Saturday, May 31, 2008

To the Graduates

Well, HHS graduates, the flowers are out and congratulating you. Even the tiny Chamomile and Chives in my herb garden are doing their best. So when you pass something blooming that seems to be celebrating your passage from being someone who plays Nintendo at home into someone who plays Nintendo in a dorm room, be sure to say to it "thanks, it feels good."

If you take any lessons away from your time in my classroom, let it be these:

1. Blue .07 Pilot gel pens are the best.
2. Dogs are better than cats, but cats are better than nothing.
3. A comma-splice happens when two main clauses are joined by a comma.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Survivor

I have decided that I am going to live this summer like it's one long, personal episode of Survivor where I am the host as well as both tribes and I give myself little challenges and compete for a million dollars against myself. Because I am both tribes, I will conclude each challenge by bad talking myself and saying what a back-stabber I am and stuff.
Tonight's challenge was to read the new Dean Wareham memoir while playing all three Galaxie 500 albums in a row. And I did it. I won the challenge. I now get immunity from something.

I don't know how long it takes to play those albums, but I read only 84 pages in that time. I am so slow. The book is a fun read, I suppose. He's got some funny stories. I like hearing about Kramer (not the Seinfeld Kramer) the most. I wonder if he has a book.

Galaxie 500 is just so awesome, though. That first record still kills me. This is one band I feel like I found all by myself and never shared with anyone else b/c nobody else knew about them. My friend Catherine in Bloomington did, but I think that was it. I remember once I told her I liked some e.p. that Damon and Naomi made after G500 broke up and she said she didn't and it embarrassed me because I thought she was cool and had cool taste. She was so right though, now that I think about it.

It's past my bedtime, but I need to go see if there is Youtube video of my school's senior prank yet.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Clawhammer Season

When the trees fill out is when I usually start to feel like playing banjo again. I would probably be a lot better if I played year around. But anyway this is the first time I've looked around YouTube for things to play and I came across this great video. The song is nice, but my favorite part is the dogs wandering around. Wait for the part when the third lab wanders in and stares at the guy for a few minutes before sitting down to scratch an itch.

What kind of world would it be if everyone had to own three Labradors? I think we would all be a lot more mellow. I remember when we lived in Evansville, everyone grew tomatoes. You could walk up to any stranger and say "How are your tomatoes doing?" and you would be friends, even if they voted for different people than you did, and most of them did.

How much better would the bond be if you could go up to anyone on the sidewalk and say "How are your Labradors?" I think it would be pretty nice.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Today's Reading

Annie Clark

Great article in the Sunday paper about the recent wave of "one man (and woman) bands" and the ways that technology has allowed them to develop some kind of movement in reaction to what the author calls the "conservatism" and "sparseness" of recent indie music. It features interviews with the guy from Final Fantasy, the guy from Panda Bear and the guy from St. Vincent, Annie Clark. These people seem like they're having a lot of fun, all obsessed with their cables and software and whatnot.

Maybe a lot of the appeal of the article is seeing bands like Ariel Pink and Animal Collective mentioned in a newspaper. It's also cool because I just had a student hand in a research paper/ profile about this exact same phenomenon, but on a local level.

It is a dangerous thing to read stuff like this on a sunny Sunday morning while you are inebriate with Sunday breakfast and the first good pot of coffee you have made in a month. You think of new hobbies. You want to buy a MacBook Pro, whatever that is, and plug a guitar into it and then start surfing the web for samples you can loop and then put it all together into your own private soundtrack for summer. I would put funny stickers on the laptop and sit on my bed as I fiddle knobs, all with a furrowed brow signaling to my wife "I am busy defining a new genre of pop at the intersection of dance-hall reggae, George Jones, bicycles, and YouTube."

But that will probably not happen. Whatever I do this summer, it will probably involve mowing. Maybe I will spend the summer mowing and looking for a new, indie-approved, MacBook-enabled method of gardening worthy of Readymade or Make.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Want to Believe

Goodness. I just scored four tickets to see MBV in Chicago this September. Could this be the biggest show in the history of the world? Yes, I think it could.

Back when I spent a semester in London, losing 20 lbs because I spent all my money riding the Tube around and seeing bands and none on food except for the occasional fish and chips which always sounded better than it tasted, my only real regret was not getting to see this band. They played like four straight nights before Loveless was released. It was my last few days in town and they all sold out before I could get tickets.

Since then, Loveless re-wired my brain in some way. It's my most immediate connection to the sublime. It's times like this that I wish I didn't traffic in hyperbole so frequently because it has dulled my ability to express how much I love the really significant stuff.

What's kind of cool is that technology has maybe progressed enough that they will be able to get the live experience closer to what they did in the studio so that Shields doesn't feel the need to just crank up the volume and kill us all with decibels as a plan B.

Never thought this day would come, so I'm kind of excited.

Cramer Imitation

Untitled (Scary Back Yard) #5
The best I could do in my own yard. Worth a try, anyway. I think I will spend today on the other, brighter side of the house, planting the stuff I got from the Botanical Conservatory's plant sale last Thursday.
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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gustav Cramer

Untitled (Woodland) #56, Gustav Cramer

With the rain and with all these things climbing out of the dirt in my garden--I think they're called "plants"--I can definitely feel my state of mind switching over into the spring mode. I'm always surprised at how one day you see mud and leftover winter out your window and then the next day you see withering Daffodils and Peonies about to go off.

But I love having more garden than I can possibly handle. It's the way it should be. I've seen this guy Gustav Cramer's pictures a couple of times now on places on the internet and it's pretty great for the way it expresses that threat that nature carries to do fine without us. In his woodland series all the woodlands look they're places happy to be finally left alone. That's how I see it, anyway. Something about them reminds me a little too much of my own backyard.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Is this dog deaf?

The Smokey, with pile of sticks.

So I tell my wife by email this morning that she has been right all along: The Smokey is deaf. I confirmed it last night by using the "treat test" on her, yelling "wanna treat?" pretty loudly but while standing out of her sight. She had no clue.

I was only a little sad about it at first except when I would work myself up by saying "now she can never hear her masters' voices again." I told my 5 year old about my fears and she says "It's okay, Dad. You can just use sign language to talk to her."

So after school today, I come home and try the "treat test," and Smokey gets up and looks at me all excited--the expected treat response. She passed the test! So now I don't know what to think. I guess I'll just go on thinking what I usually do: she is old and will die sooner than I think so love her while I can. You have to have a little death at hand to love something the way it deserves. She's barking to get in now. I will demonstrate my love for her by not making her wait.

God, that dog is annoying. In and out all day long.

IN OTHER NEWS, Monkesquirrel endorses Voting over Not Voting. What a fun day to be a Hoosier. We've got all the attention for once, and it matters. All I will say here is that I changed my vote at the last second, while standing at the machine. Not an experience I am accustomed to.
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