Monday, February 28, 2011

Why I DON'T Watch T.V.

I was extracting notes from several books I've read, so I thought it would be safe to turn on the movie screen that is central to my living room - the new t.v... I had it on earlier for the U of L game (Go Cards!). I turned it again for the white noise while I worked at night.

The first story that caught my attention was Dateline's report of a sinking cruise ship with live footage of rescuing people before it went under. Every time I looked up, another drastic story freaked me out of old people falling from helicopter ropes to the swarm of the shark-infested sea. I was channeling my Uncle Dick here, because he always pulled me into these stories of international insanity and found a way to laugh. I have a hard time with it.

But then Minute to Win It came on. Now, I know my brother-in-law's deck party had us play such games, but I'd never seen the show. Last night was family night and watching the woman knock off soda cans with rubber bands nearly gave me a heart attack. The stress was too much. Here I am reading about cannibalism, rape, starvation and massacre in Africa without a blink of an eye, but the American television of blowing cups off a table with excess balloon air has me stressed to a max. It will interrupt my sleep for many weeks to come.

Hmmm. America. World. America. World. America World.

The Gods Must Be Crazy and I'm crazy, too. I'm not turning my t.v. on any more. It's too much. I will stick with my books.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

ba dum dum da dum da!

What goes around comes around, and last night I watched my little sister's kids, so she could have a night off to watch my other sister's kid "Let Go" in the ESM gymnasium. I cracked up watching Sean use his little legs to master a Wii game, but also viewing Jacob mosey about in his Jacob way, eventually to put on his big brother's shoes and take his Wii paddle for a walk.

Precious is the word for trying to keep them quiet so their father could sleep. The energy is endless and priceless.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Byrab Krabdakk

I laughed when I began my day yesterday with a letter for Byrab Krabdakk (obviously a typo) that was sent to me from Hilton Gardens in Chicago. Byrab Krabdakk. I like that as a pen name. Nice. Someone they meant to communicate with but obviously an error on their part. The world is a noisy place and I love the good intentions of the Chicago hotel to keep a professional tie. I'm humored by the error and embrace it for the humor. Byrab has a nice ring to it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

There are others like me

The only memorable noise from yesterday was when I got out of the shower and heard my refrigerator leaking. This has happened before and thawing it out, restarting it, and letting it re-cool itself has helped. Even so, it is a pain in the butt. Actually, my refrigerator in Clarksville, Indiana, did the same and I got another refrigerator. I brought the old one to New York with me....don't ask me why. This cooler, however, was given to my father and it works in his laundry room just fine.

Now, in New York, my refrigerator is doing the same thing.

I found this video and laughed. The optimism of making a bad situation a good one (e.g., gardening) put a smile on my face. I don't have time to be that clever at the moment, but I continue to find a few seconds to post such brilliance on my Cacophony page. I can spare enough time to do that.


Thursday, February 24, 2011


On the train from NYC to Syracuse, I found myself humming Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" to rest my wary mind after a world wind of spastic travel. Since I departed last week, nothing that I imagined would meet the reality of my Madison, Chicago, NYC, Connecticut, Syracuse romp. It may take me a while to get my mind refocused on having two feet in my home.

In short, I'm fried.

But, I've been fried before. And I have to know when to hold. Know when to fold. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.
That is why I'm going to sleep on a bed that doesn't feel like a plank that is resting on the highways of tractor trailers. That is what my hotel the last two nights was like.

Have a great Thursday. I'm heading to the library.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ode to Cologne

While in an interview with a Dean, I noticed a painting on her wall that was made of musical composition (note, the drawing below is actually notes on a scale to be played by musicians). It was a recreation of the church in Cologne, Germany, that I visited when I was 19 years old and it took my breath away. The artist, Geoffrey Wharton, created the composition by drawing the cathedral in musical notes (and the music above is its instrumentation). I was mesmerized by her story of the Cathedral and her University's connection to the music.

The coincidence sparked my interest and I thought about the brilliance it takes to make musical art out of an architectural wonder and I was blow away by the fact that musical notes were used to draw the structure that I witnessed in my youth. The fact that a scale can be aligned with a physical scale truly fascinated me and I knew I had to find a video to hear what the composition sounded like. Wow. Wow on multiple levels.

I wonder what our homes, our cities, our buildings, our lives would look like if we encouraged students to write in musical notes. I imagine it would be magical like this piece of work. I am going to sleep a humble man. If one lifetime of labor can mimic such genius than I will be a happy man.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I landed

After a mini-adventure through the midwest, I safely landed in NYC, took a cap to Westchester county, did laundry, and ended up in Connecticut. Everything I packed for the trip, however, is in my home because I didn't get back to Syracuse to fetch in. So yesterday's improv video may have to take place for tomorrow's shindig. Such is the cacophony of my life in February.

And if I haven't said it before, there is nothing like landing in NYC. The city is alive and doesn't sit still. I suppose I'd hate it if it was my daily reality, but it is a stupendous symphony to visit.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Improv Everywhere

Kevin Leander, from Vanderbilt, turned me on to this group who does improvisational musicals in random places. I kept thinking about them as I was shipped out of Madison and sent to Chicago. At the bus depot and the airports, I totally could have used a musical interlude of corniness. I guess I should be thankful that I found a bed to sleep in at the Hilton outside of O'Hare airport. There are no words to explain the chaos of my life this last month and there will be a time when I look back on it and I think, "Well, that was an interesting piece of my history."

In the meantime, sing some songs today in a random place. Make life a sitcom of music.

It's all we have.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In a march with colleagues

It is an interesting time to be in Madison, WI, while the streets are filled with protesting teachers, families, and their students. Helicopters are swirling the area with cameras and shouts are arriving through walls and windows. The numbers are tremendous and the fight is a good cause. Unity maters.

Of course, there are two sides to every issue. America's unions are complicated and, at least for the auto industry, labor was moved overseas because it was too expensive to pay industrial employees...what unions advocated for. Are we heading to the same space for American educators? Unions protect the work teachers do, but do they also enable bad teachers to continue doing bad jobs in schools? Have teachers become to exspensive?

Very complicated question for a complicated period in history.

Everywhere is Cairo these days. Only time will tell.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another One

In addition to yesterday's goat, I have been enthralled by Chewbacca. Today's task is to impersonate the wilderbeast from Star Wars at least three times. I expect to hear the goat and Chewbacca the next time I see you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday's Challenge

I am heading out of Syracuse for a while, and I post this Capital One commercial, not because I promote banking industries, interest, and our credit card fanaticism, but because I'm addicted to the goat. Every time I hear that goat's bleat I try to impersonate it. I can't do it, however, and I'm throwing a challenge out to the Cacophony of 2011. I want everyone I know to practice their impersonation of the Capital One New Orlean's goat and be prepared to impress me the next time I see them.

You'd better rehearse because this one's hard. I can't get it down and I've been trying really hard in the shower and when driving on the highway. I recommend you work with your friends and family to get advice. It is a tricky creature to impersonate.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Day After

This is the second year I've had a Facebook birthday. I loved hearing from everyone, but I finally had to turn the Blackberry off. It buzzed all day and I couldn't get anything done. I am truly, truly appreciative to everyone in my world. In my utopia, we would have much more face-to-face time instead of just online time.

With this said, I can't complain. Life is great, if not hectic. Please stay in touch and don't wait another 365 days to touch base, okay?

Thanks for the cakes, the kind words, the gifts, the cards, and for the reasons to celebrate. I am also thankful for my sister's reasons why I will always consider Syracuse, New York, my home.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It looks like dog food, but...

A long day at the university, the gym, then a quick stop home for dinner. Old Mother Hubbard went to the Cupboard and lucky for me, Dad's goulash was in the fridge. I heated it up and, yum, it was the perfect meal to warm a belly and to give me brain food for another night of writing.

Forgive my manners and the fact that I am eating in front of you and if I chew with my mouth full, I am sorry. I don't think I voiced enough delight while chewing this dinner, but trust me, it was really delicious and a bonus meal for a February night. The hot sausage was just right. A happy man.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Posting W/O Viewing

You Tube recommended this to me. I don't know why, but when I went to make a post today, this was there waiting. I haven't watched it yet, so if it is offensive, I apologize.

As with everything in the 21st century, data is analyzed and spits out a demographic, so now when I visit You Tube, there's suggested videos for me...based on personal interests, I guess. This was the first suggested video and because I'm teaching a poetry workshop to my students and also next week on a job talk, the title caught my eye.

I'm too tired to know if this makes any sense, but I want to stay on top of my posting game. Like you, I will watch it when I come to it during the day. Won't be fun if it is obnoxious...then again, such is the cacophony.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What I learned about shopping late on a Sunday night

They have no bananas. Knowing my eating habits depend on fast grabs and easy fixes, I stopped at a grocery store on my way home to pick up easy eateries: bananas, crackers, apples, and microwaveable lunches. Alas, they had no bananas. I was distraught and, like the Muppet chef, I walked the aisles singing the song.

I learned that the early shopper gets the fruit and the late night shopper is out of luck.

It's disheartening, too, because I enjoy the quick potassium after or before the gym. Lesson learned.

Happy Valentine's Day. I imagine that all the sweethearts of the CNY area will receive bananas from one another to celebrate the love. That must be where they all went.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Memory and a Favorite Song

I heard from my high school friend, Vickie, today and was reminded of the first time I met her and she poured a bottle of Dr. Pepper over my head. She wrote in memory of a time we stayed after school at the junior high and found a swing set and where we spent an afternoon swinging and talking about growing up. Her card to me reminded me that our class is heading into the last years of our thirties and that we, the class of 1990, will slowly turn forty in the next 365 days.

Perhaps we still feel young and can't believe we're not the fifteen year-olds we once were. Those were days of parties where we got together for pizza and a horror fill to scare ourselves to death. We'd wander neighborhood streets emancipated from school and our families, just to hang out and talk. Life was light back then and we were a circle of friends.

Twenty years later is a blink of an eye and now we're all over the country and living chosen lives that none of us could ever imagine.

In high school, my Nissan Sentra often played the Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians sound track and I can remember, vividly, the first time I heard the song in a movie shown by Ms. Smith the health teacher. I stayed after the class to find out whose voice provided that soundtrack. I became a fan that day and, in college, I found others who also listened to "Shooting Rubberbands at the stars. I suppose, in many ways, they've offered a soundtrack for my everyday and I am thankful for the noise that has comforted for a large portion of my life.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feel Free To Translate

My friend from my undergraduate days, Terrance Cheng, has published another book. I treated myself to reading this work on the flight home and it makes me rather proud to know my ol' college bud has scripted his second novel. He was always an inspiration to me because he remained his own person and kept his integrity when we were students. It is fascinating to see how his prose has continued to fuse his culture, his American identity, and his ability to weave a story. It's cool for me to think...I knew him when.
"Deep In The Mountain," his book, was about a chubby Chinese kid learning to find himself through meeting an experienced artist in Shanghei. I hope to get in contact with him soon to see what his next project is.

Friday, February 11, 2011

On The Road

The journey is odd, difficult, and strange. At times, however, it is beautiful. The larger pictures of the universe come together and, for a moment, they make sense and put everything into perspective.

I was at lunch with members of the search committee when I looked up and see a young man from Sudan. He was eating alone and I went to talk with him. He graduated from a school in Louisville and had one of my old students as his history teacher. Coincidence. Then I looked to another table and a father of another of my students was eating. He had visited me in Syracuse when his son was looking at colleges in the northeast. I jumped up and, seconds later, his son - who I taught - also came in.

Andrew was in my class the last year I was teaching in Louisville and was a stellar student who I cherished greatly. We've kept up over the years and on days when the sun breaks through the Syracuse gray, I always think of him because his last name means "God" in German. He is finishing a physics degree and, because Cat Stevens united most of the Brown School graduates, I post "On The Road" to remind me of the crazy coincidences of moving from here to there and how, retro to karma, reunions arrive at just the right time.

Such signs are meant for us to interpret and, when we're lucky, they present themselves just when we need to think more deeply about the journey. This post is for Andrew. We're all on the road to find out. I am thankful that "finding out" meaning in the infinite cosmos is aligned at times to provide us a little more sense.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fitting Music for Last Night's Soap Opry.

I landed in Nashville and they had half an inch of snow. The city was paralyzed and traffic was a parking lot. Even so, Bob the shuttle man picked me up and I traveled with Bernadette, her wheelchair, and another woman named Billie. We were traveling 2 miles per hour when we learned we had an emergency. We had to pick up another driver and her customer who were stuck in snow. David was a yuppie and didn't want a woman driver. In fact, he demanded we take him to a hotel in Nashville, which we did. He talked non-stop about how we were foolish for traveling in this blizzard. Seriously, you could sweep the streets clean. Even so, cars were on the sides of the road everywhere. You'd think we were Chicago!

I made it to my destination safely, but only after Bernadette and her wheelchair talked Bob into allowing me to go into a steak joint to get us french fries.

The shuttle didn't have heat, however, except when were got the van going 55 m.p.h., which wasn't until we got of the exit to the hotel. We were rather cold.

Good thing, we all had a sense of humor. You couldn't make anything up. Of course, the university is closed tomorrow morning due to the storm. We shall see where the adventure takes me next.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

using my imagination while running

I am thankful for the gym for being warm and dry. I am thankful it allows me to run indoors while it remains arctic outdoors. And I am thankful that I can watch movies while running.

Yesterday, I finally watched Rush Hour with Jackie Chan. It was hilarious and as I trotted, I imagined myself in a fight with him. I would lose, of course, but it was fun to imagine. Hilarious script.

I have said numerous times that when I finally retire from whatever labor I'm doing, I will spend the rest of my life watching all the movies I never had time of. Let's see...this was 1998. It's 2011. I finally got to it while on a treadmill. Something is wrong here, but everything is right.

What does this have to do with noise? Everything. Guns, slaps, punches, and Jackie Chan singing, "War, ha! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Name Is Right

It was driving me nuts that I couldn't remember the names of all my students, and then I had a dream. I was on the Price Is Right and I had to play a game where I had two minutes to tag them all, so I decided to make this game a reality. I played the above soundtrack, made name cards, and then ran and tagged my students. When I finished, if I was right, they were allowed to sit down. I got them all right on the first try.

It was fun running around the room tagging students, although the music added a pressure I didn't expect. I got confused. Even so, I won!

Too bad there wasn't a brand new car as a prize!

Monday, February 7, 2011

grumpy Bry

All work and no play makes Bryan a cynical man. Even so, being a couch critic is part of the noise in my head, so why not express it? When I think about the cash that flows so quickly, I this money well spent? But then I think, least money is being spent. Somewhere an economy is stimulated. If I could spend lavishly, I would...but as yesterday's post shows, I can't.

Money makes the world go round. Where it is abundant, democracy occurs to more people. We are not Cairo.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

sad reminder of these last four years

Alice sent me this link last night as a joke, but it resonated too close to home. The jokes on Ph.D students are usually based on sad, sad truths and I watched as Lisa threw crumbs to the geese and my stomach growled. If only I was at that park when she was being so generous.

And the pony tail. I would love to have my hippie locks from yesteryear but sadly I removed my shag twice as I attempted to grow up. As a 38 year-old graduate student, my grays are obvious.

The good news, however, is the glimmer of light in the long, long tunnel I've traveled. I hope it isn't a firefly that got lost from its flight and that there is actually oxygen ahead. I've been holding my breath for a long, long time.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Morning Flashback

I always knew it was Saturday morning during my adolescence because I woke up to Pee Wee's Playhouse. There are many occupations one can have in life, but I'm unsure if any seems as fun as being a dork like Pee Wee. Actually, Ellen Degeneres's show has potential. I imagine it might be fun to be a host on a show like hers.

Either way, while you are viewing this, I will be presenting at the Central New York Reading Conference. Perhaps I should dress in a bow tie and make my session a little more whacky than I usually do.

Friday, February 4, 2011

counting sheep

Exhausted, I went to bed early last night and hoped to count sheep in my comfortable hotel bed. I know I won't have a mattress like this for some time and I want to take advantage of losing myself in nirvana for one more night. This video is a little disturbing, but it serves its point.
Cockle doodle doo. I hope to feel rested. You?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Long Stories, Short

Because of the incoming weather, I had to work a few miracles to get a flight out of Syracuse before the snow hit (which, by the way, I've learned never hit). After a series of miracles, schedules, and availability, I was scheduled to take off and land around midnight a day early. Just a little stress before the added stress of having to present my research in front of strangers. I've never been at the airport when it was so still. The only flights taking off were the ones heading to the south. The midwest and northeast are practically paralyzed. All hype and little delivery.

I used the few hours in the air to get papers graded. The usual cacophony of the airport wasn't as abundant. Instead, there were just many anticipating the snow to come. The stillness was eerie.

PS: I think that's Nancy M's voice on the intercom!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday Task

Stick out your bottom lip.

Pull out your pointer finger.

Run your pointer finger up and down on the bottom lip while making a "bap bup bip" repetitive sound.

That is the sound I can be heard making day in and day out. It is also the sound, I imagine, anyone removing this snow is singing, too!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sungha Jung

I've posted before that one of my favorite instrumentals is Ennio Morricone's score to Cinema Paradiso from the movie title of the same name. Every time I hear the song, I try to picture the images of my history as if it is played before me on a movie screen.

That is today's assignment. Close your eyes. Listen. Allow images of your history and past to come to you in a mind movie. Reflect.

Here, Sungha Jung provides the acoustics for you to think about your world. Are your eyes closed to let the chords trigger the memories? Close them. Enjoy the images.