Monday, March 31, 2008

Setting Sail On the Normal Sea

It was back to work today, as we started off the final term of the year with a grumpy bang. I have the distinct pleasure to teach three blocks in a row all in different rooms. Fortunately for me, they are all in the same hall, and all in a row (but I don't visit them in a row--205, 207, 206).

It's strange having your planning period at the end of the day. I don't know if I like it, yet. In the long run, it really doesn't matter, you have the same amount of time to do some planning/grading/assorted administrative bullshit, but, it is a new time of the day for me. I don't miss having a fourth block class of sophomores, however!

Monkey is doing well, by the way, except that her tongue feels funny. Tonight is the last night we have to sleep separately, so, that's good. She has more scans tomorrow to check the progress (or egress) of her cancer-y cells. Let's hope they can't see anything.

Finally, thank you all for your kind words and gifts and overall support during Monkey's radioactive episode. It has meant a great deal to both of us, and, I am sure it has really helped keep Monkey's spirits up during her days of quarantine.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Jens Lekman Loves You

I semi-reluctantly left the Monkey in the cave and hied it over to Omaha with some buds to eat sushi and see a show (is that the only way to visit Omaha? I think that's how it worked last time, except, this time, it wasn't fifty below!). Jens Lekman, the Swedish superstar was playing Slowdown.

The sushi, by the way, at Sakura Bana, was most excellent. We may have found a winner, just fifty minutes away! The traditional sushi--tuna, salmon, and scallop, were all top notch. Especially tasty, though not true sushi, was the dragon roll: eel and cooked smelt, with avocado-wrapped rice. Mmmmm.

The Slowdown was lightly populated when we arrived at 9pm, and the partition between the stage and the bar was up. Behind the temporary wall, Lekman and his band were performing their sound check. Apparently, weather in Wyoming had held them up in their travels, and they had arrived in Omaha very late. We hoped that the travel traumas would not impact the band's performance.

The opening act, The Honeydrips, consisted of one George Michael meets Kurt Warner singer, with a Mac book. Push a button, here comes the music, and he's singin' his song. Occasionally, he'd don Jens' guitar, but he'd never play it. I wondered what he was on about. Was the guitar a statement of irony? Was he making a joke on himself? Was he wearing it for protection? And why during that song and not this song? I wondered these things as he picked at the air just above the guitar during the "instrumental" portions of the Mac book's performance. I remarked to my neighbor that it was like watching someone you didn't know sing karoake to songs you'd never heard. Does that sound like fun to you?

The Honeydrips raised a lot of questions about the nature of performance and the role of technology in modern music. I won't go into that now, but my showmates and I had a good discussion over the opening act on our sleepy way home.

I noticed that the place had filled up significantly, as Lekman took the stage after a short transitional period. He and his technology/sample/ computer sound guy took the stage first, both in purple (but not the SAME purple) shirts, untucked, and white calf-hugging pants and tuxedo shoes (also white); they began the opening riffs of the opening song (the names of all of which I don't know). Before the breakout, the band joined Jens, all wearing shades of purple--tunic-like tops and some form of tights or tight pants. All performers had shiny, silver keys around their necks. The additional line up consisted of all female performers: bass, drums, cello, and violin. At least visually, this was clearly a band, and they all ROCKED.

Granted, Lekman's music is unapologetically pop. And, mostly, pop is not my cup of tea. But, Lekman's style, that 60s/70s semi-soul sound, his jangly melodies about simple things (like getting a haircut, or visiting a friend), well, dammit, they just sound so good. And, last night, they sounded really good. Most endearing, however, was the feeling that we in the audience got, that Lekman and his band were genuinely happy to be performing for us, and they were really having fun up there.

It's not often you see a show where the performers look so truly enthusiastic, where the energy coming out of the crowd is absorbed and returned by the individuals under the colored lights. When it happens, you just have to love it.

When "Pocketful of Money," the final encore, was winding down, and Lekman sung to the crowd, "I'll come running with a heart on fire," the crowd sung back, "I'll come running with a heart on fire," and it was only fitting that this mutual admiration society was sharing everything, right down to the last note.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No Kissing!

Perhaps I neglected to mention in earlier posts, that the distance between Monkey and I must remain about three feet for at least four days. We can not divide distance by time and spend one hour and some odd minutes (was it 19.2, comoprozac?) one foot apart. And, sadly, the physicist was quite clear: NO KISSING for FOUR DAYS! Boo, physicist! Boo!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Well, my friends, Friday found us waking up with a cold/flu thing going on. A post-nasal feeling coming over spring break's day one. Bummer. It still has a grip on me, but, for better or worse (probably worse), I have been trying to behave as if I have nothing slowing me down.

The big news is that this afternoon, at about 2pm CDT (1pm CST), Monkey downed a big ol' heap of radioactive iodine. According to the physicist, her restrictions are not as bad as we thought (she can be three feet away from me for up to four hours), she will still dose me with 10% of the radioactivity that a nuclear medicine worker can safely receive in a year. I guess that's okay.

I just want her to be better. I just want this ordeal (which is not too much of an ordeal in the grand scheme) to be over. But, I am a bit nervous about the effect of the treatment on both of us. The doctors don't seem too worried, and I will take my cue from them.

Right now, I am going to go check on my little glow worm.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

As Spring Breaks, Spring Break; And The Madness Begins

Early this morning (I think, like, 12:54 am), Spring sprung. The Vernal Equinox. The start of the Earth's rebirth (at least in this hemisphere). Lovely.

This noon, in arenas around the land, the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament began. Having just gotten home from work, I really have no idea who has won or lost so far, and, in a new town, I have no idea where the best place to see all the games is, but, I have more important things to deal with presently (I'll get to them in a mo). Anyway, I like the college basketball, you all probably know, so, this is a joy of a fortnight (plus) for me.

To top it all off, at 3:03 today, Spring Break officially began for me. How great of a triple coincidence is all that (it doesn't happen every year, you know)? S, I am having what many folks would call a "good" day. (Note my ironic use of irony--is that a double irony, or do they cancel each other out?--or am I being sarcastic, which is not ironic?--who cares?)

While all that is great, Monkey's health issues continue, but, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After several false starts, due to unfavorable test results (her hormone levels needed to be at a certain mark, and they weren't), Monkey is scheduled to take her radioactive iodine treatment on Tuesday. This is good, because once the treatment is over, she should be certified USDA cancer-free. It is also good, because once she takes the radioactive pill, she will be able to end this low-iodine diet she is on that allows her to eat leaves and nuts and chicken and that's about it. She is looking forward to crabcakes and macaroni and cheese and chocolate. This is bad, however, because, for at least the first four days, Monkey will be a glowing mass of radioactivity, not unlike a nascent superhero. She will have to be quarantined, and we will need to maintain a certain distance. But, as awful as that may be, it's only for a few days, and it will be necessary for her to get better, which is what we all want, right? Plus, she doesn't really like me that much anyway, and is, most likely, looking forward to having a whole radioactive bed to herself.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

On Highways to Flyways

Today, Monkey and I joined a pair of our new-found friends for a trip out west to see one of the wonders of the natural world. This weekend marks the high point of the annual sandhill crane migration, the route of which passes right through Nebraska. From Lincoln, it is about an hour and a half out I-80 to Kearney/Grand Island, where the epicenter of the migration, the Platte River, winds its shallow way through the plains.

It was a seasonal sunny day, and our treks over the mushy back roads offered us spectacular views of numbers of flocks of cranes blanketing subbled corn fields. Many birds were within several yards of the road. It was awesome.

We drove into town for some grub at a local bistro, then headed back out to the river as the sun fell. At dusk, the birds leave the fields and roost en masse on the sand bars of the Platte. What an amazing sight, to see and hear thousands upon thousands of these reddish-grey birds, with wingspans of 80 inches, coast in to land among flocks of thousands of their fellows on the sand below. And, in the background, the orange sun setting in a pink and purple sky.

What a beautiful day.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Central Standard Still In Business

Now that Indiana has given in to the gubment's idea of Daylight Savings Time, we here at Central Standard feel it even more important that we carry the torch for our beloved horological parameter. This morning, we all "sprung forward," ushering in Daylight Savings Time, and, paradoxically, increasing our energy consumption. You have to love our government. Their programs to save energy cost more energy, our head of state clearly doesn't understand that we are supposed to be the good guys, and that check payed for with a loan from China (or somewhere) that will stimulate the sagging economy is being trumpeted by letters that will cost the same folks who are receiving the checks $42 million.

Suffice it to say, that even when the clock on my wall strikes 12 CDT, in my heart, it's 11 CST.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sitting Still and Marching North

What a weekend! Thursday and Friday were wonderful, affording us the opportunity to catch up with a few of the Old School Crew, consume some excellent sushi, drink some cheap beer, and dig Mucca Pazza leading a crew down Columbia's Broadway. After a dinner of tikka masala on Friday, film watching began in earnest.

The festival was spread far and wide this year, employing several Stephens College venues in addition to the regular downtown spots. Several festival goers agreed that the organizers would do well to maintain the added venues in the future. Even with the re-opening of the Missouri Theatre, the extra spots would afford many more the opportunity to see films. Of course, that's one man's opinion.

Friday's first film Forbidden Lies was a fabulous start. The subject of the film, a woman who seems to blur the line between truth and fiction as a way of life, could practically be a poster child for the idea behind the entire film festival. It was great.

The second film of the night, Joy Division didn't do much for me. Overall, I felt like the premise of the film, that Joy Division's rise to fame was a driving force in the rebirth of their hometown of Manchester, was never really proved. I can't help being an English teacher, I guess.

Saturday, after some croissant and coffee at the new Uprise, it was full steam ahead, as Monkey and I took in six films from 10 am to midnight. The day's first film was haunting, captivating, tragic, and beautiful. Stranded, the story of the 1972 plane crash of a Uruguayan rugby team, which left them stuck high in the Andes for 72 days. They resorted to cannibalism to survive. The focus of the film, while telling the tale as it occurred, is really on the men today, some 35 years later, and how they have dealt with the tragedy. One particular moment in the film gave me chills. Monkey was moved to tears. Awesome.

Also on Saturday, we caught one of our least favorite films in the history of the festival. That's quite an honor, I guess. The Mosquito Problem, a quirky look at life in Belene, Bulgaria, was too long, too quirky, and bereft of focus. And, it appeared that Monkey and I were not alone in our assessment of this one, as people evacuated the Big Ragtag theatre (hooray for the new space!) in droves as the film wore on.

Sunday, we had plans for three more films, but after two, we decided it was a good idea to hit the road. It was a beautiful day, but the forecast was looking dim. We hit the road at about 3, got into some rain in KC, and drove through drizzles and torrents as we made our way up I-29.

Turning off of 29, we noticed ice hitting the windshield, and it got worse from there, as the ice turned to wind-driven snow that made Monkey and I realize how pioneers once got lost in these blizzards. It took us forty-five minutes to travel twenty miles, as semis blew by us, sloshing the car with torrents of slushy ice. About twenty miles east of Lincoln, the snow stopped, the roads cleared, adn it was like we had been driving in a bad dream. We made it home by 8:30, but the drive had wiped me out. It was a great weekend, with an exciting and harrowing end, and I shuffled up the stairs and went to bed.