Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Three Amigos School begins on Monday. My classroom is mostly set up, and I'm beginning to fart around with lessons. I wish, however, that there was one more week at the beach available...

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Firefly Festival

So a couple weeks ago we rented an RV and went to the Firefly Festival in Dover, Delaware. This was the 2nd annual FF, and our 2nd visit. I think I'm done with it--the crowds were too huge this time. The best thing about the first Firefly was how chill it was, how close you could get to all the acts without feeling jammed in. This year there were way too many drunk-ass rowdy college kids who marshed my mallow.

Notes on the tunes:

The Skins were the first act I saw. Three very young African-American siblings (singer, drums, bass) and two young Caucasian kids (guitars). I don't know what I expected when they took the stage, but it certainly wasn't a series of hard-rock tunes with Black Sabbath leanings. The singer has studied her Noisettes, and the lead guitarists can shred like nobody's business. Really tight band, very entertaining. I don't think anyone was better than the Skins all weekend.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are amazing. I'd never seen them live and they played a 2-hour greatest hits list going deep into the '70s. Just great. And "Tweeter and the Monkey Man"? Aw, hell yeah.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are the most boring band I've ever seen live. Every song sounds exactly the same, and the little jams between songs are so tired and ineffective. Just stop.

MGMT are polished and spot-on live, but you might as well stay home and listen to their CDs. Passion Pit and Foster the People are about in the same class of sparkly digital music as MGMT. Django Django are interesting, the Alabama Shakes are soulful and worth seeing, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes were OK, and thank GOD the Lumineers cancelled because Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper filled in and they really rocked--their cover of "When the Levee Breaks" is the greatest cover I've ever seen live anywhere by anyone.

Monday, July 09, 2012

I've changed locations, at least temporarily. Find more recent posts at

Monday, June 25, 2012

Books #18, #19, and #20

The reading this year comes in fits and starts. I’m bored by books for the first time in my life. More later about this?
  I read this on the Kindle Fire (and iPad3). I like the way the book was formatted to focus on one frame at a time if you choose, or the entire page. It’s interesting to read V for Vendetta as a first-timer after seeing OWS and Adbusters use the Guy Fawkes mask to such effect. Will the radical change of consciousness Chomsky believes necessary before an anarchist revolution actually occur, or are we too distracted and complacent even now? I fear we’re going to have to deplete the Earth even further before we can make positive change.
  Got this for my classroom library. YAWN. The characters are boring and predictable types, the supernatural aspects of the story are tired cliches, and the art was uninteresting. Kids who hate reading might like it, which is all that matters I suppose.

  Picked up a donated copy for the classroom library and read it on a whim. It was, after all, one of the books by which I can measure a good chunk of my near-decade as a bookseller. How many copies of this did I ring up? How often did I stack it at the Info Desk? Who knows? It wasn’t a bad book by any means, though at the time it was hot I had a snooty kind of attitude, something akin to “the Herd is reading this, it can’t be good.” As a descriptor of perennial truth it’s not too shabby. I wonder if the Celestine Prophecy is as good? Will I find out? Likely not.

Monday, June 18, 2012

@ the Wickerman Burn Festival

We returned yesterday from 3 days at Four Quarters campground in Artemas, PA. We were there for something called the Wickerman Burn Festival, which is a mid-Atlantic knock-off of the Burning Man Festival. I liked camping with friends and having a little area all our own for people to visit and trade things. I enjoyed being outside and doing out-doorsy things. I liked seeing (some of the) freaky people, and meeting and talking to a few. But the music wasn't that great, the arts and crafts were sadly lacking, and I'm past the age when glow-in-the-dark bracelets or battery-powered jewelry might interest or excite me. We did get to dance a bit, and there were naked people, and the fire itself was a thrill: a huge effigy burned atop a gigantic pile of timbers, followed by a bit of hedonism. We took a long nap next to the conflagration once it had shrunk enough to get near. I watched burning embers climb a smoke ladder into the starry sky where they vanished, and wondered about early hominids doing the same and creating the underpinnings of religious and mystical thinking re: the heavens above. I would love to camp at Four Quarters again, but I'm not sure about Wickerman Burn. It wasn't a negative experience by any means, but I expected more...creativity? Paganism? Fun?

Friday, June 01, 2012

Day #178

It's close now, the end of the 2011-2012 school year. So close I can taste it. I'm trying not to act like I'm on summer vacay yet, but it's hard. There's so much left to do: complete final assessments, write report cards, plan next week's mini-course on international travel, DJ the end-of-year picnic, rehearse and set-up and break-down and get through the 8th grade passage ceremony at UMB, create the center pieces for the tables at said event, coach my homeroom through their portfolios and student-led conference presentations, look at the end-of year benchmark reading and language data for the 65 kids I have currently and will see again next year, begin planning next year's three academic expeditions, think of final products for said Expeditions. I've got to take courses this summer to keep my certification: Teaching Reading in the Content Area I and II. Yuck. And I just found out that on the new facilities map my room is moving across the hall and down next to the library. This makes room close-out a much more complicated process, and one of our pack-up days has now been co-opted by a School Leadership Team meeting. Oh, and Culminating Event is today. I need to get ready for that, because I haven't, and in a couple hours parents will be touring my room with their kids. I'm starting to choke on it all. I'm going to be the Humanities Team lead next year and I don't feel up to it. Insomnia all week hasn't helped. I'm so tired I bombed out on the Push-up Wars: I only did 67, which is terrible for me, and I came in second to one of the counselors, who did 84, a number I normally crush. I don't like losing those challenges. At least I beat the Phys Ed teachers. Ugh. What will I do with the students in my reg classes next week? I have nothing left to give, but I don't want to show movies. Maybe they can help me clean up. Yesterday on the playground before school: Morganna: "Mr. Geoff, I'm bored." Me: "Why are you bored Morganna?" Morganna: "There's nobody out here I like." Me: "How can someone your age ever be bored. Look around you. The world is an interesting place. What about your imagination?" Morganna: "If I imagine I'll be a big weirdo."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Book #17

For my thoughts and reactions to Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, you can stroll on over to my school blog. Down the side are links to what my 6th and 7th graders had to say about the book.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book #16

"words which are but breath to me will last into eternity"--a paraphrase of Sappho Before I decided to become a certified public school teacher I was accepted into the graduate English program at College Park. I'd intended to get a PhD in literature, and had proposed a thesis idea about the paranoid authorial consciousness in Henry James, particularly in works like The Turn of the Screw and The Sacred Fount. Ramsey Campbell's latest takes a similar track, but in reverse. I shan't explain further for fear of wrecking the surprise premise. Seven Days of Cain combines the psychedelic prose and unreliable nature of perception found in his earliest, best work with elements of Pygmalion and Frankenstein. The result is a mostly satisfying novel. Andy is a photographer working for his folk's portrait studio. He and his wife Claire are trying and failing to conceive. As the novel progresses we find out that Andy was once an aspiring writer and that his imagined characters may be haunting more than their author. Occasionally the book gets bogged down in Campbell's late-phase tomfoolery with awful puns and exchanges of misperceived dialogue, but I enjoyed it. The opening half is the strongest work he's done in some time. If you want a thoughtful, moody horror novel, give it a try.