November 29, 2006

Snow Patrol and J.J. Cale toss leftovers to Gomez*


It's a good habit to start: Songbird, Willie Nelson; That Was Me, Todd Snider; Picaresqueties, The Decemberists; We Were Born In a Flame, Sam Roberts; The Departed soundtrack; and The Animal Years, Josh Ritter.

and always open to suggestions....


The layer of dust on my CD's is getting thicker. I'm thinking of using them to tile the den or as wallpaper in the boys' room... coasters, anyone?

At the risk of echoing previous generational rants ("damn that Top 40 radio!" "who wants my MTV?" "kids these days..."), I do feel the need to decry the loss of status in my life and in my listening habits of the good ol' fashioned "album" -- has anybody listened to Exile on Mainstreet, 14 Shots to the Dome, or even M!ssundaztood lately? I don't think I've listened to more than two tracks in a row from the same artist unless I accidentally clicked off the random button. I listen more in themes now, my moods are playlists to be dialed and selected for the appropriate soundtrack. I listen in singles, buying tracks selected from Napster or iTunes, so while I have broadened my variety and purchased more artists than before, the last packaged cd in its jewel case I picked up at Target may have been... STP's Thank You? Los Lobos The Ride?

Financial considerations play a part, of course. Would you rather have the variety pack of 8 different flavors or pay the same price for a box that's all oatmeal raisin, and you only like the first one, and half of the third, before you get bored and toss the box to the back of the pantry? I listen to Pandora or Paste Radio, and I'll download anything you recommend on Napster, then make my selections as to how I'll spend my hard-earned 99¢ (...ok, TMW&BWITW's 99¢, but she wouldn't want me to spend it frivolously). This means if I want to listen to show tunes, not that there's anything wrong with that, I can do my best Gene Kelly impersonation without buying discs filled with Ethel Merman and Mandy Patinkin, and if someone gives Gorillaz or Bo Bice two thumbs up I can listen, hit "next track" many times, and quickly, then never subject my ears to it again.

But the last complete disc, "LP album" for you history majors, I listened to front to back, track by track, was an honorary listen, an aural celebration for the 30th anniversary of Born to Run.

I started this spiel to lament the passing of the album-listening experience in my life. Albums used to be a cohesive whole, tracks would relate to each other, feed off one another, lead the listener along the width of the disc, be it black and vinyl or shiny silver. There was a beginning, the first song or even an intro or prelude, and there was a last song, sometimes a hidden untitled track to reward patient listeners who took a second or two after the last note to savor the moment instead of rushing to change discs.

I don't know about you, but I sort of miss the days of eagerly anticipating the day a new album was released, or being able to pick up the missing disc in an artist's collection. I remember the debates of the early CD era, when there was sometimes a difficult decision to be made on how to spend that hard-earned 17.99+TX -- on the new Pearl Jam or a classic Pink Floyd? Get the new Poison or Bobby Brown, or replace the all-time favorites from the record collection? And was The Wall worthy of a CD, or would Dark Side... be enough? C'mon now, Picnic-'n-Chicken didn't pay enough to get both. Now I just buy songs, both old and new, some to play just once or to entertain/educate my boys, some beacause they're the newest from my favorites and I don't want to go to Wal Mart and spend all my allowance on a couple of discs. I like hearing new artists I never would pick up on a disc, until they were on sale or through Columbia House 15 months later, and I like being able to get a few new songs to mix into the "taco night" playlist when we, well, on nights we have tacos. I guess I need to designate an "album night" and listen to a few complete productions, turn the shuffle button off and appreciate the original track listing.

Tunnel of Love, Abbey Road, Damn the Torpedos, Diamonds & Dirt, The Score, Hollywood Town Hall, Late Registration, New Miserable Experience, Rubber Soul, Pablo Honey, Silk Degrees, Storms of Life... any suggestions? I'd better get listenin'....


Ah, I feel better already. Less fractured, distracted, busy. Listened to every track, one right after the other, on the same album from the same artist! It's almost like having a conversation with someone, sitting down on the couch without a lot of interuptions and distractions, instead of working the room at a party. So I feel like I've had a beer and chatted it up with John Legend, Once Again, J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton, The Road to Escondido, and Snow Patrol, Eyes Open.


*actually they ain't half bad, in a quirky poeticly poppy way (Champagne for Monkeys!). thanks for the intro, 2x4!

"hence the title"

"Inspired" because I felt I could/should/want to be a teacher. Like wise Shrek and his onion, the reasons are many and do include, in all honesty, not working during the summer months and on Christmas Eve.

The "outta my %#$@*&!# mind" is a room full of loud, goofy, wiggling 4th graders all doing 10 different loud goofy things to not look at or listen to the tall nervous Dad standing at the front of the classroom. While my classmates, experienced aides and tutors etc., talk each week of the students they are involved with or the discussions they had with teachers, I try to work in a "once, on a field trip..." but usually, meekly, just bite my lip in anxiety and dread.

But today, drumroll please, I taught my first class. In a classroom. Full of kids. The loud goofy wiggling ones I think I mentioned. Ok, it was only for 20 minutes. And it was only art* -- angled lines and circles slightly resembling a plastic bottle, quickly deteriorating into abstract doodles or fish. But it was my first kinda teacher-like thing. I lived. It was cool.

Then the teacher had me haul some books and unpack boxes.

Gotta start somewhere.

*"only art" is a term of endearment, my future sister-in-law.

November 26, 2006

Satan Claus?

makes you change what you want to ask him for, doesn't it?

November 25, 2006

Reading List

Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
Beside Still Waters and Tuesday Morning Quarterback, both by Gregg Easterbrook and football, this man knows what's Holy
Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies, & Bull Riders Josh Peters

and for the ears:

Joe Henry, Kindness of the World
Neil Finn, One All

November 24, 2006

You livia in Bolivia?

I have to do a report on Bolivia -- all I know of the country is "Bolivian marching powder" from Bright Lights, Big City, and it's where Butch and Sundance tried to retire in peace... and from what I've read so far, they have a revolt or a coup, sometimes both, every 6 months.

And now I've learned to never trust the Spanish translations on Wikipedia (or prob. any other site as well) -- glad I noticed the slightly out of context mention of a certain nightmare-inducing children's television character before I stood up in class for the oral presentation: aquivocarse mando al libertador a caballo hasta asia, el cual aprovecho y libero tal pais de los teletubbies. cuando volvio, aplico las mismas estrategias para liberar...

Now I may be wrong, por que yo no se most of the other words either, but I think someone's messin' with my head, and my grade.

November 23, 2006


I'm thankful for the fact that there is no limit on using the post title "Thankful"...

I am thankful, and guilty and still quite extended and swollen, for all the fantastic food I ate today. I am thankful for Fat Tire Ale and Starbucks coffee.

I am thankful I do not, for the first time in over 20 years, have to work tomorrow! "Black Friday" my ass, for me it's going to be sunny and warm and stay as far away from a shopping mall as possible Friday. I don't want to even hear the sound of a cash register or hear the words earlybird, coupon, or did you beat goal yet???? And in retail reality, if that's not some sort of oxymoron, after the sheer madness of the 5am shoppers it's not the busiest of days; the last two weekends before X-mas are usually much more intense and packed and endless. So I am thankful for TMW&BWITW* who lets me do her dishes and laundry and fix her leftover turkey sandwiches instead of earning a paycheck folding 70,000 sweaters this holiday season. Of course she'll be getting painted macaroni noodle jewelry for Christmas this year, but we all had to make some sacrifices.

I am thankful for my family, especially #3 who entertained us with "guess what animal I am" charades for hours, working his way through the entire ark until even he had no idea whether he was imitating a tiger or koala or walrus, they had all started to act and growl the same so he would just say "yes!" to whatever we guessed. And for my Grandmother, soon to be 85, who invited us all to drop in and visit her in Denver, even though she lives here. Guess she didn't like the pie.

* The Most Wonderful & Beautiful Wife in the World would like to be addressed as "Sugar Momma" from now on.

November 21, 2006

not what you think...

title reminds me of a movie I saw once, but it's actually an extremely entertaining blog I feel, in my heart of hearts, you should go read right now.



November 14, 2006

Post-it note salad. Extra croutons.

My muse must be a stock car driver on her days off. Flashes of brilliant ideas come to me while I am driving on the freeway, changing lanes and radio stations, telling the kids to stop throwing things, and groping for the pen and notepaper I keep for when the sparks of creativity find me. My most creative writing is dangerous and illegible writing, words and phrases written at 70 mph, jotted down quickly on sticky yellow squares of paper, the pad balanced on the dashboard, coffee cup lid, or my right knee. I need to write immediately when the inspiration hits, or it will be forgotten forever, but in the fervor of the moment I usually neglect to write neatly or to bother with spelling. Many a brilliant idea, the novel to rival Hemmingway or the analytical thesis worthy of a doctorate, is beyond comprehension when I return safely home, sit down at my desk, and attempt to read the scribbled words.

This is where the outlines and rough drafts have their start, the words and phrases written on grocery lists, envelopes, and PTA bulletins. When an idea comes to me, I do not want it to escape into the clutter and chaos that abounds in a life with three boys, I need to try to capture it, hold it until I can get home and unwrap it in the quiet of the house after bedtime. Only then can I empty my pockets and re-read the frantic penmanship and attempt to decipher the fragmented clues I have left myself. Tossed like a salad of post-it® notes, receipts and scrap papers, some of my notes make no sense at all, but other times I find the phrase I need to start a new paper or to summarize an assignment. In constantly channeling these ideas from my mind to the paper the writing process is kept fresh and immediate, so the writings I am working on are not allowed to lie stagnant in the back of my mind, waiting for a calm moment when I can sit at the desk and begin an outline.

I enjoy writing. I enjoy writing fiction, love letters, e-mails to friends, journals, comments and critiques no one asked for on their blog, and I even enjoy writing reports and essays for school. I most often write when the house is quiet, while everyone is away at school or work, or I write at night, after the boys are snoring and the wife is comfortable on the couch. Sometimes there is music playing, but only as a spark for creative writing, to set or jump-start a mood. Marvin Gaye, Barry White, the sultry Alicia Keys not only work when trying to set the move and get the groove, but also help the ink flow smooth when writing a note for her pillow. Goofing around in the blogosphere? Mash some Van Morrison, Dylan, Frank Black, Beck, James McMurtry, the inspiration of a genius lyric to spark the creativity. For NaNoWriMo it had to be RHC Peppers and Foo Fighters, quick and thumping, driving out as many words as possible, even if they didn't always make sense

For academic writing I need total silence to facilitate focus. I am easily distracted, and for all the benefits of Microsoft Word there are the temptations of too many buttons available on the computer. I will look for any excuse to go on the web and look something up, justifying my site surfing as research for the essay, when in reality it may take hours before I steer myself away from that damn "Next Blog" button and back to the assignment. I am also distracted and diverted from completing my writing assignments by my inability to end a sentence, either by refusing to use a punctuation mark other than a comma, or by revising and reworking, then rereading and rewriting again, each sentence. People have told me I can write well, and for the most part I enjoy what I have written, but there is always a nagging sense of inadequacy, a suspicion of whether I have put forth my best effort. Often my writing is too spontaneous, and while I can go back and read a finished assignment or an effort of creative writing and appreciate some sentences or phrases that began as brainstorming on the road to pick up the kids and have been developed into good solid examples of my writing ability, I can also see the lines or paragraphs where I did not pay much attention and towards the end simply lost interest, leading to poor abrupt en

November 11, 2006

A spike!

Crossed that 6000 word barrier on NaNoWriMo, so I'm only a little over 10,000 words, or 6 days, behind the recommended pace... oops, it's after midnight, make that 7 days off target. Oh well. I use some big words, multisyllabic and their ilk, so that should count for more words.

November 8, 2006

What were you doing....

10 years ago today?

You were watching Jordan lead the Bulls, Aikmen and the Cowboys, and wondering if the Yankees could get back to the World Series in the next few years... you probably went to see Fargo or Jerry Maguire, heard Seal's Kiss From a Rose for the first of 6 million times, and wondered if Tupac had recorded anything new before he was shot... you wondered if Tyson vs. Holyfield would be exciting, and you cast a vote for President Clinton, wishing him a smooth, uneventful second term.

For some reason I don't remember any of that stuff, because ten years ago today I was nervous, excited, so happy my cheeks hurt, and walking down the aisle of the Graceland Wedding Chapel to marry The Most Wonderful and Beautiful Woman in The World... and while we had planned, 10 years, 2 kids, and a mortgage ago to spend this glorious anniversary celebrating among the lights of Paris, I hope she knows how blessed and lucky and privileged I feel to be her husband, and to be able to tell her Happy Anniversary no matter where in the world we are.

November 7, 2006

explore your influences

just an assignment I had to turn in, thought I'd share...

To find the genesis of my life long passion for reading and writing there is no need to look farther than my mother’s refrigerator where the alphabet, in magnetic letters of various colors and sizes, has always been stuck to the door. Over the past 40 years the height on the door of the jumbled letters has depended on the size of the child or grandchild most recently in the kitchen, where my mom has been working on spelling or reading or simply playing. While she did the dishes or made supper, we spelled our names or created words and pictures, all the while making the sounds of the alphabet or singing the ABC song. The alphabet was not just a means to occupy our attention, words and language was part learning and part fun, it was something we could do together with our mother, it was time and an experience shared.

Further evidence of Mom’s influence and impact on my enjoyment of the language arts is on my sons’ overstuffed bookshelves, where three generations of treasured children’s stories are stacked and stuffed, well used and much beloved. There are inscriptions written inside many of the covers, in books that had been given as gifts over the years on holidays and special occasions, from “to Candy, 1945” to “for Joel, Christmas 1968” to “happy birthday Jace, 2005.” My mother always read stories to us, and most of the first books were ones her mother had saved from when Mom was a little girl. She read us those and we continued to add new works to the collection, many sent from my Grandmother. Recently I opened a box from my parent’s garage that had been sealed and stored for at least 25 years, and sorted through the books making piles for my siblings and our children, and I was impressed at how many very memorable books had been chosen for us by my grandparents. I should not have been surprised, since someone had to instill in my mother a love for reading so she could pass it on to her children, but I had not realized where this family tradition, the hereditary love for books had begun. I recently thanked my Grandmother for her good taste in gifts, and for the love of reading and appreciation for quality books she helped instill in me. I don’t remember ever discussing books with her, talking about what I liked to read, but having those books must have been a major influence. And not one of those books I received as a child and have now read to my children had been based on a movie or television cartoon, or had any type of fast-food kid's meal tie-in.

Reading and writing in school has also been a major influence, there are several experiences with positive encouragement regarding my language development that helped me to enjoy language assignments. In 2nd grade my teacher held up my creative writing project for the entire class to see, saying she was proud of my good work. I don’t know how good the story could have been, since the paper was the type with the top half blank for illustrating the action of the story, and the bottom half for writing consisted of three lines over an inch wide for our gigantic grade school printing skills, which does not leave much room for plot or character development. In the 8th grade our English class had a writing assignment due every week, fiction or non-fiction was our choice, but no matter how good the story was, grammatical errors resulted in a failing grade. I received several large red F’s on the front page, but also earned comments like “are you going to be a writer some day?” This encouraged me to read and write as much as I could, I wanted to read and get ideas for my own stories, and I wanted to write the stories so well I would continue to impress my teacher.

I have continued to read as an adult, sharing and discussing new finds and favorites with my family as we pass along recommended reading to each other and spend a lot of gift money at the bookstores. Most of my writing over the past twenty years has consisted of Christmas cards, love letters, and performance evaluations at work, until I returned to school a few years ago and was re-introduced to essays and written exams. My brother has also been a great influence in my return to creative writing, as he began an online "blog" ( ) to keep his friends and family, now spread out across the states, updated on the adventures of his family’s life and also to share some of his creative writings. Yes, his talent impressed me, but sibling rivalry mandates I must try to get more attention than my brother, so I have also began writing more, attempting to rekindle the creative spark I had when younger. So far I've succeeded in only producing a lot of smoke, but it's more in the effort and exercise, appreciating the process of putting words from inside my head down on paper (so to speak). There is also the strange sense of community when someone reads your words, even if they read from far away exotic locations like India or Canada, and a sense of connection when they share their own writing.

Returning to the roots of a life long passion for reading and writing is exponentially rewarding when you have children of your own to share the experiences. My sons were as excited as I was to open the box of old children’s books, and we had to stop ourselves from reading them all the first afternoon we took them home. It is with great joy that I read to my children before bed, or that they beg to stay up a little later to finish a chapter. Having passed the torch on to the next generation is a reason to be proud but also a challenge to myself, I cannot slack in my own reading, I need to be ready with recommendations and be able to discuss as they grow as readers and writers. I hope to echo the positive influences in my life into their experiences with the language arts, and to help create an impact that will last them a lifetime.

November 5, 2006

Trying To Scare Me?

Went into #2's classroom on Friday, to observe the 4th graders learn some readin' and writin'. I've done a few field trips with the boys, and come to see a few science projects and oral presentations over the years, but I had never been in a class while the teacher was teaching -- so where did I get the idea I could be, or want to be, a teacher? Trapped in a room with 20 monsters, twenty fidgety noisy wiggling chattering four foot high monsters... what was I thinking?!?!?!? What struck me the most was how loud the class was, not in the out of control free for all sense, but there was constant noise: books closing, books being dropped, pencils sharpened and dropped and sharpened again, chairs scooting in out over and on to someone's foot, whispers and questions and comments and everything repeated three times. The other indelible image was the teacher looking at the clock more times, many more times, than the kids did. To be fair, she is pregnant, and it was Friday. I'm not sure what was louder, the bell at 3:35 or her sigh of relief.

November 3, 2006

Reading List

Holidays On Ice David Sedaris
Consider the Lobster David Foster Wallace
The Ice Soldier Paul Watkins
To Cut A Long Story Short Jeffrey Archer
1972 Morgan Llywelyn
sucked. don't know why I read the whole thing

November 1, 2006

50,000 ?!?!?!?!?

There is no way I'll ever finish, but it looked like fun. And it's another excuse to not finish the laundry. or *

so join me, or give me ideas. Lots of ideas.

I am trying to just write, no thought to grammar and sentence structure, apologies to Mrrs. Strunk and White, and as you can to tell no thought to an actual plot or sensible storyline. I am trying not to read what I write, but if I try not to spellcheck I get hives and a twitch in my right eye.

* if that doesn't work, look under Authors for JK2006