Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I can confirm it wasn't the Kenyon College Chasers, where many of my college energies went. At least not then...maybe he was in it earlier. (I suspect he'd have preferred the all-male Kenyon, which predates my college days.)
Maybe, as a gesture of goodwill, Chasers needs to invite him over as a guest member of the group. I mean, we sang at Oberlin a few times, and if we can sink that low, surely we can invite a terrorist into the group.
I'd be happy to arrange a Beatles song for him, just like I did more than once back in the day, and give him the solo. We'd sing behind him and he'd belt it out to a screaming contingent of Lords and Ladies.
But which song is best for Osama? "Back in the USSR"? "Happiness is a Warm Gun"? One of George's misguided sitar tunes? Or John's "I'm a Loser"?
Nah. I wouldn't be mean. Many of my most lasting friendships ('Sup, Alison! Hey, MCMC!) are founded in Chaserdom. If bin Laden had been a Chaser, I'd probably be emailing him, arguing about politics, commenting on his blog, and maybe visiting his cave. If only he'd gotten into Kenyon...maybe our friendship would have prevented the whole jihad.
Hey...can somebody photoshop bin Laden's head into a Chaser photo, past or present? I'd love to see what it'd look like.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
I feel better now than I did as the story broke.
We've been losing every day. Not just losing: getting the shit kicked out of us. Getting smothered in a "why bother watching" kind of way.
Leave it to Ichiro to make it better. Best quote ever, as related by USS Mariner:
Playing on this team and seeing what is happening around me, I feel that something is beginning to fall apart. But, if I was not in this situation, and I was objectively watching what just happened this week, I would probably be drinking a lot of beers and booing.When asked what kind of beer, Ichiro added:
Usually I enjoy Japanese beer, but given the situation, if I was objectively watching the game, I wouldn’t care if it was Japanese beer, American beer or beer from Papua New Guinea.I feel for the guy. I hope he gets a legitimate supporting cast someday soon.
But it won't be this year.
Friday, May 23, 2008
The song? "Alison." Which is weird in two ways: 1. It's not my wife's name. 2. It's about a chick that a dude has broken up with who is making horrible, slutty life choices and trying to get through to her. That's two reasons why it's a weird song to be central romantic song in any relationship, but since it was in that critical dream of mine, it's one of "our" songs. And I loved singing it tonight.
After that third song, the backup vocalist/cruise director (who changed pants ON STAGE four times during the night) said something like this: "Let's hear it for Teach. Every goddamn fucking song was so fucking great tonight."
Cool. And it was a major rush to be up there. The band absolutely rocked. I expected them to merely be adequate, but they were tremendous. I'll be back.
When's the last time I've been out this late? (For the record, there's no school on Friday.)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
That's partly why I can't stop giggling at listening to her rehearse for Karaoke from Hell--
by singing The Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl" in the shower.
I think I'll keep her.
Hall & Oates, "Rich Girl."
J. Geils Band, "Centerfold."
Beatles, "Oh! Darling." I've always wanted to sing the last one with a band, but I'm not sure I've got the high notes anymore. What the hell...we'll see.
And a special TWO for my baby.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Well, you don't have to ask that question anymore. All you need to is take this quiz.
I scored a 9. Would have been higher, but I can't play ball at all and look exactly like Dad. I can now rest easy: Mom didn't hook up with Wilt. My height, taller than anyone in my family, is just a coincidence, I guess.
Whew. There goes that awkward moment.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Anyhow, friends have recently suggested I try Karaoke from Hell. It's essentially being a lead singer for a killer cover band. There are about two dozen songs on their eclectic list that I think I could kick butt on. I think I'll probably go there and check it out first, though. I may be too nerdy to fit in. Or, more likely, I'll go there saying I'll check it out, but my attention-slut ways will bring me up to the stage pretty quickly.
No idea which of the songs I want to go with at this point. Any suggestions?
Man, though, the prospect of this makes me miss Howard Bulson and Sorry Charlie's all the more--and a year after his passing. Hope you're resting in peace, Howard, and that you're not turning over in your grave as I switch from sedate, sweet piano bar to Rock Star.
“All the evidence points to that he is,” Kirby told me. “I don’t trust him.”
The evidence Kirby has received comes in the form of emails from “watch dog groups” that he listens to, as well as chatter among his friends. He’s heard it all—Obama not saying the pledge of allegiance, Obama’s pastor engaging in hate speech, Obama being a Muslim—and he believes it all....
I asked Kirby why he thinks Obama went to church for 20 years if he’s in fact Muslim.
“I have no idea,” he replied. “A lot of people have political reasons behind everything they do.”
And why would Obama lie about his alleged Muslim faith?
“If people of your faith had attacked New York City, and that is still fresh in Americans’ minds, wouldn’t you lie about it?”
Also, in a perhaps-related story, I saw Jon Stewart show us the scary West Virginia women in this video (about 1:50 in), who said the following about why they voted for Clinton over Obama:
"He's Muslim, and that has a lot to do with it."
"I don't like the Hussein thing. I've had enough of Hussein."
I was 100% certain that the Wright controversy, while probably an overall negative for Obama, would at least put the bizarre Muslim rumors to bed. I guess not.
At the risk of sounding elitist, are these voters worth pursuing? What would happen if McCain and Obama stood together and said "Judge us on the content of our character. If you're going to vote based on race or religion, it's a wash because we're both Christians. Don't vote for either one of us."
It'll never happen, of course, but I can dream.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I think I drove through the town on I-40 in July 2006. Is that why I got an invitation?
Nope. I figured they intended to invite someone who shares my first and last name...that the email was intended for a Googleganger of mine.
I went ahead and emailed the guy back to say he had the right name, but the wrong guy.
Well, it turns out that I made the mistake. An earlier email intended for my HS 20th reunion committee was accidentally sent to the very similar email address for the Tennessee HS 20th reunion committee.
But here's the bizarre part. My name is now on the list of "found alumni" for the reunion in Tennessee!
I highly doubt there was a Googleganger there. I think what happened is that I managed to get myself a Tennessee high school alumnus status and an invitation to the reunion simply by sending an email saying "Hey, put me on the list, and I'm looking forward to getting back home and seeing everyone again."
That's simply hilarious.
I recall an episode of Cheers where Coach is away at a family reunion. He sends a picture--and he's the only White guy in the photo. Apparently he got an invitation by mistake, showed up because he didn't want to be rude, and they liked him so much they'd invite him back every year.
That'd be a good goal. Maybe I made a mistake. What if I'd gone?
I suppose I still could.
I could manufacture an entirely new high school background in Tennessee. I can't claim to be an athlete, thespian, debater, or anything else anyone could possibly remember. I guess I'll say I had a drug problem, had few friends, joined no clubs, and dropped out early...but am clean now and wanted to see everyone again. I could spend the event going around making 12-step apologies to everyone for invented drug-induced wrongs.
If I had any kind of courage and the ability to keep a straight face through it, it'd be worth the price of a plane ticket.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I've always been reticent about selling stuff to raise money. We need several thousand dollars; so I never thought candy was the way to get there. But this year, I figured what the hell.
A guy from this company is at NFL Nationals every year, and I always take him for a free sample, because they are simply the best lollipops I have ever, ever tasted. Seriously. Look at them.
Kids had a similar response. They didn't want to sell them until I put pictures on my screen. Then they were like "OhmygodIwantone! When do we get them?"
I showed a couple of my classes the pictures when one of my debaters mentioned the lollipops. They've been bothering me every day since.
Still, our activities secretary, who is great at her job and has been through many, many fundraisers, said we should limit ourselves to one bag (60 lollipops) per kid for the entire three-week fundraiser. Since I have a small team (only 7 of us), that would net us about a hundred bucks.
I decided to aim bigger...15 lollipops per kid per day would land us about about a $600 profit. It's not as high as I'd like it to be--I'm obsessed with making a thousand dollars! in a fundraiser--but it would do.
Lollipops arrived today.
I can't quite explain the level of bonkers-ness that ensued.
I've decided to help my kids out in two ways:
1. Allowing students to eat lollipops in my room during class.
2. Selling a few lollipops to the one class where I have no debaters.
That was second period. 8:30 AM. I had a lollipop in my mouth, put out the bag before the bell rang and said "Anybody want to buy one of these? I'll let you eat them during class."
I had twelve bucks in my hand within a minute. 24 lollipops sold. Just amazing. They told us to aim for 60 in three weeks. I sold 24 in a literal minute.
One kid sold 140 today, another 107, a third at least 60.
One kid wanted one in every flavor. She gave one of my debaters a 20 dollar bill and gathered 40 lollipops.
Kids were freaking falling over each other for these damn things.
Incredible. I should have tried this years ago.
The team purchased 5 boxes of 480...that adds up to 2400 lollipops for a quarter a lollipop. We're selling them for fifty cents.
Incredibly, we may sell out in a week. I may order more.
Things I learned today:
1. I still love lollipops.
2. For a teacher to get kids to purchase lollipops, the best route is simply to be enjoying a lollipop when students arrive in class.
3. A little jocular taunting while eating the lollipop is good. Look at a kid without one and say "Mmmmm. Mmmmmm. Tasty."
3a. (Do not do #3 while looking at your diabetic student. Yes, I actually did this today. Whoops.)
4. Best flavor of the day: Peach.
5. If 20 kids in the room are sucking on lollipops while writing their journals, what is normally silence becomes ever slightly more than silence. Yes, sucking has a very gentle sound. Gentle...and gently disturbing.
6. I can't believe this, but I do believe that we can sustain today's rate. In the fall, when we have more debaters, we might actually go for a thousand damn dollars in hardened corn syrup sales.
7. I wish I had the metabolism of a 16-year-old again. I swear every one of them should weigh about a quarter ton.
8. This must be what it feels like to deal crack.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
We had the interview. It took like five minutes. Everybody knows me. They didn't interview anybody else. I'm not even sure the job was posted.
About five minutes before they officially offered me the job, the district suddenly instituted a hiring freeze.
My harried boss said "I'm going to talk to people. If there's even one job available, it will be you."
Two days later, she called me in again. Visibly upset, she said: "They say they need a couple of days to figure out if there will be any positions available. You'd better look for jobs."
Oh, man. Damn and hell.
So today, I'm officially looking around again. There's a position available at a suburban HS with a good reputation. I'd be a great fit; it's philosophically very similar to me and to the old place. I interviewed there last year. They didn't take me, but when I asked the principal what I could improve on for future interviews, he said "Nothing. You were really good, you made it really, really difficult." I think this translated as follows: "We had a student teacher we had this job earmarked for, and you almost made us screw over this kid we really loved." So I'm hoping they remember me and that they would jump on me if I headed back.
However, the suburban job is one-year-only leave-replacement. Therefore, in a year, I could be in exactly the same mickey fickey situation I'm in now.
Of course, my wife points out that if this were the case, my current principal would move heaven and earth to get me back. And work is work--I may have to take whatever job comes along.
But I am predicting that I'll stay put. It takes some time to iron out the FTE dance in a district, and my current boss really does love me. Maybe the pressure of a job offer elsewhere will cause the district to step up.
I sometimes wish I had a job like every other job in the world, where I could cause a bidding war for my services...but alas, that's not the life I chose.
Nevertheless, it sucks to have to dust off the resume again.
Anyway, we fell behind 6-0 in the second inning, and my nephew, who's no dummy, figured the game was over. But I invented the following inspirational chant:
Don't give up!
Don't ever give up!
Even if you're losing and they're way better than you are,
Don't give up!
Don't ever give up!
(OK, it was more a soliloquy than a chant. But we'll go with it.)
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Geez. No way he's going to fall for it.
Hmmm. He just can't go through with it. He just can't.
Wait. He's not going to do it, is he?
Really? No. No. He cannot possible. No.
Oh my GOD.
You've got to be kidding me!
No WAY. Is he really doing it?
He's DOING IT!
He's...(jaw dropped, locked open, further words impossible)
A good summary is at this article, but you really only need to read the article's summary of the key conversation:
Natalie: Hey, I've got an idea. It's crazy, but brilliant.
Erik: Okay, sure. You know, once at my ice cream shop, we combined our pistachio and bubble gum flavors to make pistachio gum. That was pretty crazy, too. Were you thinking something like that?
Natalie: Yeah, shut up. Here's my plan, and I think you'll really be into it.
Erik: I love it already.
Natalie: You give me a million dollars.
Erik: I'm listening...
Natalie: And — here's the best part — I kick you out of the game.
Erik: Hmmmm, so let me see if I have this right: I give you a million dollars and you kick me out of the game?
Natalie: Oh, and I also call, e-mail, and text message you every hour on the hour for the rest of your life telling you you're a complete moron.
Erik: I'm not sure. Would you be willing to punch me in the face as well?
Natalie: Let me check with Cirie on that. [Goes to find Cirie. Comes back five minutes later.] Okay, we're willing to punch you in the face if we can also kick you in the groin thee times.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Not to her...God knows not to her. But to my senators, both of whom support Clinton as superdelegates.
My letter--a slightly different approach to my baby's letter from a couple of months back. It mostly focuses on the bleeping math.
Here's what I wrote:
I am writing to you as a fellow Washington Democrat who is concerned about the protracted race for the nomination. I would like to ask you to switch your vote as a superdelegate and back Senator Barack Obama rather than Senator Hillary Clinton.
I recognize that this would be a difficult move for you both personally and professionally. I assume that you have developed friendships with Senator Clinton over your time in
However, particularly with the results of yesterday’s primaries in
Senator Clinton’s actions in the past 24 hours worry me. They prevent the party from focusing on November. Further, they make me question her decision-making ability. When Senator Clinton does what her gut tells her to do when faced with undeniable, mathematical evidence that Senator Obama will win, how is her decision-making different from the worst decisions of our current President?
I fear that Senator Clinton will only do what is best for the country and the party if she faces pressure from outside sources. Even if she does not recognize that the race is essentially mathematically over at this point, she will be forced to if valued colleagues like you help to make it clear. By publicly shifting your superdelegate commitment to Senator Obama, you will help to end this unfortunate, protracted, fruitless battle.
Furthermore, you will show that your loyalty to your Democratic constituents, who voted for Obama both in the caucus and the primary, outweighs your loyalty to Senator Clinton. I, for one, would deeply appreciate those priorities.
Again—for the good of the party and the good of our country’s next four years, please publicly shift your support to Senator Obama.
Thank you for your time.***
We'll see how it goes...probably nowhere, but at least I'm on board.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Do the fucking math.
I went to CNN's Delegate counter.
If you win all 6 remaining primaries by 60/40 margins (which you will not), you would still need to outdistance Obama in the remaining superdelegates 199-78 to pull ahead in the overall delegate count.
More realistic vote count totals lead to even more impossible superdelegate necessities for you.
Your choice to stay in at this point only feeds into the negative stereotypes about you; namely, that you are power-hungry and entitled. It makes you less attractive to all voters in all parties.
It's over. Not because of pundits: because of delegates. Claiming your razor-thin 22,000-vote victory is Obama's "tie-breaker" that will lead you to the White House--that it's the mandate that proves that you're in the driver's seat--makes me, honest to God, question whether you're capable of dispassionately viewing facts. It's such an outlandish lack of logic that it makes me wonder if you can be trusted to make the really big decisions in the Oval Office.
I'll repeat it:
Do the fucking math.
It's over. I'm not saying that because I'm an Obama supporter. I'm saying it as a guy who understands numbers. You have no feasible mathematical shot. It's got nothing to do with your tenacity, your beliefs, or "electability" or "well, I do well in the states that will really count" (as if the others do not).
It's not even high level math. It's arithmetic.
Bow out gracefully and aim for healing. Be a great senator. Join Bill as the the elder conscience of my party. You will become beloved by your party again. People have short memories and deep understanding about this kind of thing. As angry as I am right now, I suspect that I will too.
But if you take this all the way to Denver, you personally will have done more harm to your party and country than you and your husband did good. And that, given my affection for the Bill Clinton presidency, is truly saying something.
Please. It's time.
Monday, May 05, 2008
See? It's sentences like that last one that make me feel like the icky veteran teacher who's mailing it in due to feeling disconnected. I start thinking of my sophomore classes using sentences that include the words "pearls" and "swine." It's a bad place to be mentally.
In that mindset, I got an email today from a kid who was in my AP class and on my debate team at the start of the year, but moved away in January. Great kid; huge loss to my class and team. Here's what her email said:
hi mr. refpoet. just thought i'd say hi to you from california and see how things are going and tell you that i really miss your english class and that my former classmates are lucky because they have an amazing teacher. anywho, i have to go because, haha school starts in a few minutes so yeah, well i'll keep in touch.
Bless this kid's heart. She's no swine...she IS the pearl. Maybe there's worth to this year after all...
and maybe I just need a couple of nights sleep after a weekend of grading-crappy-papers-while-nursing-a-fever.
It'll all be OK. I guess it's good that I'm frustrated...it means I care.
In the process, I just learned this horrible, little known impact of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination:
"Everyday for two months after Yitzhak Rabin's death his wife died and was buried next to him."
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Saturday, May 03, 2008
The rules are as follows:
- link to the person who tagged you
- post the rules
- write six things about yourself
- tag six people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
- let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their sites.
- let your tagger know when your entry is up
THING THE FIRST: I absolutely cannot stand having my navel touched. If someone or something gets within the same zip code as my navel, I become uber-protective, covering it up with both hands. I will become violent if necessary to prevent navel-touching.
THING THE SECOND: One day (I must have been 8 or so), my brother and his friend Alex mixed everything liquid they could find in the refrigerator. Tabasco, Worcestshire, milk, Kool-Aid, a couple of juices, possibly sour or whipped cream...if it was liquid, it was in there. The reason little brothers exist is to be the foil for shit like this, so they, without much prodding, convinced me to give it a try.
It was good. They subsequently drank it and agreed.
THING THE THIRD: Before I officiate, I, without fail, get very, very nervous. In fact, while driving to games, I start to feel something like dread. "Why the hell do I voluntarily go through this?" I think to myself. But (unless it's the one or two worst games of the season, like the one Joe saw me officiate year before last), I always have such fun reffing that, on the drive home, I'm always feeling an incredible, immense high.
THING THE FOURTH: Remember the movie The Truth about Cats and Dogs? Where Janeane Garafalo plays a homely radio personality who woos a man, Cyrano-style, through Uma Thurman, who plays a gorgeous model? The entire movie was lost on me, because I found Janeane Garafalo quite attractive and Uma Thurman rather homely. I hate to rag on my fellow 4/29/70 mate Uma, but it's true. It made no sense to me why the guy in the movie, or anyone for that matter, would prefer Uma. It was kind of offensive that they played off the hot Garafalo as some Quasimodo-like disfigured Medusa. My attraction for Garafalo has eased through the years since she's become the poster child for the smug, loudmouth wing of my party that causes the rest of us so much difficulty, but at the time, I just found the movie bizarre and sort of troubling.
THING THE FIFTH: I have never taken a puff, sniff, or touch of any illegal drug. In fact, I've only seen illegal drugs once in my life, when someone offered me a puff of pot (see, I don't even know what they call one inhale...) at a 4th of July party in Seattle in 1997. I just said no. Truth is, I'm way, way too much of a control freak to ever willingly cede control to any substance.
THING THE SIXTH: I buy a new book about baseball to take on each of my semiannual baseball trips. Sometimes I don't quite finish the book, but I still try to buy a new one for each trip. There is now nearly an entire shelf in our den dedicated to baseball books.
TAGGING: Tagging is illegal. It's more than just graffiti; it reduces the quality of life in a community, and encourages gang violence. I refuse to be a part of it. However, if you're a regular reader here and want to tell me six things about yourself, I'd love to know. Go for it. This is a relatively painless meme.
Friday, May 02, 2008
I gave the kids 2 weeks in the library. Really, really spelled out each paragraph--borderline spoonfeeding, perhaps, but I guess we could call it scaffolding instead. Did a "stay as late as you want day," where I remained until the last kid who wanted help got it. Out of 85 sophomores, 1 came.
Anyway, the first 12 are in the books. 3 earned A's. Very proud of them.
It's weird...something about the new job makes me less angry about it and more sad. Devastatingly sad.
KIDS (he says, rehearsing his Monday come-to-Jesus post-plagiarism lecture):
I was here for help--both for two weeks in the library and for one day after school. All you had to do was ask.
So why give me warmed-over uncited websites when you could have worked with me, made an effort, had a shot at a rewrite, and almost undoubtedly pulled off a B with some work?
Now you're in the toilet for the semester instead, with parents and coaches on your butt and me feeling sad every time I see your face.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Anyhow, I was prepared just to tolerate it (what choice did I have?) when, in the middle of the fifth inning, my good friend pankleb (who knows that 26 X 14 = 364...he did that quicker in his head than you can remember your mom's birthday...) went to buy a beer (for the record, his first).
Amazingly, and thankfully, they had shut off beer sales.
The rules, unless I'm mistaken (and I'm a non-drinker, so I may be) are that beer sales are cut off at the seventh-inning stretch. But they went two full innings earlier tonight. When pankleb asked why, they told him that it was just a rowdy, raucous atmosphere and they didn't want it to spiral out of control.
I may be labelling myself as a hopeless square here, but I think shutting off beer sales early was a great, great call. The drunks were gone by the seventh inning...all finding their way to bars, I think. The tense end to the game was uninterrupted, except by the sound of pankleb dividing the prefix of my phone number into the suffix (yes, he did this in his head).
My question: Who is in the position to decide to cut off all beer sales early? Security? Game ops? The GM? Whoever it is, I really do want to thank them.
Perhaps I'll buy them a beer.