Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Better Late Than Ever 

Traded library duty shifts this week so we can go see Crooked Still (and dear friend and opening act Peter Siegel) down at the Iron Horse Thursday night; ended up finishing up that library shift on one campus at ten...when I'm supposed to start the radio show at the same time, six miles and one police station away on the other campus.

Which meant no time to stop for coffee. And a rush job getting started. Also, an owl flew up out of the darkness and scared the shit out of me just before midnight when I stepped out for a smoke in the moonlessness, and I'm still shaking.

Hope this seems up to the usual standards, folks.

Tributary 9/13/04

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Spacehog -- Senses Working Overtime
Trey Anastasio -- Cayman Review
Manu Chao -- Me Gustas Tu
Nellie McKay -- David
Dan Zanes -- Wonderwheel
Aimee Mann & Michael Penn -- Two Of Us
The Jayhawks -- Save It For A Rainy Day
Muddy Waters -- You Need Love
Joss Stone -- Fell In Love With A Boy
The Biscuit Boys -- Ramblin' Fever
Patty Griffin -- Love Throw A Line
Ben Harper -- Please Bleed
Kris McKay -- Wish You Were Here
Billy Bragg w/ Wilco -- My Flying Saucer
Ware River Club -- I Love Her, She Loves Me
Dusty Springfield -- Son Of A Preacherman
Acoustic Syndicate -- Crazy Town
Shawn Colvin -- Say A Little Prayer
Daniel Lanois -- Falling At Your Feet
The Be Good Tanyas -- Rain And Snow
Owen Hand -- She Likes It
Crooked Still -- Last Fair Deal Gone Down

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5 FM, bringing you the best of all genres week after week. Listen -- it'll make you glad your radio works.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:00 AM | 5 comments

Monday, September 13, 2004

Just This Once, I Wish I Lived In Ohio 

Because if I lived in Ohio, I could take advantage of Operation Ohio, and -- just for the price of a simple email request -- Tobias Wolfe, Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers or some other cool writer would call me on November second to remind me to vote. How cool is that? Man, McSweeney's has the best ideas.

Oh, yeah, I'd also have to be a college student to be eligible. But I could fake that, I bet.

(Offer also valid in Wisconsin and Florida. But not Massachusetts, dammit.)

posted by boyhowdy | 9:17 PM | 2 comments

Too Much Of A Good Thing 

Spent too much cash and a fine late summer afternoon yesterday at the Connecticut River Brewers Festival down Holyoke way -- mostly a tent filled with microbrew kegsellers, and a couple of decent pulled pork vendors off to the side. It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny and warm by the banks of the river, with a nice crowd, decent music, good companions -- including brother-in-law Josh and his long-time mate Clay, sis-in-law Virginia, her roommate Christina, and her friend Kevin -- and a rollicking good time had by all.

I think.

To be honest, given my low tolerance (hey, at least I'm a cheap date), I remember little of the festival, and less of the sushi supper afterwards at sister-in-law Virginia's new houseshare digs. Luckily, my inner Hunter Thompson was keeping track of the afternoon. Here, verbatim, the taster's notes I found in my pocket the morning after; they seem to be in order, which explains the last bits below:
  1. Summer Haze (Paper City Brewing Co.). White head. Beer color light, almost yellow. Rich taste -- a breakfast beer! -- w/ strong orange-peel in scent and taste. Slightly bitter kick but no aftertaste. "Champagne." Yummy! 4 starts, though the orange might get a bit much after the first few pints.

  2. Pale Ale (Flying Dog). Slightly strong and bitter; a decent PA, though the bitterness stays with you for a moment after each sip. Light brown/caramel color. Rich and crisp for a PA. 3.25 stars.

  3. Grape Ale (Concord Brewery). 2.0 stars! Grape kool-aid plus beer, with the flavors mized badly (not like the raspberry from Peoples Pint, as a comparison). Grape aftertaste overwhelms the acceptable but unexceptional basic brown underneath.

  4. Cascade IPA from Amherst Brew co. "Almost like licking a dandelion." BITTER, but OK. Strong. Dry, solid, amber color, almost no head. 3 stars. More?

  5. Heavyweight Brewing Lunacy. Very yeasty...unfiltered? Golden rich color, low/no head. A deep, rich belgianesque...but that yeast/hop taste so strong!

Also, found on a separate scrap entitled "other people's beers":
  • Concord B., Oatmeal Stout. Solid coffee taste, not too bitter, black -- 4.0.

  • People's Pint Pied PIPA: rich, sweet, full-bodied. The best IPA in town - not too bitter, balanced. 4.5 stars.

  • Harmony Springs Birch Beer (not real beer) -- sprite-light, memories of summer camp.

Looks like I did have a good time after all. Wish my head didn't hurt so much trying to remember any of it.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:24 PM | 1 comments

Heartbreaking Dialogues With Children (# 216 in an ongoing series) 

Me: Come give me a hug, Willow.

Willow: No.

Me: But Daddy has to go to work now, honey.

Willow: No, I want you to stay here with me.

Me: Willow, honey, I'll be back really soon. But I have to go to work so we can get money to buy things we need, like clothes and food, okay?

Willow: (wanders over to her closet) Daddy, I have lots of clothes in here! You stay home and play!

posted by boyhowdy | 3:30 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, September 11, 2004

ADHD In The...O Look, I'm In The Paper! 

This Fark-found article about Adults Being Diagnosed With ADHD seemed potentially interesting, but for some reason I had trouble staying with it 'till the end. Wonder why?

Ten years and counting past a partial ADHD and visual processing disability diagnosis, and I still...um...hey, did I mention that our visit to the fair yesterday made the paper? I had to scan in the pic, as unfortunately The Republican doesn't include 'em in its online edition -- but I swear, this is the pic which accompanied this article:

So much for playing hooky -- now everyone will know why I took the day off!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:21 PM | 13 comments

Friday, September 10, 2004

Love, With Mitigating Factors 

How fast would you run for an Oreo cookie?

I love that, two weekends every trimester, the school pays me to play ping pong against high school students for four hours Friday night and five hours Saturday. Of course, technically I'm supposed to be at work, so I can't leave -- I don't have to play, but I do have to go.

I love that we're still netless at home. Really. And not just because it means a chance to get reacquainted with Adult Swim. But yes, the infinitely numerous mitigating factors here are obvious and hardly worthy of mention.

I love that I have the kind of schedule that allows me to take a morning off from work just because the Franklin County Fair is in town. We've learned in past years that Friday mornings are the best time to go -- not a crowd on site, and the kiddie rides are the only ones open; while my teaching peers and student charges droned through Friday morning long block classes, I had my hands full of two year old, sharing a gleeful couple of hours of the finest flora (the biggest yellow pumpkin, smallest cherry tomato, prettiest wreath), fauna (4H ducks-and-bunnies, a baby animal petting farm, and baby's first porcupine), and fried food -- the stuff only a smalltown country fair can bring. Unfortunately, NRBQ isn't playing until tomorrow night at 5:30; I'd love to see them again, but who wants to hit that mob scene?

Speaking of the fair, I love that I live in a world with Robinson's Racing Pigs in it. Pity we had to miss them this year.

Also, I love that Willow wanted to go on the merry go round six times. On the other hand, I'm still kind of dizzy.

I love, too, that I have the kind of wife who makes an effort to make a Shabbat dinner happen for all of us, even though the kid's a Jewnitarian, and Darcie's just plain UU. Making it a picnic on the side lawn was a sweet gesture, even if the primary reason for eating outside was the inevitable grungy disaster that is our kitchen and dining room after my first few weeks of work, and the kid wasn't so happy with waiting for the food while I tried to spin her around during L'cha Dodi to welcome the evening. Thanks, honey. I only wish I was home tonight to co-digest.

And speaking of being outside for a picnic -- I love that my potty-trained child is a friend of nature, but why is it that every time we let the kid pee on the grass, the cross country team comes around the corner?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:18 PM | 3 comments

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Ran out of cash; missed a cablemodem payment, and ended up netless for 24 hours. Paid by phone, but found that we needed to re-enter the registration and serial number for the Comcast service...and can't find the registration receipt or the install CD. [Hey, a brand new reason why I haven't blogged! Um...yay?]

So I'm blogging from work (library proctor duty), when I'm supposed to be chasing nonworking kids out of the Fiction room during study hall. No time for more, as the kids are a bit loud today after a full 24 of sweltering heat and rain so bad that our walls and staircases are dangerously sweating back home -- I'll try to get something in tomorrow night (while on dorm duty, this time), since we're off to the Franklin County Fair tomorrow morning, and Willow already can't stop talking about the petting farm-animals area, and the merry-go-round sure to follow. Three cheers for playing hooky from work!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:54 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

l337speak Chic  

Pouring my vocational energies into developing the perfect reality-cracking mindset for the new library information commons the past days, most joyfully through the mentorship of a new band of workjob students. We've already got a livejournal going -- their idea, and their work setting it up -- and a virtual conference space for discourse, wherein I continue to remind them that we're not technicians but information coordinators and literacy teachers, and try to engender a service model of proactive humility.

Great stuff; great kids. Their eagerness to help discover what it is we all do reinvigorates me.

In thinking about how to describe our role, today's threaded discussion about possible nametag phrases produced the following tongue-in-geekchic possibilities:
  • Ask me -- I'm smarter than you!

  • Ask me! I'm experienced and suave!

  • Ask me -- I'm l337

  • Right click on me for help!

  • F1

  • Likes evenings by fireplaces, long walks on the beaches, and helping with homework. Wait, what?

  • Big Brother

Though all are too geeky to use (we'll probably go with information commons assistant), I will forever treasure the envisioned snorts of laughter resonating through the ether once we started tossing these around. Ah, it's good to be teaching again...can't wait 'till the media literacy class kicks in next week, what with the elections and all.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:46 PM | 3 comments

Back In The Saddle 

The phone didn't ring once; my Girlyman CD skipped a bit; the network cord was stolen from the radio station computer, so I couldn't blog the playlist as it happened. I forgot to do the weekly contest, and talked way too much. But all in all it sure was fine to be back on the air, in the cool basement, alone in the dark with my own personal wall of sound.

Here's tonight's playlist, the first of many for a new school year; from Jeffrey Foucault on, all songs are by artists I saw perform live this summer:

Tributary 9/6/04

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Keb' Mo -- Love Train
Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Squeeze -- Dr. Jazz
Phish -- Back On The Train
Yo La Tengo -- Magnet
Beck -- Devil's Haircut
Cake -- Manah Manah
Gillian Welch -- I Want To Sing That Rock and Roll
Sarah Harmer -- Almost
The Posies -- I'm Looking Through You
Girlyman -- Postcards From Mexico
They Might Be Giants -- Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Jeffrey Foucault -- Mayflower
Crooked Still -- Angeline The Baker
Eddie From Ohio -- Let's Get Mesolithic
Ani Difranco -- Little Plastic Castle
Erin McKeown -- Civilians
Soulive -- Turn It Out
John Gorka -- Out Of My Mind
Lucy Kaplansky -- It Ain't Me, Babe
Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem -- Butter And Egg Man
Dar Williams -- Are You Out There
Jourma Kaukonen -- Red River Blues

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5 fm, serving Northfield, Gill, Keene and Brattleboro -- and you -- every week...with a little bit of this, a little bit of that, some funk and folk, blues and bluegrass, jazz and jambands, alternative and everything in between. Damn, it's good to be back.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:49 AM | 1 comments

Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Mom Report 

Just got off the phone with mom. Hot off the family wire:

- Willow had a phone conversation with my mother today. Willow's total contributions to the conversation were "yes" and "where's Grandpa?"

- New Ohio State Veterinary School vet student (and sis) Sarah installed in Ohio one-bedroom awaiting semester's commencement. Soon, she will be required to dissect a horse. Thankfully, she decided not to get the Ohio State cheerleader outfit for two year old wildchild Willow.

- Bro and artist Jesse left a message on my mother's answering machine about being in the NYC protests surrounded by a thousand empty coffins or something. That was him on the cellphone just now, but mom didn't get it in time.

- Rhythm and Roots was good but less diverse, musically speaking, than in the past.

- There's a Yom Kippur service at the temple on Saturday morning just for kids. Also babysitting. Also, mom always buys an extra ticket.

- Mom and Dad Tuesday leave for Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Another state or two, and Dad'll have collected the whole set of 50. (Go Dad!)

- Mom rocks.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:56 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Never Again Will I Live In The Air 

An epiphany today, a third time up the narrow stairs bearing wet, freshly hung shirts before me like a torch: Fourteen months in our new apartment, and the thrill is gone.

It's not just the lack of a washer/dryer hookup, or the absence of dishwasher, though these would almost be enough. It's that there will never be such things. The water pressure doesn't rise this high. Even if it did, the stairway's too narrow to bring 'em in.

Moving in was a bitch. If we owned a couch it never would have made it; now we mix and match chairs moment to moment, and wish we felt more settled. If we owned a piano, it'd be in pieces off the fire escape; I don't think Darcie's played since last year.

The stairs are slowly killing me. Willow weighs 35 pounds and must be carried; the dog needs walking thrice a day. Groceries collect in the car.

For God's sake, it's an attic -- it was never meant to be an apartment in the first place. Eaves, which shrink the headspace and still knock the occasional head, arising. Tiny windows, too small for air conditioner, and sparsely placed. The constant heat which rises from the floors below.

And living in the air is a drag on our lifestyle insidous in its effect. We avoid stairs if we can -- so we keep Willow inside more, though she revels in the sunlight. We can't bear dragging the laundry up and down, so the clothes pile up on all four bedroom walls, padding the place just fast enough to contain our growing insanity. The heat makes us listless, and we sleep when we should work. We have to spend an entire day every three weeks cleaning out the car again.

It's clear we can't stay much longer.

Every problem I have with this place is due to a combination of height and history. So now I know what I'm looking for, and it's not much, really.

There's nothing I wouldn't do for a nice two-story Victorian all our own. That, and a yard that fades to forest, and goes on forever, shaded and cool.

Oh, and a washing machine.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:29 PM | 14 comments

On Development 

When Willow says fire passer she's not talking about the Olympics. She means pacifier, the suckling soothe baby Zinnia uses on her twice-weekly morning visits. As yet the transposition is rare, and exclusive to trisyllabics, but I'm not sure what to think: High-verbal and determined to get it right (both paternally inherited traits), she had no trouble with even these same words weeks ago; we can find no correlation between tiredness and tongue-tied.

Is this merely wordplay, a sign of creativity? A brainfart? It seems natural, but where does it go from here? Parenthood serves the catcurious so well sometimes; it's as if I had all this brain just begging to be utilized all these years, and never knew it.

In other development news -- the professional type, this time around -- my mother in law has helpfully sent me a job listing somewhat up my alley and certainly within my range; now I can't help thinking about taking the damn job just to stay in the area. I probably won't, though. Coming to realize that having my own classes means the world to me.

Which reminds me: it's getting on time to contact the prep school placement folks.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:27 PM | 0 comments

Friday, September 03, 2004

Download Some Jazz 

Jazz 101 [warning: .doc format], a poem written by NMH student extraordinaire Doug Garrison, mostly during Chem class last year...and delivered with about as much slam-style soul as a white boy can muster at a recent school meeting to kick off our theme for this year's residential life curriculum.

Theme, of course, is Jazz. My advisees are reading Sonny's Blues for Monday, and I'll surely report on this personal fave when I can; until then, read 17-year-old Doug's masterpiece out loud to yourself, curse your creative inabilities, and read it again. Well, that's what I did, anyway.

More on all that jazz as events develop, but here's a hint: it promises to be a great Winter around here.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:57 PM | 0 comments


Like this, except our kid is cuter

We'd seen Ginny's new hardwood-and-privacy apartment, and spent 80 bucks on beer and sweet barbecue for three and a half at Smokin' Lil's down in Easthampton: crawdad tails and catfish fingers; two kinds of ribs, pulled pork and baconbeans; a mildly carbonated summer beer brought in from local haunt The People's Pint.

The Wal-Mart cart already held new panties for the newly and self-potty trained wee one (who proved us right by holding it in even while I sprinted through the aisles looking for the bathrooms); three dollar t-shirts (purple) and dozens of cheap brown socks for me; some frilly low-cut shirt-likes for her mother -- not to mention a small glug of Tide detergent, and some other miscelany.

How, then, to resist the $45 price tag on a Fisher Price PowerTouch learning system (a.k.a. Leapfrog clone), complete with a starter booklet of her favorite iconographs (Sesame Street) in her favorite settings (farm, kitchen, music store)? After all, she'd been playing with the kindergarten-level store demo dilligently and, wonder of wonders, correctly for twenty minutes already, smoke practically rising from her gleeful and eager brain -- and all without falling from the cart.

We had to get it. It was breaking my heart just thinking about walking away from all that brainjiggling, knowing full well that, without it, tomorrow she'd be back to the stuffed animals and other mere objects of her already passing childhood. Darcie, bless her parental instincts, even bought a flashlight so we could use it in the car on the way home.

Of course, once the car started and we opened the package, we discovered it takes a phillips head screwdriver to open the battery case. Guess her brain will have to develop on its own until tomorrow, at least.

She's asleep now, of course -- happy as a clam, with her favorite bunny curled up against her head as if it alone could help keep the brain from leaking out overnight. But for me, it's going to be a long night to wait. After all, something came together, an epiphany, in WalMart of all places this evening -- the heart of a teacher and the fullbody love I feel for her combined in one glorious rush there in that aisle tonight. We've been only waiting for this moment to arrive.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:21 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 02, 2004

When I'm At Work I Look Like This 

...and here's how you access the virtual desktop.

Note new haircut, holding shape (mostly) despite 90 degree weather and 95% humidity. Nice, eh? Yesterday a student in the dorm said it makes me look 30 years younger, which would put me back in diapers; nonetheless, I appreciate the compliment in the spirit it was given, as it sure beats heck out of "Oh my God, what did you do to your hair?"

posted by boyhowdy | 11:31 AM | 2 comments

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Is It Really Wednesday? 

My sincere apologies to...um...me, and regular and sporadic readers alike, for my absence over the last few. Some possible, actual, and marginally legitimate excuses follow:
  • It's the begining of school -- which for me, as always, means 16 hour workdays, and a heck of a lot of intercapus sprinting. In the last three days I've overseen the creation of a ten minute slide show culled from over a thousand pix of orientation and opening-day activities, met with my advisees for three hours and chaqnged their schedules around via phone and network for another three, stood dorm duty and library duty, and attended more meetings than at which you could shake a proverbial stick.

  • The laptop is dying a relatively rapid death. Adaware doesn't even run anymore -- always a bad sign -- and we're learning to manually close addons via the taskbar as the computer loads (faster! faster, or we'll never catch up!) as the stupid beast loads. Looks like we're going to have to rub a magnet against the casing sometime soon and start from scratch, but in the meantime, this means no computing from home -- and given the above, who wants to be in the office even an extra minute?

  • Hotness continues, and, though I think I look great with it, I'm not talking about my new poster-boy windswept haircut, either. It's hit ninety in the shade for three days straight; I went through four shirts the other day, and it just keeps coming.
Of course, it might be one of these, or all of them. But, as always, let's not forget the possibility that I just suck.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:22 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, August 29, 2004

In The Bag 

Willow waddles over in a flannel babyblue pillowcase pulled up to her ears, her eyes peeping over, and crinkled at the corner from an unseen grin. We're pretending she's a bag of groceries, and when I throw her on the pulled-out futon bed it's the trunk; she shuts her eyes in the pretend darkness until I "open" it and throw her over my shoulder.

And over and over, in the cool airconditioned room, with little variation. Until we decide this load of groceries is for mommy, and something in there sparks: she slides down the bedside, her jaw set determinedly, walks over to the loveseat where a long mommy curls her feet against the ivory armrest edge, and announces Hello, Mommy. I'm a fruit snack and you have to eat me!

Mommy, to say the least, is a bit startled at what, for her, is an out-of-context outcurst of imaginative cannibalism. Me? I'm overjoyed.

I'm liking these bedtime hours. They're quality time. And though the whirlwind world accelerates into the schoolyear around me, there will be time for these hours, at least, in the hard days ahead. Bring it on, year. My daughter will keep me sane, and damn the torpedoes.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:32 PM | 1 comments

Hot Hot Hot 

And humid, too -- especially after a day of helping the new students find their way through frist the school network registration process and then, back in the dorms, the inevitable challenge of roommate meeting and roomspace establishment.

Wish it were yesterday -- we were up North in the trees and hills, picking up the camper at our once-housesitting gig. Cold local microbrew and a dip in the pool on our last free day for weeks made for a nice send-off to summer. Except it's been in the low nineties for fortyeight hours now, and yesterday's cold blue water seems like a fever dream.

I've had to restart this entry (and this laptop) so many times it's not even funny. Guess it's even too hot for the laptop. I'm going in for a cold shower before my hairgel melts any further.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:41 PM | 0 comments

Friday, August 27, 2004

What's New 

My brain is full, so tonight we're resorting to the list-and-sort.
  • Haircut. Though it will be a bit pointy in back as the hair settles, with a little bit of gel (hooray for free samples!) I can finally shape the front the way I want it.

  • Schedules at work. I'll be doing dorm duty on Tuesdays, and Thursday nights as a library proctor. The former is a bonus because it saves me an extra night in the dorm; I'd have to go in for staff meetings Tuesday nights anyway. The latter is a new experience, but I think the split taskset of studyhall shusher and on-site student-paper-supporter likely to fit like a glove.

  • Students impending, and the school year begins anew. I'm scheduled for some fun training and teaching over the next few days, most notably a rapid-fire one-on-one network orientation marathon at registration Sunday, and a verycool opportunity to swear at the ninth graders (and, from there, to help kids develop an awareness of how cyberspeak is communityspeak, too, so they might fight the tyrrany of the computer-distanced tonality so otherwise endemic to virtual space) the next.

  • Shingles are not back after all. Instead, this morning's doctor has referred me to a dermatologist and, from there, an allergist. The antihistamines worked some, but I still got drowsy in the park down in Northampton today, and had to lie down a bit on the grass while Willow threw coins in the fountain (and I really mean IN the fountain, here -- good thing we had extra underpants with us).

  • Willow is wearing underpants, and hasn't had a single accident (except with the grandparents, who are less familiar with her particular need-to-pee signals).

Also new: the cat finally stopped smelling like skunk once we took his collar off; a new and larger deskspace in the much more open group office in the library; these four not-shingles bumps on my ass, which form a perfect (if slightly tilted) square. Not a bad day, if I do say so myself.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:23 PM | 16 comments

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Yes, I am aware that my comments aren't working, thanks. 

It's an enetation problem. I'm working on it.

In the interim, I have enabled the autoblogger comment function. God help us all.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:22 PM | 2 comments

Olympic Games 

I'm the guy who watches the Superbowl for the ads, and get snacks during the game -- even when the Patriots make the game. But though the Olympics haven't really cut into my Terry Goodkind reading much, when the tv's been on, I've been watching. Like a rattlesnake in a cage, you just can't help staring for a while when you pass.

I saw Phelps just enough to say I've seen him, and enough of that Retton-record-beating gymnast chick to know that she's no Retton when she's off the parallel bars but the cameras are on. Missed table tennis because we didn't get that staion, but saw some kayak slalom event which went badly for "our" American, and learned that some kayak slalom poles must be passed upstream. Saw a sloppy greco-roman semifinal lurchfest and plenty of trackstars.

I've seen men's volleyball at 2 a.m., and prime time women's beach volleyball. Even had a conversation with the Varsity coach here at school today in the snack bar line at supper, and finally figured out what that short guy in the red jersey was doing in among the huge guys in blue during all those group hugs (for those who care, he's a back-line perma-sub, able to grab a low ball to the back and pass it up).

And I've probably seen some other stuff, too. It just isn't that memorable, I guess.

As a media teacher, the Olympics fascinate me; they have better viewership creds than the superbowl, since theyir atheletes cover a larger breatdth, and come from a larger pool. But the way they drag out doesn't let them sustain the concentrated attention of our short-span theater viewing public. I suspect most folks are like me, watching sometimes, mostly just letting the idea of the Olympics -- that they're happening now -- settle into the brain like a string around the finger.

We've got a friend in the Olympic Village -- our festival buddy Dave was selected a long time ago as temp staff, bus-boarding athletes in return for a few event tickets, women's volleyball among them, supposedly. And artifacts, too -- Dave gave us some damn ugly mugs back before he went.

But it isn't enough to keep us watching for long. I mean, only those who were nationally ranked saber fencers in their adolescence (hi, PJ!) could make any sense of this too-fast-for-human-senses, lunge-fast sport. Guess that's why they were on so late, and why they're not shown in the constant replays and recaps, themselves dragging the pace even more than before, though their intention, surely, is to keep us high with highlights.

Too bad the two week high isn't sustainable. Good thing there's an antidote. If, like me, you're Olympicked out, Jonathan Crowe's celebration of these last place finishers makes for some light and enlightening reading. As a bonus, Crowe's rubric for tracking which country is the biggest loser seems cohesive and fair, with -- now that it's been adjusted for an error a bit back -- home team Greece in the lead. Go, team!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:51 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Going Back To School Is Like Jumping Naked Into A Freezing Pool 

A wonderful Willow evening, with a red rustwater bath and an hour mutually babbling. ("I play a song like this on my kazoo, okay? Here's a mousie, and it's tiny; I have it in my hand! Just pretend you're Liz, and I read this book to you, daddy. See the owl? It's a bear!")

But I've got itchspots all over, and I'm worried my shingles may be coming back everywhere at once. And I'm still turning into a brainfog machine, pulsing like an overtired nightdriver, by late afternoon, and a day full of faculty meetings and more faculty meetings to officially open the school year didn't help.

Also, I've become addicted to those overly thick Terry Goodkind books, having discovered the set in the last few days of our recently ended housesitting stay. The odd quirk of my reading habit -- I find it essentially impossible to sleep unless I have finished the book I've started that day -- exacerbates the exhaustion.

Still. Everyone at the community back-to-school lunch today agreed the little one is so adorable, and so smart. I'm tempted to agree. So I got that going for me.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:25 PM | 0 comments

Monday, August 23, 2004

Sleepytime Me 

The burning at consciousness's edge began late yesterday; by this afternoon I was fading in and out, the road North again stretching before me in that timelessness only the overtired and delirious ever experience. Coffee, cigarettes, a shock-dive into the pool: nothing helped, and I sunk further into the daze of our lives, the funk of the fried, the impossible undreaming that takes me like night through the school year, eating at my brain like rats on a bagel.

Too many days of up-early in the chill of early autumn mountain fog; too little REM sleep on the edge of consciousness, unwilling to trust completely a subjectively untested bedside alarm clock. This time. But there will always be something, now.

Tonight long past Willow's bedtime the householders came home from the hills of Scotland. The year's work has begun; already, the desktop bulges with responsibilities and careful negotiations, the knife's edge of the in-house servicegiver. On the drive back South Willow fell asleep quietly, an unfinished bottle, while her mother in the passenger seat kept the mist from our windows. And I? I followed the perfect upright sharp-edged moon hung copper in the sky, perfectly halved, like my autumn heart.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:15 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Not News, Again 

Glen Hiller, 35, doesn't get it. He expresses shock that a Bush rally would be filled with people who support Bush, and more shock that he'd be asked to leave for heckling -- when in fact we used to kick people out of the Boston Museum of Science for heckling our lightning shows, too.

Then, to top it all off, he thinks he was fired because of his politics.

But was he? A quick look at the backstory puts this into perspective: Hiller, a graphic designer working for "an advertising and design company," was at the rally as a guest of a client. An adman's job depends on making clients happy. If one of those clients takes you to a public event, and you embarass them by getting kicked out of that event -- why, you failed at your job, demonstrated crass insensitivity to the very people whose bill-paying keeps your company solvent. Wouldn't you expect to get fired?

Hiller's not the only idot here; CNN doesn't get it either. As we've seen in the past, they have a knack for spinning facts like this to make them seem like news. (At least they're transparent about it, so we can make fun of them.) Here, they clearly report this as news because it was a Bush rally, not, say, a Tony Orlando and Dawn concert in Vegas, at which Hiller did the dirty deed -- this should be so obvious as to need no mention, really.

Heckling at a rally isn't news. Getting kicked out of a rally for being disruptive isn't news. Getting fired for offending a client not only isn't news, it isn't even unexpected -- that's the way the adworld works, folks. In fact, it isn't even news when a guy claims that he was fired because of something Bush-related, when the logic is as tenuous as this is -- it's a cry for psychiatry, or perhaps for a course in basic logic.

Net result: a headline that says "Man fired for heckling Bush." In fact, the first paragraph makes plain that he was fired for "offending a client who provided tickets to the event." With that headline, though, we are clearly and pre-emptively meant to believe that Hiller is somehow a victim of Bush&co, which is patently silly. Boos and hisses to CNN for providing fodder to the Moore-minded. (Kudos, though, for the excuse to rant again -- it's been a while, eh?)

posted by boyhowdy | 9:17 PM | 33 comments


Last night the rain
and a lightning clap like God's hands
close by over the mountains.

I am driving North to see you,
past all this: along the roiled river
brown with mud, the blasted rock,
the rushing water runoff.

Here and there
the green trees
tipped with red leaf patches
new since yesterday.

posted by boyhowdy | 5:29 PM | 0 comments

Alma Mater, We Love You 

Commonwealth School, Boston

Working the NMH Volunteers Weekend this weekend, and thinking about my own beloved schools. Though my educational background was sporadic at best -- I switched to a private high school for Junior and Senior years after almost flunking out of public school, and took little from Bard, my first-try college, other than a spouse-to-be, a bunch of neat writing courses, and a love of the rural life -- I consider Commonwealth School (that private school, shown above -- a tiny liberalarts thinktank in a Bostonian Comm Ave. brownstone) a long-ago savior. Despite low grades and a total failure to keep in touch with any of my 33 fellow class-of graduates, that place was the first to show me that aptitude was little without interest, and application impossible without commitment. Also, for a school whose population never rose above 120 from 9-12, we sure had some great parties.

Meanwhile, most grads of my collegiate alma mater seem to be flailing -- a recent visit to Brattleboro met me up with several old roommates and friends, most of whom have new stories to tell of failed marriages and part-time dead-end jobs. Dave just opened a cafe and performance space in town, without Anna; I met Brandt inside, up from Washington, and Dan, Mike, and Jeremy on the steps, all of whom are either between jobs or on their way somewhere else pretty soon, it seems. Meanwhile, Carl was in line behind me at Mocha Joes, and reports he's still doing solo construction work, his daughter living in Cali with his ex.

As for me...well, I'm still here, and still married happily. But some days -- like yesterday, pulled over for an out of date car registration, and spending our last cash on a tow; looking ahead at a week of full-on work with no time or money to reregister, or renew the surprisingly out-of-date license to boot -- take me closer to the edge than I've been since those last few disastrous days at Bard, hiding out in Darcie's dormroom after being dismissed, living off of stolen dining hall broccoli.

But Marlboro College itself is in the pink. The new president seems, by all accounts, to be well-liked, the grad school's ads come across strong on our local public radio station, and the undergrad school scored higher than ever in the just-released Princeton Review Annual College Guide:

In the 2005 issue of The Best 357 Colleges, Marlboro ranked first for "Professors Bring Material to Life" and second for "Best Overall Academic Experience," "Class Discussions Encouraged" and "Professors Make Themselves Accessible" and 13th for "Students Never Stop Studying."

It's not Harvard or Princeton, and thank god for that. Happy to hear that the tiny school-on-a-hill -- all 300 students and 30 professors -- seems to be doing quite well without me or my cash, though I gave a token sum last year, all we could afford. Maybe one of these days they'll be ready for a communications and media prof, and I can quit the prep school rat race for good.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:36 AM | 1 comments

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The End Of The Summer 

This morning a gleeful trip to the Brattleboro Retreat Petting Farm, once a theraputic treatment for the mentally ill, now a mecca of last-ditch summer entertainment for children and the childlike. Willow crowed at the roosters and fed goats grain pellets from her bare hands. The emus glowered at us, and the llama's didn't spit; we all held baby chicks, and a tiny baby piglet climbed through the bars of her family cage to get a full-out scratch from me, which made my day -- doesn't everyone secretly wish they could have a wee pink pig for a housepet?

Skinny dipping this afternoon again, Brattleboro yesterday (and a nice yummy dinner at Max's for our anniversary while the in-laws watched the kid get filthy in the garden). Sitting on the porch rocker just a few minutes ago after the kid went up to bed with her mother, I watched the hills beyond the hills glow gold with a sunset rain-and-fog, and listened to the Canada geese call to each other as they bed down in the horsefields. But the buzz in the back of the brain has started, and a chatter of email messages unsent, plans and sequences for the days ahead flits through my brain familiarly, distracting me from the universe, as it always does. It's the end of the summer, and only this morning seems clear in retrospect. Too soon it will be a distant memory.

I'm off to the "office" tomorrow to prep the tech for this weekend's reunion planning committee events -- set up data projectors and lapel mics where needed, and, while class chairs learn to sell the school to their fellow alums, stand by at $18 an hour during their use in case a battery blows. I'll be in the apartment solo all weekend, while Darcie and Willow entertain here at the housesitting gig until Monday late.

For me, starting Monday, it's meetings meetings meetings, three days straight. Followed by meetings, and quite probably some meetings until Friday.

And then the kids arrive, and once again, we live where we work.

This year I won't be teaching any major courses, for the first time since I started working the prep school gig in 1998. This year, too, there's a little person running around at home, once who finally kisses me and hugs me goodnight, instead of the old pre-verbal to miss all day. And this is the year we'll be shopping the prep school market, along most of my teaching peers, I gather -- the school goes down to halfsize at the school year's end, and given the tight time frame for placement in the prep school world (basically, a three week period in March), it's far too late to start the process when the pink slips start coming down the pike.

No wonder my back aches.

It was another wonderful summer. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

But there's nothing wrong with wishing it could have lasted forever.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:21 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Gift Recommendations Cheerfully Accepted -- And Hurry! 

Silly me -- I thought eighth anniversaries were traditionally celebrated with gifts of daub and wattle (or is that taupe and bottle?), but Britwomen's reference site iVillage claims this to be the year of the Bronze -- and reccommends tanning lotion, sculpture, sun, or a servant's bell. Finding these not our style, I'm still thinkin' -- let me know if you've got a good one, and I'll happily lay the thanks on here in public.

Has it really been that long since Darcie and I walked down the narrow aisle, stood beneath the woolen huppah, danced on the lawn with friends and fam, wearing homemade clothes, surrounded by next-door neighbor's gifted farmstand sunflowers? Since the rabbi helped us make sandwiches beforehand, and all my college friends got high in the parking lot during the reception? One of the things I love best about marriage (well, our marriage) is that it seems like forever, and just yesterday, all at the same time. For those still looking, here's a hint from my playbook: growing together is blessed by comfortable silences as much as the yakkety-yak therapist's paean.

We've been dating since 1991, dropped out of college together (and boy, did her parents like that at the time), lived with roommates and Willow trees, in cities and farmvalleys; had a child, want more; grown a dog and a stray cat into family, too. I wouldn't trade a minute of it, from nickel to rose, and can't wait until we celebrate our diamond years...nor our formica anniversary (next year, right?).

posted by boyhowdy | 2:27 PM | 0 comments

Monday, August 16, 2004

Cooped Up 

What with the rain steady on the slate roofs and leadglass windowpanes in this old borrowed house, we've been mostly inside all day, except for a quick trip for farmstand berries and homemade chicken cutlet small-market sandwiches. The cats come in and out of the rain all day, and for the first time all showed up for lockdown this evening -- guess even the barn's a bit damp. And though the house is leakrpoof, the fog comes in these cracked windows, raising mildew, giving us headaches, making yesterday's fresh biscuits grow greenspot mold in their kitchen bag.

So not much to report today, really, except time with the wee one. We plopped in a beanbag ("swing me in this chair, daddy!"), watched over an hour of JoJo, the claymation Disneychannel circus clown on the huge-screen television this afternoon (Willow insisted on "holding" the three little bunnies she saw onscreen, so I "let her"); hopped out to the aforementioned while Darcie slept off a touch of nausea; played with the pool table (wherein Willow sits atop the felt and rolls balls in the holes to hear them run through the table's innards, and I use the cue to gently knock back those that miss).

Willow nods her head and smiles when asked questions on the phone, not realizing that only words come through both ends, I guess. But we're coaching her, and watched amazed as, after supper tonight, she had an actual conversation with Darcie's father, hello through goodbye. That kid just blows me away.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:53 PM | 0 comments

Gone Phishin' 

Somewhere upstate of here, thousands of neohippies are crying as Phish goes out with a hundred water- and fish-based puns. Their follower's clothes and bedding are filthy and damp; their cars are still stuck in the mud they lodged in Friday, when they arrived for the weekend farewell at Coventry. According to today's Brattleboro Reformer, the promoters spent 50k on mud-pull tractors and winches, but honestly, there's no hurry -- many of these folks have been on the road following the band for so long they've got nowhere to go.

Imagine if Moses came to the Isralites after the first 30 desert years and said "Okay, guys, you're on your own -- go home." Like the Jews that moment God decided to stop stopping by, Phishheads (Groupies?) have suddenly become people of the book, too.

Though I can't resist a good concert, I've never been the kind of guy to follow a band around the country. I went to my first and only Phish show at the Somerville Theater way back in '91, when the shows were still general admission and there was only one cassette to buy, and I bought it; got there early enough to snag sixth row, with drummer Jon Fishman's mom in the next seat over -- we had a nice chat between the trampolines of "Bouncing Around the Room" and the intermission animated film of "Esther." Later, I convinced my deadhead college roommate to try their show at then-nearby Albany, the famous set where they did almost all (but not quite) of the legendary Gamehenge cycle, unannounced as always -- I've always regretted not tagging along.

But the albums and live cuts will live on forever in the coffee shop soundtracks and road trip tape decks. Their jams were tight, the production lush, the energy sublime throughout their career. Their SNL self-parody several years ago, on the comeback trail after a year-long band hiatus, was a thriller; from Bathtub Gin and Fee to Back on the Train -- the track, incidentally, from whence this blog's subtitle comes -- Phish made music that stepped into the high gear of my soul. Trey, Mike, Page and Jon -- though your solo projects rock, each and every one, and will surely continue to do so, things will never be the same without you.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:33 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Hurry Up, It's Time 

It's time to begin keeping time
again; separate the days
by more than sleep and cigarettes;
remember appointments. It's time
to leave a full bed in the morning,
come home tired just to sleep;
catch up at the cafeteria.
Forever I will be without you,
covet library Fridays,
envy afternoon sitters.

Summer's over, the leaves about to turn
even here, in this playground watching
Willow and Felix throw rocks on the slide:
Leaves, and pages. I miss you already.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:37 PM | 0 comments
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