Thursday, March 30, 2006

True love's not worth much more than that

Can't go back, can't go straight
Can't turn
Can't cross the bridge I've yet to burn

--- Imperial Teen, "Imperial Teen"

Short work day and the very last two hours I shall ever spend at H Elementary (as a student observer, anyway, and probably period). The first hour was with a second grade ESL class. The teacher, a male for once, taught in English and the students mostly spoke in Spanish. He told me that a lot of them were ADD, and it showed. Half of them were on task for the most part, but about four or five, all boys, were all over the place. They took every single opportunity they could to disregard the classroom's sense order. They knew what they were doing, too; deliberate mischief was clear in their eyes. The teacher spoke in a calm, quiet voice, never once showed impatience, and had several strategies for dealing with the unruly behavior. One of those was to escort a particularly egregious transgressor to the hall.

Another method, turning off the lights and having the class as a whole put their heads on the table until absolute silence reigned, worked, but I question its efficacy. And here I'm second-guessing the teacher, which I hate to do, because as a teacher (of sorts) myself I know how little an outsider can grasp about the subtle interplays of power within a classroom. However, I found myself wondering if it was best to force the whole class, even the girls and one or two boys who were working, to stop in mid-task, and make everyone accountable for the actions of a few.

Also, since so many problems seemed to arise from kids getting up, switching seats, moving back and forth, etc., I wondered why Mr. Teacher hadn't set up a simple seating arrangement. The kids' names taped on the back of the chairs and at the edge of the table, perhaps in an alternating boy-girl-boy arrangement, might nip a lot of that activity in the bud.

On the other hand, maybe it would just cause more trouble. Being an old classroom hand myself, I'm always willing to give teachers the benefit of the doubt. (This is one point of difference between Spooky and me; when she shows me letters that Baby's teacher has sent home and expects me to commiserate with her, I often find the notes to be quite reasonable.)

The second hour was a rather boring third grade English lesson. The class read a story together and then in pairs. The teacher timed them; I suppose quick reading is some skill necessary for the TAKS. I don't like to encourage speed-reading, myself --- being a very fast reader but a less than satisfactory processor of text --- but whatever. And then I was out of there!


In Classroom Management, the presentation on Boys Town went well. Our group (including the amazingly hot Scarlett and Nicole) did a little skit on the history of Boys Town, then we showed a clip of the film starring Spencer Tracy, and then we stood and rattled off some facts about the program. It was fun enough, and both a good way to teach and to learn.


What has one eye and pees?


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Slay the false and guard the real

Love is king with crown of gold
Without love a touch feels cold
Without love it just won't satisfy
--- Jonathan Richman, "Satisfy"

Penultimate observation sessions at H Elementary today. I went to a sixth grade class for the third time (how informative!). I observed a little bit of science seatwork, then a group bathroom break, then the transition of another sixth grade section into the room, then another long bathroom break (the whole class trundles out from one portable building outside, down the walkway, and to another portable where the toilets are). How helpful to my future career! What a valuable way to spend the students' time!

The next hour was an art class. First the first graders, then the kindergarteners, crafted something out of Model Magic (there was no set assignment, thankfully) and painted it. This was a fun experience. Some of the kids were quite creative: I saw everything from a monster attacking a building to a pancake to a family of snowmen. One Hispanic boy came up to me and showed me his piece: a snowman-like figure looking at a smaller figure holding a sphere. "He's said," the boy said, pointing to the small one, "because his dad won't play ball with him." Awww!

The teacher had the kids do their own cleanup. This worked better for the first graders than the kinders, who got a little carried away taking the pots of paint-tainted water to the sink and replacing it with clean water. Not only did they splash a lot, but they started carrying the clean water back again, just to be able to have something important to do again. One girl, whose arm was in a cast, got her belt loop stuck on a low cabinet handle next to the sink, and I had to rescue her, laughing. The teacher was sweet and patient and very nice, and it was all great fun. A boy gave me his picture of "Gozilla" breathing fire on a building, and when I helped the teacher escort the kids to the carpool waiting area, I had two or three kids hanging on both hands. Kids that age just naturally love me.

When I got home, I worked on my lesson plan for Math Methods due that day (TEKS 4.4A, on multiplication and division using arrays and area models). I stayed up past midnight last night doing the other Math assignment, a reflection on the Gifted and Talented program. Finished with time to spare and drove up to class. We worked on some algebraic stuff and geometry. Handy geometry tip: all squares are rhombuses.

I got 88% on my midterm, which I wasn't exceptionally happy with, but a 95 on the take-home portion. I'm far from a grade-grubber, but as this is for a career, I need to make As.


Some trouble on the Spooky front. After class, I called her and she asked me to drop by. I drove down to her place. Her door was open. I got out of the car and saw her sitting at the table. I heard peals of her laughter, and saw Babydaddy bend over to kiss her. I immediately got in my car and drove off, but then felt I needed to at least address the issue. So I called Spooky and had her meet me out front, where we talked for a bit.

I don't for a moment think she's still sleeping with Babydaddy. But they do have an emotional bond, obviously, and there's still a lot of affection that goes beyond the friendly there. I certainly don't want to wander into that kind of environment. I drove out of my way to see her, not to "hang out" with her and the father of her child, or to observe even the most innocent of interactions between her and someone with whom she has so much history. Elle asked if I was settling, being with Spooky; I think I am. There's a lot about this that bugs me.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One star shining

Heard that tune, and now I'm pining
Honey, can't you see
'Cause every time I hear that melody
Well, something breaks inside
--- Tom Waits, "Grapefruit Moon"

At the Job, I talked to the Boss about working the afternoon shift instead of mornings; it would be easier on me and mesh with my night school schedule better. However, she vetoed the idea, except in the case of Fridays, when she wants to spend time away from the school with her daughter, so she prefers me to take her place. Showing once again her infamous predilection for heavily favoring her own whims when determining schedules.

In Science, we did our Life Science presentations; I did the animal teeth lesson I did by default after the teacher got her wires crossed about my original plan. I felt confident while talking, but the hands-on stuff didn't go as smoothly as I'd liked. On the whole it wasn't the eximious and special display I think of myself as giving; I don't feel exactly exuberant with victory about it. I didn't get any more applause than anyone else, and though a few people said I did well, it may be they were just being polite. Anyway, I shall see, for our lessons were videotaped, and we have to write two-page essay style critiques of our efforts!

Very very busy. two things due tomorrow in Math Methods, it's 11 p.m. and I have H Elementary to go to after work tomorrow...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Don't make me pay for your mistakes, I have to pay my own

The country needs a father
Not an uncle or big brother
Someone to keep the peace at home...
Though some say you'll only understand a gun
Got to prove them wrong
Or you will lose the battle
Don't you know we'll start a war
Which will be won by none
--- Steppenwolf, "Move Over"

Written in 1969, and yet more apt than ever today. How sad.

Reading I was so boring that I wanted to claw my brain out through my eye sockets.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Language beanie

Here's an interesting language factling.

The city of Mumbai (birthplace of the great Rudyard Kipling, by the way) was until recently known as Bombay --- a name that is still much more widely recognized in the Western world.

What's in a name? Well, the reason that the name was changed is that "Bombay" is more than likely a foreign derivation, which rankles the ire of Indian nationalists. Mumbai is located on India's west coast, on the Arabian sea. The name of the city is likely derived not from any Hindi or Sanskrit words, but from a Portuguese phrase --- bom bahia, meaning "good bay."

So there's your useless fact for the day: that word "Bombay," which conjures up so many exotic images to the Western mind, is not Hindi or Marathi or Konkani, but a Portuguese compound cognate. A historico-linguistic leftover akin, by the way, to "Mandarin," our name for the most widespread Chinese dialect, which name is not derived from Chinese at all, but Portuguese mandar, to govern. Boy, those Portugeese really got around, didn't they?

[Note for nitpickers: The Portuguese etymology is speculation, but fairly solid speculation. Some allege that the Marathi name Mumbai (possibly derived from the goddess Mumba) was used for the area before colonial occupation, and that the British distorted the extant "Mumbai" into "Bombay." This is possible, but less likely.]

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I was a young boy that had big plans

Life's a bitch and so am I
The world owes me, so fuck you
Wasted youth and a fistful of ideals
I had a young and optimisitic point of view
--- Green Day, "The Grouch"

* Spooky's Babydaddy fixed my phone a few days back. I thought it beyond repair after being submerged in soapy water and washed briefly on the 17th. Yet it's once again as good as it always was, so I returned the new phone I bought! Yes! Money back! Score! (Hey, it's the little victories in life that count.)

* As I predicted, Babydaddy and Baby never did go on their big Austin vacation --- first they were going be gone all week, but then he got a jury duty notice or some crap, so then it was going to be that weekend, but something else came up, so it was moved to the next weekend, then Friday got changed to Saturday, etc., etc. Also, Spooky canceled her surgery and has not rescheduled yet. Also, she still has no car, nor has she rented one or tried to have the old one fixed. See what I mean about nothing ever getting done? It grows frustrating.

* I made myself a mix CD featuring five different versions of the same song: "Visions Of Johanna" by Bob Dylan. There are fifteen other songs on the mix, but like a skull and amniotic fluid, they serve only to provide a context for the important part.

* Dinner plans made and canceled with Spooky; dinner plans made and canceled with the Friar and 74. Ate pizza with my parents.

* I've bought two more graphic novels since the Bone purchases in February. I got the first TPB of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers and am undecided. I like Morrison's work, but may have to see the big picture before I'm satisfied. There are many bits of greatness here --- like the Klarion story --- but we haven't even gotten to Frankenstein yet, so the story's barely begun. Another day, I bought the fourth volume of Brubaker's Catwoman, Wild Ride. Not the best of the series --- it works better as an insulated noir tale, and here Selina is on the road and out of her element --- but I did enjoy how Brubaker handles some of the DCU's cities and their denizens. These are the first two TPB's I've paid full price for this year, setting me back $16 each. I like these books, but I'm prouder of myself when I get stuff on sale.

* Oatmeal is not to be fucked with.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Vocabulaire: démanger

démanger - to itch
Ton trou du cul te démangera, si tu ne t'essuies pas avec le papier hygiénique chaque fois.

I'm heavenly blessed and worldly wise

Things are going great, and they're only getting better
I'm doing all right, getting good grades
The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades
--- Timbuk3, "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades"

A half day at work again. Two more of those and no more having to go to H Elementary again. I've talked to several of my classmates, and we agree: the teachers there suck. Today I sat in on two classrooms I've already been to: one fourth grade class with a very lecture-like style and one Spanish-only class, which I understood only the very barest gist of.

In Classroom Management, we split into our presentation groups. Our project on Boys Town is coming along nicely; we're going to do a skit recreating the founding of Boys Town and possibly show a clip from the movie. I'm in charge of giving a few facts after the skit. We also watched a less than enthralling, and not hugely relevant, video of Jim Fay talking.

Played Trivial Pursuit with Spooky at my house. She beat me. I have decided that she's a pretty damn good girlfriend. She's the soul of helpfulness, she took me to one of the finest restaurants I've eaten at in a long while last St. Patrick's Day, she likes to read, she's crazy about me and cares what I think... And I don't know if it's a case of seeing through romantic eyes, or the influence of others who've said she's cute, but I don't really see why I thought her unattractive before. She's very nice looking.

Here are some amusing slut jokes that Spooky and I developed. Warning: nerdish at times, and not all that funny.
  • She's laid more pipe than an oil man in Alaska.
  • Her chest has had more hands on it than the poker table at Binion's.
  • She's smoked more pipe than Sherlock Holmes.
  • She's given more head than the French Revolution.
  • She's gotten more guys to third base than [name of some infamously bad MLB pitcher].
  • She's smoked more meat than [refer to local barbecue joint of your choice].
  • She's seen more come than an obedience school.
  • She's spread more than margarine.
  • She's gotten more clap than Placido Domingo.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A little vagabond, a sprite in the dark

I tried to hide a little thought
The more I tried the worse things got...
Just a stray little stray, stray, stray
In trying to hide it I asked it to stay
--- Jonathan Richman, "To Hide a Little Thought"

* This is my 200th post! How about that, JoJo?

"Well, uh, that's pretty good there, Chance."

Thanks, JoJo! You're the best! Keep on a-rockin'!

* Last Classroom Management session, Ms. P returned our competencies projects. Some students did brief note cards; I spent a lot of time on it and typed out 31 pages. Ms. P, handing them back, said, "You all got full points! I was reading them in a place I didn't have a pen [or some other equally flimsy excuse], so there are no comments or grades written on there, but you all got the same score, fifteen out of fifteen." What a joke. I don't begrudge my effort --- I knew I didn't need to work as hard as I did, and went the extra mile for my own professional and intellectual development, not for the teacher or a grade --- but I do resent a teacher not doing her damn job and at least pretending to have something of worth to say about her students' work.

* My classmate C from Science Methods told me about this date she was on. She told the guy how she hadn't been eating much lately, and he replied, "Well, I can see why; you still have to lose about ten to twenty pounds." Now, C is a girl around five foot nothing and 94 pounds. But that's beside the point, which is that even if that were true, what kind of protopathic ape-man says that to a girl on a date? What the fuck is wrong with people? I mean to say, what the fuck?

* I've said it before and I'll say it again. I am the world's biggest damn procrastinator. I have a couple of projects to do before Friday. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Oh Comely

Oh comely
I will be with you when you lose your breath
Chasing the only meaningful memory you thought you had left
With some pretty bright and bubbly terrible scene
That was doing her thing on your chest
--- Neutral Milk Hotel, "Oh Comely"

Spooky has her surgery Friday.

In Science Methods, we lit a bulb with a battery and wire, illustrating that a complete circuit of electricity is required for power to flow. Then we were bundled out into the hallway en classe, where we linked hands in a big jumble (left hand across shoulder to someone's right, their right hand under another person's shoulder to another's left, etc.) and did our best to hobble crabwise up and down the hall. Then we did the same thing holding hands in a big circle (much easier), then did the same thing in pairs and teams. The big secret here is that we were imitating the three states of matter. I'm so bored. However, I did learn an interesting fact: clouds, fog and steam are not water in its gaseous form, but water in a very fine liquid form. Water in its truly gaseous form is invisible. Huh. Did not know that!

Stayed up way too late doing the two projects due for Math tomorrow, a reflection on the use of technology in the math classroom and a series of web-based reports on the uses and purpose of assessment.

I also made Spooky a mix CD, the first she's gotten from me:

  1. For You (I’d Do Anything) – Roky Erickson
  2. Fight Test – Flaming Lips
  3. Factory Girls – Floggy Molly (with Lucinda Williams)
  4. Fall Into November – Folk Implosion
  5. Anti-Social – Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards
  6. American Idiot – Green Day
  7. Atomic – Tiger Army
  8. Avenues & Alleyways – Rancid
  9. Visions of Johanna – Bob Dylan
  10. Ol’ 55 – Tom Waits
  11. Rocky Road to Dublin – Clancy Brothers
  12. Rainy Night in Soho – The Pogues
  13. Run on for a Long Time – Blind Boys of Alabama
  14. Redundant – Green Day
  15. Raspberry Beret – Hindu Love Gods
  16. I Want To Be Your Driver – Chuck Berry
  17. I Got Stung – Elvis Presley
  18. I Thank You – ZZ Top
  19. I Want You – Bob Dylan
  20. Television – Bad Religion (with Tim Armstrong)
  21. Till I Collapse – Eminem
  22. Time – Tom Waits
  23. Everyday I Write the Book [live version] – Elvis Costello

She moves like sin

She's like a lethal brand
Too much for any man
She gave me first-degree
She really satisfied me
--- AC/DC, "Girls Got Rhythm"

At work, one of the classrooms is getting some major structural work done, which means all the kids were crammed into the smaller room where we eat. Everyone took a nap in there, too. It's such a joke that The Boss thinks the place is anything resembling a school.

Reading I was pretty boring as usual. Having covered phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle, we're now moving into phonics. Ms. W handed our midterms back. I missed seven out of the 25 questions, which isn't very good, but two answers weren't counted as wrong if we put a certain two of the four choices because of the ambiguous wording of the questions. That put me at 80% correct, which still isn't great, but is pretty much better than I expected to do given the brevity of the test and the problems associated with multiple guess.

Spooky (still driving MA's car) came over around 10 p.m. or so and left an hour or so later, leaving me feel a bit like I'd just had an assignation. She has another doctor's appointment tomorrow, and the surgery on Friday.

She saw MA's boyfriend Cokehead, revealing that he is in town when MA thinks he's still on a ski trip. There are so many warning flags with this asshole. He has two houses, one of which MA is not allowed to go to; he's done coke in the recent past; he has weird, late hours and claims to make a lot of money as a tutor (ha!); he didn't call MA once while on his ski trip even though she was holed up with her brains can electrodes on all weekend; he's often out of touch for unexplained or fishy reasons; he can't be bothered to wake up early to take her somewhere she needs to go... Poor dumb naive MA.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Who'll stop the rain?

Still the rain kept pourin', fallin' on my ears
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who'll stop the rain

--- Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Who'll Stop the Rain"

No, seriously, I want to know. It's been freakin' pouring here. What with the thunder and the lightning and the hey hey. The floodwaters are rising around my steps out there.

Spooky was very sick at her house today. She almost called 911 and went to the hospital, but opted just to self-medicate (she has an RN degree, though she doesn't practice) on the advice of her doctor. Scary stuff, and me at home with roads closed due to flooding.

Went to TriviaBar with the parents. Spooky, feeling momentarily better, joined us for a round or two. So now Father's met her too; he seemed approving. Our team won. The waitress W was there, but no T; perhaps she no longer works Sunday nights.

Spooky bought me a blender, "to replace the one that the Ex stole from you." That's sweet. I made a smoothie with protein powder and old frozen fruit.

The dreams I once had now lay in bed

Though these wounds have seen no wars
Except for the scars I have ignored
And this endless crutch, well it's never enough
It's been the worst day since yesterday
--- Flogging Molly, "The Worst Day Since Yesterday"

Badness all around. Made tentative plans with Spooky. But MA called, and she's stuck at home with the brain electrodes glued to her scalp, so I said we'd come over, bring her food and watch a movie. Apparently changing plans like that without consulting Spooky first was a bad idea. The evening went downhill from there. We did go to MA's, but we argued a bit in front of her, which pisses me off. And Spooky got very drunk, and then during the night got very ill. The alcohol affected her badly, she had an asthma attack, her blood sugar plummeted... It was just bad. And then Babydaddy called her phone and mine about eight times looking for her. I'm just not strong enough for this, and I don't want a relationship with a woman who has a permanent chaperone. Oh, and this surprising little gem popped up in the course of our exasperated back and forth between bouts of vomit and abdominal pain. At 5:30 in the morning Spooky drove back in the intense driving rain and I felt like crap.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A curse upon you, Oliver Cromwell

You have robbed our homes and fortunes
Even drove us from our land
You tried to break our spirit
But you'll never understand
The love of dear old Ireland
That will forge an iron will
As long as there are gallant men
Like young Ned of the hill
The Pogues, "Young Ned Of the Hill"

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Our own personal Fairytale of New York --- the weekend trip to see an exhibit at the Met --- is cancelled, as Spooky has apparently been advised not to fly by her doctors. There's fluid in her abdominal cavity and she goes in for outpatient surgery Friday. Ugh.

So instead we were going to stay at a nice hotel here in town, but since Babydaddy has to work tomorrow, that's out also.

So instead of that, Spooky and I went out to eat at a fine restaurant in Deep Ellum. A four-course meal and a bottle of wine, costing $180 (including a rather lavish lagniappe). Excellent food, really first-rate. Boy, were we full. We stopped off at the Hangout for a few rounds of video gaming and then to bed.

Poor Maddening Angel went in for an MRI and other tests today because of her seizure a while back. It was almost certainly her medication that triggered it, but she might be genetically susceptible to seizures so she's undergoing a battery of tests. They're recording her brainwaves for 72 hours, so she has to walk around with electrodes glued to her head with wires leading down to a little box disguised as a not very stylish purse. Spooky and I drove her to the doctor's and back home.

In other news, I stupidly left my cell phone in the leg pocket of my cargo pants and then put the pants in the washing machine. My phone was submerged for about one minute before I realized where it was, but the damage had been done. I fished the phone out, its little window dead black and filled halfway up with soapy water. As I held it there sadly, it dripping water out of its seams, my mother suggested that I try calling someone to see if it still worked.

So I had to go buy a new goddam phone --- the cheapest model they had, for $130. Cripes. The man at the counter helpfully informed me that if I signed a two-year renewal of my contract, I could have a whopping $30 off the retail price of any phone! Well, that's off. As in sod. I'm going to quit Cingular in May. I hear T-Mobile is good.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Poisoned by these fairy tales

O beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
They’re beating plowshares into swords
For this tired old man that we elected king
--- Don Henley, "The End Of the Innocence"

It was Maddening Angel's last day at work today. Hopefully I'll still see her socially.

Classroom Management tonight. We went over the exam. I saw that two students in my row got 94%, which makes my 86% look pretty damn bad. The review helped, though; hopefully I have a better grasp of where those questions are coming from. We were given a group assignment to do. Scarlett and Nicole, two incredibly hot girls (whom I've known casually for a bit, from class last year) asked me to be in their group. We're going to do some presentation on Boystown and its discipline philosophy.

Tomorrow I don't have to go to work! Hooray!

Spooky came over after class, but had to leave in the middle of the night to be home after Babydaddy goes to work. She's been talking a lot lately about having him move out, and she and Baby moving to a better, bigger house somewhere else. She's also been hinting that she wants me to live with them. I'm not dead set against it, but it's a little early for me to be thinking out that... Although I am in my mid-thirties, and I would like to settle down (yet again).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blue suits and bankers with their Volvos and their valentines

There ain't much work out here in our consumer power base
No major industry, just miles and miles of parking space
--- Billy Joel, "No Man's Land"

Out walking Dog with Father. Went to the field where we usually go and played with a neighbor's dog. Then some other neighbor, Assface, let his stupid yapping jack russels out. Now, these two dogs are disliked by everyone around the area and have bitten other dogs before. One of them started snapping and biting at Dog. Good old Dog, three times their size, started defending herself with a snarl. So far it's not too bad, and we all start moving in to separate them.

Then the owner of those yappers, Assface, does the thing you just don't do: he picked up and restrained my dog. My dog, the peaceful one, the one who didn't start this fight and never so much as snaps at any person or dog unless extremely provoked. He held her front paws up, exposing her soft underbelly. Thank God, his hideous little yappers didn't savage her belly, but one did get a good shot in on her ear. She now has two nicks, one on each side of her left ear. There was a bit of blood (though not nearly as much as when Ex's cat sliced it open back when she was but a Puppy). Father and I cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide and water, then applied antibiotic ointment. Poor Dog. I'm not upset much about the actual bite, but I am quite irked that Assface grabbed my dog and held her while his stupid little vicious lap dog snarled and snapped at her. She's a very gentle creature, so she didn't, thankfully, twist and rip open Assface's hand as he held her.

Who knows? Maybe it's all for the best. Maybe if he hadn't stupidly grabbed Dog, she would have seriously mauled his terrier. I'm just steamed about his serious transgression of dog owner etiquette.

No class tonight --- I have an online assignment to turn in for Math Methods by next week, as well as another two-page reflection.

Spooky came over. She was supposed to spend the night, but once again her health prevented her (she failed to bring a special pillow she uses while she sleeps). It's always something...

Voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time

If you waste your time a-talkin' to the people who don't listen
To the things that you are sayin' who do you think's gonna hear?
And if you should die explainin' how the things that they complain about
Are things they could be changin', who do you think's gonna care?
--- Kris Kristofferson, "To Beat the Devil"

After working my ass off writing up the five-page Science Methods lesson plan on birds suggested to me by Ms. P at our conference on the 28th of February, she tells me after class today that she was under the impression I was doing some other topic, and someone in my group is doing the exact same thing! So now I have to do something else! What a freaking pain in my goddam ass! I worked hard on that thing, all for nothing. And not only did Ms. C and I discuss that I was going to do this topic (a discussion she apparently promptly forgot), all of us students were long ago given a list of all the projects out group was going to do, and no one said at any point that they were doing the goddam birds! Holy Shiva and hopping Krishna on a stick! And now I have to meet Ms. P at her office again tomorrow after school! [Insert long list of vulgar expletives]

*pant pant*

Anyway, after class tonight I swung by Spooky's. (Babbydaddy was with his paramour who lives next door. Yes, I'm aware of the weirdness.] We hung out for a while, watching TV and talking. As usual, she was worrying about her rocky relations with Babydaddy. Speaking of whom, he and Baby were supposed to be out of town all this week, but as with so much else in Spooky's chaotic life, something always seems to come up, and they haven't gone. First they were leaving Monday, then today, now tomorrow. I'm sure they won't ever take their trip. I probably shouldn't have gone over there tonight --- it's now late and I have work tomorrow.

Still, the good news is that apparently not only does my Math Methods class not meet tomorrow, the lesson plan that was supposed to be turned in via email by this Friday has been postponed, so we only have two assignments due next Wednesday.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Assorted titbits

(Yes, I prefer the variant.)


MA recommended this video, but to me, it's not nearly as funny as "Lazy Sunday."


Thanks largely to Father's training, walking Dog is nowadays a much more enjoyable experience. I can walk her off the leash and not be pulled around. She runs happily and then stops at curbs. I was very proud of her today when there was another dog across the road and she didn't cross to play with it. She even restrains herself when her all-time favorite things in the world --- squirrels --- are on the other side. My, how she loves to chase and tree squirrels.


Driving with my mom. My Green Day mix is in the stereo and "Basket Case" starts to play. "Do you have the time to listen to me whine?" Billie Joe begins. My mother is puzzled. "Why should I give him a dime just to listen to him whine?" she asks. "He ought to pay me, since it's probably not going to be pleasant."


Things that bother me about Spooky besides the talking too much and the melodrama... She is a procrastinator. Case in point, her car has been broken for almost a month now. To get a new car, all she would have to do is make her way to the lot and get it (the loans are approved, she knows what kind, it's all set). But somehow, there's always something --- Baby sick, Babydaddy sick, no sitter for Baby, lost cat --- and it doesn't get done. This doesn't just apply to the car, though I do grow tired of driving her around. There are plenty of things that just don't get done. Unless it's about her or her family's health, she doesn't care. And sometimes that's detrimental to herself.

But she lives with pain, and she's got a kid with some problems, and she's flying me to New York and paying for a nice hotel. And she's smart and pretty funny and into me and cares what I think and we're physically compatible. So what the hey.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ah... a warm wet rag

You can piss up a rope
And you can put on your shoes, hit the road get truckin’
Pack your bag, I don’t need the ag'
On your knees you big booty bitch, start suckin’
--- Ween, "Piss Up a Rope"

Post-posting thoughts of my nerdlist from yesterday:

Maybe Hellblazer should be considered superhero. No, it shouldn't. Yes, it should. They had Swamp Thing in there and everything. Well, let's just say that when it is more or less superhero in genre, it doesn't make the quality cut, and when it makes the quality cut, it isn't superhero.

What about League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen? If that counts as superhero (and I don't see why not), then it should definitely bump one of the lower five off the list.

And Secret Wars II --- how could I forget that? Possibly the greatest superhero comic of all time. ALL TIME!


Went to the Triviabar to, naturally, play trivia. With Father out of state for a few days, I drove Mother to the place. I greeted my Science Methods classmate and pal T, as well as W (a nodding if friendly acquaintance, with only this bizarre night between us for social interaction).

Spooky took the bus to meet us, and Friar showed up as well. So Spooky met my mom. They got along pretty well, considering what an anti-social loon my mother is. Our team won. Not that I care too much; I only go to trivia as a favor to my mom. Left to my own devices, I'd much more happily stay home and read or putz around on the computer.

I took Spooky back to my place, and we had a lot of fun, but I had to drop her back home around midnight. She said she asked Babydaddy to move out. I'm glad, but I told her I hoped she didn't do it for me. She needs someone to take care of her. I may be that person, but I just as likely may not. I've told her that although I'm happy and I like her a lot, I'm too old to make silly promises that I know I can't live up to. I've seen to much not to know that in relationships, people change, and not always for the better.

Anyway: happy, tired. Work tomorrow.

Next week, Spooky and I are flying to New York for the weekend. Oh, we're a couple, all right.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

They want to charge your soul

You try to tell them what you think they want to hear
But they're getting much harder to please
'Cos it's all the same if they create a state of fear
Then the cure is just like the disease
--- Blood Or Whiskey, "Paranoid State"

My brother sent me two belated birthday gifts: the first volume of the complete Peanuts (terrific stuff) and Actual Miles: Don Henley's Greatest Hits. Yes, I had actually requested this latter item. I might have to turn in my cool music geek badge now. How can someone be a fan of the literate and/or punk cred stylings of Bob Dylan, the Ramones, Tom Waits, Rancid, Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, etc., and yet still want to listen to Don Freakin' Henley's radio-friendly pabulum? How??! Well, "End Of the Innocence" is a good song.

File under nerdy stuff: I thought I'd make a list of the top ten superhero comics Of All Time! or something. In order greatest to least, with a wide quality gap duly noted between the top four and the others:
  1. Watchmen, Alan Moore
  2. The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller
  3. Animal Man, Grant Morrison
  4. The Spirit, Will Eisner
  5. 1602, Neil Gaiman
  6. Supreme Power, J. Michael Stracynski
  7. Arkham Asylum, Grant Morrison
  8. JLA: A League Of One, Christopher Moeller
  9. The Ultimates, Mark Millar [I feel dirty just writing that]
  10. Catwoman, Ed Brubaker
Honorable Mention: Daredevil: Born Again, Frank Miller; Marvel Team-Up, Ron Kirkman; Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, Dan Slott; She-Hulk, Dan Slott; Alias, Brian Michael Bendis; Astro City, Kurt Busiek. I don't count Sandman, Hellblazer or Lucifer as superhero.


Back in the real life world, I took Spooky's Baby to the pediatrician this morning. She was quite sick all night long. When I carried her to my car, I felt the heat her feverish skin was radiating. Turns out she had strep.

Oh yeah. A few days ago at H Elementary I talked to a couple of my fellow Classroom Management students. I was fretting a bit because of the 86% I got on the test, but one girl got a 76% and the other one a 70%. That made me feel better. Schadenfreude.

Mirrored self-affliction

Bathed in perspiration drowned my enemies
Used my inspiration for a guillotine
I fire a loaded mental cannon to the page
Leaning on the pedestal that holds my self denial
Firing the pistol that shoots my holy pride
Sitting here like wet ashes with X's in my eyes
--- Soundgarden, "Drawing Flies"

Speaking of Soundgarden, read this, you bastich!


And, no longer even remotely referring to Soundgarden, listen to this. This is funnier than a goddam rotating chair. You can call them Aaron Burr from the way they're dropping Hamiltons, indeed.


As for my day, I picked up MA after work and watched "Seinfeld" with her. Then she had to get ready for a party, so I left and picked up Spooky. We went to the Hangout and played video games and had drinks. Went to my place and hung out for a while. We are extremely compatible physically. It wasn't all sweat and writhing, as we also played the book lover's edition of Trivial Pursuit. Oh yes, we are huge fucking nerds. I told Spooky that I loved her today; I suppose it's as true as anything is. We did have a little friction tonight, with my resentment over how deeply entrenched Babydaddy is in her life, and her passing jealousy of MA (which, to me, is not at all commensurate; while MA and I helped each other through respective breakups and as a result have an emotional bond, we have never so much as romantically kissed, while this guy is the father of her child and has lived with her for years).

On the whole, though, we get along great and I'm pretty damn happy.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

To supplicate is not the way

Well, maybe we could go to bed
And I could help you run the three-minute mile

But first you gotta take the drinks
You gotta learn to fake the smiles

She was a piece of past her prime real estate
A late great tit turnstile

--- Jude, "Prophet"

Today was H Elementary observation day. In the first hour, I was back in the sixth grade class in which, last time, someone had stolen a laser pointer before I got there. This time, it was not quite as bad. Although there was once again a chaotic bathroom break which took up a half hour of the whole class' time, afterwards they corrected some TEKS practice tests. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of kids (about half or so) who seemed genuinely interested in getting the answers right and showing what they knew.

In the second hour, I was in the third grade class. It was ESL, but this period at least was in English only. I was blown away by this teacher. She was loving, laughed often, obviously had established procedures and guidelines, and kept great discipline. I got the sense that there was very little fear of punishment here, as in every other class ("you owe me twenty [school treat] dollars!" is the most common teacher response to misbehavior), but order was kept through respect for the teacher and her high expectations. When one child didn't understand something, she went over it patiently three different ways. At the end of the class, I went up and told her that I thought she was great and I was highly impressed. She replied that I had made her day; I hope she knows what a rare commodity she is. Probably --- she said she'd been teaching for over thirty years.

I went home and goofed around, then picked up the Maddening Angel from work. Once at her house, she fed me a veggie chik patty with cheese. At her suggestion, I picked up Spooky (who lives quite close) and the three of us watched Corpse Bride at MA's house. Say, that's a great movie. Afterwards, I drove Spooky home. I wish we could have some time together, but what with Babydaddy and Baby and whatnot, I don't exactly want to hang out at her place, and she can't come to mine.

Later, on the phone, Spooky asked me, "So, do you and MA always cuddle when you watch movies?" (She had rested her head on my shoulder.) I said, "Hey, she leaned on me. I didn't put my arm around her and pull her close or anything. But... yes."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Where did the feeling go

Now the skirts hang so heavy around your head
That you never knew you were young
Because you played chance with a lifetime's romance
And the price was far too long
--- Big Country, "Chance"

Guess what not-fun things I did today? Besides going to work, that is. First, I picked up the Maddening Angel from work and drove her home, then to her goddam boyfriend Cokehead's house. Then I drove to Spooky's house and took her grocery shopping. Sweet Krishna, I hate doing errands and driving hot girls to their asshole boyfriends' houses.

Last night, the Friar gave me some presents Auric sent to him for me: his latest solo album (which mentions me in the liner notes) and an actual vinyl single with the French song on it. I'm pleased --- it's very thoughtful and nice of him.


Here's a meme found at Electronic Cerebrectomy. Looked fun, so thought I'd do it.

Some of these picks I feel fairly strongly about. Other artists have so much good stuff that it's hard to pick one. Some picks came right to me; for others, I had to look up the artists on Amazon to refresh my memory of their catalogue.

  • Favorite Beatles song: "Hey Jude"
  • Favorite solo song by a former Beatle: John Lennon, "Watching the Wheels"
  • Favorite Bob Dylan song: "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" or "Where Are You Tonight"
  • Favorite Pixies song: "Dead"
  • Favorite Prince song: not a fan, but "Raspberry Beret" or possibly "Pussy Control"
  • Favorite Michael Jackson song: not a fan at all, but I liked that Alien Ant Farm cover of "Smooth Criminal"...
  • Favorite Metallica song: not a fan, but "One" is okay
  • Favorite Public Enemy song: "Bring tha Noize" with Anthrax
  • Favorite Depeche Mode song: couldn't name one if I tried
  • Favorite Cure song: "Friday I'm In Love"
  • Favorite Beastie Boys song: not a fan, but... uh... that one with the '70s cop show spoof video?
  • Favorite Police song: every single song on Regatta de Blanc is gold
  • Favorite Sex Pistols song: not a fan, but I loved that version of "No Fun" at the end of the documentary The Filth And the Fury
  • Favorite Blondie song: "Heart Of Glass," natch
  • Favorite Genesis song: not a fan
  • Favorite Led Zeppelin song: "Going To California"
  • Favorite INXS song: not a fan
  • Favorite Weird Al song: "Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota"
  • Favorite Pink Floyd song: "Wish You Were Here"
  • Favorite U2 song: "The Fly"
  • Favorite The Who song: these guys have a very strong catalogue, so I'm hard pressed, but I'd have to say I wouldn't buy a best-of that lacked "Substitute"
  • Favorite Elton John song: "Philadelphia Freedom"
  • Favorite Clash song: "Rudie Can't Fail" or "The Card Cheat"
  • Favorite David Bowie song: "Starman"
  • Favorite Nirvana song: "Lithium"
  • Favorite Snoop Dogg song: not a fan
  • Favorite Ice Cube song: not a fan
  • Favorite Johnny Cash song: seriously, no way to pick --- the guy could turn crap into pure sonic gold, but I might mention "Ballad Of a Teenage Queen" or "Luther Played the Boogie"
  • Favorite R.E.M. song: "It's the End of the World As We Know It"
  • Favorite Elvis Presley song: "Suspicious Minds"
  • Favorite Billy Joel song: "Piano Man"
  • Favorite Bruce Springsteen song: "Born To Run"
  • Favorite Big Audio Dynamite song: "C'mon Every Beatbox"
  • Favorite New Order song: not a fan
  • Favorite Neil Diamond song: "Cracklin' Rosie"
  • Favorite Squeeze song: not a fan
  • Favorite Smiths song: "A Rush And a Push And the Land Is Ours"
  • Favorite Tragically Hip Song: couldn't name one if I tried
  • Favorite Beach Boys song: "Good Vibrations" is the most beautiful song ever written
  • Favorite Dave Matthews Band song: not a fan
  • Favorite Dire Straits song: "Sultans Of Swing"
  • Favorite Elvis Costello song: "Beyond Belief"
  • Favorite Guns 'N Roses song: "Civil War"
  • Favorite Jimi Hendrix song: "1983... A Merman I Should Turn To Be"
  • Favorite John Mellencamp song: uh... "Jack And Diane"?
  • Favorite Living Colour song: "Cult Of Personality"
  • Favorite Neil Young song: another toughie, but maybe "Cinnamon Girl"
  • Favorite Paul Simon song: I'm going to go with "The Boy In the Bubble"
  • Favorite Simon & Garfunkel song: "The Sound Of Silence"
  • Favorite Queen song: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
  • Favorite Radiohead song: "High And Dry"
  • Favorite Sting song: very easy --- "All This Time"
  • Favorite Tracy Chapman song: not a fan
  • Favorite Van Morrison song: "Moondance"
  • Favorite XTC song: "River Of Orchids"
  • Favorite Meat Loaf song: not a fan, but who doesn't enjoy "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"?
  • Favorite Rolling Stones song: "Shattered"
  • Favorite Madonna song: not a fan
  • Favorite AC/DC song: easy --- "You Shook Me All Night Long"
  • Favorite Kiss song: not a fan
  • Favorite Morrissey song: not a fan of his solo work
  • Favorite Roxy Music song: couldn't name one
  • Favorite Talking Heads song: "And She Was"
  • Favorite Tom Waits song: I like every single thing this guy has ever recorded, but hell, I guess "Downtown Train"
  • Favorite Cat Stevens song: "Father And Son"
  • Favorite Hilary Duff song: vehemently not a fan
  • Favorite Lindsay Lohan song: vehemently not a fan
  • Favorite Britney Spears song: vehemently not a fan
  • Favorite Christina Aguilera song: vehemently not a fan
  • Favorite Ashlee Simpson song: vehemently not a fan
  • Favorite Jessica Simpson song: she's hot as hell, but I'm not a fan of her music
  • Favorite Patti Smith song: couldn't name one
  • Favorite Todd Rundgren song: no idea
  • Favorite T. Rex song: not too familiar with them, but I like "Jeepster" and "Born To Boogie"
  • Favorite Dolly Parton song: uh... "9 To 5"?

here are my adds:

  • Favorite Rancid song: "Bloodclot"
  • Favorite Green Day song: "Holiday"
  • Favorite Kris Kristofferson song: "Sunday Morning Coming Down"
  • Favorite Tom Lehrer song: "In Old Mexico"
  • Favorite Steve Earle song: "Copperhead Road"
  • Favorite Magnetic Fields song: "The Death Of Ferdinand de Saussure"
  • Favorite Belle & Sebastian Song: "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying"

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Clutching to an empty plan

Better minds and bigger hearts
Larger scale and cheaper parts
Faded patrons of the arts
High heeled post-operation tarts
--- Steve Wynn, "Younger"

I drove to Spooky's house right after work and took her to her doctor's appointment; she had a consult regarding the non-cancerous tumor in her breast, which is causing her a lot of pain. The consult was pretty much a waste of time, as the doctor more or less said she wouldn't touch someone with Spooky's "interesting" health history. The doc did try to talk pain management, but Spooky doesn't want to go down that heavily medicated road so early in her life.

Later this evening, we had a delicious sushi dinner. I've always been a bit chary of eating sushi in Texas, but this seemed like a decent place. Then we went to the Hangout. We picked up the Maddening Angel, and the three of us (plus Friar, who was there as always) hung out, drank and played video games. Then MA's boyfriend Cokehead showed up. They warned him that I didn't like him, so he stayed away from me. There's something creepy about him; I don't know he's a drug dealer or what, but he's definitely got a skeleton in a closet somewhere.

I feel like a jerk in a lot of ways these days. I'm having fun with Spooky, and I know she loves me, but I just can't see myself loving her. I like her a lot and have fun with her, but I never say any more than that. (At least I'm honest.) She lives with Babydaddy, she has a litany of health issues, and she can't have children. All reasons for me to keep this relationship less than soulmate-permanent.

And as for MA, my smart, funny, absolutely gorgeous, naive, ditzy unrequited love and (former?) best friend, yes, I do feel resentment. I resent the fact that she's going out with Cokehead, who like me is in his thirties and divorced, no career man, and kinda goofy-looking... But she isn't attracted to me and would never go out with me. Would I date MA, if she dumped Cokehead and threw herself at me? I'm afraid I would. Would that be a pretty dumb thing to do? Probably. Of course, that's not going to happen, so this rhetorical ruminating is all moot, but it's the emotional storm I've been sailing these last few months.

Finally, Spooky and I were going to spend the night at her house, but we stayed out too late, Babydaddy fell asleep in their bed because he has to be at work at five in the morning, and there was a bit of a flare-up between Spooky and me because of it, but it ended well enough. So many impediments to a real relationship here...

Monday, March 06, 2006

I am my father's son

I am my father's son
His bed is made
I was a hero early in the morning
I ain't no hero in the night...
And I'll build a house inside of you
I'll go in through the mouth
I'll draw three figures on your heart
--- Wolf Parade, "You Are a Runner And I Am My Father's Son"

It's spring break, baby! No classes this week! (Shh! Don't tell The Job.)

So after work, I drove to Spooky's, picked her up and then took her to pick up her Baby from her Catholic school. (Spooky's car, which she just got fixed, broke down again today.) Took them home and then played Trivial Pursuit with Spooky and Babydaddy. I'm starting to get reconciled to the fact that the father of her child lives with her as a housemate, but still... weird!

Then I drove back to work, where I picked up the Maddening Angel, whose car works just fine but who is not allowed to drive since her seizure. Yes, that migraine from a last week was actually a seizure, and she had another one at her school, where she passed out for 45 minutes. She's seeing the doctor tomorrow. I drove her home, and then we walked to a little bar near her place. We had burgers and a drink, and her pal K joined us and gave us a ride back. MA and I went to the movie rental place and got a couple of discs. We watched the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room. A very sad and disturbing film; such naked corruption and overweening arrogance.

It felt a bit weird sitting on the couch with MA watching a movie, knowing she was going to call or meet Cokehead afterwards and I was going to call Spooky, and us maintaining a physical distance we didn't used to bother with when we were unattached to others. I dunno, maybe that's normal. I guess it just felt weird because I still have such strong yet ambivalent feelings about her. She's so sweet and smart and beautiful, yet so simple and aggravating and young and (all that really matters, perhaps) uninterested in me. I'm jealous of her relationship with Cokehead, though MA and I are too different to be a couple even if she wanted to be with me. I'm far too old for these ridiculous pinings, yet here I am, pining to the keyboard.

Oh, and yes, a toddler teacher at work did in fact mention, as soon as she saw me, that Toddler H's mother did tell her she'd seen Spooky and I at the Hangout. I work at Gossip Central.

Tomorrow I take Spooky to the doctor for a surgery consult. Poor Spooky; she's in a lot of pain.

Either it's the lack of naps or the Prozac or the nocturnal activity or I've got a mild illness going, but I feel very weak when I do the weights these days.

It's midnight and I have to make lunch for tomorrow.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Indra's wicked, wicked ways

Oscars? Don't care (but do enjoy Tom the Dog's amusing liveblog of the event). Tired. Didn't accomplish much. Here's a thing I wrote about Indra, the Hindi sky god.


Myths are often bowdlerized. As children and youths, we read them (here in the Western world, we read nearly exclusively Greek stories) for the adventure, little suspecting at first that Heracles had more than a fellow comrade's affection for Hylas, or that Ganymede brought Zeus more than his cup of nectar, or that Achilles had a rather suspicious attachment to Patroclus, his "Cousin. He's my cousin. Cousin. Totally my cousin. In conclusion: Cousin."

Later, if we are fortunate enough to have been instilled with an interest in the myths of bygone eras, we read further and come closer to the original ideas. Often, the ancients seem to have had really only two main interests: war and sexual oddities (again, looking to the Greek myths, we have sex with swans, sex with bulls, etc, etc). Say, there's some phrases that will bring in a new type of web surfer!

Myths from the subcontinent are no different, as the carvings at Khajuraho can attest. Or, the case in point I want to expound on, the tale of Indra and Ahalya.

Indra, the ruler-god of the heavens (and in some older traditions, the highest of all the gods), seduced Ahalya, who was a perfect, beautiful woman created by Brahma himself. However, Ahalya was married to Gautama, a sage. Gautama, with his super-yogi powers, instinctively sensed Indra's betrayal and returned to catch them in flagrante delicto. Indra turned himself into a cat to try to get away, but Gautama saw right through that tired old ruse.

Now, in the Indian tradition, sages are not the prolix philosophers of the Greeks, or the peaceful missionaries of Christian ideal, but often fiery ascetics with pride to match their vast magical powers that derive from their prayers and meditiation. They may renounce the world at times and go stand on one leg in the forest for a thousand years while bugs make nests in their beards, but they may with equal alacrity indulge in a lust for life that would make a Roman emperor proud. Clearly, Gautama was the latter type, being married to Miss India 1500 BC and all. It may strike the student of Western myth as odd, but even though Indra was a god and king of heaven, while Gautama was a mere mortal yogi, Gautama had the power to zap Indra with a curse.

This is where accounts differ. All of the punishments Gautama is said to have inflicted on Indra, however, are made to ironically reflect on Indra's prurience. Some say that the sage turned Indra into a woman. Some say that he castrated Indra via magical means. But my personal favorite is this:

He causes vaginas to sprout all over Indra's skin. Yes, that's right. The body of Indra, the god of the sky, is covered with a thousand vaginas. (Hello, web surfers!) Now that's bawdy!

Later, either Gautama or some other busybody takes pity on the sky god and changes the vaginas to eyes. And also, Indra gets ram's balls! Say! Now there's a consolation prize! "I'm sorry, Indra, that was not the correct course of action. You don't get the girl, but you do get a thousand big ol' vaginas all over you! But don't feel too bad, though --- here are some nice ram's balls so you can keep on doing your thing! Thanks for playing!"

Man! Myths are cool.

As with all ancient stories featuring women's morality, it's hard for modern readers to get a sense of how much guilt Ahalya should have borne for the cuckolding of Gautama. Some ancient people (and, I'm sorry to say, some modern Eastern cultures) considered a woman complicit in her own rape, after all. Some versions of the tale make it clear that Ahalya deliberately cheats on her husband, lured by the prospect of sex with a god. Other versions have Ahalya ignorant that Indra is seducing her (he comes in disguise as Gautama), or she finds out too late to stop him. Of course, really, even if she had found out early enough, how could she have stopped the king of heaven?

Any way you look at it, Gautama's punishment is harsh by modern standards --- he changed her into a rock (or, in some versions, kept her rooted to the spot in the forest) in which form she remained for an undetermined number of years until her normal form (and virginity, one infers) is restored at the touch of Rama.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Review of Life Of Pi, by Yann Martel

A slow news day here in Chanceland (watched a lot of "The Shield" on DVD with my parents). This here entry is a review of Yann Martel's 2001 Booker-prize winning novel, Life Of Pi.

It is an imaginative and lively book of adventure and survival. I think it deserved to win its award, and if you're looking for a book that's easy reading but still makes you think, this fabulous (in both senses, good and like a fable) book will do nicely.

The hero, Pi (short for Piscine Molitor Patel --- one of the book's bits of interesting whimsy) is a boy from Pondicherry, a town and territory in the south of India, a region once governed by the French. (Yes, though France never held as tightly or as confidently to the reins of Empire as Britain, the French did poke their noses even onto the sub-continent. For a variety of reasons, including an early distrust of foreign markets --- Indian textiles were burned in the streets of Paris in the late 1700s to protest competition with French cloth sellers, foreshadowing the firebombing of Paris McDonald's outlets in the last decade --- French India never became an extension of France as British India did with England. But I digress.)

Pi, like India itself (and vaguely echoing Kipling's Kim) is attuned to spirituality in all its forms; he is a dedicated follower of at least three major religions. His father, a zookeeper, decides to move the family (along with a few animals) to Canada to make a new start. Tragically, however, the boat sinks in the middle of the ocean, leaving Pi the sole survivor on a life boat. The sole human survivor, that is, for he shares his 26-foot space with an orangutan, a hyena, and Richard Parker. Oh yes, Richard Parker is the name of a huge Bengal tiger (another whimsical diversion). It seems the animals want to share the boat with Pi.

The next third of the book is a tale of survival in its rawest form: instead of The Old Man and the Sea, we have The Young Boy and the Sea and the Tiger, if you will. How will Pi survive being stranded in a lifeboat, let alone existing in such a cramped space with a vicious carnivore? Can he dominate the tiger by will alone? If you get this far in the novel, there is no going back: you must find out how Pi deals with his bizarre situation, and others to come even more bizarre, including a blind French cannibal, an algae island, and some meerkats. Yes, meerkats. Intrigued yet?

Martel writes with a fine fluidity of style: the first third is a delightful rumination on spirituality and certain particulars of Indian life through the eyes of a young boy. The next section of the novel is a mesmerizing, beguiling, sometimes exasperating blend of detailed, realistic survival memoir (rations, thirst and other problems of survival are dealt with in detailed fashion) and fantastic medieval-like allegory. The end is the most controversial section. It disappointed many readers, I know. But to me, it justified the entirety of the novel's middle passage, offering plenty of food for thought on the twin thirsts for corporal survival and some kind of spiritual comfort.

A tender moment there in your caress

Too many nights staying up late
Too much powder and too much paint
No you can't hide from the turning of the tide
--- Richard Thompson, "Turning Of the Tide"

I was late to work this morning because of staying up so late with Spooky last night.

Worked only until noon, then home to eat lunch, then to H Elementary. I sat in on a fourth grade class presenting the experiments they'd done for a science fair and then a second grade class writing papers on good character. What a waste so much of public school is. I see good, average, competent, willing teachers, but no one exceptional, no one really engaged or engaging. I hear a lot of correction and redirection but hardly any praise for effort or interest.

One of the teachers asked something about "the color spectrum" (whatever that's supposed to mean). A fourth grader raised his hand and started explaining, in a fumbling but coherent way, about primary and secondary colors. He called primary colors "colors you can't mix." She stopped him and said that wasn't what she was talking about. "He didn't know," she remarked with a smirk to another teacher in the room, "so he thought he'd answer by telling me what he did know." She wasn't being horribly mean or condescending --- she has a sort of friendly, sarcastic, bantering tone --- but I felt very bad that she didn't know or care enough to encourage this kid's interest in color at all. If I had been up there I would have smiled and thanked him for sharing, and given him the terms "primary" and "secondary." Instead, this teacher dismissed him and then ended up saying something about how the color spectrum is from white to black. And H is supposed to be one of the better schools in D District.

Speaking of dismissing, the Maddening Angel called me in the midst of another migraine. I said I'd pick her up if she needed me. I called back a bit later, but no answer. I also texted her. Finally, about two hours later, she wrote back, "Sorry, ok now, can't talk." In many ways she's really just a kid.

I finished watching Batman Begins. Best. Bat. Movie. Ever. I may go so far as to call it Bateriffic. As realistic as a movie about Batman could be, great characters, great motivations, great acting.

This evening I picked up Spooky and we went to the bookstore together and then to the Hangout, where the father of one of The Job's babies was playing. He's pretty good. Spooky and I greeted the baby's mother together. Might that start tongues wagging at work? Don't know, or care much.

The plan was for Spooky to spend the night at my place, but around 2:30 or so she started feeling a lot of pain. She has a variety of health problems. So I drove her back home to her meds. She was apologetic and sad. I know it's beyond her control, so I don't feel anything but sorry for her, except I do wonder what kind of "couple" we could possibly make.

I bought the most hyped CD so far this year, the new Arctic Monkeys. For I am but a reed, that bends to whatever direction the prevailing wind is blowing. If it's the new "cool," I am on that bus like crabs on Paris Hilton. Or maybe not. Anyway, haven't listened yet much, so no verdict.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I did my time in the jail of your arms

Well I fell in love
With your sailor's mouth and your wounded eyes
You better get down on the floor
Don't you know this is war
Tell me who are you this time?
--- Tom Waits, "Who Are You"

Well, the Boss irritated Maddening Angel for the last time, and she put in her two weeks' notice today. It was very sudden. The last few days, she'd been getting irritated with Boss, and saying how she was going to start looking for another job, but nothing definite. Today, due to some petty recriminations, she marched into the room, called a former employer (another child care place) on her cell phone, got hired back, and wrote up her notice. Well, good for her. Though this may mean that our socialization has truly more or less ceased.

I went home, watched an old "Scrubs" --- still a terrific show --- then printed out the 31 pages of my competencies project, then drove to State School. I didn't really study for the midterm, since it's supposed to mimic the TEXES, and anyway hasn't this project, and the class itself, been a long preparation for the exam?

Well, so I got to class, and we all sat down and took the test --- 50 multiple-choice questions --- immediately. I finished first by some distance. Ms. P graded it then and there, and I only got an 86%. Somewhat disappointing, thought that is a comfortable margin of passing. I thought I had done better, though. In most cases where I got it wrong, I had narrowed it down to two choices and picked the wrong one. For a few questions, I flat-out had no clue (like whether a father without custody is allowed to see his child's school records on demand --- answer: yes). For only one or two, I didn't think it through (for one question, I realized upon review, I had picked an answer that was passing the buck: in the TEXES, the correct answer is almost always the one that means more effort and iniative for the teacher).

After that, I was free at 7:30, so drove to Spooky's house. We went to the Hangout and played trivia and bowling. Then we drove to some little coffeehouse on Bar Street. We sat and drank hot, nonalcoholic flavored beverages, and Spooky gave me her apologia of sorts, listing some of her past life, which includes some pretty upsetting things (drinking, abuse). I told her to forget it, everyone has baggage. I've done some fairly brutal things myself. Then we went to my place. We had a lot of fun looking at funny videos on the internet, "rat monster prank" and "bear trampoline video" among them. Spooky then once more displayed her immensely satisfying lack of inhibition, and unfortunately, I had to drive her home. I didn't get to sleep until 2:00 a.m.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Desultory, pop-culture saturated entry

Today, for no particular reason, I was thinking about one of Chris Farley's old sketches, did a little Web search and found this site, which had me literally laughing until tears came to my eyes. Holy hell, that guy was funny. Matt Foley was another good one.


I skipped Math Methods tonight to work on tomorrow's project and final exam.


Maddening Angel is giving up liquor and cigarettes for Lent. I doubt she'll make it. Spooky is giving up red meat. I'm not observing that pagan holiday, myself.


Another thing that had me laughing hysterically was the FOX show "Boston Legal." I don't watch a lot of TV, but this is a fantastic show. The Friar, who is a criminal defense attorney, hates the show because it's so unrealistic. Well, of course it is; although it takes place in a law firm and all the characters are high-powered lawyers, it's not about law or the courts. It's about politics; it's creator David E. Kelley's soapbox for hot-button issues of the day, like euthanasia, worker privacy, discrimination, credit card debt and so on. The current administration's erosion of civil and privacy rights comes under attack more often than not.

But it's not just about politics, it's also hilarious and poignant. The interplay between James Spader's Alan Shore and William Fucking Shatner's Denny Crane, politically opposed best friends with just a soupçon of homosexuality in their manly relationship, forms the heart and soul of the show. Denny actually reminds me of my Republican uncle, who is also a stolid, gruff man who collects guns and proclaims a distrust of liberals, but is a Good Samaritan at heart.

The last episode had, among its usual great lines ("Sometimes people say things they don't mean, like 'I love you' and 'You're fired'"), one that hit home to me. Denny says to Alan:

"At a certain age, you find it extraordinary the compromises one is willing to make for the possibility of love."

I couldn't agree more.


Today, Scipio offers up a modest proposal anent the Martian Manhunter. I've always had a soft spot for this character, so clearly I don't agree with Scip's extreme methods. But I do agree that he's so powerful writers don't know what to do with him. As I wrote once, it's a flaw in the otherwise good show "Justice League Unlimited."


I'm working! I'm working! Get off my case, Mom!