Monday, October 04, 2004

Now Reading 

Solo trip down to the Ingleside Mall Sunday, because Darcie needed a few shades of orange fabric paint for Willow, who wants to be a pumpkin for Halloween, and I needed pants.

It should go without saying that trying on pants with a back out of whack is a terrible, horrible, no good very bad idea. Picture pinched nerves pitching one forward into dressing room mirrors and you're getting close. Worse, the pair I liked most, a one-of-a-size grey-olive weave, fit fine but had to be returned unfinished to the Filene's menswear guy (excuse me? You might not want to reshelve this one, it's got no buttonhole.).

Thank god for the Gap. No thanks for my irrational fear of missing "just the right pants," though, which took me to every damn store in the mall before returning to the Gap at the end of it all.

Three hours, four pairs of decent pants, and a bottle of butternut later, and figuring I was bound to end up stoned and bored on Flexoril for the rest of the evening, I postponed aching-backrest for a treatstop at Borders. In order of reading, then:

Former LAPD Homicide cop fired for drinking on the job Jesse Stone serves as a Spenseresque chief of police in the tiny shoreline town of Paradise, Massachusetts. Though Parker's stilted style and silent conflicted intellectual-jock hero isn't as distinct from previous bestseller Spenser as it should be, Death In Paradise, the third installment in the Jesse Stone saga, shows all the booze-on-the-edge and womanizing we've become used to, and tells a half-decent story good for a couple of engrossing hours in an airport or, in my case, on the couch with some leftover Peking Dumplings. Oh, this one's about some dead and unwanted teenager -- not a teribly novel plot for Parker.

One of those mostly-decent collections of subject-specific short stories which make you feel like you're reading the total output of some Breadloaf-for-Fantasy-writers writer's group what-if exercise. There's hundreds of them, from Cat Fantastic 1-V to alternate histories, alien whodunnits to holiday-specific collections, and basically any other thematic assignment you could imagine. I love them all, find them worthy of bathroom reading and sick-day snoozes, often discover new authors through them. Given that, about the best -- and worst -- one can say about this particular collection, number 4582 in an infinite series, is that it is one of them, the theme worked pretty well, and it lasted a couple of decent hours.

And now for the nobrow -- I've just started Prime Times: Writers on Their Favorite TV Shows, which caught my eye off the "new paperback" table on the way to the checkout (just like it's supposed to), but the first few essays have been wonderful -- brit Nick Hornsby on The West Wing, Phyllis Rose on the editing-as-writing in Survivor, and Elizabeth McCracken defending the validity and humor of America's Funniest Home Videos -- and I'm really, really looking forward to Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Amos and Andy, Susan Cheever on Father Knows Best, Nora Ephron on Mary Tyler Moore, and Sven Birkerts on the world in black and white, the subsequent world in color, and the medium-as-message differences between the two. So nice to find something fun to read in my own teaching subject once in a while. Now if only I was actually teaching this stuff anymore...anyone out there got a job for a young(ish) media and popculture teacher?

posted by boyhowdy | 7:58 PM | 0 comments

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Real Question 

Surely no one who has actually heard Bush and Kerry handle the press corps believed that Bush would "win" the debate. Given that, the issue isn't who won, it's "Did Bush beat the spread?"

Though the pundits are primarily too politicized to tell us much, it's my sense that Kerry seems to have surpassed expectations, brought clarity and focus to a lopsided match without getting nasty.

Bush was a caricature of himself. Unfortunately, it's exactly that kind of iconographic and oversimplified personality which comes across well in the mass mind. Fortunately, however, it made for a great game of debate Bingo.

In general, though, the debates will have little to no effect. CNN reports that the "zingers" and sound byte quotient last night was relatively light, with both candidates dwelling more on previously stated opponent sound bytes in an attempt to ridicule. A shame for both candidates, that -- it's the zingers that tend to "stick" in the public mind, and thus affect electability.

But don't pity the politicians. If little good (for either party) comes out of the debates, the candidates have no one to blame but themselves: everyone knows they stacked their own deck against significance. The debate format was so prescriptive that many news outlets web-published (and then withdrew) apparently psychic-authored debate reviews, couched in past tense and everything, as much as four hours before the debate even began. Too, life imitates satire in our nobrow culture: rumor has it Jon Stewart was able to do the same "psychic debate result breakdown." (Anyone got a link for this?)

posted by boyhowdy | 8:51 AM | 33 comments

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Child As Medium 

Ignorance is bliss.

Fight dirty! Take advantage of the pre-literate! Use your kids as political billboards! Impose your values on them wholesale! Breed zombies! Buy this shirt!

If this is a representative viewpoint, it would seem the liberal claim for the high ground, as a party of critical thinking and education, is merely hypocrisy. But I think Democrats tend to be more blind than Republicans to the party parity of propaganda which steamrolls over the rights of children and other voiceless ones in order to move the political process. It is, I think, my distaste for machiavellian tactics like this which keeps me from participating in political activism.

Note, incidentally, the blog-like nature of the site -- a sneaky way of obscuring the commercial and propagandist approach under a veneer of casual and community-oriented design.

Here's hoping the idiots at Lowercase Tee don't sell a single shirt.

(Link and image via Boing Boing.)

posted by boyhowdy | 9:24 AM | 20 comments


Last night's bedtime snack: rich truffle Paté Campagne on a toasted sesame supermarket bagel. With a sharp imported Irish cheese.

And whole milk in a tall glass. And two Peanut M&Ms for dessert.

That just about says it all, doesn't it?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:54 AM | 1 comments

May Cause Drowsiness, Pain, Bad Poetry 

Doctor's appointment yesterday. Nurse Practioner was a great help, but the mild diagnostic stretching exercises she talked me through -- does it hurt when you do this? How about this? -- seem to have driven a stiff relapse this morning.

Last night in the dark I fell asleep listening to my legs tingle, grow heavy, melt into the bed as the Flexeril kicked in. At the time, it seemed like a nice change from lying awake until three, listening to pain. Maybe, I remember thinking, I'll finally be able to catch up on some sleep.

But this morning I'm so tired I'm actually trailing. I had to remake the coffee because I forgot to replace yesterday's coffee grounds, a mistake I haven't made since my drug-addled latenight college days. I don't remember driving here, but I seem to be at work, my back a precarious tightrope, tense over deep water.

And to think last night I was so pleased not to need the Vicodin.

I'll be starting a twice-a-week physical therapy series next Wednesday. Hope I can hold on 'till then.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:27 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Something about
these white doves salt
among the pepper pigeons

makes the tiny heartbeat
spindly arms waving
ultrasound monitor
printout real

(how colorful the wheatfields driving home
after that first miscarriage

how bright the skies
how loud the crows)

posted by boyhowdy | 7:47 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Dark Matters 

The decade's Great American Novel?

I have trouble articulating what I like about literature. Place, character, narrative flow, clarity, the nudge nudge wink wink of the intelligent author speaking to the intelligent reader, a consistency of universe: all matter, but muddily so. I've read books that have 'em all that just can't keep my attention -- and this coming from a voracious reader, a book-a-night guy who spent much of the latenights of his childhood huddled in his afterhours bedroom doorway, hallway light spilling onto the page, illuminating bookworlds. I'm great in the dark, but I'd be a total failure in a book club.

Yeah, I read a book a night, even now. But mostly these days that means the Heinlein-esque paperback, the odd Spenser mystery. I hardly know how to find the stuff I like, so I stick to the familiar. It's rare for me to find something so engrossing I'm willing to let it stretch on for two and a half days, a world so simultaneously familiar and fantastically alluring that I can stay on track with both narrative and setting, place and pace, reading three pages here, on the toilet before supper, another half-chapter there, between on-duty study hall walkabouts.

But I know what I like, and this, the first "new" novel I've read in ages, has it all in spades. Lethem rocks. And stylistically, his work fits inside the other books I've read and liked since my daughter's birth. I seem to be discovering a more-mature genre -- Augusten Burroughs, David Eggers, Michael Chabon, Bret Easton Ellis before them, and the rest of the McSweeney's crowd now and forevermore -- as if my dark fit/flitful dreamworlds had finally matured, grown higherbrow.

Thanks to Dad, who is a bookclub type, for the recommendation and the hardcover...and for all those before, and those to come as well. A man of taste in all media is my father; I've never had a bad recommendation from him yet.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:44 AM | 0 comments

Sonic You 

You know it's going to be a good show when the funky falsetto beat of "Stayin' Alive" is coming through the autofeed as you arrive in the basement broadcast studio. Then you find out that only one CD deck is working. Need more be said?

Here's tonight's funky stuff, awkwardly played & with plenty of stupidrandom chatter in between each song to fill the sound of me changing the damn CD over. How embarassing -- good thing I forgot to tape the show.

Tributary 9/27/04

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Barenaked Ladies -- Alternative Girlfriend
De La Soul -- The Magic Number
Willie Nelson w/ Los Lonely Boys -- Cisco Kid
The Bats -- Daddy's Highway
Kasey Chambers -- Not Pretty Enough

Jazz Is Dead -- Scarlet Begonias
Alison Brown -- Mambo Banjo
Jack Johnson w/ DJ Logic -- Rodeo Clowns
Galactic -- Tiger Roll
Lizzie West -- Sometime

Oysterband w/ Chumbawumba -- This Is The Voice
The Waifs -- London Still
Nenes -- No Woman, No Cry
Richard Thompson -- Kiss
Medeski Martin & Wood -- Reflector

Lonnie Mack -- From Me To You
NMH Chorus -- Jerusalem
Lucy Kaplansky -- I Had Something
some random pianist -- 'S Wonderful
Patty Griffin -- Long Ride Home
Dixie Chicks -- Truth No. 2
Eva Cassidy -- American Tune

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight show here on WNMH 91.5 FM. Damn it.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:01 AM | 7 comments

Monday, September 27, 2004

Court (up)Date 

50 bucks!

And all criminal charges dismissed. Thanks for all the prayers, folks.

(backstory here, if you're just arriving.)

posted by boyhowdy | 7:11 PM | 1 comments

File Under Library Geek Popcult 

If you live near Burlington, VT, the Brautigan Library, an autonomous collection of unpublished manuscripts which resides atop the public Fletcher Free Library, seems worth checking out. [Link goes to top library blogger Jessamyn's personal account of a visit to the Barutigan -- ed.]

But go soon if you're going. According to today's Boston Globe article, the Fletcher needs the space for their ESL collection (who sets these priorities?), and Brautigan founder Todd Lockwood is planning a move to the actual San Francisco address that library namesake-and-author Richard Brautigan uses as setting for the novel "The Abortion," which takes places largely in a library that (sound familliar?) collects only unpublished works.

Why bother? How could any library geek not love a collection which by its very premise calls into question the canonical authority of both publishing and library collectionship? Which includes an original poetic manuscript vending machine? In which, in keeping with the library's bylaws, none of the chairs match? Jessamyn writes:
There is a set of meta-books here -- books about the library they are in. They consist of a few birthday books where people wrote in with stories, poetry, or reminiscences on the ocasion of Brautigan's birthday. The assemblages of papers were then made into their own books. There are also two Librarian Books in which the Brautigan Librarians [who are they?] record what happens during their days at work at the Brautigan Library. Often nothing much happens at all, sometimes the librarians just muse on other topics. Sometimes they report statistics: two visitors, one person used the poetry dispenser.

Myself, I love that the collection used to use mayo jars as bookends, at least until some illiterate punk dropped an eight year old jar over the balcony a couple years back and practically destroyed the place. The Globe dignifies this with a picture of a jar of Hellmann's Mayonnaise in a display case -- a photo, sadly, available only in the print edition.

And lovers of Brautigan himself should find the pilgrimage worth it: in addition to several hundred books, the collection displays include authorial memorabilia from typewriters to first editions to the author's own glasses.

Those who've not yet heard of this 60s icon are encouraged to begin their exploration with either the abovementioned meditation on material infocult or the excellently memoir-esque Trout Fishing In America. Or you could always check out fanweb the brautigan pages, or The Brautigan Bibliography plus+, a "definitive and comprehensive compilation of information about the life and works of Richard Brautigan" subjective-surprisingly hosted by newmedia guru John F. Barber, who was reviews editor at Kairos back when I published my review of The Future Does Not Compute" way back in my undergrad days.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:45 AM | 0 comments

Before The Court 

Court date this afternoon dating back to my unfortunate triple-threat pullover, and I'm sweating already. Though I think we have some kind of case, it's a complicated one, and my admittedly anecdotal and television-fed sense of our lovely justice system is that too-tangled webs are drawbacks in smalltown civil court.

The skinny, for those who never heard the whole story: pulled over as I passed the cop station on a last-minute Friday eve Volunteer's Weekend run between campuses, I was found guilty of:
  1. Driving with an out of date registration (with accompanying out-of-date platesticker, the visible impetus for the carstop in the first place)

  2. Driving with a 6-month-gone expired license

  3. Driving without an inspection sticker

In context, it's all (sorta kinda) explicable, if not necessarily ideal. We'd lost the keys to the car months and months before, and just got it back on the road on a "for emergency use only" status; in that time neither Darcie nor Dad (who handled the car ownership transfer a year or two ago) nor I recall seeing anything in the mail about renewal, and who notices expired registrations without an RMV reminder? The license reminder turns out to have come last sumer when I was in Bangladesh, and, as it prompted both Darcie and I to renew simultaneously, she had renewed and lost track of both event and paperwork by the time I returned, so I never saw it (and who looks at the date on their own license?). And the missing inspection sticker dates back to a post-accident windshield-replacement last winter: they tried to tape the sticker back on the new 'shield, but it never took, and without that big ol' number on the sticker, who notices that it's time to re-inspect?

Whether the judge has time for context seems to be the crux of the matter of leniency; that 'graph seems a bit long for a synopsis, and as such does nothing to quell my fears. That, and whether he cares about it in the first place, I suppose. It feels like a relatively solid sympathy plea to me, but I'm a wee biased, eh?

At the time, it looked like this could have been much simpler. I could have sworn the mobility-arresting officer said that if I showed due dilligence -- renew everything in the four business days before I had to send in the citation to request a hearing, and send in proof of that renewal set with the citation -- I could avoid a hearing, and get off the hook (minus fines, I'm assuming). But when we showed at the courthouse that Wednesday, paperwork in hand, the clerk told me to save it for the hearing. So much for trying to do it right by doing it in person; next time I'm using the US Postal Service.

There's a real possibility that I'll get my license revoked outright, or get those last three driver's "points" I need to put me over the top. I figure even the best case, a serious bankbreaker -- cop doesn't show, fines and court costs levied -- is a longshot. Pray for me, willya?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:16 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, September 26, 2004

New Balance 

Size 8.5, and discounted to $39.95

Not sure if a week's worth of muscle-and-bone readjustment in the face of waxing/waning back-trouble is the origin or merely the motivation to notice what has always been there, but one leg has started seeming longer than the other, and I've just noticed this week how my right foot splays out towards one o'clock while my left points straight ahead when I walk. Which is cause, and which effect? All I know is I'm walking funnier than I used to, and though it looks like a pimp limp, it's mostly a pain.

But man, I sure felt better the moment I stepped into these babies at The Barn today. So I bought 'em. Here's hoping no one minds if I wear clear white sneaks to work, or notices how far off I've come from my usual brown suede Rockport style. And why is it the shoes I like are, inevitably and always, already discontinued?

posted by boyhowdy | 7:25 PM | 4 comments

Saturday, September 25, 2004


The AOL 28.8 interface gets frustrating rather quickly when you're used to the LAN. Dad's screensettings are huge and bright; this chair hurts my relapsed back, especially stiff after a day of fasting sit-down-stand-up with Mom in the Yom Kippur sanctuary. And it seems a bit odd, almost ridiculous, to be writing from the source, the very chair-and-screen, of my most regular readership (hi, Dad!) while he himself fumbles just upstairs -- not a total waste of media formality, given the total spectrum of readership, but it does feel kind of like writing and publishing a book for your roommate's eyes only.

And no one really reads this thing on weekends, I know.

But there's content to be spread, text to be said, that words can be read for posterity, asperity, entertainment, what-have-you. Quickly, then:

For all those offended, regardless of intent or personal gain, I offer my sincere apology. You deserve better; I love you more than I may have said, and I apologize.

Even if you never noticed my lapses, or I never noticed, or we shared the experience without the name; even if I made you happy, and it was not as much as I could have: I could do better by you.

In this time of self-exploration, or recommitment, of sorrow and yearning for betterment, I commit myself to you, and your betterment, and ask that you hold me to it.

May we be blessed enough to be inscribed in the book of life for another year together, side by side. And may we be honored, one day in the long distant future, to see those inscriptions, and smile, and remember each other fondly, and have more fondness to remember than we could ever have pain.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:48 PM | 35 comments

Friday, September 24, 2004

Boing BOING! 

"Directory of wonderful things" Boing Boing living up to its subtitle today: pretty much everything there* is good and subjectively relevant, but especially the following media-slash-popcult items:

I could keep going but that's the great thing about the web: just go there, okay? Non-mediageek news includes some nifty dating product sites, and did you know that the maker of twinkies just filed for Chapter 11?

*Major exception to today's wonderfulnes: BB contributor Cory Doctorow posts a link to his recent short story collection and his entire acceptance speech from a recent awards ceremony celebrating the recognition of said short story colection, even though Doctorow himself had a friend read the speech, and didn't actually attend said event. Bad self-aggrandizing Doctorow; no link for you.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:28 PM | 0 comments


If scientific progress goes "boink," does institutional progress go "thud?"

Coworker and Video teacher Kackie is off at an Indiana wedding today and Monday; due to the unique substitute policies and limited potentialities of the prep school, as if my job wasn't so double-booking difficult in the first place, I'm both of us until she returns.

This morning this meant an hour of Apocalypse Now and a subsequent discussion of sound design with the eight students taking Video as Art, all but two of whom seem to be deadwood, taking the class to suck up the art credits, none of whom could access the email-attached overnight reading, without which the discussion goes nowhere. Or maybe they were just tired. Or stupid, I suppose.

Now I'm in the media center, missing lunch and chating with the veryoccasional stopper-by about anything under the sun; though my usual media spot is light and airy, here on the "lesser campus" of two media services is a basement coridor dead-end, and NMH stands for Not Much Here. Hard to believe the bare fact of access, regardless of community use and desirability, is more valuable to the comunity than my usual work in the busier spaces -- library info commons, and the much more accessible media center adjunct to the library and snack bar on the other, about-to-be-deserted campus. But such is the life of the institutional drone, I guess, when coverage priorities are made by those who have never seen me work, not done a single observation of class or instruction, and therefore make policy by theory, regardless of praxis and sociocultural need.

And the subjective? Would I rather be in the library between blocks, of the deserted media center, blogging on worktime? An unsolvable paradox, that -- I prefer to be in the bustle, but I'd rather be all things, infinite in time, vocational to the core, always at work and with time for the family constant and coincident. Tempting here to wish for the ability to clone, but I know better; the Calvin-and-Hobbesean dilemma (all betas believe themselves to be the alpha) merely leads to self-jealousy ("It worked! It worked! I'm a genius!" "No you're not, you liar! I invented this!"). It's so much safer/saner to be jealous of others.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:32 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 23, 2004


I've spent three days leaning into pain, teetering on the edge of too-much-to-function, trying to strike a compromise between upright and shocking.

The tension leaves me little consciousness for the daily grind. What's left is faint under the blanket of pain. You know how your calves hurt after slogging through the snow and wind, because you're not used to the angle? Yeah, my brain feels like that.

The balancing act exhausts me by midday. So does the physical stress of moving slowly, as if through molasses. Just getting out of my car takes a day off my life.

I'm shortchanging my universe. I've lost the ability to hold the ADHD brain in political/polite check; my coworkers frown across the meeting table at my increased verbosity, my loud outbursts in stillness. My daughter no longer fits in my arms; even on my lap her sudden gleeful shifts shoot fire like bloodrushing from ass to shoulders; it's all I can do not to yell, but how long can one live with honey, Daddy hurts -- can we get down right now, please? When do we lose something irretrievable? How many days of swinging her around for a goodnight hug-and-kiss before the normalcy of gleeful toss-and-embrace is lost to us forever?

On an entirely fever-dream almost-related note, why is it that we say we "threw our back out when, tempting as it is, we're really stuck with it? If I could trade mine in for a new one -- throw this one in the garbage, and grab a new one on the way home someday -- I'd do it in a muffled heartbeat.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:12 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Randomalia Redux 

Broke out in hives about 1:30 in the morning last night. Think it was all the Aleve. Took an antihistimene, but it didn't let me sleep until 3. Mostly gone now except for a strange wart-like rash on the palm of my hand; let's hope hair doesn't start growing, or everyone's going to know I jerk off lefty (just kidding, mom).

Back not much better, either. I walked through the workday a fragile glassbacked flower, oozing slow and stiff from Information Commons to classroom. Some dozen coworkers asked if I was feeling better -- word sure travels fast around the 'mill.

In a failed attempt to catch up on sleep and/or rest the stillsore back a bit, conked out on bed in dress clothes from 5 to 6:30. Result: left sleeve rumpled, butt hurts from wallet, no change in status of back or grogginess. Why only left sleeve?

On duty in the dorm again tonight: two kids failed room inspection for general pigsty-ness, and it's a bear keeping them quiet with this year's new "open door" policy raising the stakes for casual conversation in the study environment. Looks like the boys are getting a bit lax as the term finally kicks in. Damn, I miss living at the end of their hall.

Ordered a pair of pepperoni pizzas from Domino's for delivery after study hall, since I slept through supper. Tempted to leave my name as "Peter Piper" when I called and picked 'em, but managed to keep my dorky humor to myself on this one.

There's a couple of boards outside the main dorm entrance, one unknown in origin, the other with "Harry's Board" written across the surface like big black graffiti. The latter board's been in the dorm storage room for years, but I can't remember a Harry, so why his board? Ah, life's little mysteries...

Meetings all morning tomorrow, and into the midafternoon. Note to managers everywhere: calling it a "pizza party" does not make a required get-together any less of a meeting. Especially if you hand out agendas with the pizza.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:46 PM | 6 comments

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Soothing Sounds Of...Me 

Alarm at 7:30, and barely made it to the bathroom, even hunched over like an octagenarian. Back to bed immediately, alarm reset for 8:30, hoping for a miracle.

No such luck.

Skipped work. Slept until noon, and woke up unmovable, my back on fire.

So I've been on my back all day, aside from a few sessions in chairs, my daughter on my lap, her "computer" balanced on my precarious knee. Didn't put on clothes. Spent a fruitless hour in the bath, rust dust collecting by the drain.

But they say music is theraputic, and I sure hope they're right. I'm here, anyway, cranked up on coffee and Aleve in the basement of good old Stone Hall, broadcasting to the unseen uncalling hordes, hoping for the best. The show must go on, eh?

Playlist follows, as always. Breaks represent anecdotes from tonight's bedtime story readings, as always on the hour and the half hour, and taken this evening from the Alvin Schwartz collection of bear stories Fat Man In A Fur Coat.

Tributary 9/20/04

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Michael Franti and Spearhead -- Everyone Deserves Music
String Cheese Incident -- Drifting
Barenaked Ladies -- Grade 9
Stevie Ray Vaughn -- Wham
Oysterhead -- Oz Is Ever Floating
Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers -- Just One Kiss

Tom Landa & the Paperboys -- All Along The Watchtower
Patty Griffin -- Change
The Gourds -- El Paso
Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise -- It'll Come To You
C.J. Chenier -- Falling Up
Barry White -- Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe

Santana w/ Dave Matthews -- Love Of My Life
Johnny Cash -- Hurt
The Soggy Bottom Boys -- I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow
Tish Hinojosa -- Hey Little Love
Dolly Parton -- Shine
Sam Phillips -- I Need Love

Jackson Jills -- Groove Is In The Heart
Mary Gauthier -- Goodbye
Sara McLachlan -- Dear God
Peter Siegel -- My Culture [buy Pete's new album here!]
Crooked Still -- Orphan Girl
Ladysmith Black Mambazo with Des'ree -- Ain't No Sunshine
Jeffrey Foucault -- Mayfly

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show on WNMH 91.5 fm. C'mon back next week now, y'hear?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 4 comments

Sunday, September 19, 2004


I've thrown it out. Not sure how -- might be merely that I've started wearing Darcie's old sneakers, or something as sillysimple as that -- but it doesn't matter, really.

What matters is I've already cranked myself up on as many Alleve as I could stand, and it hasn't made much difference.

Have library duty, and been here since one. It's been busy for a Sunday, so I've been in and out of the chair far too many times: checking color printers, helping students cite the Encyclopedia of African Countries in proper Chicago style, finding books on local mammalia. Willow and Darcie stopped by with the dog for a while, but I was too busy to spend real time with them, so they left a while ago. Now I'm almost done, and thank the lord, because, damn, I'm in some serious pain here.

Am I even making any sense through this haze of spasm and muscle relaxant? Maybe I should just quit while I'm still alive.

posted by boyhowdy | 5:05 PM | 1 comments

Friday, September 17, 2004

Music and Mayhem 

Great show last night at the Iron Horse, starting with raison d'enter (and good friend and uberliberal) Peter Siegel, who squeaked out five-or-six songs ranging from shanty classics to folk-raps to a fun poppy ditty about his wife's polkapolka polka dot bathing suit. We sat with Peter's parents, his wife (and my friend and coworker) Michelle, and their 4 month old Zinnia, a round-legged cutie who incidentally spends two mornings a week with my own spouse while her parents work. Willow stayed with Ginny -- it was nice to have a date after all these months as the three of us.

Main act Crooked Still, an americana band featuring banjo, vocal, standup bass and-of-all-things cello, who we'd seen from a distance at Falcon Ridge way back in July, was funky and consistent, though their set wasn't much different from a) their album, and b) their Falcon Ridge sets.

Happily, Peter and his back-ups Ellen (percussion) and Naomi (fiddle) managed to sell all 25 tix required by the house, so there's a good chance he'll be asked back again. Unhappily (for Crooked Still, at least), that accounts for a good two thirds of the house last night. If you're listening, Aoife, it might be time to consider broadening the repertoire a bit.

Then tonight localfolkie Erica Wheeler did a show in the student center, with some coworkers opening. Nice set, actually -- and a sweet femmefolk cover of that old Garcia standard "I Know You Rider," which is always fun -- though the students didn't really appreciate it: most didn't come, and those who did didn't stay long (or, worse, hung out in the back of the student center and yelled at each other like, well, adolescents). Erica's's off to the Boston Folk Festival (darn, I knew I was supposed to be in Boston this weekend) to lead songwriting workshops tomorrow, so you know she's got the creds.

As for the mayhem: crossing the wide bridge high over the Connecticut River this afternoon on my way from Info Commons coverage to class the treads on the Grand Marquis's back passenger side tire flew off with such violence it hit the fuel pump safety-off switch under the car and left me stranded. Luckily, a good samaritan stopped to give me a ride before the floods came (and I mean "good samaritan" sincerely -- he had to move tracts off the seat to make room for my sorry ass). Unluckily, I never ended up covering the back window after the glass slid off the track, and the tow truck came long after the deluge began. Thanks to Darcie who saved my ass by driving what will now be forever known as "the good car" to sit in the rain and wait for the tow truck while I taught blogging for the first day of Ed Tech 101.

More on this later, surely -- I'm beginning to think the damn car is cursed. Shame, really, given how well it started out.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:17 PM | 12 comments

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Mediageek Note 

According to geekblog Slashdot, Spam turned 100 years old yesterday!

"Surprisingly, the first spam wasn't sent via e-mail. In fact, 100 years ago, Cunard sent out telegrams to selected (rich) members of the British social elite, advertising tickets on a new liner, and becoming the first spammer. Let us all take out a moment to consider how to best 'repay' the spammers who followed for the 100 years of 'joy' they have given us. ;)"

Um...yay? Just goes to show you, though, how insidious the cultural mindset that new technologies actually bring about the full effect of their brand new potentials...when instead, they are most often both culminative, finally making normative what before was exceptional...and, simultaneously, merely harbingers, containers of the next big thing to come, several c-changes from now.

Kinda makes you wonder what tiny niggling thing in this wave will be the next big promise, what tidbit here the coming glut, of the unimaginable technologies of, say, 2100.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:25 PM | 1 comments


Three instructional class visits in two days, a holy host of meetings of all sorts, two duty nights in a row and the first day (finally) of my course in Media Literacy have kept me too busy to blog. Well, that and the continued and somehow refreshing lack of a network connection at home -- still not sure I want to fix this.

Could have made some spacetime this afternoon, my usual sacred time off the books, but Darcie wanted to nap, so I took Willow out -- first to the farm, where we picked raspberies and threw grass at the cows and chickens and Willow had a breakdown when she misinterpreted a faint noise outside the sugarhouse as Daddy, a cow was coming, and I was very scary!... and later to the library, where Willow had another breakdown when the little bird in "Are You My Mother" gets lifted up by the backhoe (in the book, it's called a "snort") and the bird's mommy is gone, Daddy! I want my mommy and the bird wants my mommy too!, which necessitated two trips to the water cooler, a spilled full cup of water, and the eating of several of those tinned shortbread cookies -- and then home to wake up Darcie, and the three of us were off to Friendly's for a mediocre chicken sandwich supper and a grocery run.

Now I find myself in a happily deserted and locked down library, in otherwise darkness, catching up on the digi-verse whilst the family sleeps and the kids begin their dorm lockdown for the night.

Oddly, I can't think of a thing to blog about.

Maybe I need a nap or something. Or more coffee. Something, anyway.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:05 PM | 0 comments

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, 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
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