Sunday, November 30, 2003

On Your Mark...

My second busiest term ever is about to commence, and already I feel like I'm slipping behind. Before the bogdown begins with tomorrow's professional day, here's the long Thanksgiving weekend rundown.

After being sick most of Wednesday with a mysterious fatigue and fever, we left home Thanksgiving morning for a surprisingly traffic-light and relatively cop-free drive across the width of Massachusetts to my parent's house to find Jesse and Jasmine just getting up after a 2 a.m. arrival. Mom and Dad had done the pies and dad's famous creamy leek and turnip soup the night before; the six of us traded off with a slightly ill Willow and the madness of preparing everything from rice-and-mushroom-stuffed trout to spinach salad to the traditioonal turkey. Sarah and her girlfriend Amy arrived from Amy's parent's house for a second helping, and we all sat down to eat by five thirty.

Not much to say about the dinner itself. The usual white tablecloth in the dining room by the big wall of windows; the dog around the ankles; too many dishes and too much food: sweet potato pie, a warm spinach salad with pine nuts, yams and baked potatos, dad's indian corn pudding, wild rice with walnuts, halved skinny squash with cranberries, the trout and the turkey, extra stuffing and gravy, homemade cranberry sauce. Willow asked for and got a nap by the eating hour's end, poor feverish thing; Darcie sat with her between dinner and desert (cherry or pumpkin pie, with or without the Paul Prudhomme's hi-octane whipped cream) while Jasmine and I cleaned up and the rest of the family went off to the nursing home to visit my grandfather, Jerry.

The next few mornings blur together, a haze of shopping and pinball interactions with the family. One morning we went out with Mom, Jesse, and Jasmine for a used kid's clothing expedition; on another, while Dad and Mom took Jesse and Jasmine, both artists, to the Rembrandt exhibit, Darcie and I took Willow shopping for shoes. Somewhere in there I sat for a few at a Starbucks and mapped out the first chapter of the book my students will be reading later this week, and picked up some low-rise brown leather winter boots to prepare for snow.

Throughout, Willow amazed every one of us, and I could tell anecdotes from here 'til eternity, but will leave it at this: by the end of the weekend, she had discovered the joy of the dark porch on a warm night, stuck beebles (ladybug stickers) to everything in sight for two days straight, ridden the same damn elevators a dozen times with glee, danced with each of us in turn, and figured out that there are two Bapas and two Bamas; I have never been so proud of this resilient little bright-eyed person, and I love her so much it consumes me sometimes.

On Saturday morning, in the midst of boot-shopping, Darcie and I took a ready-for-nap Willow to see my grandfather, a pretty awkward twenty minutes or so in which Willow and Jerry just stared at each other, and she clung to her mother. Later, on a second visit with my mother, we would realize that Willow was probably confused by the post-stroke Parkinson's mask he wears. She's used to social interaction, and she's got to memory of what he was like when vibrant; his inability to interact must have baffled her.

Friday night Sarah came back to join us all at a local mexican restaurant; the chicken mole was excellent, even if it caused extremely noxious gas for the next 24 hours. Afterwards I helped her rewrite one of her application essays for veterinary school; she's applying to all sorts of programs, hoping to be a specialist in exotics, filling a clear service gap despite the fact that such a speciality doesn't really exist. And, after a nice night out with Darcie just holding hands and window shopping at the uber-rich Atrium Mall, up late Saturday night helping Sarah with her other essay.

Darcie's parents came down Saturday afternoon to join us in a leftovers feast, too, and to compare and evoke family comparison stories. I think if I never see a turkey, it'll be too soon; I'm glad we decided to go out to Legal Seafoods (creamy award-winning clam chowder, and a delish fried catfish, my favorite fish) this afternoon in the midst of a Mom-and-Dad-sponsored trip for dress shoes and a cute purple snowsuit for the baby, and gladder still we decided not to take any of the ultimately twice-recycled leftovers home with us when we finally drove off into the sunset just a few hours ago, more than ready for home. Now, if only I had a vacation ahead of me...

posted by boyhowdy | 10:16 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Bloggle, Bloggle

Happy Turkey Day!

We'll be at my parents house from tomorrow until Sunday, and there won't be much time to blog, so this twenty million lira and, oh, I don't know, this transcript of Ozzy Osborne's bizarro version of Take Me Out To The Ball Game will have to hold you over. Have a happy Thanksgiving, drive safe, and enjoy the tryptophan buzz, y'all!

posted by boyhowdy | 9:48 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Toy-Buying Tip For Parents #3

If it is Finnish, sold at an upscale toy boutique, and three times as expensive as a comparable toy made by an American company, it is safe and educational.

Full list at , just in time for Thanksgiving.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:19 PM | 0 comments

Funeral Blues

I’ve gotten to that part in High Fidelity where the guys at Championship Vinyl try to decide what songs they want sung/played at their respective funerals. Got me thinking. My tentative top five, in no particular order, and not counting the Mourner’s Kaddish, which is spoken, not sung, at all Jewish funerals:
  1. The Water Is Wide. A traditional piece, I’d most prefer John Gorka’s version. Darcie and I actually sung this together in an empty Bard College chapel, early in our blossoming courtship. We used to sing it to Willow in utero.

  2. That hymn that goes the lord bless thee and keep thee… that turned out to be based on the Jewish welcoming prayer for a new child. We sung this at Willow’s naming ceremony, I think. A startlingly haunting, simple song that a bunch of amateurs can only make more beautiful.

  3. Stevie Ray Vaughn’s posthumously released acoustic moment Life By The Drop. Or his soaring version of Little Wing from the same album. Anyway, something jazzslow by Stevie Ray Vaughn.

  4. I Will, but not the Beatles version. No, the light and warm and female-voiced version, if there is such a thing. Maybe Alison Krauss. But slower.

  5. Deceased Hawaiian guitarist Israel Kamakawiwo'ole’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, the one with a little bit of What A Wonderful World in it that they played on ER when Mark Greene died.

It’s funny. So many of the people I love will pass on, or have passed on already, without sharing their own funerial playlists. Even though knowing what they’d want (or would have wanted) would be a good way to know them better now, and love them better always, it’s not something that’s likely to come up, and that’s a shame.

Of course, many people might not want music at their funeral, or at least no more than a couple of hymns. But my family is music, my life is music; my love is music, and my death will be music, too. Not maudlin or morbid. Not in a million years.

What songs would you want played at your funeral? If they’re any good, maybe we can do a funeral-themed slow-dance Monday Mosh some week.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:51 PM | 0 comments

What I Should Be Doing Right Now
  • Writing Molly’s college recommendation.
  • Typing and posting the minutes of the end-of-term library/media department meeting.

  • Preparing for the first week of HIS321 Media Literacy
    > Rereading An Introductory Guide to Cultural Theory and Popular Culture.
    > Clarifying curriculum and pedagogy for the first four days of the course.
    > Picking a definitively paradigmatic film for the fifties.
    > Contacting currently-teaching alumni to see about class visits.
  • Napping, like I told Darcie I would do while she and Willow are up in Brattleboro at her mother’s house.

What I Am Doing
  • Blogging.

  • Reading The New Yorker and, when I’m finished, Newsweek.

  • Watching the wall beside my chair, where a shadow of a bird eating suet at the birdfeeder bobs and pecks at the shadow of my shoulder.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:16 PM | 0 comments

Monday, November 24, 2003

Ted's Repeating Head

Ted also likes beer.

Best Livejournal Buddy Icon ever. Good one, Ted.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:45 PM | 0 comments

A Course Is A Course, Of Course, Of Course

Haven’t even done the progress reports for this past term’s Media Literacy class and I’m already getting stressed out over HIS 321 Modern American Culture. Some of it is just a badgut feeling about starting work an hour earlier each day than I have over the past year, just to get to the other campus at eight and teach. But most of it is the course itself.

It’s not like I’m being a wuss. I’m not a history teacher by trade; pre-MAT I may have majored in American Studies and Sociology, technically, but mostly to get at the media and digicultural cyber-studies major I was really addressing, so though I had the right texts, left over and annotated from a few core college courses, they’re a bit musty when opened.

More, this is the first full-credit course I’ve taught here, something which is ordinarily (i.e. for most teachers) considered half of a full courseload in our block calendar and schedule but which, for me, will be followed by a ¾ job for the rest of the day every day. For those that don’t know our school, this class meets for 105 minutes a day, five days a week, and covers an entire year in eleven weeks. Kids take two courses at a time, and can be assigned two hours of homework a night per class. I’m supposed to do grading and class prep on my own time, and like it.

I tried to be preemptive, hitting it early and often. The syllabus is done, and the major project designed and described in full – I’ll post a full .doc later; the basic premise is that every other week on a rotating topic students will have to research and then teach the class (10 minutes) about a cultural event from each of five decades, presenting that event as paradigmatic for its decade. They’ll write and hand out an abstract as if they were writing a full paper but, instead of writing a paper, they’ll present their findings/analysis as a mini-lecture.

(The best part of this, by the way, is that I’m going to make the kids experience each decade viscerally through the projects: as they move through each decade project, students will only be able to use the research technologies which were popularly available in that decade: no photocopiers until the 1970s; no printers until the nineties, and no Google until the final project. Well, that, and I don’t have to prepare for the first twenty minutes of class every day.)

The major nervewreck/racking problem with trying to prepare the course, really, is figuring out how to make the reading fit, a task which always confounds me. Though I haven’t fully reread the books for the course in a year or more, I have been assuming I can depend on notes in them from my own college-days readings for a while. Though I had planned on having time to read along with the class.

Looks like I’ll be pushing the envelope a bit in the near months. Too bad they don’t make sparknotes (no endorsement implied) for Extraordinary Speeches of the 20th Century, or the Dictionary of Critical Theory. But seriously, this promises to be a life-disruptingly total and totally immersive blast. I even picked up a couple of fun self-reference texts for chapter Xeroxing – sure hope a much-missed Camille Paglia’s not too much for high school seniors. And I’ll enjoy rereading all those Tom Wolfe books, and Postman’s early work.

Oh, and drinking coffee for the first twenty minutes of class every morning, while other kids teach at me. Now that’s the way to teach. Ah, boyhowdy, you’re such a genius.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:08 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Monday Mosh: The Cable Modem Edition

Up late at Clay's house on the speedy connection, all I want for Christmas is a faster network. And speaking of fast, here's an easy one for this week's moshers:

Mosh to a fast song.

Don't forget to leave a link or fulltext answers in the comments below so we know you were here!

How To Monday Mosh: What could be simpler? Dance around just 'cause it's Monday, and then answer three questions in your blog or in the comments below:
  • What song did you mosh to?

  • What did you step on / bump into? (Bonus points for breakage)

  • Why did you stop?
[update 12:04 p.m. Monday: Comments down for no discernable reason. Feel free to mosh anyway; come back if you can to let us know where your moshnotes are posted.]

[UPDATE 8:00 p.m. Monday: Comments are back up after six long hours at the beach, on the road, at a great new ribs joint in Northampton and finally home, so you no longer need a Temporary Comment Link For Today's Mosh To A Fast Song Monday Mosh. You're welcome to use it if you want, though; it's the same as the one below. Have a good mosh!]

posted by boyhowdy | 11:29 PM | 0 comments

Talking Trash

Will hi-tech "talking trash can" put Oscar out of a job?

It says Thank You in several languages. It sings. It glows in the dark. What will the Germans think of next?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:38 PM | 0 comments

Away Message*

Hello, you've reached boyhowdy, sole proprietor of Not All Who Wander Are Lost. I'm not here right now -- if indeed there is a "here" in cyberspace, subjectively speaking -- instead, I'm on a family overnight to the lower reaches of New England (a region which, for our foreign readers, once of whom asked if New England was in Australia, includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine). I hope to be back by midday Monday, just in time for a before-supper Monday Mosh. Until then, why not check out what I was blogging about exactly one year today?

*Written from a cable modem somewhere on the Rhode Island shoreline while Darcie and Willow sit on the couch and watch fiss!, known to most adult humans as Finding Nemo, which a still-missing Clay left sitting on top of her VCR, which we arrived at later than expected after getting lost on our way from the very-cool Mystic Aquarium. Finding the open back door was easy. Man, I hate my at-home dial-up.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:07 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, November 22, 2003

The (Incredibly Creamy) Face Of ADHD

Original picture heading:
Best look yet into disorder could pave way for therapies.

From a rather clinical RedNova News article presenting new discoveries that ADHD brains have smaller frontal and temporal lobes, regions involved not only in the control of attention but also in regions involved in impulse control. Not clear what the picture has to do with ADHD, or indeed with the article itself, which contains no mention whatsoever of torturing small girls by tying their hands behind their backs and forcing them to eat Cool Whip.

Bonus: In reporting that The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 3 to 6 percent of American schoolchildren are affected by ADHD at one time or another, the article seems to suggest that ADHD can be / is temporary for some kids. Huh?

(Thanks to Fark for the link).

posted by boyhowdy | 10:08 PM | 0 comments

Why I Listen To Folk Music
People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss. The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and I don’t know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know that they’ve been listening to the sad songs longer than they’ve been living the unhappy lives.

After watching only bits of the movie in fits and starts on cable one night a few months ago, I am finally reading Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.

So I got that going for me.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:25 PM | 0 comments


I was going to do some memes today, but...

Oh well. Back to the couch, I guess.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:44 PM | 0 comments

Links For A Lazy Day

1. After months on inadvertent hiatus when their ISP shut down, We Made Out In A Tree And This Old Guy Sat And Watched Us, a site dedicated to unusual quotes, strange statements, bad writing and other oddities of the language is back up with a vengance.

2. Popcrazy, a popwatch site just crazy enough to have an entire section devoted solely to David Hasselhoff, brings us A Pop Culture Thanksgiving. What popcult phenom are you thankful for? Personally, I'm most thankful for the recent emergence of reality television as a distinct genre, and not just because I get to teach a course on the subject next term. That, VH1's I Love The 80's Strikes Back, and Family Guy running latenights on the Cartoon Network, and all's right with the pop culture world.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:53 PM | 0 comments

You Say It's Your Birthday

Happy Blogday, Not All Who Wander Are Lost!

Almost forgot -- yesterday was this blog's first anniversary. Free virtual cake and ice cream for everybloggy!

posted by boyhowdy | 12:56 PM | 0 comments

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Thanksgiving break is finally here, and I slept until 11:41 and am just now getting to the coffee; thankfully Darcie has given me the day off to lie around the house while she takes Willow up to see her grandparents. It's a sad commentary on our society that you need a day off at the beginning of vacation, but if you're like me, what with the usual travel-and-relations looming ahead, you really need it.

The social calendar this week begins with a family overnight tomorrow into Monday, first to meet up with Darcie's sister Alicia and her fiancee Matt at Mystic Aquarium, then an overnight in Darcie's brother's girlfriend's house down on the Rhode Island coast. If it's not too cold, we'll take the baby to the beach on Monday morning. She's going to love the concept of sand. A day or two writing past-term progress reports, and visiting up in Brattleboro, surely. Then it's off to Newton, to my parent's house, for the holiday itself and beyond; we're hoping to get Darcie's parents in town as well; there's a good Rembrandt exhibit, supposedly, at the MFA. The following Monday there's a professional day here at school, and then the kids arrive, the classes start, the papers pile up, and it's full speed ahead for the next four weeks.

If that wasn't enough, of course, I have a lot of work to do in my own head between now and then. In nine days, I will be teaching Modern American Culture, a full year-equivalent class that I have never taught before, and will need to do so in just eleven weeks; although I have the rough syllabus and curriculum in my head, have ordered books and read most of them, went ahead and created the online enviornment for the class, and even wrote up the two-page assignment for the major project, I am not truly ready; there's a big difference between knowing what you want to talk about each day and knowing how best to deliver it to support the best possible learning for the class as a whole, and I want to do this right.

So...wait a minute. I was going to catch up all you blogreaders out there on my last three days of unblogging, but I've just realized something: I need this day off. The couch is calling; I'm out of here. Why not give yourself a day off, too?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:25 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Pre-teens (and books about pre-teens) On The Web
now updated to complete the trifecta!

1. Cyberbullying is nothing new, but setting up a website to solicit/engender abuse of junior high girls by bored strangers seems pretty extreme.

2. According to the author of a new book about middle school kids, The most shocking thing, the single most shocking five-second thing, is to see a bunch of 12-year-olds freak dance, which really begs the question of pre-teen stamina: if twelve year olds can't get it on for more than five seconds at a time, the race is officially doomed, isn't it. Of course, in other news, a thinly veiled advertisement about the publication of this book is being presented as news by CNN.

3. Half of sixth grade students have seen at least one R rated movie; three quarters have seen one by 7th or 8th grade; most (76 per cent) of the Grade 7 students who had seen unsuitable videos watched them at home. Numbers expected to approach 100 percent as broadband becomes as common as television.

Sorry for the short posts this week, folks -- we're in the throes of finals here. Should be plenty of time to blog once the kids are officially gone tomorrow afternoon.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:15 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Obviously Rhetorical Question Not Meant To Be Rhetorical, Says USA Today

No, that's not the actual news story; just trying to preempt The Onion's sure-to-follow short piece on this USA Today story:

TV's top crime shows, CSI and Law & Order, will make up half of this week's prime time real estate. Are they risking overexposure?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:21 AM | 0 comments

Too Tired To Blog

We've just arrived late late late from Northampton, where Mom took us out to a fois gras and lambchop dinner at the Del Raye while Dad drove in from a late meeting in Boston. After cappucino, we all dropped Willow at Ginny's just down the street; the subsequent Susan Tedeschi concert at the Calvin Theater was awesome, but went far too long. And all this after just about four hours of sleep the night before.

Must buy tickets tomorrow for Guster at the same venue; Molly and I are going, if we can get her permissions straight; y'all are welcome to join us if you can. "till then, I'm off to sleep.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:46 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


Last night it hailed for an hour; today the school announced it was going to have to close a dorm and redistribute 40 students due to toxic mold. Meanwhile, I bumped into the tech director for the school radio station before my show tonight, and he invited me to take any CDs I wanted from the free stacks in the glass-walled second studio. What he didn't mention was that the whole thing reeked of must and mold. Must have been swamped quite some time ago. Now my nose is all stuffed up, my eyes swollen, my head large; when I blew my nose a few minutes ago, there was a streak of blood in the tissue.

I did find some gems among the toxins: Michael Franti and Spearhead; Rickie Lee Jones' new album; an EP of Vida Blue remixes; Kasey Chambers' The Captain, which I've been meaning to pick up for a while. And an Andrew W.K. sampler. But I had to leave almost as many behind, stuck with redgold rustmold to their colorful paper inserts.

I needed it. After a morning deadweighting my arm panning shots of students working at whiteboards for the coming-soon-to-theatres-near-you A Day In The Life Of The NMH Math Department, I managed to garble my way through an entirely unplanned and incoherent short presentation on my trip to Bangladesh in front of the whole faculty meeting this afternoon, then proceeded to get frustrated at the supermarket when Darcie and Willow kept moving on without me. Even Friendly's and a bath with the baby didn't cheer me up.

My back hurts. I was "on" from seven this morning to just after midnight. I haven't even thought about writing progress reports yet, though we'll be away when they're due so I better get going on them soon.

It's the end of the term, and we pretty much all fall apart here. This place is falling apart around me; I am falling apart around this place. Things fall apart; the center does not hold. Damn, my throat hurts. Playlist follows.

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Trey Anastasio -- Cayman Review
Andrew W.K. - She Is Beautiful
Ween -- Bananas and Blow
String Cheese Incident -- Drifting
The Rembrandts -- Making Plans For Nigel
Trout Fishing In America -- Happy That You're Here
Eddie From Ohio -- Quick
Patty Griffin -- Change
Cesaria Evora -- Sangue de Beirona
Albert Pla -- El Lado Mas Bestia de la Vida
Joss Stone -- Fell In Love With A Boy
Jazz Is Dead -- Scarlet Begonias
Dan Hicks -- The Piano Has Been Drinking
Erica Wheeler -- Song For A Winter Night
Indigo Girls -- Romeo and Juliet
Girlyman -- When I Fall
Nickel Creek -- Spit On A Stranger
Ben Folds -- Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
Vida Blue -- Most Events Aren't Planned
Natalie Merchant -- Weeping Pilgrim
Be Good Tanyas -- House Of The Rising Sun
The Del McCoury Band -- Rain And Snow
Blind Boys Of Alabama -- Amazing Grace

posted by boyhowdy | 1:08 AM | 0 comments

Monday, November 17, 2003

They Can Dance, Too!

After a dance ban of over 140 years, students at Wheaton College can finally dance.

Why not Monday Mosh in their honor? See below for more!

posted by boyhowdy | 10:01 AM | 0 comments

The Monday Mosh: All You Have To Do Is Dance

It's been a nice relaxing weekend. Who wants to hit Monday without an energy boost?

Mosh to a song that never fails to crank you up.

Don't forget to leave a link or fulltext answers in the comments below so we know you were here.

How To Monday Mosh: What could be simpler? Dance around just 'cause it's Monday, and then answer three questions in your blog or in the comments below:
  • What song did you mosh to?

  • What did you step on / bump into? (Bonus points for breakage)

  • Why did you stop?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:00 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Backroom Reunion

Beloved Commonwealth, how I learned from thee.

Past the redgold dining room and the open copper kitchen, through the dishroom and down the stairs at the back of the Del Raye in Northampton is a tiny furnished room with mirrors on the walls and a crisscross winerack along the back.

This evening, it was host to a regional reunion for The Commonwealth School, the tiny prep-school-in-a-brownstone -- yes, that's the entire school there in the picture -- most notable for highly competitive collegiate placement, sending 10% of graduates each year to each of several Ivy League schools, where I attended my last two years of high school. 15 people crammed into this tiny room, ate gourmet pate and oil-soaked toasted sesame breads and scallops in sauce, drank Steel Rail Pale Ale and some surely-decent red wine, and met strangers. With an average graduating class of 30, that’s not such a bad turnout; however – do the math – it’s only three Harvard-bound seniors.

Talked shop to a computer science prof from UMass, talked Marlboro to a couple of more recent Commonwealth grads who had gone on to there as well; said my name when asked to; overall, managed successfully to small talk my way through two hours. The only one I knew there was William Wharton. Once tweedcoat classics teacher, now still young but graying Headmaster, I remember Bill most because, on the cusp of Headhood in my senior year, it was he who refused to listen to the voice of adolescent reason, choosing instead not to back down from the definitive ruling that, no, the word suck was not to be allowed in the school yearbook, because it called up graphic images in the mind. (As a compromise, I and the other two senior editors put a photograph of a burning Fiske’s Guide To Colleges on the back page with a tiny caption: The pictures and expressions employed in this yearbook do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commonwealth School. At the time, this seemed bold and creative; looking back, it does seem a bit adolescent.)

Maybe I've been immersed in independent school life for too long. Seeing Wharton from the prep school teacher’s side – comparing the good old alma mater with the boarding school near-competitor which has been my everything for 6 years – he looked good, austere but not too stiff or formal. The kind of guy I’d give money to, I think. And the place really is worth sustaining. But I still think suck is yearbook-appropriate.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:30 PM | 0 comments

Friday, November 14, 2003

My Baby Is A Punk Rocker

Home relatively early today after a fine final Media Literacy class discussing the ends of education-as-media and media-as-education accompanied by about thirty bucks worth of cookies, doughnut holes and Mountain Dew. While Darcie picked up clothes from the laundry before it closed, Willow sat with me in the rocking chair and read Curious George And The Bunny, also known around here as hop hop hop hop. She seemed pretty happy to recognize that George was playing hide-and-seek when he covered his eyes (un...too...thee!), and happier still to be pulled around her hardwood bedroom floor on an extra cloth diaper (wheeeee!). So rewarding to have Darcie walk in on such a gleeful father-daughter moment.

Ironed some pants when Darcie returned, nominally so I could attend the otherwise bland-and-unworthy-of-mention all-school required speaker event tonight (J. C. Watts, black Republican ex-Congressman from Oklahoma). Once I got dressed, however, I found everyone else dressed up, too. Turns out we were going out to dinner, and I didn't even notice, but to be fair, I'm pretty oblivious most of the time; it's why I'm called boyhowdy, as in "hello...howdy...boy, are you even still on this planet?"

The Tavern, the new restaurant in our tiny hardly-a-town, is more subtle, more romantic, more deep reds and candles and less barn and local art than its predecessor. All dolled up and the first ones to arrive, the three of us had a lovely supper: homemade cream of broccoli soup, a caesar side salad starter, half-rare duck breast in raspberry puree; fresh breaded fish and french fries for the baby, though she much preferred the duck, and an excellent london broil for Darcie. Willow said "thank you" to the waitress without prompting as she brought each course, admired the wall-clock (tik tok tik tok!), and talked about the ice cream insistently until it arrived, from which we learned an important parenting lesson: it's better to let the ice cream be a surprise, because pre-toddlers don't really understand "soon."

On the drive home, just for fun, I cranked up the CD for Andrew W.K.'s She's So Beautiful, a song I have grown to love even though it's a bit off-genre for this pop-newgrass-folkie. Suddenly from the backseat came a deedle-deedle-deedle, and a head-thrashing in the rearview mirror. Her arms flew like a go-go girl. We laughed and laughed, but it was no fluke; three minutes in, her head was still rocking back and forth like a toofast metronome, and the smile kept getting wider and wider. When the song ended, she demanded more.

We went home and cranked up the stereo and, still in our formalwear, the three of us thrashed and moshed around the apartment, stopping occasionally to grin at ourselves looking silly in the dress-up alcove mirror, until we were all tired out. Who would have thought that Willow would love Andrew W.K. so much? Sure, she loves to dance, but she's never done it for so long or so hard. My little girl makes me so proud.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:38 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, November 13, 2003


After a second look at what's on top of my bedroom dresser, I find that my memory is a bit off. Here's an updated list, with updated items listed first:
  • A dozen finepoint pens of various colors and brand.

  • One of those maple-leaf-shaped glass tourist bottles of locally-made maple syrup.

  • One rock of unknown origin.

  • Last week's issues of the New Yorker and Newsweek.

  • A half-a-bread-loaf-sized green paper box (no, I have no idea what's in it).

  • My graduate school diploma, still in its green cardboard folder-thingie; also, right behind it, my City Year graduation certificate, circa 1993.

  • A handful of hair scrunchies in light blue cotton, maroon silk, and shimmery black.

  • A brown half-glazed decorative ceramic bowl full of change, hair ties, shirt buttons, collar stays, and matchbooks from random recently-visited restaurants.

  • One folded pair of clean Eddie Bauer stonewashed classic cut jeans that should probably be in the bottommost drawer but haven't made it there yet.

  • A wooden-framed picture of my father and me, both heavily sunburned from a sunny day off the coast of Mount Desert Island in Maine, holding a plate of freshly-caught mackarel.

  • Some other equally-important photos I can't remember. (and that would be why I can't remember them, I guess).

  • The ancient cordless phone that we had to take off the bedside table because the baby kept calling people.

  • A plastic bag filled with crumpled newspapers from Bangladesh once used as packing filler for a set of paper mache ducks. (oops -- looks like the cleaning lady threw it away!)

Also, have you seen The Meatrix? Thanks to a much-missed Azra, who I really should contact more often, for passing it along.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:04 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

NMH Class of 1977 Yearbook Quote Of The Day

I have a right to know what I think.
-- Amy L. Lowrie, whoever that is.

Yeah, it's another slow day in the Information Commons. And the yearbook stacks are right there...

posted by boyhowdy | 1:05 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday Is Memeday!
meme n (mëm): A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. From the Greek mimëma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate.

Meme1. What's On...Right Now? asks: What's On your bedroom dresser Right Now?, which is a hard question to answer from work, but let's see...
  • A brown half-glazed decorative ceramic bowl full of change, hair ties, shirt buttons, collar stays, and matchbooks from random recently-visited restaurants.

  • One folded pair of clean Eddie Bauer stonewashed classic cut jeans that should probably be in the bottommost drawer but haven't made it there yet.

  • A wooden-framed picture of my father and me, both heavily sunburned from a sunny day off the coast of Mount Desert Island in Maine, holding a plate of freshly-caught mackarel.

  • Some other equally-important photos I can't remember.

  • The ancient cordless phone that we had to take off the bedside table because the baby kept calling people.

  • A plastic bag filled with crumpled newspapers from Bangladesh once used as packing filler for a set of paper mache ducks.

  • Some other stuff, surely. But you get the idea.

Meme2. Wednesday Whatevers, a new one for me, asks...

1. What's your favorite winter activity?
Driving through fat-flake snowstorms late at night with the high beams on. Totally mesmerizing.

2. What is your favorite season and why?
Summer. It's a close call, but I think T-shirts and folk festivals and long late days just barely beats out the colors and crisp air of autumn and the new life of Spring.

3. Would you still go to school if you didn't have to?
Yes, as student or as teacher. But not so damn early in the day.

Meme3. Lulu's Lines is another one previously unknown to me; based on the premise that "words are precious" -- i.e. that the start of a sentence can lead off in different directions depending on the person’s perspective at the time -- Lulu offers a pair of weekly "triggers" and asks us to finish them in our own way.

Trigger 1: Would I consent...

Hmm. Sounds like a sonnet's start, iambs and all. How about this:

Would I consent to walking hand in hand
across the sodden ground before our feet
with you, and stop beneath a tree, and stand,
and kiss you there, and make a day complete...

...something something something. Ew. Anyway...

Trigger 2: I believe that...

...that poem sucked. Note to self: no more poetry first thing in the morning.

Thanks, as always, to iampariah's memeslist, without which we'd all have to work much harder. No thanks to the half-dozen Wednesday memes out there which haven't yet posted today's question -- I was hoping for a longer list, here, and there are some good ones out there, but what can you do.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:54 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Not News

First, that students aren't using information technology responsively. Second, that USA Today thinks this is news.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:37 PM | 0 comments


Too tired, I guess. Brain's not working.

There's something behind the walls, in the corner where the dog sleeps on blankets under the table. It -- the something, I mean, not sleeping on blankets -- makes her nervous. I can hear her scratching at it.

My legs hurt from the tension and the up-and-down of an especially annoying workday with which I will not bore you, except to note that, according to a newScale poll via Newsweek's Survey of Surveys this week, it takes an average of 3.3 people to screw in a lightbulb at a large company.

Other than that, I've got nothing to say.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:31 PM | 0 comments

If It’s Monday Night, It Must Be Tributary

It’s getting cold: below freezing at nights and the cars covered in frost from dusk till dawn. The frost melts in the sun quickly on the windowpanes; they fog and drip behind the changing table as I iron the folds out of my khakis over coffee in the morning. Some day soon they’ll be too iced over for Willow to wave to Daddy as he drives off in the morning, and it will be winter and bare, frozen fingers and white from here to the other side of the silent river valley. For now, it’s just chilly, the air sharp like snow, the throat dry.

The coyotes wake us up at night. We keep the cat inside, where he sleeps on a basket of sweaters, or sometimes on the t-shirts in my bureau drawer.

Willow was up at four this morning, napped just an hour while I was gone; you’d expect she’d be tired, but there I was at seven, then eight, then eight thirty, still in the playroom. Her language and her self-hood have brought her to the cusp of a new role in my life; where yesterday we watched her (and watched over her) in play, now we simply hang out. She wants to talk to us, to play with us, to bring us into her world as much as we want to help her experience ours. She asks us to do things as much as we ask her to do things. And, in the words of Martha "what do you mean, I can't paint my jail cell in subtle tones of salmon and eggshell?" Stewart, It’s A Good Thing.

Tonight’s radio show playlist follows, as always. I almost didn’t make it – Willow didn’t go to bed until almost nine.

Tributary 11/10/03

Bob Dorough – Too Much Coffee Man
Phish – Wolfman’s Brother
REM – Stand
Beck – Devil’s Haircut
Joss Stone – Fell In Love With A Boy
Skavoovie and the Epitones – Subway Joe
Spacehog – Senses Working Overtime
That song with the chorus that starts "I would like to hold your little hand…"
Natalie Merchant – Soldier Soldier
Bert – The National Association of "W" Lovers
The Gourds – El Paso
Girlyman – Hey Rose
Brooks Williams – Birth Of The True
Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem – Cocktail Swing
Rusted Root – You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Suzanne Vega – Book Of Dreams
Joss Stone – Some Kind Of Wonderful
The Salesman and Ernie – Would You Like To Buy An "O"?
Glen Phillips – Have A Little Fun With Me
Ben Folds Five – Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
Natalie Merchant – Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow
Lucy Kaplansky – Ten Year Night
Ernie and Bert – The "R" Machine
Mark Erelli – Take My Ashes To The River
Bruce Cockburn – Blueberry Hill

posted by boyhowdy | 12:45 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Monday Mosh!

After a weekend of relax and meander, Monday is too often chock full of hurry up and wait, mostly while seated. The meeting couldn’t go any slower. A short walk to lunch leads to a long wait for food. From the traffic on the drive to the office to all that butt-tingling time at the desk, it’s all about the sitting down. With a tip o’ the hat to mrs_fezziwig, we proudly present this week’s memetheme:

Mosh from a seated position.

Bonus points will be granted for choice of seat (comfort and style) and for creativity in incorporating the chair itself into your Mosh routine.

Ready? Go. (Leave comments below.)

How to do the Monday Mosh:

As always, participants answer three questions in their blog and then post their results and/or a link in the comments below.

What song did you pick, and why?
What did you step on / bump into? (Bonus points for breakage)
Why did you stop?

I’ve already done mine, if you need an example. Or there's always the Moshrules.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:20 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, November 08, 2003

A Blast From The Past

A repackaged childhood

After a full day of cleaning with a cranky, snotty, and finally-asleep baby, and in the midst of a nostalgia kick prompted by an impending course in Modern American Popular Culture, fed by an interest in the workings of memory both personal and cultural, and substantiated by a mind prone towards kitsch and memorabilia, following a last minute cancellation due to illness last week, we finally managed to host my best-friend-from-third-to-ninth-grade and his live-in girlfriend this evening.

Tonight was our first official try at friendship reclamation after ten years of a total lack of communication (throughout which, every few months, my mother continued to ask so, do you ever hear from Eric?): pastries and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in the kitchen over reminiscence and catch-up while our ladyfriends looked on, a look at the eerie total lunar eclipse from the precarious fire escape in the finally freezing cold, and finally a few hours of chat over an excellent red wine they brought from the Brattleboro Food Coop. They're both teachers too, so we had plenty to talk about; things clicked; and I look forward to doing it again.

In other news, Willow's language development has transcended the noun, moving on to the phrase. She asks before sharing her cookie with the dog (Willow cookie? Zellie cookie?), and sings the entire alphabet song, albeit in gibberish after the first five or six letters; she even knows the difference between the alphabet song, Twinkle Twinkle Litlle Star, and Baa Baa Black Sheep, which seems pretty mature to me, given that all three songs have the same tune. Today she even said "thank you, Mommy" when Darcie gave her juice. Of course, when I gave her a coop-brand cheese puff later in the afternoon, she said "thank you, Mommy" to me, too, so she doesn't seem to have separated the name from the concept yet for some of those longer idea-chains. But it's a start.

Oh, and when shopping for the possibly feverish baby the other day, Darcie chose to buy one ear thermometer over another because it came with a CD of Sesame Street alphabet songs she knew I'd like. Now I have this lovely tune stuck in my head:

Would you like to buy an "O",
Circular and sweet?
"O" looks just like a donut
Really good enough to eat
It'll cost you just a nickel
(A nickel!)
Shhh! (A nickel?) Riiiight...
So buy the O and
Take it home tonight

Other fave and now newly-recovered songs from my childhood include C is for Cookie, Bert and Ernie fave La La La (recently covered by Barenaked Ladies on the highly-recommended For the Kids) and that Bert-led song from The National Association of "W" Lovers, though the Elmo version of ABC-DEF-GHI isn't as strong as the Big Bird version I remember. Have I mentioned that I love my wife very much?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:37 PM | 0 comments

Friday, November 07, 2003

From The Department Of Thank God The BBC Said It So I Don't Have To:

Playing simple computer games at the office could improve productivity and job satisfaction, research suggests.

Of course, here I am at work, blogging while I'm on hold with the DMV, at a desk invisible to anyone who might need me, because I'm not allowed to have a phone out in the library Information Commons, where I could be actually working while I was on hold. So what else to do but blog, and play minesweeper, and listen to ads for the DMV website where I got the phone number in the first place?

Oh, wait. I'm not very satisfied, and not doing my job productively. Hoorah for the BBC, but they seem to be wrong.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:54 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, November 06, 2003


One challenge of blogging – a primary reason so many fall by the wayside, I think – is that you feel obliged to repackage your day, and find that perfect kernel, even on days when you don’t really have anything to blog about. I don’t know about other bloggers, but I find there is a part of myself that is constantly alert behind the brain, self-monitoring for the blog, evaluating the random tidbits and thoughts that cross the synapses for humor, relevance, interest, and above all, that amorphous quality we might call blogability. It's tiring. It makes me feel verymildly anxious about the world once it's been a few days and I haven't found just the right subject yet.

And it never goes away.

There’s a part of me that knows it’s okay to take a day off from blogging, rather than muddy the ether with thought even I don’t really want. Folks will forgive me. I will forgive me. Nobody cares, really.

But there’s a part of me that knows that the potential for caring isn't entirely divorced from the issue of posting frequency. Interest wanes quickly in a digital world. I've done it myself – if a newly found blog isn't updating as often as I’m visiting, I don’t bother going back as often. Some, to be sure, are still worth a peek every now and then, just to catch up; my habit now, in fact, tends more towards the catch-up-on-a-week-of-otherblogsallatonce, skim-and-skip perusal than the daily visit of other blogs. I project this tendency on the blogging community, of course, Knowing other bloggers through blogs, I assume commonality more than I should, perhaps, but can you blame me? Though the plural of anecdote isn't data, like most of us, I have to assume that other people are mostly like me, or I'll go mad with loneliness.

And so, we blog, sometimes, when we have nothing to say.

At some point today, I read half an article (found via fark) about what would surely be the first classic rock radio station to adopt an all-90s format, and thought I might have something to say something about the rapidly collapsing distance between a time period (say, the nineties) and nostalgia for that time period.

But the bon mot never came. I don’t, really, have anything to say here, at least nothing coherent, cohesive, cogent, new. I’m tired, and it’s not worth blogging about today, though on some less tired days, perhaps over a vacation, it might have been worth the effort. Which is just to say:

My apologies. It seems as if there will be no blogentry today. Please come back tomorrow, when perhaps I will have found something worth sharing with the bloggiverse.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:33 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Down In Fraggle Rock

Muppets on acid, says VH1's Remember The 80's

It's pouring outside the empty library, and I can't get the Fraggle Rock theme song out of my head. Could be because I'm getting a bit sick of watching the same nine Muppets tapes over and over again with Willow, I suppose. But it might be because I'm just feeling old these days, missing my adolescence all over again, thinking about nostalgia as a cultural phenomenon for my course next term.

Unfortunately, all the Fraggle Rock videos at are out of stock -- permanently, I'd guess. Quizilla seems to think I'm Red, when I always thought of myself as mostly Wembley, with a little Mokey thrown in for good measure. And other than a couple of pics, some old scripts and rare musical cheatsheets, and those old PVC Fraggle-in-a-vegetable-vehicle Happy Meal handouts from the late eighties, there's not much in the way of content at the otherwise well-intentioned Unofficial Fraggle Rock Site.

Like all nostalgia searches, prompting the memory proved elusive, perhaps reinforcing the sad truth that the past is best preserved in mind, idealizations and all. Still, it was fun to have a few moments of peace in an otherwise drab day to search the universe, and stir the cobwebs from that deep unused segement of my brain reserved entirely for Doozers, Madame Trash Heap, and the odd postcard from Uncle Matt in Paris. As an added bonus, here's some wise words from Boober:

If you find a flat pebble, throw it in the air and you will have all the pebbles you want for the rest of the day.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:59 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Mymy Meme

My favorite meme (well, except this one) has honored me by featuring my suggested weekly memetheme. The least I could do would be to take it out for a spin myself:

What's On the tip of your tongue Right Now?

Figuratively: The name of that guy who wrote that book I read in Kate Ratcliff's American Studies course up at Marlboro College. You know, that book. The one by the theory guy. I've been trying to remember his name all week. Argh -- what the hell was it? It's been on the tip of my tongue so long it's giving my front teeth cavities.

Generally: Pretty much everything, given the right context. I get performance anxiety when talking to people in all but the most public of settings; it tends to cut off the blood supply to that brainpart which otherwise monitors outgoing messages for stupidity. I once actually said "Yeah, but you can't escape the "stink" of IT" to my department supervisor in a department meeting.

Literally: An under-roasted pumpkin seed caught behind a molar. Also, of course, taste buds.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:42 PM | 0 comments

Why I (Still) Love Customers Suck

Post 3533701: As overheard by Alyssa, Pottery Barn retail wage slave.

Xerox Box Man
Note: I never interacted with this man, but I was subjected to him, so it counts.
XBMan (on cell phone):it's in the basement, in a Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
No, a Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
Let me spell it for you...X-E-rox.
A Xerox box.
No, not like "rocks" like "rox," with an X.
No, there's an X at the end.
There's an X at the end and at the beginning.
A Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
In the basement...A Xerox box.
It says Xerox on the box.
It's a Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
A Xerox box.
It's a And it says....Xerox.

Customers Suck is the only Livejournal community I read regularly. It's inconsistent in quality, grammar and syntax and, due to its retail focus, skewed more than most online community spaces towards the adolescent. But as a window into the way we all look at our worst consumer-ego moments, it's priceless; once or twice a day, it makes me laugh out loud. Not too shabby for a little whine in the wilderness.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:59 PM | 0 comments

Is There Anybody Out There?

Late autumn, low wind. Headlights illuminating the otherwise dark. Under the mostlybare trees the road disappears in redgold fire. One ragged bearded guy on a bike in the center of town; otherwise, no cops, no cars, and hardly a light in sight during the drive home from Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night musicmakers here on WNMH 91.5 fm.

The show itself was quiet, too. Only two callers, both regulars, both within five minutes of each other: Molly called with the correct answer (Pink Floyd) to tonight's trivia question (Name the original performers of "Wish You Were Here"), and then, at 11:20, after missing a first hour that was pretty rockin if I do say so myself, Nora called with a request for "something rockin'." Not even a word from Foster, the weird guy who lives locally and calls fake addresses. (Oh, and I suppose you belive that it's just a coincidence that his address and our phone number are identical?)

Shaw and I were the only ones to Monday Mosh. The site got 60 referrals from iampariah's memelist, so I know the fish are out there. But no one's biting.

EricJ isn't even reading blogs anymore.

Don't get me wrong, it's nice to know who your friends are. But late at night in the valley's dark shadow, under a half-starred night, being "here" feels so alone. Leave me a comment, won't you?

As always, tonight's playlist follows.

Tributary 11/03/03

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
They Might Be Giants -- Fibber Island
Richard Thompson -- Kiss
Eddie From Ohio -- Old Dominion
The Biscuit Boys -- Ramblin' Fever
Grateful Dead -- The Race Is On
Patty Griffin -- One Big Love
Manu Chao -- Me Gustas Tu
Keller Williams -- Vacate
Acoustic Syndicate -- Pumpkin 'n Daisy
Cake -- Manah Manah
Les Claypool's Frog Brigade -- Locomotive Breath
Jethro Tull -- Living In The Past
Donna The Buffalo -- Seems To Want To Hurt This Time
Kris McKay -- Wish You Were Here
Johnny Cash -- Desperado
Spin Doctors -- Jimmy Olsen's Blues
Tony Furtado Band -- I Ain't Got No Home
Jourma Kaukonen -- Waiting For A Train
Zoe, Pieta, and Constie Brown -- Ella Mae
Suzanne Vega -- The Queen And The Soldier
Sarah McLachlan -- Blackbird
Patty Larkin -- Have A Little Faith In Me
Norah Jones -- Come Away With Me

posted by boyhowdy | 12:40 AM | 0 comments

Monday, November 03, 2003

Why, Fly?

There are gnats, ladybugs, houseflies and wasps in the house again after two days of almost summery heat. One stingy thingy actually got me on the belly yesterday, and the big red lump it left behind itches like mad.

To top it all off, no one's doing the Monday Mosh but me and Shaw.

Wassup with all that? It really bugs me.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:11 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Monday Mosh!

Yes, folks, it's that time again. In keeping with the new and improved Monday Mosh concept, today's memetheme is:

Mosh to a song you've only recently heard for the first time.

Ready? Go. (Comments below.)

How to do the Monday Mosh:

As always, participants answer three question in their blog and then post their results and/or a link in the comments below.

What song did you pick, and why?
What did you step on / bump into? (Bonus points for breakage)
Why did you stop?

I’ve already done mine, if you need an example. Or there's always the Moshrules.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:35 PM | 0 comments

Food, Family, Friends

Met up with Darcie's parents yesterday morning at Memorial Park playground in Brattleboro, where I used to spend summers as counselor for the local Head Start camp. The baby -- a toddler now, I suppose, at almost 16 months -- didn't so much climb and play on the wooden structures as squat on the upper platforms, absorbing the new perspective only height can bring a small one. Also sand-sifting and a short gleeful stint on the swing, followed by a visit to the mini covered bridge, which Willow deserted to walk shamelessly into the stream below, getting her pant cuffs soaked.

She walks right up to other kids and stares at them shamelessly; you can practically see the mind growing.

Afterwards a short trip through Bratt's quaint downtown area. Picked up a six of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (the gold standard of Microbrews) and some healthy snacks at the food coop; got dalmation rubber boots for Willow and two dress-for-work vests from Keri, who Darcie and I know from our Shakepeare in the Park days six summers a go, at the vintage clothing store in town.

Then off to the day's prize: the Top O' The Hill grill, best pit barbecue in a hundred miles (sorry, locals, but its true), closed for the season with an all-you-can-eat private party, and thanks to Neil's creds as a regular we were invited. Ribs, chicken, brisket, pulled pork and pork roast in mustard sauce; gumbo, jumbalaya, paella and beef stew; homemade slaw, beans, cornbread and rice on the side; orange cream soda and fresh local cider in the ice tub. The rub, for once with sauce optional, was sampled dry; I found it excellent and just spicy enough. The pulled pork and other "wet" dishes fresh and meaty and not too sauce-heavy, just like I like 'em.

Back home, after napping off the food coma, we checked the answering machine to find that our dinner guests -- an old childhood friend, complete with live-in girlfriend, now moved local who we bumped into at the People's Pint down in Greenfield last week -- had cancelled, so the three of us watched Bend It With Beckham, a lighthearted romp with a nice international pace and flavor, while we ate the fresh cream horns and cream puffs we had aquired for company, because those pastries with real cream in them may be the best kind, but the cream turns quickly to butter in the fridge if you don't eat them in the first day or so.

And then, this morning, woke up with groaning still-full stomach to find out Dad's surrogate father-figure David had finally passed away after a week in the hospice. Might go to Long Island for the funeral tomorrow. Certainly couldn't eat breakfast today.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:40 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Halloweenblog: Hello, My Name Is Jesus

Orange goes so well with the site colors, doncha think?

Cobwebs and pumpkin faced goons on every porch, in every corridor; chocolate pudding cakemash with candy corn and gummy worms in it at supper; students dressed as Fat Elvis and Dilbert, pirates and angels, devils and catholic schoolgirls (or I suppose they could have been porn stars in catholic school girl uniforms). As for me, though I decided to start with a tie for a parent meeting this morning, by eleven I was letting the now over-a-foot-long hair down, changing surreptitiously into sandals, and the good old burlap and belt, behind the circulation desk. So help me God, I was Jesus this year again, and if I do say so myself, it was, as always, a huge success.

It feels a bit like cheating to go out into the world as Jesus. I mean, I'm practically the son of God already: I'm Jewish; I've already got the long blond hair, the beard, the blue eyes and the semitic hook of the western conception. I make a goddam awesome Jesus, scarily so. But more, I love to push the Politically Correct button more than most, and isn't Halloween supposed to be liminal, anything-goes, a day of topsy turvy? Kids laugh and tell me I "look good" (we are all good, my child); I got a roomful of laughter when, without thinking, I said "bless you" to some kid who sneezed; the kids on the bus gave me a standing ovation when I gave them a benediction as I passed. So what if a few old fogeys on faculty were a little bit uncomfortable. A decade after God's voice endorsed Hebrew National hot dogs, nothing is sacred save in context. In the realm of the post-postmodern, iconography doesn't mean what it used to, and they'll just have to get over it.

The hardest part is deciding whether or not to go with the stigmata. So far, I haven't had the guts. But the sunglasses were a big hit this year, and made folks less uncomfortable than the crown of thorns did three years ago. I'm thinking next year I might add a machine gun. Y'know, like After 2000 years Jesus is back...but this time he's really pissed. Or maybe just a name tag. If you're gonna run the risk of defiling someone's sacred symbols, you gotta keep it simple.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:27 AM | 0 comments
coming soon
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