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.


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


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.


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


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!