Monday, August 31, 2009

No Longer a Single Digit Dude

Dylan turns ten today and can no longer claim he's a single digit fellow. He can attest he's getting older because his gifts are getting more expensive, clothes are beginning to mean more to him and it will only be a couple more years before he can kick Nikki's butt.

Happy Birthday, Dylan! We all love you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

R.I.P.


Statistically, for every one day of American life, there are over 50 murders on American soil. That is slightly over two murders per hour, and so in one episode of Days of Our Lives, for example, the chance exists that another Bo and/or Hope of this world are gone.

I think about this because the first three letters of my middle name are R.I.P. and issues of life and death have always intrigued me.

Statistically, there are almost five times as many rapes and sexual crimes against women in any given day. I learned this by perusing the Department of Justice website because I was curious if there were more deaths of Americans on our soil than in Iraq. Obviously, there are. Perhaps our military might find additional work fixing whatever is going on in the United States.

This is a quirky meandering for a Sunday morning, but a number game worth paying attention to. I was thinking about this because murder has never made sense to me, and Saturday evening mystery shows are always trying to solve one that has gone mysterious. Perhaps the greatest quagmire is the fact that such high numbers exist at all.

Oif. I'm tripping my mind.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Krunk

Before I headed for my Long Island soiree I took out an audio copy of SMASHED by Koren Zailkas, a Syracuse Univeristy graduate, who chronicles her adolescent addiction with alcohol as she experienced it in high school and as an undergraduate, sorority girl. Her narrative is melodic prose, but captures a horrific relationship with booze and partying as an American in the 21st Century. Her tale is sobering.

The blunt honesty from where she writes is a discourse that should be read by every freshmen in college and their parents who send them there. Post-high school life will always be a place for exploration and finding oneself, but her journey exposes the madhouse of privilege that comes with the multiple pressures placed on young woman as they (ir)rationalize the purpose of drinking in defining one's self.

I wish I could note her story is quirky, but it is, I'm afraid, hauntingly familiar. It is a text that naturally opens the doorway to conversations that should be had by everyone who enters the collegiate scene of partying. It deserves its New York Times bestselling status and her intelligence as a writer is obvious.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Grill

In a spur of the moment, change of plans yesterday afternoon, I had my parents over for BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, steamed green beans and salad. When I opened my grill, however, there was a nest of pink insulation in one corner and a field mouse looking straight at me. I thought, "How peculiar."

I tapped the grill to stir the mouse and she ran to the cup that catches the grease. She kept popping her head up into the grill questioning my next move. I removed the grill and inspected for tiny mouse feces. There was none, so I speculated my grill-guest was in the early stages of building her nest. I coached her to run onto the tank and she sprinted for the grass taking her sensitive, long whiskers with her. I removed the insulation and proceeded to fire the grill up. Thank the Great Whatever that I did not flame a mouse.

I started thinking about playing God and how, in the natural world, she was most likely preparing for a nest of pink infants and I egotistically destroyed her plans. If I had barbecued for my parents a day later, I most likely would have discovered a larger mess. Because I live in a healthy ecosystem, I recognize the importance of her maternal instincts because she is a complete grocery store for the multiple grass snakes that live on my property. In away, I destroyed the Walmart-like food web of my property.

As quirky as it sounds, I feel my evening dinner was a part of a larger picture. My female Fievel provided me insight on how such territory works. I'm in her way of doing what nature expects of her and my choice to have a Dinosaur BBQ sauced piece of poultry for dinner is, indeed, a ritual of dining that resides in a greater plan for the universe. Emancipating the Minnie Mouse was a way of keeping her alive to feed my snakes. And my chicken was good -- real good!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Completed, Finally Inn

My graduate school cohort decided to have our first literacy meeting at the Inn Complete in Syracuse University's Graduate housing section. I've driven by the building, but never have been inside. It is a hang out for graduate students to get a cheap meal and something to drink. Several of the Ph.D. students in Reading and Language Arts met there to share our summer and discuss our goals for the upcoming year. It was a breath of fresh air to meet with my colleagues for a light evening of friendship and support before another year of academic chaos begins.

I can't believe I'm heading towards year three at Syracuse and this is the first time I discovered such supportive space for a gathering of like minded, driven thinkers. Although I doubt I'll be back again any time soon, I can say I enjoyed this evening as a kick-off of sorts.

I suppose it's a mini-episode of Cheers in a way. Everybody knew my name. Well, the six of them anyway.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sonic Literacies

One of the joys of road trips are the undivided attention I can give to a good book while hitting the road. The first book I listened to was Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from my Father. His story is one that could only be destined for the position he is currently in. He writes and reads with exceptional prose and I was totally impressed by his impersonations of the people in his life, especially with his talent at code switching dialogue to meet the needs of the people he was conversant with. His story is absolutely American and woven into the fabric of American history, totally brainstormed before his political career and achievement. Although his words captivated my attention, more impressive was the voice in which he read. He is not only political but literary...of course it caught my quirky attention.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

and then there are roads


I have arrived to my CNY abode after a get-away to Long Island. Driving always centers me and crossing across NYC and then through the green hills of Pennsylvania and southern New York reminded me of the enormity of any travel, migration and getting out of the ruts we create for ourselves. In Kentucky, I often said I felt the most whole on the road home to NY or on the road home to KY. Traveling is experience and as Dewey notes, experience provides the greatest wisdom. But now it is time to hit the books BIG TIME. In the meantime, I have my journeys for fuel.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Goin' crazy with the cuz's kids

Quirky is aging. Quirky is growing up. Quirky is sharing a life span with a cousin down state. Quirky is making memories for his little munchkins on Long Island in the same way Milford, Sue, Butch & Sue made for us when we were wee folk. And Quirky is this crazy world and all its magic. video

Hoops


I attended Mark's Hoops4Hope gala at William Goldman's house last night. It is his annual fundraiser for the project and his soiree to accept donations and rally support for his African work. I was able to hang with Larry Brown and Mike Lupica for a while, both incredible men.

I have to look up to my cousin because he is an amazing man. Watching him move forward with his life's passion has been something phenomenal to see. He's changing the world one basketball at a time and this impresses me. He is a good man.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

If only you'd loan me 36 million dollars

After playing Polo today with Billy Joel, I had a quick bite to eat P.Diddy who was out on the Island for the weekend. He introduced me to a few real estate agents and they showed me this corny video about buying property on eastern Long Island. The temptation is there, but unfortunately my graduate stipend is not.

Either way, my name is spelled with a "y' in case you want to write me a check.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oi Vay

On the way to seeing the play Sylvia, by A.R. Gurney, my aunt showed me the area where Sarah Jessica Parker lives with Mathew Broderick. Funny, I found a picture online where Sarah Jessica Parker plays the role of Sylvia the dog. Great script to end a hot, humid day.

I ran, I biked, I jumped waves, I ate well, I scrabbled poorly, and I saw Sylvia. Days could be worse, I'm sure. Like, what if while I was running, sweating as I do and I heard, "Pssst. Pssst. You, come here," from one of the high hedges people keep in these parts. What if it turned out to be Sara Jessica Parker and she saw me running and wanted to report how miserable she was with Mathew Broderick. Now, that would of been a bad day. The way I sweat. How embarrassing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The older we get, the younger we get

I safely drove to Amagansett and arrived to my Aunt & Uncles mid-afternoon. When I arrived to their home, there was a note to say they were elsewhere. As I unpacked my truck, I noticed the changes in their home -- most notably the transition to grandparenthood! There were toys and evidence of kid-activity all around. In particular, a brand new, unopened game of Chutes & Ladders was on the kitchen table. I said, "Shucks! They bought me a gift."

Later, after combing the beach and visiting Mark and his wife, Aunt Sue challenged me to a game of Scrabble. I told her I'd rather play Chutes & Ladders to give my overactive brain a rest. Instead, she kicked my butt at Scrabble.

Either way, I've made it to Long Island safely.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pretending to be Posh a Night Early

My partner-in-crime for the summer at SAY YES wanted to thank me for my work this summer and invited me to a restaurant she used to be bartender for: Gentile's. It has been a very long while since I've eaten at such an awesome restaurant and I'm now a huge advocate. If anyone ever has a celebration, holiday or anniversary, this is INDEED Syracuse's best kept secret. The owner likes to blend new foods together to arrive at new tastes. Everything from the bread to the salads to the main meal was absolutely new AND DELICIOUS to the palate. I felt like quirky new taste buds were introduced to me tonight with every bite. This is worth every penny and anyone who wants to try something new in the Central New York region, give me a call. I'm an easy date, especially if you're paying.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Remembering the Weekend

It's Tuesday and Wayne Mahar is predicting evening storms to subside the week-long, summer heat we've finally been able to enjoy. Pictured above are some of my home-boys from the 2009 Luau at the Isgar's. We were a site for hummingbirds indeed.

Although we beach-wanna be's never made it to a game of badminton that evening, Mike and I have successfully held tournaments two nights in a row (cough cough, no need to mention who wins).

Looking at the above photo is a piece of family history and it must be admitted, Karl should of been there! I'm wondering why we didn't get photos of the ladies in their coconut shells, either. But for some reason, there is one of Nathan? Hmmmm.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When We are Taiwanese

Mike and I passed a bit of the evening last night playing one on one in a Badminton tournament behind his pool. The competition was fierce (as you can see here in our video - Mike is a little bit more Taiwanese than me). The final score was Bryan 21 and Mike 19. The rematch will most likely take place at a later date as we were winded and needed to jump in a pool. We remained hospitable brother-in-laws, but it didn't get under Mike's skin that I won. Competition, however, is good for our souls.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The thing about 2009

When Nathan gets rear ended by a car full of kids who recently graduated from the school of the deaf in Rochester, cell phones turned out to be very communicative. Kids can text what they are trying to say and you can type what you are trying to say. This occurs before the police come for a report and you can type in reasons why you ram into a truck when you aren't looking.

This is 2009, and such automoblle accidents can't be made up. When you don't know sign language, text messaging comes in handy. This is successful, even when you're dressed for a Carnival Bahama cruise and standing in traffic trying to navigate oncoming traffic. You shouldn't text while driving, but you definitely should text when you have a hard time verbalizing what needs to be said.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nighty Night

I was asked to babysit Sean & Jacob (J.C.) last night while my sister and her husband went to a wedding. I wanted to get a good shot of Jacob in his tuxedo t-shirt, but he wouldn't compromise. Instead, I waited for him to zonk out while he was watching little league baseball on ESPN. With a nuk in his mouth, he soon fell asleep and began to snore like his father. The ground was shaking.

Sean went to bed rather easy after I read him six or seven books and put together five puzzles. I know he appreciates his rituals, but he floored me with his need to ride the elevator up to his bed. He has stairs. Apparently there's a game his parents play and it took me seven or eight attempts before I got it right. I even had to make the right noise.

Nikki came along to help out, but she hasn't been seen from behind Casey's computer screen since we arrived. Her entire night was lounged on the laptop and with a headset surfing the net. I could have driven off with both boys and went to visit her parents and she wouldn't have even noticed.

Quirky is how domestic I can be when I need to.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Take me Out to the Pool Game

Syracuse's summer weather has not been cooperative to traditional Wiffleball challenges on Amalfi Drive. Yet, yesterday, with blue skies and high temperatures, the first homerun derby festival of the season was conducted in the folk's pool. Nathan scored the most points (suprise, surprise), followed by me, then Butch, and even Sue got a run in.

It remains a fact that hitting the wiffleball out of the pool is an automatic out and anyone who could line drive the ball into the blue, pool cover at the other end, continued to gain homerun status. Although Mom hit Nathan in the head a few times, her pitches did go over the plate on numerous occasions helping him to score the most points.

Still, no one brought us peanuts or cracker jacks. All we got was quirky chlorine in our gills.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This is What Adulthood Really Is...

They tell you to work hard in school so you can get into a good college. In college, they make you study hard to get into a good graduate school. In graduate school, they warn you about getting a good job. Post graduate school they hint at starting a family and settling down. Yes, you work your behind off so you can be a good ol' American citizen.

But do you know what adulthood really is? It's waking up in the morning and taking a vacuum cleaner apart because your dog's hair has clogged the hose and brush. It's taking the tube outside and swinging it so that tubular patches of dog hair fly in the sky for squirrel's to make nests. It's finding enough dog hair in your vacuum cleaner to make a Phyllis Diller wig! And it's going on your hands and knees to clean out the vacuum, only so you can run it again and have to fix it a month later. That is what adulthood really is and those foreshadowing why working hard matters are fat liars. You grow up so you can do meaningless, pointless tasks like cleaning out a vacuum cleaner. That's what growing up is all about.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yesterday was healthy; today is nostalgia

I baked Alice's famous cake yesterday. I wasn't successful using a Bundt pan, but the taste was right on! Quirky Chef Boy-R Bryan did his best and it was eaten rather quickly by Amalfi Drive. Nice to know I got a new tool in my repertoire for putting smiles into another's stomach. And I am very glad it is out of my house. My new running shoes wouldn't like to carry me around if I managed to eat the entire cake on my own.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August t'maters

August in New York means ripe tomatoes. First there are the beef tomatoes that are delicious on BLTs - even better on BLTTs (w/ added slices of turkey). Second are the cherry tomatoes with feta cheese in a bowl of Spring greens and Italian dressing. Either way, there is nothing like a quirky fruit to make a summer dinner delicious! That's my Tuesday post.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Super Grover!

My nephew Sean bought me a grover t-shirt in Ocean City and it inspired me to find another Grover clip on YouTube, which I did: School. Knowing that many of my friends begin teaching this week, and New York is heading towards their September start, Professor Grover seems like a perfect Monday posting. Enjoy the week.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

DECK, 2009


The date has been set: August 15, 2009. The Deck Party at Mike Isgar's, a LUAU Pow Wow.

Floral attire is required and the two of us purchased our threads last night at Walmart. We are now brother-in-laws who deserve a spot on Magnum P.I. reruns.

There are only seven more days to find Margaritaville attire. We wish you luck.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The roots of Saying Yes

The above video is a precursor to the summer work Syracuse City School District has completed this summer. George Weiss has brought SAY YES TO EDUCATION to the city of Syracuse and this initiative is the first whole-district adoption. His commitment is to any student who chooses educational success in the metropolitan area to receive his organization's financial assistance to pay for college.

Yesterday, 130 college counselors and six elementary schools completed the first summer camp program for over 600 elementary school students. Each day, campers were given morning instruction to fine tune literacy and mathematical skills and in the afternoon, each was offered enrichment classes to introduce skills to round out a holistic individual: arts, sports, music, community involvement, etc. Field trips were a weekly occurrence, as well, where learning, fun and safety were emphasized.

The program I assisted had 24 counselors and over 120 campers. We united yesterday to culminate our summer work and I post this video as a reminder about what the intentions at its core really are. Moving a volcano is difficult work, indeed, but progress can be made one idea at a time.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

flood

I am states away but the quirky news of yet another Louisville storm must be posted. Louisville has endured much in the last 365 days and my best wishes go to them for their perseverance, strength and sense of humor. It is also nice to see the ol' newscasters doing what they do. It takes me back.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

And another book

I stopped by NOPL, North Syracuse, to look for more Cathe Koja books, They didn't have any, so I took home four graphic novels, including the one I read since dinner called AMULET by Kazu Kibuishi. It is a fantasy book and at the end, when the house they are staying in transforms into a mobile home, so ends Book One. I wanted more.

Quirky are the evenings when one can lose themselves in a good book. Here's to the last two days and, hopefully, more to come!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Buddha Boy

I pulled a book off my shelf I've had for a while, but I've never read. I was drawn by the title, Buddha Boy when I picked it up and I admit, today, it delivered exactly what I wanted and needed.

The story is short, a novella of sorts. It is about a boy who befriends another boy who is harassed by the popular kids in school. Jinsen, named after the water fountain of God, is a transfer with a past. In his new school, he lives serene and with integrity. His odd ways causes others to ridicule him. This intrigues the narrator and, hence, a friendship is formed.

This little tale is one of the better books I've read in some time. If I was teaching, I would order a class set and make it a mandatory part of my curriculum Although it seems like a young adolescent read, there are parts of it that go well with Siddhartha and the eight-fold path of Eastern philosophy and relision..

I'm a sucker for underdog stories, and what I liked more about this tale is that Jinsen was once an over-dog, but now reformed. Quirky as it is, I am sure I'll reflect on this short novel for some time. Kathe Koja caught my attention and I'm curious of her other scripted texts, which I'm sure to seek in future library trips.

Monday, August 3, 2009

videoThe morning began with an excessive downpour and thundershower. I got out of bed and finished a book, then went to the gym to meet my sister. It is good to know there are quirky, alternative plans to participate with when the gray skies don't allow for a lot of outdoor frolicking. By afternoon, the rain subsided and it turned out to be fine weather to run, and then later, to walk, but the morning was a wash out. I hope your week is full of more sunshine than yesterday was.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Alma Mater

The world is huge. The world is small. The world is mysterious.

I spent Saturday evening at a dinner party with my friend Faye and her husband at their Tully home, a beautiful cabin in Tully, New York. Carl, another volunteer with the Syracuse Lost Boy Cow Project, and I drove for a celebration of the two years of work we've done. Faye also invited her folklorist friend, Libby Tucker.

It was great eating with Libby and her husband because they were highly active at Binghamton when I was an undergraduate but I didn't know them. They are good friends with many of my mentors and they made me nostalgic for the four years that lit my mind on fire. The connection this evening was an excellent road trip down memory lane and I am appreciative of such quirky coincidence.

The Way We Were

In high school, my friends and I used to go to "the pier" to be adolescent and stupid. Really, it was a dock on Oneida Lake that smelled like dead fish and worms. Years later, we would return to the same "pier" to party at the Waterfront like grown ups.

Tonight, Cynderballs and I decided we'd do dinner there and find our way to Castaways where she and Mike were married. Mike said, "Let's have a drink at all the bars on the lake. At bar three, we called it a night. In honesty, I couldn't wait to find myself in bed by 10 p.m.. The thought of sleeping in past 5:30 a.m. trumped any late night excursion.

Even so, I truly loved being on the lake eating dinner and pretending we still had the gusto of our youth. The experience was somewhat surreal and I said, "Man, I feel like I'm on vacation." Living a friday night with such playfulness made the evening seem unreal. We're showing our age - home by nine and all - simply because Mike and Cynde needed to make their bed before hitting the pillow.

The good news was I was carded because the waitress thought I was nineteen. Cynde's S. Carolina shades that I was wearing must have really hid the grays and bags under my eyes. I guess I've gone full circle to return to my ol' stomping grounds.