Friday, July 31, 2009

Literary Drawfism

I should have been talking about this all week: Bring the Ink is an online literary magazine that just launched late last week. In their first issue, I was granted a space to wedge in one of my Substitute Chronicles. Go check it out. There are some of the other pieces I've not had the chance to read through yet, but the ones I have are pretty awesome. So go there.

In a similar vein, I went with my wife to Nebraska City yesterday to hear my friend present his lecture on Magical Realism and do a reading from his novel. It was stellar. Also, I heard the reading of another incredible writer, Aaron Stueve. As I listened to these two brilliant roam through their words, I felt inspired and very tiny. I enjoy writing, but as I put on my bio for Bring the Ink, I am a dabbler. I like being a dabbler--means I don't feel a lot of pressure for my writing. But if anything, yesterday taught me in my small state, that I have lost some of the importance and power of words (and maybe communication as a whole).

Despite feeling a bit inferior, the inspiration that smacked me upside the head was awesome. I've got a lot of work to do on some of my writings, and with any luck, I will complete them.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Last Friday, my wife came home and had a hankering for some MMORPG action. We hadn't played World of Warcraft sine January, and truly, I was convinced that I'd not play it again, that I'd have the willpower to resist the urge. 


With her reopening her account, I've tried to avoid contact with with the life-sucking force that is WoW. But I've found that, really, I just want to be around my wife while she plays. In the months without WoW, we have spent more time watching TV and movies, playing Catan (an equally powerful life-sucker), or playing video games in the basement (separate TVs, but the same room at least). So I fear that I will succumb to the siren call of Warcraft once again. As soon as I get my PC back from my computer-savvy friend, I'm sure I'll hop online and begin the lengthy process of downloading who knows how many patches that have come out since January.

It's saddens me a bit to know that I am willingly going to plunge back into the Warcraft World, but with Star Wars: The Old Republic on its way, I know that I wouldn't be holding out for much longer anyhow. Fair well, analog world.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Should Have Been Updating

Usually, if I don't update, it's because nothing is going on. In the last week, however, my life is packed full of stuff, and all along the way I was thinking, "I need to blog this." Mostly it all boils down to my fear that my laptop (the one from work) will die soon. I don't know how old it is, but I've seen a lot of people I work with shriek with rage as one by one, their older work laptops flicker out. So I've been trying to not use it much this week and instead wait for my wife to come home with her much nicer, much newer laptop on which I feel safe.

By far the coolest and most important thing I've been involved with since last week was my church's community outreach on Sunday. We connected with Lincoln's city mission and sponsored a day at the park for parent's and kids who don't get the opportunity to run around and forget about life. To watch it was like watching a good sunrise. Kids were having a blast, adults were having a good time, and a billion hot dogs were eaten. My favorite moment was a three or four-year-old who dropped an egg during an egg toss. His faced scrunched, his fists balled, and he stomped the hell out of that egg. Yolk flew and splattered. Then he smiled the biggest smile.

I also had some thoughts about stupid people that might make a quality reflection, my wife started her World of Warcraft account again (making me want to follow her lead), and my brother went to Guam yesterday. So, because I've heard that people have often enjoyed my typically short entries, I'll leave you with this and get back to these other things tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back Home

On Monday, my wife, fetus, and I returned to Nebraska. I don't know what I'll do with Colorado--each time I go back, it appeals to me more and more. I love where I live, but you can't compare Nebraska to Colorado (unless it's the third of Colorado that is east of Denver and is far more hideous than the completely flat state I now call home).

But being back has already been great. I've had meetings (not necessarily great) that started yesterday and will continue until Friday. These are to set new testing for English Ten teachers in the district, and it has been way more fun than I would have thought possible. Working with quality folk makes all the difference in the world...and I get paid more (yea!).

I played Risk for the first time in maybe a year. That game so rules. The hardest part for me anymore is choosing a color. I always took green until I met my wife who would punt a puppy if she didn't play green. My older brother was always red, and my other brother was always black--so those colors don't feel right if I try to be either of those. So I moved to yellow--a color that I figured would never be desired by anybody. I mean, who chooses to be yellow. So it became my color of choice for a few years. Enter Chris Smith. When he and his wife moved to Lincoln, life was awesome, but it brought an unforeseen darkness into the land of Risk. The first time we played together, he reached for the color that he lovingly refers to as "the PeePees." So again I was a man without a color. All that's left is blue and gray. Anybody can choose blue, and gray seems kind of woosy. Alas, I will forever live in torment.

In other news, I'm going back to Aikido today. I haven't been thrown around in two weeks, so I'm thrilled, though I'll likely be sore tomorrow.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I have always held the opinion that Colorado (along with Texas) is the most arrogant state in the country. And though I've been frequently annoyed with Colorado-natives wandering into Nebraska, or anywhere else that doesn't have mountains, and reminding people of their lousy scenery, I can totally see where they get it from.

On Wednesday, we went down south to Durango. It's close to a four hour drive, but more than half of it is through some of the most beautiful country you've ever seen (pictures coming later). It was fantastic--so much so that I can't really explain it in any other way. Durango is a touristy town, but it's awesome because the attractions are generally low-key and native-performed. So we had a great time going to the Bar D Chuckwagon and coming home to stop in Ouray--probably my favorite Colorado town--to eat at a stellar Mexican restaurant.

Now it's pure relaxation day. We may go see Public Enemies this afternoon and head back into the mountains tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Road Trip And Books

I'm in Colorado now. The main thing I have to say is, "I forgot how miserable humidity can make life." Summers in Lincoln usually aren't that bad according to a thermometer, but with the humidity, I kind of want to die sometimes. The last few weeks, Lincoln has been in the 80s I think, but has felt like hanging out in the bowels of Satan. We rolled into Grand Junction today when it was 90 degrees and it felt awesome--just great. I stepped into the shade and instantly felt cool.

Anyhow, it feels good to be back in Colorado and hanging out with my parents. Had some homemade icecream (pure awesome) and we're trying to figure out what we're going to do for the rest of the week.

In the car, I got a lot of reading done. I read out loud for part of it--Serman Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Alexie is just one of those author's that everybody needs to check out. Aside from being a groovy writer, he brings the Native American life into your brain. The first book I read (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) of his was hilarious, but with Lone Ranger, you definately get a lot more of a depressing reality.

Also, I finished Big Fish. The film by Burton has been at the top of my list for years (though Pan's Labyrinth has been fighting for the number one spot), so I've been wanting to check out the book for quite a while. The two compliment each other well. And I liked the book quite a bit, but Wallace isn't the most stellar writer, so with a Summer filled with Bradbury, McCarthy, Alexie, and DiCamillo, Wallace just doesn't stand up as well. It's still worth while, but I like how the film took the material and wove a more cohesive story from it.

I'll try to keep updated throughout the week, but like I said yesterday, things might get busy. So at least I'll try to get some pictures up.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Ought to be Packing

Today my wife, fetus, and I are heading to Colorado. This is a vacation that we've been working on for quite a while. It started with my parents' idea of trying an Alaska cruise (suggested two years ago), but with economic insanity and other financial restrictions, we opted for a visit to the folks' place and gallavent about the mountains and nearby sights. It's going to be awesome. So I'll be out there for a week, so I don't know how often I'll get to update. So I should be packing things as our departure time is about three hours from now, but I wanted to rave a bit about Away We Go.

This film is great, though I don't know how everybody will react to it. Really, it's a fantastic flick for the sake of mirroring a lot of what my wife and I are experiencing. The story follows a couple with their first child on the way as they try to figure the best place to settle down and start a family. It is a legitimately good time, and rather humorous (if you like John Krasinski, you can't go wrong here). But the thing that really stuck in my brain were the similarities between either the story and characters and my life. For instance:

1. In the movie, Burt and Verona find out that the only family they have in town is moving to another continent a month before the baby is born. My brother and his wife are moving to Guam and will be missing the arrival of our kid.

2. Some friends of Burt and Verona miscarry. I found out that some good friends of mine who we expecting also recently miscarried.

3. Burt in general reminds me of the way things work in my brain. I don't act like Burt usually (though there were some blaring similarities), but the things he did in the film mirror much of what goes on in my head.

Anyhow, go check it out. I'll try to see it again if it's still around another week. It definitely has that indie film flair, but not in such a way that you can tell the crew were trying to strike and be different for different's sake. And with a summer of such a crap-load of lousy movies, this should rank pretty high on your list.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tenure Class

As it stands right now, I have to really screw something up to not have tenure. I'm embarking on my third year, and I've slogged through the most worthless four days of my existence to lay hold of the golden status that grants me eternal job security. Speaking of worthless, let me expound on just how awful these days have been.


When will people realize that that's all it is--a theory. Tuesday began with the Oompa Loompa standing at the font of a multipurpose room in a local elementary school with her tiny hand held as high as it would go. But from the moment we went silent, she began spouting out every piece of educational jargon in the book. Jargon is all ready the scum that grows in the nether regions of any career field, but why do the high-ups feel the need to spout these vomitous bits every chance they get? Is it superiority complexes? Likely. "I've been to school for a thousand years and have lost touch of reality. Let me show you these complicated words I've discovered."

Blah blah blah...

Most of the time, it's not the argon that is in itself horrible--it's the lack of creativity. I hear the words you're saying. Try some new ones now. I heard the words "collegiality," and "repertoire" enough times that if they were pennies, I could have fed all of China for a week. Use a different word. Seriously. It's not that hard to say something different that means the same thing.

Practice what you preach.

There was one poster that listed either facts or suggestions to run a quality classroom. The first thing on the list was "The teacher talks too much." The instructor spent the first 45 minutes talking about her family, especially her son, Nicaragua Nick. The second thing on the list said, "Get to the point." Her 45 minute spiel was for a purpose (according to her). Nobody knows what it was.

On it went for four days. Four. Life hath not sucked so much. I may take some time on Monday to show some of the things we did to stay sane. But my battery is all but dead. So I'll have to post this.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Honest Modesty

So I went to lunch with Ted Kooser yesterday. My department chair won a lunch for four people with him, and I was among the group that got to go and hang out with the former poet laureate. And the first thing that I noticed and what is sticky with me the longest was how darn humble that man is. As a writer, I feel it a challenge to not be excited about my writings, even if I know they're not astounding. But here's a man who has won a Pulitzer, served two terms as National Poet Laureate, and lives in a dinky little town north of Lincoln that loves eating at the cafe in town. He works in a little building that he bought for $1,000 where he spends his days, reading, writing, painting, and/or napping. But when we talked to him, he always directed our attention to the town and people around him. With his paintings (which are quite good), he smiled as he told us that he would never try to sell them, but paints for his own sake and sometimes just gives them away. He has a way about him to truly bring out the charm of a small town, and it made me want to live in a tiny place (maybe Lander, Wyoming, as my wife would love).

You rock, Ted.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Let the Kids Blow it Up

I swear I had posted on Monday. Sorry, folks. 

Well, there's a lot to yammer on about this week--reflections on the best amateur fireworks show I've seen, the most horrid and vomit-inducing class I've taken in recent years, and my lunch with former American Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. I've decided to talk about Ted tomorrow and build up my thoughts on my current class (they are many, though in the same vein of hatred and boredom), leaving tonight's post about fireworks.

I've liked 4th of July all my life, but I don't know that I've loved it. It's always been fun and had been a good reason for my mom to make homemade ice cream (peach--it's the bomb-diggity). But growing up in Colorado meant we never got a lot of leeway in the explosives department. With fear of forrest fires, the biggest things we could set off were fountains, and as cool as some of those can be, they stay entertaining for only so long. I'm told that Nebraska has restrictions, but compared to firework famine that Colorado endures every year, I was about to witness the clashing of heavenly bodies.

New theory, the best fireworks show you'll see will result in leaving high schoolers in charge of everything. On Saturday, we had a church youth group 4th of July party in Bennet. Tell, the host as it was, is a fireworks fanatic. This kid's parents give him his birthday and Christmas presents in the form of fireworks--and he knows how to put on a show. I was excited to see things blow up in the sky, but Tell and his friends coordinated several "light and run away" moments that left a platforms a-blazin' with several fountains sprayin' and artillery shells booming. On the second stage, other families brought their fireworks piles. In this arena, the result was a man tying Black Cats into a nine foot-long bull whip and waving them around his head while they sparked, sprayed, and smoked.

The finale of the night was a group of kids making a pipe bomb from several artillery shells and taping them into a launching tube. They set it off in the street, and the blast sprayed about 100 feet in every direction. I'm pretty sure I now have plans for every summer now. 

Friday, July 3, 2009

Yard Work and Smash Bros.

So I've beat Mario Galaxy and finished The Road. Both are awesome and should be partaken of. So now I'm moving on to new and not quite as awesome things. Tuesday and Thursday were my yard work days. Tuesday wasn't anything special--just put down a bunch of paper in an area behind my garage. It usually grows to be weed central. The guy who owned the house before us kept his dog in the area, and it would be a great place to store a boat or something. But I've no hound or boat, so it's been a worthless chunk of land that just looks awful. Yesterday was more of the real work. I got to haul around 26 bags of mulch and throw them on our long, empty flower beds. I don't know if they guy before us even had anything in those, but they've been an even bigger weed issue, so it was high time I did something about it. Now it all looks so pretty. Unfortunately for me, I'll probably have to keep the yard work schedule. Other duties that I've outright neglected have come to a point that can no more be tolerated. Gutters need cleaned, dead seed pods and stick still litter my back porch. The beads in the front of the house needs some addressing. And since I'll probably have to start watering my lawn, I'll have to start mowing more often (yippee).

In other news, I've started playing Smash Bros. Brawl. Smash Bros. Melee accounted for many an almost failed class in college, and I've not really played any Smashy goodness since. But since my brother is leaving and left me his stuff, it's back in my possession. A friend of mine and I played for a could of hours on Wednesday, and yesterday...I don't even know. It's not as awesome as Mario Galaxy if you have to play alone, but you add other players, and I don't think there's a game I'd rather play. Luckily, my other friends have jobs, so I won't get sucked in entirely and lose myself to the power of the Smash.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bad Eyes

I had an eye exam yesterday. Like any exam, there's nothing too fun about them, but this one was especially irritating. My eyes are worse then they were last year. It's a frustration I don't know how to deal with. Since 5th grade, I've had glasses, and my eyes have been in decline ever since. I had thought they had leveled out by now (haven't changed prescription in quite a few years). Part of my thought processed went over the idea of going entirely blind. I don't expect it any time soon, but what if it did happen? What would I miss the most? Sunsets? Sunrises? Blossoming trees? My cats doing stupid stuff? My wife? To think about it, it all would be unfortunate. The mundane would appear fantastic if one had never seen it. I suppose I would have to look to my other sense. What would I indulge in. I love music, but if hearing became my primary detection device, would I want music on much? Unfortunately, the other sense don't seem to be set for detection as much as experience enhancers. There are too many things that you wouldn't want to experience first by touch (fire, ice, swords, sharks) or smell (farts and pickles). I don't think it's even possible to taste most things as a first experience ("Oh, here's the lamp!").

I think of the people healed in Scripture and look to the day when I won't need stupid contacts to see. That will be sweeter than anything I can imagine.