Tuesday, March 31, 2009

God Is My Poorly Coordinated, Unreliable Co-Pilot

I was driving down Louisiana Avenue. In the opposite direction came a battered late-model sedan. The entire front bumper assembly had been knocked off. On the exposed metal frame where the bumper should have been was a bumper sticker: "God Is My Co-Pilot."

Hmm... What are the theological implications?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's once again the time of year when the Cat's Claw blooms and rundown overgrown buildings all across the city are swathed in glorious yellow flowers. (I've often wondered about the origin of the Blue Print Lounge's name. It doesn't exactly present itself as a probable watering hole for thirsty architects and engineers.)

I ♥ Grid Paper

I always carry around a little pen and notebook in my back pocket, handy for jotting down lists, reminders, and ruminations. My latest little book is gridded. I heart grid/graph paper.* Why? I don't know—countless reasons. One, recently discovered, is that it's excellent for making rectilinear Art Naïf streetscapes like this one:

Mmm... Rectilinear-Art-Naïf-streetscape-licious!

Do you have any comparable stationary/office supply fetishes? (Or am out on an obsessive-compulsive limb with this one?)

* I also heart gridded index cards. I can only find them at the big box office supply store, but it's worth the trip for my extra special 3 x 5 grid-fix.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The girls and I ate a big heap of crawfish this afternoon. We had gone to the park, and somebody was boiling crawfish, and it smelled so good, I couldn't go home without stopping to buy a bagful first. And for the first time, Louise (mostly) peeled her own—a momentous occasion.* (I say "mostly". As a devoted crawfish lover, it was slightly painful watching her mangle some of the glorious morsels, but we must allow our little birdies to awkwardly flutter if they are ever to fly on their own.)

She is on the cusp, shall we say, of craw-dulthood, the juncture in life when she ceases to be dependent on the craw-peelings of others (much to the relief of the beleagured parents) and blazes her own way in the great Craw-World, amassing her own heap of gleefully shucked shells without the intervention of others.

The entrance into craw-dulthood should be celebrated, perhaps, with a Craw Mitzvah?

* And she even peeled some for June. (June still has a ways to go before she achieves craw-tonomy. But she has started sucking the crawfish heads.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sandwich Creme Genetics

This evening after dinner, we noticed that both our girls twist their sandwich creme cookies* apart and eat each half separately, just like me, whereas Sarah eats them whole. I must conclude from this anecdotal evidence that the Twist-Sandwich-Creme-Cookies-Apart (TSCCA) gene is dominant whereas the Eat-Sandwich-Creme-Cookies-Whole (ESCCW) gene is recessive.

Thank goodness we have the crisp clear light of modern science to illuminate this murky curiosity.

* A.k.a. "Oreos". Except that these weren't actually Oreos. Though I must concede, "sandwich creme cookie" sounds a bit clumsy. I suppose it's one of those "Kleenex"/"tissue paper" things.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Of late, June has taken to requesting a "present" at bed time. The present doesn't have to be anything extraordinary—just something that pleases her fickle and curious whims, typically something horde-able: a pen case, a deck of cards, a cup, an old binder. But mainly she likes books, heavy books. (The actual content matter is irrelevant.) At some point, every dictionary, textbook, and anthology in our house has been received as a bedtime offering and squirreled away in some dark corner of her lair. (It's wreaked havoc on our bookcases. Good thing I now use online dictionaries or I'd have to sneak into her room every time I wanted to look up a word.)

Maybe she'll grow up to be the dictator of a corrupt banana republic:* "Her June-ness requests a gift, a simple gesture of goodwill..."

* Or mayor of New Orleans, our own corrupt little banana republic.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Overheard: Tell-It-Like-It-Is Edition

"You look a mix of germs and bad luck, and I don't want either."
Dang. (But having seen the individual in question, I can vouch for the statement's accuracy.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Five little Indians, Super Sunday.

Half Life

Sarah by the track.

Today, Sarah joined the Three-and-Seven Club. A good day:
  • A fancy night in a fancy hotel. (The kids were tended by a kindly grandparent. Thanks, mom.)
  • Super Sunday. (Not a bad day for a birthday.)
  • An afternoon at the racetrack.*
  • Perfect weather. (I ordered it extra-special.)
Sarah and I met when we were eighteen-and-a-half. I'm no math teacher, but by my calculations, thirty-seven puts us more or less** at the the Half-Our-Lives-Together mark. I like it.

* We had no no dramatic wins or losses, but we did see a jockey thrown from his horse in one of the races. Fortunately he was uninjured.

** I considered a more precise calculation, but calendar math makes my head hurt—all those leap-years and irregular month-lengths.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vera, Sarah, Ann (Sarah's mom)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MRSfMS(wC): For Christmas, Sarah gave me a copy of Jamel Shabazz's A Time Before Crack—photographs of street life in New York in the early 80s—and for a while, my sketchbook was populated by guys in big square glasses and bucket hats.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rappus Pedagogicus

When did rap enter the pedagogical mainstream? When did rap become a broadly used educational tool? I don't know but it for sure did.

Examples I've seen recently:
  1. The fifth grade boys class I assist often chants along to a multiplication rap CD:* "Eleven times eight is... eighty-eight! Twelve times eight is... ninety-six! Prime time! Rhyme time...!"
  2. The other day at morning meeting at Louise's school, a class got up and did a rap about... I'm really not quite sure what. Arthropods? Crustaceans? I was too dazzled by the two students doing a (surprisingly good) Fat Boys-style human beatbox accompaniment** to pay much attention to the actual contents of the song.
Question: Why do educational raps usually have an 80s feel?
a) 80s rap is relatively unsophisticated in its metric structure, and most educational rappers are relatively unsophisticated in their compositional skills?

b) The current generation of educators grew up in the 80s, and the raps they create reflect their stylistic preferences.

c) 80s rap uses sing-song nursery rhyme-like forms, which are more accessible to children than those of later rap styles.

d) All of the above.

e) None of the above.

* All except for the grumpy sophisticate who sits in the corner and mutters, "This rap is lame."

** Mediocre beatboxing is another of my TTAEFFTPDTBPAFAAT.

*** Things that make you go...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MRSfMS(wC): "'Alf a' Apple"

I think it's time for MRSfMS(wC)—which is to say, More Random Stuff from My Sketchbook (with Commentary):

I lived in England for a year in 1980. The first wave of punk was going strong, and the strange young people with the weirdly shaved and dyed hair and the safety pins stuck through alarming parts of their faces made a strong impression on my eight-year-old self—an impression that is apparently bubbling up again three-ish decades later in the form of rapidly doodled pencil-punks uttering utterly bogus British vernacular.*

* Can you make that out?
"Es effin' 'alf a' apple 'n shite." "Yeh, aye kno'." "'Ese kids today." (Don't ask me. I just work here.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Daylight Savings

Each spring, when the clock turns forward an hour, I feel as if something that has been every so slightly wrong with the world comes right again: evenings should be long and summery, the light should stretch long and golden on the streets as people easily wind down their day. I like it.

What are you liking?

Slang Sling: "Wrong For That"

I am a bit of a linguistic chameleon, tending to absorb the verbal stylings from those around me. I've found myself adopting the following phrase from my students:
"You're wrong for that."
A statement of stern disapproval, emphasizing and drawing out the "wrong" to give a delightfully scornful lilt. I like it.

What are you liking?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mardi Gras Indians, 2009: Big Chief

Mardi Gras Indians, 2009: green with tomahawk

Friday, March 06, 2009


We continue our investigations in Contemporary Phone Studies:

Did you ever notice how, on TV, nobody ever says good-bye when hanging up the phone?
"Wilkins here... The terrorists are on the roof...? How many...? [CLICK]" Wilkins hangs up the receiver. His face registers stunned surprise, then steely resolve. He barks to his team, "Let's roll!"
Sure, it's a convenient stylistic nicety to cut inconsequential cruft from the dialog. Probably no one really wants to hear Wilkins politely bow out: "O-Okay... Right... Mm-hmm... See you Tuesday... B-bye." But my inner-Miss Manners always thinks, "How rude!" Couldn't Wilkins take just a moment to consider the feelings of the earnest messenger at the other end of the line? Would a brief "Thanks, got it" or even a gruff "Over and out" really kill him? If we abandon our manners, then haven't the terrorists already won?

Oh! The post-modern existential angst of it all!*

* I think, from now on, I'll end all my posts this way.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Crazy or Earpiece?

Once upon a time, when we saw someone walking down the street talking to themselves, we could be reasonably sure they were crazy. Then, along came the cell phone earpiece, and all bets were off. (I remember a stretch of time back in the 90s when I was repeatedly thrown: "Wow, that guy looks atypically polished and professional for a person suffering from paranoid psychosis. Oh... earpiece.")

Now, when I see someone walking down the street talking to themselves, I assume they're talking on an earpiece, but I'm occasionally surprised to discover that they're actually just crazy.

Which leads us to the question, how can one ever be sure? As the earpieces continue to shrink (converging, I suppose, on the teeny-tiny oh-so-chic embedded implants), visual cues vanish, and we're left to decide based solely on auditory and social cues.

I might speculate:
talking about taking the kids to soccer practice = earpiece

talking about the evil government agencies trying to steal our precious rag collections = crazy

wearing a business suit = earpiece

wearing a precious rag collection = crazy
But are these cues sure bets? What if there really are evil government agencies trying to steal our precious rag collections?* (And in light of the recent financial crisis, a lot of people in suits are looking pretty nutty. And rag collections are looking like comparatively savvy investments.)

So where does the truth lie? Is there a definitive Crazy-Versus-Earpiece Indicator? Oh! the post-modern existential angst of it all!

Any suggestions?

* Didn't recently declassified Justice Department memos, in fact, assert the executive branch's right to authorize Warantless Rag Acquisition?

Monday, March 02, 2009

...Makes Slim a Dull Boy

Two sick parents and two healthy kids make for a rather challenging weekend. Two sick parents and two healthy kids make for a rather challenging weekend. Two sick parents and two healthy kids make...

Though things are, I hope, on the mend.