Monday, April 18, 2005

Too Tired Tributary 

Baby and more baby...the jobsearch and all the rest of my life has been on hold for days, and good thing, too.

Diapers. Headholding. The right way to wrap the body, and the too-loose way. How much it hurts the back to rest the baby's butt on the belly while she's in your arms. How to be a daddy. It's amazing what comes back, and how quickly.

It's amazing, too, what one forgets. How the world shifts. How the entirety of life refocuses in an eyeblink, as if we emerged from the hospital into bizarro world. I mean, last week the one year old next door was tiny, and now she's this giant person...

Anyway. Cassia is a little peanut. At four days old, she's lifting her head and cruching her stomach muscles, trying to sit up on her own. Her blueblack infant eyes open wide, scan the room for mommy and daddy constantly. Except during the day, when she sleeps like...a baby, I guess. Though she looks like a turtle with her eyes closed.

Of course, that means we're up all day with the two year old, and changing diapers and cooing all night with the baby. I've slept about 6 hours total since Wednesday.

So here's the result of all that exhaustedness: Tonight's slightly garbled, oddly inconsistent, eclectic, hectic edition of tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show on WNMH. More reports anon. For now, playlist follows.

Tributary 4/18/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Cake -- Sheep Go To Heaven
Peter Gabriel -- Steam
Calexico -- Alone Again Or
dmb -- the best of what's around
beck -- Hell Yeah

Gilberto Gil -- Three Little Birds
Timbuk 3 -- Born To Be Wild
Weezer -- Undone
They Might Be Giants -- They'll Need A Crane
Aberfeldy -- Love Is An Arrow
Patty Griffin -- Love Throw A Line
Alison Brown -- Everyday I Write The Book

Jim White w/ Aimee Mann -- Static on the Radio
Jack Johnson -- Losing Hope
Nickel Creek -- Spit on a Stranger
Wild Band of Snee -- The Clover Show
Tom Landa & the Paperboys -- All Along The Watchtower
Hird -- Burn

Jeff Buckley -- Woke Up In A Strange Room
Barenaked Ladies -- Light Up My Room
Monty Python -- I Like Traffic Lights
Keller Williams -- Anyhow, Anyway
Jem -- Maybe I'm Amazed
Shawn Colvin -- Say A Little Prayer

Yeah, that. I'll be back.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:03 PM | 0 comments

Friday, April 15, 2005

Welcome Cassia Jade! 

Generally, this blog is about words, first and foremost. In this case, however, a picture really is worth a thousand words (and a little extra download time).

Cutting the cord

Just born
Cassia Jade
8 pounds, 2 ounces
Born April 14, 2005 at 9:06 am

Daddy and big sister Willow


Mother and Child

Back with more words in a few days.

In the meantime, I've never been so overjoyed to be speechless.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:10 PM | 26 comments

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hooray For Today (And It's All Your Fault) 

Today is Thank Your School Librarian Day. You can thank me here, or thank all of my coworkers here.

It's also St. Ursus of Aosta's Day and, my favorite, Blame Somebody Else Day.

Most importantly, however, today is the last day I will ever be the parent of an only child. God willing, of course.

If you happen to be thinking about us, say a prayer at about 8:30 tomorrow morning EST; if all goes well we'll be out of surgery with a new little one by nine o'clock. Blogging for the next few may be understandably sporadic, but expect baby pix by Saturday.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:41 PM | 2 comments

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I Won The School Poetry Contest 

Read all about it on the NMH Library blog. The photo shows me on the left; scroll down to read my prizewinning entry Poetry is an Exercise in Futility.

What did I win? Mostly, the chance to read the work aloud to a few students and librarians this past Sunday over cookies and tea. I was also presented with a hardcover edition of Poems To Read: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology, a gift card for the school bookstore, and a signed certificate suitable for framing but destined for a drawer.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:44 PM | 0 comments

My Kind Of Course 

Brought to you by the letters I, V, and Y.

Today's Boston Globe reports on "Informal Learning For Children," a new course-based partnership between Harvard (see previous rant) and Sesame Street (see previous rant).

Despite my ongoing concerns about both institutions, and despite an overuse of the usual technology-in-education straw men (media-driven kiddie violence, tech-savvy students who "know more" than teachers) in the interview that follows the article, it's hard not to like class lecturer Joseph Blatt's response to the question "what results are you hoping to achieve?"
The immediate results we hope of this first venture together would be a large number of students who are trained both in learning theory and other sorts of human development that we teach here, and in how to reach children effectively through media. So we imagine that we're going to be graduating a number of students who will be skilled and prepared to be the curriculum developers, researchers, evaluators, possibly writers, maybe even the producers of new educational media for kids.
Kudos to Blatt, as well, for recognizing that the partnership between formal and informal learning has strong merit...and for mentioning museum education as another example of the informal. It's nothing new: I was working on the same issues in partnership with Harvard way back in 1994 during my tenure at the Museum of Science. But I suppose Big Bird has more news cache.

Bonus: In other Sesame Street news, Cookie Monster is curbing his cookie intake in response to public concerns about promoting healthy eating habits among kids. Sheesh! Thanks to Captain Platypus for the find.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:37 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 11, 2005

Another Fine Mess 

Been riding the adrenaline rush all day, floating from task to task on a madman's giddy grin and enough coffee to kill an ox. Students think I'm insane, but the faculty know this glow, ask about the obvious impending joy, listen happily to me babble in my glee.

Tonight, too: through one last hoorah dinner at the People's Pint with Darcie while the Dean of Students and her partner marveled at our two year old's ability to keep up with their six year old, and shopping beforehand for soft animals and other sundry babystuff. And the moon, which even now shines low and orangebright like a cat's grin.

Just over 48 hours to the baby's arrival, and it's damn good to be alive.

Even another week of dead technology at the radio station couldn't kill the self-inflicted groove. I spun this week's show the old fashioned way, trading disks in and out of the oft-unreliable doubledecks, until deck two crashed just after 11, and I had to switch over to an iPod charged with wishes and not much else.

This is my life now -- on a shoestring, strung out like a junkie on a wing and a prayer, high on the fumes of hope.

Play, music. Play.

Tributary 4/11/05

Fat Footin' -- Skavoovie and the Epitones
Making Plans for Nigel -- The Rembrandts
Outsider -- Juliana Hatfield
Welcome To This World -- Primus
Back on the Train -- Phish
Fell In Love With a Boy -- Joss Stone
Me Gustas Tu -- Manu Chao

storytime: if you give a mouse a cookie (numeroff)

Slung-lo -- Erin McKeown
That Train Don't Stop Here -- Los Lobos
As Is -- Ani Difranco
Nightgown of the Sullen Moon -- They Might Be Giants
You Never Get What You Want -- Patty Griffin
Why Not -- Acoustic Syndicate
One -- Aimee Mann

storytime: the owl and the pussycat (lear)

I Need Love -- Sam Phillips
I'm Looking Through You -- The Wallflowers
Meet Me At The Corner -- Dan Hicks & Elvis Costello
I Love Her, She Loves Me -- Ware River Club
Every Little Thing (He) Does Is Magic -- Shawn Colvin
It's Amazing -- Mindy Smith
Arms of a Woman -- Amos Lee

storytime: goodnight moon (brown)

One Of These Things First -- Nick Drake
Sweet In The Morning -- Bobby McFerrin
My Baby Needs A Shepherd -- Emmylou Harris
I Wish My Baby Was Born -- The Be Good Tanyas
When You Dream -- Barenaked Ladies
You Are My Sunshine -- Elizabeth Mitchell

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH. Tune in next week, when I'll be tired enough to play anything.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 2 comments

Just In Time For Tributary! 

This week's edition of tributary, your ten to midnight (EST) Monday night show on WNMH, starts in 41 minutes.

I probably missed you, but if you just got here, hit this link now to listen in!

From funk to folk, from jazz to jambands, from blues to bluegrass, and everything in between...bedtime stories on the half hour and the hour...a coffee giveaway contest at 11:15 or so...and all requests seriously considered at 413-498-3915.

Trust me. You'll love it. Heck, I'll even throw in a money back guarantee.

Hey, leave a comment if you listen in, will you? Thanks!

posted by boyhowdy | 9:19 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, April 10, 2005


I'm back.

Princeton was better than I expected. Suprisingly New Englandesque, and the housing market is a bit terrifying, but it was nice to finally find two jobs that excite me in all the right ways. Two very, very different jobs, at two very, very different schools. But both felt like they could be home.

More, though, I feel like this was the trip where I hit my stride. Not sure how, but I left both places feeling like I showed the best of me, in the best possible light, without faltering or faking it. I was honest, and in doing so proved to myself that this really is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, and amazingly so. I'm reasonably sure I impressed them; I know I impressed me.

Now, if they decide to go with someone else, it'll be because they decided they want someone else, not because I was weak. If they do pick a different candidate, it'll have to be for one of two reasons: they can be better at being me, or because the someone else that they are was a better fit for the job.

Either way, I think I can live with that.

I even think I can embrace it.

But it hardly matters anymore. Three days, two schools, and a whirlwind tour of the Princeton area later, I'm ready to put the jobsearch on hold for a while.

Because once I figured out that getting a job won't be a miracle but a triumph, I was finally able to come to terms with the true miracle in my life: little nameless, the baby-to-be.

Not to mention the family that spins around me, the storm to my eye, as the date grows ever closer.

We're coming into the home stretch with but three full days to go before our early Thursday morning C-section appointment. Since coming home the exhilliration of the jobsearch has been slowly supplanted by anticipation. Just this evening, I felt the first stirrings of crest-of-the-roller-coaster excitement deep in my gut.

Incidentally, for those keeping track of the blog over time, no, I didn't stay in Princeton for longer than intended. I've been back since late Friday night. But somehow, after coming home, family seemed so much more important than blogging. So no, I didn't write last night. Fell asleep putting the kid to bed instead. And no, I didn't write when we were at the library today for my poetry reading -- not when there was a neighborhood kiddie pool party waiting back home.

Heck, the only reason I'm here now is that Darcie wanted one last shot at putting Willow to bed before the infant took over her life completely, and before the C-section kept her from bedsharing with the older one at bedtime.

I know blogging is important for local reasons -- for my sanity, and in no small part because I want to leave the blog as a record for my children. But blogging for family will never beat being with family. I know how easily experience can be supplanted by the recording of experience; I've seen folks forget to put the lens down, and miss the life they're trying to record. I'd rather have no photos, no blog, no words, and a mess of true memories any day.

Expect little for the next few days, too. With only four nights left as a family of three, I'm sticking to my priorities, thanks.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:20 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Going, Going... 

Today the first crocus bloomed in the middle of our lawn. Tiny, streaked with violet, and totally unexpected.

Willow picked it when our backs were turned.

We've been watching the shoots come in for weeks, talking about the life cycle, preparing for the best signs of Spring together.

I yelled.

Turns out she just wanted to give it to Mommy.

I leave before dawn tomorrow for the airport, and will be in New Jersey on the job hunt until late Friday night. Not sure if I'll have a chance to blog from the road, but come back Saturday for a full (albeit anonymous) report.

Stay safe and sane, folks. The baby arrives a week from Thursday.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:23 PM | 8 comments

Monday, April 04, 2005

Cover Me, Redux 

A bit frazzled this week as I make plans for the big lastgasp jobsearch jaunt and, subsequently, the birth of our second child. So no prose this week either. Anyway, music is supposed to speak for itself.

Big plans for this year's all-covers extravaganza tonight on tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show on WNMH. Pity the in-studio technology wasn't working again. Apologies to streamshow listeners, if there were any, for the flailing first half hour; it's been a long time since I had to run the show from the CD collection, and it made it no easier that I had to run home and get the CDs while the music was playing.

I did manage to stay on-format, however, mostly because as a covers afficionado I have a good couple hundred covers lying around, some of which are actually good songs, some of which are even better than the original. Playlist follows; I swear, the first few songs are good, but I certainly wouldn't have played them if I had known that I needed to bring the hardcopy collection into the studio.

Tributary 4/4/05: Coversongs

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Drunk
Rufus Wainright -- Across the Universe (Beatles)
Salamander Crossing -- Down in the Milltown (Gorka)
Salamander Crossing -- Wade in the Water (trad.)
Death Cab For Cutie -- Love Song (Cure)
Keb' Mo' -- Love Train (Spinners?)

coverstory: Moxy Fruvous -- Green Eggs and Ham

Chris Ardoin -- Your Love Keeps Liftin' Me (Wilson)
Steve Earle -- A Girl Like THat (NRBQ)
Nirvana -- Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam (Vaselines)
Herbie Hancock -- All Apologies (Nirvana)
Richard Thompson -- Kiss (Prince)

coverstory: politically correct version of the 3 little pigs

The Posies -- Looking Through You (Beatles)
Cake -- I Will Survive (Gaynor?)
Hayseed Dixie -- Highway to Hell (AD/DC)
Tori Amos -- Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)
Tim O'Brien -- Father of Night (Dylan)
Evan Dando -- How Will I Know (Houston)

coverstory: politically correct version of the frog prince

Maroon 5 -- Pure Imagination (Wonka)
Crooked Still -- Orphan Girl (Welch)
Turtle Island String Quartet -- Crossroads (trad.)
Girlyman -- My Sweet Lord (Harrison)
Be Good Tanyas -- Waitin' Around to Die (Van Zandt)
Gone Phishin' -- Rift (Phish)

Phew. Come back next week for the last fully coherent edition of tributary -- I'll keep running 'em after that through the summer, but on much less sleep, once the baby comes.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:29 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Plus Or Minus 

Willow's interested in numbers; at four months shy of three years old she can already count to ten in her sleep, wants to know the exact age of everyone and their brother, and understands clearly the relationship between the act of counting and the number of fingers she's holding up.

Tonight daylight savings time threw us all off a bit sleepschedule-wise, so when the usual clocktime bedtime had come and gone, I introduced the concept of counting sheep. No problem there. I thought I'd try a little subtraction, just to see if she could do it.

I am proud to report that not only can the little genius easily visualize the numbers one through four well enough to figure out, without ever having encountered the idea of subtraction in any form, all the positive integer permutations of subtraction from four through two, she even pushed me past my own expectations near the end of the exercise:

Okay, Willow, let's say I have four sheep, and you eat -

I want to eat four of them!

Uh...okay, if you have four sheep, and you take away one two three four sheep, then how many do you have left?

Not! No! Not any sheep, Daddy! An' if there's one more again, I have one, and then if I have two sheep, I can only have two sheep...

And voila, the genius anticipates, and subsequently invents, the idea of zero without even having a word for it. Let's hope the second one is an artistic genius or something -- it's going to hard to compete with the logical skills of the older sibling.

In other subtractive news, the countdown to baby birth day continues. The planned C-section is just ten days from today. I'll be in New Jersey for at least three of those days pursuing the jobsearch, and will work every other workday between now and then, right up to (and including) the day before the birth itself. Total remaining number of days to be home, quietly, and enjoy our remaining life as a family of three: two.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:38 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, April 02, 2005

When It Rains... 

Though it is, admittedly, a pain in the butt to be trying to find work and having a baby almost simultaneously, much of what's so frustrating about the jobsearch is that I'm new at it. I'm 32 years old, and until now I've been lucky -- every time I needed a job, one just sort of came along and offered itself to me.

Heck, even my current 7 year stint was a lucky one-shot. We saw the ad in the paper, answered it on a whim, and had an offer within a week.

I'm certainly not complaining -- I know that this unusual history makes me the envy of many who have suffered the stress of what is turning out to be an intensive, full-time process. But notably, my lack of experience leaves me with very little practice in the ups and downs of the interview process.

Every scenario I encounter is comprehensively new and unfamiliar. Where others my age have been toughened to the obstacle course that we call "looking for work," I cannot compete. With no experience in the simultaneous pursuit of multiple opportunities, I have no instinct for managing the unexpected.

Which brings us to today's dilemma.

I have been invited down to New Jersey for a full day job interview at School A plus half-day tour with a real estate agent, with all costs -- flight, car rental, and housing -- paid by the prospective employer.

I serendipitously recieved a call today from a second school in the same area, and had a lovely hour-long interview with the associate head of School B, who (hopefully) will contact me by email this weekend to discuss the possibility of a visit. While I'm already down in the area. On the other school's dime.

The question, then: what are my obligations -- financial, informational, or otherwise -- to each school in this scenario? For example, if School B does not generally pay travel costs for visiting prospective faculty, should I call School B, explain the situation, and offer to split the costs with them? If School B does pay travel costs, should I figure out a way to charge each school with one leg of the trip -- for example, ask one to pay transport one way, and the other to pay transport back home?

Yeah, I know: after weeks of little to no job prospects, I'm lucky to have such problems.

Nonetheless. Please advise.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:35 PM | 19 comments

Friday, April 01, 2005

Dog Scare 

Outside on the lawn today, Willow in her new spring bee boots stomping through the muddy snow under the neighborhood swingset, Zellie the the Jack Russel Terrier zigzagging collarless and unfettered as usual. Across the lawn we spotted baby Zinnia and her daddy, musician Peter Siegel, with their own dog Lucy, a big grey Lab mix.

Peter and I are both on the jobhunt these days, so though we knew Lucy has a thing about small dogs, after a few call-and-response across the wide ever-more-green expanse, we found ourselves grouped, comparing notes about the interview process.

Until, with no warning whatsoever, Lucy pulled out of Peter's grasp and lunged for Zellie, pinning her to the ground like a tiger on its prey.

It's funny how the panic instinct kicks in in moments like these. I have a vague memory of a single, tiny yip, Peter and I together struggling to pull this suddenly huge dog off little Zellie, a suddely grounded Zinnia screaming in the background. I remember it took perhaps a minute, maybe a few seconds more, to extricate Lucy's teeth from Zellie's neck; I remember I was screaming something, maybe Lucy's name, and Peter was, too.

Funny, too, how polite and casual one can be in the aftershock of a scare like this. It took another minute, maybe, to part as cordially as possible, reassuring Peter all the while that the dog was surely fine, that we knew this was going to happen and shouldn't have been talking, that we'd better get inside.

But under the politeness, I think I already knew Zellie was hurt. Though there was no limp in Zellie's walk, there was blood on her neck and shoulder. And she wasn't making a sound -- which, if you know anything about Jack Rusell Terriers, is a sign of serious injury indeed.

Back home, imagining the worst, we called Darcie, who was at the library, and told her to come home. Willow was a little confused, but I think she still doesn't really understand what happened, or why -- a truth of immaturity for which I will always be grateful, as I imagine this could have been a major trauma for her as well in other, more mature circumstances. Me, I was terrified, listening for a bark or whine that never came, trying to imagine the perils of letting a dog with no warning system, no voice box, run free.

Minutes later, we were in the car, on the way to the vet, Zellie wrapped in a towel. Willow spent the drive trying to figure out what happened -- Mommy, is Lucy going to be okay? Why is Zellie in the car? -- and trying not to panic. In other circumstances, her worst outburst (No, Daddy, you can't asnwer that question! It's mine!) would even be funny.

Me, I just prayed.

After a long wait for the vet -- she was removing some dog's teeth when we arrived -- over the course of a nervous hour, we began to hear the whine of a dog's bruised voicebox coming back to life. No surgery was necessary; though the vet discovered serious bruising over half of her body, and the shaved patches have revealed some pretty deep and gory puncture wounds, we are assured that Zellie will recover fully.

Thank the lord for small miracles, I suppose. But God, if you're listening:

Things are a bit fragile these days; we're still jobless as of June, about to be homeless, expecting a second baby in 13 days, now. I'm overworked, falling behind trying to cover work responsibilities and the jobsearch at once, skimping on kid and wifetime already, wondering where I'll be able to find the extra time and energy for a new baby and a post-C-section spouse. Not sure how much more of this I can take.

Please, stop testing me.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:18 PM | 0 comments

Vatican, Global Media Oligarchy Collaborate, Fool Billions 

What if the impending death of Pope John Paul II was the world's most inappropriate April Fools hoax? Talk about the end of Catholicism. Man, what a massive misjudgement of the world's funny bone that would be.

In other news, Ross Perot prototype Frank Perdue, notable for being one of the first CEOs to bring the unpolished "down home billionaire" type forward as the public face of a major corporate empire, died today. Oddly, Perdue lookalike Pope John Paul II was unavailable for comment. Wonder why you never saw them both in the same room together...

posted by boyhowdy | 4:47 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 31, 2005

What The... 

Plus, whatever happened to fortune cookies, anyway?  I mean, this isn't a fortune, it's a trite truism.
Actual fortune found in cookie at lunch today.

Every time I think I get it, my brain explodes.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:11 PM | 5 comments

Wonderful Things, Indeed 

A stellar trifecta of my kind of stuff today from boingboing:

posted by boyhowdy | 4:15 PM | 2 comments

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Because calling these little personal updates "randomalia" was getting a little too formal.

Work seems to have picked up since the beginning of the term, so much so that I'm now trying to cram the usual eight hours of work into a four hour shift every day. I leave the library most afternoons drained and worried that I missed something important. So much for a light paternity leave.

Speaking of paternity: Darcie's getting freakin' huge, so we've finally begun pulling out diapers and setting up cosleepers in anticipation of the big day. We're heading out early for our penultimate OB-GYN visit tomorrow morning, followed by a tour of the birthing facilities with the two year old. Only 14 days to the birth!

In other news, got another possible job coming at me fast, this time a department leadership position in the field I'm actually trained in (instructional technology). Three hours of phone interviews today, and I'll be in the Princeton, NJ region a week from tomorrow for the usual high-stress teach-ins and interviews; it's another day school, so advice about the area would be greatly appreciated.

Also, at the eleventh hour, finally selected this very old poem for submission to the school poetry contest today. Wish me luck!

posted by boyhowdy | 11:36 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Who's Better? 

The students are playing a madcap game of "who's better" on our in-school bulletin board. So far, Batman beats Superman, George Clooney beats 50 Cent, Connery beats the other Bond boys hands down, and -- in a surprise upset -- xylophone virtuoso Sir Patrick Moore beats Mandy Moore, Roger Moore, Sir Thomas More, and Mary Tyler Moore.

No response yet on Katherine vs. Audrey Hepburn, but it's early yet. Anyone interested in weighing in on Ed Wood vs. Mr. Ed?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:24 PM | 2 comments


1. Blogger was an unpublishable mess last night. Will post a backdated radioshow playlist ASAP, I promise -- scroll down to see if it's there yet.

2. Class visit days are upon us -- prospective students will soon be everywhere. Since I cannot in good conscience tell visitors things which I do not believe to be true, and yet find that the official suggestions for "talking points" fall into that catergory, is it inappropriate to ask my supervisors that I be released from public duties out in the information commons during class visit days? If not, what can I do to be true to myself and yet not inadvertently sabotage the positive impression the school is trying to make -- merely by trying to look inconspicuous and unapproachable, or avoiding certain topics, when the whole POINT of the space where I work is to be approachable, friendly, and full of answers?

posted by boyhowdy | 1:01 PM | 0 comments

No Soap, Radio 

None of the usual prose atop this week's playlist -- last night was a bit hectic, and I find posting the tunes a day late doesn't make for a nice fresh sense of atmospheric tonality.

Here's what I played. If you were listening, feedback is always appreciated.

Tributary 3/28/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Toots and the Maytals -- Pressure Drop
Beck -- Hell Yeah
Jill Sobule -- When My Ship Comes In
moe. -- Bring You Down
Bree Sharp -- The Boys Of Summer
Big Fuzz -- Fuzzy Logic

Acoustic Syndicate -- Why Not
Mindy Smith -- Hard To Know
Doves -- Blackbird
Aberfeldy -- Love Is An Arrow
The Afghan Whigs -- Can't Get Enough Of Your Love
Tony Furtado Band -- Waiting For Guiteau/President Garfield's Hornpipe
Taking Back Sunday -- Just Like Heaven

The Waifs -- London Still
Donna the Buffalo -- Movin' On
Barenaked Ladies -- Break Your Heart
Alison Brown -- Everyday I Write The Book
Digable Planets -- Rebirth of Slick
Duran Duran -- The Needle And The Damage Done

Thievery Corporation -- Samba Triste
Peter Mulvey -- Shirt
Kris Delmhorst -- Little Wings
Jeffrey Foucault -- 4 & 20 Blues
Redbird -- Ships
Gilberto Gil -- Waiting In Vain
Salamander Crossing -- Down In The Milltown

You've been listening to tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH. See you next week, folks!

posted by boyhowdy | 12:00 AM | 0 comments

Monday, March 28, 2005

Spam A Lot 

Not the broadway show, though after sterling reports from periodicals as widespread as the New Yorker and Newsweek, I've never wanted to attend a Broadway show more than this. And certainly not the Hawai'ian delicacy, though as a lover of all things popcult kitsch, I certainly approve of the idea of the potted meat sensation.

No, in this case, I'm actually talking about spam the junk email.

And I ain't complaining, neither.

Like most of us, even with the spamfilter on I get a few odd and oft-inappropriate missives a day. But since I'm no techhead, but rather a semiotic popcult watcher of unparalleled oddness, I actually read the stuff. And that bit of it which sneaks through even the best spamfilter tickles my sense of the wonder of randomalia.

Months ago Infocult featured a quick paean to the randomly generated, oddly poetic wordlists so often found at the base of spam-missives. Since then, I note, I am more likely to find obscure fortune-cookie-esque pseudoquotes in the missives, from "How can what an Englishman believes be hearsay? It is a contradiction in terms" to "He is not great who is not greatly good."

Or, perhaps even better, here's the entirety of a message recieved this afternoon:
Special offer!
To wear one's heart on one's sleeve; a wolf in a sheep's clothing; to fly into a temper; to stick to one's word; bosom friend; small talk; to cast pearls before swine; to beat about the bush; to add fuel to the fire; to fall ill; to fall in love; to sail under false colours; to be at sea.

All these words, with -proof for the second component, stand be-tween compounds and derived words in their characteristics. On the one hand, the second component seems to bear all the features of a stem and preserves certain semantic associations with the free form proof. On the other hand, the meaning of -proof in all the numerous words built on this pattern has become so generalised that it is cer-tainly approaching that of a suffix. The high productivity of the pat-tern is proved, once more, by the possibility of coining nonce-words after this pattern: look-proof and Knidproof, the second produced from the non-existent stem Knid.

That alone would be pretty nifty. To garble an oft-quoted truism, if a thousand computers sent mail to a thousand monkeys for a thousand days, it would seem the product would rival the best that the Dadaists had to offer.

In my case, though, what blows my mind about my daily spam allotment is the fakenames which appear to have sent 'em. Especially since, with just 17 days to the birth of our second child, we've got names on the brain.

Why, just today I recieved an exhortation to peruse "Shy Jenny McCarthy hacekd pothos" nominally from Livestock P. Peoria, and an invite to ogle an "Ineconnt Dirtbag Teen" from Disobediently V. Trout. Yesterday it was Commemorative R. Cowing and Slued C. Staphylococcus with deliberately misspelled opportunities even I wouldn't copy and paste; last week I was propositioned by the likes of Infanticide A. Hunching, Leavenworth R. Propitiatory, Privatizes J. Intuitions, and Azimuth H. Landmasses.

We all know not to hit the links in unsolicited email, of course. But the spam itself contains so many layers of hilarity; how could any true fan of the popcultural not love this stuff?

Today's "Irony Alert" Bonus: Several weeks ago, in an odd condensation of the usually discrete meanings of the term spam -- a term notably voted by a British translation company in June 2004 as one of the ten English words that are hardest to translate -- the list of e-mail addresses subscribed to the lists for the Broadway show 'Spamalot' was nabbed by spammers, resulting in the slashdot discussion thread headline 'Spamalot' Subscribers to Get Spam ... a Lot.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:14 PM | 8 comments

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Totally Stuck In My Head 

Just when you thought it was impossible to write another simple song about love, another great indiepop band comes along and proves you wrong -- in just over two minutes.
Hoorah for sxsw for bringing scottish wonders Aberfeldy to the American masses. I'd give more credit where credit is due, but have already forgotten which mp3 blogger first passed this along.

I'll be playing Love is an Arrow and plenty of other modern gems tomorrow night from ten to midnight (EST) on my weekly radio show Tributary. Join us, won't you?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:44 PM | 0 comments

The World, Receding 

Though obscure opportunities still come around corners once in a while, the jobsearch fades fast from my forebrain as we come into the final fortnight stretch before the birth.

Work is there, as it always has been, but my too-fragile heart is instead enveloped in amniotic fluid, waiting to be born.

And it's not just me. As her mother's lap disappears, Willow has taken to crankiness with a vengeance. Despite a wonderful daddy-daughter morning by the Charles River feeding the waterfowl by the kayak and canoe launches, she runs away yelling "nobody" when asked about names for her impending sibling.

Then, driving home from Boston today, my hand on Darcie's swollen belly in the passenger seat, we heard the following soliloquy from the back seat:

Mommy and Daddy aren't 'llowed to say anyfing anymore. Not talk to me, not nod their heads like that, not say anyfing at all. They be quiet -- not their turn now!

Moments later, she was fast asleep.

Poor little firstborn child. It's going to be a heck of a ride, but I promise we won't forget you.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:03 PM | 2 comments

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Day At The Spa 

Drove into Boston midmorning for a last gasp out of the house as a family of three before baby makes four. Nice drive, actually: geese for a hundred miles; misshapen lumps of snow on otherwise bare lawns the fading evidence of the Winter's final snowmen.

By noon, we had arrived at my parent's house -- just in time to leave again for a full-family date with scissors; after three hours in the salon all five of us had haircuts courtesy of Jim, who has been cutting our family's hair since I was seven. In addition, Darcie donated her usual pre-birth ten inches to Locks of Love, and got her eyebrows waxed (she looks ten years younger, I swear). One of us got a color treatment, too, but it's not my place to out anyone on that.

I am proud to report that Willow's first haircut, a pageboy, looks smashing. Though I couldn't pass up the hour-long massage and thus missed the event itself, I am told that despite much pre-cut jitters and too much photographic documentation, she was more starled by the shampoo than the cut itself, and ultimately enjoyed the experience. Mom's pix should come out in a week or so; I'll post 'em if they seem worth it.

Shopping for lox and other breakfast-to-be sundries afterwards -- only in Newton does the Whole Foods market have its own streetside traffic officer -- followed by international childhood vacation reminiscences and a whole mess of three generation smalltalk over Lobster ravioli and a decent Pinot Grigio at Pararazzi.

After a run-around-slash-dance session with a naked post-bath Willow, the parents accepted Willow's invitation to put her to bed, and the wife and I gratefully hit the town for dusky cappucino and tony pastries at Athans European Bakery (I highly recommend the dark chocolate infusion of Jamaica and the bittersweet dust of the Tiramisu). A short hand-in-hand walk with the love of my life under the gorgeous haze of a full moon in the city, and here I am, relaxed and full of fancified vittles, solo on the newly accelerated net connection in my parents house while the household falls asleep without me.

Sure was nice to be pampered for an evening. What with the job search running dry, the bank balance fading fast, and the baby due by C-section two weeks from Thursday, we're not expecting to be out again for a very, very long time. Thanks very, very much to Mom and Dad for helping us go out in style.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:37 PM | 25 comments

Thursday, March 24, 2005


The library here at school is having a poetry contest. I wasn't going to submit anything, but even a token cash prize tips the scales these days. Well, and then there's that ego thing.

Poems must address the theme of change, and must not be more than 30 lines long. You can only select one, though, so I've spent hours today sifting through blog archives, looking for lost poetry, hoping that something will stand out as thematic and stellar all-at-once.

No luck so far, but at least I'm thinking about myself as a poet again. So I got that going for me.

If I find any likely candidates, I'll put 'em up for a quick non-binding referendum.

[Update 9:39 pm:

April is National Poetry Month. No wonder I've been thinking poetry.

The librarians put up a magnetic poetry set out in the hall. I've been fiddling with it all night.

It's a start.]

[Update #2 9:42 pm:

Charles Bernstein believes National Poetry Month is bad for poetry.]

[Update #3 3/25 1:20 pm:

Shaw believes Florence Henderson and the Marvelettes handing out cash for amateur poetic achievement in the Most Magical Place on Earthare bad for poetry. No argument here!]

[Update #4 3/25 1:34 pm:

My favorite magnetic poem so far, written by an anonymous student:

who can hear you
write about
what hurts

school loves
more than

Yay, students. May they never change. ]

posted by boyhowdy | 7:13 PM | 2 comments

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

20 Questions 

1. Why is it snowing? What happened to Spring?

2. If we cover the garden with a thin layer of old leaves, will the tulip and daffodil shoots survive the snowfall? Why? Don't the leaves get just as cold as the air around them?

3. Is reconsidering the agreed-upon names for our child-to-be three weeks before the birth a sign of something? If so, a sign of what?

4. Is it okay to be in Long Island four days before the birth? What if she goes into labor and I can't get back in time? Does it make a difference if the reason I'd be going to long island is to attend the unveiling of my grandfather's gravestone?

5. If I send twelve letters to schools and get no reply from any of them for two weeks, is it time to start calling them?

6. If I haven't gotten any leads for work in a whole week, does it mean it's time to give up and apply to Subway?

7. Is "I guess we can live on unemployment" a legitimate back-up plan?

8. How long can a family of four live on one tax return check?

9. Why am I still hanging out at mp3 blogs if the iPod is totally full?

10. Why is it twenty questions? Why not ten, or seven?

11. If your job is about to end in two months, and you're not being asked to do anything when you show up, it is still necessary to iron your shirt before work? If not, then why the heck have I been bothering?

12. Do people actually read this blog anymore? Ever since my hitcounter service went under, I've been a bit unsure.

13. Do other people get nosebleeds in their sleep, too, or is it just me?

14. Why don't we put pet-type animals in zoos? Don't wild guinea pigs deserve exhibit space, too?

15. Are there twenty of these things yet? No? Oh, okay...let's see...

16. How do normal people find time for house maintenance (dishes, laundry, etc.), work, and childplay and still remain sane? We got rid of television and home network access and I can still only barely keep up.

17. If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with all that extra time? Personally, I think I go to bed because run out of things to do every night around 2 a.m., which kind of makes me wonder -- if we lived in a city that never sleeps, when would I go to bed?

18. Anyone want to see Jeffrey Foucault, Peter Mulvey, and Kris Delmhorst in Shelburne Falls with me the first week of April?

19. Should I go to graduation this year? Even if I'm totally unable to make it about the graduates, and fully expect to cry and seethe throughout the entire thing?

20. Are we there yet?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:46 PM | 6 comments


Day 2 of the infamous paternity leave, wherein I will be spending four hours a day sitting impotently in the library while my skills as a teacher and a mentor gradually fade. So far, I've held court with a few of the more iconoclastic students on a wide range of topics ordinarily considered taboo by even the least conservative faculty here, fiddled around with jobsearch and advising email, had my picture taken for the blog, and helped a student figure out why her mailbox suddenly decided to show only outgoing messages.

If it were up to me, I'd have chosen morning hours, which would have allowed me to continue my partnerships with teachers integrating new ideas and technologies into their curricula. Unfortunately, I am left with clear evidence for how the heck I ended up being cut.

Clearly, someone "up there" (institutionally speaking) thinks my time is better spend waiting for Godot. Heck, if this sort of useless "coverage" is the best they could defend, the most valuable service they think I am most suited and best expended on, I would have cut my position, too.

I used to think I'd be able to stand anything for 45 days.

Now I am sure: I'd rather be making sandwiches. At least that way, I'd not have to be confronted, minute by minute, with the high tension between what I could do here, and what -- by fiat and finagle, schedule and set-up -- I cannot.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:59 PM | 0 comments

Monday, March 21, 2005

All My Children 

The hospital called today. Seems they "forgot" that the date they originally scheduled us for our planned C-section was a hospital holiday, so we've changed the birth date from April 18th to the 14th. Can't have the baby with a skeleton staff, after all.

Is it wrong that my first reaction to all this was relief that I wouldn't have to miss a week of my radio show?

Second reaction, of course, was the realization that April 14th is also my sister's birthday. Our first child was born on my wife's brother's birthday. This brings up some interesting questions: First, does this mean we have to plan subsequent births -- if we have any -- on the birthdays of other siblings? And second, in the interest of fairness, does this mean we have to have three more children, so every sibling can have a chance?

Brings a whole new meaning to "family planning," doesn't it?

And speaking of the radio show: tonight's show was a blessed relief after 5 hours in chairs for the usual kick-off-the-term professional day here at the ol' prep school. There's a ritual I'm not going to miss. Paternity leave begins tomorrow, with half-days for the rest of the year.

Playlist follows, as always. It may be my last term ever here at NMH, but damn, it's good to be back among the young.

Tributary 3/21/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Trey Anastasio -- Night Speaks To A Woman
String Cheese Incident -- Search
Biscuit Boys -- Ramblin' Fever
Cake -- Never There
REM -- There She Goes Again
Eddie From Ohio -- One Thousand Sarahs
Wilco -- Kamera

smallpoem: Spring and All (William Carlos Williams)

Erin McKeown -- Slung-Lo
Ryan Adams -- Wonderwall
Jamiroquai -- Virtual Insanity
Mose Alison -- Molecular Structure
Dar Williams -- Are You Out There
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -- Billy The Kid
Boulevard of Broken Songs -- Oasis vs. Green Day

smallpoem: Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus (William Carlos Williams)

Aimee Mann -- Ghostworld
Django Reinhardt -- Limehouse Blues
Nellie McKay -- David
Kim Richie -- I Know
Ray LaMontagne -- Jolene
Eliza Gilkyson -- Prodigal Son
Kathryn Williams -- Spit On A Stranger

smallpoem: To A Poor Old Woman (William Carlos Williams)

Jeffrey Foucault -- Doubletree
Simon and Garfunkel -- The Only Living Boy In New York
Eva Cassidy -- American Tune
Patty Griffin -- Forgiveness
Buddy Miller -- With God On Our Side

You've been listening to Tributary, your Monday night ten to midnight show here on WNMH, serving the tri-state area (VT, NH, and MA) on 91.5 fm...and the world via the wonders of streaming audio. Congrats to Shaw for googling up the answer to tonight's trivia question, thanks to Dad for joining the ranks of dedicated listeners despite a brand new set of back troubles, and a thousand blessings to the rest of you for just stopping by.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 0 comments

Absolutely NOT Mullet Music 

Don't forget to tune in to WNMH tonight and every Monday night from 10:00 to midnight (EST) for tributary, your favorite weekly radio program.

What is Tributary? Well, it's about as far as you can get from this:

In fact, those especially disgusted or disturbed by the above image, found front and center on the MSN portal homepage tonight, might find Tributary an especially effective antidote.

From funk to folk, from jazz to jambands, from blues to bluegrass, and everything in between: That's Tributary. I've been gathering in the jams and licks for years, so you won't be disappointed. Bedtime stories on the hour and the half hour, too.

Stream here. Last week's show here.

Ew. It's going to take the full two hours to get that out of my head.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:11 PM | 2 comments

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I Want To Write A Poem 

Looking back at the boxes of loose papers, it becomes clear that my poetry has always been about the wonder of small things, and utilizing them as vehicles to clarify and distill the bigger truths of the soul and self.

I want to write. I do. But the world I live in these days is clouded by the biggest questions. I dwell in looming matters, and have no peace with which to explore the world in a grain of sand. The darkest truths, the skyscrapers of our existence, push at my consciousness, drowning out the details. They nibble at my peripheral vision until the images blur.

If only the world would get smaller again for a while. Then I could see the trees. Then I could get at the universe of the mind. Then I could be a poet, once more.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:34 PM | 0 comments

Lazy Sunday: Tidbits 

Since I was the one who ruined the dried-out play-doh (hint: no matter what anyone tells you, adding water does NOT reconstitute the doh), we had an impromptu Daddy Day today. The toy store didn't open until noon, but Cafe Koko had some comfy chairs and cookies ready for us, and the kid and I had a decent time wandering and window-shopping down the increasingly balmy streets of downtown Greenfield, MA. Chinese food afterwards, since lunch is cheaper there than the yellow arches. Car wash, too, since the kid loves the car wash.

Since our two o'clock return to a much-rested, too-pregnant love of our lives, I've been at the library, enjoying the last few moments of silence before the students swarm back from break, their enviable tans exposed under goosepimpled shorts. I had plenty of work to do, so of course I'm playing the ever-so-addictive Slide Out. (It's by Nabisco. Ping!)

Not much happening in the digiverse to report, though. All my favorite Mp3 bloggers (and many of my favorite techbloggers, and a bunch of random film critics I know little about) are away at SXSW. I'm seriously jealous, but out of work Daddies don't get to go to Texas for a week's worth of fun. Lucky for me, there's the real world.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:09 PM | 1 comments
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