Sunday, December 14, 2003

Monday Mosh: The Snow Din Edition

Too much snow today. Why not stay in and Mosh? Today’s challenge:

Mosh to a snowy day song

How To Monday Mosh:

Dance around just 'cause it's Monday, and answer three questions in your blog or in the comments below, leaving us a link so we know you were here:
  • What song did you mosh to?

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

  • Why did you stop?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:41 PM | 0 comments

Snowed In

Memorial Chapel, in another winter.

Just before my parents arrived separately the snow began to fall. It was light at first, like dust motes in sunlight. Later, as the afternoon moved forward, it would get thick and the sky prematurely dark; much later, the snow would turn to ice, and fall clicking against the windows. Like the best snowfalls, however, by which I mean the historic ones you talk about years afterwards, while drinking coffee together, watching the skies and the Weather-Channel-casters, for snow and for half-sure and hedged predictions of total accumulation – like those Dylan Thomas-esque moments, it started bright out of a blue sky.

It was the day of Christmas Vespers, an annual tradition here heavy on the choir and chamber orchestra, but light on the scripture. For the third year in a row friends Peter and Hayley cancelled at the last minute, but Darcie’s parents decided to stay after wavering a bit, to marvel at the baby in her red Christmas dress and eat tiny cream horn slices from the wedding china with the rest of us.

Vespers is at four and seven, but I had made plans long ago to take Molly to a Guster concert at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, and we had mosh-pit seats waiting for us at 7. Plans had been made, of course, long before the coming storm brought a concern not that we might not make the show, but that we might not make it back; luckily, visions of explaining myself to a bevy of administrators after being forced to hunker down, however innocently, in the same hotel as a single female student after taking her to a rock concert brought me to my senses, and I called her and cancelled long before a single flake hit the pavement. (Later, conveniently, my guilt over this adult act would be abated when some other younger faculty, who it turned out were also Guster fans still wavering on whether to brave the weather, called the theater as we left the Chapel at service’s end and discovered that the venue had decided to postpone and reschedule in early February.)

Too, Willow would have never made it through a later seating. Nor, it turns out, would my father or my in-laws made it back home; even then it took each party twice as long to travel home as usual. Patty and Neil, more New Englander savvy and be-Saab-ed, drove home post-vespers; Neil told Darcie on the phone later that evening that they hadn’t plowed their rural dirt road yet at all, and driving home was like going “through a snowbank,” but they made it. Dad didn’t even stay: he left at three, and reports cars “everywhere” as having simply, gently, slid into the median. Worried about inadequate seating now that we’ve had to move both services to the smaller of the two school chapels, as it’s the one not yet condemned, I left minutes after, wading through the darkening wind and the slanted stinging snow to save seats.

Spent most of the service shushing the baby with Darcie in the unfortunately cavernous back hall of the chapel, which quite probably screwed up much of this year’s recording (though, to be fair, one of the biggest problems was Willow’s loud demand for moa? moa? at the end of each congregation sing). Still be-suited, through the driving dark for crisp roast and Seafood Newburg in the dining hall afterwards with Mom, now trapped in a full-blown nor’easter for the overnight, and back home, the baby in the new wooden sled with the rusted runners, for a mellow evening.

And now? Mom asleep in my usual latenight laptop spot, I’m plugged in in the kitchen, listening to the ice pebbling up on top of a good eight to ten inches, and glancing up occasionally at my watery reflection before me in these dark windows. Every once in a long while the plows scrape by at hurtling speeds, and I can see the snow, heavy in the air and on the ground, unceasing, beautiful.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:27 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Mullet Man

In a moment of weakness, I promised my students that I'd show them pictures of my eighth grade self when we began to study the eighties. It seem only fair to offer you an exclusive sneak peek.*

*We apologize, but management cannot be held responsible for the exclusivity of said peek. Long time readers may experience deja vu.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:36 AM | 0 comments

Sometimes I Feel Like A Photoless Blog

If I wasn't such a lazy bastard when it came to preserving the pastandpresent, I'd post photos. Instead, I don't even keep the camera charged. But here's what I'd be snap-download-and-posting if I did:
  • Willow chasing a fly on the windowpane.

  • The Christmas tree. In the soflit dark.

  • The stack of nestling boxes piled up like a symmetrical cubist's tree in victorian colors, and the white and red roses beside them on the shelf over by the window.

These next pic sets, on the other hand, already exist. They't seem to be online yet. Of their thousand words, here's a dozen or so each to whet your appetite.
  • Those damn pictures from Bangladesh I should have posted in August.

  • That cool escheresque picture of the teeming salmon runs on the Alaskan coast.

  • That other cool escheresque picture of the blue ice river cutting through the glacier at our feet.

In my defense, I'm on a dial-up. Do you know how long it takes to upload a picture to blogger at 28.8?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:13 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, December 11, 2003

It Takes A Worried Man

To start with, everything’s okay, Willow’s happily chasing the dog down the hallway with her mother, my sleeve is totally soaked and the back of her head doesn’t even look like it’s going to have a bump. But the weird thing is, I feel pretty good about myself as a father right now. And though it’s been increasingly the case that I feel good about Willow, and who she’s becoming, feeling like I’m getting it right wasn’t something I assumed I’d ever have.

Sometimes, when we’re at the beach or on a windowsill or walking around corners or, like tonight, in the bathroom, the baby up to her nipples in bathwater and bubbles while I kneel like a tailor on the folded white towel at tub’s edge, I think about what could happen, and my heart cramps up. It’s just those things that can only happen once, the experiences no one survives to learn from: electrocution from a wall socket, say, or falling or crushing or hitting the back of your head in the bathtub and never coming back up.

I worry; it’s in my nature. It comes, I think, from the Jewish guilt and the special lack of confidence and frustration which can only come from always coming in second, not third or first; it presents like an anxiety disorder, and I’ve always meant to see someone about it, but I’m worried that it might really exist in a clinical sense, or that it won’t and I’ll just turn out to be doomed to be one of those nervous characters that Woody Allen plays in all his movies. From college into early adulthood I had panic attacks on a regular basis, locked in a cycle of concern and powerlessness. The only reason I don’t have them now is I’ve learned not to panic about them when they start, because I’ve always been okay so far.

Add to the total package this: I’ve never been able to trust my reflexes. Something familial, perhaps genetic, runs in the blood. My brother’s friends call him Spilly, a reference to his tendency to spill beer pitchers, reaching across the table just a touch too quickly, but long before drunk. As for myself, I used to go through wristwatch faces every three months, hitting the walls while turning corners; now I wear carbiner watches that clip on the beltloop and hang down snugly along the pocket. I tell people I have low limbic awareness, as if naming it so formally legitimizes what is ultimately just innate clumsiness, as if the allusion of white lab coat will cover a simple tendency to drop and tear.

It’s a poor combination, constant anxiety and innate clumsiness. Fear that you’ll make the right move at a crucial time seeds a constant concern about what could go wrong. It surely contributes to the clumsiness, and the anxiousness.

I worry about lots of things. But some things are worth worrying about, like bumping into things, or knocking them over, or dropping them. When Willow was born it took every ounce of bravery I have to pick her up, so afraid was I that I might drop her and, in trying to catch her, drop her harder.

Now, of course, I pick her up and don’t think about it much anymore – just enough to note how heavy she is, and how long – but there’s always a tiny part of my mind that gnaws on the possibility of dropping her, just enough to keep focused on her while she’s in my arms.

I hardly remember it happening: an off-balanced moment, a flash of panic from her eyes to mine, and then there I was with my arms up to the elbow, crooked around this tiny flesh. So fast I couldn’t have thought of it. So natural I couldn’t have done it.

I think she never noticed the water coming up at her. I know I didn’t see it, like I had behind my eyes so many times. Her face never got wet. Nothing broke; no neurons misfired. I saw only her, and reached, and didn’t think at all.

It’ll fade in a moment, this feeling of trust-in-self. It fades now, as I write about it. But I’ll keep something new from this tiny half a moment in the new and precious life of this girl, this softness, this Willow. I know I love her not just in my head, but in the spinal reflexes, in the whole body. I can trust myself to. And damn if that doesn’t feel great.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:39 PM | 0 comments

Better Than The Paper Tube

Because everything was in black and white before the 1950s. Really.

It's the 100th birthday of the ice-cream cone. Would you believe the guy who invented them tried paper tubes first? I'm glad I didn't grow up learning to eat a sticky paper tube when the ice cream's gone.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:50 PM | 0 comments

I Are A Grammatical Genius

Are You Grammatically Incorrect? I got a 9 out of ten; beat that if you dare, and no cheating!

To everyone's immense surprise, source is the spanking new MSN, owner of the online realm of Encarta.

[UPDATE 2:22 pm: now with improved non-broken link! Thanks to the newly unpseudonymous Anne for helping this member of the html-incorrect.]

posted by boyhowdy | 1:34 PM | 0 comments

Where's Wednesday?

Though I usually try to blog daily, two weeks of twelve-hour days caught up with me last night with a vengance. Brainfog and fever, in the 102 range, hit hard by the end of my 2-4 class on Reality Television, despite a poorly timed nap beforehand. I chose to sleep early, and stand by that choice.

Had I actually been on the ball, I would have done my second favorite meme, which, in the spirit of the holidays, this week asks:

What's on your wish list right now?

  • Books and videos from my wish list, especially the short film collections from the Mystery Science 3000 series.

  • TiVo.

  • Cable modem/broadband (Darn 28.8 modem...argh).

  • Snow Tires for the Boat...I mean, the Grand Marquis.

  • One of those portable USB data storage thingies that hang on a keychain.

  • Brown leather Gloves

  • Happy scarves, the kind that hang down to just below the belt.

  • Ties.

  • dress clothes in general, check with Darcie for sizes.

  • Yet another one of those 250 CD-sized disk carriers.

  • Time with family (yes, you count as family, Shaw).

  • Babysitting commitments so I can have a date with my wife.

  • Fraggle Rock videos (these are hard to find, but I'd love you forever if you can locate some in decent shape).

  • Mp3 player of some sort, if you insist.

  • Music is always welcome, especially new contemporary folk and live jamband stuff, the Roots Music: An American Journey 4 CD set from Rounder Records.

Oh, and world peace. Cash is always nice, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:49 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Ow, Quit It*

The terrifying trend towards national oversight of Political Correctness taken to a new low this week with the announcement of a $3.4 million federal campaign to combat bullying in schools, playgrounds, and other spaces once considered under the oversight of local community members such as parents and teachers. CNN sez:
With an expected start next year, the effort will frame bullying as a public health concern, targeting kids and the adults who influence them.

1. Anyone else out there nervous about that last phrase? I've set aside ten dollars of my own hard-earned cash for he first overworked teacher to get "targeted" merely because they failed to stop the low-end taunts they couldn't see or hear in the corners of their overenrolled classrooms, 'cause you better believe they're going to need the bail money.

2. I can hear it now: You better leave me alone, or I'm telling the Federal Goverment on you.

3. Get your government regulations out of my community already, damn it. And people ask why I'm a Republican. Sheesh.

* Obscure Simpson's reference, and bonus points if you already knew that, you pop culturist, you.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:36 PM | 0 comments

The Moon Is Bright And Round And Cold

Tonight, but I am getting old,
And sitting too long in my chair
Makes aches appear where none were there
Before. So I will make this playlist quick
That I may get out under it --
By which I mean the wondrous moon
Is beckoning, and I will soon
Be on the road an hour from dreams,
Seven from class, the moon agleam
On the icy road I travel slow
With just a few more miles to go.

Tonight's bedtime stories -- we read them on the hour and the half hour each week, by which I mean I read them, since I do this solo now that Ginny's living too far away and too broke for gas to come up Monday nights to hang about the radio station -- were a bunch of winter poems by Robert Frost, and the scansion's stuck in my head. Can you tell?

Between the poems, here's what I played.

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Girlyman -- Postcards From mexico
Chris Ardoin -- Your Love Keeps Lifting Me (Higher and Higher)
Ben Harper -- Steal My Kisses
Wild Cherry -- Play That Funky Music
Domestic Problems -- I'm A Line
Sam Phillips -- I Need Love
Eddie From Ohio -- Quick
Rice, Rice, Hillman and Pedersen -- Friend Of The Devil
Alison Krauss -- Every Time You Say Goodbye
Tony Furtado w/ Tim O'Brien -- Man Of Constant Sorrow
Marianne Faithful --I'm Into Something Good
Timbuk 3 -- The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades
String Cheese Incident -- take Five
Robert Randolph and the Family Band -- The March
Los Lobos -- I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)
Glen Phillips -- Have A Little Fun With Me
Trout Fishing In America -- Something Sweet
Sarah Harmer -- Uniform Grey
Mark Erelli -- Take My Ashes To The River
Johnny Cash -- Hurt
Deb Talan -- Two Points
Maria Sangiolo -- The Cherry Tree Carol
Dave Carter and Tracy Grammar -- Merlin's Lament
Gone Phishin' -- Fast Enough For You

posted by boyhowdy | 12:17 AM | 0 comments

Monday, December 08, 2003

I Can Moo...Can You?

Mr. Brown
Which Dr. Seuss character are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

posted by boyhowdy | 8:39 PM | 0 comments

I Have Nothing To Say Except Hooray For Fark

Dead goose falls on school playground. Really.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:49 PM | 0 comments

Monday Mosh: The Better Late Than Never Edition

I'm really late for a campus meeting because the clocks are all messed up here in the library and I haven't blogged in a day or two because I was really really busy but the mosh must go on so:

Mosh to a hurry-up song.

For rules, see last week's mosh.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:12 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Short Readings For Snowy Days

Nice work from The Onion this week, almost missed in the haste of a new term's beginning. Especially recommended, and of possible interest to my usual and diverse readership: front page fake trendtracker sidebar What We Are Looking Up In The Encyclopedia; College Freshman Cycles Rapidly Through Identities; New Alternate-Reality Series Puts 12 Strangers On Island Where South Won Civil War. And fave weekly features Savage Love and Pathetic Geek Stories, as well as an excellent review of a new Johnny Cash release, from The Onion A.V. Club.

Still chuckling about Rejected Titles for Hymns from the lists list at McSweeneys. Hours of fun here, great for snowed-in reading.

Interested in something a bit more serious but no less engrossing? Try this debate about the role of the artist in society featuring Thom Yorke, bandleader of Radiohead, and people's historian Howard Zinn, recently republished at Utne. (Disclaimer: I went to high school with Leif Utne, current Utne editor and son of the original founders; we used to hang with some of the same crowd, though he was much taller.)

And, for those interested in the progress of my Modern American Culture class (hi, mom!), this weekend's homework includes some web-available reading, too: an overview of the fifties and sixties, and one of several assigned speeches from In Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century, Nixon's "Checkers" speech (mp3), available online at speech supersite American Rhetoric. The students are expected to write a one to two page typed response to these readings which answers the question If we take these texts as protoypical or paradigmatic of the values of the American era we call "the fifites," what were the values of this era? What were these values defined in opposition to?, but snow makes me magnanimous; feel free to skip the essay if you're not enrolled.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:54 PM | 0 comments

On The Inside Looking Out
Is it snowing where you are?

A flurrying mass of birds congregate at each window, pecking at the feeders, full beneath their tiny drifts. Red breasted and golden, woodbrown and jay blue, fluffed up and narrow against the wind and cold they come; they twitter faintly, sparsely, conserving their strength. A few feet away a band of mottled woodpeckers huddle, waiting for some unforeseen signal; perhaps twice an hour they will take their turn, chasing away their smaller brethren for a family turn at seed and suet.

Through the haze of falling white one can see why they have come to us. Their usual food sources are drifted under, their trees bowed with the weight of new snow and shaking in the stormwind. The air swirls with fat white flakes. In the distance, nearer hills, once clear, loom grey and teary over edge-blurred valleys and trees. More distant mountains, ordinarily less than ten minutes away by car, disappear completely. The world grows smaller.

After a November of light overnight powder, of dustings quickly melted away in the first hours of morning, Winter’s arrival is complete.

Farther afield, beyond the birds and their deserted drift-filled nests, the plows scrape against the patchwork road below our windows, prompting an annual game of musical chairs, in which neighbors move their cars back and forth, hoping for a driveway cleared: though no one has been able to figure out the criteria which plow drivers use to decide when and who, it seems safe to assume that a driveway clear of cars is much more likely to be cleared of snow as well.

Snow keeps falling, as is its wont. Curled up beneath white woolen blankets on the couch we watch the aftermath of this same storm’s path as is passes on the screen: New Jersey, New York, Boston. Total expected accumulation ranges from ten to fifteen inches, tapering off by morning.

The long walk to the dorm for duty tonight, and then back again in unplowed pathways and hardlyroads, will require a flashlight, a hat, and gloves, but if prepared for properly I can tell already: the walk in winter’s night storm will be a blessing, a meditation, and I’m looking forward to it, and to the noseglow midnight return, with that fine powdered joy that only comes with snow and season.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:27 PM | 0 comments

Friday, December 05, 2003

Paper Tree, Paper Tiger

It comes from Walmart or BJ's Warehouse in a box hardly longer than the baby, a concept which fascinates her. Set up in the corner where the closet door would squish it fat against the television cabinet, green narrow arms radiate just so like cardboard cat tails from its wireframe center. Away from the lamp, with lights and strings of wooden cranberries, it fools the eye.

Pulling bells off its dyed limbs, she dances and shakes and sings jindl bezz, making the sound of a sleigh she's never heard. Beneath its paper boughs she crashes dreidels into each other, oh daydle daydle daydle.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and all I want this year is what I have: each other, and a place to be together.

Oh, and a TiVo. And a cable modem, because when you start staying late at work just to take advantage of the LAN, you know it's time for a change. But that's all. I swear.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:09 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


She calls them beebles.

1. What's on my 'favorite things to do' list right now?
  • Teach.

  • Sleep.

  • Watch bad television and call it professional development (it's good to be the Media and Communications teacher).

  • Eat well, of any persuasion or ethnicity.

  • Sit in the dark basement radio station sending out music, bedtime stories and Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night program here on WNMH 91.5 fm serving Northfield, Gill, Keene, Brattleboro, and you
  • .
  • Have contests, especially when someone calls in to win.

  • Stay up late in big empty rooms while my family sleeps.

  • Paste ladybug stickers on my forehead to make the baby laugh.

  • Dance with the baby.

  • Hug the baby.

  • Get hugged back.

2. Not technically a meme, listlover This Fish sparks Julia to list things that comfort me and bring me joy (a comfortable sort of joyousness). My internal jury seems to be still out on this one, mostly because I'm sure I'll miss a bunch, but certainly family, clean and cleanly pressed khakis and chambray shirts, and that look a student gets when they get it, are in the top five.

3. Also similar-but-not-the-same listpremise found at This Fish: The Things I Love. (An ongoing project kept by This Fish on various post-it notes, supposedly.) I'm not sure this is something that works if you try it off the cuff, either -- am thinking, in fact, that this might be the next 30 Things-level list -- but I know, somewhere on that list, there will have to be Fraggles. And Silly Putty. And my daughter's word for ladybugs.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:55 PM | 0 comments

Love Hurts

She’s bright, you know, brighter than average and I’m not just saying that because she’s mine. She learns words voraciously, surprising us sometimes, like tonight in the bath when we asked her whether she wanted one washcloth of the other, and she said both, and we looked at each other, Darcie in the bath with her bra on and me on my knees on the tan towel by tubside, and confirmed that, no, neither of us had taught her that word. Or when, afterwards, the dog tore some fuzz off the new tennis ball, and she said no, Zellie; trash and picked up the fuzz and put it in the kitchen trashcan.

She loves people she hardly knows, and remembers their names, and looks for them, and blows them kisses in the dining hall. She bursts into song, grins delight at the moon, cups christmas lights in her fingers in the dark. She asks about bapa and jesse and mattie and josh just to hear about them, as if reminding herself that her bootstrapping memory works, or to distinguish dreams from blossoming reality.

I think I read once that being a little kid is like being on acid, what with the whole world opening like that, doubling in size and depth every day, only you don’t remember because part of what’s opening is that part of you that remembers things, and it’s young and busy.

She puts ladybug stickers on my eyelids and laughs. She tells us when it’s time for nap, and for snack, and for bath. She knows even more than she lets on, and even though I think it scares both of us sometimes, she knows that, too.

She’s heavy, and a pain sometimes. Her too-thin hair stands up in the back all day sometimes, impervious to repeated passes of licked parental hands. But she’s light itself, she’s beautiful, she’s patient and kind; she’s generous, and happy, and loving.

And she still sleeps in our bed at 16 months, and nurses too often, enough that we’re worried she isn’t getting enough of the right foods.

It’s not true, you know, that if you love somebody, you should set them free. It’s not enough. If you really love somebody, eventually, you drive them right to the door of wherever they want to be, and you drive away, and don’t wait by the curb to make sure they’re all right. You give them your number, and you tell them to call, but you do it.

You make their wings for them, and teach them how to use them, and show them how to get home if they need it. Because otherwise, they never learn to be themselves, and trust themselves, which they have to do if they’re going to learn to trust you. And, more importantly, they never become trustworthy, because people who can’t trust and know themselves can’t know trust at all.

Tonight I stood by her crib and watched her cry, or chose to, I’m not quite sure, but it hurt like hell to do it, and I wanted to stop, but I wanted her to learn to use her incredible self, and it’s the only way I know how. I told her that I knew that she wanted her mommy, and that mommy was okay, and Willow was okay, and it was time to stay in the crib now, just for a little while, and it was okay.

And then, after a while, I left. And it wasn’t really okay, not for either of us. It just had to be that way, that’s all, and the only thing you can say to a blotchy-faced sixteen month old screaming in the dark is that it’s okay. Even if it makes everyone uneasy, wary, sad, miserable, and just plain wore out.

And this is nothing new, and it will get harder, I think, and worse sometimes, and scary, too.

Because she’s ready, almost overripe – she’s smart, did I tell you, a good bit farther along than most at her age -- and we know it’s time to start setting some limits, so she can have structure to add to her latitude and skills, so she can learn, and grow, and fly away.

So she can fly away.

So, I got that going for me.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:18 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Short Round

Post-Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5 fm, serving Northfield, Gill, Keene and Brattleboro. Tired, and sitting in a classroom upstairs from the radio station, blogging 'cuz the network speed is, like, way faster here on the LAN than at home.

My own sadly undecorated classroom, that is. I have a class to teach here in seven hours or so. Better get some sleep. But first, as always, tonight's playlist, an upbeat selection to welcome in the new term.

Tributary 12/1/03

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Bonnie Raitt -- Love Me Like A Man
Phish -- Back On The Train
They Might Be Giants -- Birdhouse In Your Soul
Manu Chao -- Me Gustas Tu
A Tribe Called Quest -- Can I Kick It
Ani Difranco -- Little Plastic Castle
Donna The Buffalo -- Riddle Of The Universe
The Jayhawks -- Save It For A Rainy Day
Suzanne Vega -- When Heroes Go Down
Richard and Linda Thompson -- Wall Of Death
Barenaked Ladies -- The Old Apartment
Moxy Fruvous -- Green Eggs and Ham
Pete Nelson -- You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Jazz Is Dead -- Scarlet Begonias
Phish -- Weigh
Galactic -- Tiger Roll
Daniel Lanois -- Falling At Your Feet
Marianne Faithfull -- Nobody's Fault
Kasey Chambers -- The Captain
Laura Love -- Come As You Are
Sarah McLachlan -- On A Winter's Night
The Wayfaring Strangers -- Man Of Constant Sorrow
James Taylor -- Second Star To The Right

posted by boyhowdy | 12:16 AM | 0 comments

Monday, December 01, 2003

Monday Mosh: The Postprandial Edition

Dancing is the last thing on most minds after a thanksgiving-or-otherwise feast; it's not insticntive to flail so soon after stuffing one's face. Still, if the baby's post-holiday-meal mosh to a zydeco beat is any indication, there's nothing like a mosh to shake off the fullbelly blues. This week's Monday Mosh memetheme:

Mosh after eating.

(But don't forget to wait at least a half an hour before plunging in, or you'll get a cramp.)

How To Monday Mosh: Dance around just 'cause it's Monday, and answer three questions in your blog or in the comments below, leaving us a link so we know you were here:
  • What song did you mosh to?

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

  • Why did you stop?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:07 AM | 0 comments

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
coming soon
now listening