Sunday, July 30, 2006

Vocabulaire: pétri de

pétri de - filled with, steeped in
Pétri de bonnes intentions, néanmoins je finis toujours par sombrer, tourné en ridicule.

The masters of the subtle schools are controversial, polymath

Watching: "Deadwood" continues to astound, naturally. "MI-5," which while not as compelling as some of our finest American cable dramas, has nonetheless sucked me into its vortex and I watch avidly. Especially after that second season ending shocker. (Oh my god! He shot Harry! You bastard!) A new show on my list, "The Office" (BBC version --- I have yet to see the American knockoff), is one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the small screen. Ricky Gervais, the co-creator, co-writer and star, is brilliant. His fatuous grin, the way his eyes flicker toward the cameras in a clueless, ostensibly "knowing" moment of collusion with his nonexistent sympathizers as he nervously straightens his tie, his obtuse, foot-in-mouth comments and speedy "recoveries" --- all priceless. If there were Horribly Inflated Entertainment Salary Justice, Gervais would make millions and be a superstar, and Larry the Cable Guy would be... well, dead, I suppose.

Reading: I devoured Greg Rucka's debut novel Keeper, about the bodyguard Atticus Kodiak. I enjoy his comics writing, so figured I must like his prose as well. I was not mistaken; for a debut, this is a remarkably taut and well-paced thriller that kept the pages turning. I already ordered the sequel. I've just begun Post Captain, the second book in Patrick O'Brian's nautical series. Still listening to Shelley's Frankenstein on CD in my car, but heading for the finale pretty soon. I find myself now less critical of the rather clueless doctor's rather iffy decisions than I was when I first read this. I used to think he was hugely at fault and owed the poor monster a mate, but I guess his arguments against it do make sense. Oh, and at a bookstore I picked up for about $4 a TPB of the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four from 1962 to 1963. I have no interest in this title at all, but for four measly bucks I figured I'd get some insight into Marvel's baby steps into the field. Great Ganesh, but Stan Lee wrote some execrable crap. I mean truly appalling writing. Poor word choices, bad diction, stupid plots, shoddy characterization, ridiculous dialogue... the whole nine yards. Oh, there's a lot of imagination and originality here, too, I suppose. But mostly just really, really bad writing.

Listening: A bunch of R.E.M. Daniel Johnston (I got the double album of songs performed by him and covers of the same titles by big names like Tom Waits, Flaming Lips, eels, Bright Eyes, Beck, Death Cab, etc). Good stuff. And... ugh... Pearl Jam. Yes, I've said here that they're boring, and they mostly are. But some horrible beast possessed me and in a moment of weakness I bought their two-disc greatest hits package (for only ten bucks!). There are about eight fine songs on it, including "Daughter," "Wishlist," and "Betterman," among others.

Stealing: Tom the Dog's sidebar rubrics.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Vocabulaire: canon

canon - attractive, beautiful [very slangy]
Entouré des nanas très canons, je ne peux que conclure que je suis affreux et que je mourrai tout seul.
I have self-esteem issues.

Measuring with coffee spoons

"What a terribly long time we’ll be dead; it seems a shame to waste even a second of life on needless negativity."

I wish I were predisposed to live that sentiment.


As part of my ongoing project of interest to no one, possibly not even my own future hypothetical self, below are detailed the graphic novels I bought since last time, along with price paid.
  • Lucifer v. 8: The Wolf Beneath the Tree - $15
The original fallen angel makes the rest of creation fall in line with his Machiavellian schemes. Fantastic. Mike Carey can do no wrong with this series; easily one of the best of the Vertigo line.
  • Preacher v. 2: Until the End of the World - $15
I received the first volume of this series in a comic swap, read it, and was appalled. Not only is it about a preacher, his assassin girlfriend and a vampire out to confront God about what a poor job He's done with the world, it's soaked with brutal, over-the-top gory violence. It made me feel weird, uncomfortable things much the same way that Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers did: paranoid and shaky and needing to remind myself that this was exaggerated, cartoonish violence meant to make a point about the state of the human condition, not necessarily a realistic depiction of evil. As I say, I was appalled --- and I wanted more. So I immediately went out and bought the second volume. Not long after, I was at Half Price Books, where I saw:
  • Preacher v. 3: Proud Americans - $8
  • Preacher v. 4: Ancient History - $8
  • Preacher v. 5: Dixie Fried - $8
It was like a sign from above! The two volumes I already owned were nowhere in sight. They had only the next three books. So I snapped them all up. Along with...
  • Queen & Country: Blackwall (hardcover) - $8
Greg Rucka writes a damn good British spy story. In fact, I think the BBC nicked some of his ideas for the "MI-5" show.
  • Human Target v. 1: Strike Zones - $5
Christopher Chance impersonates people --- marked men, blackmail victims, the hunted --- and rights injustice, or at least tries to. I already had the second book in this series, so was familiar with the concept and liked it. Good solid action/spy/noir adventure. Not exactly a timeless classic, but well worth five bucks, and it would make a terrific TV series. Too bad 99% of television is moribund and desiccated when it comes to interesting ideas.

Seven TPB's purchased in the last month or so at an average price of $9.60. Not too bad.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Simple and faithless as a smile

Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the moon's repose.

After work, the Maddening Angel called me. She had endured a rather trying evening, dealing with the various bodily functions of her cats and her roommates' dogs (pretty much everything, and I mean everything, that can come out of an animal did so within a one-hour period, and she had to clean it all up). I drove down to her place to commiserate and condole, and we talked and had a glass of wine, then met up again at the Hangout. I bought her a few drinks, as she is still poor. Friar was there, of course, and the three of us had fun laughing and playing video trivia. Then MA excused herself, and Friar and I played golf until --- inadvisably, I know --- the wee hours of the morning.

Whatever attraction or interest MA may have had in the past is gone now, it's obvious from our interactions. They're more formal and stilted now, and her body language and conversational topics make it clear I'm no longer the constant companion of day or night that I once was. However, Friar's wise admonishments about her coupled with my own reevaluation of past interactions via the proverbial 20/20, have cooled my raging crush into a wistful, vague sort of wishful thinking. If I were the man that she wanted, I would not be the man that I am. Wise man, that Lyle.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kids are weird: two quick ones

At work. Three-year-old J is painting a stone block for an art project. When he finishes, he puts his brush in the sink, then sits back down at the painting table. He looks at me and asks, "Can I sit here and watch this paint dry?"

Me: "Oh, yeah, let the good times roll, buddy."


My co-teacher remarked to the class in general, "I picked blueberries this weekend."

Six-year-old S: "Really? I fell on a strawberry once."

That's Zen, man.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Trivia session two in the bag

Friar and I presided over another live trivia event at the hangout. Once again, there were only six teams (one of them my father and Potato, one of them the wait staff, two others groups of friends, and the rest strangers). Mr. Hangout once again had forgotten to include it in the place's daily calendar, so the place was (as usual for 8-10 p.m. Mondays) a ghost town. Still, it was hugely fun, a terrific experience. I really do think Friar and I have a good, amusing patter going at the mike, and our questions are just difficult enough to be interesting but not annoying.

Hell, it's really just a way for us to hang out, make people listen to our pedantic bullshit, play tunes we like, and drink for free. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dubya Dubya Three

The scary thing about far-out Christian right-wingers like Newt Gingrich John Gibson, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and Glenn Beck calling the Israel-Lebanon conflict "the start of World War Three" isn't even that they might be right. It's that these people want it to be WWIII, because they think that presages the Rapture!

They are looking forward to the end of the world, and actually hoping it will come about!

It's not only these loonies.

These are people in positions of political or propagandistic power!

Holy shit!


At the TriviaBar, Waitresses W and T thought it would be hilarious to decorate my cider with a paper umbrella, Maraschino cherry, and some frou-frou paper ruff. (They were mocking my distaste for beer.) Well, it was kind of funny. But seriously, since when is hard cider a woman's drink? And since when did beer become a "manly" drink? I mean, I understand whiskey has a reputation as a rough, hard to swallow drink. But beer? It's not like it's difficult to take or strong. It's basically watery bread. It's not that beer is too brutal for me; I find it vile. If I want a hard drink, I choose rum or vodka. And if it's unmanly not to like beer, does that mean that girls who like beer are butch?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sapient search results

Everyone who blogs does this at least once, I think. I've never done it, and having a bit of free time today, thought I'd try my hand at the eye-rollingly bland "Search Terms Post." Sure to catch on like wildfire any day now.

why does hindu elephant snap off his tusk

Do Indians remove elephants' tusks in real life? If so, I guess it's to make them marginally less dangerous for the mahouts. I know why Ganesh snapped off his tusk: to use as a pen so he could write the Mahabarata. I posted about a great primer on some of the more well-known Ganesh myths.

portugeese comic trip

Huh? Use of the deliberate malapropism "Portugeese" will get you here, but I'm not sure what these terms are searching for.

bbc pride and prejudice

The five-hour miniseries with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is a faithful adapatation, full of period costumes and manners, wit and drama and smoldering looks across salons as men in silly coats play cards and women tickle the piano keys.

sapient mcduck

Well, that gets you here (a rather droll post, if I do say so myself, and one which proves I have a scanner). But again, the actual search terms kind of puzzle me.

cambourne's condition of employment

In the education field, a guy named Brian Cambourne listed seven conditions of learning. "Employment," sometimes called "Use," is one of those conditions. It dictates that in order to learn, stduents need to be allowed time to participate in activities that develop their skills. If you don't use it, you lose it --- so stay on-task, kids!

"double knit strangers"

I get a few lyric searches now and then due to my now-lapsed habit of beginning every entry with a (sometimes marginally apt) quotation from a song. I may start that up again. Or not. In any case, this is a line by the unparalleled Tom Waits, in his paean to the broken-hearted denizens of dives and greasy spoons, "Warm Beer And Cold Women."


French for "to grope." Just like the President did to Angela Merkel! Haw! What a rube! No, actually, I'm not with a lot of the lefty bloggers on this one. Yes, Bush is a frat-boy oaf with no sense of personal space and even less sense of formality or decorum ("Hey, Blair baby, let's go kick some ass! Heh heh! You leavin'? Want some of this cornbread?"). And here are the photos to prove it. But I don't see any sexual or gender debasement here. He's just a dumbass out of his depth, thinking he's still at the Delta kegger. At worst, he's just reminding these damn furriners that Merkins rule the world still. My opinion anyhow.

green arrow and hawkeyes arrows

I wrote a fight between these two, which was one of the worst entries in my "superhero fights" blog. The others are a lot funnier. Anyway, yeah, these two guys have trick arrows. There's the infamous boxing glove arrow, the gas arrow, and --- well, Scipio can probably fill you in on the Emerald Archer's best ones.



Kipling's poem about Thugee

Did he write one? I don't know. I have posted reviews of Kipling's books here and here, and written about the practice of Thugee (serial killing in the name of Kali) here.


Hey, that was more fun than I thought it would be. I feel cleansed and purified now, as though I had undergone great trials. This bond having formed between us, let us do lunch sometime.

Ultimate McDuck

Scrooge McDuck may seem like a tiny bundle of feathers held together by overweening cupidity and a short temper, but my friends, that little fowl is one bad-ass mofo. He definitely belongs with this esteemed group of luminaries, or this one. F*@% yeah!

In the graphical novel The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa, we see Scrooge thwart Jesse James and his gang using only a pair of dentures; intimidate Wyatt Earp by swinging a dime on a string; survive a riverboat explosion; face down and use to his advantage lions, bears, wolves, rhinos and other wild animals; engage in a swordfight in full plate armor; destroy a casino with his bare (feathered?) hands while in a berserker rage; and basically beat on everyone who tries to thwart him (click images to embiggen them):

You know a good strategy when single-handedly beating back dozens of toughs? Tossing a wooden chest in somebody's face. You know an even better strategy? Kicking a wheeled wagon filled with copper ore into somebody's solar plexus. You know the best strategy of all? Taking hold of one of the guy's ankles and swinging him around so he and his shovel mow your opponents down like grass.

So just how bad-ass is Scrooge McDuck? It's pretty clear that he could kick Ultimate Captain America's ass. How do I know? Well, Cap doesn't use a parachute (and has a pretty school-yard misogynistic attitude about it, too):

Well, buddy, neither does the duck. He doesn't even use airplanes! (Airplanes are for chicks --- haw!) He just hitches rides on an eagle and falls to the earth wherever he damn well pleases.

Now that's one tough bird! And amidst all this animal husbandry, BASE jumping, vigilantism, destruction and brawling, Scrooge keeps his mind on the only thing that matters: money.

Seriously, this Eisner-award winning book is terrific. It's chock-full of sly wit, real adventure, throwaway visual gags (there's as much happening in these panels as in Sergio Aragones' hyper-busy stuff), and genuine affection for the comic masters of the past. A fun book, definitely not just for kids.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Now it's REALLY over

...The summer semester, that is. The assignment --- an 8-11 page paper on comprehension strategies, was due in electronic format at 9:0 p.m. today. I began at 5:00 and, I'd say, worked on it for a total of two hours, zapping my completed nine-pager in at 8:30 p.m.

No, I'm not taking it all that seriously (though I'm certain I'll get an A), and that may seem arrogant or spoiled --- I am enrolled in school for a reason, after all --- but there's simply no other way to deal with the mind-numbingness of this program in general and this class specifically.

Hot Readhead from our group e-mailed me her paper and, with the cheery, assumptive expectation typical of the hot chick used to watching guys fall over themselves to please her, asked if I would read and edit it. Naturally, I did what she asked and sent it back within the half hour with the comment, "Never let it be said I didn't hop to it when a pretty girl asked me to do something."

Maddening Angel called me --- as did, out of the blue, my former co-worker Joy, whom I believe I last saw at her daughter's party back in January. However, I missed both calls.

Taking days off makes you spoiled. I'm groaning inwardly at having to actually go to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Qué desperdicio

I had a few things planned for posting that might have been funny, but simply too tired and faded to get to them today. Mayhapso another day.

Been rockin' the books on CD lately. First I listened to Master And Commander, and now I'm nearly finished with Frankenstein. Both are books I've read before, both excellent candidates for audial enjoyment because of the rich, poetic language and the strong scene-setting. Listening to book being read helps make the characters and setting closer and more understandable. And boy, does it make the long commute to State School more palatable.

I bought a lot of CDs and some graphic novels. (Half Price Books is my bugbear.) Preacher, Lucifer, Hellblazer... Say! I see a pattern! I'll document the TPB details another day, as part of my ongoing pledge. (And doesn't that make you want to never visit again?)

I watched a little of my Netflix picks (pics?): the BBC production of Pride And Prejudice. Oh, I can roll with the highbrow shit too.

Did nothing toward my Reading II final essay. Nothing!

Finished the David Foster Wallace essay collection. He's a fairly clever guy (although some of the things he writes about make him out to be astonishingly naive in some ways), but by the end I wish Hemingway would have come along and smacked him one. Papa would have knocked those footnotes right out of the smug, pasty bastard. Seriously --- Wallace puts footnotes in his footnotes! A couple of times he put two footnotes on the same word! Several of the footnotes were over two pages of small-font type! That's not a cute postmodern affectation. That's just lazy writing. The point at which the story no longer in any way applies to the phrase to which it's appended by a superscript number --- that's the point at which it's no longer a footnote. If you must tell such a lengthy story (and they are good stories, after all), just find a way to insert it into the main body of text.

Okay, that's about done it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

And so Summer 06 semester comes to an end

We had the last Reading II class today. It wasn't even a real class; the only reason to physically show up was to turn in the essay checklist. Ms. L wasn't even present; she's out of town and her daughter showed up for her. We met in groups to discuss our essays (due in electronic from on Thursday, so the semester isn't technically over yet). As I haven't written a word of mine, I didn't receive much input. I read the first drafts of two of my groups and made what I hope were helpful comments. People started leaving about thirty minutes into it.

I left feeling down again. Perhaps I ought to go back on medication; it helped. Something indefinable and niggling gnawed at me. I suppose it was the flirting of loud, boisterous, but large, bluff and sexy-accented TA (he's from South Africa; American women just melt when they hear English spoken in overseas accents, which I've never understood, having grown up listening to my British father and uncles all my life), contrasted with my own sort of, I don't know, lack of an impact.

A woman ten years older than myself asked me if I wanted to get something to eat after class, and I honestly have no idea if she meant anything other than precisely that, but as I say, feeling down, I declined and left. To be brutally and disconcertingly frank, if she had been a Young Pretty Thing I probably would have eagerly accepted, but this particular woman, while an okay person to talk to (mildly amusing, not annoying or an idiot), I find about as attractive as a tree, so there you have that. Au fond, je manque de profondeur.

Pearl Jam has a two-CD greatest hits package. I was in college when their first album came out. I have nothing of note to show for those years. My novel didn't get published. I'm wasting my vacation. Oh look, another article about Auric. Maddening Angel has no time whatsoever for me. I replay scenes with her in my mind and think about whether (and how) I may have misplayed my hand. "I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." Indifference or rejection has ever been my lot. "And miles around they'll say that I am quite myself again." And young men die on foreign sands as I write self-indulgent, pretentious bullshit.

Live! Fully Clothed! Nerdity!

No work today; I'm taking a four-day vacation. A mini-vacation. A vacationette.

As I recently finished paying off the car I have been leasing for a couple years now, I tried to go get my new title reissued for this state. But I got enmeshed in Stupid Bureaucracy: in order to retitle, I had to get the "green paper" from the mandatory State Inspection (basically just a way for Texas to charge citizens for owning cars and using the streets, which although it sort of rankles [or maybe just itches a bit] at my anti-government inclinations, is basically okay by me, as it discourages multi-vehicle ownership). However, my Inspection was last November, and as the "green paper" is only valid for thirty days, I have to either get re-inspected now, three months early, to the tune of $60 or so, or just wait until the Inspection falls due to transfer the title. I opted for the latter.

I met with the Ex and she paid me some money she owed me. She's quite visibly pregnant now. Meeting her made me sort of sad. I don't miss or want to be with her anymore, but I do miss losing what we had.

But the mopery did not last long, for tonight was Trivia Night! The first (and possibly last) live trivia at the Hangout, hosted by Yours Truly and his good buddy Friar! We wrote the questions (which, as I earlier predicted to the Friar's obdurately deaf ears, were too multipartite for the crowd’s taste, so we redacted and shunted text extemporaneously), picked the music to go with them, tabulated the scores, and had a blast. There were only six teams, but that was about what we expected; the place is normally pretty dead on Mondays, and we had almost no publicity, not even a flyer --- poor planning on our part.

Everyone seemed to have a very good time, there was a lot of witty repartee from tables to stage and back, big cash payoffs were awarded, and of course the hosts (us) drank free. Cool. In all honesty, I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. I mean to say, I have had better times, passed the time more pleasantly I guess, but it’s been a great while since I actually had fun. Friar mentioned several times that he liked the feeling of "control" in emceeing; I’m not as much of a control freak as he (though I am one, certainly), and what I think I liked enjoyed the most was just being part of something real and meaningful that involved other people.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

These are the ten greatest poems

The following are the ten undisputed greatest (English language) poems ever written in the history of poetry, ever. And if you disagree with any of these choices, wow! you have an opinion on poetry. You must be some kind of nerd.

1. Ode To a Nightengale, by John Keats
2. Terence, This is Stupid Stuff, by A.E. Houseman
3. The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot
4. Sonnet 116, by William Shakespeare
5. The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot
6. The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe
7. Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
8. Mr. Flood's Party, by Edward Arlington Robinson
9. Fire And Ice, by Robert Frost
10. pity this busy monster, manunkind, by e. e. cummings

Humerous and light verse can't really be placed in the same category (even if it may have a serious message under the silliness), but here are four notables:

1. The Hunting Of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll
2. This Be the Verse, Philip Larkin
3. Reflections On Ice-Breaking, by Odgen Nash
4. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, Edward Lear

Vocabulaire: une nuée

une nuée - a horde, host, multitude
Attention ! Une nuée de paysans viennent de se pointer à la Bastille. Ils veulent l'anéantir. Ils demandent la Liberté. Ils demandent l'Egalité. Ils demandent du pain.
Vive le 14 juillet, les grenouilles.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Feeling rather down

Today I'm feeling kind of like the person who posted this. I'm practically middle-aged, divorced, and I'm thinking about all the ways in which I've wasted my life and my potential. Yeah, I'm in school to get certified to be an elementary teacher: big deal, and a bit late in life.

I think about my friend Auric, for example, whom I can't help comparing myself with because we went to high school together. Today he's a nationally known singer-songwriter, critically respected and adored by fans. Okay, he's an extreme example, but back when we were kids, all of our little circle were smart, funny, talented, creative people. Friar is a lawyer, as is 74. Flax teaches law school. Deep Blue brings in copious dollars as some sort of tech geek type guy. And all of them happily married, all with kids extant or inchoate. One of my big regrets is that I never got to have kids --- I'd make a terrific parent, no joke --- and now it's probably too late. What have I achieved that I can be proud of? And how likely is it at this point that I ever will achieve anything of note?

What's my problem? Well, an ambsace of ambition and drive, I suppose. Yeah, my life's monetary, social, familial, and creative failure is my fault, but that's not going to stop me from bemoaning it.

Plus, you know, World War III seems to be erupting in Lebanon.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Reading II final

The test tonight seemed easy enough. I finished early, but not first. It's worth 75 out of a possible 200 for the whole class, so I better have done well, but I'm not really worried about it. Studying was not really necessary. The multiple choice section wasn't inordinately tricky, and the fill-in-the-blank section was just stuff like listing Bloom's Taxonomy and the 6 + 1 traits of writing.

I was out an hour ahead of schedule, but did not immediately repair to the Hangout, as I would normally have done. Why not? The Friar is in Florida, attending Flax's wedding; and while I enjoy drinking alone, I don't much enjoy hanging out in bars alone.

All that remains in Reading II is the 8-11 page essay, due in a week. Piece o' cake!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


At the Job. With the Younger Preschool kids, sitting on their squares and ready for a book. I say, "What do you want to read about?"

L (my favorite three-year-old kid ever, crying fits and all): "George Washington."

Me: "Uh!? I'm not sure we even have any books on George Washington... Say, who is George Washington, anyway?"

L: "He's a monkey. And him curious."

I got a grin out of that, but I sure wish she'd said "George Bush."


Picking up a box, I get scraped by a jagged edge, and say "Ow!"

B, a really sweet-natured three-year-old (with a few mild developmental problems due to early neglect, which will probably soon clear up), approached me. "What happen?"

"This box fell down by itself," I said. "And it scraped me."

B: "Me?" (He's a bit iffy on identity reference at the moment.)

Me: "No, it scraped me."

B: "Me?"

Me: "No, look." I point at my own chest. "It scraped me."

B points at me. "Me?"

Me: "No, when you point at me, you say you." I take his hand and tap my chest. "You."

He taps his own chest. "You?"

Me: "No, you say--- Oh, forget it."

B: "Me?"

L, listening in: "No, him."

Now this would likely drive a lot of people up the wall, but me? Sometimes I just love my chosen field. Yes. Me.

A lot of this stuff is meaningless

I'm happy to report that my AC is fixed.

Class tonight was an endless parade of handout and pop quizzes. The quizzes assessed our ability to identify spelling "levels" by writing sample. So, for instance, squiggly lines are, naturally, indicative of the scribbling stage; a drawing with a letter or two underneath is called the drawing stage; several letters strung together with no indication of any phonetic knowledge is called the letter string stage; and so on through the phonetic stages and finally to real spelling with its striations: within-word, syllable juncture, and meaning derivation errors.

Okay. My first problem with all this is that, obviously, this list is not an formal hierarchy. Spelling, like all learning and development, is a continuum. So to say that a drawing with one or two letters is the "drawing" stage but three or four letters and a drawing is somehow now the "letter string" stage is not only useless, it's misleading. If a kid makes, say, six within-word errors and seven syllable juncture errors in a passage, she's at the latter stage? But what if the next day she makes ten within-word errors and one syllable juncture error? Why is everything so stage-centered, anyway?

But my main problem with the quizzes is, honestly, who cares? No, seriously, I want to know. Are teachers in the actual classroom going around identifying kids by the kind of spelling errors they make and labelling them at the "syllable juncture" or "surrounding sound" stages? If so, why? How does that help? Shouldn't we, as aspiring teachers, simply be familiar with how writing develops without putting all these labels, stages and jargon on it? To put it another way, isn't the "skill" of identifying the stages of emergent writing useful only in this here class I am in, and unlikely ever to come up elsewhere?

I dunno. The Reading II final on Thursday, so best just go with the flow instead of kicking against the pricks, eh?


After class, I went to the Hangout. The Friar and I are planning a live trivia night there quite soon. We joined Mr. Hangout and Girl Barfly Whose Name I Never Really Bothered To Learn, and the four of us had a riotous time brainstorming ideas for the name of the trivia game we were going to have, which should give you an idea of the current status of our preparation. Some of the names were quite salacious and I shall refrain from fouling the Internets with examples, but my personal favorite was "Come Answer These God Damned Questions Trivia Night" (happily, overruled). Another possibility, likely prescient, was "Hangout's First and Final Weekly Trivia Night." I mean, Friar's a terrific guy, but a slacker par excellence, and I'm not exactly a dynamo myself. We shall see?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hot. Head hurts.

After work today I got one of the worst headaches in my life. I've never had a migraine before (to my knowledge), but this had some of the hallmarks. (I learned a few of the symptoms when I lived with Deep Blue and the late J [R.I.P.], who suffered terribly, back in Little Canada). My pain wasn't excruciating or even debilitating, but the constant sharp throb kept me aware of little else and literally made me feel nauseous. I tried to relax and watch TV, but the light and noise of "MI-5" irritated me, so I turned it off.

Then my AC went out, and that's no fun in Dallas in July. Within an hour it was above 85 degrees in my house.

Oh, poor pathetic pitiful me. What a whiner. Anyway, I soldiered on bravely and despite it all managed to write about 800 words or so, watch a crappy video presentation on teaching the mechanics of writing, and finish a 12-slide PowerPoint presentation. Thank goodness. This last assignment was meant to be an Electronic Wriitng Portfolio, made up of excerpts of writing over this past semester, with commentary, all to speak to how I stand as a student and a prospective teacher. I approched the assignment cynically, as I always do, but in the end I suprised myself and ended up being kind of proud of what I put together.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I'm working

Due to the lack of class last week and my drunken revelry on the weekend, crunch time has come and I'm busy catching up on three days' worth of assignments. In lieu of an interesting post, here is a handy tip:

Are you tired of living in a dirty house? Your house will be as clean as you want it if you follow these easy steps:
1. Register at a school. It doesn't have to be fancy: Ivy Lagues, State U., or community college all work.
2. Wait until homework, readings, or projects are assigned.
3. Force yourself to sit down and do the work.

Wow! Suddenly, the fact that your carpets haven't been vacuumed in a week, which you've barely noticed until now, really grates on you. And shouldn't you do those dishes before cracking the books? I mean, you'd hate to cram all night and then wake up bleary-eyed and in a rush in the morning, only to have to face all that clutter. And hey --- is that a spot on the countertop? Oh, it won't wipe away, eh? How about a little bleach and scrubbing? That's better. Now to hit the books. Wait a second --- is that a cobweb up there over the desk?

Voila! Your house is clean. You, however, are screwed.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I shall endeavor to remember:

Staying out drinking until 3:00 a.m., then having a turkey, cheese and avocado sandwich at 4:30 a.m. at an all-night diner, then going to sleep, is no longer advisable for a man of my age.

On the other hand, the Elvis Costello tribute band was quite good.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Stymied again

At work, a four-year-old girl held up her square-shaped quarter of a sandwich. She had taken a bite out of the corner. "Does this look like an L?" she asked me.

"Not really," I said.

She laughed. "That's because it's a sandwich."

Abe Lincoln's got nothing on these kids.

I don't

I hate spaghetti and I also hate divorce
You probably already know that but then of course
I like the earthquakes
I like it when the world shakes
I like the cracks it takes out of the walls
When two people, lovers
Are acting like dolls in the arms of each other
That's my alarm
--- Jude, "I'm Sorry Now"

To paraphrase Gerald Ford, my long personal nightmare is over. It's been quite a while since the papers were filed, but at last I went down to the courthouse with Friar, and the final deceree came through. I'm a free man --- or am I just in another kind of prison? The answer is Yes.

By sheer coincidence, the courtroom I appeared in was ten feet away from another in which a child custody case of a child in my class was going on. Three co-workers and one ex had been subpoenaed to testify, but not me. As I chatted with the ex-employee, the mother of the child saw me and got one of her advocates to come and question me so I could testify for her. "God is on my side," the mother exclaimed at the sheer luck of my happening to be there. Unfortunately for her, her advocate asked me two questions and decided that I wasn't needed --- I'm afraid that my expert opinion would not bolster the mother's case.


There was no Reading II tonight --- another online class --- so naturally I went out drinking to celebrate. As soon as I walked in, Mr. Hangout began to chastise me over my treatment of that flirty drunk girl on the fourth. "She liked you, dude! Why'd you have to go and push her away like that?" Mr. Hangout is a bit of skirt-chaser himself and couldn't understand my attitude. "She told me she was married," I said. Mr. Hangout and cronies hooted at that. "So what?" he asked. "She was asking for it --- and she was asking you for it!" While it is true that I would never interfere in a marriage, I doubt I would have taken any physical steps with old drunkie, whose name I have already forgotten, even if she hadn't made her marriage clear upfront. Call me crazy, but I tend to distrust inebriated hookups.

I was a bit mopey at Hangout tonight, because I'd gone over to Maddening Angel's for a brief visit at her new digs. It'd been a while since we'd been face to face --- she'd been out of country and I've been extremely busy with class and work before that --- and right away all my old mixed-up, ambivalent feelings came back. I was so happy just to sit on the couch with her, and so crushed when she talked about her recent social life. I dunno, I'm nuts.

Waitress T came by to see me for a single drink at the Hangout, which was nice. Friar asked if she was "my latest thing," as if I'm some sort of serial dater, and not a poor unattached solitary schlub with a couple of female friends. No, T's just a friend, and only a sporadic one at that.

Near the end of the evening, when we were both a little tipsy and expansive, Friar gave me some tough talk about life in general and about MA. He doesn't think much of her, irritated by the way he perceives that she plays the part of the cute girl toying with the affections of her friends. And there's a lot of truth in that. Friar's rough outline made her seem nothing special, and certainly no one who'd be good for me. And indeed, in these very pages I've often written the same thing: I know MA and I would make an atrocious and short-lived couple, but you know, penser clairement avec le coeur est inutile.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Still loving "Deadwood" for its complex interweaving plots and the superb language, like a drunken revivalist preacher heavily influenced by gangsta rap --- Al Swearengen's soliloquies specifically. However, it's been four episodes so far this season, and I'm starting to feel like the Ramsbottoms when they went to the seaside in Mariott Edgar's poem:

Well they didn't think much to the ocean,
The waves, they was piddling and small.
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded,
Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

Look, Shakespearian speeches, flawed heroes, wheels within wheels, dastardly villains, top-notch acting, and exquisite characterization can only get you so far. If someone doesn't get brutally beaten in the streets in the next few episodes, I shall complain to David Milch. What is this, Paint Your Wagon?

I'm just an old iconoclast

Ah, the Fourth of July. Time for jingoism, fireworks, beer, barbecue and frisbee on the lawn.

But not for me.

I ate sushi, drank green tea, watched "Jeopardy" with my father, and the only time I saw a firework was from my car as I drove to the bar. Wearing a T-shirt with Native American imagery on it.

At the Hangout, I played video golf and other games with the Friar. A bunch of the old barflies, including Fat and Tall among several others, joined us at the end of the evening to form the All-Time Greatest Music-Trivia Supergroup and get the highest score ever seen!

Except we didn't. Possibly a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, or we're not quite as know-it-all as we like to think we are.

I had nice phone conversations with Maddening Angel and Waitress T, two beautiful, funny girls that I'm happy to call my friends.

And throughout the evening an exceedingly pretty and, as the evening wore on, a progressively-drunker girl played the trivia games with Friar and I. Like a lot of girls when under the influence, she was quite friendly, calling me cute, touching a lot, admiring my biceps, and, at once point, rubbing my cheeks until her thumbs entered my nostrils. Okay, she was pretty drunk. And though I'm wise enough to know that this attention is meaningless from one so inebriated --- and that in the cold sober unflattering light of day I'm a decidedly unappealing guy in terms of looks --- it's a simple masculine fact that a fellow will enjoy the flirting of a pretty, vivacious girl wheresoever it may be found.

So I had a fairly nice Fourth. I hope you all did too.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Less work = lazy fun

Because of the holiday weekend, the Job had very few kids today. I didn't go in until 12:30 and left at 4:30. half day! Woooo! I watched some episodes from the second season of "Arrested Development," watched some of a bad mystery movie, and read a little. I read some of a very lengthy history of nautical exploration (Victorian men of steel braving inhospitable frontiers = excellent high adventure) and some essays in a David Foster Wallace collection (trying way too hard to be a post-modern prose stylist = more irritating than enlightening). Walked the dog. That kind of thing.

So, anyway, lazy day.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Revisiting old favorites

I've mentioned that I'm a list nerd, and have been cataloguing all the songs I own (it's a lifetime task). This has led me to listen again to several albums that I haven't played in quite a while --- in some cases, years. This is the story of just four of those lucky albums.

* Basehead - Not In Kansas Anymore
I enjoyed immensely Michael Ivey's one-man slacker dreamtime hip-hop brainchild when he released his debut album, Play With Toys. This follow-up was a big let-down when I first heard it. It's certainly still in the spirit of the masterful debut (unlike the schlocky Christian albums Basehead would release later), but to me there's something missing on this album. Perhaps it lacks that freshness of novelty, or the artistic hunger of a young man recording beer-drenched message music in his bedroom, as Play With Toys was. Whatever magic it is, Not In Kansas doesn't have it. I listened to it a few times over the past few days, but my reaction is still the same as my initial one: disappointingly boring.

* Liz Phair - Whitechocolatespaceegg
Again, I was a huge fan of Phair's debut, Exile In Guyville. This album I was rather ambivalent about when I first heard it. There were several excellent tracks, but about half of it didn't move me. And there I let it lay; I'm sure that after perhaps two or three initial listens, I didn't put this album on again for literally five years. Giving it another chance recently, I was amazed. It's a masterful, although experimental, album. Many of the songs deal with divorce and childbirth. I'm thinking now that I simply wasn't mature enough to appreciate the songs I didn't like. What turned off many other people about Whitechoc --- this is her least-selling album, I think --- is the array of different musical styles, as if that's a negative thing, translating to being unfocused and uncertain in message. Which it can, of course, but not necessarily, and not in this case. I rather think that here Phair is dabbling in a broader musical palette while honing her already keen observations on sex, gender roles, and now parenthood. My revised opinion: a brilliant album delivered to the right fan base at the wrong time.

* Edie Brickell and New Bohemians - Shooting Rubberbands At the Stars
* Poi Dog Pondering - Wishing Like a Mountain And Thinking Like the Sea
Two Texas bands, two albums released in 1989. I bought these on CD many years after loving the cassettes my senior year of high school. These are definitely nostalgia albums for me, bringing back memories of a time I enjoyed very much. Dallas native Edie Brickell's wistful folk-rock is, to me, the more lightweight of this pair. Surprisingly, there's not all that much to scoff at in this 23-year-old woman's debut (although the lyrics to "What I Am" are the kind of simple pseudo-Zen that is so often laughed at by both the more fully educated and the less educated than the writer). On the other hand, there's not much that stands out from the instrospective folk crowd, either.
Although Poi Dog is possibly the lesser known and more reviled of the two, I enjoy Wishing a whole lot more than Brickell's debut. I'm a sucker for the "get out there and live to the fullest and embrace your mistakes and death and love and everything" philosophy that the record exhorts, even if I'm not much a practitioner of it myself. So today, in my mid-thirties, I have to say that Edie Brickell's album, while a fond memory, is not my cup of tea at all (and I think 18-year-old Chance would have agreed, even then), but Poi Dog had some decent folk chops (which 18-year-old Chance didn't fully appreciate back then).

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Go, England...

...And don't come back.

My father and I watched our fatherland get tossed from the World Cup by Portugal. A 0-0 tie after 120 minutes, it went to sudden death and the Portugeese won three kicks to two. The shame of it was that old Albion didn't play particularly badly --- in fact, their loss was due in no small part by the (Argentinean!) ref's questionable call in throwing out one of their top players. Anyway, that's it for those chaps.


Speaking of British things, I saw Eddie Izzard's Dress To Kill for the first time. I've heard mucho gushing about its hilarity all over the internets, of course. In this instance, the hype does not overstate the point; it's a truly witty bit of comedy. There are plenty of classic bits --- "Do you have a flag?," "Death or cake?," the ineffectually British Darth Vader, etc. --- but the one scene that had me crying with laughter was when Izzard, through a series of subtle gestures (a nod, a wiggle of the eyebrows), kept denying, affirming, re-denying, and re-affirming the ostensible death of pop singer Englebert Humperdink. Now that's sheer talent.

I kick ass!

Test: 100 Pedagogy and Professional Resp EC-4

Total Scaled Score: 287/300
Status: Passed


Designing Instruction & Assessment to .. 25 24

Creating a Positive, Productive ... 12 11

Implementing Effective, Responsive ... 25 23

Fulfilling Professional Roles & Rspnsts 18 17

Test: 101 Generalist EC-4

Total Scaled Score: 294/300
Status: Passed


English Language Arts & Reading 40 39

Mathematics 15 14

Social Studies 15 14

Science 15 15

Fine Arts, Health, & Physical Education 15 14

Ass I tell you! Copious amounts of ass!