Monday, January 31, 2011

In a world of chaos and despair, the news of nesting eagles on Onondaga Lake perked my interest. I've never seen a bald eagle out and about, but knowing they have localized themselves, I'm wondering if one might visit me in North Syracuse and feed on some of the mice and snakes that frequent my property.

The bald eagle is symbol for the universe and what strength it might have with or without humanity. Do they sell eagle bird calls?

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Usually, I keep my ringer on vibrate because it annoys me. It is constantly making noise and distracting me from getting things done (like laundry and preparing for the upcoming week). It doesn't help that I use John Lithgow's "You Got To Have Pep" as my ringer. I thought it would be a funny reminder to add zest to my day. Nope. It is plain annoying.

Of course, my text message song is "Take Five" by Brubeck. Although it is calmer than Lithgow, it also rides on my nerves.

So, vibrate it will be. I should just change the ringer, no?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

as the world turns

With media covering, en masse, the riots in Egypt, I began reflecting on the protests of the 1960s that occurred a decade before I was born. I have been thinking about what it takes to move masses of people to finally have a say on the streets and a committed willingness to put their lives on the line for what they believe in. My friend from college, Terrence Cheng, used his imagination to write Sons of Heaven about similar protests in Tiananmen Square, China. He too wondered, "what if?" and wrote his first novel through imagining who the man was who famously faced the tank in the 1989 protest.

Times change, populations shift, and power corrupts (absolute power corrupts absolutely). Watching the events unfold in Cairo has me thinking about John Lennon and the way he once imagined. I'm not sure I believe in utopia (at least when humans are involved), but it is a concept we should strive for.

The sun will rise again. The sun will set.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dedicated to Kelly

Early this week, I had a meeting with my advisor at Syracuse University - my mentoring sage in a long journey of learning the research discourse - who looked at one of my analytical charts and began singing, "One of these things is not like the other."

I looked at her and said, "I thought I was the only one who sang that song in the 21st century." She advised me that she, too, grew up in the 70s and allowed Sesame Street to enter her life.

It was a short moment of wonderful humor that I am appreciating with all of my soul. Sometimes, there really is a shining moment and I had to post this song today, on a Friday, to keep my spirits on the up and up. I'm hoping next time she will sing, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, twelvvvvvvvvvvve."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A follow up to yesterday

I heard from a dear, purple friend in Kentucky that she loves the Muppets and was sad to see that Beaker wasn't in yesterday's post. So, with a love of Beaker-speak and this particular video, I plant this song in your head and hope you sing it all day long.

Please watch the whole thing and let it invade your mind. Then, find someone you love and impersonate this video. You will make the world a better place if you do.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Scientific Inquiry

I will be doing a presentation on scientific inquiry next week and I thought about the Thomas Dolby song from the 1980s - She Blinded Me With Science. Low and behold, the Muppets took on this song in a bizarre rendition. I write this post within the first phase of thinking about how science matters to a writing instructor. We are curious beings and YouTube makes inquiry rather easy. We have a hypothesis and we have to set out a plan of action to prove whether or not we can find proof for our notions. Through exploration, reading, experience, journaling, probing, viewing, and reflecting - not to mention testing of our hypothesis, we come to a result. The Muppets. That's my answer and it's probably wrong.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I still don't know why the LeMoyne College mascot is the dolphin, but I began teaching a course for them again last and the sounds of dolphins seemed like the logical next post. I did whales earlier, but for today, the songs of the friendly skippers of the sea are presented for relaxation, which we all can use on a Tuesday, eh?

While listening, imagine the warmth of the beach and sand in your toes. Picture the time I went into the ocean with the class of 2003 to swim with the dolphins that were passing by and when we went further out, we realized we approached a hammer head shark. Imagine me knocking students over as I swam as fast as I could back to shore.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Enroute to Sunday dinner

There will be a time in the near future (six months?) where I will say that I no longer work seven days a week and all hours of the day. I did take a Sunday sabbatical, however, when I learned KC and Dave had a huge pot roast and wanted someone to share it. I left my computer and went for dinner. It was delicious.

On the way there, I turned on my radio. I was singing along to a Phil Collins song, when I thought, hmmm, what if I recorded the drive to their house to the next song on the radio? I pulled out my camera and this was what resulted. No, it's not a year of karma, but perhaps it lingers in the cacophony of 2011.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

this makes a quirky guy happy in a karmic world way

Four years after I departed the bliss of teaching at the Brown School, I'm happy to learn the 10-Minute Play Festival is still up and running. Perhaps one of the greatest activities born from teaching during portfolio assessments, the student-writing of scripts that mattered to them took on a life of their own. Each year, the junior class studied Greek plays and were required to write short scripts on a subject that mattered to them. A senior, this year Tristan Conroy, takes on the plays, casts them, and oversees their production as a fundraiser for the senior class. It is usually hilarious entertainment.

Each year, the festival was extremely stressful, but in retrospect, they were beautiful. The noise that occurred on stage at 546 S. First Street was a celebration of what students are able to write, perform, and communicate. Seeing Tristan's advertisement for this year makes me feel proud that I once was a part of it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm posting this because I am

Exit off of the ad so you can read the script.

When I went to Tokyo, I often experienced days and days of not having a clue what was being said. Even so, I totally immersed in the joy of living in another culture and trying to figure out how another society worked. At night, I often watched television and didn't understand a word I was hearing, but I tried guessing the story line by the gestures of the actors on screen.

The commercials were equally mind boggling, as were the game shows.

I set out to find a wintry mix of noises to celebrate the arctic winds, and somehow I ended up on this commercial. It reminded me of a time when listening was a different art and when watching helped me to make sense of the sounds. Of course, this ad for a sports arena and the man's confusion over depth of voice can be problematic on many levels. That is not why I post it. Instead, I put it on screen for the ways it speaks in Japanese.

It is not the winds I intended to post, but c'est la vie.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Challenge

My mother turned me on to this BBC series, where voiceovers are placed over footage of animals. I post this here, today, as a variation of what she sent me in an email, but also as a challenge to you.

As you finish out your work week, try to bring perspective to your pets or inanimate objects lying around you by providing voices and accents that allow them speak. Fore example, your morning coffee might welcome you to a new day or your steering wheel may have a complaint or your cat might be grumpy or your fish could have something deep on his mind. Listen to what the world is telling you.

Your call. Bring your life through the sounds you are able to imagine.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'm not meant to be a hairy wilderbeast

I didn't want to shave until I was finished writing, but I don't think I will be finished writing any time soon, so I shaved anyway. I needed something to make me feel refreshed and renewed, so I guessed a clean face might help.

We shall see.

My shaver sounds better than this in person. It sounds sort of muddled in this medley.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I finally opened the box with my Christmas mop. After hearing Casey fall on her arse at mom's demonstrating how it's done, i knew I had to give my steamer a shot. The sound is rather addicting. It's like ironing the tile and the heat that rises makes me feel like I am really productive.

Now I need to get a steam cleaner for myself. I could use the heat, the relaxation, and the moisture. Anyone know of a good steam room in Syracuse?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In appreciation of silence

As a goodbye to Syracuse, Tricia threw a party at the Saucy Swan in Manlius. They catered pasta, meatballs and pizza, and it was a way for her daughter to say farewell to her friends as she embarks on a new life in Boston. I'm not sure if I've ever attended an event with twenty screaming eight year old girls before and I couldn't help but channel Carol Burnett from Annie. The cacophony of screetches, screams, laughter, hysteria, and excitement was in stereo. Crawling behind the bar with a bottle of Makers Mark was tempting. I was in need of ear plugs...perhaps a few shots would suffice.

It is always hard to say goodbye, and although the evening was jovial and jubilant, the last ten minutes of the evening were vicious. The girls cried knowing their friend was moving to a new city and separating them from one another was a bit rough. I said to Tricia's father, "Can't we interject and stop this?" All of our hearts were in our throats.

We couldn't, though. Instead, time will he'll and each little girl will be stronger because of it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Machines

Some days are better than others.

And I like the distraction from writing! It could be worse. I could post the sounds of my back breaking with a shovel in my hand.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

March will be here soon enough

I write it every year. College Basketball is a saving grace in the long winters of CNY. I was at the gym at noon yesterday and went crooked eyed because U of L was on one screen and Syracuse was on the other. Syracuse looked strong against Cincinnati, and U of L rallied it up at the last minute to beat Marquette (I was at mile four at half time and I didn't think the Cards would do it).

In the noise of the season, I'm hearing the fans of the Dome and the new Yum! stadium in stereo. They don't meet until February 12th in the 'ville. Always a win-win situation for me.

The sneakers on court, the imbecilic rah-rah'ing of cheerleaders, the loud speakers, and fanatic crowds are what I love. That, and it brings me something to listen to as I return to my nerdy endeavors.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I've never been to Madison, WI, but I booked a flight there last night. I have a presentation on the 20th at the NCTEAR conference. I started thinking about the sounds of Wisconsin (besides Michael Feldman and that 70s show), and recalled that my father said to me recently, I'm surprised you have put any drum lines in my cacophony postings yet.

Well, here you are Butch. Now I have a reason. The Madison Scouts.

Now all we have to do is hope for good weather both in Syracuse and in Madison. Enjoy the beats.

Friday, January 14, 2011

NWP Radio

Listen to internet radio with NWP radio on Blog Talk Radio

I'm not sure if this radio show will make it okay to the cacophony of 2011, but if it does, you'll be able to listen to the NWP radio show where The Pressures of Teaching was discussed. The show interviews Maureen Picard Robins, the editor, and several chapter authors, including me.

The experience was rather interesting. We phoned in and entered a studio where we were vocally recorded. The show comes across as if we were all together (which I guess we were: NYC, Syracuse, the West Coast). Elyse Eidman Aadahl did the interviewing and she created a Google Doc for us to write the major points we wanted to make. We could follow the points while chatting online as the show was being recorded. Lightly scripted, the show came across rather fluid. That's pretty cool. It is definitely the New Writing of the 21st century. I'm hooked. When can I have my own blogtalkradio show?

It runs about an hour, so it isn't my usually drive-by posting. It might require some commitment.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's a pain in my glass

Seriously, the only excitement I'm having right now is drinking water as I write. Sound painfully dull? It is. I will leave this experience never wanting to sit in my living room chair again. The hours I've sustained on my arse while typing is starting to make me feel like I'm going insane.

That is why I sought to find glass musicians. I've always found the sounds they make eerie, but I was thinking I might be able to learn how to do it, so when I'm drinking water and typing, I can also make noises.

Maybe not.

All I know is that sitting for so long is a complete pain my my glass.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On a gray, wintery Wednesday

When we were kids, my sisters and I often visited my grandmother Vera in Sherburne, New York. She'd drive us around town shaking her steering wheel while singing to us, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine."

My sisters and I would grow older, recalling trips where she'd offer her off-key voice to sing us this song. It was never a Carnegie performance, but her rendition is embedded in my fondest memories of her impact on my life.

As I look out to the snow to be shoveled and the layers I need to put on to stay warm, I am channeling her music. "Please don't take my sunshine away."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's quiet, but I can hear time screaming

I am amazed that I can begin my day so early because, before I know it, darkness has arrived and the day has disappeared. I've spent every second working, but the hour I run at the gym, and when I look at the clock, I am paralyzed. So much time is spent, and only baby steps are taken forward.

When I was in high school, I used to wear a pin that read, "Things of quality have no fear of time." I must be a schlep because I worry about time ALL THE TIME. I look up, and another twelve hours has disappeared. I have no clue if I've spent my day efficiently or stupidly. I just know I've been working.

Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick

And today will be another day. I pray I will not be the man who goes mad like the one in Edgar Allen Poe's "Tell Tale Heart."
Refreshed, I must start to beat the clock once again.

Monday, January 10, 2011

today's homework...impersonate a whale song

I remember Mr. Healy's tenth grade Biology class when were were studying whales. I remember doing a presentation on whales where I sang like they do, and pretended I had baleen. I chewed potato chips and spit them around the room like they were krill and I used my teeth as a demonstration of how food was kept in the mouth. I think I got an A on that project. There's always been something wrong with me and throughout college, I often did this impersonation for friends. At times, I lost them when they had to peel chewed potato cud from their foreheads.

With this said, I do think whales make spectacular noises and I challenge you to impersonate a whale at least once on Monday. See if you can get someone else to smile. I don't recommend the potato chip demonstration, however.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In need of some Emmett Jug Band

I knew I needed a post for Sunday that put some pep to my writing and so I thought of my man, Emmett, right away. There's nothing like a washboard for rhythm and fuzzy stuffed animals on strings to provide holy-day entertainment.

Actually, because I'm not shaving this month, I am beginning to look a lot like these fellows. If I had more energy, I might even post a photo of my pathetic beard. For today, however,I'm settling with a throw back to my youth.

I'm counting on it to perk up another day playing the keyboard piano.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

I wanted to record these sounds in time

A simple post.

A Skype call.

A digital recorder.

The magic of youthful voices.

Precious noise.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This sound keeps me awake at night.

Yesterday, I only had my teeth cleaned, but I visited the dentist and all those dentist noises made my blood pressure rise. I actually sweat in fear of those sounds. I hate them. I used to get gassed in Louisville, but the new dentist won't allow it. The sound rides through my ears and makes my spine tense.

For the life of me, I don't know how anyone can go into the profession of teeth cleaning or repair.

Of course, they had 80s music on: Cyndi Lauper, Journey, Tears for Fears. It calmed me a little bit.

Shoot. I just remembered. I forgot to get my sticker when I left.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yesterday Sucked

I had a bad day.

I didn't mean to have a bad day, but nothing went right. I sat in the library for seven hours and barely put a dent in what I set out to do. I discovered a whole set of data I overlooked before and I have to go back and code it, because it's important stuff. I realized that the task at hand is larger than I thought it would be.

Nothing seemed right.

Yet, the sound of the Chipmunks singing always puts a smile on my face.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Black Bird Falls From the Sky At Night...

One story caught my attention on the third day of 2011, twice. I post it on day four.

It is the story of a thousand birds falling from the sky mysteriously in Beebe, Arkansas. The streets were littered with Starlings and Red Winged Blackbirds. At this time, there is no explanation for their falling. Lightening? Hail? Fireworks?

I'm trying to imagine the sound of so many birds falling from the air and hitting the pavement. Thump. Whump. K'plump. Tweet?

I went to You Tube to find a copy of the story. The first video I clicked on was a musical rendition of the story. This was posted using Joe Cocker's Bye Bye Blackbird. For a second, I thought I was listening to the CNS Northstars perform to "Eye of the Sparrow" again. Bird down. Bird down. Perhaps they'd like me to choreograph that show. That might be a riot.

May music find its way to every odd tale (tail). Good to know it was posted on YouTube. Birds of a feather, flock together.

Monday, January 3, 2011

5K, okay. You can say you ran with me today.

I decided that I would take whatever was the first song on m IPod when I ran this afternoon, and use it to showcase the scenery of where I run everyday. The lucky song was "Equitorial Forest" by Cymande. I did my best to keep the camera still, but running sort of jerks the arms a bit, so the shots are spastic from time to time.

And the song isn't that bad. It made for good tunes before the sun set on a gray afternoon.

If you want, you're welcome to run in place for these three minutes so you can say that you, too, got some exercise. This is the journey I take whenever it's warm enough to hit the pavement. There will be a time, I suppose, where this routine will be the roads I used to travel.

FYI. In the end, I wish you a great Tuesday. Hell, I don't know what day it is. They all blur together at this point.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


The first song that popped into my head when I began thinking about the noises in my pre-2011 world was Simon and Garfunkle's "Sound of Silence." I think I was in junior high school the first time I heard it (probably on a cassette tape...remember those) and I remember thinking the song would be in my cadence for some time. Indeed, it has.

Yesterday, the first day of a new year, was quiet for me. Besides a short stint listening to the SU Orangemen playing ball against Notre Dame, the only noise in my house was traffic on 481, my fingers tapping across a keyboard, rain falling outside, and Baby's occasional imitations of my mother who taught her how to snore.

Otherwise, it was a day of complete silence - a necessary to put together this monumental piece of writing I've taken on. I could hear the hum of my refrigerator, and at one point I listened to green beans being steamed on the stove. I also listened to an Intelligence Squared debate on NPR, but other than that, the ears had a peaceful time.

For some of you, memories of Simon and Garfunkle are more vivid. For me, they are a figment of a folk-time that once was. I listen to them, always, with pleasure. Perhaps their music will provide background music for your new week.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hello, 2011. Good-Bye, 2010

Sometime over the summer, I realized I liked the noise of my world and that the "cacophony" of chaos makes for an interesting, if not bizarre, drumbeat for marching. I decided, then, that 2011 would be about the sonic side of my life.

Welcome. I look forward to hearing from you and the next 365 days to come.

I put together a montage to say "adios" to 2010 and the karmic year that it was (above). In it, I hoped to highlight some of the events of the last twelve months. I apologize if you don't see yourself represented (MOM! IT IS THE GOAL OF ALL THREE OF YOUR CHILDREN TO GET AT LEAST ONE DECENT PHOTO OF YOU THIS YEAR).

And I'm taking full responsibility for the warm temperatures in upstate New York during these last, transitional, days of a new year. Why? I know that it was my KARMA of 2010 that brought on these abnormal temperatures. I'm heading outside, in fact, to listen to the sounds of melting snow and ice while I can hear them...

....and I'm wearing shorts!

Here's to all of us and our 2011 worlds! Let's hope each and every day is spectacular.