Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summer semester starts!

I'm taking one course this eight-week semester: Reading II. It meets twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday, and ostensibly runs from 6:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. However, because the professor is so infuriatingly boring (she talks endlessly without managing to say anything informative, tonight repeating herself and repeating the incredibly detailed information on the syllabus) that I pretty much have resigned myself to not getting out of there until 9:00. We have already formed groups --- our group will be doing a lesson plan on Authorial Voice.

The book, as usual, costs $100. Goddamn thieving collegiate bookseller industry.


On the lighter side... Over at the always superb Absorbascon, Scipio's got a theme going this week that has brought tears of laughter to my eyes:

"Never before or since has Batman exceeded this particular combination of looking like a total goober while acting like a total jackass."

As commenter Chawunky says, "No one told me I might one day see Batman going "Van Dort?...Van Dort...?" while wearing a helmet that Adam West's Batman would have rejected as overdone. Too fab."

It's a racing helmet --- with the Batman logo on it --- with pointy Bat-ears!

And that's just a small fraction of the hilarious "Bronze Age" lunacy found within.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Oh that wacky Grant Morrison

Here are the graphic novels I have bought since last time. (I'm not normally in the habit of keeping records of every purchase I make, much less the price; this is a year-long endeavor to check the effectiveness of my New Year's resolution to buy less.)

Maus I - $7
Maus II - $7

Bought at Half Price Books, where there truly is treasure everywhere. These two volumes are, of course, Essential Obligatory Musts. (I had owned them before this, but a few years back my father gave them away to his students for some goddamn reason.)

Although I've read them many times, as soon as I got home from the store, I read them cover to cover in one sitting. Every time I read these books, I am astounded by Vladek's courage, resourcefulness, and determination; I am blown away by Spiegelman's sheer creativity, and his mastery of the form in telling this awful, amazing story; and I am saddened by the hideous tragedy of it all.

Justice League Unlimited v. 2 - $7
Justice League Unlimited v. 3 - $7

I paid full price (at Zeus, which is not the best comic store in town, but easily the most pleasant to shop at) for these digest-size "books." Each one contains five fun, one-shot stories, nothing too special, but surprisingly well-crafted. I hate buying digest-size; the art is meant to be viewed at regular 7" x 10" format. But this is all that's available.

New X-Men: New Worlds - $7.50
New X-Men: Here Comes Tomorrow - $5.50
The Hiketeia HC - $12.50

Bought at Virgin Records, which is closing and thus having a half-price clearance. The two X-Men volumes, written by Grant Morrison, are okay, but I doubt I'll keep them. It's the usual dazzling Morrison madness and miracles --- oh, well-written enough, but sometimes it feels like it's all flash and no real fire. I enjoyed his scene-shifting pyrotechnics when I wrote JLA, but not enough to buy and keep every story arc he did. And I care more about those DC characters than the X-Men. Though, I have to say, he gives the characters foibles and recognizable tics, making them a lot more sympathetic and interesting than I'd found them previously. Sex, drugs, saving the world. That madcap Morrison!

As for Rucka, who wrote the Wonder Woman one-shot, he can do no wrong. No wrong I tells you!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

List nerd

Because I am an anal-retentive list nerd, I have been cataloguing my books (at Library Thing) and re-organizing my existing list of CDs (on an Excel spreadsheet).

Boy, I have a lot of books I haven't read, and I own a hell of a lot of songs that I could not, having simply read the title, for the life of me hum a bar of. Or recite any of the lyrics of. Or identify the CD they appear on.

Perhaps I've reached my saturation point.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I'm a goddamn super-hero

The other day at the Job I had occasion to use my mad first aid skillz. During nap, F (a particularly ditzy blonde five years of age) pulled her metal ring off her finger and put it in her mouth and then promptly swallowed it. She began making choking noises. I rushed over and asked if she was okay, but she didn't make a sound. I did a sort of half-hearted Heimlich, and on the first abdominal thrust, her ring fell out of her mouth, accompanied by a bit of bile. She was shaken but otherwise okay.

Later, after we'd had a few serious talks about being safe with little decorative bits of metal, F said to me earnestly, "Why don't you make a sign saying 'Don't put things in your mouth that aren't food?'"

I said, "Well, I would, but it wouldn't do much good, since you can't read."


Today was "Mixed-up clothing day" at the Job, a sort of half-assed morale booster, I guess. I wore a couple of conflicting colors, but no one seemed to think that was very "mixed up;" they meant more along the lines of wearing both plaids and stripes, I guess. One kid said to me, "Your clothes aren't very mixed up, but your hair is."

I hadn't done anything special to my hair; I'm just kind of perpetually tousled.

Vocabulaire: une émeute

une émeute - a riot
Pendant l'émeute, quelques gardiens ont été matraqués par les prisonniers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Now doth time waste me

I had a bad day at work today. Let's just say I had to go home in the middle of the day to change clothes, because --- and this is a rather obscure euphemism, so read between the lines --- a kid peed on me. Damn kids.

I went back to The Job at 6:00 p.m. to watch some kids during the parent meeting. Glutton for punishment.

Was ever book containing such vile matter so fairly bound?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

No further than a wanton's bird

After work, I met up at the library with the Ex, who is (obviously) back in town. And pregnant, I failed to mention that in this space. No, it's not mine. Anyway, she gave me the signed and notarized papers that the Friar had drawn up for me.

The Maddening Angel called me and met me at the library at the same time, so she watched my interaction with the Ex. She commented that it was unusual to see a divorced couple talking so freely and laughing so freely. It is true that the Ex and I seem to make each other laugh, but I will always resent her for making horrible, and then throwing away, what could have been something good. These last three years were supposed to be a time of getting back on our feet and then moving forwards; instead she crippled us with debt and then abruptly left. Still, while I am angry, life's too short to be needlessly rude.

MA and I went out to eat at some nasty Texican place that probably made me ill. Then we went to the book store together and I got some terrific deals from the bargain section. She wanted me to come watch a movie, but I declined.

Later that evening, she called me and we talked about how she was lonely and had been considering calling up her ex Cokehead. I told her that, while I wasn't saying she should do it, it wasn't the worst idea I'd ever heard. We all like to fall back on comfortable, if not entirely beneficial, habits when we're down. Again, I got the sense that she probably would have liked me to volunteer to keep her company instead, but I've been down that road, and there's no exit with my name on it. So although I disdain Cokehead for being the creepy prick he is, poor MA could at least use a pair of arms to fall asleep in, I guess.


Added to blogroll: the wonderful My Brilliant Mistakes. Man, my sidebar's getting long. I find that three or four blogs that I put on this page stopped publishing soon after; whether there's causation or not is hard to say for a solipsistic fool like me. Still, if some of those old haunts don't vacuum out the cobwebs soonish: chop-chop!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dragging some kind of a line

The Job had a staff meeting at 6:00 p.m. today, but I got home, had a drink, and fell asleep until 6:00. When I woke up, I didn't feel like going. Bad employee! Bad!

I felt kind of sad and isolated today; I probably should have gone to the Hangout to cheer myself up, but didn't. I went to bed reasonably content, though, after the Maddening Angel called around midnight and we chatted for about half an hour.

She asked me to come sleep at her place for the second time in as many nights, but I didn't go. I think now that Cokehead is out of the picture, it could easily become like old times for MA and me, but I don't think those old times were very healthy. Too much intimacy for so unromantic a relationship. I start feeling attached despite myself and end up acting like a whinybitch.

Wholly stupid

Today I watched Half Baked, the stoner comedy from the wacky mind of Dave Chappelle. On the Risible Scale of Funniness, where ten risibles is Mel Brooks' The Producers and one risible is dropping a Mag-Lite on your foot, I would rate this film as two risibles. If every scene with the painfully, painfully unfunny Jim "Goat Boy" Bruer had been cut, the film might well have rated as high as three risibles.


Went to TriviaBar, where --- due to a long complicated series of phone calls, hysterical recriminations and counter-allegations (none of my part, thank God) --- I met Spooky, who handed me the money she owned Maddening Angel. She said she missed me, and I said I did too, which is mostly true. But she was being as melodramatic and ridiculous as ever, and I'm not sorry to let her be for a while longer at least.

And possibly because Potato did not show up, so we lacked access to his vast starchy warehouse of sports knowledge, our team did not win or take second place for the first time in many weeks.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Lazy flies and silly lists

I was supposed to go to another party for Flax, this one a sit-down dinner at a restaurant, organized by Flax's sister... But I was too tired and feeling a bit misanthropic, so didn't go. This broke one of my informal resolutions --- i.e., to attend every social event to which I am invited and the idea of which doesn't utterly repulse me (so, for example, I would not attend a rave, no matter who asked me). But as there can be no mountain without a valley, there can be no rules without a little flouting.


A few days ago, I had a dream in which Ram called me up and said she had finally and permanently broken up with her boyfriend. In the dream, I was overjoyed, because I had just broken up with Spooky and the timing was so exquisite. I remember feeling exultant that I had so many social options ahead of me. When I woke up, the fact this actually hadn't happened was difficult to process. No, I did not call her, however. That page has turned.


Here is a set of musical lists.

One truly great song with "one" in the title:
  1. "One," by Johnny Cash [this version beats all others]
Two great songs with "two" in the title:
  1. "Two-Headed Boy," Neutral Milk Hotel
  2. "Two Little Hitlers," Elvis Costello
Three great songs, etc.:
  1. "Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy," Howlin' Wolf
  2. "Three Hits," Indigo Girls
  3. "Three Little Birds," Bob Marley
Four songs I like with ditto:
  1. "Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets To The Wind In Copenhagen)," Tom Waits
  2. "Four Green Fields," Clancy Brothers
  3. "Four Leaf Clover," Old 97's with Exene Cervenka
  4. "Four Of Two," They Might Be Giants
And of course the five:
  1. "Five Years," David Bowie
  2. "5ive Gears In Reverse," Elvis Costello
  3. "Five O'Clock World," the Vogues
  4. "When I'm Five," David Bowie
  5. "5:15, " the Who

No rest for the weekend

Tonight at the Hangout we had a small gathering for my friend Flax, who is getting married in two weeks. All the old high school cronies were there: Friar, Anacreon, 74, Flax and T-Bone. It was as much of a "bachelor party" as Flax would ever suffer to attend; there were no strippers, fights or poker rounds, but we drank outside and roistered and laughed till late in the night. An atavistic sort of feeling pervaded the evening, perhaps, as we reminisced about Flax's insane father, girls we'd known in high school and what idiot pranks we got up to. But 74 and T-Bone are both fathers, and all of them are married, so there was also a sense for me that I was the odd man out. Even in this jaded day and age, there's a stigma to divorce, and I do feel ashamed and less capable of managing my life than those guys in that respect.

Anacreon and Flax left early, and 74, extremely inebriated, staggered to Flax's car for a ride. T-Bone, the Friar and I stayed at the Hangout long past closing, drinking beers from the walk-in cooler and bullshitting. Finally, at about 3:45, we left. I took them both home, being only mildly tipsy by then, and didn't flop into my own bed until 5:00 a.m. Now that brings back many memories of high school, when I routinely did that.

Something happened that probably bears no mention, but I will anyway. One of the waitresses, whom I've bantered with off and on the last year, sat down at our table, pushing me down the bench and staying quite close to me. We exchanged a little repartee, and when she leaned over to pick up some bottles, pointed out to me how her breasts were bumping into my back (I told her I appreciated it). Then she actually kissed me on the top of my head. So, one might shrug, harmless flirting; happens every day somewhere, right? But she has a boyfriend --- indeed, he came to pick her up at the end of her shift, and she introduced him as such. 74 was extremely perplexed, for he had been sure that this waitress was blatantly hitting on me. I have to admit, I'm a little confused myself.


Another old high school friend, Deep Blue, who lives in Little Canada, is also now married. He got hitched at the Justice of the Peace after his girlfriend Cyan found out she was pregnant. This pretty much leaves me as the only one who can't grow up and get his act together, I guess.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cave canem

* I was given a rare ould shog walking the Dog with my father yesterday when she surprised a cat in the bushes and --- giving the poor feline the time to hiss and scratch only once --- fell upon it. I mean she was crazy for attacking this poor cat (which had a collar and was obviously someone's pet). At one point she had the cat down and apparently in her jaws. I was screaming commands loudly, trying to get a hold of her bodily and get her under control. The cat was scratching and spitting as best it could, I guess. I finally managed to stop Dog and grab her collar. The cat, apparently unhurt, careened up the nearest tree and stayed there about fifteen feet off the grass, meowling with its hair still up. My father and I both tried our best to ascertain whether the cat was injured; although it was hard to tell from its vantage point, it seemed scared but physically fine. We were both shaken horribly. I had thought her such a gentle beast. It's like finding out that your son has beaten some girl in a bar over a trifle. You still love the idiot, but wonder whether jail isn't the best place for him.

I honestly hope and pray the cat is fine --- I have owned and loved cats, indeed our family had one killed by a neighborhood dog, its cats ripped open in our own backyard, many years ago --- but didn't know what to do, so left the cat in the tree, hoping it would come down. I never thought Dog would actually attack an animal as large as a cat; while it's true that she and the Ex's cat never got along, she's so submissive and loving with people and other dogs.

And then today, Dog ran down a squirrel and killed it. What rough beast!

* I haven't been posting about my life, instead falling back on writing sentences for various lesser-known French words, because this week I haven't gone out at all. I've been reading and watching movies and going to bed early. That does a body good for a week or two.

* I haven't talked to Spooky in a couple of days. The last time, she called me and started making small talk. I interrupted her and said we had to get a few things straight. I started asking her questions about things I thought she'd been dishonest about, and as always, she had quick, ready (perhaps too quick and ready?) answers. But when I started wondering aloud exactly how ill she really was, she hung up on me. I texted her that I still care about her and want her to be happy, but that I couldn't talk to her until I felt secure about various matters.

The Madding Angel is vehemently opposed to me reconciling with Spooky in any way.

* I bought Reason To Believe, the three-disc Rod Stewart anthology from his Mercury days. There's a lot of classic cuts to be heard there, but it amazes me how muted and fuzzy the audio is at times. You'd think that a guy who brought nothing to the table but his scratchy vocals (and man, did he pinch more than a few arrangements) would, you know, have the vocals more prominent in the mix.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Vocabulaire: peloter

peloter - to pet, grope, feel up
A mon avis, les prêtres n'aiment plus que peloter des choristes.
(Yesterday's example phrase was nothing compared to this; now I'm doomed to the lowest circle.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Vocabulaire: un pet

un pet - a fart
Pendant l'audience brève que le pape généreusement vous a accordé, il ne faut pas ronger les ongles, et il ne faut pas roter, et surtout il faut dire « que Dieu vous bénisse » si par hasard Sa Sainteté lâche un pet.
Oh, I'm going to hell for that one.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Vocabulaire: un lutin

un lutin - an imp, goblin; figuratively, a mischevious child
J'ai donné le jeune lutin une tartelette dans les gencives. Ca l'a cloué le bec !

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The vanishing

Okay, I've talked to Spooky a couple of times since she up and left without a word. I'm really in a daze. I have grown fond of her over the past three months, and if anything she told me was true, it's that she really liked me and wanted to be with me. I feel sorry for her mostly. MA is pissed as hell at her over the baby-sitting gig, but I just can't stir up any anger over the lies she told me. She has severe problems, and she needs to get on her feet in a variety of ways --- financial, emotional, spiritual. I don't know if I'll be a part of her life henceforth --- most likely not, but stranger things have happened --- but if I were, I'd try to get her head right before getting close to her at all. She needs to stop exaggerating about everything, lying about her job and her wealth and her importance. No one cares about that shit. Being a decent person is all that matters.

Man, and to think I almost had flowers sent to her place today for Mother's Day. Wouldn't that have been awkward.

I don't know what's true relating to her or what she told other people, but I really do wish her the best. She constructed a fragile web of lies (she didn't have a mastectomy, she doesn't seem to be a nurse at all, she doesn't get a lot of money from a trust fund, etc, etc) and she couldn't stop it from breaking apart when the rain of hardship really set in.

I'll miss the physical side of our relationship, that's for sure.


Anyway. For Dia de las Madres I took Mother to the same restaurant bar where I took her last year. Then, my Aunt and Ex were there as well. Bittersweet memories. The meal today was expensive and good.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It could even be like a myth

I can't understand
She let go of my hand
And left me here facing the wall
I'd sure like to know
Why she did go
But I can't get close to her at all
--- Bob Dylan, "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)"

So last night I get antsy, not having heard from Spooky and wanting to get a few things off my chest. I'm feeling like we need to step back, that our relationship has dwindled into a lot of mere vocalization that we're in this for the long haul, but in actual fact offering little more than a weekly hookup. She wasn't answering the phone and her machine was turned off, so I drove to her house.

It's dark. And quiet. Very dark. And a few things are gone from the porch. Although this is a house with a six-year-old kid in it, clearly no one is home. So I use the key she gave me, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a vacant apartment. Everything --- TV, phone, computers, bed, Baby's bed, CDs, books, shelves, glassware, clothes --- it's all gone.

I called the Maddening Angel, who had recently agreed to baby-sit Baby for a weekly salary and has yet to be paid. I drove to her house and we went back there together. It's empty; they moved out. MA is freaking out, because she was counting on that money. I'm actually not all that bothered, emotionally --- at least now I know that she was stone cold crazy and a stone cold liar.

I called Spooky's cell and left a message in which I call her three vulgar epithets lifted from this song, and move on to "I wish I never met you," and then conclude with a cheery "fuck you."

I called the Friar and his immediate, unsurprised reaction was, "She probably got evicted."

MA and I walk over to Spooky's neighbors' house and engage two women on their porch in conversation. They know a bit about it --- the Friar is right; according to them Spooky hasn't paid rent in five months and had to leave in a hurry (I'll say, as MA said their house was in perfect order at one p.m. when she dropped off Baby that afternoon). According to them, also, Babydaddy did not know that the rent was in arrears.

So MA and I got the Hangout and meet Friar, where we vented a little, and I bought MA some beers and myself far too many vodka tonics. All that was yesterday, and I woke up with quite a headache this morning.


So, today, Spooky actually called me back. I wasn't exactly rude, and I didn't speak with curt finality, but I did confront her with all her lies and there were a lot of long, awkward silences in our brief conversation. The sad thing is that, as far as I know, all the lies were about stupid things, like the state of her finances. I think she was being honest about caring so much for me. But how can I be sure?

MA and I went to the Museum of Natural History and saw some dinosaur bones and minerals and such. We also watched the short IMAX documentary Cosmic Voyage, narrated by Morgan Freeman. It was built around the "power of ten" concept (expanding outwards into the galaxy and inwards toward the quarks by multiples of ten meters each viewpoint). Pretty good stuff. We went to her parents' house, where we ate some brownies and watched a little TV. She's having problems with Cokehead --- he's depressed and uninterested in sex. I feel bad for her, but hell, I have my own troubles. I told her that I was glad to know her and I love spending time with her, which is true.

Practice makes perfect

I had the day off from The Job and took the practice EC-4 Generalists test at UTD today. The way the practice worked is, after we finished, the test administrator marked down the wrong answers but didn't supply the correct answers to those questions. We then changed our wrong answers and submitted the test again for another checking. This process is meant to help students see if they're on the right track with a troublesome questions and to assess their thinking.

On the first go round, I missed nine out of 100 questions. After going over the incorrect ones, I got only one wrong the second time.

Here are a few of the somewhat unfamiliar concepts that tripped me up on the practice exam (interestingly, they are all literacy-related):

* miscue analysis --- scoring a student's oral reading using an audio recording; differs from a running record in that scoring is done later instead of concurrently
* cloze assessment --- words or parts of words are blocked out in a text; students use context and previous vocabulary knowledge to infer the missing words and complete the passage
* Readers Theater --- choral readings of a prepared script


So, good for me. I have a social bombshell, but will save it for tomorrow.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A question of trust

It's a question of lust
It's a question of trust
It's a question of not letting
What we've built up
Crumble to dust
--- Depeche Mode, "A Question of Lust"

I wasn't going to do music quotes for a while, but the above was just too perfect.

I also have been trying to avoid recording the ups and downs of my social life, since it's fallen into a predictable pattern, but this is one for the books. Spooky and I had plans to go to the bookstore and dinner. She was --- it is to laugh --- going to come pick me up; she even bet me a bar tab she'd be here. Then she had to pay bills. Then her feet hurt. She asked me to pick her up instead. I refused and drove myself to the Hangout to have fun with Friar (and pick up some papers he drew up for me in his capacity as an attorney). She said she'd meet me there. After I'd been there a while, I didn't hear from her, so called. She acted as though she'd been waiting for my call (which was not the original idea), but said that now she knew I was there, she was coming. Not five minutes later, she called back saying she had gotten dressed and started for the car, when she felt woozy and took her temperature and --- million to one shot, you'll agree --- found she had a fever. She asked me drop by on my way home from the Hangout. I said I might, but didn't plan to. Indeed, a few minutes after that she called and said she'd taken NyQuil and was crashing.

Amazing. Just amazing.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews, 11:1)

Speaking of blind faith, this Reuters headline made me laugh:

"Bush denies spying infringes on privacy"

What next? "Bush denies war kills people"? I mean, by definition, that's what it's for.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Vocabulaire: une équipée

une équipée - an escapade, a jaunt
Tout le monde devrait savoir que Don Quichotte a bagarré avec un moulin lors de sa folle équipée.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On books, this time the kind without colorful pictures

Now that the semester is over, I'm reading for pleasure again. What a concept! I've begun Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice. It's about time, too; I've never read it before, but I'm liking it a lot. Those 19th century women folk certainly knew their way around the quill and ink bottle, what? I mean to say, Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), The Age Of Innocence (Edith Wharton) --- three of my favorite novels, and all exquisitely phrased, each one displaying great craft, a knack for tone-setting, and an astonishingly broad (to the modern reader) scope of vocabulary.

Five more of my favorite classics:

1. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
2. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
3. The Picture Of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
4. The Catcher In the Rye – J.D. Salinger
5. Confederacy Of Dunces – John Kennedy O’Toole

Those books are extremely pleasurable to read, especially the first. I personally find it next to impossible to open Catch-22 to any page and not continue reading; the bizarre, savage humor draws me in instantly. But there's also pure escapism in books. Here are five series authors, not necessarily of great literature, that I enjoy a lot:

1. P.G. Wodehouse (the unflappable valet Jeeves and his idiot employer Bertie)
2. Bernard Cornwell (several military fiction series: Sharpe, King Arthur, etc.)
3. Lawrence Block (alcoholic PI Matt Scudder delivers rough justice)
4. George MacDonald Fraser (Victorian hero and cad Harry Flashman)
5. Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes!)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Comic stuff

Blogger Kelvin recently listed a few comic titles and creators --- some existant, some sadly only possibilities --- that he'd put together if he were in charge of the U.S. comic industry, and I concluded not only that this was just a peach of a meme, but that Kelvin is a marketing genius. His ideas are so fantastic, indeed, that I can't do my own list. Instead I can only lamely link to his. Carry on Kelvin!

Of course, I wouldn't mind seeing Don Slott try his hand at a Doc Samson series now that he's emerged as a shining star of the comics scripting world. (The current series is appalling, and Slott's 1996 attempt smacked of amateurism, or misguided editorial officiousness).

I really think ol' Leo would make a fine series lead, in the hands of a capable writer. That heady blend of strength and ratiocination, the internal conflict of the professor and pacifist turned powerhouse, the psychiatrist who often perforce must resort to violence. And think of the guest stars the doctor could analyze --- neurotic Peter Parker, driven Matt Murdoch, complete tool Captain America. "Now relax and think back to the day Bucky was killed. Unburden yourself of the decades of guilt. We're only as sick as our secrets, Steven."

Speaking of Doc Samson, that Civil War banner idea I swiped from Dorian actually seems to have originated here.

Nothing fills up a post like lists. Here are five comics (from five different authors) which I read over and over again:

1. Watchmen – Alan Moore
2. The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller
3. Bone - Jeff Smith
4. Animal Man - Grant Morrison
5. Sandman - Neil Gaiman

Oh, all right, here are five comics I like that aren’t the De Rigueur Nerd Classic Canon:

1. Catwoman – Ed Brubaker
2. Enigma – Peter Milligan
3. The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck – Don DeRosa
4. Marvel Team-Up – Robert Kirkman
5. Lucifer – Mike Carey

Yep. Them's good reading.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Qu'ai-je appris?

Grades were posted and here are mine.

Mathematics Methods For Elementary Teachers: A
Classroom Management, Grades EC-4: A
Reading I: Learning To Read: A
Science Methods For Elementary Teachers: A


What have I learned this past semester?

Unlike my thicker fellow students, I did not learn any mathematics in Math Methods (which is as it should be, since it's a course on how to teach math concepts for elementary teachers!). But I did learn some interesting ways to present mathematical ideas, and I was reminded of the importance of a multi-sensory approach: integrating abstract principles, hands-on, visual, verbal, and real-world situations into the lesson. This was my favorite course.

Classroom Management was probably my least helpful course. I learned a few of the principles of the cult of Love and Logic, though my experience with children has taught me most of the more common-sense approaches already, and I don't agree with all of the Love and Logic way. Harry Wong is a much better teacher of managing the classroom through procedures and routine, but I got a lot of that material from American Public Schools last semester. I used a few of the discipline tricks I gleaned in the course at work, with adequate but not wonderful results. I suppose that this class gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect on the EC-4 PPR test; we shall see the accuracy of that supposition in June.

Reading I taught me some of the basic facts on phonemic awareness, phonics, the alphabetic principle, and teaching vocabulary. I learned some good tips on building a word wall and how to use it as an interactive tool, not just a poster with letters on it. I have years of experience in reading to children and getting them to think about what they've heard, so that side of the course wasn't very applicable to me. But familiarity with text, interactive reading, and knowing how to ask good questions are all very desirable traits in elementary teachers; if anything, Reading I should have offered more opportunities for practicing these skills.

Science Methods was a fun course. I enjoyed a lot of the experiments and investigations. This course taught me that science at this level is primarily about doing, not about getting facts from books or replicating results or thinking in terms of objective principles. Elementary science can actually be a creative discipline, which a lot of people forget. This is important, because American students aren't as strong in science as they could be, and girls especially are, without reason, turned off by it. They turn to the fields where they feel their voices can be heard: drama, writing, music, art. But if science teachers push the processes --- experimenting, inferring, predicting, observing, recording --- and minimize the emphasis on procedural formulae and replicating results, kids can be reminded of what a personal exploration science can be. I hope, as a teacher, to have a lot more live caterpillars and cups of soil and prisms and baking soda and vinegar than I have textbook tasks in the science classroom.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Son of CAPE

Yesterday, I was going to post something ostensibly humorous about Cinco de Mayo, but what with working until 6:00 and Spooky coming over shortly afterwards, I didn't have time. I had fun with Spooky, though. We went to the bookstore, ate dinner at Second-Tier Romantic Italian Restaurant, and played a few video games at the Hangout, where we had a fun talk with the Friar and Mr. Hangout as well.

I am getting utterly sick of the Job and its unprofessionalism and the menial tasks I have to do. So much so that, even though I do need the money, I am very close to quitting without a safety net, just cutting loose and then looking for new employment. I tried to broach the subject of my deep dissatisfaction with Assistant Boss yesterday, but she just wasn't receptive or interested.

So as I'm stewing in self-pity and hating every second of the job, one of the parents comes in and hands me a want ad for a teaching position that she happened to see and thought of me! It's a sign. I definitely will look into it --- but I need to do more. Summer's coming up.


I went to CAPE 2 (Son of Cape), a comic expo here in town. I didn't get to talk to Scott Kurtz, creator of PvP --- he was going to lunch and I'd been there too long already --- but that's okay, as I got a sketch and signed book from him last year. This time, I bought the Villains United Special and had it signed by Gail Simone. She told me to watch out for the Secret Six series coming up. I also bought the first issue of El Gato Negro, and got it signed by its creator, Richard Dominguez. I talked to him about El Diablo, a short-lived DC character with similarities in tone to his own creation. And --- Carl Jung strikes again --- El Diablo shows up in the VU Special.

I also got Civil War #1, just because I enjoy collecting first issues, but also because a scene of some serious ass-kicking piqued my interest. (Not that I'll be buying or reading the rest of the series.)

Civil war, you say? Take sides!

Friday, May 05, 2006

It's Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Enjoy this belabored pictorial representation of the Reason for the Season.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Vocabulaire: une sarbacane

une sarbacane - a blowpipe
Les indiens, armés de sarbacanes et des fléchettes empoisonnées avec curare, ont massacré les explorateurs.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Here's one for Zeno of Elea

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
(James, 1:5)

Of course, you have to be wise enough to realize that you're lacking in the first place...

More kidtalk

More kidtalk from The Job.

FW: "My daddy had a glass plate once, but it broke."

Me: "How did it break?"

FW: "He was holding it with meat on it and it fell."

CM, mishearing: "He had you on the plate?"

FW: "No! How could he have me on the plate when I'm still alive?!"

[general laughter from listening five-year-olds]

FW: "I'm not even cooked!"


Me, to CL as she's scribbling furiously away on a coloring sheet with a black marker: "Gee, that's a lot of black, there, CL! Now how about some color? ...What color do you like?"

CL: "Ummm... Black!" [continues scribbling away merrily]

Well, she sure showed me.


JH: "I fell down on the playground and cut my mouth and there was a lot of blood."

AV: "Was it good?"

Monday, May 01, 2006

Vocabulaire: une rampe

une rampe - a bannister, handrail
Si ces petits moutards ne tiennent pas la rampe, ils tomberont en bas de l'escalier et se feront un mal.

Someone filled up my heart with nothing

If the children don’t grow up
Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up
We’re just a million little gods causin' rain storms
Turnin’ every good thing to rust
--- Arcade Fire, "Wake Up"

I love me some of these lazy Sundays. I had a cheeseburger for breakfast. I watched some episodes of HBO's sublime cops and robbers drama "The Wire" with my father. The Maddening Angel called me and we went out to lunch together --- I had another cheeseburger! And, wallowing in my own esurience, fries and a vanilla malted. Then we went to her apartment and watched an episode of "CSI," a police procedural I am completely indifferent to. But she leaned on my shoulder as we sat on her couch and I missed the old days and damn she looked good. (She confessed to me, a little abashed, "I broke up with Cokehead --- again --- and got back together with him --- again --- in the space of twenty-four hours.") Later that evening, my family and I drove together to TriviaBar and joined Potato --- who, my father tells us, is an inveterate shoplifter. Waitresses T and W were not working. Spooky actually came too! (A neighbor drove her there; her still largely hypothetical vehicle was then ostensibly in the possession of Babydaddy, doing errands with Baby.) That was to my satisfaction for once; I drove her to my place before taking her home.

A caballo regalado no se le miran los dientes. Or, to put it another way: A buen hambre no hay pan duro. If you know what I mean.