Saturday, May 31, 2008

Off the Clock

It was late evening. I was waiting in line at the convenience store. One of the cashiers had just ended her shift—punched out, headed out, and (I discovered as she shuffled from behind the counter towards the door) letting it all hang out. She had, as soon as her shift ended, liberated her gut from the work-a-day constraints of her belt and top pant-button:

Wow, I didn't realize that was an option, but sure: I'm off the clock and so is my belt. Beautiful!

I think I'll do that for my last day.

Field of greens: In this climate, empty lots quickly grow belly-high with weeds. (These weeds are, I think, rather beautiful.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Man Against Beast VI: Leaping Lizards

I have once again done battle with pitiless nature and emerged victorious:

I was wheeling the trashcan back into place behind the bamboo thicket when I noticed a large brown lizard on the porch column, directly at eye level with me. The girls were on the porch. I called to them, "Hey look," and tapped the column near the lizard, hoping it would scurry up into their line of sight.

It did not scurry. It leapt.

It hurled itself straight out from the column, towards me (for a fraction of a second, I stared directly into its rapidly approaching eyes), and landed on my neck.

But its Leaping-Lizard fighting style was no match for my Shriek-Like-a-Girl-and-Flail-Wildly technique. I shrieked like a girl and flailed wildly. In a moment, the lizard was vanquished from my neck.

"Look," Louise said, "Daddy's got a lizard on his back."

Another round of frantic flailing fully routed my foe. It leapt again, this time from my back to a nearby bush, and scurried deep into the foliage (followed with great interest by Delilah).

Boo-yeah! Leaping lizards, indeed. Now my girls know a small brown reptile can never harm them—not as long as Daddy Lord of Lizards is there to defend them.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Vive les Brusiers! Thursday, Circle Bar

Time, place—I think that pretty much covers it. Oh wait, did I mention the hootin' and hollerin'? (It was implied.) There will of course be hootin' and hollerin'. (When is there not?)

See you there.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I was walking Penny past one of the migrant worker houses down the street. A man leaning against the porch beckoned me over and, beaming with pride, opened the lid of his cooler to reveal these two gi-normous fish. (I'm not sure if it's clear from the photo, but that's a big full-size cooler, and each of those fish is over two feet long.) He spoke no English, but I managed to gather that he'd caught them in Lake Ponchatrain. What are those things? In the context, they looked monstrous and prehistoric.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Have we talked about memorial t-shirts?—shirts emblazoned with the image of the recently deceased (often a young man killed by gunfire), with birth date ("sunrise"), death date ("sunset"), and perhaps a nickname, worn by family and friends. The little fellow has one on. Certainly, the trend is not unique to New Orleans, but we have more than our share of them. (Similar shirts are donned to commemorate birthdays and other less morbid occasions. You know it's a good party when the DJ can be heard a block away, the kids are going crazy in the jumpy-tent out front, and the entire extended family is wearing identical tees.)


Defend or refute the following assertion:
Cowboy boots with slacks: When it works it works. When it doesn't it really doesn't.*
Points will be awarded for veracity, tenacity, audacity, and bombastity.

* Hmm, is it really about the cowboy boots/slacks combo, or is it about the cowboy boots themselves? Can one more broadly say? "Cowboy boots: When they work they work. When they don't they really don't." What would a wears-cowboy-boots / wears-slacks / creates-a-successful-ensemble Venn diagram look like? Hmm...

Short-Timer Blues

What is it that the closer one gets to the end of something, the antsier one gets? Now that I have less than two weeks in my current geek-incarnation, I'm just about jumping out of my skin to get on to the next thing.

Weird, man, weird.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Louise and her giant eyes.

The Mixed-Up Bird Chronicle

In some vague dark hour this morning, the bird outside our window launched into its "hey-everybody-the-sun's-about-to-come-up" song. It was very enthusiastic and very persistent.

The sun didn't come up.

Half-an-hour later, the bird was still proclaiming the onset of day. The sky was still dark. I looked at the clock: one-thirty—off by a long shot. I eventually sank back into a now-slightly-jumbled slumber as the bird continued its undiminished cry.

What does that mean? It is, I assume, another sign that the end days are upon us. Weird, man, weird.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nail Supply 2000

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mr. O

It's been what? almost three years since our last seismic life-changing upheaval? Too long. We grow weak and flabby in this luxurious post-Katrina landscape (the Land of Blight and Trash Heaps). So I've decided to initiate my own new seismic life-changing upheaval by undertaking a radical career makeover.

For seven years I've spun the bits and bytes, marshaling the tiny computer elves, guiding them as they arrayed the luminous pixels into appropriate and meaningful forms. Which is to say, I've been a programmer. It served me well, taught me a lot, kept my brain busy. And it put food on the table while Sarah stayed home with the kids.

But now Sarah's back at work. And now it's time for the next thing. So I'm plunging from the gilded cubicle of software engineering into the roiling, tumultuous waters of the New Orleans public school system. Which is to say, I'm going to be a teacher, specifically a middle-ish-school* math teacher in a (to be determined) "high needs" New Orleans public school. ("High needs", in this context, encompasses all but a handful of the city's schools.)

The notion has been simmering for some time (I dig kids; I dig math; I dig explaining math to kids; our schools desperately need math teachers), but now it's boiled over. It's the right moment for me, and it's a critical moment for New Orleans as our historically failing school system undergoes the most radical education reform ever undertaken in any American city.

I'll be making the transition with the help of these fine folks. They'll train me up real good over the summer,** help match me with a school, and send me, this fall, as an ever-so-slightly-less-clueless lamb-to-the-slaughter, a bright-eyed, ripe-for-the-disillusioning teacher-newbie. (I won't claim to be a teacher-proper until I've made my generous allotment of newbie-blunders before a classroom full of merciless kids eager to pounce on my every mistake.)

Onward and upward. Wish me luck. I'll need it. (And stay tuned for more exciting adventures and misadventures in our nascent saga, The Mr. O Chronicles.)

* Middle-ish-school: I'm inclined to teach kids at the earlier end of their mathematical studies. That could mean middle school. It could mean a bit earlier. (When I mention middle-school, most teachers I know look at me with horror—or just shake their heads and laugh.) My eyes and ears remain open. We'll see where I land.

** I gave notice at work on Monday, but before doing so—just to make for sure for sure—I went and visited the elementary school where my neighbor-buddy Wheeler teaches, Martin Luther King, the only school open down in the Lower Ninth Ward. It was fantastic. The school is just a few blocks from the breach that decimated the community, and the surrounding neighborhood remains something close to a lifeless wasteland. But the school has been beautifully restored, and inside was brimming with glorious, rambunctious, wonderful kids. I loved every moment of it, but there were some particularly memorable highlights
  • During a Student of the Month award ceremony in the "cafetorium", a young black ob/gyn (standing in front of a huge portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr.) talked about how she'd become a doctor and encouraged the kids to strive for similarly lofty goals. But when she opened the floor to questions, the assembly took a decidedly more biological turn. "How do you deliver babies?" She hesitated, then gave a vague answer about making sure the mother and baby were healthy. Not good enough. "Where do they come out?" She laughed nervously, glanced at the principal with pleading eyes, then muttered something about "either the tummy or the [inaudible]" before quickly moving on to the next question.
  • Before lunch, Wheeler asked his kids to show me the dance routine they had performed at the school pageant the previous week, an eight-minute elaborately-choreographed groove-bust set to "Rapper's Delight". When the music started, they fell into place, criss-crossing in interwoven rows, backing out into circles, facing off in flash-footed pairs, dropping to the floor and twirling in perfect break-spins (they'd watched 80s breakdancing movies for research), cartwheeling and alligator-flopping across the room... (For the pageant, itself, they'd performed the routine in full 80s regalia.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008


The Honduran guys around the corner who spend every free moment playing soccer in the street (often while holding a bottle of Bud Light in one hand) are now teaching the game to the neighborhood kids. And the kids are getting pretty good pretty quick—even heading the ball and picking up some fancy footwork.

It's a beautiful thing, if you ask me. Maybe our little Nuevo Orleans melting pot will give rise to a new generation of American soccer superstars. If so, you can tell 'em you read it here first, folks.

Oh, That Again

I just had my first full-blown retro acid washed sighting the other day.* I wasn't too into acid-washed the first time around. I don't think I'll be any more thrilled by New-and-Improved-Acid-Washed-(Now-with-Irony!).

* This is, I'm sure, old news to you big city sophisticates.

Mama's Day

To all the mothers in my life, a very happy Mother's Day. Mothering is no kind of easy, and y'all've* all done a hell of a job.

* Triple contraction—whooh!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thing of Wonder: My New Camera

June and her giant eyes.

Why I love my new camera:
  • Its lovely, luminous, Leica lens.
  • Its full manual controls.
  • Its nice broad old-35mm-style 3:2 aspect ratio setting. (And it's panoramic 16:9 setting.)
  • Its black-with-metallic-trim color scheme, delightfully matching my accordion, my guitar, my bike, and my car.

* Forgive the geek out. We now return to our regular comparatively-less-geeky programming.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Today, walking in to work, I saw a lady, dressed up in her office duds, with hair that looked for all the world like a slightly-more-coiffed-but-otherwise-identical version of the Joey Ramone 'do. She was even wearing little sunglasses.

It kind of freaked me out—Joey Ramone in a flouncy floral blouse, business slacks, and heels. (I don't think that was the effect she intended.) Weird, man, weird.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

June likes pickles.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

New and Improved Hollerin' – Now With Color!

As previously discussed, art projects are an essential tool in our keeping-kids-busy-fied arsenal. Today I tasked each of them with creating their own colorized reinterpretations of Possum Holler Slim.

June worked with tried and true implements—colored pencils. Louise took her first foray into the digital medium, following a brief tutorial on the basics of Photoshop.

The results are below:



The color schemes are decidedly similar. I'm not sure if that's because June was emulating Louise, or if they just possess convergent sensibilities.

I like 'em.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bruiser Family Music Hour – Tonight!

Okay, in appropriately chaotic (or if you prefer, "spontaneous") form, we've just learned that we're playing the Circle Bar tonight, kicking off around 7-ish-ish* and ending around 9-ish-ish-ish.

So come on down for a Bruisin'-good time—hootin', hollerin', and carrying-on galore. Then stick around for plenty more honky-tonkin' fun with the Haunted Hearts and the Plowboys.

Helluva hootenanny. Vive les Brusiers!

* The usual caveats apply.