• Poetry,  Writing

    Snow Day

    The whicker of wind outside my window tells me leaving the haven of my bed would be a mistake. No breakfast eaten or new day begun, no matter how delicious or auspicious, can contend with the loving press of a flannel sheet or the promised rush of anesthetic joy. Dreams pull me down, promising one more and one more and one more minute of bliss. So I stay.

  • Miscellaneous

    Don’t Be Part of the Problem: Just Let that Rumor Pass on By

    Brace yourself for some bad news, folks. This week, famous bad guy Charles Manson endorsed Donald Trump for president. Also, it’s been revealed that Ted Cruz was once best friends with Fidel Castro. On top of that, Bernie Sanders has announced a plan to ban all trucks in the U.S. Yes, trucks. He might as well outlaw lunch buffets. All of these bits of information would indeed be surprising if they were true, but they aren’t. I didn’t make them up, either. They’re just a few examples of fake news stories floating around cyberspace this week, and they’d be funny if people hadn’t actually believed them enough to pass them around.…

  • Miscellaneous

    The Non-Resolution Resolution

    Two days ago, after three or four hours of driving around town looking at houses, drinking Mexican lattes, and chasing cell phone signals, my wife and I decided to go to the gym. We were worn out, but if we didn’t get our workout time in, we’d have trouble justifying all the Friday night snacking we’d planned for later. That’s basic science.   Our gym is a good place to exercise, but it isn’t perfect. They have nice, well-maintained equipment, but they also have televisions hanging from just about every available square inch of ceiling, all of them tuned to FOX News, CNN, ESPN, and A&E. Lucky for me, when…

  • Books,  Movies

    In Search of Premium Illumination: Film vs. Book in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated

    There’s a feeling I get when I’m reading a novel and I know I’m in the hands of a master. No matter the destination, I know the journey there will be what stays with me long after I’ve shelved the book, or, since it’s a good one, probably loaned it to a friend. While I’m reading the masterpiece, the thought of putting it down makes me reevaluate my life’s priorities, and while I’m not reading it, I’m thinking about what deals I’ll need to negotiate to be able to be reading it. This kind of experience doesn’t happen that often for me, coming across a book that makes me feel…

  • Television

    The End is Always Near, and Hell is the History Channel

    As the end of January approaches, and New Year’s Day shrinks in the rearview, a question lingers in my mind. What is it about holidays that inspires “educational” cable channel producers to air every apocalyptic documentary in their catalog? Even if you think you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably do. Flip through the channel line-up around the holidays, and I guarantee you won’t go far before you find something related to the hypothetical end of the world. It started a few years back, in the days of yore when A&E’s programming changed from arts and entertainment to ex-rock stars, bayou-dwelling people with enormous beards, and folks who…

  • Miscellaneous,  Writing

    George Orwell and Truth for Truth’s Sake

    Sometimes, I ask myself this question: What would George Orwell say if he were alive today? I mean, what would he say other than “Man, I’m really old, which is surprising, not in the least because of that whole tuberculosis thing.” At any rate, I’m sure he’d have some other interesting insights. As John Lennon once said, these are strange days, indeed. I’m not the only one thinking about Orwell. As you might have noticed, folks are throwing around the word “Orwellian” like they’re earning double royalties on its usage. Saying “Orwellian,” in fact, has become shorthand for most of the ideas Orwell cared about. This means, by the way, that using…

  • Television

    Adapting Justin Cronin’s The Passage

    I absolutely loved Justin Cronin’s novel The Passage. A couple of years later, I really enjoyed the sequel, The Twelve. I liked the third book, The City of Mirrors, though I thought Cronin spent way more time on, let’s just say (for the sake of not spoiling anything) the backstory of a significant viral (Cronin’s word for a vampire) character than I thought he should’ve. The backstory was interesting, true, but it didn’t seem to contribute a lot to the overall story arc. That said, I was still happy with where the trilogy ended. The overview of the story: Scientists are trying to develop a cure for all the infirmities…

  • Miscellaneous

    Teachers and Doers, or: Those Who Can Do May Also Do Teaching

    Maybe you’ve heard the old saying about teachers not being competent enough to actually do the thing they’re teaching. After all, the logic goes, if someone is proficient at their craft, why would they forgo fame, acclaim, and the ability to purchase frighteningly expensive houses just to slum it as a teacher? The horror. I don’t buy it. It makes no sense to assume that being a teacher disqualifies someone from being good at their discipline. Sure, in some instances the old adage may be true—as is the case with many clichés—but I often wonder about the folks who feel compelled to offer up this nugget of wisdom. Do they…

  • Miscellaneous

    The Road to the Whiteboard and the Power of Pretending

    This week has been a flurry of activity for me. Lesson plans and rosters need attention, and I’m working hard to memorize my new class schedule. Another semester has blossomed, and another round of students now sits before me, each with a new name and face to be learned. For the next sixteen weeks, I’ll have the constant suspicion that I’m running behind, and I’ll be right. But all that’s fine by me. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. Unlike some teachers I know, I didn’t grow up wanting to become one. In fact, from what I can remember of my life as a teenager, I didn’t have a…

  • Miscellaneous

    Finding, Loving, and Losing Pets

    Recently, we found out our dog Ringo has mouth cancer. This wasn’t a huge surprise, since he’s had small tumors for the past few years on his legs, and we know from experience that any dog with a Labrador bloodline is probably going to succumb to some type of cancer during their later years. Still, this kind of news is always tough to take. At this point, we could put Ringo through surgery, chemo, and maybe even radiation treatments, but at about fourteen years old, he probably wouldn’t do well with it. For now, then, all we can do is keep him comfortable, satisfy his still impressive appetite for food,…