Monday, October 11, 2004

Wireless Music Box 

Pie race today, the longest consecutively run road race in the nation. Willow placed 80th in the tart race, one behind last year and penultimate in the tiny crowd, but we didn't stay to watch the start-and-finish.

Instead, Darcie, her parents, Willow and I picked raspberries all afternoon down at the farm -- 4 quarts in all, so Darcie's mother can make pie.

Mmmm. Pie.

My back hurts like hell this evening, and my hands on the sound board are stained red, but it's sure to be worth it.

Playlist follows, as always, with gaps where bedtime storties were read -- tonight's selections were from a collection called "Folktales of India" I forgot to return to the library last year. Kind of an old school set tonight, but note the new theme song -- it was cowritten by my brother!


Tributary 10/11/04

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Wilco -- The Late Greats
Ben Folds Five -- Kate
Keller Williams -- Vacate
Keb' Mo - Love Train
Elvis Costello -- My Funny Valentine
Sarah Harmer -- Almost

Ray Charles -- I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now
Michael Franti & Spearhead -- Everyone Deserves Music
Stevie Ray Vaughn -- Chitlins Con Carne
Stevie Wonder -- Superstitious
Eels -- Novacaine For The Soul
Manu Chao -- Me Gustas Tu
English Beat -- Mirror In The Bathroom
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks -- The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)

Bruce Cockburn -- Down To The Delta
Jeffret Foucault -- Mayfly
Cry, Cry, Cry -- Fall On Me
Nirvana -- Heart Shaped Box
Phish w/ Alison Krauss -- If I Could

Barenaked Ladies -- Light Up My Room
Jim White -- Borrowed Wings
Charlie Hunter Quartet -- No Woman, No Cry
Gillian Welch -- I Want To Sing That Rock And Roll
Mindy Smith -- It's Amazing
Rufus Wainright -- I Don't Kow What It Is
The Band -- Rag Mama Rag

Yoiu've been listening to Tributary, your ten-to-midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5 fm, serving Northfield, Gill, Leyden and Brattleboro. Congrats to Brian, who called from Brattleboro to correctly identify tonight's contest cover song, Fall On Me, as originally written and performed by the good folks at R.E.M. Pity you don't live a bit closer, eh?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 0 comments


On Teen Suffrage 


Does raising the youth vote justify trivializing civic engagement?


Philly Inquirer collumnist Jane Eisner spoke at our all-school assembly last night as part of our quad-annual civics exercise Votes 2004.

Eisner's big idea: First time voters don't take advantage of their voting rights, and she thinks she knows why. Her three-point case:
  1. Politics has changed. The rising generation experiences the political process as "money-oriented and televised," she says, and thus sees most of it as "nasty." This disgusts people, and ultimately supresses voting.

  2. The rise of volunteerism and community service creates a misperception that service is the only effective way to make change. Concentration on the importance of direct community action ironically sets up naturally dichotomous-thinking students to conclude that civic responsibility is meaningless -- i.e. the service curriculum minimizes the sense of relevance of politics. The result: a service gap.

  3. Schools nationwide have experienced a significant decline in civics education. High Schoolers used to average three civics classes in four years; now they average one. Eisner didn't say so, but I'd attribute this to, among other things, the rise of the globalist and multiethnic curricula, which have supplanted local issues in education. We saw the same issue when the global movement changed the focus of Sesame Street, causing it to jump the shark.

I agree with Eisner -- this is a serious issue, worthy of our time and energy. But I don't think she takes that first point seriously enough.

It's easy to suggest that modern politics is nasty, but I think the problem is more that the political arena is necessarily going to be seen as trivial when it is primarily perceived through the entertainment medium of television.

Maybe I'm biased, being a media teacher. But if McLuhan and Postman are right, then the message of politics in a television age is the same message as television itself: passive, idealistic, distant, and unreachable. Television is the antithesis of politics -- we might even say that television denigrates politics, over time.

We end up deserving the politics we get if we allow this to continue. Kids -- our kids -- know that Sean Coombs wears a "Vote or Die" t-shirt, and maybe they'll even vote because of it, but famous people are one-dimensional to them: voting because someone famous says you should vote makes voting a kind of entertainment, too, which ultimately perpetuates the trivial and the disempowering non-engagment that so characterizes modern youth involvement. I have severe doubts that long-term civic engagement as a thoughtful and politicized mechanism for cultural participation can really spring from such Rock The Vote tactics.

No wonder our kids aren't engaged. They're being screwed in real life, but they can't see the connection when they are presented with politics-as-fairytale, right alongside of Survivor and Extreme Makeover, instead of being presented with a real politic.

Which really leaves schools with the heavy burden for creating a sense of civic engagement, doesn't it?

Problematically, however, Eisner suggested that most schools could "fix" this engagement gap easily. But she also seemed to feel that NMH was an exception to this rule, and you could see teachers in the crowd nodding their heads. I disagree. Though a few kids get to choose to take Government and Civil Liberties instead of US History each year, for the vast majority of our students, the way we teach civics is so vague and distributed it might as well be nothin'. Our kids see even their own student government as predominantly useless, and few kids not in it know how it works. Having a school government is not necessarily part of a civics curriculum; in many schools, it is little more than another competitive closed-ranks clique which helps one get into college.

Here, mock voting could help -- something which we do do well, at least if Votes 2004 is promoted internally as well or better than it was in 2000. But this only happens for two months every four years, so it misses a vast majority of our student body, many of whom don't come here until their Junior year. Eisner said a Yale study proved that schools which prought voting booths into classrooms had much higher incidence of adolescent voting, and I believe it, so why was her answer to the student who bravely asked "how DO you vote" so unsatisfying? (Eisner's answer: it's different for every state, so I can't explain it...but taking the mystery out of voting is good. Duh.)

Additionally, then, I'd propose tying community service into politics -- allowing partisan service, encouraging service at polling places -- but also supplanting much of those boring and increasingly distant U. S. History classes with something a bit more modern and real which has direct relevance to the civic lives of students themselves, because, heck, most of our kids don't even understand the reasoning behind the electoral college.

Heck, most of my so-called liberal friends don't understand the dangers of the popular vote, either.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:50 PM | 30 comments


Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are 



Ever the anti-PC equal opportunist, in honor of National Coming Out Day I'd like to take this opportunity to announce my heterosexuality.

Whew. I feel so much better. Thanks for caring!

Seriously -- I'm all for the concept, but the name of this event makes it sound like the focus is on celebrating the individual, when that just plain misses the point. Unless you have a crush on me, in which case your own sexuality is totally not the issue, why the hell should I care what your gender preference is? Why single out one day a year for something which is either part of everyone's daily life or should be?

N. C. O. D. is supposed to be about raising social awareness of homo/bi/trans/poly/alt on a "we're here, we're queer, get used to it" level. Calling it "coming out" anything causes people to decide to come out today, which puts the focus squarely on THEM, instead of reminding us that -- live civil and gender rights before this -- queer equality is an issue of, for, and about all of us.

So let's either change the name here, so it reflects the veryhealthy total premise of a day celebrating every single type of sexual possibility, pushing for equal opportunity for social and legal standings, and offering special time for pondering one's attractions and sexual identities ... or let's drop the whole damn thing in the name of not making one's personal sexuality a public issue, which it damn well shouldn't be, no matter who you love, or how.

I mean, really. What you do in your bedroom, playroom, closet, or even the bathroom stall is your own damn business.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:30 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Further Proof 

Some people have far too much time on their hands. Like the developer who made this purple thong-ed hippo, for example. Or me, on Saturday night dorm duty.

Thanks to regular visitor and reciprocal linker Lilly for the entertaining oddity. Visit her, but Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Blog.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:50 PM | 17 comments


Simple Pleasures 

North today for a day of stereotypical New England authenticity, just me and a billion leafpeepers going slow on the highway past the blazing hills and the gold-frosted trees on the median. But where the tourists gawked and gamboled, buying their way into a slice of rural life for a pound of flesh and a long drive home, I had a purpose, a place to belong: two exits into Vermont, past the farmer's market, left at the convenience store and up the dirt road to my wife's childhood home, where Willow and Darcie had come earlier while I still slept, and Darcie's brother Josh and his long-time partner Clay had just arrived.

For the next few hours I buried my daughter up to her neck in crisp fallen leaves while my mother-in-law raked and puttered, and Josh, Clay, Darcie and father-in-law Neil leaned on ladders and knees at house and garage, repainting the grungy trim white to match the impending winter. We ate freshbaked cookies when we tired, and, when youngest-child Virginia arrived, a late lunch together around the dining room table.

After lunch and a quick trip into town for an oil change, Virginia and I drove down the hill to the Fire Station, where a Pop Warner car wash and pie fundraiser had left the dirt parking lot flooded with white suds, and stood in the truck bay under the long ladders while the fire chief wrote up a brush fire permit. "Get marshmallows if you get the permit," they had said before we left, so we did.

Back at the house father-in-law Neil, once a local fire fighter, prepped the pile with his younger progeny while three generations of strongwilled and earth-loving women and I walked through the pick-your-own pumpkins to the self-service farmstand next door. I got a baguette made Friday from four ingredients and a pair of the season's last tomatoes and ate them leaning on the mailbox, watching cars pass in dustclouds on the dirt road while "the girls" checked out the cowmilking in the nearby barn, and the calf born yesterday.

We followed the rising smoke home, threw dry corn stalks on the fire to hear the corn pop whole we waited for the grass and steam to burn off, and roasted marshmallows together, a family in the yard on the last days of a long and fruitful year.

And finally, as the largest logs began to fall into ash, I left Darcie and Willow there staring into the coals, and drove home into the dusk, the sky behind as red as the autumn leaves, Garrison Keillor on the radio, my heart filled with love for this world, this place, a New England no leafpeeper could ever truly know.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:00 PM | 0 comments

Friday, October 08, 2004

I M Fine 

Another double-duty title today.

First, yes I am doing reasonably well and goodspirited, at least for someone who wakes each morning stiffandsore and who winces at getting out of bed or the car and who is starting, I fear, to enjoy the odd mix of meds a bit too too, though don't they make the linguish fun? Anyhoo. Thanks for the concern, folks. Second day of physical therapy this afternoon wasn't as stretchy as the previous diagnostic session, and the ultrasound massage was kind of neat, all tingly-like.

And second, though I'm a bit late to the table, IM and other cybershortspeaks are in the air again, both on our school discussion boards, where a student use of shortspeak led to a student-prompted discussion about the appropriateness of cyberspeech, which in turn caused me to post the following (and pardon the length; as busy as Mark Twain these days, so I didn't have time to shorten it):
My own concern, actually, is not so much that modern society will reply with something that many English speakers are unable to comprehend. It is that the way people think (when they are trying to think at their best) will actually begin to take on the quality of their common speech. If so, a shorter, simpler speech will result in shorter thought.

I must admit -- reading chatspeak takes longer that reading proper english for ME, which may just be an issue of unfamiliarity. You DO lose some readers when using shortform speech; if that's okay with you, then that's okay with you.

But objectively speaking, the simplistic shortform of chatspeak is less suited to clear and complex thought.

And this from a man who considers holding class in AIM to be a seriously worthy endeavor.

Yes, chatspeak -- like telephonic speech, like casual speech, etcetera ad infinitum -- has its place, indeed. Just not in the kind of deeper discussion one hopes that NMH students would have in such a public forum, and especially not when those selfsame students claim to be handling such weighty matters as those which so often read their proverbial heads here in GSD.

In a nutshell: I say, if you're going to speak of weighty issues, do it with language which carries weight well. If subtlety of argument is key to making your case (c.f. our recent politics discusion, eh?), a language with less subtlety, like chatspeak, will be less productive. If you're announcing a dorm event, though...

It would have been so much easier to just say If McLuhan were alive today, would he merely text "medium=msg?" But the McLuhan nutshell isn't intuitively obvious to the average adolescent. It takes so many words to say it if the shortform isn't there to rebound against.

Mediaheads too wrapped up in electoral issues to notice their usual universe may have missed a timely cultural-scale discussion of the same topic in the Fresno Bee. Though I've said it before, once again I agree with Alex. Also with Stef's nifty comments along Alex's sideline.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:43 PM | 3 comments


Metablog 

Though we're long past the "gee, this blog thing is interesting" development stage here at NAWWAL -- a stage over-and-donewith within the first bloggermonths for all but the most navelgazing blogger -- a few pending and momentous events bear mention. Coming soon, at home and in the bloggiverse:
  • my 1000th entry (if the stats are accurate, it looks like this will land sometime between the end of October and the first days of November)

  • my two year bloggiversary (blog begun November 21, 2002)

  • Bloggercon III, which sounds fascinating but which I will not attend because a trip to California in the middle of the term is just too potentially disastrous

  • the nation's first seriously blogged (and sure to be overblogged) election

  • more better-late-than-never articles about how blogging is changing the face of politics/society/communication/journalism than you can shake a virtual stick at

posted by boyhowdy | 8:31 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bad Back! No Hike For You 

One crisp autumnal day a hundred years ago our evangelical Taft-esque founder D. L. Moody strode into the dining hall in the middle of breakfast and announced "It's a beautiful day, too nice for classes. Let's take a hike!" And, so the story goes, they did. In their school clothes. And it was good, I suppose. Even if the hiking boot still hadn't been invented.

Over the years, Mountain day has become an institution, one of many within our beloved macrocosm. Sure, things have changed -- the sheer volume of students now demands a separate hike for each class where once the entirety of the student body followed that single and boldly bearded man whereev'r he did goest, for example, and the night-before dance would only have appeared in a school which could not in good conscience make plans with less than a day's full notice.

But the spirit of the hike remains, as much as it can in these days of girth and grading. Though faculty are given a set of possibles, the actual hike date is always kept a secret until the afternoon previous. Classes are cancelled, and the climb is a team effort, with absences given and frowns served upon those who choose not to join the trail gathering as the fog rolls off the hills, exposing the climb-to-be.

I used to love Mountain Day. I've proudly climbed with the 9th graders, manning checkpoints and guarding against the everpresent wild bee, for years. My first year I got lost with a few other faculty; my third I played sweeper, keepiong pace with a bad-ankled student, coming out of the wilderness to find that the traditional chili lunch had already been put away. The year Willow was first born and Darcie was a full-time employee, required to serve the hike with the rest of us, we handed out apples and granola provisons at the trail's entrance; that year I missed the walk itself terribly, though I enjoyed the time with my newly enlarged family more.

But this year, back still out, side reeking with pain from yesterday's thearapy diagnostic session (another round of does it hurt when you bend like this? how about like this?), I had to trade the hike away for another role, one highly coveted by the faculty: a night of student center chaperonage while the dance raged in the gym down the hill, and my service was over before the day itself had even begun.

Today I slept through Mountain Day, and spent the late morning instead with the girls at home.

To my immense disappointment, I hardly missed it.

Maybe it's the Vicodin speaking, but I think my lack of sadness at having missed the glorious hike and all that it entails is less a signifier of a lost love of hiking, or of crisp fall mornings, and more a single indicator of the larger truth: that I am losing my sense of place here at NMH, preparing for a long overdue move-along; protecting the communal need from the future perfect, the undiscovered job-to-be, the place where we need to go, and soon. Time for those rec letters to begin pouring in, the contacts to be made, the soul-searching to begin anew. I've said it often and recently, but if you're looking for a jack-of-all-social-sciences, ane ducator with an eye for media and pop culture, a lover of live and of learning in all its forms, give me a buzz, won't you? Because I'm ready to go, and getting moreso every day.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:36 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Speechless 



For over a hundred years our school teams have been the Hoggers -- named, nominally, for the pigfarmers who first founded the place as an evangelical haven where hard work was seen as a path out of poverty for a rising generation of the best and brightest. School archivist Peter likes to say that we were once a farm with a school, and now we're a school with a farm. And how far have we come from our pastoral past?

Introducing Normon, Northfield Mount Hermon School's newly unveiled mascot and the sixth sign of the apocalypse.

I must admit, I'm prety proud of our students, who seemed to catch the tension between our recently restated goal to be competitive among the world of prep schools -- none of whom have a mascot of this type, I might add -- and the pink fuzzy harbinger of doom that appeared before them at this past Monday's all school meeting. Normon -- named for the school, as in NORthfield Mount HerMON -- tried his damndest to get the crowd pumped up, but the vast majority of us were so horrified all we could do was drool, our jaws dropped and our eyes bugged, while the good name of our prep school went down in pink flames.

Prepare to be laughingstocks, folks. Good luck with that new one-campus thing.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:24 PM | 4 comments

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Cloudy With A Chance Of Music 

Back aching still, and now I've got this vicious cold that's been climbing up the charts courtesy of Darcie, who got it from Willow, who got it from Zinnia, the infant we watch twice a week -- who got it from being 5 months old and innocent, and surely as well from being passed hand to hand to sickly hand like all cute babies are, or should be.

Anyway. The moral of the story is the chemical combination causing causistry and chaos: Sudafed, Flexoril, some sort of anti-inflammatory -- all three of which say "may cause drowsiness, do not drive" right on the side of their respective boxes and bottles -- not to mention a 20 oz cup of French Roast energy and all the nicotine I can handle without falling over. Transitions are odd (that funk-to-polka drift going from G.Love to TMBG was especially oddsounding), and note the shortset of "inappropriate songs about girlfriends" from about 10:45 to 11, but at least we're here, queer, and...well, here, anyway. Playlist follows.


Tributary 10/4/04

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Guster -- Fa Fa
Robert Cray -- Smoking Gun
Girlyman -- Postcards From Mexico
G. Love and Special Sauce -- Rodeo Clowns
They Might Be Giants -- We Want A Rock
Jim White w/ Aimee Mann -- Static on the Radio

Toots and the Maytals -- Pressure Drop
Tori Amos -- Crucify
Ron Sexsmith -- My Girlfriend's Pretty
Maurice Chevalier -- Thank Heaven For Little Girls
Barenaked Ladies -- Alternative Girlfriend
Squeeze -- Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken

Alana Davis -- 32 Flavors
Mindy Smith -- It's Amazing
Alison Krauss -- I Will
Nellie McKay -- The Dog Song
Rusted Root -- Send Me On My Way
Elizabeth Mitchell & Daniel Littleton -- You Are My Sunshine

Salamander Crossing -- Shotgun Down The Avalanche
Mindy Smith -- Come To Jesus
Sarah Harmer -- Uniform Grey
Eddie From Ohio -- Number Six Driver
Jerry Garcia -- Man Of Constant Sorrow
Slaid Cleaves -- This Morning I Am Born Again



Sheesh. Will our hero ever make it to the studio in good health? Tune in next week, when boyhowdy says:

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten-to-midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5, serving Northfield, Gill, Keene and Brattleboro. G'night, folks.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:01 AM | 3 comments

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


Nobrow 

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

Draftpoem 

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

Atonal 

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


Duplicator 


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

Balance 

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

Back 

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


BusyBusyBusy 

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
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