December 28, 2009

Taking a break from the 80's with a few new discs: Paul Weller's As Is Now, Neil Young's Prairie Wind, Elvis & Crew strumming and goofing on The Complete Million Dollar Quartet; some new books: World War Z, Dave Eggers' 2009 NonRequired Reading; and some hot buttered rum...

December 26, 2009

Best of the Dec80s (get it? " Decade" + "1980's " ?)

Ok, on to the 80's! My "expansion" decade, ages 14 - 23, of not only music but life in general -- girls, paychecks, cars, alcohol, even a touch of higher education. Heck, I think I even got married at some point during the decade...

New Wave/Alternative, New Traditionalist, Christian Rock, Live Aid and Do They Know It's Christmas?, mix tapes and The Monsters of Rock tour...

U2, The Replacements, Elvis Costello, Hoodoo Gurus, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, Police, Waterboys, BoDeans, X, Prince, R.E.M., R.E.M., R.E.M. !

Charlie Peacock, Keith Green, Petra (no, not Stryper), 77s, Altar Boys...


Dwight Yoakam,  George Strait, Randy Travis, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Keith Whitley, Willie & Waylon...

day 2 of 80's quest: I'm noticing songs from my All-Time Album list don't always make the Song of the Decade list, and not all my favorite can't-live-without songs from just 11+ months ago have been included either... the 80's of course begot the compact disc and my first sound system, a 4 ft high stacked Panasonic system in a lovely faux-wood cabinet; cost me $1100 (which I always remember since my first truck a few months later was $11,000)... seriously debated for days what the inaugural disc would be -- Beatles or U2? Joshua Tree won the battle... fed up with commercials after every couple of songs leads to country stations that play "12 in row!" and a crush on Wynonna Judd... a crush on a blonde leads to roadtrips to the Coliseum for U2 and the Monsters of Rock tour... not sure exactly when I "discovered" Van Morrison but must have been towards the end of the decade...


Albums listened to the most in the 1980's:
  • Tunnel of Love, Springsteen
  • Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum, U2
  • Pleased to Meet Me, Replacements
  • Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. and Buenos Noches From a Lonely Room, Dwight Yoakam
  • Reckoning and Document, R.E.M.
  • Purple Rain, Prince & The Revolution
  • So, Peter Gabriel
  • 1984, Van Halen
  • Back in Black, AC/DC (daily in 1980 on cassette+boombox)
  • The Lexicon of Love, ABC
  • Rain on the Scarecrow, J C Mellencamp
  • Introducing the Hardline..., Terence Trent D'Arby
  • The Best Of..., Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  • In My Tribe, 10,000 Maniacs
  • Pontiac, Lyle Lovett
  • Songs From The Big Chair, Tears For Fears
  • Full Moon Fever, Tom Petty
  • Graceland, Paul Simon
  • See How Are We Are, X
  • Storms of Life, Randy Travis
  • Why Not Me, The Judds
did I miss anything?




December 21, 2009

Best of the Decade(s) -- 1970's

The 70's -- reggae, rock, disco, Captain & Tennille; Elton, Led Zep, Boston, Barry White and Al Green; "Grease" "Saturday Night Fever" and "Thank God It's Friday"; Clapton is God, Springsteen's The Boss, and introducing The Clash and Elvis Costello...

Update: This is a decidedly more mellow (and quieter) list than I would have made at age 13, which has now depressed me since doing the math reveals 30 years have gone by since I began listening to music.  Dang, I'm gettin' old. Fortunately my dad was the station manager for American Forces Radio in Europe, so I was able to escape his Barry Manilow LPs by exploring the world of 70's Top 40 radio, although I do confess one of the first albums my friend had that we played repeatedly was Shaun Cassidy's debut with the classic "Da Doo Run Run" (I couldn't even hum it now if I tried), and the Star Wars soundtrack.  The DJs used to make mix tapes for me, or I would sit right up close to the radio, fingers on the Play and Record buttons to record the song the second they stopped talking or before it faded into the next tune.



While I'm dialing down memory lane... first cassettes, received for 10th birthday with the tape player -- ABBA, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road; first album purchased with my allowance -- either Earth Wind & Fire's Greatest Hits or The Commodores Greatest; introduction to both the Beatles (was it KPRI that did the "Beatles A to Z" weekends? I taped those too)  and Bee Gees -- Uncle Fred's scene-by-scene reenactment of the Sgt. Pepper's movie; the funky phase -- one of very few white boys trying to make the football team and introduced to Bootsy's Parliament, LTD, Con Funk Shun; finding 91X and KGB and the record collections of friends' older siblings (Hendrix! Zeppelin! Joplin, CSN&Y, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd!); the end of the 70's era (musically just temporarily, smoking out more or less permanently) for me comes in 1983 as a girlfriend sends me U2's War...

Which means it's time to put this edition of Best of The Decade to rest:

  • What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
  • Rocket Man, Elton John
  • Papa Was A  Rolling Stone, Temptations
  • Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Dylan/Clapton
  • Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison
  • Born To Run, Springsteen
  • Night Moves, Bob Seger
  • Play That Funky Music, Wild Cherry
  • Miss You, Stones
  • Here Comes My Girl, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

1960's Top 10

  • Love Me Do, The Beatles (62)
  • Ticket To Ride, The Beatles (64)
  • Subterranean Homesick Blues, Dylan (65)
  • Tired Of Waiting For You, The Kinks (65)
  • Good Vibrations, Beach Boys (66)
  • Monday, Monday, The Mamas & The Papas (66)
  • Respect, Aretha Franklin (67)
  • Son Of A Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield (68)
  • (Sittin' On The) Dock Of The Bay, Otis Redding (68)
  • You Can't Always Get..., Rolling Stones (69)
I think even a "top 100" list would mean chopping off some great songs...

December 17, 2009

Best of the Decade(s) -- the 60's

Hmmm... the 1960's are turning out to be much tougher than the 50's.  A few that didn't make the cut: "It's Not Unusual", "Stop in the name of love", "My Generation" "Hard to handle" and "Good Vibrations"...

2 days under the headphones later... Narrowed it down to about 24 songs, hard to not let Beatles/Dylan/Stones dominate. And which "Respect" -- Aretha or Otis?

December 16, 2009

Best of the Decade(s)

In order to warm up before deciding on the best songs and albums of 2009, and to give "shuffle" time to cycle through the 2000s playlist, I went back a few decades:

The 1950s
  1. "Bo Diddley" by Bo Diddley
  2. "Fever" by Peggy Lee
  3. "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" Nat King Cole
  4. "Great Balls of Fire" Jerry Lee Lewis
  5. "Johnny B. Goode" Chuck Berry
  6. "Lonely Teardrops" Jackie Wilson
  7. "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" Bill Haley & His Comets
  8. "That's All Right"* Elvis Presley
  9. "What's I Say" Ray Charles
  10. "You Send Me" Sam Cooke
*or is it "Alright"?

Songs are listed by year; no complicated formulas, sales figures, or critical/historical evaluation other than do i like it and will I continue to play the song?  Lists are in no way set in concrete, so if I forgot a tune that must be considered, let me know!

Ok, on to the '60s...

hello? hello? Is this thing on?

Daaaang... haven't done any blogging in a long time. Football season, as in coaching 2 sons' teams, substitute teaching, and general laziness -- surprised it hasn't gone to "inactive" status.

Anyway, had to stop by to change comment settings, looks like I'm a leading advertiser for Dr. Hu's marital aids.

Ok, now back to research and debate on 2009's top albums and songs -- any suggestions?

November 3, 2009

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, A Shopping List

I love playlists.  I spend hours (yes "spend" not "waste") creating playlists on iTunes, Napster, or my latest toy last.fm: 1960's soul ballads, disco cover tunes, songs by people named Doug, albums that mention birds... whatever ties at least 2 tunes together gets a catchy sometimes cryptic title and becomes -- voila! -- a playlist.  I may never listen to the playlist again, but that's not the point.

So working on a Rock n Roll Museum inductee playlist, and realizing there are gaps in my collection: so far, no Animals, Booker T & the MGs, Doors, or Everly Brothers...

no Woody Guthrie, no Buddy Guy...

one song from Hot Buttered "Chef"? No Herb Alpert (and his Tijuana Brass Band, of course)...

not a single Joni Mitchell? No Moonglows? Ok, I didn't really expect to have any Moonglows.

Isley Bros? Ink Spots? Robert Johnson? Brenda Lee?

October 14, 2009

Nuggets


No, not of the pressed chicken variety.  The garage band, 60's psychedelic, hint of surf guitar, touch of New Wave (but not slick and sissy), bit of punk (with more melody) songs that make you go "Hey! I remember that tune!"-- that type of nugget...

Worth the price of admission just for the band names: The Spongetones, The Unclaimed, Laika and the Cosmonauts, The Dukes of Stratosphear, Vibrasonic, The Droogs, The Hoodoo Gurus, The Optic Nerve, The Aardvarks, and of course The Cramps -- it goes on and on!

10 minutes later...  

Ever notice certain music and books do not go well together?  Sat down to listen and catch up on some reading, but starting with Elmore Leonard's Tishomingo Blues (Blues or Civil War marches) my words and tunes were clashing.  Tried Griffin & Sabine but that needs something softer, maybe jazz maybe French? then attempted John Wooden's On Leadership but that definitely clashed with The Fuzztones and The Creeps...

September 27, 2009

Monsters of Arctic Avett Rockets

I constantly rip out and save album review pages from magazines and newspapers in a feeble attempt to keep musically current; while most of my 1st - 5th grade students haven't progressed beyond cartoon theme ditties or radio pop, my 15 yr old son and the players on my football team constantly refer to acts and tunes I can't even fake my way to knowing.  Of course I never look at the "What's Next" and "Who's Hot" articles until it's too late and they're hopelessly outdated, but once in awhile, such as a while like tonight, I plug all the names into Napster and give it all a listen...

  • Arctic Monkeys: tracks from Crying Lightning and Humbug... (on a scale of 1 to 10 as to whether I would listen to them again*)  7
  • Monsters of Folk: Monsters of Folk -- 8
  • The Bravery: "Slow Poison" ...wow, very 80's -- 6
  • Three Days Grace: Life Starts Now... only allowed 30 second snippits, but heard the word "vampire" multiple times -- 4
  • Freddy Fender: The Legend of Freddy Fender ...not usually a fan of live albums, but love the Fender -- 6
  • Mason Jennings: Blood of Man  ...a bit Warren Zevon-ish, eh? -- 8.5 (and gaining points every time a song comes up in the rotation)
  • Alicia Keys: "Doesn't Mean Anything" all pop, sweet but no sass, no funk -- 5
  • Karen O. and The Kids: "All Is Love" from the Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack ...quirky, cool, the anti-bland Disney pop -- 7
  • Avett Brothers:
  • Boys Like Girls:
  • The Bottle Rockets:
  • Brandi Carlile:

* 1 being "Dang, can't even listen to 20 seconds of that" up to "Who needs coffee, hit the button and buy that song immediately!"

August 23, 2009

Lazy Sunday afternoon, working on the resume while the fam is out at the pool...

today's 1st 10 on shuffle:

The Ballad of Jenny Rae, The BoDeans
What'd I Say, Elvis Presley
Got To Get You Into My Life, The Beatles
Stone And Steel, King Wilkie
Different When It Comes To You, Bruce Cockburn
Passion's Killing Floor, HIM
Rocky Mountain Way, Joe Walsh
Georgia On My Mind, Ray Charles
Breakout, Foo Fighters
Jack And Diane, John Mellencamp


Hmmm, sounds a bit old school today...

August 15, 2009

Summer Reading, part deux








Okay, obviously this whole "balanced layout" thing escapes me...
The top photo is a Library's parking garage in some city I have forgotten; the rest are books I've gotten through in the past month in addition to some children's books and a (thankfully) short novel called Art Kills that was so awful I don't want to talk about it.
  • Hemingway, it goes without saying but I will anyway, is the epitome of Classic
  • LT & Me is the usual sports-mom rise through adversity to superstar success, but still a wonderful portrait of how a son can be brought up in this rough world to be an outstanding young man; he had the right role model (Walter Payton) and even without his prodigy-like attachment/determination to play football it seems he would turn out okay no matter what he chose to do with his life.
  • Geek Love -- weird, bizarre, a tad disturbing... and a quality, original read, for the most part. "Created" circus freaks developed as deep, whole people, although the parents disappointingly stagnate and fade from the story and the ending is weak, as in what, that's it?
  • Arsonist's Guide... was picked off the shelf due to its title; strange, funny, sad, shallow, full of too many rhetorical questions (paragraphs full of 'em!), but an entertaining beach read...
  • Pirates! Ah, the Pirate Captain and his luxuriant beard, plus Napoleon -- doesn't get much better than that. Hilarious, witty, historically inaccurate, and I highly recommend the entire series (this is the 4th or one of hundreds, depending on which jacket blurb you read)...

July 13, 2009

1000 Important Things To Teach My Sons

1000 Important Things To Teach My Sons Before They...*

I saw this idea in the past week, just glanced at it quickly on the back page of a magazine or somewhere, but it's been surfacing quite often in my brain, probably every time I've talked to my boys. I am in the fatherly habit of imparting words of wisdom, nuggets of good sense that I know they are treasuring in their hearts and minds. In the odd occasion that they might forget or misinterpret my sage advice after I toss them out into the wide world to fend for themselves, I plan to give them each several copies of the following list, framed or on t-shirts, of the top one thousand adages, quotes, helpful hints, admonitions, suggestions, and just plain good ol' common sense that will help them find the path to a rewarding, productive, and relatively hassle and stress-free life (such as don't write convoluted, run-on sentences).

I am, as always, open to suggestions. Which conveniently is also a good suggestion (see #4 below). What tenets do you live your life by? Mottos, slogans, rules? What did you learn while growing up that has served you well? What are you teaching your children? I know it's not good to copy other's work (#5!) but it is good to learn from others' experience and knowledge (#6).

*= ...Before They Turn 18? ...Grow Up and Move Out? ...Have Children of Their Own?

I don't really have anything for the list yet. I have slightly less than 3 years before Son #1 turns 18, so I figure that gives me plenty of time to compile, organize, and laminate. My big 3 now, the answers to 99.9% of any situation or issue I've run across in my years as a Dad are as follows:


1. Go to the bathroom.
2. Save your money.
3. Look it up.

try 'em. guaranteed applicable and effective.

4. Be open to suggestions.

5. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

6. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

7. "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." John F. Kennedy (1961)

8. Go to college.

9. Learn how to cook. *

10. Respect, respect, respect: the person you are with, how others want to be treated, and yourself (shouldn't this count as 3 Things?)

11. Know how to clean the bathroom. *

12. Put the toilet seat down. *

13. Stay active.

14. this is a long one, but worth it:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." Robert A. Heinlein

15. Bring her flowers without her having to ask.*

16. Say "I love you" before he/she/they do.

17. Open doors for others.* Physically and metaphorically.

18. Read the Declaration of Independence.

19. Do not go shopping on major holidays. Salespeople should have the day off too.

20. Listen to Jim Croce: Never tug on Superman's cape...

21. Dance.

22. Wear sunscreen.

23. Never choose a girl/woman over your friends.

24. Learn how to do it right. And if you can't do it right, pay someone who knows how to do it right.

25. Do it right the first time.

26. Don't smoke. Except quality cigars on special occasions.

27. Do as I say, not as I do.

28. Lead by example.

29. Lead, Follow, or get the hell out of the way.

30. Turn on the water on a public sink verrrrrry carefully!

31. Shake well.

32. Save your money.

33. Then again, you can't take it with you.

34. Don't finish bad books.







* denotes came with some variation of "because chicks dig it"


July 7, 2009

Summer = Books

Well, summer is supposed to equal studying and job searching, but all that just makes Jack a dull boy, right? And I do believe it is an official crime in SoCal to be indoors wasting these beautiful days, so it's essentially my civic duty to soak in the sun and read...


Updated a lot lately on TeacherDad's Books, although my "reviews" are getting more sparse and tepid each time... nonetheless, over here are a few (adult) recommendations for eyes and ears:


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith

A literary "mash-up," a tale of manners and of flesh-eaters. Just started this one, but I'm already horrified, laughing out loud, and wanting to read Ms. Austin's original classic and Mr. G-S's next book Abe Lincoln, Vampire Slayer. Oh my.




Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years

by Sue Townsend

Keeping with an all-England theme, I suppose... read the first of the series a few weeks ago, when poor befuddled and beleaguered Adrian was an awkward teen. Now he's in his 30s, married, employed, a father; I shouldn't have read this without reading the books covering ages 15-29, but once started just couldn't stop. Still confusingly British, and dated (Princess Diana/Teletubbies), but hilarious and a quick, easy, between dips in the pool read...



Blue Box2 Finest Jazz Vocalists


4 CDs

From Ella to Cassandra, Chet Baker to Lou Rawls -- this set has some true classic gems, and is worth listening to in its entirety.





Where the Light Is
John Mayer Live in Los Angeles


I'm not a die-hard live music fan, would prefer to not have the yelling fans, witty banter, and muddled sound -- I like my tunes produced. But this one is awesome, both as live talent/skill (that guitar!) and as quality crafted songs...

And finally, this goofy thing came from CoverBrowser.com -- a great way to spend several hours, or to replace those stupid album cover choices iTunes sometimes puts in. The only link I've found so far to the music albums section is just putting "album" into the search, but there's a ton of comic and book stuff to keep one occupied...

1000 Important Things...

Only 980 to go!

Posted this idea up on our Facebook page too, got some good suggestions... noticing that a lot of Important Things, from both male and female contributors, end with some variation of "... 'cause chicks like that."

June 29, 2009

post Two-oh-One

Hey, pop the champagne! Just noticed the last post was a big round number: 200.
Too bad it wasn't anything dramatic or even remotely entertaining...

Began my Master's degree courses last week in Digital Learning/Teaching, and as research opened up Skype, Twitter, and a place called unhub.com that is supposed to help tie everything Internet together in one neat connectible package; what it got me to realize is that I have way too many different email accounts and user names and don't visit/use 80% of the sites I sign up with. I need to start eliminating the aliases and cryptic code names (except for on those sites where secrecy and anonymity is essential -- what if a potential employer found out I was a Padre fan?!?!?) and simplify my online life...

For example, do I need 6 blogs? One for student/substitute teaching stuff, 1 for book reviews, 1 for unreadable general ramblings (obviously this one). One for existential angst, queries and rants regarding my immortal soul, and one for motivational and thought-provoking quotes... get the point?

June 27, 2009

June 25, 2009

Mourning Michael

seems like I only post here when someone famous passes away... maybe time to change the blog title? "Inspired? Or just creeped out by death?" maybe "...Or outta body experiences?" any suggestions?

anyway, Michael Jackson has been a thorn in my ears for a long time now -- listening now to the few songs I've allowed on my iTunes reveals the amazing talent, but it's hard to reconcile with the (are they still alleged?) criminal/creepiness charges. Not that Elvis was a saint, and Willie openly partakes in the finest of smoking products, but somehow it was different, and I had a hard time listening to his music.

For today though, an abbreviated playlist, set on repeat and cranked so I know it won't be long until the neighbors start throwing rocks. Or start up a block party/memorial soul train dance...

I Want You Back The Jackson 5

ABC The Jackson 5

The Love You Save The Jackson 5

I'll Be There The Jackson 5

Never Can Say Goodbye The Jackson 5

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town The Jackson 5

Off the Wall Michael Jackson

Rock With You Michael Jackson

Thriller Michael Jackson

Beat It Michael Jackson

Black or White Michael Jackson

Man In the Mirror Michael Jackson

P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) Michael Jackson

The Way You Make Me Feel Michael Jackson

Bad Michael Jackson

Remember the Time Michael Jackson

June 14, 2009

so this is what relaxed feels like...

It's been too long, but having finished my last credential assignments this morning and the ginormous sigh of relief that followed just exhausted me for the entire day -- if I coulda convinced The Wife to bring my meals to the porch and feed me, I wouldn't have left the lounge chair all day.


As it is, despite having to get up and put my own food in my mouth, I managed to finish one good book and start on another --




The Adrian Mole Diaries -- poor confused Adrian, from age 13 3/4 to 15 and all the family, puberty, school, pimple issues he must face and survive. It's English, and I didn't find the glossary of British terms until the end of the book (the glossary, of course, being at the end of the book), but still quite hilarious. Thanks, Sis.






Catfish and Mandala -- a Vietnamese-American bicycles his way back to Viet Nam and his family's history. so far, so good.





also listening to a Sufjan Stevens (no, not the "Peace Train" guy) CD Come On Feel the Illinoise, which my sons thought was the strangest title ever. That and the paragraph-long song titles/sub-titles...

May 31, 2009

So what's a "GrooGrux" anyway???

Having a hard time hearing the details over the Sunday morning cacophony of children and wife, but listening to the new Dave Matthews Band ...liking what I can hear of it, so far. I wasn't a big DMB fan in the beginning, I tend to avoid the "everybody's listening to this!" hype and see if the next big thing is still around a few albums later -- they are, and now I'm listening.

btw, Pandora or Slacker -- any preferences?



May 18, 2009

ya think?!?!?

Super Bowl Star Rejects White House Visit: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has turned down the invitation to the White House, but not for political reasons. He thinks President Obama only invited the Steelers because they won the game. "This is how I feel -- if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl," Harrison told a local TV station. "As far as I'm concerned, he would've invited Arizona if they had won."

this just cracked me up...

May 9, 2009

Yes, I realize no matter how great literature-based it is this is still a time-waster and I should be doing my lesson plans (haiku, anyone?) and the tons of homework left in the mere 5, count 'em 5!, weeks before I earn my credential, but as you can see by the length of this opening salvo I am all about the time wasting at this very moment which is why I'm listing inspirational quotes and thinking about whether The Giving Tree confuses or depresses me. *whew!*

But I digress; here are the questions and a few rough draft answers. Thanks to teacherninja and his always interesting blog.

1. What piece of literature has stayed with you, even though you haven't read it recently?

For some reason maybe only therapy can reveal, but more likely because they are instances of incredibly intense, powerful writing in equally wonderful books, 3 pieces of Lit that have stayed with me over the years all involve deaths:
  • John Updike's Rabbit, Run and the scene where the wife is drunk and drowns the baby... tears every time, I don't think I could finish when I tried reading it after having children.
  • Joseph Heller's Catch 22 has a few deaths, it is about war y'know, but when the guys are swimming and the pilot flies too low....
  • Toni Morrison in Beloved builds up the horror so much I knew what was coming and didn't want to read it but had to and was literally stunned. Just got goosebumps thinking about it.
  • Man, that's all I can do tonight. I want to go grab those books and thank them for the art they've given us...

2. What character or story has influenced something you've done?

3. What character or piece of literature seemed to relate to a recent news story or personal experience?

4. What character has made you wonder why he or she said/did something?

5. Name something from a work of literature that you (such as a character, setting or quotation) that you find beautiful or vivid.

May 3, 2009

April 18, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife


The Zookeeper's Wife

by Diane Ackerman (2007)



The "One Book, One San Diego" choice for 2009... I didn't realize it was non-fiction when I chose it from the stack; the story of a family and their Warsaw, Poland zoo during WWII, and how they not only survived but helped many Jewish families escape the Nazis. Well done, the horrors of war are reported without overdone drama and there is a very personal sense to the description of daily life under extremely stressful, unsettling conditions. And lots of cute stuff about animals. It does seem to drop in historical events, such as the Warsaw Uprising, without any prior mention or discussion, so background knowledge in the subject would help.

For some reason I've always had a soft spot for Poles and Jews, probably due to visiting the Dachau concentration camp and Anne Frank's house as a kid. I'm still mad at my sister for ruining a Polish flag shirt inspired by Lech Walesa that a girfriend had made me. grrrrr...
Now I need a good book on the Warsaw Underground and/or Uprising; will need to find Michener's Poland as well. Any suggestions?




...also read Swinging for the Fences, the inspirational life story of a local boy born with only one complete limb, who went to Notre Dame and works for the Padres.

April 14, 2009

Detention Slip Week

Shark Week? pu-leeze... Courtesy of "Zero Out of Five" -- it's Detention Slip Week!

My "kids say the darndest most inappropriate things" moments in 5th grade caused me to bend, there was a slight smirk that briefly escaped, but not break:

After the Principal announced over the intercom that the mud and rain would mean no balls would be allowed outside during recess, a 10-year old female quipped "guess the boys have to stay inside" -- I was surprised, borderline shocked, but pretended I didn't hear her...

While discussing the difference between hearing and listening, one girl gave a real world example using one of her cute but disruptive classmates: "Well, when his 2nd wife is talking to him..." I know I shouldn't reward students for insulting each other, but her combination of concern and cleverness earned her extra reward tickets...

My Master Teacher nearly got me, and I know she was trying to, -- after reminder me of the Seinfeld "rectum, damn near killed him!" line she gave the students her pre-human biology body functions speech on being mature and respectful, repeating the word rectum so often I had to turn my back and thoroughly clean the bookshelves until she finished...
it just feels like a 70's kind of day... it's actually a do some creative accounting and figure out a way to pay the taxes day, but I'm procrastinating.

(Don't Fear) The Reaper -- Blue Öyster Cult
Just a Song Before I Go -- Crosby, Stills & Nash
Stay With Me -- Faces
Golden Years -- David Bowie
Freddie's Dead -- Curtis Mayfield
It's A Shame -- The Spinners
Me and Bobby McGee -- Kris Kristofferson
Jaws -- John Williams
Go Your Own Way -- Fleetwood Mac
Boogie Shoes -- KC & the Sunshine Band

April 13, 2009

April 11, 2009

spring break

too cold* for a ton of outdoor activity, so this has been a laid-back hang around the house vacation... cleared off my desk for the first time in years, redid my bookshelves so I can actually find what I'm looking for (and watch the Padres while I'm looking), read a book and a 1/2, bought a new camera that has me utterly and totally confused, and now turning attention to some much-neglected blogs: added a new-found quote ...









I know it looks small and cluttered, but compared to the mess it used to be...





I don't know how I skipped this one in my love of all things Chabon, but finally read The Yiddish Policemen's Union -- liked it of course, although the Yiddish terms/slang had me confused for several chapters (I kept checking the back of the book for a glossary)... and then in keeping with the Passover week Jewish theme, started The Zookeeper's Wife which I didn't realize was nonfiction. It's a little slow so far, but interesting, and it's the San Diego "One Book One City" choice for 2009 so I'll keep going...
















*"too cold" means below 70 and cloudy in SoCal terms -- brrrrrr!

April 4, 2009

Ahhhh... spring break. Not since I was 15 or so have I welcomed and appreciated this little slice of (relatively) free time -- I do have one assignment due today, and the credential program starts back up a week from Tues, but until them I'm hoping for sun, sun, and more sun (as well as son, son, and son: I miss my boys!)... we're taking the boards and books to the beach and just relaaaaaaaaxing...

This reminds me of my first Christmas without being in retail sales; after 20+ years of trying to just survive (and generate maximum profit) during the most "wonderful time of the year" it was nice to actually breathe in and enjoy the season.

let's see what "shuffle" has to get my sleeping uglies up and out of bed --

  1. "In A Sentimental Mood" Duke Ellington
  2. "Looking For James Joyce's Grave" Andy White
  3. "Worse Comes To Worst" Billy Joel
  4. "Grace" Moby
  5. "To Love Somebody" Bee Gees
  6. "Losing Keys" Jack Johnson
  7. "You Know What She's Like" Derailers
  8. "Real Love" Mary J. Blige
  9. "Radio Free Europe" R.E.M.
  10. "These Dreams of You" Van Morrison

March 28, 2009

Hey, I remember this joint! I used to hang out here all the time...

Long time no post.

Back into the (unpaid) workforce, a few months shy of my credential, boys in basketball and badminton, so my only sporadic posts have been related to the joys of teaching 5th graders...


1st 10 of the random playlist of the evening:

Son Volt, "Too Early"
Page & Plant, "Friends"
The Clancy Brothers, "Whiskey, You're the Divil"
TP & the Heartbreakers, "Insider"
The Judds, "Have Mercy"
Moby, "South Side"
Van Morrison, "Ordinary Life"
John Prine, ""Silent Night All Day Long"
Bill Cosby, "The Apple"
Social D, "Drug Train"


February 16, 2009

Mmmm... coffeeee...

No, I'm not complaining about having to get up every morning and go to work; I'm just saying there is an adjustment period, a transition from pajama-clad "Mr. Mom" to shaving daily and wearing a tie. I'll get through it, but there are a few aspects of the unemployed lifestyle I had grown accustomed to, and at certain moments during the school day I suddenly realize how much life has changed. For example...

  • regularly scheduled program -- if the clock catches my eye at a certain time, I'll blurt out "whoa! The View is almost over, I'd better get that laundry done before Judge Judy starts!"
  • blurting out -- it's not that I talked to myself a lot, that would be a sign of mental instability, but if I wanted to make fun of or chastise the cat, or sing, or merely voice random thoughts out loud just to keep my vocal cords in shape for when the boys came home, I could. In the classroom, speaking out loud those random thoughts apropos of nothing is frowned upon. Something about modeling, setting a good example... whatever.
  • music -- had to push the Mute button on the soundtrack to my life; laundry day had its playlist, paying bills its playlist, eating all the leftovers from The Pancake House so the boys didn't know we went out to breakfast without them had its soundtrack...
  • coffee -- and eating/drinking/snacking/stealing from the boys' Valentine candy stash any time I had the urge; apparently, having a cup of joe and a box of 'Nila Wafers on the teacher's desk that could be knocked over through absolutely no fault of my own is not how to make a good impression on a Principal stopping by...
  • and the number 1 thing I miss from my life as a stay-at-home Dad: my bathroom. Do you know how hard it is to not only wait for the only free minute between recess and library when no students are clinging and no teachers are talking but to find a restroom without 12-15 women clustered around in the very near vicinity???

February 6, 2009

A handwritten blog?

Okay, this is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while-- http://backspace.blog.me.uk/about

January 29, 2009

"Outlaw Pete"

Listening to Springsteen's latest CD; not bad, not bad at all, with elements of each of his last two albums, so there's thoughtful seriousness and there's simple good times. There's also just plain silliness: "Surprise, Surprise" ?!?!?!? If he sings this crap at halftime I'm pulling Born to Run out of its frame and replacing it with Elephunk.

Top 10 Albums*

  1. Abbey Road The Beatles
  2. Avalon Sunset Van Morrison
  3. The Best of... Earth, Wind & Fire**
  4. The Memphis Record Elvis Presley
  5. Tunnel of Love Bruce Springsteen
  6. The Miseducation of... Lauryn Hill
  7. Pleased to Meet Me The Replacements
  8. New Miserable Experience Gin Blossoms
  9. Music for the Morning After Pete Yorn
  10. The Vegetarians of Love Bob Geldof

*based more on my listening habits and taste than on any critical evaluation

**quite possibly the first album I ever bought; if not, it was 2nd after The Commodores Greatest Hits

January 25, 2009

January 23, 2009

Ima gonna be a Teacher!

I start my student teaching in February, and, surprise surprise, feel the urge to share with my 2 friends and countless strangers via the internet my thoughts and pearls of wisdom on how I can save the entire field of education, one third grader at a time.

So please come over here and follow my adventures. Or lay down odds on how soon I'll get pegged with an eraser.

Ideas and suggestions, including a new title, always welcome!

update: changed the title, and accidentally on purpose changed the address too (sorry. probably lost both my loyal readers)...

January 22, 2009

Do "FaceBook Anonymous" meetings have virtual donuts?

"Hello, my name is (your name here)*, and I am addicted to FaceBook."

Okay, so I'm not really addicted addicted, as in I cannot possibly stop. I could stop, any time I wanted. It's just that these multitudes of names, names of every person in my high school class, names of every person I worked with (oh wait, did I fire that guy?) and the names of every girl I ever had a crush on (hey, just thought of another one!), keep appearing in my head like a giant phone book being constantly flipped open to the various letters and scanned for any names I recognize.

I think at this point I'm just making up names, combining vague recollections of several people into one, and wondering why no one replies to my "Hey, remember me?" request for Friendship. I have found a couple of people I know, or knew, and want to keep our relationship in the past tense. And I have found a few ex-girlfriends that I don't want to bother, I want to let them try to move on with their lives, so I'll simply check their profile and stare at the screen for a few minutes... or so... every day. Twice. An hour. But that's not really "cyber-stalking" or whatever that latest FBI federal injunction paperwork said. Whatever. (just kidding, Stargirl)

Besides, I have other addictions, more real-world addictions, as evident by my ever-expanding pants size. And I have had other computer-related obsessions, so I know they all fade away eventually, and soon I can emerge from the stupor, shower and shave, re-introduce myself to the family, and move on with my life. Age of Empires (I can still hear the music in my head). Scrabbulous. Napster. LibraryThing (Yes, honey, I most certainly DO need every single book in the entire house stacked around my desk, by author, genre, ISBN number, and publication date!). Blogger.

Anyway, when you do get a "be my friend" beg request from me at 2:30 in the morning (I know, I know, you're checking on your stocks and only accidentally accessed your FB account) -- just ignore me.


*are we done with the anonymity, the faux cool or nonsensical user names? I kind of like the 1970's CB radio vibe from all the identity-masking screen names... Roger, RubberDuck34219, over and out!

January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama invades my mind at 2am...

I don't know if it's the 6pm Rockstar or the 9am Coronation, but my mind is racing and I cannot sleep. It's after midnight and that muse with insomnia has inspired some thoughts. She did not guarantee coherence though, but when the sun comes up tomorrow a lot of editing will be due...

When was the last time you were excited about, much less arranged your schedule to watch, a Presidential Inauguration?

When was the last time you were excited about a President?

...you looked forward to a speech?
...we were ONE nation -- under God, under stress, under-achieving, yet understanding we are stronger and better when we are together.*
...a President was not just on 50 magazine covers on the shelves, but also t-shirts without rude puns, games and puzzles, children's picture books? Cereal aisle, make room for the best selling Wheaties box of all time...
When was the last time I used paper and pen to write more words than a grocery list?

Why do we deify the man (my bad: The Man) before he even gets to sit as his new desk? Our adoration and anticipation is unlike our usual pop culture driven manner, to raise someone high in order to sit back and watch the spectacularly crushing and devastating fall -- usually on YouTube. No, we really, really, want Barack Obama to stay on that pedestal. We want and need him to exceed our expectations, if that's even possible, for him to pin our hopes high and then hold us up so we can actually reach them. Americans thrive on confidence, on momentum that carries through a tough stretch in the schedule. Obama is going to need those People magazine-able basketball abs and broad shoulders, because he may age quicker and deeper than any President -- the weight on his heart, his brow, his carry-a-nation back will gray his hair and line his face before our hope-filled eyes.

Barack Obama has more hyperbole draped over him than bunting on the Capital, but how soon will it fade? We don't want him to fail. But we don't need him to be FDR + JFK = Lincoln with good looks and the black vote, we just need him to stay the (true) course, to maintain our national values, as insanely diverse and diametrically opposed as some of them they may seem. We need him to hold us to our "that's what makes America great" creed: work hard, move forward, look out for each other, take pride. We need him to uphold our ideas even if everything doesn't turn around overnight, from worst-to-first in a Cinderella story first 100 days. Our nation needs to be lead so it can stop focusing on our failures (don't just blame Bush: he was ours, so his are ours, and always will be) and prime our attention on present and future successes. We have always followed our leaders closely, in that when they looked back over their shoulders we were right there, breathing the same air.

Moses. The Saviour. The Change. The Dream Fulfilled. There have been more capital letters used in describing and defining Obama then when listing Michael's Jordan's MVPs,** which is appropriate, given the hoops, the Chicago, the age****, and the iconic smile connecting the two. In more ways than one Barack Obama can become our first Presidential "superstar" -- while Clinton played the pop star, bringing a sense of cool to the White House lacking since, and decidedly, generationally, different than, the Kennedy reign, Obama has the Jordan-esque swagger, the detached, confident cool that can lead his team not just through the tough times but through all opposition to the trophy presentation. But never forget, he is a politician. And a damn good great one, so far, to get where he is, when he is, causing the cynic in me to temper the blind faith. Please, Mr. President, no cigars. Or interns. Or attempts to save the world for Jesus and Oil Conglomerates by eliminating a tyrannical dictator and his democracy-threatening weapons.


Mr. Obama, the words to describe why I am scribbling at 2am***** and eagerly anticipating your Presidency can be read as trite, generic, even devoid of real meaning. But you and I can still use these words and lend them the weight they need to stand out in our bleak, strained world, the credence required to be heard above the din of all other words and be repeated by an exponentially increasing collection of voices: Hope. Change. Together.










*In 2001 of course: The country at its most shocked and grievous, President Bush at his most Presidential, all bonded in a singular, searing moment.
** Five. So 5 x 3, plus 6 in the Finals... why am I doing the math, it's a metaphor!***
*** Simile?
**** The President is only 2 years older than MJ. But is 2 years younger than expatriate ex-King of Pop MJ, who is 50!
***** ...and typing, not very well i'm sure, at 3:21. goodnight.

January 19, 2009

dry rice chex?

Oh lordy, I hope not --

My professors seem to be leaving a lot out...

Jerry Seinfeld used to teach High School History?

Maybe I'll switch to being a History teacher -- looks easy!


ay yi yi... part of the blame as to why I'm so far behind on homework-- these books accidentally fell into the boys' backpack at the library. What's a responsible parent to do, but make sure my children are not exposed to inappropriate reading material?


Rock On is an account of a music-loving advertising dude getting to work for a major record label, and finding it's not all his rock 'n roll fantasy thought it would be... funny, great insights on business/corporate world, and the commercial aspect of music. Did I mention funny?


Michael Chabon (Kavelier & Clay, Wonder Boys) is one of my favorite authors. Maps and Legends is essays and commentaries, a bit autobiographical, touching on comic books, parents, marriage, Jewish-ness, and of course, gollems. Much recommended, and as with his Gentlemen on the Road I did read with one hand holding the book and one hand thumbing through the dictionary...


When You Are Engulfed in Flames is up to Sedaris' usual funny-ness, the part about being too sick to move getting me banished to the couch one night... He is no longer struggling to find himself or make it in the world, so these stories are more middle-aged, full of travel and domestic life; he does revisit childhood and his family, which is still a goldmine...


January 17, 2009

Dread, part 3

As I sit here typing this instead of my final case study (unstarted, due in 4 days) I do get that ol' familiar "sense of doom" -- but been there, done that, haven't gotten too much done in my life that wasn't put off 'til the last minute and up against a deadline.

So it's something different this time. It's something heavier, deeper, something that keeps getting turned away from. But just like that preposition at the end of the sentence, it's THERE; I can't ignore it, I can't move on. I've always taken pride in myself as a shallow person -- easy going, no drama, let it roll off my back and the sun'll come up tomorrow....

Maybe it's impending mortality. Maybe it's the other side of mortality. Maybe it's one of my mother's premonitions, the extra sense passed down and yet dormant all these years. I've had periods of my life filled with the fear of terrible things happening; everyone's wondered if an ex-spouse would die in a car crash, haven't they? No?

Hmmm.... Or this just a bit too much to share in cyberspace? Should I knock on wood or spectaclestesticleswallet&watch ? Have I doomed myself, or others, by confessing my sense of dread? Should I let sleeping dogs lie, or in this case, dieing dogs sleep?

should I learn how to spell "dieing"? that never looks right...

If she goes, he goes...

Not that this is an admission of guilt, or anything close to premeditation, but if The Wife ever goes missing there will be one clear sign that points to me as the guilty party: if that damn cat is nowhere to be found, I did it.

2-for-1 deal, buy 1-get 1 whacked at no extra charge -- whatever coupon I can find or deal offered on craig's list, if it includes disposing of a crap-droppin', couch-barfin', window-lickin', dandruff fur-sheddin' lazy fat ass of a cat, I'm reaching for the checkbook.

January 14, 2009

Dread, part 2

Maybe it's all the Unborn or Bloody Valentine ads that seem to be all over the TV lately, or the inverse relationship between the closer I get to looking for a job and the amount of imminent budget cuts, layoffs and school closings, or the weight of so many procrastinated assignments due next week...

But still...

January 12, 2009

Doom, Disaster, or just Misfortune?

Pittsburgh 35, Chargers 24

Ok, maybe that was it. I'm not an "end of the season, end of the world" kinda guy, so as far as unfortunate events that one is certainly survivable. Overcome-able. Shrug off-able.

But what if that wasn't "it"?

"It" being the sense of impending bad coming my way. Just an anticipation, like knowing the doorbell is about to ring right before it does, or heading for the kitchen right before the timer goes off. Don't know if it's a big bad or a little bad, a personal bad or global bad, but it's out there, waiting for me, getting ready for me....

January 5, 2009

all-time top 10

Here's the one that needs a little editing... and yeah, the easy choice is kick Hall & Oates to the curb, but don't pretend you didn't groove to those sweet harmonies back in the day!

    1. "Ticket To Ride" The Beatles (1965)
    2. "The Letter" The Box Tops (1967)
    3. "Can't Find My Way Home" Blind Faith (1969)
    4. "She's Gone" Hall & Oates (1973)
    5. "Samba Pa' Ti" Santana (1974)
    6. "Jungleland" Bruce Springsteen (1975)
    7. "Telephone Line" ELO (1979)
    8. "Bad" U2 (1984)
    9. "Skyway" Replacements (1987)
    10. "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" Lenny Kravitz (2000)
    11. "The Middle" Jimmy Eat World (2001)
    12. "Maybe Tomorrow" Stereophonics (2003)

uh-oh... no Tom Petty? no Van Morrison? Angie Stone? Gonna have to work on this list...

January 4, 2009

my musical obsession

I tell the boys, more times than they care to hear I'm sure, If you're going to do something, do it right -- that's my justification for spending gazigllions of hours the past few weeks obsessing over my iTunes. My "problem" (as my iTherapist insists I call it) started when I began putting songs into decade playlists -- the 60's, 80's, etc. -- and noticing the years listed for many songs didn't match the original release date of the song/album, but were for the remastered re-issue, or the greatest hits album, or whatever. But that simply will not do, so I had to go through and change the dates, which involved a lot of research on that bastion of reliable knowledge, Wikipedia, and various other music-related sites to cross check and verify information. On the one hand I felt like I was wasting a ton of time and energy, on the other hand I convinced myself it was necessary for historical accuracy and good research practice for future educational endeavors...

And since it is the turn of the years and time for "best of" lists, I put together a few of my own Top 10 collections -- trouble is I can't count, and need to make some cuts to actually have 10 songs on my top 10 lists...


Top 10 Songs of 2008 (really not in any particular order)

  1. "See These Bones" Nada Surf
  2. "Dig, Lazerus, Dig" Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  3. "Troublemaker" Weezer
  4. "Gravedigger" Willie Nelson
  5. "Viva La Vida" Coldplay
  6. "Alligator" Foxboro Hot Tubs
  7. "Dirty City" Steve Winwood featuring Eric Clapton
  8. "I Will Possess Your Heart" Death Cab for Cutie
  9. "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" She & Him
  10. "27 Jennifers" Mike Doughty

some of those might be from '07, but I can be a little slow to pick up on things... any you like that I missed and need to give a listen to? Let me know...

Luddite.com?

I'm seriously considering chucking this hunk of plastic and wires off the roof -- computers, who needs 'em? I tried joining the Luddites, but couldn't find their website...

But no, I'm back, back in the saddle again -- got the new hard drive (see: "The Crash of '08"), stayed up into the wee hours replacing, organizing, refining all that was lost in the crash, starting with the top priorities of all priorities: iTunes!

Homework? Bills? Christmas shopping? Puh-leeze! gotta get those playlists and album cover art just perfect, or nothing else in this world matters much...

So of course after getting everything set up I download some vital HP update and the whole deal freezes and refuses to do anything except let me attempt to repair it the wrong way, resulting in a 100% resetting back to the beginning, as in when I first took this thing out of its box -- a nice message popped up "Congratulations on your new purchase!" So I started all over yet again...