Wednesday, February 28, 2007

been staying up late, preparing classes, and wrote a nice long post about kentucky and metropolis, but got sidetracked looking for a picture, and somehow dumped the whole thing. you'd think a mostly-written post would hang around until you hit the orange button, but sometimes they don't...

saturday was rainy and gray, and we started in a colombian-caribbean restaurant in the small town of jonesboro, home of a lincoln-douglas debate. no sign of debate down there on saturday. it was a good place, but a bad match, these small town folks are just now getting used to the mexican place down the street. we listened to colombian pop- corey danced- the owners were nice- the food was good- and it probably won't happen again. in paducah i picked up lots of 'data' - accents. the area is actually part southern and part mountain, and lots of people don't hear the difference- myself included, half the time. what you don't hear down there is central illinois, chicago, northern. no elvis-lookalike sightings this time. in fact i like paducah, it has an economy, it has a life, it is a town outside of one single stratifying agent, as our little one-horse town is. even has an arts scene, and a river, a big overflowing muddy one to boot. back on the other side of it, by some trees and an old fort, is the town of metropolis, old, with a superman statue right there in the square, a couple of old museums. here eli was to get an action figure, and corey and i walked around the square, a cold, blustery sunday morning, some people in a lively discussion over there by the massac county detention center. it occurred to me that that superman (truth, justice and the american way, says the base) statue is nothing but a backdrop for them trying to get some buddy out of jail after a bad weekend. the museum had a kind of ancient wood superman sign above it, lots of blue red & yellow and wide s's all over the place. i thought of my hometown, cleveland, which also claims superman, and knows how to make a museum, though i've never been to its museums, art, superman, or rock'n'roll. but while cleveland would be a step beyond paducah in terms of reality, metropolis seemed to be a step in the other direction- smaller even than carbondale- its entire economy, this little superman shtick, plus the casino- now you talk about a one-horse town, this horse is more like an evil little swamp buffalo, with a comic book jammed in its saddle. nothing you'd want to get mixed up in, i figure, and it's all goin' down with the high water.

and so, the fantasy of getting back into the real world (paducah will pay you to rehab a building if you run an arts place)- that fantasy got its lid put back on it for another spell. paducah gets nice in summer- free concerts and festivals, lots of elvis look-alikes, even some elvis sing-alikes. i swear, these people that say elvis isn't dead, they've just been hanging around kentucky and its walmarts a lot, i think. and that's not all bad, though it's true, elvis wasn't much of a role model for my kids.

which brings me back around- eli lost a tooth in paducah, his first one- he was carrying a huge bag of cars (the store-boughten, metal variety) and it just disappeared. maybe he swallowed it- it was his first. was dismayed that nascar was all over the telly- i'll now have to tell him that i don't really like the real races, that it's ok with me, this race stuff, as long as real people aren't dying and other people aren't out there, getting drunk and enjoying it. we don't watch television except in a motel, so it was all new for us- the commercials, the movie (we watched big fat liar...), the zombie-ish-co-occupation of a couch...ah, but the tooth brings one to the tooth fairy, the thinly-veiled lie, actually the tooth fairy is a big hairy guy that doesn't even wake up the dogs. and might have trouble remembering. but, this one doesn't worry about inflation. let the eagle fly, though the kid has every lightning mcqueen known to walmart, and could really use maybe a comic book, let him enjoy the moment. pretty soon they all start falling out, then next thing you know, an innocent, roundish blue-eyed face gets that competitive look, turns into one in a large kindergarten class, learning about self-concept (discipline) and how to stand in line (discipline), and a little math, and it's downhill from there. just hope they don't end up at the massac county detention center, or some such, huddled in the doorway, getting bail up or something, to go hit the slots on the riverboat. i'll tell them, dance when you can, get out of town once in a while, and if someone tells you it's magic, don't go waking up in the middle of the night trying to find out....enjoy it while it lasts, a pleasant glow of faith, boundless wealth, and love of parents, while i, in return, won't mix in with the big one, the santa story, the idea that if you're good, you get the big stuff. think i'll just let it go with the parents lovin' you, and say, this land was made for you and me. i don't know from justice, though i'm teaching about crime. don't know the truth from the big fat liar, sometimes. and the american way, that's all of it i guess, from cleveland to metropolis, the whole wide & dirty o-river between, the big old bridge over it, the tooth fairy, the steady drizzle, the people of illinois welcome you sign...and another sign, a big red blue & yellow one, that says, on the front, home of superman. and on the other side, that side was made for you and me. bless you all. and don't forget the homeless.

Friday, February 23, 2007

off to kentucky for a day or two- it's a thing we do, our family, when the pressure overtakes us and we need to get across a state line to get some perspective. it's only an hour away, and it's a very rustic hour, going down past dolly's and crossing the o-river- half the time in the rain. it appears it may be that way again tomorrow too. but, i'm glad to say, i'd rather be with my family than anyone else, and, a little rain, this time of year, isn't really going to hurt anything, except maybe our car.

i've been working on the tesol presentation, which, i should say, is unfinished, poor referencing, etc., but is on the web already because that's where i put my notes these days. i put my initials straight on the tree, so to speak. Will print, mull over, & remember where i might have picked up some of these ideas (in this case, siemens)- then go back and make it right. atop this scholarly mess, i have at least marked each page as unfinished...which it is.

leveretts won the bog on thurs, twice, and late, and sure enough, it was probably bruce who gave us the bump. not sure justin, noah, or jose even made it- they do better on sundays. i plug away, alone sometimes, getting slowly better, probably, but rarely winning or even getting in the top 15, on my own. with my own children as typists i do better of course.

will return with a mouthful of mountain accent, if i can find it, and hopefully, the memory of an elvis imitator. these are part of what makes paducah special- like bagels and new york times when you go to new york. the metro section. you can't find it anywhere else, and you better grab it where you can, because life is short, and more of it'll go by before you return.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

the long, cold snowy weather shows signs of breaking, finally, so i've started riding a bicycle again- for what it's worth. later in the week i'll give a presentation at cesl that should be working me up more than it is- it's a busy week, lots going on, and a big birthday season too. abe, miguel, noey (today, actually, given that it's now 12:37), george- all big ones. miguel is a young friend of elias'.

a break in the weather gives a person a chance to clean out the car, take the cardboard to recycling, open the windows maybe. could be a healthy thing. absolutely a necessary thing, i still feel only half moved in, with hidden boxes of important stuff, like my suit, still in the garage. may need that suit someday, not to mention the old license plates, the perler beads, old poetry & cartoon books, tons of stuff we know is out there but have somehow misplaced. some of it's got to be valuable or we wouldn't have thought about it in the time since we moved. yet it's still so crowded out there, you can barely get around the clutter to look at the labels that are supposed to be written on the boxes.

in the midst of this clutter-anxiety, another month of hindered access to things that could make me feel more prepared for life, along comes some friends of ours with plans to go to africa, and take their children. actually, this has been a semi-dormant dream of mine for years, reawakened somewhat by the adoption of little corey, a dream my wife may not share or may have to be persuaded into. nevertheless i've immediately given them my two favorite sites, the weblogs of
ethan zuckerman and pernille baerendtsen, two westerners each with a foot planted firmly in the lost continent. but what i'd really like to share is the festival in the desert, different part of africa i realize, but hey, if you can't go out and hear a little music, what good is the web?

and, speaking of which, here's a youtube of margot. fantastic as always!

Friday, February 16, 2007

i'm barely able to keep posting, about to keel over early on a friday evening due to exhaustion, cruel winter, overteaching, etc. not to mention, staying up on the bog on thurs. (finally winning, once, in a tie, at about 11:30, but staying competitive for a while), and practicing music. can't give up the good stuff no matter how crowded it gets.

insomnia rules the household- as tired as i am, i would almost rather fall asleep right here at the computer, in some ways. the back rooms of the house are a bit cold, though...

have more to say...but not now...will fill you in later, i hope. went out for dinner tonight for one boy's fifteenth- right amid abe, george, and st. val, here we've got noah, and the table gathers round - and that's a good memory to go back & try once more- i wish you a good weekend, and may spring lighten its step a little, & give us something to wash down the salt...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

was playing weboggle the other night, with noah at the typewriter and probably josie out there, justin didn't come by until later, and bruce wasn't there, or we would have done better. in any case we typed the word boyos which just happens to be a word. not only is it a word, but we were the only ones who got it, which is always kind of a victory in itself. if you can't win, you can at least get certain words, that no one else knows. in this case it's a family word, everyone within miles of these leveretts knows about ours.

a story is being published in yemen- a ways away, but there you go. i'm known in far off lands. and, right here in carbondale, a pedestrian was hit on a street that often sees this problem, a street i'm on every day, several times. then, a car smashed the ambulance that this poor pedestrian was riding in. you can't win. the streets are full of salt- everything, every inch, covered with a sickly white anti-ice bitter life-killer. makes me wonder if anyone, deer in particular, like this stuff, besides the drivers, but i have to say, as a driver, it's a godsend. places that don't have it are treacherous. in pittsburg kansas they used to use pecan shells, which were a lot softer, more organic, made a crunchy sound in the snow, a soft pleasant crackly sound that meant a car was driving in spite of the snow. there, they would just about give up driving altogether if there was more than an inch- here, it's out with the salt, and get the suv's out to spread it around.

an unusually cold and long cold snap, here it is valentine's day, and it's still bitter, cold, gray, with more snow coming, apparently. around here there's always some question about whether the garbage men will take lincoln's birthday off (illinois-patriotic) or president's day (usa-patriotic)- or both (unlikely) or neither (possible)- one has to wait until the last minute, keep one's eye on the neighbors, and assume that at least one doesn't have a clue, but four or five probably aren't all wrong. city stray dogs, of course, consider general confusion to be the greatest holiday, maybe there are some old pork bones or dirty diapers in there, which will soon be scattered down the road, or covered by the next snow-dusting/salt bath.

so it goes- it's a wonder that the flowers choose to come back, that the buds show up, that i got a big orange publish button, that life goes on. may the miracles never cease.

Friday, February 09, 2007

wrote a big long post the other night, got to the bottom, and it read void(0), whatever that means, means new blogger and old mac aren't talking, or aren't reaching each other. same day, i'd tried to explain to low-level students what it means to "feel like you don't belong," as some poor woman felt in our novel. a hard concept, unrelated to its words, i guess. kind of like them saying, it's twelve below- they live in c (it's actually 18 f)... a bit of translation problems. the new blogger and its 'conveniences' about have me throwing in the proverbial towel- and, rearranging in the office forced us all to live out of a thumb-drive suitcase, as i've had to do, more or less for a while. but now i have a blind student who needs that thumbdrive for rtf files which he can read in braille, and it's crowded. at one point i had to stick it into a pc just to get a print- and i thought, i'm glad i'm not a cntrl-freak, pc's are really tough. life is a little crazy, a little difficult, with some attachments getting lost up there in the e-mail, and some posts lost in cyberspace, a few computers spinning their innard wheels, and ms. feed the copier chewing up a bit of toner for breakfast. and on the blogs, half a publish button means froze up, no java, void(0). a wicked cold spell on top of it, i've been driving the truck, wimping out on the broken bike, parking it in the shadow of the pulliam clocktower, but leaving corey's mittens in the office, and my lunch at the daycare. making midterms, one for each large class, and worrying about my tesol presentations which are for the most part about weblogs, yet sometimes i can't get past void(0), and going over to ie means a horror show of a halloween carnival.

the weboggle- nan shackworks himself- had a rough sunday, but was back on ok tonight, though i didn't get on 'til 11, and team leverett didn't win in the hour i played. somebody, maybe bruce, was there helping big. it could just have been justin and josie, maybe even noah, who are all pretty good now. though we didn't win, placing third & fourth out of 239 is no small change, i oughta relax & enjoy it, esp. since the family, in all its world corners, is pitching in...and, speaking of family, looking forward to seattle, where i'll breathe in the cherry blossoms, the foghorns on the sound, the salmon & the sea, for a few days, then turn around & come back. i'm hoping to say, don't let the void(0)s get you down, it builds character, like a good snowstorm, makes you fluent in browsers, makes you appreciate an upgrade- you can crash if you like, but don't crash your hard drive.

then, all this running around, accreditation, three midterms, thumbdrive squaredance, and the void(0) festival, come home to watch the little guys, and the five-year-old pokes his eye with a pencil. i felt terrible, and didn't know what to say, it wasn't his fault, but he's old enough to know, you only get two of those, and you need them. ironically, what remains on my thumbdrive, even now as the week winds down, is my blind student's testimony- his weblog assignment, clear as a bell, with a few grammar issues. when i get down to it, i'm lucky, as my sister pointed out, and, i ought to be grateful, and, publish quick, while i've got the orange button, and void(0)'s out to lunch.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

ok, i'm way behind the curve on this one, but i've got to say, this guy is the best juggler i've ever seen. apparently 30,000 others have seen it too- nevertheless- you've got to hand it to him.
here's a wild new story...on a new blog, as the uk one froze up, for whatever reason. it's called: check your mirrors. comments welcome, by the way, especially if you've read more than one. which do you like?

Friday, February 02, 2007

ran into a rough patch, with first the bicycle breaking down, then the truck, and finally the family car, the last two not serious; the bicycle, however, still unfixed. all that running around left me tired, disoriented, away from my creative activity, but my sister came through town, gave an inspirational performance at the daycare, nephews in front row in rapt attention. i was amazed by her reference to
peter and the wolf, and in fact remembered that the duck was the one which was played by the clarinet- was it not also swallowed by the wolf, only to reappear later? this was a blast from our childhood, which featured all of the wide and various emotions and dramas that she now pours into the clarinet. it seemed that students of the music school especially enjoyed her performance, which was not advertised, not known, not heralded otherwise. she kind of slipped into town, visited, and left. but the snow arrived with her- and this was our first- so that made it an altogether interesting beginning for a february.

not much new on the bog- team leverett did win a couple of times on sunday, but thurs. was futile in spite of a good turnout, mostly of my own children. noey's been sick; josie rocks but is somewhat like me; only bruce scrolls to the bottom each time and memorizes the words that are made by chewing rocks. margot of course has boggle in the blood, but was worn out from the performance....and justin, way out in kansas, where words stretch out like telephone poles out onto the horizon, as far as the eye can see, well, he's been there, i think, at least part of the time, but winning doesn't come easy. we'll have to practice, do some serious goofing off.

a chilly cold has settled over the area; it'll leave the snow clean and white, and icy underneath, for a while. drive safe- but park diagonal.