Tuesday, January 13, 2004


Headachy and bored at work in the library information commons, trying too hard to make yesterday's draft/notes about my trip up to the top of the chapel belltower with Leon the custodian imbued with some serious metaphoric meaning about history and our place in it. Trying so hard, in fact, that the entry I'm trying to write is falling apart, and my head's begun pounding so hard it hurts.

So I wrote this one instead.

I know why I'm trying so hard: it's that damn blorgy.com rating system, which has, I now realize, crept under my skin, raising the subjective stakes for blogging, as if I shouldn't try to write something serious and good and essay-esque unless I'm willing to sweat blood to get it there. As if the word essai didn't mean to try.

You know you're writing for the wrong reasons when you've got blogwriter's block. Maybe it's time to let this one go for a while.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:09 PM | 0 comments


Back on the air tonight after almost a month of holidays, with no opportunity to pick up my weekly cup on the way over. The phone kept ringing while I was on-air running down the playlist, but when I picked it up there was just a strange beeping sound, and then silence. At least the music felt right. And I love that the universe grants me an opportunity to share my soundtrack once a week.

As always, here's tonight's playlist; I'm too tired to say much else, so we'll let the music speak for itself, as it should. Starred music is newly acquired -- it was a good vacation, after all. And tomorrow, I promise, I'll tell you all about my visit to the chapel clocktower.

Tributary 1/12/04

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
*Beau Jocque -- The Back Door
*Robert Earl Keene -- Furnace Fan
Trey Anastasio -- Alive Again
*Michael Franti and Spearhead -- Everyone Deserves Music
*Otis Rush -- Homework
Joss Stone -- Fell In Love With A Boy
*Ralph Stanley -- Are You Tired Of Me My Darling
Erin McKeown -- Slung-lo
Dan Zanes -- Wonderwheel
Dan Hicks -- My Cello
Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Boyo
Kasey Chambers -- You Got The Car
Marianne Faithful -- Nobody's Fault
*Patty Griffin -- Christina
Girlyman -- Amaze Me
*Eva Cassidy -- American Tune
Daniel lanois -- Falling At Your Feet
Keller Williams -- Anyhow, Anyway
Chris Smither -- Happier Blue
Eddie From Ohio -- Good At That
David Wilcox -- Leave It Like It Is
Not Earthshaking -- Judy Blue
John Cale -- Hallelujah
Dixie Chicks -- Let Him Fly

posted by boyhowdy | 12:40 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Monday Mosh: The NOW Edition

Look, so few people Mosh, but so many of you visit. So let's make it easy this week. You're reading this now, right? Okay,while you're here, have a Mosh. Todays memetheme:

Mosh to that song, yeah that one, the one that's playing right now.

If you don't have any music playing, just mosh to whatever noise you can hear. What, like it's totally silent where you are?

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:

1. What song did you mosh to?
2. What did you step on / bump into? (Bonus points for breakage)
3. Why did you stop?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:54 PM | 0 comments

Why We I Blog

Over a year ago, Eric had some interesting thoughts about the stages a blogger goes through when settling into the form; in his experience and, later, mine, navel-gazing -- that time when we spend much of our thought thinking about thinking, and what it means that we're doing this thing we call blog -- necessarily marked its own stage, if only because, so far, the raison d'etre of the blog is still in the jury room. (You'll note that most of the "blogging as media" links over there ------> on the sidebar date from a relatively finite time frame, for example.)

This makes sense. Finding ones own way into blogging, and making ones own meaning of self and symbology, medium and mind, would necessarily be an essential stage in growing towards a user-of-blog, if only because blogging is

But the questions are worth coming back to; if we accept that we change, and that our knowledge needs might change accordingly, performance review of the self and soul seem imperative to health. Thanks to Anne, and to those who follow her threads, for asking about why we started blogging, which prompted a more general think-back and refinement. I'm still thinking a bit about why I'm here -- and maybe when I'm done I'll have time to ask about all of us -- but, for what it's worth, here's what I left in her comments.

I started blogging, actually, for two reasons:

1. I had a student in my Media Literacy class get me all excited about blogs when she did a project exploring their relevance to the digital age.
2. I wanted my new daughter to have a history of me to browse someday.

Notice: not typical reasons, if there is such a thing. I've BEEN a published writer, both journalistically and in my academic field; I enjoyed it, but it's a heck of a lot of work, and I prefer to publish for real only once or twice a year (still do, actaully). Peripherally, I also always wanted to have a diary that actually demanded that I keep up with it. Having a public diary-form did this for me -- once I had just one regular reader, I had enough reason to keep it up. Better to externalize such a push -- make the world your enabler! Much better than those start-em-and-kill-em-a-week-later high school and collegial "journals" that litter my attic.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:46 PM | 0 comments

Tales From The Trip

Before it gets too late, and since we finally unpacked the journal, a couple of short pieces from our trip to Florida last week. Warning: the following, while true, is rated PG-13. This means you, Mom.

1. The Barnes and Noble Blowjob
Warning: the following, while true, is rated PG-13. This means you, Mom.

It's the day before we fly back home. I'm browsing the combined LitCrit/Essay section -- actually a single narrow shelf of fauxwood wedged between a 270 degree corner on the left, and a forest green trimmed window on the right -- at the Cityplace Barnes and Noble, checking the font size of Sarah Vowell's new collection, trying to decide which This American Life author will make for the best reading for the most amount of flight time, and as my eye wanders to the end of the shelf a flash of flesh and a spidery tattoo, something swarming and Celtic, flashes outside the window.

I begin to lean, surreptitiously. The girl, upon further furtive examination, displays a thin adolescent's knobby spine, interrupted by a half-shirt of seaweed, or at least something shimmery and dark in the almost complete darkness, the glow of the incandescent yellow old-Florida streetlights. Her cornrows are like her shirt continued: thin, wiry, and scatter-reflective. I lean out a little more, and realize the reason I can see all this is she's leaning way over forward, so I lean way over around the fauxwood shelf, and I see this guy's hands massaging her hair like some porn star, her underage head in his lap, facedown

oh dear god

She's giving him a blowjob. A Blowjob, on the full balcony of the Cityplace Barnes and Noble. They must figure no one can see them, the way his back is turned carefully to block the view to the other tables. It's clearly a space crefully chosen; here in the corner, the balcony walls come up so high like turrets, you'd never be noticed unless there was some guy staring at you from the window into the store. Heck, maybe they like the thrill of possible discovery.

Or maybe they're just too young to care.

The boy could see me, I think, pulling back self-consciously. My forehead begins to burn, and then my cheeks. I feel old, like a peeping tom. I pay for the Raskoff book and go back to my sleeping wife and daughter.

More later.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:09 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Nap Rhapsody

The girls -- by which I mean my wife and now eighteen-month-old daughter -- sleep for an hour in the afternoons, sometimes more if it is quiet. Though most workdays I miss it (and though most days are workdays), in the rare lazy day of stayathome this affords an unusual phenomenon: a long moment, midday, of total home ownership, as long as one is relatively quiet.

Though I am grateful for the grace, it feels weird to have this time. But it's not the feeling that's so rare or blogworthy. It's the daylight.

Nocturnal insomnia runs in my family. As a child required to turn lights off at ten, I read books secretively, on the carpet in the open doorway's crack of hallway light, unable to fall alseep until it ended and I had finished inhabiting it's world. To this day my father in his study reads, and works on lawyering until two, sometimes later.

I think we all needed that time for a similar and private purpose, too. My siblings and I, like my father before us, never interacted much in those hours. We sat in our rooms, and considered the occasional noises of our family comforting ghosts on the other side of walls. On rare visits home, today, the dynamic still holds: if my sister's visiting, and is watching television first when the house starts to get dark, then I find something else to do naturally, without thinking about it. But I check back occasionally, and if she's gone I'll take my turn.

The need to be up, to take that time and silence, to sit peaceful in the universe, and inhabit it entirely for a while; to center oneself and be that center, matters little whether I've has three or nine hours of sleep the night before. Though I may be tired after a full-steam day, one begun in the pre-sunrise of six o'clock, even now it's exceptional for me to snuggle down into the communal bed pre-midnight.

I've never lived alone, and never wanted to; when I'm home alone I wander unfocused and slightly anxious. There's something essential to this process in the security of the sleeping family, and true aloneness would be limiting, I think.

But I find that darkness serves this total impression far better. In the illuminated home, exterior dark, the windows reflect the interior world, making it entire. The outside world becomes an absence, like the theoretical stuff just beyond the edge of the universe.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:22 PM | 1 comments

Friday, January 09, 2004

Why Am I Not Surprised?

theory slut

You are a Theory Slut. The true elite of the
postmodernists, you collect avant-garde
Indonesian hiphop compilations and eat journal
articles for breakfast. You positively live
for theory. It really doesn't matter what
kind, as long as the words are big and the
paragraph breaks few and far between.

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
brought to you by Quizilla

posted by boyhowdy | 11:35 PM | 0 comments

In The Bleak Midwinter

Woke this morning into a numbing, blind and impotent universe, and I couldn't do a damn thing about it but shiver and curse.

I'm used to the darkness by now, I suppose. The 8 a.m. class isn't my strong suit, but modern technology has made the wee hours inhabitable. With a flip of the bathroom light switch, a flick of the coffee pot button, the setting of the iron, what was once a drag (Get up in the dark? You're kidding, right?) has become familiar, a blurry comfort, a sense of ritualistic self-starting unimaginable in those ancient and vaguely understood societies where the sun drives the day. Owning my consciousness once seemed stressful; it has become a blessing, and a way of owning both universe and self.

To find the power gone was more than disconcerting -- it was disempowering. No coffee. No heat. No iron. No hot water. No light; it's still pitch dark out at 6 in New England in January. Good thing the moon's still mostly full, and out about as high in the sky at six in the morning as it is at six in the evening, except on the other side of the house. Otherwise I'd have been stumbling blind into a blackout of neighborhood scale.

Baffled by the still-dark universe, freezing to death and increasingly undercaffeinated, I went back to bed and lay awake, confused and shivering. Soon the baby woke up my wife, who reported that the power had started blinking on and off rhythmically at 2 am, enough to keep microwave, laptop, stereo and cordless phone cradle beeping until she got up to turn off the major appliances.

It felt good to have an explanation, I guess. But it didn't really make things better. You can lose a lot of heat in a drafty old house over four hours in single-digit weather, and we did -- I figure the house was down to the low forties, and colder near the windows, by the time the power finally went on sometime just after seven. A subsequent call from the top of the snowday phone chain here let us know how widespread the outage really was: school was delayed two hours, that the classrooms might have time to heat up enough to sustain even the most heavily bundled of students.

We don't have all the answers, even now, of course. Over the course of a wonderfully foreshortened day (one class, and a trip to the grocery store with Darcie while her mother watched the baby) the rumor mill was fairly consistent, if mysterious: the power outage was "by the Windmill," the inn up the road a piece, according to the official school bulletin-board announcment about the delay and its pace-of-day ramifications, but the four lane road that passes the school was blocked for miles of detour until long past sundown, and Darcie's mother reports a military convoy heading into the no-longer-dead zone when she drove in just after lunch.

Still, it's nice to be warm again, online and in the glow of soft lighting; was nice, earlier, to dance with the baby to the web, and snuggle in to watch the Muppet episode guest-starring Alice Cooper later on, as Darcie made a neo-tex-mex supper (long-grained rice, chicken and salad with avocado, onion, and mangoes) on our electric range; will be nice to sit in the glow of a taped-last-night ER with Darcie soon, once the baby falls asleep. And I am thankful for the modern conveniences, even under the light of the ovoid moon; thankful that we can choose to turn off the lights and see it if we wish, and that we do not have to, because it's too damn cold out there to visit it for long, though nice and toasty here, where a faint smell of mango lingers in the warm kitchen air.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:33 PM | 0 comments

Boohbah Update

In anticipation of the Jan 19th episode 1 airdate, PBS brings us their usual stellar combination of games, character and plot overviews, and parent resources. I can't wait!

[Update Update 6:29 pm: And I didn't wait, either. Spent almost an hour this afternoon bouncing Willow on my knee and exploring the web materials together; Darcie was over at the yearbook office yelling at the kids for missing another deadline. Looks like the kid's gonna love it, and I'm happy to report that, if the website is a reasonably accurate reflection of the program itself, Boohbah's going to be about as safe as kidTV gets -- and that's saying a lot, coming from a seasoned media literacy teacher.]

posted by boyhowdy | 11:28 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Why I Love Being A Media Studies Teacher

Ohh...trippy public television daytime rave for kids of all ages.

Reason #387: New "exercise show for preschoolers" from creator of Teletubbies: Boohbah.

Reason #388: New terminology which came up in She Speaks 3-Year-Old, the NYT Magazine cover story on the subject: toyetic potential (defined as the extent to which kid-filled focus groups indicate that they'd want to buy television-program-related toys; according to the aforementioned article, most major players in entertainment won't give a green light to a show unless toyetic potential is high enough.)

posted by boyhowdy | 9:51 PM | 0 comments

A Vote For Me Is A Vote For Me

Voting for this year's Bloggies ends Monday at 10 pm sharp. So what are you waiting for? Vote!

Might I suggest voting for me in the best-kept-secret category?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:34 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

From The Department of Oh Dear God, No!

actor Rowan Atkinson

Mr. Bean set to play Lord Voldemort in next Harry Potter film.

[UPDATE 1/9, 11:19 pm: Rowan rep refutes ridiculous rumor. Alliteration surrenders.]

Also in Fark today, from the Department of Wish I Had Thought Of That: "Friends" wrap every single thing in man's apartment in aluminum foil while he's on vacation (w/pics). Well, everything except a copy of Penn & Teller's Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:59 PM | 0 comments

Boo...oh, wait...YAY!

Not me, I swear.

The bad news is, after more than a decade -- that's right, a decade -- Pathetic Geek Stories, a fun little comic based on real-life stories of chronic social awkwardness sent by readers and edited/illustrated by Maria Schneider, is ending its run in The Onion AV Club.

The good news? Comic interpreter Schneider's not discontinuing the strip, but moving it to an official PGS website, with a whole slew of extra goodies to boot! Should be worth the extra bookmark.

And The Onion? Well, there may be one less reason to visit, but it's still among the best of the web. New weekly feature Say Something Funny quite makes up for the loss; this week's say-it-in-250-words (featuring "Weird Al" Yankovic) is an especially good one. Oh, and it turns out Maria's also an Onion staff writer, so she'll still be around.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:08 PM | 0 comments

What's On My Other Favorite Meme Right Now

What's on my calendar right now? In no particular order:

  • January 14th, My birthday, though last year's thirtieth seems much more significant.
  • Celebrations for my birthday, including a dinner out with Darcie that same evening, and a Saturday-after thing with my parents and hers.
  • A follow-up appointment with the doctor sometime next week re: my still-blocked ears.
  • The baby's 18 month check up next Tuesday at 1:30.
  • My parent's trip to Florida, from the 12th to the 18th.
  • Classes every morning from 8-10, and two afternoons a week from 2-4.
  • Ed Tech / Media meetings every Wednesday.
  • Media Literacy instruction -- focusing on nutrition and body image -- for the 9th grade Health classes tomorrow and Friday, and T/Th/F of next week, too.
  • A brand new ER tomorrow night.
  • Tonight's full moon, and next week's quarter moon.
  • A close-up photo of a single song sparrow, tucked into itself, and perched on bent straw.
  • A tiny December on one side, and a tiny February on the other.
  • A tack to hold it all to the wall.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:14 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Florida: A Preview

posted by boyhowdy | 8:29 PM | 0 comments


Darcie threw her back out yesterday. Just one of those "bent over the wrong way" moments. She kicked me out of bed for it so she didn't have to keep bending over the baby to nurse in the night.

I slept on the couch.

And with my ears still seriously blocked up -- as if I had my fingers hard in my ears all the time -- I slept right through the alarm this morning. [Thanks to Darcie for waking me up, albeit with less than a half hour to iron, dress, make-and-drink coffee, and the other usual sundries.]

Tore my shirt pocket trying to smooth it down; decided to wear a vest over it.

Car got stuck in last night's ice; I had to run upstairs and rouse everyone, then push while Darcie sat behind the wheel in a nightgown, the baby strapped in her carseat for no reason other than where the heck else would she go?

Lucky today was a late-start class. Unluckily, the kids seem to have forgotten everything over the break, including their homework, and the brightest girl in the class was absent. With my ears blocked up I feel like I have voice-immodulation syndrome (c.f. SNL); I hope I didn't yell at them too quietly.

Similar problems guest-lecturing in a health class (Media Literacy as a cultural health issue): too many rowdy freshmen, and I have no idea if they could even hear me.

The computer's got a virus and keeps shutting down on me; it took three tries to get the Florida pix from the camera to the now-corrupted hard drive; the wireless router screwed up the cable modem connection so much I don't know where to begin.

I think I have a fever.

We'll try again tomorrow, I guess. I WILL get those pix up this time, and do some backblogging about Florida, I WILL. I'd say "if it kills me," but after today, I'm taking no chances.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:01 PM | 0 comments

Monday, January 05, 2004

Monday Mosh: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Edition

After an eternity of blogsquatting, fellow ex-Marlboro-ite Shaw has moved out with but a simple farewell.

A new year, and already my solipsistic universe has shifted. This week's memetheme:

Mosh to a song about change.

And speaking of change: Shaw, that background has really got to go.

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 | 12:50 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, January 04, 2004

It's Been One Week Since You Looked At Me

Back from a week-and-then-some in Florida with the wife and kid, and boy, are my arms tired. Also pretty damn ill, with a fluxuating fever and a head thick as a brick. Ears have been stopped up since we left. Got three hours of sleep Friday night to catch a 3 a.m. airport shuttle; drove back yesterday through thick fog, internal and ex-. It's warm for a New England winter, but that's still forty degrees colder than even the evenings last week.

The cumulative effect is that the world is more distant by half, more surreal than the haze remaining outside. It's raining, I think, on the low roofs and eaves, but I can't even hear it.

But work's faint call grows stronger -- I've plenty of long-overdue papers to grade tomorrow. So the full procrastination-driven deep-thought report on Florida, family and fun (and illustrative pix to prove it!), including perhaps a booklist, and surely a major photoblog or two (a day at the beach; the verycool house) will have to wait.

For now, a shortform post-dated itenerary, tentatively titled Where I've Been.


A.M. Pack; drive to Newton for lunch with parents.

P.M. Parents drive us to airport. Two hours in terminal, two in the air, three in Charlotte airport riding the moving walkways with the baby, two in air again. Land in Ft. Lauderdale after midnight. Cab to Days Inn with noisy Tiki Bar in center. Nosebleed. Bed.


A.M. Rent car. Breakfast with Great-Aunt Lil in Ft. Lauderdale.

P.M. Drive to West Palm Beach. Move in to gorgeous rental place. Read while Willow naps with Darcie in J.P. Morgan's bed. City Place for grocery shopping and fancy supper. Read on porch after Darcie and Willow go to sleep. Bed.


A.M. Home visit and out to lunch with my paternal grandparents.

P.M. Read, nap. Sand and sunset on Palm Beach. Dinner at townhouse -- sausage on grill, corn on the cob. Solo walk around neighborhood; read on porch. Bed.


A.M. Nearby Cuban bakery for coffee and pastries. Beach again -- sand, and swimming a bit. Leftover lunch.

P.M. Willow and darcie nap; I go to City Place for book shopping. Grandparents over for dinner in townhouse; Darcie cooks chicken. Porchreading. Bed.


A.M. Lion Country Safari rocks our world.

P.M. Epanadas and coffee, more book shopping while Darcie and Willow nap. Lobster Tacos and ribs at Cayenne in City Place (Willow has fries and pepperidge farm goldfish); playing in the fountains and a horse carriage ride. Porchreading while fireworks go up in the backyard; bed.


A.M. Beach again. Early nap/reading.

P.M. Grandparents house, and a dip in their community center swimming pool before a last three-generation dinner. More bookshopping. More porchreading. More bed.


A.M. Pack and chat with townhouse owner Gregory. Twice-leftover lunch.

P.M. Nap. Read. Leave. Drive back to Ft. Lauderdale. Italian dinner with Lil. Check in at no-longer-Hilton hotel. Return car; take shuttle to airport; take shuttle from airport to hotel. Drunken hot tub. Crash.


A.M. Stagger to airport. Wait for ticket counter to open; board plane; fall asleep. Wake in Charlotte; ride walkways; board plane; read.

P.M. Picked up by parents at airport for lunch out, play in. Nap. Drive blearily home. Crash.


A.M. Shopping. Sick.

P.M. More sick. Blogging. Sleep to follow.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:56 PM | 0 comments

Friday, December 26, 2003

And A Happy New Year

Having a wonderful time storming the castle -- wish you were here!

We're off for a week in the Palm Beach sun! Darcie's found us a lovely townhouse with two porches, and though we're all of us melanin-challenged we do hope to spend some serious and slathered hours with wet squinchy sand between our toes.

Officially, of course, we're there to see Mom's Aunt Lil, and my Father's parents. We'll probably have dinner with each a few times. Also pencilled in: drivethrough animal preserve Lion Country Safari, a few other local zoos and aquariums, and the Playmobil-themed Fun Park for toddlers (pictured above). And plenty of afternoons on the beach, of course. Should be a fairly decent vacation, once we make it past the three-hour layover in North Carolina.

Back January 3rd in time for a Monday Mosh. Enjoy the fireworks!

posted by boyhowdy | 11:16 PM | 0 comments

Based On The Book By Howard Rheingold

Metablog Smart Mobs, nominally a continuation/reflection/reaction of/to Rheingold's Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, is a stellar model of that spare and linguistically sparse manner unique to blogging. Dense with links and fat with well-grounded thoughtful idealism, the site is divided into especially interesting categories [e.g. Technologies of Cooperation; How to Recognize the Future When It Lands On You; The Era Of Sentient Things; Always-On Panopticon...or Cooperation Amplifier]. Some posts (and some categories) are a bit techie, but others are quite insightful, cyberculture-speaking-wise.

Found in a midafternoon webwander, via an offhand reference at Alex's, and subsequently via two of my favorites: first, online metablog and directory of wonderful things boingboing, and then Utne, who recently awarded Smart Mobs an Utne Independent Press Award for best online cultural coverage. Added to bookmark list immediately. Good reading for a New Year's break.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:22 PM | 0 comments

Christmas, Passed

As usual, at Darcie's parent's house, the big wooden interior, stone-stove heated family estate up in Brattleboro. We arrived just before ten to find Ginny and Ryan already there, making coffee while Patty peeled eggs for deviling. Neil played with Willow on the wooden boat he'd built his own chidren long ago. Soon Josh and Clay arrived, adding their gifts to the pile under the tree. With Alicia and Matt visiting his family in Florida for the holidays, we'd hit quorum right on time.

Darcie's grandmother up the hill had asked that we be finished with gift-giving by the time we went outandback to get her at eleven; this added a bit of pressure to the exchange this year, so instead of watching each other open presents, one by one, as in past years, this year we doubled up. Maybe that's why it seems like we had less than in the past. No matter: the getting was good, and the giving much appreciated; Ryan's two-canvas painting of Virginia even brought tears to Patty's eyes, and the hand-painteds Darcie'd been slaving over for days went over smashingly.

Gots? Much handmade food -- biscotti and fudge, chocolate-covereds and macaroons. Stocking-stuffers, from post-its and pens and shopping list pads with magnets to attach them to the fridge to a battery-operated crazy straw that lights up when you suck through it. Fourteen avi-format episodes of Fraggle Rock on three CDs. Calendars, as always, from Darcie's grandmother. And intangibles: commitments for babysitting, cash for hot tubbing.

Willow made out like a bandit. A stacking set of paper blocks colorfully decorated with pictures from the book Mama Do You Love Me. Mobiles and juice boxes; ornaments and books. Sticker sheets of all sorts of animals, enough for a month of wall-plastering. She's been riding her small wheeled horse up and down the hallway all morning. The huge scooter-wheeled wagon didn't fit in the car; Neil and Patty will bring it down in their hatchback next week after we return from our own trip down south.

Food afterwards, with a picked-up-late grandmother and Darcie's Aunt Vivian: Chocolate yule log, deviled eggs, fruit of all exotic types, and more coffee and lattes than anyone should have on a warm sunny christmas morning, relaxing with family. I pulled a gleeful Willow up and down the gravelly mud of the driveway in her new cart while the neighborhood dogs jumped around us. We were gone by two, and, the Christmas spirit still in me somehow, I cleaned the house and made dinner, an unusual frenzy of domesticity, so that Darcie could have some stress-free time with her daughter, for a change.

And now we're off in a few for that hottubbing experience down in Northampton, while Ginny watches the baby at her house -- a real date, perhaps one of the best kinds of Christmas present, no matter when it comes. And after that, sleep -- and after that, packing, for the flight tomorrow.

Hope your Christmas was fine, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:57 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas!

Not All Who Wander Are Lost will return tomorrow for a last-minute catchup session on all things Christmas before jetting down to Florida for a week with my father's parents. It's raining here, but may all your Christmasses be bright.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:25 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

10 technologies to watch in 2004

Not sure how I feel about this list from CNN's tech business watchers. Gecko tape seems pretty cool, but wireless broadband seems too much like Tesla's model for free broadcast power -- a great idea, but why would a company offer their entire service free? LED lightbulbs seem fine in theory, but halogen and long-lasting "green bulbs" never caught on, either. And anti-spam software that works? I'll believe it when I see it.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:20 PM | 0 comments

Last- Minute Shopping?

Blogger's got the perfect gift. For the technophobic diarist on your list.

Alternately, there's always all this stuff. Late gifts cheerfully accepted.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:18 PM | 0 comments

Think Globally; Shop Locally

Warmer days: Downtown Greenfield, Massachusetts

Darcie’s willingness to hand-paint raw-wood boxes, mirrors, pegboards and picture frames for family presents this year hasn’t necessitated a major shopping expedition such as last year’s trip to Northampton, but there was still three nights worth of Hanuukah presents for Willow to fill, and a few smaller supplements to Darcie’s new and already-in-use glider rocking chair seemed appropriate despite rapidly waning funds.

Monday, then, while Darcie napped with the baby, I hit the highway aiming for the next exit down. And here the quantum goofmind of the universe kicks in, for halfway there I glanced over at a passing driver and recognized her as a now-graduated Alex, once one of my favorite students and now one of those beloved friends who could become a crush easily but shouldn’t, the ones whose phone numbers you keep until one day you think about them and want to call and the number is long gone.

Heart racing, I pulled alongside her in the other lane once she had passed, and waved and waved and waved until, giving up hope and fading back, she glanced over and put her hand to her mouth with glee. The serendipitous glee that went between us at 70 miles an hour was almost tangible, and, in my case, it was only partially because of who I had found in this way, because, God, finding a long-lost friend in a passing car? Damn, I always wanted to do that. Seriously. I daydream about it all the time when driving.

Alex followed me, blinker on, for a mile. Finally pulled her over in a Texaco lot on the edge of the lower Greenfield mall; hugs in the parking lot led to an offer of company much appreciated on my intended journey through town. We left her SUV in the lot at Staples, and, after a quick trip to purchase a not-yet-installed-properly wireless router and card for the laptop (damn, I forgot to call Comcast again for host- and domainname), drove around the rotary and into the bottom half of downtown Greenfield.

Ah, Greenfield. Halfway to Northampton; nearer by a whisker than Keene (NH) or Brattleboro (VT), our three vastly different closest-to-home possibles for commercial excess. Home to the anti-WalMart movement, and to a brand-new urban energy park devoted to nature and alternate energy sources. Bracketed by safe small-busness zones that separate the downtown area from a distant McDonalds on one end of the long L-shaped main strip and Applebees down by the interstate exit on the other. And, at heart, the middle ground, Main Street: still small businesses once grounded commercially by local department store Wilson’s, now far more attractive as a collection, an almost-quaint main street strip, forming an intimate community center for this otherwise rural region.

Alex and I had a grand old time in town, sharing future dreams reminiscing and relocating old friends in our mind as we wandered the three blocks from the toy store to fave local record shop About Music. The stores, all local in their outlook and as warm and cozy in merchandise and atmosphere as only smalltown main street stores can be, buzzed with the sort of funky stranger and half-known local that frequent this small town on the edge of two other states. And my teaching peers at school were out in droves, waving to us from windows, nodding on the sidewalk in passing, offering holiday greetings in shelf-aisles and at check-out counters. It was good to be out in the sun, and to be out with a friend a bonus blessing.

Shopping itself was a comprehensive success. Bought Willow a set of plastic dishes complete with drying rack, a set of bath crayons, and a neon orange plastic slinky at our first stop, in fact; also a few trinkety things – Chinese yoyos, bendy tubes, well-painted dreidels, and thick straw fingertraps – for stocking stuffers. Browsed the World Eye bookstore for a while before settling on a curious no-spill reading light that, instead of emanating light into the air, lights a piece of flat plastic; you set it against the page and it illuminates it. Tried soft silk-laced and velvet clothing on Darcie in my mind’s eye at Zema’s, but, remembering that the Yoga class she had wanted to attend conflicts with my evening meeting schedule, bought her a beginner’s kit complete with instructional CD and flash cards showing popular positions.

For lunch we stopped at Café Koko, and, snagging the couch, shared lattes, spinach knishes and an egg sandwich made with thick local maple bacon. And conversation, of course, mostly about the impending changes here at school, what with the financial crisis.

But time grew short. A final stop at the CD store, where I chatted a bit with a woman I know from Northfield, an alum and parent of two current students, about the same financial crisis, and what the last few years of trying to manage it’s symptoms had brought to hiring policies and shifts in and of policy implementation methodology. I purchased the new live Patty Griffin CD for myself; Alex bought something I didn’t see, and we drove back to her car to split up and head, respectively, home.

Then yesterday to Greenfield twice again. First in the morning with Darcie and Willow to pick up birdseed at Agway and a chocolate-cake yule log, sprouting merangue mushrooms, at Merlings, where the baby got a cookie wrapped in wax paper. Later, back home, my mother came up for her weekly visit; after a short trip to the yearbook office for Darcie to approve and send back this year’s proofs, we did the strip entire, from the top of the hill downwards this time, looking for boxes of Christmas cards, finally finding them at World Eye.

And back home again, and more of the same around-the-house with baby that I long for eternally; otherwise my days from Monday to now have been a blur of time spent home, in cardboard boxes and on the floor with the baby and her new toys, while Darcie exercises her talents, painting flowers and spotted grids of faux-indigenous art on raw wood. It feels like family life, and knowing it will not last long makes me yearn for summer.

And now it rains: the attic roof pops like the limbs of an old chair as we settle in to the grey afternoon. Willow lies in bed awake with her half-napping mommy, chattering softly about nursing and the sky and who-knows-what-else until she shushes herself, whispers mommy, and falls asleep. Tonight will be Christmas Eve, and tomorrow Christmas. And though the laptop’s got a virus and I lost my keys to the laundry, though my ears are once-again stopped up and my fever’s not gone below 99.8 in three days now, the center of the universe is still and calm as it should be, and it’s all – all of it – good.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:05 PM | 0 comments

Monday, December 22, 2003

I Look Like Jesus, So They Say...

Those who know me in person will be terrified, amused, and maybe even aroused to disover how much The Onion's conception of Jesus looks like me.

Everyone else will just have to trust me on this. Even scarier, this is what I dressed like for Halloween this year.

Also in the A. V. Club this week: annual feature The Least Essential Albums of 2003. Hilarity ensues.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:18 PM | 0 comments

No, The Other Kind Of Pet, Hef

MTV's Cribs shows Playboy boss Hef's pet monkey Pinky sleeping in a crib and wearing a diaper; PETA spokesman, disgusted, says pet monkeys can 'grow up neurotic and lonely.' "

Members of PETA, on the other hand, are already neurotic and lonely, and should make excellent pets.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:07 PM | 0 comments

Hey, Rube!

Monday's almost over -- don't forget to Mosh!

posted by boyhowdy | 7:53 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Hoist By Their Own Petition

Now that the numbers are going against them, you gotta feel sorry for the American Family Association, that religious right-leaning organization behind the infamous homosexual marriage poll.

I mean, it's clear they thought all along that they were proudly standing up for a silent majority. They way they present their poll, well, it's as if they were going to march into Congress, new anti-marriage amendment draft in hand, armed with the will of the people writ large.

Imagine how terrifyingly alone you'd feel at the growing realization that most people in the entire country don't like you, or agree with your ideas.

And to find out on your own dime -- kinda rubbing your face in it, eh?

Plus, now that the poll's so public, it's not like the AFA can walk away from their threat without seeming even stupider. The poll's out of their hands, now, bound for congress one way or another no matter what it says about what we think we want. It'll show congress a nation divided, but primarily in favor of no-wishy-washy-unions homosexual marriage.

And this seems like a no-brainer. The dam's burst; the AFA slowly loses ground. This is news anymore? Heck, we were just invited to a gay wedding today.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:50 PM | 0 comments

Monday Mosh: The Holiday Edition

Because anything else would be uncivilized -- 'tis the season, after all. This week's moshtheme:

Mosh to a Holiday Song.

Bonus points this week for off-genre covers of classic seasonal tunes (for example, a surf punk version of Little Drummer Boy, maybe a klezmer cover of Jingle Bells, something like that).

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 | 9:33 PM | 0 comments

Gots Is What You Got

Ah, the holiday season, upon us.

Friday night at my parents with siblings and old family friends of my parent's generation and Darcie's parents down from Vermont for the afternoon: latkes and camembert, dredels and dates. My mother's friends all brought presents for Willow (a cow puppet, a soft colorful birdhouse filled with stuffed rattling birds, a bendy dreidelman figurine); the men mostly brough wine, or both. When Jesse and Jasmine finally arrived late from Brooklyn we stood around the kitchen island, about twenty of us, and lit a dozen menorahs, sang Rock Of Ages from photocopied Hannukah hymnbooks borrowed from my parent's temple.

Afterwards, the Friends gone, the Family -- two siblings and their significant others, Darcie's parents and mine, us and the happily overwhelmed baby -- sprawled around the living room and exchanged gifts:
Got: Music, of course: Hannukah stuff and the Roots sampler I wanted and no small pile of bluegrass handmedowns from Dad. Also ties, button-down sweater vests, and a welcome mat made of recycled flip flops from the always-chic Jesse and Jasmine. Darcie got a nice shirt from my parents. Willow got pretty much everything you can imagine, including wooden blocks on a wheeled tray, complete with pull-string.

Gave: soaps and painted photoholder ornaments for Jasmine and Amy; a colorful birdfeeder for Sarah; personal letters to each member of my generation praising their adulthood and friendship, a painted wooden keepsakes box for Jesse filled with half the medals and pins our grandfather accumulated in his decades as an Army electronics whiz. Toys for my parents to enjoy with Willow -- a set of Great Psychologists Finger Puppets for Mom, a tin toy Rocket Ride for Dad -- and a set of candlesticks painted to look like them. Patty and Neil gave everyone fifty year old copies of Life magazine.

Breakfast this morning at Bob and Tom's house out in Revere; Willow played in the geranium pot with the two Lhaso Apsos while mutual old roommate Bob announced his engagment to a smiling-in-the-background Tom. Then a long drive home to a clean house and our own small candlelighting ceremony. Note to self: keep July 10th open.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:31 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Departure Impending

Still slightly feverish after days hovering on the edge of something not quite as comprehensive as the dreaded flu, but the baby's mostly better, and Darcie's cold's starting to clear up; all told, it's not enough to stay home, so we're off to Newton for a family Hannukah party within the next half hour, or else, 'cause we're barely going to make it on time as it is.

Sigh. When do I get to sleep late enough to recover from the backlog? Aren't we supposed to be on vacation? I need a nap. Maybe Monday morning I can finally have one.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:27 PM | 0 comments

Friday, December 19, 2003

Road Trip

Full day today kerouacking about in Connecticut with Virginia and her tall drink of water live-in Ryan. First to the DMV in Springfield to clear up a potentially license-threatening list of past offences recently accumulated to a height above the radar, just because it was on the way; then to breakfast in a real diner, hash and eggs and split red potato home fries, in the quaint township nearest Wesleyan College because we were running too early; finally via miles of deep suburban woods and saltbox houses to a garage where we picked up Darcie's Christmas present, a gliding rocker purchased off Ebay, from a pretty young woman holding a long-haired girl not much older than Willow.

Mostly driving, of course. It had been a long time since I spent hours watching the trees blur, faster in foreground than background, out the window in the back seat of someone else's car. There was something cinematic, almost satisfying about the whole drive back, dozing in and out of the raw beats soundtrack Ryan, cofounder of beat-and-production-factory komadose, played on the CD player in an air-hissing silence otherwise unbroken.

I tend to be a driver in life, but not all paths are walked in loneliness, or should be. To truly share the journey, each must ride and row. Thanks, God, for the humble miracles, the meditative joys, the salve of soul, of trust and passengerhood -- of being in someone else's hands quite literally:

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our ancestors, and at this season.

And Happy Hannukah, everyone.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:04 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, December 18, 2003

People Unclear On The Concept

Some poor sap sorely in need of some library instruction found his way here today through an egregious misuse of google.

It took me eight seconds to discover that when the horse wouldn't eat latkes, they fed it oats.

No thanks necessary, mystery surfer.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:03 PM | 0 comments

PETA Watch

If PETA thinks Mommies still dress like this, it's no wonder they're so off-base.

Once more into the machiavellian breach! This time PETA's targeting small children at performances of the Nutcracker, handing out flyers -- disguised as comic books called "Your Mommy Kills Animals" -- to kids whose parents are wearing fur:
The fliers include a color drawing of a woman plunging a large bloody knife into the belly of a terrified rabbit. The fliers urge kids to "ask your mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes.

"And the sooner she stops wearing fur, the sooner the animals will be safe. Until then, keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy - she's an animal killer.''

PETA's always disgusted me for such tactics, but when the organization is clearly willing to sacrifice families for animals, attacking the mother-child bond in their overzealous insanity, I say PETA's lost their moral right to exist. So, now that I've got the high-speed Internet I wanted, all I want for Christmas is for someone to firebomb PETA. Who's with me?

Alternately, I'm thinking a bunch of us could stand outside PETA members' homes, and hand flyers to their children that say "Your Mommy Destroys Families." Or even "Your mommy thinks comic books are educational." Now that would be effective, eh?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:41 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Up To Speed

Today, while I was teaching class, the cable guy came to install a high-speed connection in our apartment.

I can once again surf with impunity, the phone can be free while we're online, and it no longer takes ten minutes to open my overstuffed email mailbox.

This afternoon in celebration we quick-installed Mopy the virtual fish on the laptop so a verysick Willow could sit and burble about the fis.

Thanks to Darcie for the early Christmas present. The time saved can be spent with family, and that's everything I ever wanted.

Pictures of just about everything to follow, now that bandwidth's no longer an issue.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:19 PM | 0 comments

Popcult-in-Education Watch

While my students take an exam [Sample question: From the following list of fifities texts and practices, pick three, define each, and explain their cultural relevance in terms of the Culturalist perspective], fark brings us an article on popular culture classes at college campuses around the country. The Simpsons: An American Family? Rock and Roll as Social Force? How To Watch Television? Disney, Culture and Power? The (Sur)Real World of Reality TV? Yeah, I could teach that.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:10 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Nothin’ But Net

Meet Jaime and Ally. They're BFFs!*

I should be grading, or preparing for class, or I suppose writing Kiernan’s college recommendation, or typing up those notes from that Library/Media staff meeting way back before Thanksgiving, or crunching the data on last term’s instructional work with teachers and classes for a long-overdue end-of-term report. Heck, I get up at 6:15; I should be sleeping.

But a slight fever led to an emergency midafternoon nap instead of work. I’m left rested and getting tired; not out-like-a-light yet, but illness affords a convenient justification for laziness and procrastination.

Too, a sucker’s instinct towards generosity when my students suggested that they didn’t understand the reading on which today’s half-class quiz was supposed to be based prompted a rehash of the difference between Culturalism and the Culture and Civilization tradition instead of the quiz. I’m left prepared for my morning class almost by accident, and with plenty of time to review material on the evolution of Reality TV for my afternoon class while the baby takes a nap in the afternoon of the half-day-off Wednesday I get in trade for an extra evening shift Monday nights.

So, yeah, I should be working. But sitting on the couch snarfing nutmeg and blueberry teacake leftovers from Sunday’s snowstorm is better. Better still: when you’re a media teacher, watching MTV’s Rich Girls counts as professional development. Heck, so does blogging. Now get off my case, man.

*Sub-blog (or perhaps metablog)

1. I have no idea what this means. Big Friendly Fillies? Boy Friend Finders? Bilateral Fig-Friskers? Battlefish Farouk? Anyway, MTV says so.

2. Original caption for this picture was A day of shopping has worn the girls out. Spending money is such hard work.

3. In addition to being BFFs, incidentally, the girls are so vapid they make Paris Hilton look like Nicole Richie. How's that for a reality television in-joke.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:31 PM | 0 comments

A Very Special Holiday Tributary

'twas the last show before Christmas; I read Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas In Wales all the way through as I do every year; it took about thirty minutes.

Afterwards I enlightened the masses.

There is good Christmas music out there if you know where to look. Here's some of it. Tonight's playlist, the last of 2003:

Tributary 12/15/03
The Holiday Edition

Shawn Colvin -- Christmas Time Is Here
Sarah McLachlan -- Song For A Winter Night
John Gorka -- Christmas Bells
Elvis Presley -- Blue Christmas
The Roches -- It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
Dave Carter and Tracy Grammar -- American Noel
Nerissa and Katrina Nields -- Christmas Carol
They Might Be Giants -- Santa's Beard
The Muppets w/ John Denver -- Little Saint Nick
Machel -- Soca Santa
Eartha Kitt -- Santa Baby
Koko Taylor -- Merry, Merry Christmas
Bing Crosby -- White Christmas
Peter Mulvey -- River
Rani Arbo -- I Saw Three Ships
Mark Erelli -- This Ain't No Time Of year To Be Alone
Michael Doucet -- Bonne Annee
The Roches -- Little Drummer Boy
Barenaked Ladies w/ Sarah McLachlan -- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
David Grisman -- What Child Is This
Shawn Colvin -- Little Road To Bethlehem
Erin McKeown -- At The Christmas Ball
Cindy Kallet -- Cherry Tree Carol
Pete Nelson -- You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Otis Redding -- Merry Christmas
Erica Wheeler -- Song For A Winter Night

posted by boyhowdy | 12:38 AM | 0 comments

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
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