Friday, December 22, 2006


This is a friendly note to inform you that Octopus vs. Chipmunk is (most likely) not going to be updated until the beginning of next month. I'm in Vegas and, while the computer I'm using here is fine (albeit a bit slow) for normal online functions, it doesn't really dig the idea of me updating my blog much (and it especially hates the idea of me using pictures and whatnot, which is really troublesome because all those pictues are necessary to create the illusion of cleverness that is so important to my blogging).

So Happy Holidays and be sure to check me out in January. Because, you know, creating an even greater illusion of cleverness and being more self-promotional (sometimes) are my New Year's resolution. Along with reading more books about woodworking and trying to make a documentary about Taft. You gotta have your thing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Getting stronger

Okay, the thing is--I really like the Rocky movies. I once came to the rather sad conclusion that, no matter what else was on at the same time, I'd likely watch Rocky III if I happened to stumble across it while scanning the channels. As anyone who has watched Rocky III with the least amount of objectivity can attest (and that doesn't include me, of course) it's really kind of terrible. I mean, the plot is paper thin, the fights are ridiculous, the homo-eroticism is kind of silly. But, you know, if nothing else, you get to see Carl Weathers dressed like this:

(Most of this scene consists of Apollo and Rocky running along the beach in slow motion. They wrestle each other to the ground at one point. In sheer joy and happiness. No lie).

Anyway, what with the new Rocky movie coming out in a few weeks, it seems that Rocky-fever is gripping the nation. I mean, really, gripping the nation. Who hasn't felt it? (Put your hands down, America, you wise-crackers). And what with the torrent of conversation about the forthcoming Rocky, we have also experienced a deluge of new Rocky merchandise.

Actually, I have no idea if that's true. It probably isn't. Deluge? Torrent? Yeah, that's stretching it. But I did see some new Rocky action figures in Toys R Us when I was looking for a large foam airplane a couple of months ago and they were--what's the word?--hype. And before I go off on the easy route of jokes here--the whole "what kid would actually want a Paulie action figure?" tirade--obviously these action figures would be less geared toward kids and more geared toward dorks like me that actually think their desk and/or bookcase would benefit from
the addition of this:
Rocky Wave 1 - Paulie - Click Image to Close
And for everyone playing along at home wondering, "What does Jayce want for Christmas?" let it be known that my earlier comment was a joke. My bookcase would not benefit from having a Paulie doll. It would benefit, however, from this....

Brent Musberger

Holy Crap! It's a Brent Musberger action figure! This might be stupidest action figure that has ever existed in the history of the world (and, yeah, that's a challenge. Please prove me wrong). But still, Brent Musberger? The sportscaster? I'm really holding out hope that the figure is so popular that an entire wave of sportscaster action figures follow. Oh, the possibilities. But those possibilities, dear reader, I leave to you. Because now I have something bigger on which to focus my attention. I must focus my attention to this:

The Meat

There are no words, my friends. There are simply no words.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Chapel loves T.J. Maxx. Personally, I think it's fairly uninteresting, but everytime I mention needing anything -- anything -- she tells me, "oh T.J. Maxx has that and it's cheap." And I have bought a couple of things there -- a cookie sheet, a big red bowl, and a cutting board come immediately to mind -- that I think we're fairly smart purchases, but there's one purchase from T.J. Maxx that was not a smart purchase, though I can't blame myself for it.

The purchase in question would be these measuring spoons:

They look fairly passable, right? (And that T.J. Maxx cutting board behind them is handsome) I mean, these spoons are stainless steel, attractive, and (perhaps most importantly) look capable of measuring things. So they would certainly appear to be a smart purchase. They were sealed up when I bought them (so that I could only see the first spoon), but I had no reason to think this purchase would be ill-advised.

There are five spoons in this collection and these are the first two. Pinch and 1/8 tsp. Now, I thought it was kinda cool when I saw these spoons that "pinch" was one of the measurements because you don't see that everyday (likely because you don't need to, but whatever). But having "pinch" and 1/8 tsp seems pretty limited. And these spoons, it becomes quite clear, are dedicated to the teaspoon, so the chances of finding a rather useful "tablespoon" measuring spoon are slim, which limits the value of this set. But teaspoons are being called for in recipes all over the non-metric world and what with 1/4 and 1/2 tsps and that all important 1 teaspoon measurement right around the corner, there's no need to worry.

Or worry. 2/3 teaspoons? Is this that necessary? Does this come up often enough to actually warrant the dedicated spoon? All right, the suspense is killing me, what are the last two spoons?

You know what I say to you, T.J. Maxx? Screw you. You sell me a set of teaspoon measuring spoons and there is not a spoon in the collection that measures a teaspoon? Or even a 1/2 teaspoon? Who is this product being marketed to (besides dumb guys that don't pay enough attention to things before they buy them?)? Is this for the measuring spoon collector who has everything?

So I had to get a Kitchen Aid measuring spoon set that was less stainless steel but much more red and a lot more useful. I have held onto these though. Just in case I need exactly a 1/8 and a pinch of something, I'll be ready.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Many Faces

Look. It's some earlier shorter-haired version of me from what I assumed would be a long-since abandoned website page. But here it is. I found this picture when I was image searching my name. I thought it might be interesting to see what other Jason Olsen's look like. So I decided to undertake this search using the Alta Vista Image Search option because, really, who uses Alta Vista anymore? Let's love Alta Vista. They need us. Google doesn't need us. They only pretend.
This guy needs his dad. They're fixing a car together and they look tired. Or maybe dad just looks tired. Or frustrated. He'd be more frustrated if that Jason Olsen next to him helping him with that car was me because I'd be even less help. For example, I've been referring to that vehicle as a car. It's clearly a truck. So, yeah, this would end badly.

I know him...that's Major Jackson! He's a very good, very cool poet with whom I conducted an interview in Third Coast a few years ago. He and I look very little alike, really, but this picture does pop up when I searched out myself, evidently because that aforemention interview is on Major's website. If you're not familiar with him, check out his site --

I think my namesake is riding that bull with the scary eyes. My namesake is a bit crazy, but whatever. I'm also guessing this Jason Olsen is not at all a vegan. But maybe he's one of those bullriders who is trying to end the abuse of animals from the inside. Much like the guy I saw once on the hot dog eating championships who claimed to be a vegetarian. Except those few occasions in which he would eat, say, 32 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Other than that, total vegetarian.
Dude. I am not and never was one of these guys. But one of them shares my name. Somewhere during this conversation, that guy in the Champion shirt (is that made of of mesh?!?) made the comment that Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was the best album ever made and that guy sitting on the edge of the couch showed his agreement by falling off the arm of the couch onto the ground. The guy in the middle laughed hysterically for the next forty five minutes, forgetting what he was laughing about ten or twelve seconds in.

Is she really as happy as she should be? That's a Jason Olsen she's touching heads with. I'm worried about this thing between them. Sigh. It's out of my control. Perhaps I should just move on.

This Jason Olsen is likely in a band. I'm hoping that shirt is part of the band uniform. It's pretty rocking. If he's not in a band, I hope he's a lawyer or something.

This Jason Olsen is a game developer. I think. I wonder if he's responsible for all those Nintendo controllers people are throwing into their TV's and shattering? That new Wii controller, the one you swing all motion-sensor-like around to use, evidently slides out of people's hands and into TV's. And windows. And babies. I don't know about the babies part, honestly, but maybe. And it might be my namesake's fault.

Look at him, smirking. Thinking of all the broken babies and televisions. Sigh, I cannot help what the other Jason Olsens do.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Everywhere I go, there's music

Because I pretty much allow my iPod to dictate the direction of my day and life, it seemed appropriate to highjack this little game from somebody else's blog. Hopefully my iTunes are as kind and occasionally funny and Nicky's were....

The rules are simple. Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING. Cheating is for losers. Cheaters never prosper. For visual aid, here is a cheater:

I mean, unless you count making millions of dollars, breaking countless records, and breaking countless hearts (I'm assuming). Regardless, I have not used any illegal steroids over the course of this blog entry. I did, of course, drink horse urine but as far as I know that isn't illegal. Yet.


How does the world see you?
“I’ve Always Been Crazy” – Waylon Jennings

Sigh, World, c’mon, after all we’ve been through? You still think I’m crazy? Even after all those times where it was my absolute sanity that ended up saving the day? Oh well, I can’t question you. Well, as the song's lyric goes, “I’ve always been crazy, but that’s kept me from going insane.” So maybe this is a compliment!

Will I have a happy life?
“Grindstone” – Uncle Tupelo

“every hour will be spent/filling a quota, just getting along” Yay, life! Sign me up for more! And let's hope more of my life will be represented by feel-good Uncle Tupelo lyrics. Those guys just make you feel happy all over!

What do my friends really think of me?
“You’re so Good to Me” – The Beach Boys

Gee whiz, friends! You’re swell! I tell you, if there's one thing I've got it's a good bunch of friends. Even if they didn't actually have anything to do with this. And they all mock me behind their backs. But maybe they do recognize how good I am to them.

What do people secretly think of me?
“Soul of a Man” -- Ollabelle

So they secretly question the strength and quality of my soul? I just ask the world to keep this a secret so I don't have to address it. I like to keep my soul to myself.

How can I be happy?
“Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” – Bob Dylan

Well, I’m not exactly sure who “you” are in this situation, but I suppose there is a chance that such a night could lead to happiness. (I almost spelled that last word “happyness.” Screw you, Will Smith with your movie and its faulty spelling.)

What should I do with my life?
"Comin’ Around" – Steve Earle

I was hoping this game would elucidate everything for me. That, however, was way too vague. Do better next time, random iTunes game.

What is some good advice for me?
“No Other Baby” – Paul McCartney

Ooookay, iTunes. Thanks for clearing that up. What I'm hoping for is that in ten years, I'll be facing my darkest moment looking for some kind of brilliant advice and I'll think "Wait a minute...what was that song I was supposed to listen to?" And, of course, I'll never remember it, because this song to ridiculously obscure. And I'll never get the necessary advice. And then I'll cry. A lot.

How will I be remembered?
“Shame on You” – Hot Hot Heat

All right, so my memory will be wrapped up in shame. Beautiful. If only I'd remember the name of that Paul McCartney song. Everything would be different.

What is my signature dancing song?
“Brown Eyed Girl” – Van Morrison

I just can’t keep my feet still. But only with this song. It’s my signature dance song. It makes me sing Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da.

What do I think my current theme song is?
“Let It Be” – A Nick Cave cover of The Beatles

Man, who knew how deep I was? And me, in my amazing depth, can't even be satisfied with that trite Beatles version. I need Nick Cave to express my current emotions.

What does everyone else think my current theme song is? “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” – Bob Dylan

Well, at least everyone else thinks I’m deep too. So, thanks, everyone else.

What song will play at my funeral?
“Be True to Your School” – Beach Boys

I certainly hope this song is played at my funeral. In fact, I am going to demand it. Let me write a note right now. Okay done.

What type of men/women do you like?
“Country Trash” – Johnny Cash

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

What is my day going to be like? “Touch the Hand” – Conway Twitty
Oh. I’ve got nothing I can say to that.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'd love to lay you down

Are you having trouble finding the right words to say when you're trying to convince a virgin that she ought to be deflowered? Do you get tongue-tied when you need to describe your sexual effectiveness to a lady friend? Do you not know what to say when a woman thinks that maybe she ought to leave you and all the wonderful times you've had together? Are you searching for the right words to that'll allow you to lay down that lovely lady you've been eyeing? Well, there's only one man who can help you. And here he is.

That's right. Conway Twitty's here to break off the knowledge.

I don't know what I'm saying
as my trembling fingers touch forbidden places
I only know that I have waited
for so long for the chance that we are taking
I don't know andIi don't care
what made you tell him you don't love him
anymore and as I taste your tender kisses
I can tell you've never been this far before

Touch the hand of the man
that made you a woman.

I want to look inside your soul
before I lay you down.
I want to know you
before I make love to you.

There's a lot of ways of saying
what I wanna say to you
there's songs and poems and promises
and dreams that might come true
but I won't talk of starry skies
or moonlight on the ground
I'll come right out and tell you
I'd just love to lay you down

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I Have No Reason to Be Afraid of Anything

I'm holding, in my hand, the primary line of defense in my house. It's not just a pinata stick. It is the pinata stick. A remnant from some party from some forgotten age, the pinata stick has long stood tall as my unflinching security system.

When, last year, I heard people sneaking around my back door, snooping around my basement, checking to see if the door was unlocked, what do you think I did? I grabbed that pinata stick, that's what I did. And I held it in hand as I asked them what they thought they were doing. One of them bolted out of the house. The other stammered a nervous excuse before the pinata stick and I decided to let him live.

Sure, since Kevin moved in, we have his wide array of baseball bats, Civil War muskets, and Ninja Stars, but I'll keep this stick by my side.

Come on, punk. Get a little closer. So I can break you open. Let's find out what kind of candy you're stuffed with.

(Hey, kids, wanna play the "what's happening in the background of this picture" game? Well, for starters, Bender's eating! Neat! Longtime readers are well aware of Bender's affection for food! And, look, over on the stove--somebody's left a wooden spoon on a burner. Uh oh! That could be trouble!)

Me & Bender

My cat and I have many small differences between us. For example, I don't mind wearing neckties and he hates them. He enjoys sleeping in small cardboard boxes, while I prefer beds. He likes to chase small toys that make bird sounds and I...well, maybe we have some things in common, but mostly not.

But there is one major difference between us--the personal relationship each of us has with food.

My relationship with food is primarily defined by two things: necessity and guilt. This isn't to say that I don't have things that I like to eat--I do. And when visiting the family especially, I eat a lot of those things. But when I'm home and busy and life is out of control (which I usually make it even when it really doesn't have to be), I have a tendency to only eat when I have to. So, you know, brink of dizziness because of lack of food.

And the guilt thing plays into my veganism, obviously. I don't have the variety of choices that other people have because of my somewhat obsessive concern for the treatment of others. I don't mind most of the comments from people about veganism, either. Except for the whole "well, you know lettuce have feelings, too" and "vegetables have physical reactions when you cut them" crap. Look, that's all fun and games to you, but I take this stuff seriously. I'm a little emotionally unstable, you know. If I am really convinced that a carrot cries inside when it's sliced, then I've got nothing. Nothing.

Anyway, enter Bender:

He just doesn't have the same concerns. For Bender, food equals love. Food equals a cure for his midnight boredom. Food equals bliss. So he likes to eat. He eats like a dog, really, sticking his face deep in the food bowl, not breathing until the bowl is empty.

He'll cry in the morning. He'll cry a little in the afternoon. Whenever Bender isn't being feed quickly enough, he'll let you know. And, sadly, it's not like he's working the pounds off very quickly. I've even provided the photographic evidence. Sigh. I'm not going to call him fat because he's my cat and he lives with me. But you can call that, I guess.

Let's not get the wrong idea about either one of us, though. I don't think of myself as the crazy "world is ending" kind of vegan, blowing up buildings and all that. And Bender is very sweet and affectionate. After he's eaten a quarter of his weight in cat food.

I just want everyone to know what they're getting into in case you invite Bender and me over for dinner. We expect to get several invitations soon.

Basketball rocks!

College basketball is back! Man, that's exciting stuff. I hope we're able to get a game as compelling as the Bradley vs. Pittsburgh showdown that took place last season. See?

I hope Georgetown plays Clooney College this year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Board 2

So, Robin's reply to my last post about the need for a Nip/Tuck board game (which would be genius) made me wonder how exactly that last post of mine didn't end up in a discussion about what TV shows would make great board games.

Emily's Reasons Why Not
This is based on that Heather Graham show that was on last year. The object is to see how long you can play before somebody runs over to the game, takes the board, laughs at you, and then kicks you in the face.

It can be play alongside with the board game based on John Stamos' show Jake in Progress, which, compared to Emily's Reasons Why Not ran had a run that rivaled FDR.

The object is to win without touching the game board or any of the playing pieces. I'd have more clever things to say if I'd ever seen an episode of Monk But I'm just assuming that that wacky OCD is the driving gag of the show, so there you go.

According to Jim

The object is to collect as many Jim-isms as possible and say them in your best "Jim" voice. One of the most exciting challenges is the fun-filled "What would Jim do" round where you handle tough issues like "It's Jim's anniversary, but the guys are going to play cards. What would Jim do?" Oh, the fun.

Another intriguing aspect of this game is that it goes on for much longer than you'd expect it to. Years, in fact.

The Nine
Just like the Lost board game, except no one will actually play it. But it's the second game on our list with a former cast member of Wings. The Wings board game is still in the developmental stages. 'Cause I can't think of anything funny to say about it (like that's stopped me so far. But still).

Dancing with the (Pet)Stars
This is the dream game for Mario Lopez fans! Each of the playing pieces is Mario from a different stage of his career (Slater Mario, Greg Louganis Mario, Pet Star Mario, That Talk Show that was Kind Of a Male Version of the View Mario, Dancin' Mario) and you move him around the board and have adventures and stuff.


So, I'm a very exciting person, living a life filled with unexpected turns and wacky twists. I live life on the edge and am never afraid to embrace danger and then kick it in the face.

And all that being said, I kinda like board games. And I kinda like that show Lost that everybody's always talking about. Er, at least I'm always talking about.

So. Lost Board Game. Gold.

Um, well. I don't want to say it's not gold, at least not after one exploratory trip into the game. But I can say that it's the kind of gold that seems kind of neat and shiny when it's sitting all reasonably priced-like in the store then just confuses you with all of its rules once you open the cheaply made tin box. Y'know, that kind of gold.

There are a lot of rules to this game. Here's my proof:

I fully expect you read all of those rules. I'll wait. It's pivotal to your understanding of the rest of this blog.

Okay. You done?

So, there's our problem. I didn't navigate through the four round on-line walkthrough of the game first. Man, Connect Four so totally never required this.

And, really, the thing might be remarkably fun. But Chapel and I just sort of ended up staring at the board for, I dunno, four hours before throwing it aside and grabbing the Candy Land board.

I lied in that last paragraph. I said that Chapel and I stared at the board. That's not true because there is no board. There's this:

Which becomes a board. Sort of. Maybe I guess. I was too busy keeping Boone and Sayid's faces inside the little plastic holders. But they're handsome and stuff, so that's good. Evidently I was supposed to move their faces around and do stuff. But then I read the rules and realized the goal of the game was to simply lay all of the crap out over my table and then read all of the rules. Over and over again. Where I can uncover cool bits of info like this:

If Ana Lucia lands on a Location with an opponent's Character, she must engage them (if more than one are at the same Location, you choose one). If you win a Power Check against a Character, you may choose to Injure that Character.

or this:

The base powers of any Characters adjacent to Claire, but not in a Power Check with Claire, count towards her power in a Power Check. Claire alone may attempt to lead Characters at an adjacent Location.

Yay! Power Checks and adjacent Locations! Count me in!

But at least there's a chance I can play as Shannon and Walt. Because that's what I always wanted out of a board game. Or get Hurley into a fight with Jack. That would equal ratings.

So, anyway, run out and get this game. Even if you've never seen the show. Even if you've never played a board game. Even if you've never read my blog.

Just remember, that board game is filled with secrets.

Oh, and aren't you gald you didn't bother to read all those rules? Geez, you always did know how to defy authority.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Giving the people what they want

Week after week, month after month, I've been hearing one question. One question for which I have sadly had no reasonable or acceptable answer.

Everywhere I've been--from my living room to the kitchen, from the top of the stairs that lead to the basement to the bottom of the stairs in the basement itself, I've been faced with one question.

Why don't you ever update your blog?

It's not an easy question to answer. I'm a complex guy, filled with individual thinking and stuff. But when the crazy old man across the street who throws rocks at cars and screams in a made up language to children, asked me (after he noted we were wearing the same orange sweater) "Where's your blog been?" I knew I had no choice.

Okay, he didn't ask me that. But he does exist, of course, this rock-throwing guy, and he does seem to own a sweater that is eerily similar to one I own and this (as it should) concerns me.
Where will I be in twenty-five or thirty years and what are the odds that it will involve me wearing that exact same sweater and kicking my legs wildly, waving my arms randomly, and screaming at children? I mean, I think I have the longterm potential to be fairly stable, but there are things we can't predict. Still, I'm going to pride myself on saying that's a longshot, a 75-to-1. Still, that photo of the sweater (taken mere moments ago!) does show me posing for pictures while wearing pajama pants and an orange sweater. And that is so crazy guy across the street. So let's make it 65-to-1.

So here are the current odds (going all Vegas and what-not on you) of what I'll be doing in twenty-five years:

--Walking into a composition classroom at a middling university where I've been adjuncting for fifteen years, running my fingers through my long and wildly unkept mostly gray hair, and saying, "so, my young composers, let's talk about our feelings." 2-to-1

--Driving. 8-to-1

--Eating a big ol' hunk a cheese. 6-to-1

--Working on my second academic tome about poststructuralism and polyphonic tendencies in the work of playwright Robin Runyan. 150-to-1.

--Basking in celebrity after taking all the credit for some massive volume that Chapel has written about global religions. 5-to-1

--Getting really good rejection slips from Mid American Review that tell me you're almost there! Try again? with a smiley face underneath. 3-to-2.

--Working really hard to update my blog (or maybe by then they'll have flying blogs. Oooh). 4-to-1.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bender vs. Mouse

Here's the way to start a day jam-packed from morning 'til night --

Okay, first thing in the morning -- I'm in the bathroom (I don't think I'm violating any sacred trust by talking about such bodily functions in a blog entry. First thing in the morning, right. Very natural. Besides, as I've long been told, I've got the bladder of a 13-year-old girl. Or an 85-year-old pregnant woman. I can't remember which).

Anyway it seems odd to me that the sparkly fabric tablecloth-type thing that Robin had on one of the end tables is on the bathroom floor. That table is in the living room and the bathroom is very far away from that. So I assume Bender the cat got bored last night and played with it and dragged it in the bathroom. Seems unlikely now, really, but I had only been awake for two and a half minutes. So, whatever.

Then I see the half-eaten mouse on the bathroom rug. So things are become more clear now as I continue what seems in retrospect a morning urination that takes 45 minutes (It must just feel that way when there's a dead mouse in the room. Or I actually did take 45 minutes peeing. Not sure).

So I picked up Bender's little victim and checked out the living room. The stuff that was on that little table (a book, a bag of cookies, a plastic tumbler) all lying everyone in the room. Chaos! Something fairly dramatic happened in there at some point last night/this morning and I heard nothing. Nothing! I am a sound sleeper.

And, for a fat cat, Bender can evidently move when he needs to.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Prior to the 27th Annual English Department Prom

Walking out of my comp exams this week -- shaking, exhausted, and relieved -- I had one significant thought. No, it wasn't at all related to Modernism or Romanticsm or even the fact I couldn't remember the name of "Wuthering Heights" (which was okay, really, it wasn't something I needed to know for the exam -- I was going to use it as an example of something Virginia Woolf was not -- but I couldn't think of that novel's name. Crazy).

No, I remember that in two days, I was going to have Prom at my house. We'll find out how "Pretty in Pink" this place can be. I'll get pictures and torrid tales up here soon, of course.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Where I've Been

I could say that, instead of updating my blog, I've been wandering around the country on foot having adventures and helping people and stuff, but that wouldn't be completely true. What's mostly true is that I've been preparing for my rather important exams that begin TOMORROW. Yeah, that tomorow. The one coming up after today is over. So, things are happening at a rather feverish pace this week, but when I emerge from the otherside, I'll let you all know how I fared.

wish me luck!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Google Thyself

I was thinking it would be kind of fun to do a blog entry today on the strange things you find when you Google yourself. I was all set to discuss the review I found once about I journal I had a couple of poems appear in that discussed the "sexual unpredictibility"of my work. Then I would have gone over the blog entry in which the author of said blog talked about how I was hitting on her at AWP once(which might be true, of course, but still). So, basically, fun and giggles all the way around and everybody has a good time.

But instead of all that, I think I'll focus in on this one. Not that fun and giggles aren't still possible, but I'll get to be a little more thoughtful and less self-depricating in my response.

I can honestly admit that I wouldn't have expected an article in the WMU newspaper about my experimental writing to get any exposure outside of Western's campus (and even on campus I wouldn't expect much, honestly), but it evidently did have some legs -- there was even a link and brief synopsis of the class on the NCTE website a couple of weeks ago (which is possibly where this person found it). I admit, really, that it's kind of cool to find a blog entry in which complete and total strangers are talking about you, even when they're basically making fun of what you're doing. Even that is kind of cool, really. I can accept it, anyway -- the danger of the class is the difficulty of explaining it and the likelihood of so much of the class being lost in translation. But, as one should after being made fun of, I have decided to reply to these offhand criticisms. And have chosen to do so on my own blog, away from where any of those bloggers and comment-ers will likely see.

The form and angle of the Herald article creates an immediate problem. I, for one, think the article is fine -- it discusses what a campus newspaper ought to discuss, which is the impact a story can have on the campus. In this case, the necessary purpose would be a description and origin of the physcial artifacts that were being displayed around campus. The reporter and the newspaper would have little interest in the fact that the class, while putting together those projects was also reading the works of Blake and the French Surrealists and graphic novelists in an attempt to understand the connection between art and writing in an attempt to apply said techniques to their own work. These are elements of the class' success that aren't necessarily pertinent to the university at large but, I think, rather significant when evaluating the class as a whole.

But I do take a bit of issue with the insinutation that the class isn't teaching students anything, even without the literary aspects of the class. I think the idea of taking writing into a public sphere (as we were doing with the tree projects) forces students to think about writing in an entirely new and exciting way. When a student writes a poem or story on a piece of paper, the intended audience for that piece is immediately limited (if it has been written for a class, the audience becomes the teacher and the students in the class, if it is written outside of class, the audience becomes even smaller than that). But when thinking about writing in a public manner the issue of audience becomes amplified -- suddenly the relationship between what you're writing and who will read it becomes wildly significant because, if you play your cards right, people will be reading it. The writer has the ability to insure that based on the material used to create the work (the more eyepopping and unexpected, the better) and the location of that material (looking toward higher traffic areas). And that's the thing about the "Speech Bubbles in Trees" project. It did work. Obviously, we had issues with people (Landscaping services? Students?) taking them down, but when they were up, people were looking at them. Some of the observers were complimentary and excited. Some muttered things like "treehuggers." But they looked. And that seems to me part of a success.

These projects were conceived and carryed out by my students. The bottle cap message idea? Totally theirs. Same with the Tree Bubble idea. I was there to supervise and encourage, to keep them on track, but the ideas were theirs. The students went through the propers channels to get their projects approved on campus and they dealt with the problems of missing bubbles when that came up. In short, these students were/are not only studying creative writing and literature, they were/are exploring problem solving and audience in ways that few classes I can think of are capable. So, yeah, I think they are learning something and their projects are getting noticed. And they're having a good time doing it.

And another thing mentioned in one of the comments about the article was how this would fly with high school students. Well, considering the fact that you wouldn't plug the class exactly as-is into a high school classroom (the projects and literature would have to be adapted), you'd have to make modifications, but I can't see why -- with those modifications -- it couldn't be beneficial. I've adapted the concept to work with 3rd and 5th graders (as a visiting writer once a week to a grade school) and it's worked amazingly well. Obviously, the 3rd graders aren't reading any Futurist manifestos, but writing on puzzle pieces and wooden trucks has forced them to look at poetry in a different way -- their thought process toward writing changes as the media changes. Besides, it's fun. The college students and the grade school kids are having fun with the projects and the same could be true in the secondary classroom. Somewhere along the line, literature -- and poetry in particular -- gets sold to students as if it is something of a dead language. Perhaps innovative techniques as far as teaching it will bring it safely back to life.

And is eating trail mix and encouraging students who are interested in social issues bad things? I sure hope not. And, to answer that third comment for the article/blog entry. I actually think I am fairly sane. I have my issues, of course, but I don't think lacking overall sanity is one of them. Of course, my friends, colleauges, and students can answer that better than I can.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Celebrities I've Been Told I Look Like

As a visual aid to guide you through the nonsense that is to follow, here I am, moments ago, standing in front of Roy and Amanda's empty wall. Probably not the most glamorous shot in the world to use as a comparison to a variety of celebrities, but whatever. Keep in mind the hair and, ahem, highlights in the hair, do change from time to time so I get different names passed on different stages of hair. This entry would have been made ideal with a lot more pictures. But I don't have time for that. I've got comps to study for. And basketball to watch. And, you know, other important stuff. Anyway.....onward.

Celebrities I've been told I look like:

Matthew Lawrence
(this was the most recent -- yesterday, in fact -- prompting me to update this list for the blog. Most suprising because it means someone has actually given mere thought to Matthew Lawrence recently. )

Dave Grohl
(which I get the most. Probably justified)

Jim Carrey
(don't get it as much as I did, but still occasionally...within the last few weeks even. In my high school yearbook, one person signed "you really do look like that white guy on In Living Color." So I've been hearing this since before Jim Carrey even had a name.)

C. Thomas Howell
(in fact, a guy started yelling at me when I said I really didn't think I did look like him at all. So my apparent resemblance to C. Thomas Howell can lead to violence!)

Johnny Reznick
(this came from a girl in line in front of me at a fast food place: "You look just like the guy from the Goo-Goo Dolls!" I corrected her and told her she meant the Foo Fighters. She agreed.)

A young Pierce Brosnan
(this is true, actually. The quote was "Every day you look more like a young Pierce Brosnan. This came from a (blind?) male customer at the bookstore who was always just a little too friendly.)

Chris Rock
(Technically a friend said I looked like a cross between "Chris Rock and my brother." No idea what his brother looks like, but unless his brother looks more like me than I do, this seems unlikely.)

Cillian Murphy
Kid: You look like that guy from "Red Eye!"
Me: (perplexed) You mean Cillian Murphy?
Kid: That's him!
Ah, the joys of working with third graders.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Here's a Western Herald article about the latest exploits of my experimental writing class and our battles to make the WMU campus more aesthetically pleasing and more socially vital. And not so much succeeding. But we're trying. And the quote from the landscaping services guy? He's totally lying. Really. There will hopefully be a letter to the editor from our English dept. secretary in the next couple of days responding to his lie.

For those who haven't seen the "speech bubbles" as described in the article, you can check 'em out here:

Also, just for kicks (and to cram as many links as possible in this message), here's the first article about the class that appeared in the Western Herald:

And, just so that all of these links aren't self-indulgent, here's a drawing of a kitten playing golf (is the "links" pun by way of a golf picture too obscure? Well, I guess it isn't obscure anymore if I've explained it.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

We all know why Star Wars just never gets the critical acclaim it deserves (I mean, with the notable exception of the highly prestigious "Blockbuster Movie Awards") -- not enough cute kids pretending to be tough. You're doing your thing, Christopher, and I dig that about you.
To: you
From: me

Look, lately I've been unwilling to listen to you. It's been all about me. Me. Me. Whenever you've felt like saying something -- even if it's been to compliment me for something I've done -- I've taken away your ability to speak.

But I'm changing. For you. I promise to be a better person. I promise to pay more attention to settings before and after posting a message. I promise to make sure that you have a chance to post comments if you want to. I promise, to the best of my abilities, that you can be as much involved in this blog as I am.

Again, I apologize for making you feel like you don't have a voice. I apologize for taking away the one thing that makes you you -- your ability to comment on my blog.

I'm sorry. I hope our relationship can overcome my foolishness.


Friday, March 03, 2006

My Academy Awards Predictions
(Because you've all been so patient in the waiting for them)
And, no, I didn't do all the categories. But this was still enough of a time killer in-between Modernist novels. So it's enough.

Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams in "Junebug" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Catherine Keener in "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
Frances McDormand in "North Country" (Warner Bros.)
Rachel Weisz in "The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features)
Michelle Williams in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features)

It seems a lot of these awards are fairly predictable (though I could be completely wrong, of course, but there’s a certain cowboy flick that will probably do well). That being said, Rachel Weisz seems the favorite here, but I’m guessing it will go to Amy Adams in a bit of a surprise. Obviously Weisz and Michelle Williams (I'm thinking they're the most likely three candidates) had challenging roles too, but Adams is in a smaller scale movie and the Academy might be proud of itself for rewarding it. And the Supporting Actress category seems a bit of a crapshoot most years anyway. So let's be trendy.

My guess at the winner: Amy Adams
My favorite of the nominees: Michele Williams

Best Supporting Actor:
George Clooney in "Syriana" (Warner Bros.)
Matt Dillon in "Crash" (Lions Gate)
Paul Giamatti in "Cinderella Man" (Universal and Miramax)
Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features)
William Hurt in "A History of Violence" (New Line)

I think it has to be Clooney, simply because there’s probably not any room to reward him for the other work he’s done this year (unless Good Night gets a screenplay award, which is possible though not likely). And, besides that, he is pretty good in Syriana. Paul Giamatti should have gotten nominated last year (and probably should've won the thing) for best actor and there’s always the chance they’ll do the whole “let’s reward the guy we screwed last year” thing, but I think Clooney’s probably got this one.

My guess at the winner: George Clooney
My favorite nominee: Clooney

Best Animated Featured Film
"Howl's Moving Castle" (Buena Vista) Hayao Miyazaki
"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" (Warner Bros.) Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
"Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (DreamWorks Animation SKG) Nick Park and Steve Box

I'm going with Wallace & Gromit here. It's funny and fully deserving. I think. I mean, I know it's funny, but I'm not sure how deserving it is -- I haven't seen the other two. Still, seems like a logical bet.

My guess at the winner: Wallace & Gromit
My favorite nominee: W & G

Best Actress:
Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" (The Weinstein Company)
Felicity Huffman in "Transamerica" (The Weinstein Company and IFC Films)
Keira Knightley in "Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features)
Charlize Theron in "North Country" (Warner Bros.)
Reese Witherspoon in "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox)

Of course, I’d pick Theron if the nomination were for Aeon Fluxx and not North Country (as E! reported on the morning of the nominations). But, alas.

Reese Witherspoon is great as June Carter Cash and, June Carter being a Saint and all, I’m a tough critic with this. But she’s as easy for me, as the hypothetical audience, to fall in love with as she is for Johnny in the movie so that's saying something. She’s probably the favorite -- she’s cleaned up at awards shows elsewhere, she’ll probably get the Oscar. Probably.

One major issue with that is that Felicity Huffman’s performance (which I, admittedly, haven’t seen. Nor has anyone, I’m assuming. Not even Huffman herself) seems to be the kind of thing that Oscar voters dig – the whole physical transformation that allows an actress to explore life from another perspective (and, no, Reese’s brown hair doesn’t fit here). But Huffman’s a TV actress and that might turn off potential voters as could the fact that no one’s seen the movie. But we can still assume she’s good, right? All that being said, I’m still assuming Witherspoon will win, but a Huffman win is possible, just probably not likely. The other three can enjoy lovely parting gifts and a wonderful excuse for a night out.

My guess at the winner: Reese Witherspoon
My favorite: Witherspoon

Best Actor:
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
Terrence Howard in "Hustle & Flow" (Paramount Classics, MTV Films and New Deal Entertainment)
Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features)
Joaquin Phoenix in "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox)
David Strathairn in "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures)

Okay, this seems like a no-brainer, but everybody here is really good in their respective movies, so it deserves at least some discussion before I say what you’d expect me to say. Terrence Howard’s great and the movie is better than it probably should be, but I just don’t think the movie itself is good enough to win it for him, at least not with this level of competition. Joaquin Phoenix is good, but I don’t think he’s great in the role. He won’t win.

And I absolutely dig David Strathairn’s performance – it’s simply amazing. But maybe too low key. Voters seem to like the performances based on real-life figures, but there’s another one of those in this category that probably too good not to reward. And, oh yeah, Heath Ledger’s great. But that movie’s going to win so much stuff, let’s give this one to somebody else. There are certainly enough people in this group that deserve to win.

So, yeah, I’m going with Philip Seymour Hoffman. He’s really, really good. And don’t you just want to see him up there? I mean, come on! How cool is that?

My guess at the winner: Philip Seymour Hoffman
My favorite nominee: Hoffman (but I really like Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale. It’s too bad he couldn’t be worked in here)

Best Adapted Screenplay
"Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) Screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
"Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) Screenplay by Dan Futterman
"The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features) Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine
"A History of Violence" (New Line) Screenplay by Josh Olson
"Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) Screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth

Well, Brokeback's likely the favorite here and that makes some sense -- it does a nice job as far as taking its original source and doing something engaging with it for the new media while not trashing the original. But, while I think the Brokeback screenplay will likely win, I'm putting my two cents in for Munich, which has the star power as far as the screenwriter goes and is really effective as far as giving the film its initial and dynamic voice.
My guess at the winnre: Brokeback Mountain
My favorite nominee: Munich
Best Original Screenplay
"Crash" (Lions Gate) Screenplay by Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, Story by Paul Haggis
"Good Night, and Good Luck."Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov (Warner Independent Pictures)
"Match Point" (DreamWorks) Written by Woody Allen
"The Squid and the Whale" (Samuel Goldwyn Films and Sony Pictures Releasing) Written by Noah Baumbach
"Syriana" (Warner Bros.) Written by Stephen Gaghan
I think Crash will win this one -- the Academy's going to feel obligated to give it something and the complicated overlaying of characters gives the script the illusion of depth even if the depth isn't there as powerfully as it is in some of the other choices here. Good Night has an outside shot at it and, while I think it's a better script, it probably will have to be satisfied with the nomination. It seems the voters actually get it right fairly frequently with the screenplay awards, but I don't see it happening -- The Squid & The Whale is a fantastic script that deserves to win. It won't.
My guess at the winner: Crash
My favorite of the nominees: The Squid & The Whale

Best Director:
I really don’t see any way Ang Lee doesn’t win this. I mean, I can envision Brokeback not getting Best Picture before I can envision him not winning this. All political volatility aside, it’s a lovely film, beautifully handled and shot. He’ll win and he ought to. No problems here. Right? Clooney's already got his supporting actor award, so he's happy. Spielberg's won stuff before so he's happy. Bennett Miller got recognized for Capote, so he's got to be cool with that. Paul Haggis and Crash? He's probably gotten the screenplay award at this point.

My guess: Ang Lee.
My favorite nominee: Lee.

Best Picture: Well, I’m guessing Brokeback will win and, of these nominees (four of which I think are really terrific films), it probably should (though Good Night, and Good Luck especially deserves some serious consideration and Munich, really, is a pretty fantastic film). But the biggest competition here is the movie of this group I think the least of– that’s Crash. I mean, it’s okay, but I found it heavy-handed and inorganic (I can get away with saying things like that, right?) Good performances, but the script itself didn’t really allow characters to rise to the surface. It’s a movie that cares less about character and more about theme and handles that theme without the deft hand and subtlety that would exist in a better movie. But it’s still a factor and it's chances have really grown. Those late campaigns do wonders for a movie's credibility (it seemed last year like Million Dollar Baby just kept building momentum until it won the big one). But I'm still thinking that Brokeback is just too much a cultural phenomenom to ignore. And, when given the chance, Oscar's not afraid to celebrate the cultural phenomenom. For it to not win at this point would make the Academy look bad.

My guess at the winner: Brokeback Mountain
My favorite of the nominees: Brokeback and Good Night, and Good Luck.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Quick Phone Booth follow-up. Here's an actual exerpt from an actual user review of the film on IMDb. It's from Missgreenelf in the United Kingdom. She's talking about the movie Phone Booth now remember:

"I would suggest to anyone that hasn't seen this film to do so, cause it not so far outside the possibility that it could happen to you. which makes it great."

'not so far outside the possibility that it could happen to you' Think about that. It could happen to you. You could be held hostage by a sniper in a building across the street while being forced to stand in a phone booth. You!! I worry about Missgreenelf sometimes. I really do. Especially at moments like this.
I'm one week removed from the first day of my trip to lovely Orange City, Iowa. In order to appease my nostalgia, here's a picture of one of downtown Orange City's landmarks. No, not Amy, she's simply inside the windmill phone booth. And I believe the phone inside the phone booth (which may be a fully functioning phone) is, like, sealed together with masking tape or something. I could be making that up, I wasn't brave enough to go inside the phone booth. I do think, though, if anybody ever makes a sequel to the legendary film Phone Booth (and I, for one, have been clamoring for that for to happen for years now), this is the phone booth where it needs to happen. And I especially hope that, if that did happen, it meant that Colin Farrell would get to visit Orange City for filming. 'Cause he'd love it there.

No Phone Booth 2 but the true movie event of our lifetimes is coming. Snakes on a Plane. Why can't August happen already? Mandie, you still willing to camp out a week before it opens?

Man, this has been a rough week for me, what with the nosebleeding episode while playing with the dogs on Monday. And then, tonight, Sofia got scared when I was going over to meet Bob to get Jody's keys so I can watch Shadow over the weekend (and, I know, if you don't know the Kalamazoo life, that sentence meant nothing) and, Sofia, being afraid of things like doors and new places, ran quickly on the pavement next to Jody's building and wouldn't slow down -- it was icy and I couldn't keep my balance. Splat. In Sofia's defense though, she did come over to check up on me after I fell. She gets nervous, but she means well. And, much like the "backhand to the nose" on Monday, I shook this potential injury off as well. Bret Favre's got nothing on me as far as tough guys go.

I'm glad I have a blog so I can report on all the stupid pratfalls I take. Whew. Just think -- you wouldn't have known any of this otherwise. Oh, what you would have been missing.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

If I had been using my blog two days ago...

(nevermind the fact, as Greg was so quick to point out, I did of course have blogging capabilities I was simply deciding to use sparingly) I could have said something like this:

Chapel bloodied my nose while we were walking the dogs yesterday. Should I say more about this? Should I explain how she was throwing a stick to Oz and accidentally (should I use quotes around "accidentally?" I'm pretty sure it was an accident, though. Pretty sure.) backhanded me in the face? And, yes, bloodied my nose.

For those of you keeping track -- I am fine. It just bled a little. Which is sad, painful, and a little pathetic, but I am okay. And I think I've pretty much used the "you almost broke my nose" line to its extent in the days that have followed.

If I would've had my camera on me yesterday... (to continue a theme) I would have taken a picture on the sign in front of the Little Theater on campus, where a select film is screened each weekend by our friends at the Western Film Society. The film this week is Capote or, as the sign explained it, Captoe. I went to get that glorious snapshot today, but they caught their mistake and fixed it. Jerks. I had all sorts of material prepared for that picture too -- like, what are they going to be showing next week, Munchi? Or something better even. I just didn't have the picture to inspire me.
This here blog is dependent upon so many things -- my naivete as far as thinking (1) anyone will care and (2) that I'll actually be capable of maintaining a blog.

My track record is not so good with #2 -- let's take a look at my personal blogging history: a LiveJournal from 2000 in which I had four -- 4! -- entries recorded for Tuesday, June 20th, 2000 (evidently the Lakers won the NBA title and I was excited. I mentioned something on there about whether or not the Angels could be next. Just be patient, younger version of me). And then an entry on June 22nd (where I reviewed "Sweet and Lowdown" in about 50 words. I seemed to be okay with the movie, but the review itself was pretty unappealing. I give my review a 4). And then my blog jumps to the 7th of July (in which I apologize for not updating my blog. Which seems like a bad sign for the future of this blog). And then July 8th contains this cryptic bit 'o information:

"I'm up! I'm up! Hopefully this match will be worthwhile!"

(I can only hope so). And then, much like a recovered log from a doomed tanker somewhere in the stormy Atlantic (that's a terrible analogy, right? A recovered log would likely be wet and unreadable), we come to my final entry, dated July 28th:

"Hey! I updated! I've been way behind the I'll begin an attempt at correcting this. I don't have much to say at this point, but if nothing else...I have updated it. Let's see if I can keep that going!"

Alas, I couldn't. This brings us to my MySpace blog which, over the course of a year (over a year, really, but I couldn't bring myself to write "over a course of over a year" without parentheticals around it), I produced 10 entries. But I meant well. And, as anyone on MySpace would tell you, those blog entries were legend. Especially the one in which I discuss my lingering sadness over Constantine being voted off American Idol. It was a tough time for me. It was a good thing that I was a few weeks away from leaving the country for a while, because I just wasn't sure I could trust America again after that decision.

Anyway, we now know what we're up against. Here am I -- at as busy a time as I've ever been in my life and I'm trying again. This is destined to fail, right?

Let the failure begin.