Thursday, December 31, 2009

Casey wants blog time, but I want to say goodbye to 2009

video
Well, I accomplished another year of posting: 365 days of quirkiness. It became a pattern to my days just like waking up, showering, and brushing my teeth. This video is a collection of snap shots of the year and captures some of the events that were a part of 2009. The greatest addition, of course, was Jacob Charles. I leave this as my last post. Bon Voyage, Quirky.

PS:
Casey and Dave did all their Christmas shopping at Ollie's. There, they purchased Where Willy Went... by Nicholas Allen. It is the big story of a little sperm who races another named Butch. The Butch page is a pull out.

Together, they spent $2.99 for the book and I have to say I was delighted to read it to my family, especially the part about Butch the sperm - after all, I am a son of a Butch. They did spend $1.99, though, over what I spent on the Roddy Doyle book I posted about yesterday.

The drawings are a bit off, but it is an educational text. For those of you who collect books, this is definitely one for the shelf.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dublin as a Metaphor

In 1992, I visited Ireland for the first time. I was nineteen and traveled to find a good beer. Actually, I fell in love with the wetness of the country, but also the beauty of its traditions.

Nine years later I would return to Ireland as part of my English Speaking Union scholarship to study at Cambridge. Amy, my travel partner, and I found a new Ireland. It was prospering in IBMs investment into making it a technological hub. The poverty and struggle witnessed as a nineteen year old changed to one of excess as a 28 year old.

Then I wandered into a dollar store in Cicero, New York, and found a book by the Irish writer, Roddy Doyle. At the University of Louisville, I was told I wrote like the bloke and so I picked up Patty Clark Ha-Ha-Ha and questioned the comparison. My $1 find, The Deportees and Other Stories, written by Doyle has me reveling in my cheap find. It is wonderfully written and I love how it takes on the growing diversity of a Dublin crowd. Like most of the English speaking world that maintained its colonial, imperialist ties with Great Britain, Ireland has found itself as a multicultural nation and Doyle explores what this means to a country with immense pride for its being Irish.

It is beautifully written and I recommend it all I know.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Not the Louisville I knew

So, the quirky thing about having a smidge of free time, is I occasionally find a moment to scroll through my channels to find something stupid to read to. Well, I found it! Southern Belles Louisville!

All the years I was there and I never met any of these women. I must have been in the wrong circle of people - the Brown School people (which obviously resemble the women on this program!).

In truth, it is great to see the everyday sights and markers of the city I knew for so long. Was it me, or did the Daddy's girl and her fiance share a bagel at Nancy's? How'd I miss out on this lifestyle? I thought it only visited at Derby time!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cynde and Sesame Street

What do Cynderballs and Sesame Street have in common?
They both celebrated their 4oth birthday in 2009.

Today, December 28th, is my older sister's celebration of life! For the last 40 years she's been gracing my parents and Central New York with her sense of humor, her dedication to her family, her hard work, and her dreams. It seems almost impossible to say she's been at it for 40 years, but I'm right on her heals so I might as well get used to saying it. 40 years, Cynde! 40 years!
Time flies so we must be having fun.

Happy Birthday! (Click the Link, Cynde)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ducate Furnaces

Actually, Ducane. I called them Ducate all day yesterday as a joke.

Yep, furnace man Bryan strikes again. I helped Mike do an install all day Saturday and learned more skills (while proving to Mike I continually lack skills). Even so, I really enjoy the hands on work and gaining new perspectives on household operations. As with any home repair, every job takes a good four more hours than planned.

Pooped, I came home and put my holiday decorates away and dusted myself off in preparation for 2010. Quirky as it is, I'm ready for a new year to come.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How I Spent My Christmas

There's a reason I don't have video games in my house. Why? They are addicting.

Casey was the master at Nintendo, and I barely graduated from Pac Man. I could coach, but I couldn't play. Even so, I bought Dylan Raving Rabbids for his Wii, and I quickly was addicted. I wasted a large portion of my day throwing plungers and whacking whacky rabbits who were singing out of tune. The Gladiator arena saw the boos and jeers go to minor applause and cheers as I moved through more and more levels. The mindlessness was mindful, and I was mindful of my mindlessness. I retired about dinner time and said, "No more." I easily could have played for twelve hours.

Games are life's quirky way of hypnotizing us from doing anything productive. It was a truly wonderful way to spend a day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, 2009

video
Cynderballs hosted Christmas Eve this year and we all survived it. I wish all of you a great day, this Christmas, and hope Santa is both naughty and nice to you all. Enjoy your families and loved ones. That's what it is all about. Eat good food, drink good wine and cherish the excessive desserts.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Hard Knocks

KC used to watch Annie like a fiend, and tonight I heard this song again and thought of her. The lines, "Santa Claus we never see, Santa Claus, What's that, who's he?" has been in my head all day. In this time of giving, joy and absolute American excessiveness, I like to think about the little orphan Annies of the world and what might be done to make our globe a better place. I ask myself, "what have I done this year to spread the joy of love?" It is something we all should ask ourselves on Christmas Eve. Quirky as this is, the song is a classic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Cuse is Looking Good

I made it to my first Orangemen game at the Dome and because the student section was light, I found my way close to the floor where Boeheim was in eye sight and we could see the Syracuse players charge the basket. The traffic out of the Dome was a bit ridiculous and I have to admit that it is quirky that people endure that traffic again and again. My thinking is it's cheaper, more fun, and definitely more comfortable to watch the games at home. Yes, the crowd moves ya' a bit, but this cheap 'bass turd' prefers the pay-less way. Sabit introduced me to his buddy, Wilson, who is playing for DeRuyter High School - a 7 foot Sudanese kid in DeRuyter. Now there's a story. It'd be nice to see him play for SU.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bry's latest read


I'm almost through with Warren St. John's Outcasts United and I can't write enough to express my appreciation for this book. The world works in mysterious ways and last week at soccer practice a woman asked me if I'd read this book and I hadn't. I bought it for myself as a holiday treat and have devoured it the last two days. For anyone who coaches, for anyone who teaches, for anyone who believes in the hope of America's democracy and for anyone who understands the struggles new Americans go through, I recommend this book. Featured here is the author speaking about his book. I'd enjoy hearing more of his wisdom, but in the mean time I post this in hopes you still may be able to have someone get it for you this holiday season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Like an elephant in a China shop

About a year ago, my mom pulled out her grandmother's china and made a plea for one of us to take it. I looked at the pink tea roses and the gold trim on eggshell white and said, "Well, they won't look so hot with my dark woods, frogs and Buddhas." I immediately though of my friend Tricia who has a Victorian, older home and who decorates with the pristine delicateness of antiques, chandeliers, and intricate knick knacks. Being at Tricia's is like being in an English hotel for tea.

Tricia texted me last night wondering if she could rent the china for the holidays and I said I'd bring the stored boxes to her. I brought them home from my mother's, and yesterday morning I washed them all by hand. As I did this, I thought about Mimi, my mother's grandmother, using these plates, saucers and tea cups to entertain on special occasions. I packed them back up and felt a pang for history and all the conversations of yesteryear I wasn't a part of and will never know.

Unpacking them at Tricia's, I couldn't help but feel a quirky sense of coincidence as each piece of china matched perfectly with her aesthetic taste for the holidays. The setting of twelve is exactly how many she feeds at Christmas. So, I now can add party rental to my resume. To reserve pink, tea-rose china, simply send me a self-addressed stamped envelope. All parties must be considered by Butch and Sue, first, before I'm licensed to deliver.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

65 Years of Celebration

Last night was mom's 65th birthday party and we celebrated the pre-holiday hooplah with a round of cake, subs, and trail mix. As if it was practice for the chaos to come, everyone gathered for noise, argument, laughter and conversation. Poor Jake. He was so tired and had a posse of green goblins in his nostrils. He grew cranky in my arms until I rocked him to sleep. I envy the fact he could rest and chill out as all our noise surrounded him. Even so, the tranquility is an awesome gift for the Crandall~Barnwell~Isgar clan. Youth centers the old, that's for sure. It seems only yesterday he was incubating in Casey's stomach.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

So, SU Me!

I made a mental note to myself that yesterday would be my last day of work day until after Christmas. When I arrived to the office, however, Otto was waiting in the lobby. Then I learned I'm needed for a short time on Monday, so there goes that declaration. Orange you glad I posted this? Orange you glad I met Otto? Orange you glad we are about to have time off? Orange you ready to shoot me?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reality Bites

When I graduated from Binghamton University with my undergraduate literature degree in English Literature in 1994, I rented a movie called Reality Bites starring Winona Ryder and River Phoenix. It was about naive graduates entering the "real world" (GAP clothing store jobs, relationships, becoming adult) and it featured Lisa Loeb's song, Stay. I watched the film by myself and it hit me as a big chill sort of flick - like it was an initiation, in film at least, of how harsh adulthood would really be. Still, the youth of the actors, the thrill of their fame, the narcissistic, yet optimistic drive of their ambition (or lack thereof), and the possibilities of being something bigger upon graduation, was harshly captured in a romantic, non-apocalyptic reality check of growing up. It bit. Reality bites, hence the title.

Last night, I started thinking about how cute Lisa Loeb was in her music video, but also how caught in a moment of my generation's time that film actually was. We get old. School finishes and we're kicked out to society, and society is more complicated, more severe, more difficult than any class could have prepared a student to know.

Quirky as it is, I embrace the song and hold onto it as a sacred gem of moving forward. A two hour film can't capture the harsh reality of making one's way into the world, but it touched upon my idealism at the time. No matter what anyone says, the song still resonates with me today.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What is English?

I am reading Bob Fecho's What is English? which philosophically recalls his high school teaching in urban Philadelphia and I am in love by his text and his complete honesty about being a white male who landed a position in a school district where he found his white, male pedagogy to be challenged and inspired by the students he taught.

What I love about his text is two fold. For one, he found a way to promote his students' roles in his room to be active and engaged with reading and writing the world. Second, I relate to his story: a coalition school, working with the National Writing Project, having a love for creative writing, and finding the traditional canons problematic for many of the populations he taught. Fecho turned his room into a laboratory for language and sought ways for all students to think about the way they communicated in a world where all languages, dialects and ideas are not valued nor supported. For those of you who read my quirky blog, you might find this book to be an interesting text of one teacher who kept his voice by supporting theirs. To me, that is what education is all about.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gregory

For some reason, I kept thinking about the movie Gregory's Girl that I watched and rewatched again and again during the 1980s. Perhaps I was enthralled by the Australian accents, or maybe I saw my inner dork in the main character, but I recall LOVING this film. I now want to see it in its entirety again, and I'm afraid it may reveal more of my quirky personality than I even realized I had. I mean, reviewing this trailer has me giggling that this is the movie that kept crossing my mind all day. It must be further evidence that I'm going completely insane.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Preview of Dave Mathews Band to come

Nikki will be performing a song by Dave Mathew's Band this upcoming year which reminded me of one of my favorite songs ever - the kind of song that makes me extremely happy when it pops up in my earphones while walking or running. To me, this song is the perfect song to capture adolescence. I never tire of it. I'm not a cult follower of Dave Mathew's band (nor the frat life following they get), but this song is central to a quirky boy's imagination.

Monday, December 14, 2009

boys will be boys

I woke up yesterday morning before selling hotdogs at the Dome and read Ralph Fletcher's, Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices which is a collection of research studies on boys and writing, especially as it is known that girls surpass boys in literacy assessment. It's not an alarmist text, but it does note the tradition that boys and language arts do not often go hand in hand.

I loved the text, especially as Fletcher rallies for more freedom in the writing classroom for tolerant subjects and to, basically, let boys write about boy things. There are a lot of clever stories in the text (farting, barfing and stupid jokes) but there are also tales that reminded me of my childhood. In particular, I remember a time Peter Boy and I were riding our ten speeds and came across a vagabond of frogs. For some reason, we wanted to know what it would look like if we ran over the frogs with our wheels from the back. Pete went first and it was both disgusting and thrilling. I went second and, well, the ordeal was over. Two dead frogs was enough.

Fletcher writes that boys seek to know and take on adventurous quests to discover. He writes about the video game generation and how boys delve into deep fantasy as a way to gain control and problem solve. It is an indoor adventure of blood and guts for the 21st Century.

I've always confronted those who think reading and writing is for girls, but I can understand why it's seen this way: 90% of our teaching force is female. I'm thankful for Fletcher's text and am feeling a bit of quirky delight that it is out there. I am envious, however, that my friends and I were never able to make a tree, sling shot to throw our bodies across two lawns like Jack Gantos accomplished in the text. That would be exhilarating!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Because of the kindness of a Canadian friend, I was able to take Lossie, Abu and Robert, all from Liberia, to see the movie Invictus starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. Based on Nelson Mandela's use of the South African rugby team, the victory of the world cup is used as a way of uniting the complicated politics of a historical South Africa that is still a nation in the making, and one that has been troubled by a multicultural, divided community. It was a good film to see and to think about and I recommend it to all. Here is the poem that is handed to Matt Damon, captain of the team, by Morgan Freeman, president of the country.
Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Impressionable

Transitioning from high school to college, it was inevitable to pay attention to the Beverly Hills 90210 phenomenon. The California beach brats and their soap opera back stabbing became central to the haircuts and styles of my entrance to my twenties. Yes, it is stupid, but in a cold December like this, I recall the warmth the show brought me and my friends (especially as we made drinking games out of it and totally make fun of the program). There was something awkwardly charming to Tori Spelling - like owning a drooling boxer with eyes that bug out of its head. Of course, I grew up in Cherry Heights, 13401. For some reason, it didn't get any air time. Quirky to think that my box hair cut and flannel shirts wouldn't make my a Dylan McKay.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Divine Interventions

I went to the store after the gym, but failed to get dog biscuits. Baby's big, brown eyes look desperate as I unpacked the bags, and feeling guilty I opened a bag of Ritz crackers and gave her one. I thought she'd hate the make-shift treat, but she went crazy. She loved them. It must be the salt.

Then, tonight in class, the school was giving free H1N1 shots. I went down with Abu and Lossine and the nurse scooped me up and the next thing I knew, I was getting pricked with a needle and inoculated from pig disease.

So, I post today thanking the great whatever for his/her divine intervention. Swine Flu and Saltine wafers. Both meant to be.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I needed to retreat

Yesterday began with Baby leaving me a pile of her, "Oh, no. You won't make me go outside to do my business" on my floor. I then looked outside and saw the first round of old, man winter piled in my driveway, so I shoveled. I eventually made it to the library and then was called to do a favor for a friend whose car was hit and towed for repairs. She had to do portfolio presentations at SU, so I drove her there and afterwards we went to dinner at The Retreat in Liverpool. It was down the road from her house and it was my first time eating there - nice.

I threw in the towel at about 7 and enjoyed a relaxed dinner after a quirky day. I looked at this retreat as a long over-due retreat with a fellow Ph. D friend. Neither of us ever take time to chill out like that, but last night we did. Here's to us. (If you need directions, you can follow this map)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's one way to spend ten minutes

I wanted something to make me laugh and for some reason, I typed in 1990 onto YouTube and had a bit of flashback. It wasn't quirky at the time, but this was the music of 1990 condensed into a billboard briefing. Of course, by this time I was watching MTV's 120 minutes at midnite and aligning with non-pop music (I was so cool, you know, listening to the underground scene...as brought to me by the corporation of music television - man, how avant guard).

Perhaps you can take ten minutes out of your life and reminisce about a day that once was...actually, 365 days that once were.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Salt

On the plane to and from Albuquerque, I read SALT CITY AND ITS BLACK COMMUNITY by David and Miriam Stamps (2008). It was very interesting for me on many levels, especially because it paints a history of Syracuse that was never delivered for me in school: white or black America.

The immigrant story founded Central New York and it is interesting that two black men were first seen mining salt for Native Americans in the city - they were run away slaves from the south. This salt city connection has its roots in American race relations, as Syracuse was also a big factor in the underground railroad before the Civil War. The reputations for kindness was spread in the South, so several freed slaves moved north. This was, of course, at the time of Irish, German, Polish, Jewish and Italian immigrants. During WWI, the departed white immigrants in the war left a lot of industrial jobs for black Americans in Syracuse. After WWII, though, when soldiers returned from war, they were given the jobs and benefited from the housing boom available suburbia. This housing boom was not granted to black Americans, however, a result of governmental policy.

An interesting discovery is that, numerically, African American children had better attendance in city schools than white Americans, yet as adolescence crept on, the drop out rate rose. This is speculated to be the result that the opportunities for black workers in Syracuse of yesteryear were not available so their education was seen as not worth it (that was then). Still, the drop out rate is severe. The first black teacher wasn't hired by the city until the 1960s and since then, keeping educated black teachers in the district has been hard. Stamps and Stamps (2007) write that they are easily recruited but not easily maintained. They say the divide between middle class black families who moved away from poor black families remains.

I live by Hancock airport, where my father worked, and it was interesting to also read about his work with Dr. Tolley at Syracuse University, when the good ol' boy network was in full swing.

Over all, Syracuse's history is complex and will continue to be this way for a long time. Reading SALT CITY filled historical gaps about much of Central New York in my pea-brain mind. It also made me proud. The Dunbar Center, where we had the writing conference last month, is documented as a historical monument in the city and has always been central to civil rights in Syracuse.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holding on

I'm on a bit of a Thomas Newkirk kick, University of New Hampshire, and dig his writing style. He's put forth a few excellent books on teaching: Teaching the Neglected "R" for example. I've been reading his work on why boys tend to not achieve as well with reading and writing. He has an excellent writing style.

I found this video of him on YouTube, of course, and hearing my textual heroes is as good as reading them. Perhaps I should read Holding on to Good Ideas in the Time of Bad Ones (2009) that just came out. He's tenured. This allows for him to be a bit more honest, no?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

and a return

To say I'm exhausted is an understatement. Elizabeth, my Syracuse NRC Doctoral buddy, and I left at 7 a.m. and got to Syracuse about 9 p.m.. The flight was uneventful accept I filled many napkins with nose crud while she graded her students' assignments. I think the best part about yesterday was that my mom and dad brought me chicken parmesan and that's what I was able to have for dinner. I was famished and ate it quickly. Five days out west with little sleep has left me worn out. I will need today to recoup.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Old Town Holiday

As the National Reading Conference comes to a close for me, a few of us went to the Old Town for a Spanish Christmas celebration. The streets were lined with Mariachi bands playing spanish Holiday music and it was a wonderful treat for a brain-heavy week (the tacos were also good), I will spend all of today returning from another intellectual, quirky experience, but I can honestly say it has all been a true pleasure and a total thumbs-up experience. Our America is amazing with its opportunities.

Friday, December 4, 2009

peppers

To celebrate our presentation on Using Oral Narratives to tell Life Stories at the National Reading Conference, Norm Stahl from Northern Illinois University took me, David Mwambari, Elizabeth Stevens, and Dr. Kristiina Montero to dinner. Ardyth, who couldn't make it, suggest a New Mexican restaurant called SADIE's. It was spicy, but delicious - a true treat for this ghost down and a nice place to drink margaritas and unwind our brains. Our team worked together from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., enjoying the company and having a grand time. This day will go down as very memorable in my chapter book of experiences. We're exhausted, but it was a great day. David suggested I take this picture and I did. It is symbolic, of course.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

ghost towns

I picked up David, my friend from Rwanda, at the airport and he wanted to eat so we toured Albuquerque in search of food. He kept repeating with his thick accident, "This is a strange town. This is a strange town."

It is a city, actually, and there are lights that look like a city, but everything is dead and empty. Even the large, expensive hotels stand against the mountains, but people don't enter or exit them. The lady at our front desk said, "You are the only guest," last night when I checked in. There are over a hundred and forty empty rooms.

I feel like I'm in a ghost town like you'd see in the ol' Warner Bros. cartoons with Yosemati Sam, expect the dust hasn't settled and there's still a trace that a lively, vibrant city once existed here. It is eerie, actually.

This is a strange town. This is a strange town.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Elbow Quirky, Number 2

I thought it would be good to post a video advertising Albuquerque and all the things I won't have time for.

And I have a complaint. Now that airlines charge to check baggage, no one checks baggage. This results in stuffed overheads, so much so that I wasn't able to store my coat. Then, upon arrival, there is a mad scramble for people to jockey for their belongings that have been stored all over the plane, and rarely are they stashed above where they are seated. With the onslaught of Blackberries and IPhones, the arrival is worse than the cattle metaphor waiting for slaughter. These people aren't going to die...they are going on with their lives. The whole ordeal perplexed me. Individuals are pushing each other, texting, reaching for their belongings and trying to get out. Then, of course, they also scream at each other. I'm not sure if this is a good thing.

Oi Vay. Change is inevitable.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elbow Quirky

At the time you read this, I will be on my way to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the National Reading Conference (soon to be National Literacy Conference). I present on Thursday afternoon and host a session on Friday. There is a part of me that wants to drive up to Santa Fe and visit the area that was kind to me a few summers ago (when I had to jump Levi Romero's and Sandra Cisneros's truck).

I doubt I will get to do much sight seeing while there, but I do hope to get some good, spicy food like I tasted during Bread Loaf.

Oh, do you get my picture? It's an "elbow" on "Quirky". Elbow Quirky, New Mexico. I'm brilliantly funny. I don't know why I'm not on Saturday Night Live (Maybe because I'm old).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Not so Amazingly Graced

My 2009 lights are lining my fence and bushes now. Every year, when I unpack them, they need to be replaced. This frustrates me, yet I persevere, Bryan-style.

I am not as high-tech as this light snow (and watch it all for its full effect), but the inner-Griswald is there. I can't afford such spectacle in my current economic state, but there will be a day. The tackier the better.

Do yourself one favor this season. Go for a drive and take in the lights.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Something

On this day, in 1969, three years before I was born, the Beatles had a number one song that went something like this video: Something. It's hard for me to think that today's number one song, Jay Z and Alicia Keyes, will have the lasting effect of the Beatles. Only time will tell.

Have a great Sunday. I hope something crosses your mind today and makes you want to dance.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I want to paint it black.

My black friday was spent in shale blue and white as I painted my parents foyer and the job took six hours longer than I thought it would. The foyer is now shale blue, as is the hallway. Cynderballs suggested doing white trim, which was smart, and the two of went at that for a while. The ceilings are
painted, too: WHITE.

Like any project, this project was larger than I first anticipated. It looks good and fresh, but it needs attention by those with an interior eye (like Cynde's) so we shall see what she comes up with.

The only break I took was to flip dad (Nathan's) deer into the back of Karl's truck to be processed. Otherwise, I was Picasso all day yesterday.

Friday, November 27, 2009

And We're Off!!!

videoIt's November 27th, 2009, and you know what that means. Yep! Black Friday and there is not a chance in #$#@ I will go shopping. Instead, I will do my best to begin painting ceilings at my parent's house.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Day, Turkeys!

Another stupid song for my quirky celebration of 2009. Eat well. Be thankful. Enjoy family. Love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mekka Lekka Hi Mekka Hiney Ho

Back in my Pee Wee days, I loved the segment of Jambi, the genie. Today, I am thinking about making wishes and how, if we could, we'd all submit a series of true wishes we really want. For me, I want stability, especially financially - and I don't need the yacht fantasy pushed on us (although it would be nice). I want the knowledge that I can sustain my life emotionally, psychologically, economically and socially. That day will come, Jambi, but I can wish for it now, can't I?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DistIRBed

It's out of my hands for a little while - my research proposal, that is. My advisor signed off on it and I brought it to the University's IRB office which oversees the risks of every study to determine whether or not it is an ethical, worthwhile study that doesn't take advantage of individuals and, indeed, adds knowledge to the research community. Now, I await a verdict, most likely with forthcoming changes before it is accepted, but until then, I live with the quirky pursuit of conducting my study. One necessary hoop at a time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Point of View

Since 2004, I've shown the movie LOST BOYS OF SUDAN which aired on PBS. Last night, I watched it again to take notes. Why? Because the journey of Peter and Santino mirrors the stories of many of the young men I've worked with in the cow project and the children of these young men who are now enrolling in American schools. It may be a place to accrue a foundation for what I hope will be my research for the next year. I found the directors, Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk, talking about their film online. Most of you, I imagine, won't care. But I put it up on my site, anyway. It might be an interesting clip to watch while sipping on Starbucks, surfing the net for holiday gifts and/or checking your Blackberry. Who knows? It remains quirky to me that two continents can be so near, yet so far away. And if you haven't seen the film, I highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Coincidence?




I never watched Conan O'Brien, but I caught it the other night. He has a remarkable resemblance to Hermie the Christmas Elf from Rudolf, especially with his quirky parted hair. I may be going out on the ledge on this, but did Conan get a start in this Christmas ritual? With a little red lipstick, we'd have our comedian wanting to be a dentist.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My name is Paco

Hands down. This is a stupid entry.

I made tacos for the family last night. I found this video to celebrate. It's called Taco Song. Warning: It is really stupid.

But the tacos were decent.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ten Minute Distraction

For this Friday post, I am thinking about the humor of Jed Kasey who, as an 11th grader, wrote a script about two kids getting trapped on a roller coaster as part of their first official date. J.J. Beckman, the old guy character who was not a part of the script, totally jumped in and did his improvisation thing. Chloe Regan and Andrew Pehlke totally went with the scene. The camera work is shotty, but my appreciation of young people and their ability to do creative work, I hope, is evident. video

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Journey is Brilliant

With a truck load of Liberians, Sudanese, Somalians and Senegalese, the music quickly became a little African drumming, some muslim lyrics I couldn't understand, and a medley of Tupac, Eminem, & Jay Z. Then, out of the blue, a Journey song, "Faithfully," comes on the radio and all seven of the kids break out in memorized verse.

"Ah, man, Steve Perry is the bomb. That's my man."

They sang every word as if they were auditioning as back up singers.

I thought to myself, you can't make this up:

Highway run into the midnight sun
Wheels go round and round
You're on my mind
Restless hearts sleep alone tonight
Sending all my love along the wire
They say that the road
ain't no place to start a family
Right down the line it's been you and me
And loving a music man
ain't always what it's supposed to be

Girl
you stand by me
I'm forever yours
faithfully
Circus life under the big top world
We all need the clowns to make us laugh
Through space and time
Always another show
Wodering where I am lost without you
And being a part ain't easy on this love affair
Two strangers learn to fall in love again
I get the joy of rediscovering you

Oh girl
you stand by me
I'm forever yours
faithfully
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
oh oh oh oh oh oh
faithfully
I'm still yours
I'm forever yours
Ever yours
faithfully

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Glass of Ira

Yesterday was a pretty cool experience for me. I got to meet Ira Glass through my buddy Mark Stern's hard work to bring him to Syracuse University. Those of you who listen to NPR know his series, THIS AMERICAN LIFE. I've been listening to the narrations for years and I love that someone, somewhere, promotes story telling and the lives of we the people. I realized from meeting him, however, that his show works because he has a quirky sense of humor. He said, "Always, always throw something in the story that amuses you and is for your own little giggle. If you aren't having fun, why bother with any of it."

I told him that it was somewhat surreal having this "voice of public radio god" come to life in the form of a physical being at SU. Up until then, he's been this weekly, hour, radio show I download from ITunes every week. I'm not sure if it is good that he is now a three-dimensional being, nor that he has 'hipster' followers as the Newhouse media people pointed out. I sort of like him being a voice that drifts in my head from my earphones.

Either way, it was a memorable opportunity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hello

I'm using today's Quirky post to simply say, "hello."

There are 1,000s of ways to say this basic greeting, but I'm choosing my English vernacular this Tuesday morning because it is what I know best. A simple hello is meant to acknowledge your presence and to let you know I'm thinking of you and nodding my head in your direction. I hope all is well and you have a spectacular day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

P.U.


For about a week I've smelled funkiness in my garage and knew something was dead somewhere. I figured it'd run its course as nature does, but when I used my Shop Vac/Leaf Blower today, I found the death.

Three mice were blown out of my tube as soon as I turned the blower on. I don't know why they chose to get trapped and die in the leaf-blower tubing, but that is exactly what they did. The three mice, blind, were sprayed onto my garage floor, bones and all. I wonder if they were related to the mouse that tried to make a home in my barbecue grill earlier this year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a good sunday morning post

perhaps all meaning is somewhere within this film and the fact spring will come again and so will blooming trees. clouds will form and disappear, water will flow and butterflies will return. doubt and hope will remain.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

whoops

I woke up and realized, dang, I forgot to post my daily quirk. The woman on NBC was discussing how breakfast is a great dinner to have in the Fall and as I slurped my milky bowl of Cheerios (my daily staple), I thought about how much I want a breakfast like the one I'm watching on television. Not today, however, but perhaps soon. Soon. SOON. Eggs, and bacon, and waffles, and a tall glass of orange juice.

Friday, November 13, 2009

old man at prithe thopper

Twice now, when I've run out of coffee in the a.m., I've forced myself to an early Price Chopper visit to a) get groceries and b) nab a cup of coffee. In there cafe, there's a retired man who must be working to keep his mind busy. He hands me a large cup with a paid sticker and says, "This one's on me."

I love this man. I'm sure he's not supposed to give free cups of coffee out to strangers, but the two times I've gone to the store in the a.m., he's handed me a cup of mocha at no cost. He then whistles, goes back to preparing lettuce for the salad bar and throws a wink to the store. I've probably jinxed myself with his kindness, but I mention his quirky gift on a Friday morning because, perhaps, it will inspire another to do a good deed today. So random. So spontaneous. Such a kind smile amongst the chaos.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Horse *&^@!

Kentucky revisited me last night when I went for a run. I'm used to traffic zooming by me and sometimes a cyclist or a faster runner. Yet, yesterday a galloping horse and rider scared the crap out of me as they snuck up on Thompson Road. In the Race for the Roses, I was left in the ditch with decaying cattails and baron Sumac. It's one thing to be startled by another human being, but it is another to realize the odd presence passing you on your right is a giant horse.

Nayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Under The Six Feet

When HBO began its series SIX FEET UNDER, I was hooked. Why? The funeral series reminded me there's a scene behind every death and a family that buries people for a living. Yes, it is morbid, but watching that show always made me think deeply about the Burgess family who had a parlor where my Hamilton grandparents' services were held. I don't think the Burgess family had the same level of oddness behind the scenes (and definitely not that red-headed actress). The show is off the air, but I was thinking about it this morning. For some reason, the theme song puts a quirky smile on my face.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scratch Number Seven

I couldn't wait until Christmas for Generation A by Douglas Coupland so I went to get it yesterday when it came out. I'm glad I did. It has already provided me with much needed amusement. For the time being, I will replace #7 on my Christmas list with War Dances by Sherman Alexie. I am sure, though, I'll cave in and buy this, too.

Me and my love of quirky writers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'd rather be mauled

I have decided the reason I hate malls is because they are overstimulating. They are like the State Fair for that matter, except people in the mall usually are there to spend more money on material things rather than fried dough. I think I also have an aversion to the "clothed space" because I worked in a mall for most of high school and swore I never wanted to smell the perfumes of a department store again.

Yet, I found myself at the Carousel Mall yesterday to finally see WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (thumbs up, too). Walking through the mall, however, I realized how rare it is that I step into those places. They're horrible for so many reasons. I'm not anti-shopping, but the whole mall ordeal is over my head. I don't get it.

I wish Syracuse luck with Destiny and their eco-friendly shopping experience, but I'm not going to be a frequent shopper there. No, thank you. If I want something bad enough I can order it online.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vend-a-worm

Forgive me if I've posted this before, but I can't get over the coincidence that in Clarksville, Indiana, and North Syracuse, New York, I happen to live down the street from a vend-a-bait machine that spits out worms with a couple of singles. There is something remarkably quirky about this convenience and that for a couple of green bucks, one could get a cup of slimy urchins. The machines run 365 days a year and there are all sorts of miraculous things people might do with a cup of worms, in say, later January. You can snuggle with them by the fire, or you can take them with you snowmobiling. Here's to the inventor of Vend-a-bait and may our species continue to embrace theirs.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

wallpaper

I was thinking it would be really cool to have a bed spread or a room wallpapered totally in Dr. Seuss book covers. That's it. That's my quirky posting for today. I mean, how cool would it be to walk into a room of Theodore Geisel doodles, made-up words and whacky little rhymes? I'd totally love it. Perhaps that will be another goal for when I begin making money again.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fifty More Days

Hmm. I don't make much money. I haven't been able to splurge on myself in almost three years. I am economically a kid again. So, a Holiday wish list might make for a quirky posting. Note: I am very cheap. If one isn't getting a crazy deal, it ain't worth it!

Ten Items I wouldn't mind finding in my stocking:

10. a phone people can hear me with.
9. a few more hats. I like my cap. For samples, click here.
8. socks (I can always use socks)
7. Douglas Coupland's new novel, Generation A (if I can wait that long)
6. a new table cloth. I accidentally bleached mine.
5. better bling for my ears. I lost my best bling when I was an Oompa Loompa for Halloween.
4. more zip-up hoodies. I like da funk of dese.
3. new experiences - I'm always up for something new (learn that from Sue McV)
2. that's about it, I can't think of anything else - wait.
1. A paying job.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rambling Thursday Morning Thinking

I was at an indoor soccer practice last night while reading several books I got out of the Bird Library. I was reading Gloria Ladson-Billings, Lisa Delpit & Victoria Purcelle-Gates and thinking about how language, especially school language, is a ticket to success. I was watching as the coach conducted very detailed drills that asked the kids to do small passes in the air after bouncing a soccer ball off their chest onto the top of their foot, so they could lift it at exactly the right height to another player to make a play. This made me think about Nikki's recent exercise to toss her rifle parallel to a school fence in order to correct a pitched angle with her lift so her toss was more perpendicular than angled (if it was angled, it'd hit the fence and bounce in her face - that would learn her).

I started thinking about schools and teaching English, and how too often the detailed skills of practice are not expected of students to gain tools for later play. Skills and drills, when intentional and purposeful, are meaningful and useful. A kid learning to write in their first language or their second language need opportunities to play with language in the ways writers do, so when they are given writing tasks for real life, they are experienced and practiced with what might be expected of them. A child who doesn't have skills and drills with written language are not prepared to play the game.

I've always been drawn to the coaching/facilitating model of teaching where an educator has enough knowledge to know what a student needs to move to the next level of their practice. In many ways, I recognize my mentors at Syracuse University have been doing similar work with me as they prepare my mind to practice the art of academic writing. The expectation cannot be there alone. Instead, steps towards the process, with practice, are needed so when the time comes for an individual to show what they can do, they'll be able to do it.

I quit piano. I quit trumpet. Consequently, I can't play either. Still, I admire those who can and wish now I paid greater attention to the skills of becoming a musician so that I could one day play music. Instead, I turned to books and reading. It brought me to writing. No one teacher was a guru on a mountain. The truth is there were multiple teachers who offered several, differing drills and practice that gave me more tools to work with.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trouble for a Wednesday as We Head Towards Winter

The leaves have pretty much fallen and snowflakes are expected tonight. The air yesterday, when I walked the dog, smelled like the four months to come and then, at lunch, a couple with many years of marriage started arguing loudly whether or not a conversation about a woman's colonoscopy was the business of other diners at the Clam Bar in North Syracuse. The husband nonchalantly mentioned his wife had the procedure done a week ago to an old dentist, who was used to working at the other end of the medical field, that happened to be eating there that day, too. The wife didn't think it was appropriate lunch conversation and asked, "How'd you like if I told the whole bar you're having a colonoscopy in a week? Do you think it's any of their business?"

And I sat there with my parents thinking it is the time of year where Cat Stevens Trouble begins to play in my head in is pre-hibernal rhythm of gray and bone-chilling temperatures. I awaited my steak sandwich and french fries in silence, listening to the argument of two individuals who've spent the majority of their life together, through thick and thin. Butch, Sue, and their a%#*@! son- a universal theme for a moment in time. Priceless.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

King Mac

On Sunday Morning, CBS, Sunday, magician Mac King was featured with Penn & Teller and their study on perception with autistic individuals. The hypothesis of the researchers is that children with autism might not be duped by magic because their brains do not perceive the tricks of everyday life. It made me recall when Mac King visited the Brown School, his alma mater, while I was teaching there and that is why I post his quirky entertainment today. Long live the odd, bizarre way our minds work and let his magic continue as a reminder that a peculiar mind has a place in the world.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chim Chimmeree!

In my attempt to winterize my home yesterday, Mike had to come over so help me reassemble the new pipes after I took down the old ones from my wood burning stove. The two of us were able to do a magical performance of "Step In Time" on my roof to the tune from Mary Poppins (see if you can guess which one is Mike). If only we were this energetic and choreographed with our performance. The only truth to the work is the three inches of black soot that covered me from head to toe.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Welcoming November, 2009

video
Still outside the box, Halloween, 2009.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

free dinner

One item fueled my Friday and got me through the last day of the work week - DINNER! French fries and a beer at Red Robin with Casey and Dave was my agenda. I was in major work mode so when the invitation came, at first I passed. But as I took a bus to my car, I decided I deserved a Newcastle and I joined them at the restaurant. Red Robin didn't serve Newcastle, however, so I ordered water and a spicy chicken sandwich. They brought me the wrong meal, though.

The waitress took it back and when Casey and Dave's finished their meal, my dinner finally arrived. So, they gave me my meal for free - deservingly free as I sat their slurping my pint of H20.

The moral? Don't have quirky, high expectations for a Friday night pleasure.

Friday, October 30, 2009

My brain is dead. I'm good for only one liners

I started thinking about cheesy lines to go with my sexy, Zoolander face (these are the quirky PG-13 ones):

Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?

You must be from Pearl Harbor, because baby you’re the bomb.

You look like a girl who has heard every line in the book. So, how bad is one more going to hurt?

Can I borrow a quarter? I want to go to your mother and thank her.

Do you have a map? I just keep getting lost in your eyes.

If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.

Do you have a Band Aid? I just scrapped my knee falling for you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

linked

I read an article once where a Ph.D student lost her wrists and suddenly became paralyzed by the process of writing. I still have my wrists, but I did lose my wireless system and, for two days, I felt numb. I'm so used to multitasking from whatever room I inhabit that when I had to plug into the wall, I sort-of short circuited. I am happy to say that I am back in wireless land and can do more than one thing at once, including browse the net while writing and creating. Phew.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

62 days left of 2009

Yikes. I saw this was my 303rd post of the year. Where's the time go?

Like the sands of the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

Seriously, it perplexes me I'm twenty years out of high school, heading towards twenty years out of my undergraduate days and, fudge, thinking about pushing forty. Is that possible? And that song! That song from my mom's soap brings back haunting yet precious memories - the perfect soundtrack for a Wednesday morning of desperation and despair.

Believe it or not, I just learned that Victor Kiriakis is not dead. He was held on an island by Stefano Denero and, through amazing cosmetic surgery, transformed into a canine being. Marlena, my dog "Baby" is Victor Kiriakis and Eugene and Calliope have been turned into Cynde's two dogs, Rocky and Chipper. There's no escaping the evil of NBC at 1 p.m. everyday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's not the Library of Congress

When I completed my undergraduate days, I left thinking I'd like to one day have a library like so many of my professors. I'd walk into their offices and think, "They read all this crap?".

Fast forward. Almost twenty years later, I find myself this morning still without my wireless service and consequently in the room with all my books. I've acquired quite a few over the years, and as quirky as the truth is, these are the ones I've kept and not returned to libraries or given to someone else to read, only to never be seen again. There were many, many more.

There are days when I look at them all and think, "This is all within me." There are other days when I look at it and think, "You're going to have to move all this crap if, and when, you leave Syracuse."

I wonder if books will remain a part of our species as we grow more and more digital. I hope so. I still love reading and even if I do embrace technology, it can't replace getting lost in a story. If it can, I haven't found that online story just yet.

PS: See the Adidas sneakers on the shelf? They're signed by Missy Elliot!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Crock Pot Crack Head

My brain is fried and it's only Monday of the work week. I think I killed it last night when, for some reason, I lost my wireless internet capabilities. I'm so used to multitasking via internet searching and textual composing on my own, simultaneously, that I get totally frazzled when I don't have wireless service and, hence, can't kill multiple birds with one keyboard. I had to use the ethernet chord and that is not comfortable. It is like walking through life still attached to your mother via an umbilical chord. It works, but it isn't as convenient as it can be.

Still, I do not wish to complain too much because I stewed beef, onions, gravy and potatoes in my Crockpot last night. I added a lot of chives, too, and a little chili sauce. I sat down for a meal last night, although by myself, and had a quirky Sunday dinner.

Now, if only my wireless system will kick itself back into gear, all will be well. Ugh. Until then...I roll my eyes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Congratulations, Gabriel

Gabriel Bol Deng's film, Rebuilding Hope, had its premiere last night in Syracuse. It was wonderful to see the large crowd there to support his work to rebuild a school in Sudan and that his efforts in America are paying off. It was also a wonderful gathering of several of my new friends in Syracuse who align to support such efforts of such hard work.

I always feel blessed to be a part of something that transcends the everyday work that we do. Gabriel, and the other two men who also are doing their best to support their villages, deserved the standing ovation they received.

As Brendan Kennally writes, once again, "I Love/To Believe/In Hope." It is all Pandora left us in her box.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Celebration of the Pain - Love the Great One!

videoAnother year older. Another year more gray (another year more hectic than the last). Happy Birthday lil' sis. Do something quirky to make it memorable.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Garbage

Yesterday morning, before I left my house, I packed a plastic bag full of fruit so I would have a makeshift dinner while trekking onward with my day. Arriving home last night, I realized I never did eat my "bagged" dinner, and after consuming it I instantly threw the plastic into the garbage.

But I retrieved it for this quriky post. Why? Well, I've claimed I'm a recovering environmentalist because of the tremendous amount of garbage I see created all over the globe made me lose sleep during my politically correct younger days. I was schooled to feel guilty about everything I did and it plagued me. So, to get sleep, I stopped worrying about it.

Until tonight. I realized that plastic was designed to make hectic lives more convenient. If I put the fruit in Tupperware, I could wash it, and consequently reused my container. Nope. I used a plastic bag because in the pace of living, it made my life easier. It's the little things that our part of routine that, in the end, are rather tremendous. I'm one loser human being who is conscious of producing too much garbage - an ecological footprint - but I am flawed. I consume and as a result I create trash.

This is a short confessional that has no point other than to recognize my behavior. I can do better, but I question if I ever will. I also question all the righteous opinions others may have for my waste. And I'm wondering, can we avoid it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

World Trivia

Often, I visit websites to update my knowledge of world #s. It's seems I think about the global realities a lot and these are numbers that keep me turning at night. I found this variation of the numbers online and, for the moment they existed for this video's production, that's where the world was. It doesn't sit still and continues to spin. Quirky Quirky us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moody

There are quirky moments in my life where I wish I had a mood ring and that it actually registered my moods accurately, because even I can't keep up with them. The class of 2001 dubbed me with severe BMS (Bryan Mood Swings) and I know this results from my drive to be successful, and the reality that there's not enough time in the world to accomplish the success I want to see delivered. The result of this is great aggravation and if I wore a mood ring, I imagine it could warn me of impending swings in personal attitude. Still, I must celebrate the emotional pendulum of being human because, after all, is it what makes us human. These days, however, I much prefer the lighthearted, carefree days when I bounce about without a care in the world. This we can learn from the young. As Bernard Shaw wrote, "Youth is wasted" on them. In the meantime, I will wallow in a miserable mood anticipating a whimsical one later on.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

National Day On Writing


Today is the official, National Day on Writing. NCTE (National Council for the Teaching of English) has opened a site for educators and students to share their writing in an impressive, ongoing online collection. I chose to upload one piece of many that I wrote randomly while subbing in local schools. I do poetic drive bys as I meet new students and as they watch the movie the teacher left behind or fill out mindless worksheets, I collect a word from each kid and see what sort of poetic doodle I can create. I normally don't keep the random poems, but I found this quirky one today. It was while subbing for a talented and gifted class and they gave me some tricky words to play with.

Happy Writing Day!

Because I am untalented and ungifted I write you this poem
Today I’m a genius, a moron at school,
assigned to teach the intellectual drool of
this Lollypop guild of junior high kids.

I’m not very good at this,
but I try,

Why?

Because I’m a somnabulist
sleepwalking wide awake,
a leptektatium leprechaun
writing to make the Earth shake.

I’m a periwinkle llama,
a czechlosovachian noodle,
a doo-rag mullet head,
& both a sausage and a poodle.

I was once planted as a ficus,
but lost focus, hocus pocus,
and even if my roots were dug deep in New York clay,
I branched my stubborn intellect in urban diversity.

Knowledge is my pudding and I eat it with a spoon,
walking as a sapien, and swimming like a loon.

Bibbity Bobbity Bappity Boo,
I ask these little brainiacs, whatcha talkn’ about fool?

I scribble my words in uncopywritable ways,
and moonwalk the horizon one phase at a time,
working with textual lies, symbolically sublime
playing with word-art and Dr. Seuss rhyme,
a liopleurodon booger all sticky with slime.

I’m a crab in a kilt, baking crabcakes with peppers,
sponging the souls of the healthy and lepers,
and as I live life in full-fledged martyrdom,
I’m amazed by the puzzles of Aztec Tinochtium.

Across white pages I do my poetic polka,
a crooked eye freak quite proud of his Babushka.

I scat and I rap as a frog with Ms. Piggy,
together we dance, and sometimes get jiggy,
and if we should spawn, we’d call one Pollywog Figgy,

Cuz today I’m a genius, a moron at school,
assigned to another day of intellectual drool,
untalented
ungifted
Just an idiot and fool,
and proud I was never seen as too smart,
instead, I was known as a bratty, punk fart
back in the day, in this hall.

Always on a journey with my muses, y’all.