Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New all time favorite song I'm totally serious.

Now it is "True Love Will Find You in the End" by Daniel Johnston. I finally got to see The Devil and Daniel Johnston tonight, a nicely done documentary about the searing tragedy of mental illness and the power of music to make hipsters want to help you through that illness. But they play that song toward the end, and it's the saddest song of all time and you want to take that little song home and adopt it so that you can tell it to play itself over and over for you.

What a movie that is, though. I feel like I want to send him a check or something now. My favorite part is when he has moved to a small town to get a handle on his problems and a couple of fans who have no idea he is living there drive by a guy being attacked by dogs so they help kick the dogs away and then they say "are you Daniel Johnston?" And he says "yeah, do you know who I am?" And then they all start a band. Yes, the world is that small.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It has to be "the 0ughts"

We still have a couple of years before we have to decide this, but at the end of the decade, people are going to start referring to the past ten years as "the [something]s." To my knowledge, there is still no broadly accepted term in vogue, so I am going to suggest one: "the 0ughts."

Now, what you can't see in this font is that the "O" in "0ughts" is not an "O" but a zero! That's where the cleverness comes in! What's so wonderful about this name is the way it takes the authenticity of the old-timey word "oughts"--as in "pass me my thirty-ought-six" (which is a kind of gun, I think) and blends it with the endearingly annoying novelty of "'Leet Speak" by using a number(!) in the spelling. Old and new. Hi and low. I can't wait for 2010 now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Day in the County

So, the library had its annual "Day in the County" photo contest yesterday and I completely forgot. Kind of a bummer. As a result, I have only this snap to show for the day. I hope it gets in.

Mr. B Cleans Up

I go to get this guy at daycare yesterday and he's sitting having a snack when I get there and he goes "My ready dad" and then immediately knocks over this big cup of water. "My sorry Dad. Where my towel?" Kids, man, dang.

Something beautiful about this.

Click the image to see it at the original site. Makes me wish we had a subway. The closest equivalent we have is Glenbrook, probably. [From The Online Photographer]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

TAL Trailer

This is the true ache of not having cable. The trailer for the new This American Life teevee show is online now and it looks so good. The feel of it reminds me something of the old Errol Morris movie Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control. [link]

Freezing Fog!

That's a new one, "freezing fog." Apparently, it is treacherous enough to warrant closing school today. Just look what it has done to my garden! So be careful out there. And around 9:30 look out for the "thawing fog," which can be just as bad.

Make the most of your day; I'm going outside to build a fog man now.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My snow day

This poorly exposed photo documents the first 20 minutes or so of my Valentine's snow day. It was just enough shoveling for me to think "hey, a little shovelin's not so bad." Then I realized that for the first time in six years we wouldn't be able to just drive our monster station wagons over the snow drifts down the drive. I bet it took me and my $5 shovel (pictured) close to an hour and a half before we were done, with no breakfast in me even. And I finished right when morning cartoons were over, of course, so 2 year old Mr. B turned to me just as I slumped into a chair with a banana and said "Da-ad. I wanna play you. Duck Duck Firetruck!" And Duck Duck Firetruck is not a game you can play half way, either. But it was a swell day. All that snow.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Crash is not a good movie.

I never saw Crash when it came out because I like to think I have developed a good sense for what movies are good or bad simply from seeing some of their publicity. Yesterday was a snow day and today was a snow day, though, and sometimes watching "big" movies is a fun way to celebrate those kind of days.

But instead, it was bad, and here is the main reason: non-diegetic sound. That is, it relies on music and sounds that aren't generated from the action on the screen itself as a substitute for true emotion. The use of non-diegetic sound isn't necessarily why Crash is bad, but it was a big early clue for me that it would be. I mean, when there is a scene, and it it supposed to be an intense interpersonal exchange, and in the background you hear this thick, sludgy layer of synthesized soundtrack, it means that they are trying to manipulate you using something other than whatever dramatic interest and tension they have invested in the characters. It's a cop out, in other words. And they use this all the time in Crash.

Take away the music, and you'd have some pretty boring stuff going on, I think. Really, what is so devastating about the epiphanies experienced by the characters in this movie? Here's a short list:

Shop keeper guy: if you shoot someone's kid, you really should not have done that.

Locksmith: it is so great when your children are not shot by unstable immigrant entrepreneurs.

Matt Dillon, bad cop
: women will not like you if you touch them inappropriately.

TV director's wife: even if a cop is a bigot, he might try to save you from a burning car.

Good cop kid: sometimes, when angry strangers reach for their pockets in a violent manner and it is late at night, they are not reaching for guns.

Sandra Bullock: you should not be shallow and materialistic.

TV director: people are bigoted against blacks, and that is partly because some black youths steal cars.

The other cop guy: I'm not sure what he learned.

Ludicris: maybe I don't always live up to my ideals about not stealing from other black people. I should really examine the way I live because I am ashamed of myself.

It's not just the obtuseness of the message that I dislike, but the ham-fisted way the movie uses bizarre coincidence after coincidence, cute children, and a melodramatic soundtrack to make it all come together. Ultimately, I think it was popular because by saying "You need to see Crash," people could tell themselves that they were enlightened on the subject of race. But could any movie about race in America really leave you feeling this good and this hopeful for the possibility that we can all be brought together? Is it that easy?

Wow, that's quite a rant.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Poetry Out Loud is on

For anyone reading this who plans to compete in Poetry Out Loud, you might be wondering if today's (and probably tomorrow's, I'm thinking) school closings will affect it. The answer is no; snow cannot stop poetry--poetry thrives in it, in fact.

So things will go as planned on Thursday. Try to show up at rm 711 around 3:00 so you can sign in and get a room assignment. Try to bring four copies of the poems you plan to recite. If you have questions, email me at my school address.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Advanced Bad Poetry

The class I'm taking now is actually called just "Advanced Poetry," but so far I have been writing mainly bad poetry at a highly advanced level. It's intense. The best thing about the class is that it puts you in this place where you find yourself driving your car in silence a lot, just trying to think in some kind of poetic language that might come in handy. It's a nice way to live, but perhaps not a safe way to drive.

The professor, George Kalamaras, is someone I wish I could have as like a poetry version of a life coach. Shouldn't there be such a thing? Shouldn't we all have a poetry life coach in our lives that we can touch base with, a person to call at 3AM when you can't write because you're too happy? I wonder how much that would cost.

The last class I had with a workshop in was a creative non-fiction class where your peers would be critiquing your 4,000 word essays, and it could be uncomfortable at times. But poetry is condensed language, and I'm finding that workshop in this current class provides me with condensed anxiety. Maybe anxiety isn't the right word, but it's not far off.

So far, of the five or six poems I've assembled, I think I like two. Of those two, only one probably deserves to be liked. I'm spending today trying to mess with a poem for Monday. It's okay. It starts out clunky, but that doesn't bother me yet.


There is a currency in this town

in a lack of information.

We dole it from card catalogs

rescued out of the old library

while it was being forgotten.

We traffic in this stuff,

where the weird neighbors live,

how garden hoses left under the snow

carry ice to your bathtub,

and who moved your great aunt

from the assisted living center

during the Alzheimer’s wedding.

She was just starting to like it there.

This week, the suicidal teen

gives his mom three hundred dollars

so she can buy a car he won’t worry about.

He asks only for the van in the drive.

Maybe he can get something for it

before she forgets and lets

his brother drive it into the river.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Look at me, watching the football.

I'm a little surprised to be sitting on the couch watching the game tonight, but here I am, and it's pretty good fun--wow, what a cool run the guy named Wayne just had.

I grew up liking just college sports, IU basketbll mostly. I think rooting for big professional outfits made as much sense to me as rooting for companies like IBM or 5/3 Bank. I still feel that way; there just doesn't seem to be enough of a relationship between the players and "the people."

But that's different today. So many people have this game on their minds that it does feel like a significant shared experience. So significant, in fact, that I think schools are calling for 2 hr delays tomorrow just so that kids can stay up late to watch the game. At least that's my assumption--I can't think of any other reason for the mass delays.

So anyway, this is fun. I've learned a few things. For example, my ol' lady just told me she heard that the quarterbacks all have 2-way radios in their helmets. I never knew that.

UPDATE: The wife points out that schools are probably delayed so that little Timmy and Sally don't have to wait at the bus stop when it's 0 degrees. I'm not sure that two hours is going to make any discernible difference, but the appearance that matters.

I wonder how the hard core road cyclist I saw today is doing. It's true: I saw a guy zipping by the house in full winter gear. I wanted to run out there and pump my fists at him, but it was too cold. I've ridden road in the twenties and mountain biked in the teens, but this guy was crazy. He didn't even have a balaclava covering his face. I admire the guy because most of my favorite riders are the tough guy Spring Classics riders, these Belgians who ride in the snow in shorts and short sleeve jerseys.