Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Especially about whatever was

The blog's on hiatus until further notice for reasons that, if I cared to explain them, I would have something to blog about. It's been fun and perhaps will be again. Another day.

The sun is beginning to shine on me
But it's not like the sun that used to be
The party's over, and there's less and less to say
I got new eyes
Everything looks far away

--- Bob Dylan, "Highlands"

Monday, February 26, 2007

I Kant figure this class out

Language and Social Studies Methods exam:

Unbelievably easy multiple choice section. Lots of essay questions that left me a bit unsure of what the prof was going for. We'll see, I guess.

Ms. W2 is the prof the least given to explaining her assignments I've encountered yet at State School. Next week is spring break, and the week after, we're supposed to do vocational presentations (give a brief talk as if to an elementary class, in the role of an given professional). We've had no information whatever on what this entails. I don't even know if there's a written component. But I am fairly sure we're supposed to arrive "in costume."

That sounds so fucking stupid when I write it out.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

2007 CD project: 8/52

Week Eight: Tom Waits, The Early Years, Volume One. This CD cost me $11.22.

My introduction to the wonderful world of Waits was as a freshman in college (California! Uber alles!). The first thing I heard by Waits was his masterwork, Rain Dogs. I quickly discovered Franks Wild Years and Swordfishtrombones, and then worked backwards to his earlier stuff. Of course, that triad of insanely great albums --- with their otherwordly, almost bestial sound --- remained the quintessential Waits for me.

It is almost always the case that our first exposure to a new artist becomes our touchstone for that artist, a comfortable favorite no matter in what directions the artists goes after (or, in this case, prior) to our discovery. I once met someone who came at Waits from the opposite side: I played the then-just released Bone Machine in a group, and this fellow, who was quite a bit older than me (probably my age now), reacted with horror at the clank, boom and steam of the first few tracks. It wasn't until the album slowed down and Waits began one of his trademark growling, melodramatic, beautiful ballads that the fellow asked me incredulously, "Is this Waits?" when I affirmed that indeed it was, he said that he much preferred Waits' earlier stuff --- the jazzy folk sound of the nightclubs that was Waits' previous trademark.

As I said, to me, that's not Classic Waits. Now, I'm a slavering fan of nearly every note the man has recorded, so I'm certainly not disparaging Waits' recorded beginnings. Indeed, I regard Small Change as one of the best albums of all time. But to me, in general, the younger the Waits, the less I'm enthralled.

So, encountering The Early Years --- a collection of Waits' pre-debut demos --- many years after my initial discovery of the noise-merchant Waits, I wasn't very pleased with it. "Why," young Chance sneered, "he sounds almost like Arlo Guthrie on this!" And if it were the fashion, I'm sure I would have added a "Pshaw!" So I put it aside, and went back to Rain Dogs for the 10,000th time.

But again, years after that, I decided to give The Early Years another listen. And yea, verily, it came me like unto a vision that Tom Waits is a God of Music, and Can Do No Wrong. These songs, though perhaps unrefined, show that even as a youth he was one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, and hint at the brilliance to come. It's not essential listening, by any means, but definitely worthwhile, far from the dross I dismissed it as way back when I was a foolish youth.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Instant Messaging with stupid people

First conversation

Jaded (10:41:04 PM): i haven't stepped foot into a gym in a year

Chance (10:41:13 PM): what a lazy, lazy person

Jaded (10:41:29 PM): no, wait, actually i went once last week i think... or maybe it was three weeks ago

Chance (10:41:29 PM): and yet, you maintain your trim, girlish figure. must be a genetic thing.

Jaded (10:41:39 PM): well, i poop alot

Jaded (10:41:44 PM): :-)

Chance (10:41:55 PM): :-O

The next day: Jaded is stressing out over a report she's way, way behind in, that is due the next morning at nine a.m. That established, e-silence ensues for forty minutes or so. Until I make a polite inquiry.

Chance (10:57:38 PM): ALMOST FINISHED????

Jaded (10:57:51 PM): I WILL STAB MY PEN INTO YOUR LEFT EYE

Chance (10:58:08 PM): :-D

Jaded (10:58:22 PM): you're lucky you're not an arm's length distance away from me

Chance (10:58:31 PM): that was a justified response, i gotta admit

More deliberate stupidity ensues, and of course it's not too long before the threats are made.

Chance (11:01:16 PM): well, i'll do it, but i don't see how it would help

Jaded (11:01:43 PM): THAT'S THE WHOLE CORE OF THE ASSIGNMENT

Chance (11:01:47 PM): WHAT IS

Jaded (11:01:59 PM): THE OUTLINE WE HAVE TO MAKE

Chance (11:02:02 PM): HUH?

Jaded (11:02:29 PM): i'm gonna bring this damn textbook to class next time just to hit you with it

Chance (11:03:29 PM): well, i'm going to twist your arm around 360 degrees

Jaded (11:04:23 PM): i'll strangle you with my legs!!!!!!!!

Chance (11:04:24 PM): WOW

Chance (11:04:30 PM): that sounds pretty cool actually

Chance (11:04:47 PM): not a bad way to go

Jaded (11:05:09 PM): though it'd be a slow death

Chance (11:05:09 PM): even better

Jaded (11:05:14 PM): cutting off the circulation

Jaded (11:05:28 PM): blood vessels popping throughout the body...

Chance (11:05:31 PM): i'll say!

At least one of us was enjoying the double entendres. I left out another conversation about her "juicy mangoes." Really, she has no idea what she's saying.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The air's fine down in this hole

I got a day off today because my birthday was some time this week.

I spent the day doing nothing whatever constructive.

***

B, one of my four-year-olds, sings "Row Your Boat" when unaccompanied with his own rather interesting interpretation of the lyrics. I loved it and asked him to sing it over and over until he got bored, so I could try to transcribe it here.

"Row, row your boat
Jenny down the street
Mary, Mary, Mary
Life is just in cream"

Dude, this kid is a pimp. Especially if that last line is actually "Life is Justine Cream." That would be awesome.

***

One time, a long time ago, I was sitting in a diner in LA with the Friar and Auric (who is, I must reiterate for the purposes of this anecdote, the singer of a successful rock band). Near the end of our lunch, Auric started softly singing along to the diner's piped-in music, keeping rhythm with his fingers on the Formica table top.

The waiter, sassy and dressed in an array of scarves and patches which was probably the height of LA fashion then, swept by our table and remarked to Auric, "Don't quit your day job."

Friar and I laughed and laughed. Oh, boy, did Auric get cut down there! Zing!

...

...And then Auric went home to his mansion where his model wife was waiting for him. Okay, we little people need to take our victories where we can find them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

This modern world

My father may have gone to Oxford on a full scholarship. He may speak four languages fluently. He may be well-versed in literature, history and current events. He may have once been a senior editor at a magazine with worldwide circulation. He may have had a position of great responsibility in the hallowed halls of the United Nations.

But he also once thought a flash drive was a package of candy and tried to eat it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Exceptional Children: blindness and deafness

We covered blindness (and other vision impairments) and deafness (and lesser forms of hearing loss) in class tonight.

[Speaking of which, the old question "would you rather be deaf or blind" came up the other night at the bar with 74 and Friar, and as in this post, I said I'd probably rather be blind, because I can always listen to books on tape as well as music. And 74 said, "Yes, but if I were blind, I wouldn't be able to watch porn."]

Fascinating factlings:
- 25% of students who are deaf or who have another form of hearing loss (about 83 out of 1000 students!) have another disability as well.
- almost half of students with visual impairments (2 out of 1000) have another disability as well.

I learned a new word. "Adventitious," in medicine, means not innate, coming from an external source, acquired. As in congenital vs. adventitious hearing loss.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Schmincoln

No work today, but we had a mandatory staff meeting all day. We had the usual meaningless jabber like sessions in which we wrote goals for our classrooms, and long intervals of back-patting. I suppose it's good to focus on the positive and at least try to get everyone on the same professional page, but without administrative support, there's really no point. I'm quite reclusive when I'm not being unnecessarily truculent at work; several of the people there I've never spoken more than five words to before. And there were two others who didn't make it, who I don't believe I've ever even seen.

In the evening, no Social Studies, but our group met up in the State School library in order to hammer out the first rough division of labor for our FDR lesson plan project. I'm going to be focusing on his polio and how that shaped his role as a model for good citizenship as well as what is now known as "cultural diversity."

If this were for an actual fourth grade class, I wonder if I could get away with taping broomsticks to the kids' legs in gym and having them act out activities, as a way to have them get a closer understanding of walking with a brace?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

2007 CD project: 7/52

The seventh compact disc of the year:

A tribute compilation: Sing Hollies In Reverse.

Total cost: $6.08 (cheap)!

Total enjoyment: fair to middling. Nothing earth-shattering here, though Steve Wynn's sort of menacing "The Air That I Breathe" makes the disc worth at least what I paid for it, anyway. And E (of the eels) does a typically mopey "Jennifer Eccles," a reworking which fits well. Everything else, like Material Issue's "Bus Stop" or The Loud Family's "Look Through Any Window," while which pleasant listening, is pretty much filler.

It's probably very difficult to find a comfortable middle ground between paying blind homage to a song and putting so much of a new spin on it that you totally miss the point. So good job to anyone who tries to tackle a cover of a classic and doesn't totally fall of his face, I guess.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Now I'm really getting old

Was invited to dinner at 74 and Zaftig's house. The baby was cute as ever, really starting to look like her mother. Also, extremely affectionate and smiley with me. The parents said she doesn't show nearly as much attention to people she sees every day. I just have a way with kids --- though truth to tell, most babies seem frightened of me; it's preschoolers who almost always like me.

After dinner, 74 and I met Friar and his boss and at the Hangout. We hung out and laughed and played golf and, in a fit of alcohol-fueled poor judgment, ate at our old high school haunt Denny's (which has changed a lot since our time; we were the only white people eating there). We stayed out until 4 a.m.

In the morning I was very ill, dried out and with a drum for a head. No longer twenty.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Out of pocket

Very busy with something or other. Or perhaps just on a self-imposed retreat. Either way, not writing today, and entries in the near future way me similarly rushed. Or perhaps not. Sometimes I get on a ranting roll despite myself.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Vocabulaire: pudibond

pudibond - prudish
Monsieur, je peux vous louer ce nain pour dix francs. Il parle l'espagnol et il n'est pas pudibond.
Hmmm.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Well, he's part right

This morning, I approached DK, a five-year-old who's not quite as with-it as some of his peers. (He comes from a household that speaks French, which may have something to do with it; I've noticed that growing up with two languages sometimes delays development a bit. But I digress.) I went up to DK, as I say, and I asked him, "What day is today?"

He looked up at me cheerfully, but with utter blank incomprehension in his eyes, so I prompted the /v/ sound for the French word for Wednesday, vendredi: "Vvvvv...."

"Vebruary!" he cried exultantly.

Well, close. Unfortunately, even that small victory was discredited when, later in the afternoon, I asked DK the same question --- "What day is it?" --- except this time it was in front of other parents, and after we had read some valentine's-themed books and I had discussed the holiday during circle time and the class had laboriously exchanged valentines and candy and we were eating pink cupcakes for snack on a tablecloth decorated with hearts. And DK answered just a bit uncertainly, "November?"

Hmm. Sometimes, we sow the seeds on stony ground.

I went home from The Job with a big bag of about ten pounds of chocolate and assorted junk food. And a stuffed animal and a Blockbuster gift card. Score!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits

Title: Walt Whitman, "Song Of the Open Road."

Vivid dreams all night long, so restless sleep --- my mind kept too busy by bizarre imagery and unlikely situations. The only part I remember is a weird sort of love triangle between me, the Ex and a totally fictional black woman. The Ex, although still my ex in the dream, was jealous of the attention I was showing the other woman. Intricate power plays ensued in the dream, tiring my thoughts for the waking.

***

We got our exams back in Exceptional Children. Mr. B said that out of our class of 100 or so students, there was one 98, a couple of 96s, quite a few 94s, and most of the rest in the high 80s. But because he thought three of the questions had been ambiguously worded, he was going to give everyone the full two points of credit for all three. So the person with the 98 would get 104, if you got a 94 you got 100, and so on. I'm not quite sure how that works, since clearly if you got a 98, you only missed one of them in the first place, but whatever.

I got the 98. Or rather, 104. So no worries here, at least.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Now here's a surprise

It's Monday again, which means it's time once more for Social Studies. We began the evening with a filler activity: literally, because we were presented with a blank map of Europe. As on the first day, when we were given maps of the U.S., this was a shameful fiasco. Most of my classmates gave up instantly, saying they could not name a single European country. Some said they knew Italy because it was shaped like a boot. I correctly labeled twelve or so, getting lost, of course, in the quagmire that is Eastern Europe.

But most of the girls identified only one or two countries. Keep in mind that these people want to be, and will soon be, professional teachers. It never fails to blow my mind. They know nothing, they don't care to read or learn or know anything now, they've forgotten everything that they may have (probably inadvertently) learned in school --- which was a good ten years, at least, more recent for them than in my case.

Ms. W2 asked if any of us had traveled in Europe, and implied that those of us who actually identified a few countries, knew them because of that experience. I wanted to shout, "No, that's not it! I learned these in school! Haven't any of you gone to fifth grade? Seventh grade? High school? What did you do at school?" But of course I didn't. Anyway, maybe I'm being unfair. I know my memory is exceptional; and I was a geek who loved reading. They probably used school for exploring the intricacies of social networks.

Anyway, then we presented the games that we'd made for our second big assignment. A lot of the products presented were very creative and well-made, and I could really see students getting involved in the learning process through them; perhaps there's hope here and there for the teaching profession.

So, after a few more infantile, demeaning activities that involved cutting things out and playing games, we had our exam review. Now, I haven't bought the book or even looked at it beyond that first cursory glance to see if I thought I'd need it before class started.

This may have been a mistake. Listen in, won't you, on my thought processes as the review began:

"Ho hum, second-grade activities... Cutting and matching pieces... Booooring... Okay, here's a review sheet... So what will the exam--- Holy shit! Kant?! Plato?! What the--?!"

Seriously, there seems to be a lot of philosophy in the text that we're apparently not talking about in class. Now, I've got a BA in philosophy, so these concepts aren't new to me, but this was a shock and a half, let me tell you. The exam will apparently cover a lot of theory of teaching and the history of thought and ethics.

I may need to acquire, and crack, a book.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

2007 CD Project: 6/52

This year so far, I have acquired six new (well, new to me; they're usually both quite old chronologically as well as used) compact discs. This is the story of the sixth.

John Prine - The Missing Years.

It cost me $11.54.

Released in 1991, this was the first album on Prine's own label, Oh Boy. It's a cliché to talk about artists who make their best work after being dropped by a major, but the scenario applies here. Prine is working for himself here, and being his own boss must cause a lot less stress. And while maybe there was less money up front (I'm guessing), the relaxed hours and other benefits paid off: the record won the Contemporary Folk Grammy.

Prine's a wonder, one of those natural songwriters like Dylan whose output makes the craft of songwriting seem effortless. He's so witty and yet so laid-back that it's almost a surprise every single time you hear him drawl out a goofball pun or a trenchant observation about love or loss.

Here are two of my favorite verses.

A Makah man in a wigwam sitting on a reservation
With a big black hole in the belly of his soul
Waiting on an explanation
While the white man
Sits on his fat can
And takes pictures of the Navajo
Every time he clicks his Kodak pics
He steals a little bit of soul
--- "Picture Show"

I wish you love and happiness
I guess I wish you all the best
I wish you don't
Do like I do
And ever fall in love with someone like you
Cause if you fell just like I did
You'd probably walk around the block like a little kid
But kids don't know, they can only guess
How hard it is to wish you happiness
--- "All the Best"

"Daddy's Little Pumpkin" is a wry song filled with wordplay, addressed to a vapid and probably pretty girl. "Way Back Then" is a bittersweet song about a love that used to be and, surprising given Prine's minimalist lyrical approach, it paints an accurate picture of how sepression takes hold of those love leaves in its wake: "I take a walk, I come back home / Then I sit a spell / Watch the ponies dance around / The empty wishing well." And the title song, "Jesus: The Missing Years," purports to explain what Jesus did in his undocumented youth. Like a lot of Prine's stuff, at first blush it's just silly fun, but (like a lot of Prine's stuff) it's got an emotional kick behind the anachronisms and wordplay.

One of the best albums by a master of modern folk.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Game theory

Spent part of the day on my Social Studies assignment. This was to design and construct a game that helped students learn about any area of social studies in an engaging way. This kind of thing is gravy to me, as I used to make board games and such for my own amusement as a young (and very probably maladjusted) child. I designed a board game with trivia questions on cards; I drew a freehand outline of the United States and put a series of squares more or less within those parameters. All the questions had to do with the expansion of the United States, from the 1600s to about 1890 or so. And because this is Texas and I geared it to fourth grade, I weighed the deck heavily with questions on Texas history.

I didn't do any deep research for the questions, but I did look up (on the web) specific dates, names of battles and treaties, and so forth for every question. And I've got to say this about American expansion: the United States broke treaties with everyone. We made solemn agreements with, and then stabbed in the back, not just all the Indian tribes, but the French, the British, Spain, Mexico.

And here's the big lesson, which Texans in particular, with the skewed "history" they force feed their children, seem completely oblivious to. Aside from Alaska and the Louisiana Purchase, which was a criminally good bargain made at war-weary Napoleon's expense, pretty much all of our expansion came from unprovoked wars, land-grabs and violent border disputes. We sure showed Mexico good at San Jacinto, huh? That taught them a lesson! Namely, not to welcome American settlers onto their land. Hey, maybe we Texians as a people have a sort of atavistic memory of this perfidy, and that's why we're so afraid to open this land back to them again. The thief, that is, thinks everyone is a thief.

***

In the evening, I went to my parents' house and my dad and I watched my main man Sugar Shane make a big comeback. Yes, while I've barely ever mentioned it here, professional boxing is a lifelong passion for me. I've been a big fan of this guy for years, and while at 35 he's not quite as fast and agile as I remember, he completely dominated Luis Collazo. Last year, Collazo showed himself to be a tough contender against another favorite of mine, Ricky Hatton. So it was pleasing to see Shane knocking his guy around with consummate skill, knowing that Collazo was no powderpuff. In addition to being one of the finest practitioners of the sweet science ever, Shane's always been great that way: immediate rematches to those who beat him, and seeking out opponents that will give him a challenge rather than an easy win and a payday.

But watching Shane did also remind me of J, my sweet, grumpy roommate of six years ago now. She died at far too young an age, after an operation on her spine led to infection. She lingered for a while, probably not in pain but totally unresponsive, and died at the house that she shared with Deep Blue and me, with her mother by her side. I introduced J to boxing, and the first match she ever saw was with us, at that house, and it was Sugar Shane at his peak, kicking someone's ass so handily, and so beautifully, that we all shouted for joy.

And believe me, most people --- especially girls --- watching their first boxing match ever don't shout with joy when someone goes down.

So I thought of J, who had a lot of health problems and needed a brace to walk, and how she was a well-known figure in the local music scene, and how beloved she was by local bands and promoters and fans. Despite her physical limitations, she went out and kicked society's ass and enjoyed everything that she wanted to experience.

Six years ago.

And I'm still here, tears welling up just a bit.

I need to stop this negativity shit. Life's too short.

Friday, February 09, 2007

100 things

Lately I've been pretty reclusive. Maddening Angel called me a few times, and I ducked the calls. I didn't really even know why. I just don't have anything much to say to anyone. Well, sociability goes in cycles, I suppose.

So, in lieu of anything remotely resembling content, here are 100 things I have either done or not done, gacked from Samurai Frog.

Have you ever:
1. Smoked cigarettes: Aside from acting like a doofus and "trying" a single cigarette on two occasions five and ten years back, I've never smoked. Lots and lots of second-hand smoke, though, from parents and friends who smoke constantly.
2. Smoked a cigar: Never.
3. Broken a CD: Oh, many, many times.
4. Crashed a friend's car: Never.
5. Stolen a car: Never.
6. Been in love: A few times.
7. Been dumped: Once, but it was big.
8. Shoplifted: Oh yes, petty youthful shenanigans.
9. Been fired: Never.
10. Been in a fist fight: A couple of times. And, if I were ten years younger, I'd add, "And I'll kick your ass, too," because I'm rather a strong person, and at one point quite vicious. But, now that I'm 36, and not very big to begin with, I'm guessing a lot of giganto frat boys could pummel me. I have calmed down quite a bit since high school and college.
11. Snuck out of your house: I don't think so. My parents were incredibly lax. For the last year of high school I was out until 4 and 5 a.m. routinely, and no one ever said boo.
12. Had feelings for someone who didn't have them back: Oh, of course. Constantly, perhaps.
13. Been arrested: Nope, I'm clean.
14. Made out with a stranger: I'm not the kind of guy that women want to make out with on sight. They have to fall for my wit and charm, since my looks aren't going to get me anywhere.
15. Gone on a blind date: Never.
16. Lied to a friend: Like the Frog said, I've lied to everyone I know.
17. Had a crush on a teacher: I suppose so, but can't recollect specific instances.
18. Skipped school: When my brother and I were younger, my father would keep us home on the slightest pretext. We loved that. Given my own responsibility in high school, I never skipped. In college, though, different story. Lots of craziness there, both good and bad. Staying up way too late and then going out to a late lunch instead of to that crucial afternoon seminar. That kind of thing.
19. Slept with a co-worker: Oh, yes.
20. Seen someone die: No, and I hope never to.
21. Been on a plane: Many, many times. Seriously, what American hasn't? Hard-core Amish people?
22. Thrown up in a bar: Not in the bar itself, no.
23. Taken painkillers: Oh sure, but I don't recall the whys and wherefores of it. I tend to eschew all manner of painkillers as a rule; I prefer to gauge my pain and master it. But at the dentist and such? Sure.
24. Love someone or miss someone right now: No, not really.
25. Laid on your back and watched cloud shapes go by: I may have done that, long ago.
26. Made a snow angel: I have a specific memory of having done that, long ago.
27. Played dress up: What the hell does that mean? Like, for my own amusement? As a sex game? Whatever it is, probably not.
28. Cheated while playing a game: Oh, my, yes! I've been a very reprehensible cheat in my time.
29. Been lonely: Like the Frog said, most of my life.
30. Fallen asleep at work/school: I have fallen asleep in college, and I must say during nap time at work I've probably drifted off a bit deeper than is permissible for the supposedly responsible adult on the premises to do.
31. Used a fake id: Never had one. I went to a couple of bars back when I was a minor, but somehow got in without resort to trickery. Even though I looked about ten years old when I was 17.
32. Felt an earthquake: Oh, yes. You can't live in California without having gone through a quake. A few in Oregon, too. Minor stuff, though in CA we were evacuated for a bit.
33. Touched a snake: Yes.
34. Ran a red light: A few times.
35. Been suspended from school: No.
36. Had detention: I think I had detention back in seventh grade. I got into minor trouble, was assigned an after-school study hall, and forgot to go. So I had to go to Saturday detention, where geeky, studious me was lumped in with all the regular delinquents, who mocked my intention to actually do homework while I was there.
37. Been in a car accident: Yes, a few.
38. Hated the way you look: Till the day I die, baby!
39. Witnessed a crime: Yes.
40. Pole danced: I think the sight of me pole dancing would cause death by uncontrollable derisive laughter in any unfortunate observers.
41. Been lost: Many, many times. I have the worst sense of direction in the entire world, seriously.
42. Been to the opposite side of the country: Please. I've lived on the opposite side of the country.
43. Felt like dying: Oh yes, especially by my own hand.
44. Cried yourself to sleep: Yeah, probably.
45. Played cops and robbers: Well, we played like we were knights with stick swords and trash can lid shields.
46. Sang karaoke: No, I am the worst singer in the entire world. Painfully, painfully bad. Not the "so bad it's funny" kind of bad. The "just please stop now" kind of bad.
47. Done something you told yourself you wouldn't: Who hasn't? Hell, I've broken that kind of promise within the hour!
48. Laughed till some kind of beverage came out of your nose: Yeah, I think so.
49. Caught a snowflake on your tongue: Yes.
50. Kissed in the rain: Probably, but can't remember.
51. Sing in the shower: Occasionally. Quietly.
52. Made love in a park: Yes, in the woods.
53. Had a dream that you married someone: I think so, but not sure.
54. Glued your hand to something: Yes, I glued my hand to my face once, because I am brain-dead. Holy hell. of course not.
55. Got your tongue stuck to a flag pole: No, because I knew what would happen, genius.
56. Worn the opposite sex's clothes: Never.
57. Had an orgasm: Of course.
58. Sat on a roof top: Oh, yes.
59. Didn't take a shower for a week: Yes, a week easily.
60. Ever too scared to watch scary movies alone: Not often, but sometimes at night. I refrained from watching Jacob's Ladder at night alone, and had to watch it in the comfort of day. I probably wouldn't watch The Shining at night alone.
61. Played chicken: Not so's I was serious about it.
62. Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on: Never.
63. Been told you're hot by a complete stranger: Yes, surprisingly. Luckily, the ol' self-loathing prevented that from getting anywhere.
64. Broken a bone: Never.
65. Been easily amused: Have I ever been easily amused? Does that even make sense?
66. Laugh so hard you cry: I've laughed until tears streamed down my face, but I didn't start crying per se. So people actually start breaking down and bawling? 'Cause I don't call having your eyes water as a simple physiological reaction, and not an emotional one, crying.
67. Mooned/flashed someone: No, that would be cruel.
68. Cheated on a test: Oh, yes. In middle school and college. Like I said, I've been reprehensible.
69. Forgotten someone's name: Just the other day, a beautiful, big-eyed girl introduced herself to me in Exceptional Children, and I forgot her name about a picosecond after she said it. That is typical of me. To be more accurate, I tend not so much to "forget" people's names as to not listen to them in the first place.
70. Slept naked: I usually do.
71. Gone skinny dipping in a pool: I think not.
72. Been kicked out of your house: Never.
73. Blacked out from drinking: I don't think so, but would I remember if I had?
74. Played a prank on someone: I guess, probably. Not something I think about much.
75. Gone to a late night movie: Sure, a few times. Like Rocky Horror, with friends, in college. We also made a point of seeing the "Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation" when it came to town.
76. Made love to anything not human: Good Lord, of course not!
77. Failed a class: Never. Must have been all the cheating.
78. Choked on something you're not supposed to eat: Not since post-infancy sentience kicked in.
79. Played an instrument for more than 10 hours: What the hell? Who does that?
80. Cheated on a significant gf/bf: I would never, ever do that.
81. Ate a whole package of Oreos: No, I don't like Oreos.
82. Thrown strange objects: I've thrown a lot of things. What's "strange?" I set a TV on fire and threw it off my dorm balcony once. Is that strange? I threw a chair out a window once. That's pretty typical.
83. Felt like killing someone: Sure, all the time. People are such pricks!
84. Thought about running away: Never. Where would I go that's better?
85. Ran away: Never.
86. Did drugs: I tried pot maybe a couple times, it never did anything for me. Nothing else except alcohol.
87. Had detention and not attend it: No, I went and tried to do homework, remember?
88. Yelled at parents: Yeah, too much.
89. Made parent cry: Yes, and I feel guilty about it.
90. Cried over someone: Of course.
91. Owned more than 5 puppies: No, I am not a crazy dog person.
92. Dated someone more than once: As in, broke up with them and then got back together? No.
93. Have a dog: I have a dog now.
94. Have a cat: I had a lot of cats over the years.
95. Own an instrument: I own a recorder that I had to buy for my "Art, Music and Physical Development" class. I learned to play "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on it. I play them both badly.
96. Been in a band: No, I have no musical talent.
97. Had more than 25 sodas in one day: That's a hell of a lot. I doubt it.
98. Made out with a member of the same sex: Never.
99. Shot a gun: Oh yes, many times at the range. In the house too, by accident. Hee hee! I'm dangerously negligent!
100. Been online for more than 5 hours straight: Oh, I'm sure. Those blogs make fascinatin' reading!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In seven months, I'm out of here

I told The Boss that she probably wouldn't be able to count on me for the putative K-4 camp this summer, as I'd be student teaching in the fall. She's been sick lately, and her reaction was a lot more subdued than I thought it would be. She said, "And when were you going to tell me that?" I said, "Today."

I know she's extremely eager to keep me on -- she was near hysteria when I first started taking classes and moved to part-time back in 2005 --- but the end is approaching. I've been at the Job for more than three years now.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Well, I guess I'm not too far gone

Kids' weirdness can still bring a smile to my face.

Eb (five year old girl): "I don't like spiders. At my house there was a daddy long-spider."

Me: "Hee hee! A daddy long-legs? Well, they can't hurt you at all."

Eb: "I know. I know they can't. But he ran away! And hid!"

Me: "Well, then?"

Eb: "Well, now there's a daddy long-spider hiding in my house!"

***

Et (five year old boy): "My name from now on is Mister Man."

Me: "Um. Okay."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Not very exceptional test

Took the first test for Exceptional Children tonight. Fifty multiple-choice questions, including "none of the above" and "all of the above" choices. As I've mentioned several times before, I don't like multiple-choice tests; I prefer having room to expound on and explain my answers. Still, Mr. B was eminently fair, making himself available during the test to explain any sections we might have found ambiguous. So I think I probably did all right.

Got home early, wasted time.

Monday, February 05, 2007

ARRRRGAHAHGHGA

Work was a total clusterfuck today. At least two teachers were absent and the morning was chaos. I was alone in the gym with 17 kids until someone showed up. Later, when I called The Boss (who'd come in at ten a.m.) to say that the younger preschool teacher needed help for about half an hour, instead of help or even sympathy, I got an earful of pissy attitude. I swear, if it weren't for the very pretty new afternoon girl with the penchant for bending over deeply to talk to the kids, I wouldn't be happy with The Job at all.

***

All I want to say about Social Studies is this. Last week, we broke into groups to do a project on the presidents. Someone emailed our group asking for suggestions, and I emailed everyone saying my pick was "FDR." I mentioned his 12-year term, his polio, his policies that combated the Great Depression, and how he oversaw America's participation in world War II. Tonight, a girl in our group accosted me to ask who this "FDR" was.

***

I am extremely depressed. The pressures of The Job and my failures as a human being are straining me to the breaking point.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

2007 CD project: 5/52

The fifth CD I acquired this year was a sampler from Paste magazine. I've decided to include in the parameters of this project all CDs I acquire this year, whether I purchase them or not. This CD, which came with the magazine, cost me nothing at all (which will help keep the total down for sure!). I find myself subscribed to Paste without actually having asked or paid for it. Go figure. maybe it's all my connections in the music scene.

(Note: I actually have no connections in the music scene. I only know people who have connections in the music scene. There is a huge difference.)

Anyway, I won't go over all the details of these mostly up-and-coming (read: obscure) acts, so here's just a quick rundown of a few of of the tracks:

"When I Wake" - The Changes. They have an XTC vibe going. Pretty good power pop.

"Split Needles [alternate version]" - The Shins. I've heard a few things by this much beloved band and liked what I heard, but this song is utterly forgettable to me. Really. I must have played it 10 or more times this week and I cannot for the life of me remember anything about it.

"Ain't No Reason" - Brett Dennen. Perhaps the song that hooked me the most, but a very guilty pleasure. Has all the qualities of a song that would be played on "Scrubs" during the part where everyone has reached the apex of their particular problem. For all I know, it has. White boy blues, a sort of Dave Matthews lite spouting lyrics either trite ("Keep on building prisons, gonna fill them all / Keep on building bombs, gonna drop them all") or the type that seem poetic yet ultimately mean nothing ("I got a basket full of lemons and they all taste the same / A window and a pigeon with a broken wing"). Yet, if I'm in the mood for it, it works for me. It must for others, too; he's got 17000 "friends" on his MySpace page.

"Words" - Lucinda Williams. I'm a fan of her breakthrough album, Car Wheels On a Gravel Road, and this is a similar vein. Good stuff.

"Leave In the Middle Of the Night" - Dana Falconberry. Vaguely reminiscent of Katharine Whalen's work in the Squirrel Nut Zippers. A catchy little tune that could have been sung in some nightclub in the '30s.

"Loop Duplicate My Heart" - Suburban Kids With Biblical Names. More like Magnetic Fields With Different Names! Ha! 'Cause, see, this song sounds just like the Magnetic Fields.

"Get Ready" - Southern Bitch. Truly awful.

"The Perfect Me" - Deerhoof. People who like bands fronted by Japanese girls with girlish Japanese voices will like this band.

"Baby On My Arm" - The Broken West. They're an American Kinks!

"Heimdalsgate Like a Promethian Curse" - Of Montreal. I either love this or hate it. And I'm not sure which. It's, what? Glam-rock with a drum machine? Prince while he's depressed? All I know is the singer is yelping, over multi-textured Beatles-esque melodies, for some chemicals to help his mood. I doubt they would help.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It says "me" twice and it's too long

Gunner sent me two memes. Not at once, separately. But I conflated them and I guess I'll do them. For her. Even though she doesn't read this.
  1. Do you wish upon stars? Oh no, is this going to be one of those things? Come on.

  2. What color pants are you wearing? Grey.

  3. What are you listening to right now? An mp3 of Bob Dylan's "Theme Time radio Hour." I've become quite adept at this downloading thing lately.

  4. What was the last thing you ate? A pizza I made. Well, I took a frozen margherita pizza and added more fresh tomatoes, hamburger, mushrooms and more cheese.Wolfgang Puck ain't got nothing on me, baby!

  5. If you were a crayon, what would you be? Insensate. And possibly, therefore, happier.

  6. How is the weather now? Funny you should ask. This is the most wintery winter I think I've ever experienced in this city. it's been freezing many nights, and snowed three times. I prefer the typical Texas winter: low 60s or so and sunny skies.

  7. Favorite drink? Chocolate Silk.

  8. Favorite sport? Doing: weightlifting, which I've done more or less constantly for about 18 years now. If I were more athletic and social, I'd probably enjoy a friendly game of field hockey. But I hate running around fields for the most part. Hiking with a friend can be cool. As for watching, boxing or mixed martial arts matches; I have next to zero interest in team sports of any kind.

  9. Do you wear contacts? No. I was born with really terrible vision and a few years back got the laser eye surgery. I've got a few weird lingering side effects like bad low-light vision, but I'm very happy that I did it. I wasn't able to wear soft contacts because of some other thing wrong with my eyes, and I sure as hell wasn't going to put bits of glass on my eyeballs, so this was the only route if I didn't want to have Coke-bottles on my face for the rest of my life. One of the best things I ever did. It didn't hurt, either, though the devices they used to keep my eyes open during the actual lasering reminded me of the devices they put on Alex in Clockwork Orange.

  10. Favorite month? This is not something I think about much. I guess maybe May? It has nice weather.

  11. What was the last movie you saw? The day before yesterday, I finished watching (for the second time) Kids In the Hall: Brain Candy. Not as funny as I remembered it; a mildly amusing send-up of the pharmaceutical industry and our tendency to use medication as a first strike. As usual, Dave Foley was the best part, though he's not in it much and didn't get a writing credit. Scott Thompson's repressed gay guy was a nice bit, too.

  12. What was your favorite toy as a child? Um. Masters of the Universe figures? Or maybe Lego.

  13. What did you do last night? I saw an episode of HBO's series "Rome" for the first time. Not bad. I may have to get the first season and see it in earnest now.

  14. How many states have you lived in? Cities? States, let's see. I lived in California, Oregon, Texas, New York, Maryland, and Michigan for at least a year each. Cities, I don't know. Probably ten or so.

  15. Favorite Disney character? That's tough. I enjoyed Robin Williams' madcap Genie a lot. But I admired the indefatigable spirit of Tom Hanks' Woody (hee hee!) more, especially in Toy Story 2. I like movies that preach the message, "Never give up, no matter what the odds."

  16. What are you most afraid of? Tornadoes. There's just nothing you can do, man. They come out of nowhere and, like Batman, they will wreck your shit.

  17. When is your birthday? Never you mind. I hate thinking about my birthday. All it means is I'm another day nearer to the cold embrace of Lady Death.

  18. What time did you get up this morning? For the first time in quite a while, Dog did not wake me up whining to go outside, and I slept in until 9:30. Very refreshing.

  19. Diamonds or pearls? Whichever she likes best!

  20. What was the last film you saw at the theater? I've honestly no idea, it's been so long.

  21. What is your favorite TV show? HBO's "The Wire."

  22. What superhero would you be? Green Lantern, baby! Where there's a will, there's a huge unbreakable green construct destroying everything that stands in my way.

  23. What is your favorite cuisine? Italian. Pizza, pasta. Cheese. Yes.

  24. What foods do you dislike? Anything spicy.

  25. Your favorite potato chip? I can honestly say that I have no favorite potato chip. Who am I, this guy?

  26. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Aside from the classics I've been listening to for years and years, I'd say The Hold Steady's Boys And Girls In America is still doing it for me. Utter brilliance.

  27. What kind of car do you drive? A very small SUV-type made by Toyota. dark blue. At least I say it is. Girls seem to think it's purple.

  28. Favorite sandwich? Look, if the ingredients are fresh, any sandwich is great. Peanut butter, turkey, roast beef, whatever. Was the person who thought up these questions hungry when they did it? I clearly don't think about food as much as they do.

  29. What characteristics do you despise? Deliberate ignorance, unwillingness to compromise, over-defensiveness. Hey, that sounds like someone in particular!

  30. What are your favorite clothes? Another thing I don't think about much. Blue jeans, T-shirt, maybe a button-down, steel-toed shoes. Sleeveless shirt when it's hot.

  31. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where WOULDN’T you go? Anywhere in the Muslim world where I'd have my head slowly sawed off.

  32. Favorite brand of clothing? Brand? Clothing? Levi's?

  33. Where would you want to retire? Paris. This is taking way too long. Luckily I can multi-task.

  34. Favorite time of day? Night.

  35. Where were you born? New York.

  36. Pepsi or Coke? I'm trying to avoid soda altogether lately and haven't drunk either of these two in a very long time, but I vastly prefer Coke to Pepsi; always have.

  37. Beavers or Ducks? That's weird. I'm sure Gunner doesn't understand this reference, but it actually applies to my life. I'm a Beav all the way, baby! Actually, I couldn't care less, but I did attend Beaver U. My limited experience with Duck U. was that the students there were total assholes.

  38. Pedicure or manicure? I've never had either and don't care to. I have very bad nails. I need to stop biting them.

  39. Any exciting news you’d like to share? No, the inevitable letdown always depresses me.

  40. What did you want to be when you were little? A cartoonist.

  41. What is your best childhood memory? Not counting high school as "childhood," though that's the era of some of my best memories, I guess hanging out with a good friend, making up games and stories.

  42. Piercing? I'm vehemently against it on my own person. It does nothing for me in girls, either.

  43. Ever been to Africa? No, but I'd like to go to a few places there. I'd love to be able to go on a wildlife safari in Madagascar, for example.

  44. Ever toilet papered a house? No.

  45. Been in a car accident? As a passenger, a couple of medium intensity. One as a young kid with my father (driving drunk) and one with my old undergrad housemate. He broadsided a Volvo with two kids in it, sending it in a 360 across the road amidst a shower of shattered glass. Luckily, no one was hurt. He had no insurance and no registration (nor, as he found out later, did he even legally own the car he was driving), and his first, panicked instinct was to flee the scene, but I convinced him not to do that. As the driver, I've been in a few very minor accidents, none of which were my fault (all but one were me being bumped from behind, and in the other case, the woman admitted fault and her insurance paid the full repair bill for my car).

  46. Favorite restaurant? There's a steak house here that costs about $100 per person, including appetizer and drink, and is worth every penny. Mmmm... Medium-rare filet mignon.

  47. Favorite flower? I don't have opinions about flowers, though I can appreciate the colorful ones. I like flowers with different and rich colors on them.

  48. Favorite ice cream? Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby. Peanut butter-filled pretzels make it saltilicious!

  49. Favorite fast food restaurant? I very rarely go, and only with others, but the old standby McDonald's. Jack in the Box has good shakes, though I haven't been there in more than a year.

  50. How many times did you fail your drivers test? Zero, though as I recall I squeaked out a pass by the barest of margins.

  51. From whom did you get your last e-mail? A parent at the Job. It was to the whole school, not me personally.

  52. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Back when it was still extant, Tower. Now, Border's.

  53. Your bedtime? Around 11:00 p.m., unfortunately.

  54. Last person you went to dinner with? The Friar, I think. It's been a while.

  55. What is your favorite color? Dark blue, midnight blue, deep purple: that range of hues seems very peaceful to me. Also, black.

  56. How many tattoos do you have? None, but it's never too late, I guess.

  57. Favorite magazine? I love Slate's online magazine. terrific, informed writing about every subject under the sun. I used to read print magazines, but I don't much care anymore. England's music magazine Q is possibly the world's most entertaining reading if you're at all a pop music fan, but it's way too expensive to become a habit here in the States.

Vocabulaire: médiatiser

médiatiser - to popularize through the mass media

C'est une idée très médiatisée ces derniers temps que les oreilles des belges sont plus difformes que celles des français.
I'm pretty sure that this is not true.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Welcome to Kamp InKompetent

So at The Job, I had a meeting with the Boss and one of the parents who is on the school board. They want to start up a K-4th-grade summer camp and run it from the gym, and they want me to administrate it. Now, if all went as perfectly as it possibly could and their wildest projections came true, I would make $12,000 in addition to my regular salary this summer.

However, that is not going to happen. As I've mentioned a few times, The Job is not run well. If we had an administrator with half a brain, we'd be huge, but as it is, we limp by despite our Boss' crashing incompetence. There is just no way that my workplace can attract enough K-4 kids to make any of the requisite expenditures worthwhile. We don't even have a bus! No one wants to send their kids to a camp with no field trips. So we'd have to hire a bus, which I suppose is possible, but again, I don't know if we've got the money for it.

All we have to offer the discerning parents (and parents in this town are very discerning when it comes to their kids) is a gym, teachers with degrees, a nice yard, a couple of computers, and lots of ideas. Is that enough? I don't know. I don't know anything about running a camp, for the love of Ganesh.

In addition: taking Biology this summer is pretty much a requirement for me. This is not the kind of class that meets once a week in the evening. It's probably going to be two or three hours, three times a week, plus labs. I must take Bio this summer because I'm student teaching in the fall, come hell or high water.

So... Even if it were likely that this thing would take off and I could net a cool ten grand plus salary in nine weeks --- which it most certainly is not --- I still wouldn't be too interested. It would mean putting off the completion of my program for another semester, and that would be stupid. I can make nearly twice as much in a public school, and I need to start that ASAP.

Still, I'm wondering if I can do both. Even if we only get a handful of kids, I could still try my best with what we get, and receive a cut of whatever the school does pull in. Ah, I dunno.