a U.S. high school'

What might that dance be?

Of course, i should have had the twins who visited me this weekend come up with ideas, but this video came to my attention right after they left. Ideally, it would be fun to choreograph an entry and to challenge the textual documentation that has entrapped me the last few years. I would love to see my findings come alive through movement (which, by the way, was a major finding).

It's a thought. I'll keep kicking it around.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jennifer Aniston


My television is very excited that I've had visitors. It hasn't had this much action since my nephew Dylan was here to visit. Last night, too, I learned we could rent a movie and the twins ordered HORRIBLE BOSSES. Jennifer Anniston's character in the movie is brilliant. A new role for her, I suppose.

I half listened to the movie as the boys watched. Mindless stupidity. You've got to love that. I really need more of that in my life. Lately, I've felt like I've been living with mindful stupidity.

I hope my new administrative assistant never wants me knocked off. That would probably suck.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Follow up


The twins presented to my freshmen today on campus. We had pizza and relaxed, but their story of relocation caught the attention of others. As I listened to them: their maturity, their knowledge, their focus, I realized how miraculous the two actually are. They've had their eye on the prize and with only five years of schooling, they are freshmen in college themselves, making As, and devoted to making the world a better place.

I've been writing about them for over a year, but seriously, I think the greater learning has been their inspiration of how to fight on and make the most of each day. We've extended their stay 24 hours. On Tuesday they'll leave.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

48 hours of a new noise


The twins have arrived and brought their singing, their Liberian pride, and zest for life, and their jokes with them. I spent all day writing as much as I could in anticipation that I'd lose all rationality trying to keep up with their wit, energy, and curiosity. They've come to talk with my freshmen class and to connect their experiences with Outcast United, by Warren St. John, that we're reading in class.

Boy, I've missed Lossine's singing...non stop harmony, I tell you.

But I'm glad to have some social time in all this first semester chaos.

Bryan

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home


Fairfield University is featuring the film, HOME (click the link to watch) for the 2011-2012 academic year. I started to watch it a couple of night ago, and then simply got depressed. The way the film depicts it, there's little we can do before we completely ruin the planet and life will no longer be sustained. It seems things will begin to deteriorate rather quickly and by 2025, well, it might be rather unbearable.

Today, with my students, I told them I imagined a movie of me watching HOME while the camera panned above my house, over Connecticut, to the Eastern U.S. and Atlantic Ocean, then the nation, and eventually the globe. I said, "Man, the movie had me worried, but then if I imagined the big picture, the universe's grande finesse, my tiny Stratford concerns are rather silly. I channel Monty Python and envision a fish swimming through the galaxy simply swallowing the earth whole like it's food in an aquarium.

On Wall Street, protestors are speaking for the 99%. I am curious if they are speaking of the 99% in America or the 99% globally. I visited websites and read a lot about unemployed college graduates who are $120,000 in debt from loans. I started to think about how the money spent on their education could have helped feed the 99% who live elsewhere. I am trying to imagine having the comfort for spending that much money for school. I don't think I could ever justify investing that much cast into an unknown future. I think any family who struggles financially (which are many) would think a loan of that amount is simply insane. That's more than the mortgage I took out on my house (which, by the way, still hasn't sold).

I am not a millionaire (I laugh, because I'm barely breaking even at this point in my life), but I have a college degree. That makes me a part of the 1% of the world who has such a title. My roommate's friend from China said last week, "If you have toast in the morning and a cup of coffee, you are a part of the world's most privileged people." I'm not sure where she got that, but it reminded me I don't have a toaster. I have coffee, however.

And so I look at any image of a spinning globe and am amazed that our technologies have brought us the capacity to view Earth from great distances - we've come a long way from thinking it was rather flat. I marvel at the fact that I can write noise with my fingers to be read through the magic of cyber space, yet I worry that such advancements might really be the demise of the blue, green, and white marble that floats as it does. It would be a shame. The minerals used to make chips for my computer are mined in third world nations where rape, murder and torture are used as a means to control the land. With each word I type, I suppose I am responsible for other injustices in the world.

Perhaps text like this will one day be the bones of a brontosaurus. Maybe they will get buried in dust only to be discovered 25 million years from now as an artifact from an ancient time. As someone makes sense of my words, they can blame me for causing the ruin of our home.

Friday, October 14, 2011

If Dad Could Play the Piano


A friend of mine posted this on Facebook yesterday to bring a smile to the faces of those who viewed it. Married 60 years, this couple still works a crowd through entertaining them. They walked into a building, saw a piano, and decided to play.

Sort of reminds me of a generation that is no longer.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The allegory for life


If you know me, you know my fondness for the Sisyphus story. Up the hill, only to see it fall back down the hill again.

This is how I feel from my seven days a week, fourteen hours a day. There are no breaks, and I move slowly up the hill thinking, "I will get the boulder there this time," when, WOLA! gravity hits.

And I start all over.

It's a good thing I enjoy working, because otherwise I might be closer to a nervous breakdown. Time to start the day, though. I have a window of time to get a lot done and I will do it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good Luck, Gina


I post this in support of my Binghamton University friend. Her book debut happens today and, although I posted about this a few weeks back, I send this noise to the world again! Why? Gina is a burst of energy and I'm sure her text is full of wisdom and positive knowledge.

I laugh that her debut is in NYC. As a 19 year old, I flew to meet her in Manhattan for New Years, 1992/1993. I had never been to NYC before and she showed me around town. It was an experience that opened my eyes to the possibilities in life. In Binghamton, the two of us bonded and I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the educator I am today without her amazing influence.

As her book shows, everything is possible. It's been twenty years (Gosh, really?) and I am laughing with pride for my friend. If you get a chance, check out what she has written.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not quite sure who stole the cookie


Yesterday, while working, several of my colleagues came in to find their rooms had been pried open and their laptops stolen. I had my computer at home with me, but the afternoon turned into a lot of investigation. It looks as if tools were used to pry open doors and laptops were the cookies they were after.

Of course, this video is a little more humorous - kids acting out the age-old cookie question.

I am thankful today that my room was spared, which is rather remarkable considering that all rooms in my wing were sabotaged. I immediately backed everything up and have chosen NOT to leave things in my office. There's no security camera, I guess, and the doors are left open all the time. I'm guessing this will be an economical issue: either find a way for faculty to swipe in during offer hours (and consequently offer more security) or pay for replacement computers whenever this sort of thing happens.

Yikes. Never good to have a thief in the crowd. It's a way of life, but so frustrating for those who are swindled.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hmmm, how real is it?


Twenty years ago, when I came back from London, MTV had its first season of the The Real World. It doesn't seem possible that twenty seasons of cast members have come and gone, but that is the truth. I remember the show caught my attention because I had just returned from London living with strangers and I thought, "Shoot. They could have filmed my apartment."

Fast forward. The show now seems to cast unbelievable drunks, sex addicts and egomaniacs, but it still is intriguing to watch. They were reality television before reality television was the trend. Now it is normal, and it all seems like Hollywood hype. Yet, the over the top story lines still engage viewers.

And what is funny about this season's episodes in San Diego, is that one of the writers - yes they have writers - for the season, came to Syracuse University a year ago and was talking to me about this year's cast. He was frustrated by how scripted he had to make the show and was fed up, so he quit. I wonder what it would be like to be filmed and to have only one hour - the most interesting times - of the week posted. I believe I'd be more interesting if I was clipped to only 60 minutes of an otherwise mundane existence. I imagine I'd be entertaining, too. Then again, I wouldn't want a camera in my face 24/7. I have enough trouble falling asleep.

Twenty years. Oi Vay. Age.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

a Philly connection


One of my students is writing about her pride for Philadelphia this semester and I began to think about Bruce Springsteen's tribute to the city. Actually, I was just in the mood for Bruce, having worn out my cds with his music. I can celebrate, though. I finally have my iPod in my possession again. The ear jack has been replaced.

I do want to hear the Nebraska album, though. Alice and Charlie turned me on to it and it is one of my favorite albums of all time. It is sad and dark, reflecting his voice and chords. Not all music tells a story like his lyrics and sounds do.

Have a great Sunday. It's supposed to be warm. I hope you soak up the heat while we have it. I'm sure it will be short lived.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I have to laugh


Because I feel so old.

At one point I sang this song in class today and the freshmen asked, "Did you just make that up?" I was like, "No. It was a club song in the mid-nineties. What do you mean you've never heard of it?"

Yep, times come and times go. You're so uncool even when you didn't realize how truly uncool you actually are. The song was cheesy, but I thought it was cheesy classic. You mean it isn't even a perpetual wedding song? What's up with that? I thought for sure it was like a cult classic. I guess not.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Home sick for one of my other homes...


My mother sent me this yesterday - and those of us who have been to Copenhagen often know this station very well. I can only imagine how beautiful this must have been for all the travelers who were there, live and in person.

There's not much for me to write. The flash mob speaks for itself.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

History


This theme music might not resonate with you, but for me, it brings back memories. Unlike my sisters and mom, I went to bed early during my high school years...usually around nine p.m. On the night Dallas aired, however, I always would hear the theme song blaring from my mother's televisions. The song just stuck in my head, although I don't think I watched the show ever. I still don't know who shot J.R. even though the nation talked about it at the time.

Why do I post it today?

Well, I need sleep. I though hearing it might bring me back to my days where I didn't have trouble finding time to sleep. My mind would rest when it hit the pillow and it wouldn't take four hours to finally stop thinking enough to get some zzzzzz's.

I am in desperate need of sleep.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Here we go


I saw this yesterday and it put a smile on my face. I think we all should hum like Gonzo's chickens, especially to Bohemian Rhapsody. I've been working with Dr. Jane Hansen who is speaking to the Connecticut Writing Project, but I'm channeling Jim Henson who was a master of imagination and altering the view that puppets are real. We need more Muppets, really we do.

So, hum with your chickens today as I hum with them in Connecticut. It's the least I can do.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

theme music for Tuesday


I came home last night, late, and realized the materials I wanted to work on are still on my office desk. I have a marathon of a day, followed by a marathon of a day to follow, so I thought I could use music to get me through. I am now in my office, early, and finishing the work that needs to get done so I can be ready to meet the events of the next 48 hours. I'm happy to admit I at least have my sense of humor with me.

I'd rather be running barefoot on a beach, but I will be satisfied with Chariots on my blog for 2011. Hum the theme music with me, will you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

I can't spot Nikki


So this was sent to me from Saturday night's field band competition at West Genesee. Times have change in CNY and it seems the kids have gained more rhythm than they used to have - more spunk. I thought this year's show held to a military theme. This doesn't seem to be the case.

At one point, I thought I spotted Nikki when she was dancing up front, but I'm unsure if it was her. She tends to be fair skinned and I know it's been a while since I've seen her, but I doubt Cynde has allowed her to go tanning.

Someone needs to help me locate her. I don't see any rifles, either.

Either way, Congratulations Northstars on another fabulous show. I'm glad your instructors are now allowing us to post the performance on our webpages.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The season has changed


I stepped outside for a run and thought, hmmm, this isn't the wet thickness of the last month. It is cold, crisp and feels like a new season. Vivaldi, I believe your orchestration is pertinent for the change of weather. Suddenly I want chili and apple pie. I'm ready for a sweater or sweatshirt and a pair of blue jeans.

Of course, this was startling because I stepped outside in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Whoops. Haven't been paying much attention to the Weather Channel I guess.

Happy Sunday, world. Have a cup of hot cocoa for me. I shall be in my office revising once again. I need to take advantage of every second I have to move my research forward.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Affrilachian Poets


Many moons ago, Affilachian poet, Frank X. Walker came to my classroom to do a poetry workshop with my students. Since then, he's written several collections, including Affrilachia, which was staged at the Kentucky Center of the Arts. I ordered another of his collection, America, What's My My Name; The Other Poets Unfurl the Flag, to possibly provide counter readings in a course I'm teaching next semester on literary theory and reading literature.

His work, along with the powerful language of his fellow Affrilachian poets, may offer an alternative to prose my students have had little exposure with. Hearing him read makes me miss the bluegrass and the friends I made there. It also makes me proud that my students - way back when - had him to influence their writing worlds.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Budgets


I was pulled into a meeting yesterday trying to make sense of numbers from yesteryear (before I was here) with speculation of tomorrow (now that I'm here) in the off chance that these funds or those funds arrive. If I calculate FICA, and remember in cost contributions, and divide it by the square root of income taxes of owning a home and paying high Connecticut rents, I can report my numbers into an equation that makes sense to morticians. Then, if I die, what will be left with my inheritance?

Actually, it wasn't that bad. I did have to figure out where money has been spent and where it could be spent while a room of friends tried to make sense of how money was reported when money was coming to us, and what will happen now that the money has been removed.

It was fun. I was planning on revising all day, but instead of letters I got overwhelmed with numbers. It makes sense now, but I do have a headache and am very ready for calmer sailing. Really I am.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Movement


Your job today is to find one moment in your day to move like the dancer in this Dubstep video. I don't want you to be like yourself. I want you be be like all "them other kids." You may be watching the morning news or Days of Our Lives. You may be in the car scanning tunes on the radio. You may be in the grocery store and an 80s soundtrack comes on. The goal is then to move robotically like Marquese Scott. There's no trick photography...only the human body grooving.

You know you want to groove, so do it today. Show your neighbors, your spouses, your friends. Show your pets and your mailmen. And if you're really good, send me a video.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eggsellent. Tuesday is over. It's Wednesday


I've cracked more eggs to teach perspectives on writing than I can count. I use it as an event for individuals to write "their angle" on what happened: the chicken, the farmer, the anarchist, the 3rd world child, etc. I'm glad I found this cartoon as it adds another perspective to my metaphor. Every event has interpretations. Those eggs who are left for another day must have much to write about. The waiting must be nerve-wracking. Sitting in darkness until one an eater is in the mood for an omelette or french toast.

It's something to think about. As you bite into your breakfast, you might want to examine what is being said in your refrigerator (especially if you're in my parent's fridge. There are many many many stories there).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Well, it's one way to handle it...


Looking for humor to relieve stress, I found this little diddy with a singing Duckling. It's not my style to go violent to relief stress, but I appreciated the cartoon's quacking.

For a short few seconds, it did put a smile on my face.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Night noise


I post this knowing that the sounds of summer will soon be disappearing and that my night music of cicadas and crickets will soon give way to traffic and plows - there won't be the songs of insects looking for mates. It is now captured here for winter nights when I can't sleep and I want to remember what it's like to sleep with the windows open.

This summer, at my relatives in Amagansett, I slept like a baby because of their wooded area and the songs of bugs. Of course, if a cricket gets into the house it can be like Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart" and I want to rip my floorboards apart. But outside, they made for nice rhythms to rest my eyes.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This Story Makes Me Happy


And I thank Aaron Martinson, class of 2007, for the lead. I too celebrate creative genius and anyone who can go beyond the parameter of normalcy to create a world of imagination. It is said that we encourage this so little in our schools and society. When I see a video like this I begin to question even more the ridiculousness of how we currently school children. A friend I just met here said she's already thinking about home schooling her kid. On day one, her kindergarten kid began formal assessments. They were given no play time - insane.

What are we doing, America? We should be encourage Googles, Doodles, and Fraggles....not test takers. We can do better.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Purple


Because all I see in the next few days is rain, and more rain, I decided to channel Prince and his Purple world. His music was central to those of us growing up in the late 80s and his movie, sparking controversy when it came out, was a cult classic to many of my friends.

I wonder if my niece, Nikki, realizes yet that her parents named her after his famous song from this movie. Oh, Darling, they have some explaining to do. When they're not at the dome serving football fanatics, they might want to discuss the music with their only daughter. See, they once knew a girl named Nikki.

And on Saturday...I will hum Purple Rain to make the gray seem a little less dreary.

Friday, September 23, 2011

bells


I sort of like hearing church bells while at work. They clank and I think, Hmmm, now that's a good sound - not one I'm accustomed to, but a good sound nonetheless.

It's Friday. I hope most of you have something special planned. I will be in my office. In my continuation of a ram impersonation, I am hunkered down and charging full speed ahead.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's not falling down, but it's wreaking havoc


The Sherman Minton bridge stretching out of Indiana and into Kentucky has been indefinitely closed down because of found cracks. Those crossing between both states are faced with a headache, leaving I-65 and the 2nd Street bridge as the only ways across the Ohio River in Louisville. Traffic on all three bridges are often intense, and now with it limited to two, friends are reporting it takes over an hour where it once took ten minutes.

Sounds like Connecticut to me.

I am thinking about Europe and how rail makes everything more accessible. With less reliance on cars, Europeans can get to point A from point B because they built a system that takes human foot traffic from place to place. America wasn't build this way and, in many ways, it works against our way of independence. Still, when I sit in highway parking lots I think, "hmmm. perhaps Obama should invest in rail transportation to help an populated United States have easier access to getting to destinations they wish to travel. I love driving, but it is wasted time if traffic doesn't flow.

Poor Kentuckiana. I'm glad I'm not in that snafu.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chuckle Patch


When I was an undergraduate I met a girl who was from Scarsdale. Her mother was Paula (I believe) on The Magic Garden. I remember her telling me that Sherlock, the squirrel, was in a box under a bed in her home - the show was cancelled and everyone moved onto their lives.

I reflected on this tonight as I drove home from the university. I began to think about how beautiful college was for me because I met people from so many backgrounds and who had parents who did work in many occupations. It always humored me that Victoria's mother ran a children's show and although I never met her, she was a part of my upbringing. I loved when she picked a joke from the Chuckle Patch.

I think we need a new garden for kids and if anyone wants to hire me, I'd love to help with the programming. I'd also love to be reunited with Victoria. She had a tremendous impact on my mind while I was learning my way in the world. Hmmmm. I wonder where she is?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Widow's Peak


I wanted to find the clip where Richie Cunningham is brought to a nerd party - where girls were competing to see who could find the biggest dork. Fonzie comes well prepared and makes a scene. I always liked that episode because I envisioned myself at one of those parties one day. Never happened. I wasn't even pathetic enough for that.

So I found an episode when Lenny and Squiggy sing on Laverne & Shirley. My widow's peak is getting to be more and more like Squiggy's so perhaps the girls from Happy Days will finally bring me to their party. Who knows?

That is noise that awaits to be made.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It just occurred to me


Football season began and I'm oblivious to what is going on. I don't turn on my t.v. and Cynde doesn't ask me to count money at the band booth while fans buy overcharged prices for hotdogs. I am completely clueless to the world of the Dome and I'm wondering what is going on.

This is the reality of my ram impersonation. I have my horns down and am charging forth without a clue to the real world. I'm lucky to take time to pee let alone check the internet for scores.

So, this clip says it is supercharged to get people ready for the season. Shoot. I need it to charge me so I can get done with my dissertation already.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kermit


When I was transitioning to middle school to junior high school, my friend Peter Boy and his sister, Elaine, who was already at SUNY Oswego taking classes to become a teacher, invited me to the movies to see the first Muppet Movie at Penn Can mall, which is now an automobile dealership (halfway between Pennsylvania and Canada). I remember the movie because their mother, Stephanie, drove over a parking lot island when we were leaving because she was so enthusiastic about our review of the movie. The film introduced us to a crew of fuzzy, wired Jim Henson creations that sang about life, finding their ways, and friendship. I loved the film.

I am thinking of the film, and its music, as I try to make sense of my life that feels as if I, too, am on strings and performing at the pace of others. The songs were sung in choir and they resonate to create a rhythm of life that continue with me today. Ah, Kermit. Some of us hear your song and wonder if we can actually fulfill the magic you croaked about. I'm trying.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I need me some Maude


It's Saturday. I'm in my office for the next two days revising. I'm slowly going insane and that is why I'm channeling Maude. I don't think there is any other text needed - just Maude's way of living. I need to live that way more but I'm so busy in the land of monkey brain and academia. Ah...What have I done to myself?

Okay. That's my rant. I will get over it. The music has already made me a little more free.

Friday, September 16, 2011

We'll let Willie sing


Today started in the mid 80s and it is now around 50 degrees. It is September and outside the wind is whipping green leaves trying to turn them Brown. I wondered if their was a song for September and I found this clip with Willie Nelson's voice. Perhaps the song captures the changes upon us.

When I ran this morning I was drenched from humidity. Now I think I need to unpack my North Face jackets. I will need them to get through the week. The air has become chilly. I am sure many of you will spend this weekend closing your pools. I will be in my office working as I've been doing since I arrived to Fairfield. I have a window though and I can speculate on what the rest of the world is doing.

You know, Willie Nelson has a voice that is good to the ears. I like the way he brings September its music.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday noise


I've written about whales before, but I am doing so again today. Why? I love making whale noises, especially as I put window stickers up in my office of two whales and a shark playing volleyball with a blowfish.

Hey, it makes me happy.

I'm on the Long Island sound (there are now whales), but I am closer the ocean than ever before. Perhaps I will get to hear them live and in person in the very near future.

In the mean time, I nominate Casey for making the best whale noises. I'm sure she will outdo everyone else.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Communication


It's official. I'm now officially overwhelmed with the access of everything and the instant way we communicate. In the time I teach one class: one hour and fifteen minutes, I return to 45 email messages. I like to be on top of my game, but there is simply too much communication. It has to be filtered abruptly. And it no longer comes through the telephone or from snail mail. It's email (and I'm smart, I don't have email attached to my Blackberry yet...haven't found time for it. I am sure when I do, it will be more information coming at me all the time).

I'm a verbose, windy person. I now appreciate lists.

1. Hi.
2. I need you to (fill in the blank)
3. Thank you.
4. Your name.

All the other wording is abundant and I have to cut to the chase. Sigh. What a shame. Those of us who chose words for a living should find joy with them. Of course, 'back in the day' written language was pleasure---something I did in a park, at a beach, or on a couch. Now, it's digital and everywhere.

And it remains a tool. I shall remain a fool.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

somebody is being paid today


I drove back to Connecticut last night. Ate a burger on the way. Had no traffic until I hit Connecticut, and then the game began. It's a beautiful state with many, many parking lots they call highways.

I think I need spinach to get me through this year. I think I have a couple of recipes. Time to channel my inner Popeye. And, Wimpy, you can mail the check for that burger. I'll take it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Go Nikki. Yeah. Woot Woot. Wee Hoo


My poor sister and her husband. It is field band season again and the CNS Northstars, with their 45 musicians, are back on the field. Let the season begin, the long weekends drag on and on, and the Dome Show employment continue.

Usually I post noise to my site, but the sound is hard to hear on this; they need more musicians. Where'd they all go? I think they've morphed into the colorguard.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why I took the Thruway


My alma mater went under water so I took the smoother ride to Syracuse through Albany. Didn't want to risk flooding away. I believe the waters have receded but I didn't want to chance it. What an unexpected mess for Broome County.

My ride was rather uneventful, although the waters also came close to washing out the NYS thruway in places.

Thanks Irene and Lee.