Thursday, December 15, 2011

Verily Veritas


The Internet is a funny, funny place.  Part information clearinghouse, part social hub, part criminal breeding ground, part miraculous source of all that is good and part colossal time-waster, there is something in the tubes of the Internet for everybody.  In fact, when Churchill was talking about riddles wrapped in mysteries inside enigmas, was he truly referring to Russia?  Or the web?  Best to check Wikipedia.

Ah, Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is either an all-knowing oracle, or a main reason for the decline of the entire educational system in our country, depending on whether you are the provider or receiver of said research.  In truth it's a bit of both.  It's fine if you need to check a concrete, established fact (Lincoln was the president of which country?) but the problem is, you have to know if the information you seek is factual, research-based, or speculative.  Odds are, if you knew all of that, you probably already knew which country elected Lincoln to be their president.

Wikipedia, like so many other things, is a handy stop in the quest for basic drive-through information, and there is nothing wrong with it, provided that additional stops are made to verify your information.  And that's the problem.  We're too often a one-stop-shopper, and assume that what we read is factually accurate, no matter the source.  And it isn't just Wikipedia.  From print media to televised media to electronic media, everything should be questioned, but often is not.  We're increasingly becoming a society all too willing to grab a pitchfork first and ask questions later.  Or never.  I used to joke that "if it's on the Internet, it MUST be true."  Nowadays it's not a joke, and it's really, really not funny.

It's one thing to be skeptical of factoids, news items and political ramblings.  In fact, I think it's healthy to ask questions and do your own research.  But what about literature?  It's disheartening to invest time and emotion and interest (not to mention money) into works that are peddled as true stories, and end up, months if not years later, to be nothing more than a million little pieces of half-truths served with three cups of tea.  I simply don't understand the logic.  A well-written story is a well-written story.  Why would a classification of  fiction make it second-rate?

The problem, I would guess, lies with the four horsemen money, power, greed and notoriety.  It's a powerful draw to be a superlative, whether it is being first, the most controversial, the most sentimental or the most prolific.  Somewhere in that race we're losing the most precious gift of all: we're losing ourselves.  The more we stretch the truth and embellish the facts, the more we become like everyone else: jockeying for position and attention, truth be damned.  And that's really too bad, because an honest slice-of-life piece can be just as compelling as a work of fiction.  But anymore, no matter what I read, I'm going to smile and nod and doubt.

And then run to Wikipedia to see if it's true.



Verily Veritas


The Internet is a funny, funny place.  Part information clearinghouse, part social hub, part criminal breeding ground, part miraculous source of all that is good and part colossal time-waster, there is something in the tubes of the Internet for everybody.  In fact, when Churchill was talking about riddles wrapped in mysteries inside enigmas, was he truly referring to Russia?  Or the web?  Best to check Wikipedia.

Ah, Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is either an all-knowing oracle, or a main reason for the decline of the entire educational system in our country, depending on whether you are the provider or receiver of said research.  In truth it's a bit of both.  It's fine if you need to check a concrete, established fact (Lincoln was the president of which country?) but the problem is, you have to know if the information you seek is factual, research-based, or speculative.  Odds are, if you knew all of that, you probably already knew which country elected Lincoln to be their president.

Wikipedia, like so many other things, is a handy stop in the quest for basic drive-through information, and there is nothing wrong with it, provided that additional stops are made to verify your information.  And that's the problem.  We're too often a one-stop-shopper, and assume that what we read is factually accurate, no matter the source.  And it isn't just Wikipedia.  From print media to televised media to electronic media, everything should be questioned, but often is not.  We're increasingly becoming a society all too willing to grab a pitchfork first and ask questions later.  Or never.  I used to joke that "if it's on the Internet, it MUST be true."  Nowadays it's not a joke, and it's really, really not funny.

It's one thing to be skeptical of factoids, news items and political ramblings.  In fact, I think it's healthy to ask questions and do your own research.  But what about literature?  It's disheartening to invest time and emotion and interest (not to mention money) into works that are peddled as true stories, and end up, months if not years later, to be nothing more than a million little pieces of half-truths served with three cups of tea.  I simply don't understand the logic.  A well-written story is a well-written story.  Why would a classification of  fiction make it second-rate?

The problem, I would guess, lies with the four horsemen money, power, greed and notoriety.  It's a powerful draw to be a superlative, whether it is being first, the most controversial, the most sentimental or the most prolific.  Somewhere in that race we're losing the most precious gift of all: we're losing ourselves.  The more we stretch the truth and embellish the facts, the more we become like everyone else: jockeying for position and attention, truth be damned.  And that's really too bad, because an honest slice-of-life piece can be just as compelling as a work of fiction.  But anymore, no matter what I read, I'm going to smile and nod and doubt.

And then run to Wikipedia to see if it's true.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmast Lost and Found



If you walked into my house, you would never know that Christmas is only 11 days away.  There is no tree, no presents (wrapped or unwrapped), no cards and no cookies.  There are some stockings, not hung by the chimney with care, but rather piled on the couch (CLEAN!) waited to be matched, folded and put away.  The only Christmas music you'll hear is from television commercials, but you won't even hear that because nobody is watching television either.  If we're home at all, we're either sleeping, practicing, or doing some form of school-related work.


Right now, there is no Christmas in our house.  There is December, but no Christmas.


December is a crazy month.  There have been rehearsals for something and usually more than one something every single day.  And I'm not cheating by counting classroom rehearsals.  There have been ten performances  with six more pending.  There have been auditions, applications and essays.  December has been late nights  early mornings blanketed with a thick coat of stress.


With stories of elves, holiday baking, parties, decorations, and other festivities, my lot in life sounds a bit sad and depressing.  Surprisingly though, it isn't.  I will freely admit that we are all stretched, and the word tired doesn't even come close.  But it is with the smallest amount of pride that I tell you we're all hanging in there.  Some days it's better than others, but we've circled the familial wagons.  We have pulled together to execute complex schedules and transports that would make the military weep.  We have made certain we have the correct music, instrument, book, assignment, supporting document, permission slip, fee, gift, clothing, performance attire, contributing money or snack that is required. 

But most important of all is that we, as a family have been there for each other.  If there is an event, we, and many of our wonderful friends, have attended to support whomever is performing and enjoy the offering.  If there was an obligation, we fulfilled it.  And when one of us is down, overwhelmed, or frazzled to the point of despair, someone else has been there to lend a hand, a sympathetic ear, or a well-needed hug.

There may be no tree or twinkling lights or decorations or presents in our house right now, but there is something even more valuable.  There is patience, support and love in the form of family and friends.
Truth be told, I can't think of a better Christmas present.



Christmast Lost and Found



If you walked into my house, you would never know that Christmas is only 11 days away.  There is no tree, no presents (wrapped or unwrapped), no cards and no cookies.  There are some stockings, not hung by the chimney with care, but rather piled on the couch (CLEAN!) waited to be matched, folded and put away.  The only Christmas music you'll hear is from television commercials, but you won't even hear that because nobody is watching television either.  If we're home at all, we're either sleeping, practicing, or doing some form of school-related work.


Right now, there is no Christmas in our house.  There is December, but no Christmas.


December is a crazy month.  There have been rehearsals for something and usually more than one something every single day.  And I'm not cheating by counting classroom rehearsals.  There have been ten performances  with six more pending.  There have been auditions, applications and essays.  December has been late nights  early mornings blanketed with a thick coat of stress.


With stories of elves, holiday baking, parties, decorations, and other festivities, my lot in life sounds a bit sad and depressing.  Surprisingly though, it isn't.  I will freely admit that we are all stretched, and the word tired doesn't even come close.  But it is with the smallest amount of pride that I tell you we're all hanging in there.  Some days it's better than others, but we've circled the familial wagons.  We have pulled together to execute complex schedules and transports that would make the military weep.  We have made certain we have the correct music, instrument, book, assignment, supporting document, permission slip, fee, gift, clothing, performance attire, contributing money or snack that is required. 

But most important of all is that we, as a family have been there for each other.  If there is an event, we, and many of our wonderful friends, have attended to support whomever is performing and enjoy the offering.  If there was an obligation, we fulfilled it.  And when one of us is down, overwhelmed, or frazzled to the point of despair, someone else has been there to lend a hand, a sympathetic ear, or a well-needed hug.

There may be no tree or twinkling lights or decorations or presents in our house right now, but there is something even more valuable.  There is patience, support and love in the form of family and friends.
Truth be told, I can't think of a better Christmas present.



Friday, December 09, 2011

Long Winter's Night














It's nights like this
when I've put on another sweater
and my feet are cold even with socks
that I remember hot July evenings.
The fan humming steadily above me.
The windows open a bit in the hopes that a breeze
might lose its way in the dark summer night
and land in my bedroom
before it chases after something else.

It's nights like this
when I crawl into bed
disturbing comforters and blankets alike.
Layer after layer like an archeological dig.
Until finally I reach the center and I am the core.
One by one I return the blankets and comforters.
Stretching and smoothing each layer.
Adding warmth and weight
to my feet still cold even with socks
and my sweater on top of sweater.


How long until warmth swaddles me like a baby?
How long until I open the window at night, wishing for a lost breeze?
How long until the fan lulls me to sleep
humm humm humming above me
welcoming me back from the cold of December.
From nights just like this.



Long Winter's Night














It's nights like this
when I've put on another sweater
and my feet are cold even with socks
that I remember hot July evenings.
The fan humming steadily above me.
The windows open a bit in the hopes that a breeze
might lose its way in the dark summer night
and land in my bedroom
before it chases after something else.

It's nights like this
when I crawl into bed
disturbing comforters and blankets alike.
Layer after layer like an archeological dig.
Until finally I reach the center and I am the core.
One by one I return the blankets and comforters.
Stretching and smoothing each layer.
Adding warmth and weight
to my feet still cold even with socks
and my sweater on top of sweater.


How long until warmth swaddles me like a baby?
How long until I open the window at night, wishing for a lost breeze?
How long until the fan lulls me to sleep
humm humm humming above me
welcoming me back from the cold of December.
From nights just like this.



Thursday, December 08, 2011

All Is Calm?


Every year I feel like I'm doing it wrong.

The holidays are a festive time.
I'm cranky and stressed.

The holidays give us a reason to join together and celebrate.
I want nothing more than a very long uninterrupted sleep.

The holidays give us opportunities to play, sing and listen to special seasonal songs.
I crave a silent night of the non-musical variety.


The holiday season is beautiful with colorful Christmas lights that sparkle in the freshly fallen snow.
Snow is pretty, but not when you have to commute.  As for Christmas lights, a hearty bah-humbug to all.

I'm not anti-Christmas or Hannukah or Kwanzaa or any other festive holiday that happens around this time.
I like the thought of festive days, and celebrating and singing together, but when it comes to holidays, it seems I am always about sixteen months behind.  So let me take this moment to wish you a very happy Labor Day (2010)

Generally speaking, I try not to get too terribly upset at my lack of preparedness.  But every now and again I wish my life would align with a stereotypical greeting card filled with sleighs and horses and snow-covered picket fences and a small house in the distance where people are undoubtedly singing, dancing and enjoying their time spent together, right down to the last perfect chestnut roasting on an open fire.

Despite its appeal, I am not at all anxious to hurl myself into a mystical, magical landscape courtesy of Thomas Kinkade.  I'd miss that touch of crazy that whispers, "this is your life."  I'd miss sharing music, from a rousing chorus of O Come, All Ye Faithful, to an inspiring Oh, Holy Night, to a spin around the room with Rudolf, Frosty and Santa, Baby.  I'd even miss the struggle to find a calm, quiet peace in myself and my life because even that journey -- as difficult as it is -- is a part of who I am now and who I'd like to be.

Maybe it's not so much a matter of doing it wrong.
Maybe it's becoming aware of the many ways I can do it better.




All Is Calm?


Every year I feel like I'm doing it wrong.

The holidays are a festive time.
I'm cranky and stressed.

The holidays give us a reason to join together and celebrate.
I want nothing more than a very long uninterrupted sleep.

The holidays give us opportunities to play, sing and listen to special seasonal songs.
I crave a silent night of the non-musical variety.


The holiday season is beautiful with colorful Christmas lights that sparkle in the freshly fallen snow.
Snow is pretty, but not when you have to commute.  As for Christmas lights, a hearty bah-humbug to all.

I'm not anti-Christmas or Hannukah or Kwanzaa or any other festive holiday that happens around this time.
I like the thought of festive days, and celebrating and singing together, but when it comes to holidays, it seems I am always about sixteen months behind.  So let me take this moment to wish you a very happy Labor Day (2010)

Generally speaking, I try not to get too terribly upset at my lack of preparedness.  But every now and again I wish my life would align with a stereotypical greeting card filled with sleighs and horses and snow-covered picket fences and a small house in the distance where people are undoubtedly singing, dancing and enjoying their time spent together, right down to the last perfect chestnut roasting on an open fire.

Despite its appeal, I am not at all anxious to hurl myself into a mystical, magical landscape courtesy of Thomas Kinkade.  I'd miss that touch of crazy that whispers, "this is your life."  I'd miss sharing music, from a rousing chorus of O Come, All Ye Faithful, to an inspiring Oh, Holy Night, to a spin around the room with Rudolf, Frosty and Santa, Baby.  I'd even miss the struggle to find a calm, quiet peace in myself and my life because even that journey -- as difficult as it is -- is a part of who I am now and who I'd like to be.

Maybe it's not so much a matter of doing it wrong.
Maybe it's becoming aware of the many ways I can do it better.




Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Gigku


Singing and dancing
at seven in the morning
Suffer for your art.

Goats Goats Everywhere
In a box with a fox? No!
That would be easy.

I possess some skills
Night vision without goggles
Is not one of them.

Fast music is great
but not "HELP I'M BEING CHASED
BY A BIG BEAR" fast.

Dedication is
working to improve talent,
not spotlight ego. 

The arts: wonderful,
rewarding and uplifting.
But the journey? Hard.

Someday (I hope soon)
Bedtime comes before Stewart,
Colbert and Fallon.


Gigku


Singing and dancing
at seven in the morning
Suffer for your art.

Goats Goats Everywhere
In a box with a fox? No!
That would be easy.

I possess some skills
Night vision without goggles
Is not one of them.

Fast music is great
but not "HELP I'M BEING CHASED
BY A BIG BEAR" fast.

Dedication is
working to improve talent,
not spotlight ego. 

The arts: wonderful,
rewarding and uplifting.
But the journey? Hard.

Someday (I hope soon)
Bedtime comes before Stewart,
Colbert and Fallon.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Something Funny About Goats Here


I spent a lot of time tonight talking about goats.  It was that sort of day.  There were a large number of them and to say that they were unruly would have been an understatement of ginormous proportion.  But as it is with goats, it's best to learn their ways -- no, not become one -- but seemingly integrate into their society on an as-needs basis.  It's simply easier to go with the flow that way.  The goat flow. 

Word to the wise -- Do NOT Google flowing goats

I told you NOT TO.

In an effort to be thankful, I will admit that I am very thankful these goats don't appear to know or at least aren't sharing any traditional songs of December.  That isn't a case of thank goodness for small favors.  I think it was Elton John who sang Someone saved your life tonight....Toes Magotes!

As you can tell.  I'm delirious.  Let's pretend it's deliriously happy,or deliriously in love, or deliriously delirious.  Getting Tuesday out of the way was struggle enough.  Wednesday is looking like a formidable opponent.

Totes Magotes.

Toats Magoats

Totally.

Goats.


Something Funny About Goats Here


I spent a lot of time tonight talking about goats.  It was that sort of day.  There were a large number of them and to say that they were unruly would have been an understatement of ginormous proportion.  But as it is with goats, it's best to learn their ways -- no, not become one -- but seemingly integrate into their society on an as-needs basis.  It's simply easier to go with the flow that way.  The goat flow. 

Word to the wise -- Do NOT Google flowing goats

I told you NOT TO.

In an effort to be thankful, I will admit that I am very thankful these goats don't appear to know or at least aren't sharing any traditional songs of December.  That isn't a case of thank goodness for small favors.  I think it was Elton John who sang Someone saved your life tonight....Toes Magotes!

As you can tell.  I'm delirious.  Let's pretend it's deliriously happy,or deliriously in love, or deliriously delirious.  Getting Tuesday out of the way was struggle enough.  Wednesday is looking like a formidable opponent.

Totes Magotes.

Toats Magoats

Totally.

Goats.


Monday, December 05, 2011

Monday, Monday

We made it through


School
Work
Rehearsal
Rehearsal
Rehearsal
Rehearsal
Concert
Dinner
Homework
Facebook/Email
Still snging after a very full day
Bed

   A successful day all the way around.
   Tomorrow?  More of the same.

Monday, Monday

We made it through


School
Work
Rehearsal
Rehearsal
Rehearsal
Rehearsal
Concert
Dinner
Homework
Facebook/Email
Still snging after a very full day
Bed

   A successful day all the way around.
   Tomorrow?  More of the same.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Asleep in the ... HEY!

In Christmas nativity scenes, you see Mary, Joseph, some shepherds, three wise men and a variety of animals.  Last, but never least, is a sleeping baby Jesus.  Christmas, it seems, is a season of sleep and rest.  Even many Christmas Carols follow a similar theme:  Sleep in heavenly peace ... asleep in the hay ... Dormi Jesu ... O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.  Why is it then, in this season of calm, quiet holiday slumbering, we are at our busiest?

During these precious few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, everybody is bustling, which is the polite, somewhat antiquated word meaning RUNNING AROUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE TRYING TO FIND A PLACE TO PARK AND THEN ATTACKING YOUR FELLOW HOLIDAY SHOPPER WITH PEPPER SPRAY.  Bustling.  I lasted exactly 30 minutes in a mall yesterday before I had to leave or go insane.  I followed that with a trip to a bookstore, which is always my go-to activity when I'm overwhelmed.  Spending time in a bookstore is like being with my people.  That idea was short-lived as well, as my people were overrun by other people, and suddenly my haven of literature was overrun by a bin of angry birds, holiday mugs, Twilight figurines, and an entire 3-part wall of 2012 calendars.  Defeated, I slunk back to the car, which was parked a light-year away at a pizza joint.

The next seven days are so busy, our household has to map out a plan of attack every night to be sure everybody is where they need to be when they need to be there, and has the appropriate clothing, music, homework, costume, electronics, instrument, etc.  Usual household activities like doing the laundry, dishes, etc. are either postponed until they reach a reading of critical, or are abandoned all together.

I like the idea of a peaceful Christmas -- heck, I like the idea of a peaceful anything -- but I wonder if I'm just not cut out for it.  Generally speaking, I like to be busy, and I definitely prefer it to being bored.  What I wish for isn't so much rest, as a reasonable amount of time to do everything I would like to do.  I even wonder about the phrase Rest in Peace.  For many people who have spent a lifetime being doers, would rest in peace be appreciated or even wanted?

My goal for the Christmas season, and life for that matter, is to be peaceful and calm whenever possible within the parameters of my life.  But I'm mindful that baby Jee, like most people, didn't spend his life sleeping. He woke up, he made some noise, and he filled his life with activity.  And as for that sleeping in the hay stuff?  Best to leave that to nativity scenes.  I have things to do.

Asleep in the ... HEY!

In Christmas nativity scenes, you see Mary, Joseph, some shepherds, three wise men and a variety of animals.  Last, but never least, is a sleeping baby Jesus.  Christmas, it seems, is a season of sleep and rest.  Even many Christmas Carols follow a similar theme:  Sleep in heavenly peace ... asleep in the hay ... Dormi Jesu ... O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.  Why is it then, in this season of calm, quiet holiday slumbering, we are at our busiest?

During these precious few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, everybody is bustling, which is the polite, somewhat antiquated word meaning RUNNING AROUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE TRYING TO FIND A PLACE TO PARK AND THEN ATTACKING YOUR FELLOW HOLIDAY SHOPPER WITH PEPPER SPRAY.  Bustling.  I lasted exactly 30 minutes in a mall yesterday before I had to leave or go insane.  I followed that with a trip to a bookstore, which is always my go-to activity when I'm overwhelmed.  Spending time in a bookstore is like being with my people.  That idea was short-lived as well, as my people were overrun by other people, and suddenly my haven of literature was overrun by a bin of angry birds, holiday mugs, Twilight figurines, and an entire 3-part wall of 2012 calendars.  Defeated, I slunk back to the car, which was parked a light-year away at a pizza joint.

The next seven days are so busy, our household has to map out a plan of attack every night to be sure everybody is where they need to be when they need to be there, and has the appropriate clothing, music, homework, costume, electronics, instrument, etc.  Usual household activities like doing the laundry, dishes, etc. are either postponed until they reach a reading of critical, or are abandoned all together.

I like the idea of a peaceful Christmas -- heck, I like the idea of a peaceful anything -- but I wonder if I'm just not cut out for it.  Generally speaking, I like to be busy, and I definitely prefer it to being bored.  What I wish for isn't so much rest, as a reasonable amount of time to do everything I would like to do.  I even wonder about the phrase Rest in Peace.  For many people who have spent a lifetime being doers, would rest in peace be appreciated or even wanted?

My goal for the Christmas season, and life for that matter, is to be peaceful and calm whenever possible within the parameters of my life.  But I'm mindful that baby Jee, like most people, didn't spend his life sleeping. He woke up, he made some noise, and he filled his life with activity.  And as for that sleeping in the hay stuff?  Best to leave that to nativity scenes.  I have things to do.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Let Us Review Lesson Eleven

Long day, long weekend.  Some observations and lessons learned:

1.  If you are shopping in a mall on a Saturday afternoon in December, you'll get exactly what you deserve.
2.  Even bookstores are not immune.  If the entire world is going to be out en masse, the bookstore is no longer safe and sacred territory.
3.  People asking if they can help you and/or if you are satisfied will never be content with your first affirmative answer.  Or your second.  Or third or fourth.
4.  It might, on first thought, be difficult to be annoyed with overly cheerful people.  But with the right attitude and a will to succeed, anything is possible.
5.  Loud is not always better.  Never quiet is never better.
6.  Practice makes prepared, and for that, there is no substitute.
7.  Sometimes even when you carefully read the instructions, you're still confused.
8.  There's always tomorrow.  For everything.
9.  It's possible to be proud of an accomplishment and gracious towards others at the same time.  They are not mutually exclusive.
10.  Going to bed before midnight is not a crime.  Neither is declining to watch the big game on TV.
11.  The best of all possible worlds is whatever you make it to be.  Never apologize.



Let Us Review Lesson Eleven

Long day, long weekend.  Some observations and lessons learned:

1.  If you are shopping in a mall on a Saturday afternoon in December, you'll get exactly what you deserve.
2.  Even bookstores are not immune.  If the entire world is going to be out en masse, the bookstore is no longer safe and sacred territory.
3.  People asking if they can help you and/or if you are satisfied will never be content with your first affirmative answer.  Or your second.  Or third or fourth.
4.  It might, on first thought, be difficult to be annoyed with overly cheerful people.  But with the right attitude and a will to succeed, anything is possible.
5.  Loud is not always better.  Never quiet is never better.
6.  Practice makes prepared, and for that, there is no substitute.
7.  Sometimes even when you carefully read the instructions, you're still confused.
8.  There's always tomorrow.  For everything.
9.  It's possible to be proud of an accomplishment and gracious towards others at the same time.  They are not mutually exclusive.
10.  Going to bed before midnight is not a crime.  Neither is declining to watch the big game on TV.
11.  The best of all possible worlds is whatever you make it to be.  Never apologize.



Friday, December 02, 2011

Hail to the Chief


My high school and hometown are in an uproar.

The high school mascot and figurehead is a Chieftain, and this high school has been the "Chiefs" seemingly since time began.  It's not an unusual link -- Michigan has a rich Native American heritage, the town itself is named for the Indian Chief.  There is also a memorial rock dedicated to his memory.  The high school symbol of the chief is an Indian head in profile, wearing what seems to be full headdress regalia.  It isn't a satirical image, or a caricature.  I always felt it was a very dignified, proud and traditional image.

Now, in a very controversial decision, the school board has voted to eliminate all images of the chieftain.  The high school will still be known as the chiefs, but the name will be written rather than depicted in pictures.  Current high school students, alumni and people from the town are HOT over this decision, and not in a good way.

As usual, I'm of two minds of this whole thing.  I'm disappointed to lose what I always had considered a beautiful artistic rendering of our town's proud Native American heritage.  I never considered the image to be inappropriate or insensitive.  That being said, I'm NOT Native American, so would I really know?

A better way to handle this issue would have been to have a discussion in advance of the change.  If it's truly an insensitive image, explain why.  Let those who aren't of this lineage come to understand the pain it brings, or the stereotypes it portrays.  A little dialogue here would have gone a long, long way.

Instead the school board just announced it was effective immediately, and attempted to soften the blow by explaining this was to have been completed several years ago and seemed to have fallen by the wayside -- as if this was both an acceptable excuse and an ingenious way to lay the blame on The Ghost of School Boards Past.  This strategy did nothing to help their cause, and now everybody is mad at everybody else:  the students, the grads, the school, the school board, and, I might imagine, to some extent or another, those who might actually be pleased that they have chosen to phase out this image.  What could have been a teachable moment leading to greater understanding has turned into a big mess of hurt feelings and betrayal.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that the school mascot is still The Chiefs.  We can be thankful that they didn't decide to rename the mascot entirely, because considering the fact that the "new" high school building (almost 20 years young) is built on swampland and is actually sinking, we just might have been the The Fighting Marsh Rats instead.

Here's to wondering what might be in store for The Vikings who live down the road....

Hail to the Chief


My high school and hometown are in an uproar.

The high school mascot and figurehead is a Chieftain, and this high school has been the "Chiefs" seemingly since time began.  It's not an unusual link -- Michigan has a rich Native American heritage, the town itself is named for the Indian Chief.  There is also a memorial rock dedicated to his memory.  The high school symbol of the chief is an Indian head in profile, wearing what seems to be full headdress regalia.  It isn't a satirical image, or a caricature.  I always felt it was a very dignified, proud and traditional image.

Now, in a very controversial decision, the school board has voted to eliminate all images of the chieftain.  The high school will still be known as the chiefs, but the name will be written rather than depicted in pictures.  Current high school students, alumni and people from the town are HOT over this decision, and not in a good way.

As usual, I'm of two minds of this whole thing.  I'm disappointed to lose what I always had considered a beautiful artistic rendering of our town's proud Native American heritage.  I never considered the image to be inappropriate or insensitive.  That being said, I'm NOT Native American, so would I really know?

A better way to handle this issue would have been to have a discussion in advance of the change.  If it's truly an insensitive image, explain why.  Let those who aren't of this lineage come to understand the pain it brings, or the stereotypes it portrays.  A little dialogue here would have gone a long, long way.

Instead the school board just announced it was effective immediately, and attempted to soften the blow by explaining this was to have been completed several years ago and seemed to have fallen by the wayside -- as if this was both an acceptable excuse and an ingenious way to lay the blame on The Ghost of School Boards Past.  This strategy did nothing to help their cause, and now everybody is mad at everybody else:  the students, the grads, the school, the school board, and, I might imagine, to some extent or another, those who might actually be pleased that they have chosen to phase out this image.  What could have been a teachable moment leading to greater understanding has turned into a big mess of hurt feelings and betrayal.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that the school mascot is still The Chiefs.  We can be thankful that they didn't decide to rename the mascot entirely, because considering the fact that the "new" high school building (almost 20 years young) is built on swampland and is actually sinking, we just might have been the The Fighting Marsh Rats instead.

Here's to wondering what might be in store for The Vikings who live down the road....

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Twelve Haikus of Christmas

Comedy Central
Home of Stewart and Colbert
Best dozing TV.

Sometimes I wonder
is the head-snap damaging?
Qwerty improvement.

December is here.
I don't have words to express
except standby, "Brrrrr!"

Made it to Friday
Sometimes it seems forever
Monday is long gone.

Collge aps bring some
heart-felt nostalgia for the
mundane things:  Homework!!

December schedule
so hectic.  Christmas cookies
might be Oreos.

Yearly they report
the Twelve Days of Christmas cost
Why? JUST A POEM!

Need to do laundry
"We're the ninety nine percent!"
Dirty socks do cry.

This weekend? Roadtrip
State High school choir audition
I'm just the roadie.

Keep falling asleep
It's a sign to turn it off.
Head-snap tomorrow.

I know I said twelve
but folks, it's Advent season.
You'll just have to wait.







Twelve Haikus of Christmas

Comedy Central
Home of Stewart and Colbert
Best dozing TV.

Sometimes I wonder
is the head-snap damaging?
Qwerty improvement.

December is here.
I don't have words to express
except standby, "Brrrrr!"

Made it to Friday
Sometimes it seems forever
Monday is long gone.

Collge aps bring some
heart-felt nostalgia for the
mundane things:  Homework!!

December schedule
so hectic.  Christmas cookies
might be Oreos.

Yearly they report
the Twelve Days of Christmas cost
Why? JUST A POEM!

Need to do laundry
"We're the ninety nine percent!"
Dirty socks do cry.

This weekend? Roadtrip
State High school choir audition
I'm just the roadie.

Keep falling asleep
It's a sign to turn it off.
Head-snap tomorrow.

I know I said twelve
but folks, it's Advent season.
You'll just have to wait.







Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That's a Wrap

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November
all the rest have thirty one
except February blah blah blah I don't remember the end of this poem.


And so, it's day thirty of the month of November, and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) is drawing to an end.  I wondered at the beginning of the month if I'd be able to gut this out.  Certainly there are many people who write far more than I do: National NOVEL writing month (NaNoWriMo) also takes place during the month of November, and I know someone who actually completed the task!  Mad props to those folks, but for me, a sixty hour work weeks combined with a senior in high school is not a successful recipe for penning a novel.  In fact, I think it's the precise recipe for Mince Pie face.  My writing tends to start after 10pm, and usually after 11pm, and I'm not exaggerating when I tell you if November was also National Nodding Off At Your Desk Month (NaNodOffAtYoDeskMo) I'd win a shiny banner for that one as well.

But I'm glad I did several more laps at the Tuna News.  Part of me truly missed it.  Part of me felt guilty every time I fired up my web browser, because The Tuna News is my homepage, and I've been staring at last winter's socks for the past 11 months.  Part of me worried that with so much national and social conversation going on right now (a very polite way of saying everybody is talking and nobody is listening), I was offering nothing new or substantive, and was, in fact, only adding to the problem.  Part of me was (and is) plain old boring vanilla tired.  It happens.

Today took an interesting turn down the rabbit hole of YouTube.  You never know when these days are going to happen, but one interesting thing after another seemed to pop up.  I took it as a sign.  And when music starts and ends your day, it's a good sign indeed.



Verdi - Requiem
A colleague of mine shared this video first thing this morning. I don't necessarily think you should watch the entire thing, but if you want to check out a couple of amazing moments, the Lacrymosa (40:24) is a great place to start.  Soloists include a 36-year young Leontyne Price who sings with such control, beauty and sensitivity, I don't know if I should swoon or take notes.  Really, both are appropriate.  I love the very beautiful, formal and simplistic concert attire of the women, and I'm amazed that half the soloists and the conductor are performing this 90-minute work from memory.  For those who are familiar with this work, the tell-all moment comes right at the end (1:15:46) for the Soprano.  Will she or won't she (1:17:27)?  You know she will.  And it's glorious.



Eric Whitacre - Paradise Lost
Eric Whitacre, 20th Century composer, social media fan, and seemingly all-around nice guy, not to mention smart and encouraging to musicians of every age and skill is working on a somewhat unconventional Broadway Show that he hopes to open in London soon.  Why didn't I know about this before today?  I don't know, but I'm glad I know now.  For an even tastier treat,you MUST listen to this.  Posting it on Facebook this morning, he wrote:  "A little a cappella interlude I wrote for the concert version of Paradise Lost. Thinking of expanding it into a full piece..."



Elbow - Live from Manchester Cathedral
I stumbled across Elbow this spring, and this is easily the most excited I've been about contemporary popular music in a long time. Well-sung, well-written, lyrics that are smart and thought-provoking.  You could choose any part (or all of it..it's that good) to listen to, but my first suggestion would be Lippy Kids (34:30) from their latest album Build a Rocket, Boys!  The lyrics are astounding on their own ("Lippy kids on the corner again.  Lippy kids on the corner begin settling like crows.  Though I never perfected the simian stroll, the cigarette senate was everything then.  Do they know those days are golden?  Build a rocket boys!" ) but when you hear it presented, it's not angry.  In fact, it's respectful of youth and encouraging at the same time.  A fine line to walk, I think.

My second suggestion would be One Day Like This (54:12) which is the most wonderfully unabashed love song you'd ever want to hear ('Cause holy cow I love your eyes! And only now I see the light, lying with you half-awake, stumbling over what to say, Well, anyway it's looking like a beautiful day.  So throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year would see me right.)




Bonjour, Girl!  - Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"
Oh, I love a good parody, and this one is fabulous. Please, please please warning -- language alert and definite Disney lampooning. If either of these are sacred cows, then you should move on.
As for me... IT'S MY FAVORITE!!




Faust - Metropolitan Opera
Directed by Des McAnuff
My buddy Des is EVERYWHERE these days. His musical "Jersey Boys" is still touring all over the United States.  He is the BCMOC (Big Canadian Man on Campus) at the Stratford Festival in Canada, writing all the original music for this past season's production of "Twelfth Night", he has a hit revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar" that will open on Broadway next March and now, because, maybe he's bored or something, he's directed AN OPERA AT THE MET.  Seriously.  All the clips are fun, and it's in a very different and usual setting from the original concept. 


So, there you have it.  If you asked me how my day went, these videos sum it up.  It was a very good day indeed.  Thanks November.  Bring it, December.  I think I'm on a roll.


That's a Wrap

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November
all the rest have thirty one
except February blah blah blah I don't remember the end of this poem.


And so, it's day thirty of the month of November, and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) is drawing to an end.  I wondered at the beginning of the month if I'd be able to gut this out.  Certainly there are many people who write far more than I do: National NOVEL writing month (NaNoWriMo) also takes place during the month of November, and I know someone who actually completed the task!  Mad props to those folks, but for me, a sixty hour work weeks combined with a senior in high school is not a successful recipe for penning a novel.  In fact, I think it's the precise recipe for Mince Pie face.  My writing tends to start after 10pm, and usually after 11pm, and I'm not exaggerating when I tell you if November was also National Nodding Off At Your Desk Month (NaNodOffAtYoDeskMo) I'd win a shiny banner for that one as well.

But I'm glad I did several more laps at the Tuna News.  Part of me truly missed it.  Part of me felt guilty every time I fired up my web browser, because The Tuna News is my homepage, and I've been staring at last winter's socks for the past 11 months.  Part of me worried that with so much national and social conversation going on right now (a very polite way of saying everybody is talking and nobody is listening), I was offering nothing new or substantive, and was, in fact, only adding to the problem.  Part of me was (and is) plain old boring vanilla tired.  It happens.

Today took an interesting turn down the rabbit hole of YouTube.  You never know when these days are going to happen, but one interesting thing after another seemed to pop up.  I took it as a sign.  And when music starts and ends your day, it's a good sign indeed.



Verdi - Requiem
A colleague of mine shared this video first thing this morning. I don't necessarily think you should watch the entire thing, but if you want to check out a couple of amazing moments, the Lacrymosa (40:24) is a great place to start.  Soloists include a 36-year young Leontyne Price who sings with such control, beauty and sensitivity, I don't know if I should swoon or take notes.  Really, both are appropriate.  I love the very beautiful, formal and simplistic concert attire of the women, and I'm amazed that half the soloists and the conductor are performing this 90-minute work from memory.  For those who are familiar with this work, the tell-all moment comes right at the end (1:15:46) for the Soprano.  Will she or won't she (1:17:27)?  You know she will.  And it's glorious.



Eric Whitacre - Paradise Lost
Eric Whitacre, 20th Century composer, social media fan, and seemingly all-around nice guy, not to mention smart and encouraging to musicians of every age and skill is working on a somewhat unconventional Broadway Show that he hopes to open in London soon.  Why didn't I know about this before today?  I don't know, but I'm glad I know now.  For an even tastier treat,you MUST listen to this.  Posting it on Facebook this morning, he wrote:  "A little a cappella interlude I wrote for the concert version of Paradise Lost. Thinking of expanding it into a full piece..."



Elbow - Live from Manchester Cathedral
I stumbled across Elbow this spring, and this is easily the most excited I've been about contemporary popular music in a long time. Well-sung, well-written, lyrics that are smart and thought-provoking.  You could choose any part (or all of it..it's that good) to listen to, but my first suggestion would be Lippy Kids (34:30) from their latest album Build a Rocket, Boys!  The lyrics are astounding on their own ("Lippy kids on the corner again.  Lippy kids on the corner begin settling like crows.  Though I never perfected the simian stroll, the cigarette senate was everything then.  Do they know those days are golden?  Build a rocket boys!" ) but when you hear it presented, it's not angry.  In fact, it's respectful of youth and encouraging at the same time.  A fine line to walk, I think.

My second suggestion would be One Day Like This (54:12) which is the most wonderfully unabashed love song you'd ever want to hear ('Cause holy cow I love your eyes! And only now I see the light, lying with you half-awake, stumbling over what to say, Well, anyway it's looking like a beautiful day.  So throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year would see me right.)




Bonjour, Girl!  - Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"
Oh, I love a good parody, and this one is fabulous. Please, please please warning -- language alert and definite Disney lampooning. If either of these are sacred cows, then you should move on.
As for me... IT'S MY FAVORITE!!




Faust - Metropolitan Opera
Directed by Des McAnuff
My buddy Des is EVERYWHERE these days. His musical "Jersey Boys" is still touring all over the United States.  He is the BCMOC (Big Canadian Man on Campus) at the Stratford Festival in Canada, writing all the original music for this past season's production of "Twelfth Night", he has a hit revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar" that will open on Broadway next March and now, because, maybe he's bored or something, he's directed AN OPERA AT THE MET.  Seriously.  All the clips are fun, and it's in a very different and usual setting from the original concept. 


So, there you have it.  If you asked me how my day went, these videos sum it up.  It was a very good day indeed.  Thanks November.  Bring it, December.  I think I'm on a roll.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sometimes

 

Sometimes

After a 14 hour workday
After 12 singers
After 10 performances
After a 2 hour night commute that usually takes 50 minutes
After 8 inches of snow
After too many accidents to count

When you finally get home
With all four wheels on the ground
With a bumper unkissed by the guard rail or an impatient car
With dinner waiting
And with family relieved that you are home safe and sound

It's enough for one night.


Sometimes

 

Sometimes

After a 14 hour workday
After 12 singers
After 10 performances
After a 2 hour night commute that usually takes 50 minutes
After 8 inches of snow
After too many accidents to count

When you finally get home
With all four wheels on the ground
With a bumper unkissed by the guard rail or an impatient car
With dinner waiting
And with family relieved that you are home safe and sound

It's enough for one night.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Everybody Says Don't


It seems there should be a dos and don'ts subject list -- much like a fashion hits and misses --  when it comes to blogs.  Or maybe it should just be a huge don't list, and anything leftover is fair game.  To name just a few:



1.  Weather
A definite don't when the weather isn't unusual for the time of year and/or geographic location.  This includes summertime heat in Arizona and sleet, snow, arctic freeze, rain, floods, tornadoes, hail, heat and/or humidity in Michigan from January through December.  By the way, we are supposed to experience approximately 80% of all those options in the next 24 hours.  In Michigan. SIGH.

So you better make sure you have a pair of these
when you live in the state that looks like this.
















2.  Cats
 If you write about cats, well, don't say I didn't warn you.  Writing about cats makes you the cat lady.  Writing about two cats makes you the single cat lady.  Writing about 65 cats makes you the crazy single cat lady.  My friends Gabby and Mila inform me I am not crazy.
Gabby says "Not crazy!" 
Mila says "Not crazy, but I really don't care."













3.  Politics
Yes, it's all the craze at the moment.  And by craze I mean crazy.  And by crazy I mean WHAT ON EARTH ARE THOSE REPUBLICANS DOING NOW?  Now before all the Republicans get upset with me for going all Caps-Lock on their ass, the Democrats aren't flaunting their crazy at the moment because they've all agreed to let the guy at the top take the heat.  Thanks, Jesus.



4.  Food
Blogging about food is a double-edged sword.  It's sort of like watching it on TV.  It's great for awhile, and then you're hungry, and then you're angry because you're hungry, and then you're angry because you're hungry and you're torturing yourself watching the secrets to making the perfect Ho-Ho and you don't have any perfect Ho-Hos.  You don't even have any imperfect Ho-Hos.








5.  Twilight
The movie. Not the time of day.  Blogs, like vampires don't sparkle.












6.  Holiday peeves
Oh, what an enormous category THIS is.  This includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Dead people that stepped on in Target, shoppers that got pepper-sprayed in Walmart and anything that includes the phrase Tickle Me, Elmo.  This also includes real or perceived injustices for or against Christmas Trees, Nativities, Carols, Holiday greetings, the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas Smackdown, too many Christmas lights, not enough Christmas lights, wasteful spending, not enough spending, drunken debauchery at the office
Christmas party, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph,
Frosty and Herbie, who doesn't want to make toys. 


If you can make it past this gauntlet without any infractions, you're well on your way to creating a real blog DO instead of a blog don't.  Next up... Collegiate sports!


Everybody Says Don't


It seems there should be a dos and don'ts subject list -- much like a fashion hits and misses --  when it comes to blogs.  Or maybe it should just be a huge don't list, and anything leftover is fair game.  To name just a few:



1.  Weather
A definite don't when the weather isn't unusual for the time of year and/or geographic location.  This includes summertime heat in Arizona and sleet, snow, arctic freeze, rain, floods, tornadoes, hail, heat and/or humidity in Michigan from January through December.  By the way, we are supposed to experience approximately 80% of all those options in the next 24 hours.  In Michigan. SIGH.

So you better make sure you have a pair of these
when you live in the state that looks like this.
















2.  Cats
 If you write about cats, well, don't say I didn't warn you.  Writing about cats makes you the cat lady.  Writing about two cats makes you the single cat lady.  Writing about 65 cats makes you the crazy single cat lady.  My friends Gabby and Mila inform me I am not crazy.
Gabby says "Not crazy!" 
Mila says "Not crazy, but I really don't care."













3.  Politics
Yes, it's all the craze at the moment.  And by craze I mean crazy.  And by crazy I mean WHAT ON EARTH ARE THOSE REPUBLICANS DOING NOW?  Now before all the Republicans get upset with me for going all Caps-Lock on their ass, the Democrats aren't flaunting their crazy at the moment because they've all agreed to let the guy at the top take the heat.  Thanks, Jesus.



4.  Food
Blogging about food is a double-edged sword.  It's sort of like watching it on TV.  It's great for awhile, and then you're hungry, and then you're angry because you're hungry, and then you're angry because you're hungry and you're torturing yourself watching the secrets to making the perfect Ho-Ho and you don't have any perfect Ho-Hos.  You don't even have any imperfect Ho-Hos.








5.  Twilight
The movie. Not the time of day.  Blogs, like vampires don't sparkle.












6.  Holiday peeves
Oh, what an enormous category THIS is.  This includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Dead people that stepped on in Target, shoppers that got pepper-sprayed in Walmart and anything that includes the phrase Tickle Me, Elmo.  This also includes real or perceived injustices for or against Christmas Trees, Nativities, Carols, Holiday greetings, the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas Smackdown, too many Christmas lights, not enough Christmas lights, wasteful spending, not enough spending, drunken debauchery at the office
Christmas party, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph,
Frosty and Herbie, who doesn't want to make toys. 


If you can make it past this gauntlet without any infractions, you're well on your way to creating a real blog DO instead of a blog don't.  Next up... Collegiate sports!