Saturday, March 31, 2007

Veni, Vidi, Vici

After a visit yesterday to Omaha's Joslyn Art Museum, Monkey and I had a celebratory dinner at Venue. It was good stuff. Monkey enjoyed the seafood risotto, I had a very flaky (though a little salty) sea bass. The design of the restaurant is pretty original, with circles being the dominant theme. You'd never know from the inside that the restaurant was in a strip mall.

Today, a visit to Home Depot to look at paint (Kind of like baseball, eh, Jersey Girl?). Then, I am off to Columbia. Monkey will stay in Lincoln to start the week, then she is off to Hot-lanta for next weekend to visit her internship mates. A reunion, of sorts.

This week has been a roller coaster, but it couldn't have ended up much better!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Landed Gentry

Monkey and I placed an offer on another house yesterday, just three houses down from the previous house. We agreed not to talk about it, blog about it, speculate about it, draw pictures of it, imagine Ripken running around inside of it, or even contemplate the possibility that our offer would be accepted. We were still feeling pretty burnt from the previous Flip This House debacle.

On our way to the Great Sushi Disappointment of 2007, we got a call from our realtor telling us that the selling agent had contacted all other realtors who had shown the house to let them know that an offer had been made on the house. Another offer was being made by someone who had been on the fence previously. Monkey and I were initially angry, but we mellowed out quickly and decided that we weren't goning to get this one either. We were prepared to make another offer on another house today.

So, it was a double whammy yesterday, as we experienced crummy sushi-ness on top of expecting the worst in real estate-ness. All of which equals crappy-ness.

This morning, we got the call. Our offer was ACCEPTED! We will soon own a house. This is awesome in all the possible ways that awesome can be awesome.

More later....

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Poison, Poison, Tasty Fish

Via: VideoSift

Our first sushi excursion in Lincoln was nothing if not a memorable experience. Monkey and I headed south of Nebraska Highway to an unassuming little shopping center, circa 1975, where we found Kabuki Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar. Upon entering, we were impressed with the decor: mirrored walls, swords and vases on display, model ships and painted banners adding to the ambiance. However, the positive impression was shattered upon our first encounter with our server.

She approached us, dressed in a full kimono, asking abruptly, "Only two?" She led us to a table. "You sit here," she told us, removing two full galsses of water from the table and leaving behind the wet rings from the glasses and two quizzical patrons. The menus were at the table, along with the place settings for two, but around the table for four were crowded six chairs. Monkey and I looked at each other, stares of uncertainty in our eyes. We sat.

The menu looked promising. The waitress came over to take our order. The couple at the table behind us were begging for water. They waited fifteen minutes before one of them called the waitress over to the table to ask her, "Are you going to bring us water or not?" She brought them water. Did I mention that there were only three people working at the restaurant tonight?One hostess/waitress, one sushi chef, and one old dude who was really not doing anything, as far as I could tell.

Anyway, she took our order. We asked for seaweed salad. "Hold on," she said. She took three steps toward the sushi bar and began yelling at someone in Japanese. She yelled for about five minutes, and I never heard anyone reply. She came back to the table, saying, "No seaweed salad. I bring you regular salad." I told her I didn't want regular salad. "Included," she said. "Soup. Salad. Included." Okay, whatever. "How about a drink," she asked. "Hot tea," we replied.

While we waited for our food, we watched the sushi chef work, and our server just sort of putz around. During the length of our visit, not one table was cleared. There was a large table covered with half-eaten food, empty glasses and dirty plates from th emoment we arrived. The only change when we left: that is where our waitress placed the two full glasses of water she had removed from our table. Every table that was vacated as we waited (and eventually ate), was left in the state the diners left it. Perhaps our server was engaged in some sort of art project, I don't know. I should have asked. She certainly didn't seem engaged in much else. But I digress....

What seemed like hours later, we got our food. We never got our hot tea (but she did try to charge us). Overall, the food was average at best and the service was about the worst I have ever experienced. Having spent the past eight years enjoying the fine sushi that Osaka has to offer, not to mention the friendly and personal service, Monkey and I are spoiled, and this experience just didn't measure up. Word is there is only one other sushi place in town, and that it is not very good.

Granted, neither Monkey nor I suffered the fearsome fate of Homer Simpson (we try to steer clear of fugu), but it's gonna be a hard food transition, folks. At least in the sushi area.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

No House for You!

The sellers took the previous offer. Something about a fear of lawyers. No matter. Monkey and I are sad, but undaunted. A few beers and we'll be fine. Tomorrow, more houses.

Creeping Closer to Real

Well, the house is almost a done deal, according to the conventional wisdom (our realtor), but it is still not official. Of course, I guess it won't be official until we close on it, so, that will be a waiting game, no matter what. Haven't I waited long enough? I guess a few more weeks won't hurt.
I met today with the principal and Language Arts department head of the local Catholic school. I got a pretty good vibe from them and the school. It was not an interview. The application process for the job opening (or openings, as I understood the department head), starts this week, so I will have to come back for an interview next month. The meeting was pretty good. I liked the sense I got from them and from the school, itself. I know that a Catholic school is not even close to a perfect fit for me, but on the drive back to the hotel, I felt like the positives of working there might outweigh any of the negatives. There are a bunch of things for me still to discover about the school, but, for a preliminary meeting, it was pretty good.
As far as the other school districts, I have yet to hear anything. It will be nice to get this process over with, but I hope to remain patient, and I hope to find the best possible job available for me in the area. Where will that be? Only time will tell.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Keeping Our Fingers Crossed

Day Three in the Husker Home Search has dawned with quite encouraging news. Monkey and I made an offer on a lovely 1940 Tudor in a great neighborhood yesterday morning. That offer was reportedly accepted this morning! However, the house that we wish to purchase has a "contingency offer" on it already. The explanation of this sort of offer is both simple and complicated (which, I am discovering, is how everything involved in real estate is), but I think the bottom line is that someone else has made an offer on the house we want, contingent on them selling their own house. So, now, it seems that the other buyers have until tomorrow evening to buy or not. Our realtor was pretty certain that that was not going to happen, but, Monkey and I are not getting too excited until it is a done deal.

As a matter of fact, we are off this morning to look at a few more homes. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Four Shorn Dudes

One of these things does not belong here.
Three of these things are kind of the same,
But one of these things does not belong here.
Now it's time to play our game.
--Old Sesame Street Song

Today, the three formerly hirsute members of the recently humbled faculty basketball team assembled for a picture. A fourth member, who already shaves his head, had pledged, in the spirit of team unity, to grow his hair out. Clever, huh? Can you tell which one he is?

Photo courtesy of Hocks Rocks. Pictured (clockwise from upper left) are KP, The Big O (The Rev. Wayne Coomers), The Author, and C Power. Note, obscured in the background, brother of the head, Dr. Evil.

Tomorrow's end brings Spring Break. It seems like a long time coming, and I, for one, am heartily looking forward to it. I'll be meeting Monkey in Lincoln to do some house shopping this week. Wish us luck. I also have a meeting with a principal of a local Catholic high school. Don't laugh. It could happen. Anything is possible, after all.

There will be connectivity in Husker country, so I may be able to keep you posted.

New Link

Okay, I've done it. I have begun posting my novel on another blog. Check the link over there labeled The Fingers of Time.

Please comment. Be honest. Be critical. Be kind.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Choosing the Path of Least Distraction

My hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair
--The Cast of Hair, "Hair"

Two things are dreadfully wrong with the previous lyrics. First, and foremost, it's from a show tune (You know how I know you're gay...?). Second, it's about "long beautiful hair / shining gleaming streaming / flaxen waxen /[...] down to there hair." Of which I got none.

Around about bedtime last night, I convinced myself that the mohawk would just be too much of a distraction at school. I was going to shave it off, anyway, so tomorrow would have been just as distracting as today, as the transformation from "Mohawk Reda" to "Bald-headed Reda" caused additional stir. I figured it would be better, classroom management-wise, if I just had one day of distraction.

It was quite a stir as it was. The kids reacted as you would expect: everything from shrieks of horror to peals of laughter. It took some of them a while to get over it. Of course, anythng to distract us from our lessons is worth exploring for most high school kiddos. We were all them once, we know.

The most asked question was, "How does your wife feel about it?" They were shocked when I told them that she had shaved it! The comment that will most tickle Monkey: a girl says to me after looking at me for a second or two, "You should have trimmed your eyebrows." I cracked up!

I'm still getting used to it, but, in all honesty, the ease of care for lack of hair is quite liberating. Now, I am not saying I'm going to keep it this way, but that is a plus. I'd post a pic, but Monkey has the camera in Lincoln.

In other news, The Chinese Wok was hopping tonight after b-ball. I got there just before the mad Monday take out rush. Lo Mein for me, as I branch out from the scrumptious Vietnamese menu and sample the Chinese. Not the best Lo Mein I have ever had, but not bad. And steaming hot!

Finally, on a sad note, the mighty Terp men of Maryland fell to Butler's three-point shooting Bulldogs on Saturday. I was ecstatic that they made it to the tournament this year, after two years away, but I think they were a bit over-seeded at number 4. Of course, a higher seed may have given them a tougher match up than ODU in the first round, but that game was hard enough (and harder than it should have been). Should Maryland have beaten Butler? Well, of course I'm going to say yes. Then they would have dispatched Florida, Oregon, and UCLA, for an all-Potomac final against the Hoyas. The end result, another National Championship (and murmurs that the Terps are the dominant college basketball team of the 21st century--eat that Coach K!). But, alas, it was not to be.

The reality of the situation, however: one win in this year's tourney, and a regular season that saw a win over UNC, and a sweep of the dreaded Dookies is enough for me to call the 2006-7 campaign a success. Of course, losing to Miami in the first round of the ACC tourney was a black eye, but, all in all, I'll take this season over the last two, for sure.

Now, the Terp women need to repeat!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Consequences of Loss

I wish I was a little bit taller
I wish I was a baller
--Skee-Lo, "I Wish"

This past week has been one of frustration, anger, joy, anticipation, and humility.

The frustration and anger well from a situation at school that, while not providing any detail, I can tell you involved the administration deciding to make me do something with an organization that I sponsor that I felt (and told them) was unethical. In a way it was sadly humorous, since the situation involved everyone acting in such a stereotypically expected manner (the issue involved a student athlete and special considerations) that, if I weren't leaving at the end of the year, I might have left anyway. I know this is just mysterious alluding to nothing you can really make sense of, suffice it to say that I lost much respect for many people this week. But, at the same time, I felt good about the way I handled myself in the situation. Yeah! Points for me.

The joy and anticipation came from practicing and waiting for the staff-student b-ball game. We were pretty confident in oursleves as game day approached, and, in order to increase excitement, we all talked as much smack to the students as we could. It was a blast. The game was great fun, and we raised $1200. for the Peace Conference, which we can all, students and staff, be proud of. Alas, after a first half that saw the students up only 31-29, their young legs got the best of us, and they pulled away for a 57-41 victory. And so, since several of the teachers (including myself) agreed to shave our heads if we lost, Monkey just finished carving me a mohawk. Thus the humility.

I don't know how this will play out on Monday, but it is a bit wierd to Monkey and I right now. Plus, after a warm week, it snowed this morning, so, my head is pretty cold.

Bet you never thought you'd see that, did'ya?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Staying Out of Trouble

The Marxist protest passed with little incident, yesterday. Check here for news of the event.

I avoided the downtown area yesterday, choosing to spend the late morning and early afternoon at Eagle Bluffs, on my first true birding trip of the year. That's sad, but true. It appears that most of the ducks have moved on, but I did get a great look at the area's resident bald eagle and several beautiful views of a northern harrier patroling the area. Not a great day, but an adequate (though late) start for the year.

I proceeded directly to the Hyve, and, on the way back, could see a crowd of people several blocks south gathered on 9th Street. A helicopter hovered overhead.

Once home, I napped inadvertently.

That evening, I attended the closing night of the school Spring musical The Leader of the Pack. I was entertained. It was mostly a musical revue, with a loose framework of a story, as all of the songs were written by Ellie Greenwich, a song-writing power of the 60s. I'd never heard of her, but I did know her songs. The kids did a fine job. Unfortunately, the woman behind me showed up late with a three year old that couldn't keep his mouth shut. Annoying, really.

Today, it's laundry and grading (with a healthy dose of basketball thrown in). It is a beautiful day. The dog will be walked, for sure.

In other news, Shearwater has signed with Matador Records. Misra loses another horse from its stable. The Shearwater website says that Matador will be re-releasing the band's last album, Palo Santo, in an expanded, re-recorded version. This raises the question: does one buy an album one already has, if it has new songs, etc.? I say, "No."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Welcome, Maeve Claire!

You must have been a beautiful baby
You must have been a wonderful child
--Bing Crosby

Suh-Weet and Queen of Spades had themselves a baby yesterday afternoon. A healthy girl, six pounds, ten ounces. Momma is doing well, also.

Suh-Weet was quoted as saying, "Suh-weet, dude."


Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Nazis are Coming to Town

That is not a flippant title, my peeps. The National Socialist Movement has applied for and been granted a permit to march on our fair city on Saturday to "protest the promotion of Marxism at the university." This leads me to question whether they are aware that "Socialist" is part of their name. I know National Socialism and Marxism are NOT the same thing, but still. Doesn't everyone know that they are not REALLY protesting Marxism? Doesn't everybody know that they just want to stir up shit? Wouldn't that have been interesting, if, on their permit application, under "Reason for Application for Permit" they wrote "to stir up shit"?

The town has mobilized over the last few days, organizing alternative activities in protest of this "racialist" (yes, that is what they call themselves) march. At school, much of the buzz from students is of the "I want to go bust some Fascist head" variety. All of the faculty response has been of the "pay no attention to these jerks" variety. The police and several other town leaders have made it clear that the marchers want people to come out and be pissed off. They want people to throw rocks and get mad. They will provoke people with verbal taunts. That way, when the police have to descend on the counter-protesters, since they are officially breaking the law and the Nazis are not, it will look like the police are on the Nazi's side. Then, when people get pissed off at the police for protecting the Nazis and start rioting (a distinct possibility), the Nazis can point to that behavior as evidence of the wildness and undesirable nature of the "mud people" (i.e., anyone not like them (including me, since I am officially a Catholic, plus I am part Spic (as they might call it))).

I am scared. I don't want a riot in my town. I recognize the Nazi's right to march, even if I think they are small minded jerks, but I do wish they would maybe forget to show up. I do have hope in my heart, however. Hope that no one will show up to be provoked by the neo-brown shirts. Hope that nothing of consequence will occur. Hope that where I live, a diverse, intelligent community (with problems, yes, but trying to fix them), will be spared the misery and tragedy of any sort of dickhead-induced civil unrest.

I hope that I have good news for you on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tie Dye, Man

Circle the date on your calendars, sports fans. On March 16, my school will be holding a faculty-student basketball game to raise money for Global Issue's 2nd annual Peace Conference. I will be playing for the faculty team, obviously.

We haven't held any practices. Our first is tomorrow. We did, however, have a team tie dying meeting today after school. Our team jerseys, it has been decided, will be tie dyed shirts. I had never tie dyed anything before. As a matter of fact, back in the day, and up until now, I have, for some reason, made it a point not to wear tie dye. I kind of think it looks, well, not so good. That and I always associated tie dye with all that hippie crap that it is stereotypically connected with. Of course, in the spirit of team unity, I will be making an exception. I also liked the idea of a self-made product as a souveneir of the experience. Anyway, it was fun, in an arts and crafts sort of way. I don't know what the shirt will look like, but I will know tomorrow. I'll try to get some pics to post of myself and my team mates modeling our fashions.

Beyond that, school is really kicking my ass, lately. I really can't go into a great deal of detail, but things are just hard in some arenas the past couple of weeks. On top of that, the busy time of the year for National Honor Society and the Hickman Review, both of which I co-sponsor, are full upon me. Add to that a major grading influx, due to my own poor forethought, making things hard on top of everything else. And, over it all is the impending move, waiting to hear from Lincoln Public Schools, following up on Monkey's leads for other possible job openings, and the house search (complicated ny the uncertainty of my employment situation) making things really funky for me right now.

But who really wants to here me bitch?

There's plenty of good stuff, too. The basketball game, interacting (positively) with my students, goofing with my co-workers, playing music, etc. all help to lift the spirits when times get tough. But in those quiet moments, the question marks, the "to do" list, the imagined negative resolutions to all the "what if" questions flood the mind and put me in a funk of of intropection and prospection. And the best thing to do in this situation? Get something done. Which is what I am about to do, as soon as I answer the following tag from my girl Mags.

1. Find the nearest book.

Okay, got it. It was on the top shelf, right side, of the black bookcase next to the filing cabinet in Monkey's office.

2. Name the book and the author.

Well, that makes sense. It is The Best American Short Stories of 2006, edited by Ann Patchett.

3. Turn to page 123.

A short story by Alice Munro, "The View from Castle Rock."

4. Go to the 5th sentence on the page & copy out the next three sentences onto your blog.

She will give up that, she will give it up gladly, if only he isn't gone.

If only he can be found. If only he isn't dead.


There you go. I am supposed to tag three other folks, but I always prefer to just open up the floor to comments. You know, it has worked so well in the past, and I always like to encourage the comments.

Peace, y'all.

Monday, March 05, 2007

So This Is How It's Going To Be...

By the time I finish typing this sentence, it will be tomorrow. What am I doing up? I will be hitting the snooze in five hours. Well, let's just say not having posted a turd since February 20 is just pathetic enough to get my raggedy ass over to the keyboard to hunt and peck my way back into your neglected hearts.

Today was business as usual (i.e., no partner teacher) after a blissful and neglectful weekend at True/False here in Central Standard. Eleven docs in three days, now that's the way to celebrate the first weekend in March, my fellow blogospherians.

Favorites of this year's festival include (in no particular order): several films that I had to sign a press release for, stating that I would not blog, write, or speak about them. This due to the fact that they are still in negotiations with distributors, or they have an official premier at some other festival, or some lawyer just thought it was fun to make a couple hundred people sign a document and see how many of them got paranoid and shit when they accidentally told their mom where they went this weekend. Whatever. Suffice it to say that all of the movies I can't tell you about were so good...I can't even put it into words.

In addition, add Row Hard, No Excuses, a film about a trans-Atlantic two-man rowing race. Yes, people, they row a wooden boat from the Canary Islands to Barbados. It takes anywhere from 42 to 100+ days, and rowers face the elements, sharks, each other, rashes in mentionable and unmentionable places, and the occasional well-aimed flying fish. They must have all of their supplies onboard, and they seem to have a penchant (or a duty or a strategy or something) for rowing in the buff. That notwithstanding, still a winner of a man versus self/man versus nature kind of story.

Another winner: Miss Navajo, a short doc (60 minutes) about the contestants in the Miss Navajo Nation pageant, the only beauty pageant with a sheep slaughtering competition. What about that The Donald?

Also, and perhaps my favorite, Off the Grid, a really remarkable film about a community of people trying to live in a manner that, to them, is truly American: free. It's very Wild West in some ways, with the community observing its own code of laws, eschewing any assistance from most government entities (one cancer-stricken Gulf War (the first one) vet (there are a lot of Gulf War vets living out there--makes you wonder what's going to happen when they finally start bringing the soldiers from this go 'round back home) does visit the VA--but he refuses treatment). It's one of those films where you are watching these people, and in the back of your mind there are two ideas bouncing around: one, these people seem a bit on the eccentric side; but, two, they seem to have some things right. Fascinating subjects, beautiful countryside, tragedy, conflict, music, and skinned goats (a livestock theme will not develop, I promise).

Lastly, but not in any way completely, American Shopper, a documentary truly in the spirit of True/False. Filmed right here in Central Standard, the film was set up by the film makers as a competitive grocery shopping event called "aisling." They came to town about a year ago and promoted this "aisling" thing, putting ads in the local paper, and such. Of course, there is no such thing, or, at least, there wasn't until they invented it. But, this film is not a fiction per se. The directors incorporated the real stories of the real citizens who showed up to investigate this "aisling" phenomenon. So, throughout the film, one wonders, what is real and what is fiction? It's damn hard to tell, and it makes for an excellent, touching, entertaining film. Of course, it is an added bonus to recognize places and people in the film, so it's not easy to be objective, especially when you get to watch your own mayor shake his groove thing with a shopping cart, but I think this film would stand up to any objective test.

That is just the tip of the iceberg and only includes some of the few films that Monkey and I saw. You can't see them all--it's impossible.

Oy! It is way past maximum bedtime, and I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the past two weeks.

I will have to get back to you. I hope it won't be in fourteen days.