Friday, February 26, 2010

True/False Before the Madness

Monkey and I met Uncle Joe for sushi last night. It was awesome. Not only was hanging with the biggest dog lover in Missouri (if not the world) a great joy, but the sushi at Osaka was top notch. It made all of the rushing around yesterday in order to get out of town by 4pm worth it. Once again, comoprozac and RAD are being kind enough to put us up for the weekend.

It's pretty busy around (The District). T/F volunteers are ubiquitous, and there seems to be an anticipatory buzz in the air. Also in the air is a bit of warmth that I have not experienced since before December. It is nice to be in a place that doesn't have six inches of snow and ice on the ground, a place where the sun actually seems to warm the air.

In a few hours, we will be meeting up with some old friends for a beverage, before making our way to Monkey's favorite Indian restaurant. After that, we have the opening night film, and another after that. Then, it's really on!

I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Downfall of Falling Down

I haven't watched much of the Winter Olympics this time around. I've sen a curling match here and there, and Monkey and I did watch most of the ice dancing, but I don't think I have sat down and watched a whole evening's worth of programming on NBC since the opening ceremony. I did get the opportunity to watch some ski jumping a few days back, and I have watched just a few minutes of half pipe. And those two things together got me to thinking.

When I was just cutting my teeth on the Winter Olympics, the Lake Placid games of 1980, I remember watching some ski jumpers and thinking they were pretty cool. In 1984, at Sarajevo, I was even more enthralled. I could have watched those daredevils slide down that giant ramp and fly off into the ski to make a perfect knee down landing for hours. And I did.

But, as the Eighties moved into the Nineties, the sport of snow boarding began to pick up steam. It's popularity bloomed through the last part of the twentieth century until, today, it (and other extreme sports) seems to be surpassing many traditional winter games in popularity. And, nowadays, when I watch a long-haired kid rocket up off of the side of a cliff and do a multiple rotation multiple flip, it fills me with amazement. So much so that now, watching ski jumping seems staid. I find myself wishing that those Austrian snow birds would not only soar a hundred and forty meters, but do a half gainer on top of that.

Sadly, the thrill is gone for me and ski jumping. We will most likely part ways. Now, I hope those crazy kids don't find a way to ruin the biatholon.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ratcheting Up the Nerd Factor

I know you all think I am the epitome of cool. The general consensus is that I am as trendy as they come, as hip as hip can be, as cool as the inside of Prince Pucklers in August. But, really, I am not.

Case in point: I love doing crossword puzzles. Honestly, give me a whole day with nothing to do and a stack o' crosswords and I am a happy man. I will ignore food, sleep, and bodily functions if I get into the right crossword mind frame. Nothing makes me happier than ripping through an NYT Friday puzzle. I don't always succeed, but I enjoy the challenge. (And, I can finish more than half of them.) Clearly, I am no championship caliber crossworder, but I am pretty good at filling them in.

Lately, however, I may have taken it to another level. Not only am I filling in at least one crossword a day (sometimes more, if I can find the time), but I have taken to reading Rex Parker's Crossword Blog (after I finish a puzzle).

So, as you can see, I am the opposite of cool. I am a total nerd. But, maybe you already knew that?

It doesn't matter. I'm cool with it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Magic Begins Again

Alright, I'll admit it, I am a sucker. Today is an excellent day on my annual calendar, as Spring Training begins for my old hometown ball team, the Baltimore Orioles. Another sign that spring is soon to arrive has been reached, as the tradition of Spring Training leads into the anticipation of Opening Day, a sign, itself, of summer's impending arrival. I am sure I am not the only person who finds some joy and solace in this annual occurrence, yet I still feel like a sucker.

I feel like a sucker because Mark McGwire is now a coach with the St. Louis Cardinals. I feel like a sucker because guys who won fewer games than they lost last year were awarded with multi-million dollar contracts. I feel like a sucker because the Orioles will most likely finish this season just as far out of the running as they have in each of the last dozen years. I feel like a sucker because I know I care far more about those 25 strangers than they ever will or can about this one.

But, you know what? I don't mind feeling like a sucker in this case, because, maybe it's not a sucker that I feel like. It's more like a kid. I feel like a kid, who wants to oil up his glove and toss the ball around, a kid who wants to watch the big guys take on the best ball players in the world, a kid who thinks, "Maybe this will be the year."

And that's okay.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where The %^$# Did That Come From?

Weirdness here in the Plains, yesterday. About 9am or so, we started getting some snow. A few hours later, the snow shower was over, and we had about two inches or less on the ground. And then, the wind really kicked up, blowing in gusts of 40 mph or more. The Interstate was closed due to white out conditions, and multi-car wrecks of up to thirty cars occurred on highways all over the state. Last I heard, over the last twenty-four hours, a least a half dozen people were killed or seriously injured in accidents, or mishaps immediately following accidents. One poor soul was struck by a vehicle while walking away from his own rollover accident. Total mayhem.

It's really a bizarre occurrence, an unexpected pocket of blizzard-like weather after a small amount of snow fall. But it is a grim reminder to respect the weather. Not that we need any more reminders, after hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, etc., but sometimes, we don't take this kind of weather seriously. Most of us probably think that being really affected by a blizzard (beside running out of milk and bread and toilet paper) is soooo 19th century. But it's not.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So Real and So True

When we pass each other in the halls, sometimes we teachers, as most folks do, ask each other how its going. You know, a time honored way of acknowledging each others' being as we move through the atmosphere. Sometimes, we might respond, "Living the dream!" Of course, we are being facetious, to some extent, right? Is this the dream? Is this the life we imagined for ourselves? I guess it depends.

As a young child, if you asked me my dream, I suppose it would most likely have involved being a pirate captain. Nowadays, except for a relatively small and remote part of the globe, just off of the eastern coast of Africa, piracy is a pretty dead career choice. Okay, in any time period and any place, piracy was a pretty dead career choice. Literally. But, let us continue.

As a youngster, my idea of piracy was Captain Hook, and Treasure Island. A Romantic version of pirates, with sailing ships and cannon balls, grape shot and crow's nests, and navigating by dead reckoning and the starry night sky--with a few sword fights thrown in. That most definitely is a "ship on the horizon" dream in every way. The dreamer is never going to get there.

As I grew older, my late teens, my dreams shifted from pirates to science. But, still, I remained at sea; my dream became a career in marine biology. Okay, wait--that's wrong. My actual dream involved living on a South Pacific island (preferably one that hadn't been nuked, but I wouldn't be too picky), eating fish and crab everyday and playing guitar around a beach campfire every night. I'd live in a modest little wooden shack. I'd drink water from a stream. I'd have a dog. I never imagined other people there. Go figure, a recluse's dream. And, most certainly, another "horizon" dream. More possible than piracy, perhaps, but still pretty impractical. The marine biology thing was probably just a fall back.

But, as most of you know, any dream of the sea was an impossibility for me, due to my inability to keep myself from getting ill once I leave solid ground. Boy, is that just an ironic tragedy? Or, maybe, just more of life's absurdity. (Cue the circus music and enter Pere Ubu.)

But how did I get from there to here? How does anybody? Follow point A to point B and repeat...and here I am. Does it have anything to do with dreams? Only insomuch (which could be all) as de la Barca posited. Life is the dream. Or a dream among many possible dreams. Which gets me to thinking about the multiverse. So, I am going to stop now.

Sweet dreams.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Reading Sign

Woke this morning to new snowfall. Nothing like recent big storms in other parts of our nation, but still another in a long stretch of frozen water torture. On the drive home this morning, the temperature was reported as seven degrees. Old Man Winter and Mother Nature have certainly teamed up to put the screws to a large portion of the land since December. Folks around these parts (as I have told you before) are desperately looking for a change in the weather.

Well, it's not coming any time soon. Those are the facts. The calendar says we have to make it through February and March (the whole thing, around here). That's a long row to hoe, yo. But, there is hope.

As I listened to the monotonous forecast of windchill advisory and chance of snow and ten below and all that Cold Miser-type crap, I looked up into the pale blue of the dimming Nebraska sky. There, in three separate squadrons, flew chevrons of Canada geese, heading in a roughly northwesterly direction. A first sign that a change is gonna come. It will just be a long time coming.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

When Will Buddy Holly Be Coming On?

While the East Coast got hammered with Biblical amounts of snow this weekend (which apparently most denizens of the region seemed to enjoy, according to an unscientific anecdotal study), we here in CS land got anything ranging from four inches of really wet snow to "janky" gray slush (sorry BE). Emotions here are ranging from angry disappointment to angry weariness. We here in Cornopolis have really had enough.

But, even as more fluffy white evil falls from the gray Nebraska skies, we look forward to paying little attention to the out of doors this evening, and enjoying a rousing (non-denominational) American football contest. The contest will also include a halftime performance by half of a legendary (read really kinda old) rock group who probably have never even seen a game of American Football. Yes, The Who will be performing at halftime.

Now, I don't mind that a band whose musical relevance passed into legend thirty years ago is performing on network television. That is almost to be expected in Prime Time. And, really, such performances are often quite enjoyable. Look at Bruce Springsteen's performance last year (admittedly, the Boss is arguably more currently relevant than The Who)--that was a good one. Was it last year? I can't remember. Any way, my point is--and this is a point I have made before--that, as I see it, this isn't just an irrelevant dinosaur from eons past. It's not even the dinosaur they are claiming it is.

I might go so far as to claim that this particular band of hard rocking Brits ended with the death of their ferociously insane imp of a drummer, Keith Moon, in 1978. But, I will give them a bit of wiggle room, since even they realized (after four years and two albums with Kenny Jones) that they were no longer that which they had been before. So, let's give them the last four years of their primary incarnation and say they ended when they say they ended.

However, as these things often do--an extinct rockasaur is a hard animal to keep down--the Who kept at it, appearing sporadically throughout the nineties and the early years of the twenty-first century, almost like the "dying" old man over John Cleese's shoulder in THE HOLY GRAIL: "I'm not dead yet." But, really, they were. Cudgel to the head, please. Thank you.

The cudgel to the head? The death of bassist John Entwistle. We all figure, that's it for them, then. Right? You lose a drummer, no big deal. SPINAL TAP made it clear that the drummer is a place holder, a human metronome. A dime a dozen. (Facetiousness alert! Sarcasm meters should be detecting massive levels of snarkiness.) But, if you lose a whole rhythm section, you are done, ain't ya?

Ummm, apparently not. I guess we can call this the Lynard Skynard paradox. I am still trying to come up with the exact phrasing for this particular popular music theory, but you get the notion, eh?

See, CBS is advertising that The Who will be performing at halftime. But, really, it's Pete and Roger and a couple of other musicians. And that ain't the rockasaur that they are claiming it to be. However, having a zombie rockasaur impostor perform on CBS' halftime show fits right in with the most controversial advertisement. After all, The Who have a right to life, just like little baby Jesus (the 21st century version): Tim Tebow.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Fingers Too Cold to Type Too Much

I will spare you an extended homage to the groundhog. It has been done before, and I don't want to be too predictable. Today, after all, is merely the spectacular end of a long and difficult year for whistle pigs everywhere, a year in which they are mostly disregarded, or hunted and killed, with no real in between. On this day, they are paid tense attention to, with many celebrating, and some berating them. But, on this one day, all their feelings of inadequacy or peril are put away, and they are free to remind us that winter will end, regardless of how much ice or snow we may have endured (or will have to endure).

And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.