Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/29/11: Workroom Improv, Hallway Cafe, Gamers

1.  Russell and I spontaneously amused/surprised some of our fellow instructors with moment of guerrilla improv that grew out of the way the workroom printer functions and the movie "Sideways".  It was brief, never jumped the shark, and was fairly witty.  And fun.

2.  MB and I sat at the round table in the corner in the labyrinth where our offices are and  enjoyed our conversation and gabbing with the other instructors who dropped by.  Anne called it the Hallway Cafe.  It hadn't been open for a while -- the Hallway Cafe -- and it was fun having it back in business.

3.  Our "Taming of the Shrew" rehearsal faced the difficulty of illness in the cast last night,  but those who could rehearse were gamers and worked hard in the midst of difficult circumstances to make scenes succeed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/28/11: Lay it On, Biofuel Sandwich, Sly Work

1.  For some reason, my 8:00 class this morning had students in it who started joking around with me before class even started.  I think it's a good thing that something about me just says to people:  Hey!  Lay it on this guy.  Thick.

2.  I found out today that the shop at the Biofuel gas station near LCC carries pretty good turkey sandwiches on bread with kalamata olives in it. 

3.  Rehearsal ended with Jess and me getting some pretty good work in on the play's closing bit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/27/11: Rev. Betsy Tesi, One Task Left, The Coaching is Really Helping!

1.  Today's celebrant at the 11 o'clock service was our new Assistant Priest, Rev. Betsy Tesi.  This was her second Sunday at St. Mary's (if I remember correctly) (I missed her first Sunday).  I don't know quite how to write about this because I don't want comments on a new priest to sound like a movie review.  Suffice it to say that I am an Episcopalian primarily because of the Book of Common Prayer, because of the Eucharist, because of the weekly march to the communion rail.  Did Rev. Betsy Tesi celebrate the Eucharist with dignity?  With solemnity?  With grace?  With authenticity?  Free of pretense? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.  I look forward to becoming better acquainted with her in other ways as time goes by.

2.  I wrote my course calendars and the syllabus for each of my spring quarter courses.  All that's left on my to do list is doing our taxes.  I'm happy to say I've done a good job knocking off those tasks.

3.  I had new confidence at rehearsal tonight.  We rehearsed Sly's transformation in the physical configuration that resembles much more closely what it'll be like when the thrust balcony is completed.  Joe and Sparky's coaching started to take hold.  The Lord, the servants, and I had a good time with our scene and it improved considerably.  It felt really good.  I look forward to further refinements, to achieving a better sense of rhythm among us.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/26/11: Dutch Oven Chicken, To Do Shrinks, More Sly Work

1.  My experiment of fixing oven baked chicken in the cast iron Dutch oven was about 85% successful and with a few adjustments became totally successful.

2.  The spring break to do list shrank to two things left to do -- and I won't quite get them done on Sunday, but will have them done on Monday. 

3.  More work with Joe and Sparky on Christopher Sly.  I've declared in this blog before that I enjoy being an amateur at so many things:  writing, making poems, photography, and, I've declared before, acting.  I stand by that.  I still think it's good to get out and do things I'm not that good at, to continue to experience how it's not mastery that makes doing something enjoyable.  Acting really tests this principle.  I'm a real amateur.  I know it.  My range is limited.  I'm slow to learn.  Once I do learn, things stick pretty well.  Joe and Sparky are real professionals. The gap between what they demonstrate for me as they coach me what to do and what I actually can do is pretty wide.  I'm an amateur (although I hope I'm not amateurish).  I need to keep working it and also play.  It is a play after all.  Right? 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Arc of Oregon in Eugene on Highway 99

On March 23rd, Russell and I snapped some pictures on Eugene's Highway 99.  Here are some pictures I took at the Arc's Bingo Hall:








Three Beautiful Things 03/25/11: Peace of Mind at the Bank, Peace of Mind at Market of Choice, Peace of Mind at Dinner

1.  I went to the bank today.  Now I have peace of mind.  The federal government and the banks are working as partners to make it easier for me not to face foreclosure and to have lower interest rates and a smaller monthly payment in these difficult financial times. 

2.  I went to Market of Choice.  Strangers, perfect strangers, beamed when I passed them in the shopping aisles.  When I ordered a tri tip roast, a porketta, two tri tip steaks, and a chuck roast at the meat counter, the man working there spontaneously told me about the slow cooked, pulled beef, chuck roast he prepared recently and how happy it made his wife (who will never go back to pork).  The cashier and the guy who bagged my groceries seemed more concerned than ever that I found everything and that I felt good about the price I paid for my groceries.  I hope this peace of mind I attained at the bank today lasts a long time.  People really like me and care about me in ways I never thought possible.  They can tell.  I have peace of mind.

3.  I brought my peace of mind home.  I fixed two tri tip steaks with sweet onions and mushrooms, baked potatoes,  a salad with secret ranch dressing (according to the packaging) for the Deke and me.  It was a transcendent meal.  Everything was cooked just right.  Everything was done at just the right time.  The Deke was happy with her dinner.  I radiated peace of mind.   I hope this peace of mind lasts for a while.  I'm really grateful to the federal government and the bank.  I didn't know I was in so much inner turmoil about my mortgage.  But, no more.  I have peace of mind.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/24/11: Finished the Wire, Finished the Forms, Finished the Salad

1.  I was entranced by season 2 of The Wire.  I finished it.

2.  I was relieved to finish those AAOT forms.

3.  I finished that large Caesar Salad at Billy Mac's.  I also enjoyed seeing Claudia again, who got called in for one night's work.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/23/11: To Do, 99, Wire = Everything

1.  I never write a to do list.  Never.  Never ended today.  If I get recommendation letters written, taxes done, AAOT stuff done, bills paid, Sly worked on more, syllabus x2 written before school starts Monday morning, I will start spring quarter weighing about seventy fewer pounds, uh, in mental weight.  I've already knocked out some stuff.

2.  Russell snapped some really good pictures.  I haven't looked yet.  But we went to the Arc and the Embers on Highway 99 and took pictures today.  I'll look at mine later.  I'll reward myself for knocking stuff off of my Spring Break to do list.

3.  Not on my to do list, but on my "it's about time" list is Season 2 of The Wire.  I wish back in the days of team teaching Working Class Lit with MB we could have reserved about thirteen hours of viewing time and watched this season with our students.  It's about dock workers, the union, and corruption.  I've watched ten episodes now.  I really want to put my to do list aside and watch the rest of the season.  It's not just a poignant portrayal of corruption.  It's about jobs shrinking, pressures on families, temptation, and, as always in The Wire,  it's about power and how its structures in the police force, the union, the street drug trade, the prison, the courts, the Greek mafia, the church, gentlemen's clubs and everywhere else all mirror each other, all intertwine, are barely distinguishable from one another.   I've said in before and here I go again:   
The Wire is everything. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/22/11: Life of Poetry, No Cancer, Grades In

1.  It's been an all day grading session.  Over twelve hours, thanks in large part to having been sick and giving my best energy over the weekend to the play.  It's been an uplifting day.  Many of my students learned a lot.  Even more uplifting:  almost all my students experienced something of the life of poetry.  They really did quit looking for hidden meaning.  They stopped reading between the lines (the lines are much better).  They heard music.  They didn't tie the poems to a chair with rope.  They didn't torture confessions out of the poems.  They didn't beat the poems with a hose to find out what they really mean.  (Those last three sentences came from this Billy Collins poem.)

2.  The Deke saw the doc:  no cancer.

3.  Final grades posted.  A long day ends. 

Three Beautiful Things 03/21/11: Sly Learning, Bug Done, Dragon Slain

1.  Two professionals, Joe and Sparky, spent two hours helping me with Christopher Sly.  I learned a ton.  The challenge?  Play what they taught me.  I loved this session.  I'm being coached superbly.  Now I've got to perform as much of what I learned as I can.

2.  I'm almost done with this four day bug.  My energy is coming back.  I can feel it.

3.  One of my best students confronted the dragon of writer's block for days and slew it today.  Her last paper arrived in my inbox.  It was a smashing victory -- and a splendid paper!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/20/11: Bug Fight, Film Shoot, Two Left

1. I seem to be getting the upper hand on this bug I've been fighting.  A restful morning helped a lot.  I decided to stay home from church to rest more, especially with a busy afternoon coming up.

2.  Our production of "The Taming of the Shrew" will have a filmed dream sequence.  It's dreamed by my character, Christopher Sly.  This afternoon, a handful of us cast members met in the soggy low lying area between Mt. Pisgah and the Coast Fork of the Willamette River with a film maker and a falconer to shoot this very short film.  It was really fun, especially being in the company of a falcon and seeing how intimately the falconer knows her bird.  The part of the dream where Petruchio's father dies was fun, too.  I'm eager to see how the film maker splices and edits our work into this short dream sequence.

3.  As far as my rooting interest, the one team, Gonzaga, that I care(d) about in the NCAA men's basketball tournament is gone, as of Saturday.  Now it's all a matter of following, somewhat disinterestedly, how the tournament unfolds.  My pleasure for today:  the much vaunted Big East Conference has now lost nine of the eleven teams selected for the tournament.  I had a great time discussing the Big East failure with Wucky and taking shots at the ESPN analysts who are almost giddy in their love for this conference.  Who knows?  Maybe one week from today, the whole tournament will be Big East-free!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/19/11: Sharpen, Breakfast in Car, Pizza

1.  I was not sharp with my lines when we ran the Induction to "Taming of the Shrew" today.  It was a good thing, actually:  it helped me see some small places in my lines where I need further study and need to sharpen things up.  I worked on that through the parts of the rehearsal that didn't involve me much.  I need more repetition with the other actors, but that won't happen until the end of spring break, so I'll keep working it by myself.

2.  Julia needed a ride to rehearsal and when I picked her up she brought her bacon and eggs and ate her breakfast in the car on the way to LCC.  I didn't laugh out loud or even say anything, but I got a kick out of it. Odd.  Why did I find it so endearing to have a fellow cast member eating breakfast in my car?  I don't know.  But I did.

3.  All those hearty Italian meats and all those cheeses and all that saltiness and the slightly sugary crust combined to make eating the pizza that Deke and I ordered from Papa John's a tasty delight.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/18/11: Radio, Tender Sly, Afternoon Sleep

1.  Here's what I enjoy the most about the early rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament:  I like listening to the Westwood One radio coverage and hearing the variety of radio announcers call the games.  Driving around a bit today and then turning on XM radio when I got home, I listened to some games, but it was the calling of the games I enjoyed the most.  I love listening to sporting events on the radio, no matter what sport.

2.  We were back in rehearsal tonight and Kate's plight moved me, as did Robin's playing of Kate.  I wondered if it's acceptable for Christopher Sly (that old sot) to be moved as he watches the play unfold:  I got the green light from Sparky.  Sly (that old sot) can have tender emotions. 

3.  It was good that I could rest/sleep most of the afternoon as I continue to fight off this bug.  The sleep did me a lot of good and made it possible for me to be at rehearsal and fully engaged.

Three Beautiful Things 03/17/11: Rest, Zags, Marvel

1.  I love rehearsal.  I think I've mentioned that.  No rehearsal tonight. It was good to be able to stay home and sleep all afternoon and rest/sleep in the evening to try to knock out this cold/slight flu bug I've suddenly contracted.

2.  St. John's knocked off Duke this season and a host of other top 10 teams during the regular season.  But not today.  They ran into the train called the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the only team I care about in the whole NCAA tournament is still alive.

3.  I sat down with a student late this morning for a conference and delighted in how her writing has developed over the quarter.  Then she mentioned a thing or two about what a mess her life is outside of class, none of it of her own doing, but her mother's, and I silently marveled that she was juggling this mess, trying to clean it up, and writing so clearly and intelligently at the same time.  She's like so many students I work with:  really intelligent and up against environmental pressures that put her on  the edge of her life collapsing every day. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/16/11: Home, Costumes!, Understanding

1.  Home.  Resting.  Eating soft foods.  Back with Charly and Maggie.  Sleeping.  Skyping.  Recovery looks good.  The mashed potatoes from Market of Choice hit the spot.  I'm not writing about me here!  I'm being vague.  On purpose.

2.  Costumes!  We wore costumes while rehearsing "The Taming of the Shrew" tonight.  We rehearsed under the lights! Costumes and lights energized the cast.   The play's rough with three weeks to go, but I could sure see a play taking shape. 

3.  It's very pleasing to see how Louise Steinman's book, "The Souvenir", which chronicles her tireless efforts to understand her distant and deeply wounded father, after his death,  has helped so many of my students see that they have taken or are trying to take similar steps toward reconciliation, whether with family members or with friends.  I admire the honesty of those who write that such understanding and reconciliation will never happen. 

Three Beautiful Things 03/15/11: Success, Sanity, Red Light Luck

1.  No complications.  Everything went well.  It's a great relief.  Success. 

2.  When I work on my lines in the hallway of the basement of the Performing Arts building, Randy, the janitor, with whom I've been acquainted a long time, assures me that he knows I'm not losing it and talking aimlessly to myself. 

3.  It was rainy.  I was preoccupied.  I was out by Riverbend Medical Center.  I ran a red light.  I didn't get honked at.  The drivers who had the right of way just slowed down and let me come into the traffic.  I was grateful. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/14/11: Growth, Fun, Kidney Bond

1.  I had great individual conferences with students today about their reconciliation papers and I'm pleased and impressed with how their work has progressed.  For some students, a lot can happen in 10 short weeks and, when the growth and improvement occurs, it's very satisfying for both the student and me.

2.  Rehearsal tonight was much less cranky.  Actors seemed to be having fun.  There were fewer absences. Scenes are slowly taking shape.  It's encouraging.  I worked and worked on continuing to get my lines living inside me so that Christopher Sly comes more and more alive.

3.  It was uplifting to know that J., a kidney disease sister, -- and whose function is at 4% -- just started bowling.  She wrote to me:  "It is wonderful to not revolve around a fussy kidney."  I'd been having this same thought.  I can't let my fussy, slowly failing  kidneys totally run the shop. 

Three Beautiful Things 03/13/11: A Call, Abuzz, Sleeping with Christopher Sly

1.  It was a good today to get the news out to my sisters and my mom that my kidney function had dropped and that I'll be having an ultrasound tomorrow.

2.  Things were abuzz at the theater this afternoon:  Spring Inspirations auditions and a kind of cranky rehearsal for "Taming of the Shrew".  I've been a part of cranky rehearsals before and my first impulse is to think it's all going to hell, but then I remember that the other plays didn't go to hell, so I straighten up and have a lot of hope and feel encouraged.

3.  I take my script to bed now.  I go over lines as I fall asleep.  I sleep with my script at my bedside.  I sleep with Christopher Sly.  During the night, I get up to relieve myself (about five times) and I say lines, turn on the light, check on lines.  Shakespeare packed his plays for mnemonic devices.  I look for them.  For example, I was having trouble with "I say, we'll have no sending to prison".  I was having trouble with the word "sending".  (Who knows why?)  I realized, though, that the key to remembering is in the "s" of "say" and the "s" of "prison".  Now when I say "say" I know another "s" is coming and it's that word "sending".  I'll keep sleeping on it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/12/11: AnnMarie Back Again, Jiffy Sandwich, Bard Talk/Falstaff Talk

1.  Sparky and I first worked together in the fall of 1991 to give students of ENG 201 (Shakespeare) the opportunity to take their Shakespeare studies out of the English classroom and onto the stage.  AnnMarie Maurer performed first that Fall Term, on a couch, in CEN 009, as Juliet.  Tonight, nearly twenty years later, AnnMarie performed again, not in a classroom, but under the lights at the Blue Door Theater, and I marveled for a moment at how the humble project Sparky and I started twenty years ago has grown into an evening of bright costumes, lighting, scenes given by students, faculty, and community actors, and about thirty scenes.  It's grown from a classroom activity to a recital to a fully developed showcase.  My oh my.

2.  Before the Showcase matinee, I went to Jiffy Mart to see if I'd like one of their sandwiches.  I ordered a corned beef, salami, and cheese on sourdough and it was superb.  I'll be back for sure.

3.  After both Showcase performances, Michael and I had robust Shakespeare conversation.  I especially enjoyed discussing how Shakespeare created such an intelligent and linguistically sophisticated King of Misrule in Falstaff.  Michael and I have both performed scenes as Falstaff and it's remarkable how challenging it is to play him because of his bawdiness, intelligence, understanding of his fellow tavern friends, mendacity, and, among other things, boundless sense of humor.

Three Beautiful Things 03/11/11: Encouragement, Rehearsal, Narration

1.  Encourage, encourage, encourage.  My students respond really well to encouragement in their writing and I saw plenty of evidence of it today, not only in their work, but in how we get along with each other.  The conferences were a blend of hard work and some good laughs, especially when one of my students brought he fourth grader along.  The fourth grader enjoyed my wise cracks and hearing that her mom is doing wonderful work.

2.  Yes.  Tech/dress rehearsal for the Shakespeare Showcase ran for almost six hours.  I love it, though -- I love all the energy, the scenes, the buzz, the adjusting of lights, the setting of sound cues, the wonderful work involved in getting a show up and running.  There was nowhere else I wanted to be for those six hours than right there in the Blue Door Theater. 

3.  I enjoyed my first run through giving the narration for the Showcase.  I love the script Sparky wrote and did all I could to bring her words alive with energy and enthusiasm.  I hope I do it even better tomorrow when we give our show.

Three Beautiful Things 03/10/11: Kidneys Lousy -- Life Good, Mac Talk, Black Talk

1.  Yesterday, I learned from the nephrologist that my kidney function has slipped some more. The news rattled me.  BUT, today I started my work day at 7:15 and had my first of about dozen or so individual conferences with students and their writing at 7:40 and the medical news melted away and I felt joy all day long working with students, talking with them, doing what gives my life so much purpose and meaning.  Yes, it's hard work.  Yes, it's good work.  This good hard work refreshed my perspective, got my focus centered on the present, and I realized that even though my general health is in decline, I still feel great, my energy is good, and I enjoy my work and so much else in my life. 

2.  The conversation over dinner at Billy Mac's tonight was full of vitality, with conversations ranging from the teaching of poetry to a trilogy of novels by Margaret Atwood to wonder at how the Ducks were manhandling UCLA.

3.  It was a great day, but I was a bit dispirited.   I thought of the perfect cure to sweeten my thoughts and help me laugh as I fell asleep:  Lewis Black.  It worked.  I laughed at loud at three different You Tubes of Lewis Black ranting and slept peacefully.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/09/11: Dog Toy Poetry, Reconciliation Essays, Hockey Talk!

1.  I really enjoy it when a poet latches onto a single object and writes line after line about it, how the thing inspires insights, memories, stories, retelling of incidents, so that the poem helps us see all that our associative minds load up objects with.  When the poet takes hold of something like this, it is, to me, like a dog who won't let go of the toy.  I call such poems dog who let go of the toy poems.  "The Table" by George Bilgere is a good example.  Read it, here.   Today in Intro to Poetry, my students wrote dog who won't let go of the toy poems.

2.  I'm very impressed with the insightful and committed essays my students in WR 121 are writing about reconciliation.

3.  Hockey talk!  Nephew Bill D. loves hockey and we had a little hockey talk this evening while I cooked pasta sauce and he had the 'Hawks and the Lightning game streaming on his laptop.  I'm hoping the spaghetti we ate after the hockey game helped soothe Bill's pain.  The 'Hawks lost in a shoot out.

Three Beautiful Things 03/08/11: Guts, Walk, Burgers

1.  I know it was tough for her to sit beside me while I read her paper, but S. had the guts to write honestly and the intelligence to write with insight and grace to write eloquently about an incident she witnessed and her inability to forgive the party responsible for shaking up her world.

2.  It's getting light earlier in the morning and Snug and I getting back to our morning walks again.

3.  Dickie Jo's with Billy D.  The garlic fries helped ease his pain after the 'Hawks lost to the Panthers. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/07/11: Wild Geese, Wild Variety, Wild Play

1.  Kathryn composed a piece for the French horn inspired by Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese".  She recorded herself reading the poem out loud and herself playing her composition on her French horn.  It's gorgeous.  Her understanding of the poem radiated through her composition and her playing.  My Introduction to Poetry class got to hear the recording today.  Gorgeous.

2.  ee cummings, Pablo Neruda, Jessica's presentation, listening to Dylan Thomas read, George Bilgere:  what a wild blend of treats and spicy pleasures in Introduction to Poetry.

3.  Even as rough and wild as our first run through Act I was tonight, I can see how this production of "The Taming of the Shrew" is taking form and I like what I see.

Three Beautiful Things 03/06/11: Stroll, Stickler, Stout

1.  Bill and the Deke and I went for a stroll on the University of Oregon campus and Bill marveled at the beauty of the trees that tower in the space between Deady and Villard on the west side and Allen and Lawrence Halls on the east.  We also enjoyed the whimsy of the Pioneer Mother and Pioneer Father being able to see each other through the north and south windowed doors of Johnson Hall.  We also visited Smith Family Bookstore, which, contrary to a dream I had a few nights ago, did not open a fourth floor where a person could buy apes, elephants, and other wild animals.  The books were still good.

2.  Back to work on my lines:  I'm having a hell of a time with "Ay, it stands so that I may hardly tarry so long."  Every single time I've been in a play and worked on lines, there's always been a stickler and "Ay, it stands so that I may hardly tarry so long" is my stickler in "Taming of the Shrew".  (I just had to look it up again to make sure I typed it out correctly.) I'll get it.

3.  Bill enjoyed his big eggy deluxe Wilbur burger and his pint of Irish Stout at the 19th Street Pub.  I'm enjoying Bill's enjoyment of being in Eugene. 
  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/05/11: Shots, Wings, Mushrooms

1.  Russell and I found some good material for photos at the Unitarian and Resurrection Episcopal churches.

2.  Bill D. arrived and we all got red sauce up to our shoulder blades eating chicken wings.

3.  I got myself ready to fix wings with a plate of triple mushrooms and Chinese greens with rice and bbq pork at Yi Shen.  It was a new dish for me and totally satisfying.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/04/11: Can't You See, Shrew Metaphysics, Bass Relax

1.  I was listening to Pandora's Outlaw Country station and it played Waylon Jennings singing "Can't You See" and I took a detour away from Pandora and when to YouTube and enjoyed a performance of the Marshall Tucker Band singing the same song.

2.  Rehearsing "The Taming of the Shrew" again this evening, especially I observed Sparky conducting improv exercises for the play's players who are hired by the Lord to put on the entertainment called "Taming of the Shrew", I realized in a whole new way how Shakespeare loves for his audience to never really know what's real.  Kate and Petruchio and the others in the Italian part of the story are played by a roaming group of players, each capable of playing any one of the roles.  On a given day or night, the same actor could play Bianca one night, Kate the next -- nothing's fixed -- there is no real Kate, no real Hortensio.  Tonight our cast worked to develop Player characters who then slip into the roles of the entertainment called "The Taming of the Shrew".   It's all fluid.  Nothing's absolute.  I really love it.

3.  After a couple hours of watching and participating in a variety of realities, it felt good to come home, crack open a single bottle of Bass Ale, drink it, and relax.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 03/03/11: Fun Teaching, Hugo Redux, Billy Mac's Talk

1.  I think teaching is about 90% keeping the classroom an enjoyable place to work.  We all know our subject matter.  Students learn that subject matter better when the morale in the classroom is high.  My WR 121 classes met for the last time as a group today.  I meet each student individually next week in conferences.  I enjoyed telling these two sections how much I enjoyed working with them, enjoyed the laughs, the hard work, the good spirit in the classroom.  It sure makes things easier when the students don't resist and play along.  It opens up their receptiveness, my kindness, and makes the whole undertaking so much more enjoyable.

2.  I read "On Needing Richard Hugo" to the Working Class Literature class today and the class was attentive and asked some good questions afterward.  Most gratifying:  MB was pleased.

3.  It was a particularly enjoyable time for me at Billy Mac's this evening.  I hadn't known Anne worked as a cook in a ritzy nursing home outside of London and this was just one of the wildly far-ranging topics that buzzed around the table.  Wow.  Now I'm remembering that talk of Buffalo (where Anne earned her PhD) took us on a detour into an O.J. Simpson discussion.  I hadn't been in a convo about the Juice for quite a while.

Three Beautiful Things 03/01/11: Behind, Idealistic, Fajitas

1.  At Dairy Mart, Jennifer got a kick out me telling her that I needed to get caught up just to be behind.

2.  Today my students learned just how old school I am.  My old school purposes in the classroom reach back to Plato and the most ancient understanding of the worth of education.  It's idealistic.  It has to do with studies helping improve one's inward life.  I feel like an alien in the year 2011.  I hear people my age scoff at youngsters:  "So young and idealistic."  Scoff at me, too, buddy.  I'm old and idealistic.

3.  Tonight it was time to roll up the slices of medium rare limed flank steak, red peppers, and red onions, seasoned with cumin, chili powder, and Frank's Original Hot Sauce into a warmed tortilla and eat fajitas for dinner.  It worked.

Three Beautiful Things 02/27/11: Lines, Photos, Pizza

1.  Working, working, working on my "Taming of the Shrew" lines.

2.  I got some nice response to the pictures I took at St. Mary's this morning.  They are here.

3.  That take and bake sausage and pepperoni pizza from Albertson's was pretty good.

Three Beautiful Things 03/02/11: Big Laugh, Big Idea, Big Chicken Taste

1.  All I can say is that I can't remember when a class of students laughed so hard and long:  I stopped class for a minute because I had a big sneeze coming and it was really slow coming.  I turned my back to the class and finally the sneeze came. A student:   "We thought you were having a heart attack." That got a chuckle.  Shannon:  "I thought you were starting to cry because you haven't gotten back your Dylan Thomas cds yet."   Brought the house down.  I know you had to be there, but I want a record of that moment.  It's been a long time since a class of students laughed so hard.

2.  Today we reached the point in Introduction to Poetry where I thought one of my favorite ideas would make sense:  Our emotions, our feelings are a mess.  Poetry structures our emotions, structures our feelings.  I elaborated.  I think some of my students, after about eight weeks of poetry understood what I meant.  (The idea is not original with me.)

3.  That whole chicken I started to slow cook in the morning tasted really good by six this evening:  so did the onions and potatoes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 02/28/11: Acting Poetry, Acting Comedy, Acting Random

1.  I deeply enjoy that time in my Introduction to Poetry course every time I get to teach it when we study "My Last Duchess" because I get to act it out.  I wonder sometimes if my students think I'm a total nut.  In a good way.

2.  It's sure fun playing comedy and I'm not alone having fun.  I see the inexperienced actors starting to get it that Shakespeare is one funny guy, in ways they might not have really imagined.

3.  We started to work on Christopher Sly's out of the blue theater of the absurd moment, his moment when he forgets that he's watching a play, and I think it's going to be really funny.  It'll be really invigorating on down the road to have an audience experience this particular moment.  If I were nineteen instead of fifty-seven years old, I'd say, "It's so random."  (But it's not epic.)