Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I re-visited The Best American Short Stories: 1989 in order to round out the year. I have a half-dozen half-completed books on the end table, but didn't feel compelled to crank through them before 2010. I'll finish those before the Mayan apocalypse.

I went back to this collection after 20 years because several stories stuck with me: "White Angel," by Michael Cunningham, "Ralph, the Duck" by Frederick Busch, "Customs of the Country" by Madison Smartt Bell, "Strays" by Mark Richard, "What Men Love For" by Dale Ray Phillips, "Black-Hand Girl," by Blanche McCrary Boyd, Larry Brown's "Kubuku Rides (This is It)"...I could go on. It's very unusual for me to remember so vividly so many different stories; I read a lot, and forget completely what I read weeks ago, let alone decades back. To remember this collection 20 years later made it stand out to such a degree that I had to dig it out, even though I gave up reading the Best American stories series more than ten years ago.

Atwood's selections hold up. This is a varied collection, touching on adolescent angst, the Cold War, rednecks, Native Americans, drugs, old age, lonely women in misery...I will re-read it another 20 years down the line if I have breath in my body.

Strangely, I had in mind an entire narrative about this collection, and how it was used in a writing course taken at Loyola College in Baltimore when I was still a teenager, and as I picked up the book with its broken spine I could even picture some of the girls in that class (I think I was the only male in the Writing Seminars that year). But the dates don't match up. This book came out two years later than that course, which means I read the 1983 collection in that class, and I remember nothing from that collection. But it still shimmers brightly at the commencement of what I'd always hoped would be the career of a writer. Now that dream has faded but my appreciation of fine stories hasn't. The 1989 collection must have been from Popular Lit with Dr. Siegel at York College of Pennsylvania. If memory serves...

Friday, December 25, 2009


I like the line-up gathered here to discuss HPL's impact, as it includes some of my favorite horror dudes (John Carpenter and Ramsey Campbell and Guillermo del Toro and Pete Straub). Each shares thoughts on the Mythos and how formative HPL's peculiar vision and style were on their own creative output. Neil Gaiman makes wry witticisms about words like "eldritch" and plush Cthulu dolls, and notes that while it's easy to parody Lovecraft and ridicule his style, it's only possible to parody something which is alive and still resonant across the culture.

But too much of the doc is spent summarizing the stories; I would prefer frankly more face-time from the writers and directors and artists. Would also be nice to hear from others who borrowed heavily from HPL: Chabon and Steve King and Alan Moore and Harlan Ellison spring quickly to mind, but I guess they begged off.

A good place for beginners, but not sure fans of the pulp writer from Yuggoth need to see it.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Aw, what a tender-hearted Christmas movie! An ailing police Captain is trying to 'civilize' his corner of the Outback, but restless aborigines and a disturbed gang of Irish brothers make it difficult. After the spectacular rape/massacre of an entire family, the Captain brings in two of the three brothers, but lets one go on a mission to track down and kill the most disturbed of the Burns boys. Bleak, harrowing, and dusty, The Proposition was scripted by Nick Cave (who also did the songs) and was directed by John Hillcoat. The cast is excellent, and includes John Hurt as a bounty hunter [spoiler alert: easily his best death scene since Alien].

How did I find out about The Proposition? Because I was considering seeing Hillcoat's take on Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but wanted to learn more. I think he's up to the material...

#49 and #50

The ladies who, as children, inspired Dorothy of Oz, Alice of Wonderland, and Wendy of Neverland meet up by chance at a decadent Austrian hotel run by a libertine. Turns out these three one-time muses are rather randy, and as they continue their sexually adventuresome awakenings each tells her story. The stories are recognizable, though I must say I never imagined Captain Hook or the Straw Man or the Jabberwock in quite these scenarios.

Such a book could easily descend to purely tawdry depths and end up on a par with straight-to-DVD pornographic parody (akin to the recent titles "Not the Bradys XXX" or "Nailin' Palin'"), but Moore knows his literature and keeps things refreshingly high-brow. The production of stories, the construction of personae, and the role of sexual fantasy and repression in each is the theme, and the art work and lay-out is clever and titillating by turn. It's a serious book worth re-visiting and re-considering.

That's not to see that an imaginative soul couldn't find fap-worthy material here. I'm just saying...


Kerth Gersen is on a missin to find and kill the five Demon Princes who wrecked his home world. He's dispatched one, and is hot on the trail of another when his plan back-fires and he ends up serving time in an isolated holding-cell for kidnap victims awaiting ransom. Another gorgeously entertaining short sci-fi novel.

[thanks to EC for answering my call for graphic works which are other than doom and gloom]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow Day

My second consecutive snow day, and it's dramatically improved my spirits, which were already improved from earlier this fall. Snow days in Baltimore City are exceptionally rare, after all. We don't get the snow we used to. Good to see the old El Nino pattern of weekly ice/snow events settling in!

The City schools were scheduled to remain open through tomorrow before Xmas break. I wonder if they'll just call it a day and shut down again in the morning? I actually wouldn't mind going in tomorrow. I have some stuff to grab in my room before break so I can plan up. I also wouldn't mind giving out some treats to the few kids who would bother to show up.

Struck lately by a powerful reminiscence. I'm in the kitchen at our old house in Stewartstown, PA. I can't be more than 5 or 6 years old. My mother and her friend are making hard candies. They cook up sugar and food coloring on cookie sheets, then they snip the cooling gooey into strange little twists which we roll in powdered sugar. Mother has dozens of little jars which she's decorated with ribbons and little home-made ornaments and name tags and into which the candy goes. She will distribute these to the mail man, the milk man, my teachers, my bus driver, folks at church, local merchants, etc. Mother also knits little elves, santas, and angels, into which she inserts a Leggs egg before hanging them on the tree. On Xmas day these ornaments will be opened to reveal a small fun gift. She knits our stockings. She makes ornaments out of dough and bakes them in the oven before painting them. She has long strands of cranberry and popcorn, and ornamental strips of carefully folded Teaberry gum wrappers. She is industrious, she is skilled, and she is serious about making Christmas special for her family and community.

I was born at the mid-point of the last year of the '60s. I grew up in the '70s in a small town which was really still in the '50s. We had a milk man! He brought milk in plastic bags which we would put into a small blue plastic pitcher. You cut one corner off the bag and poured it. He also brought cheese and eggs, depending on what you left on a note in the small cooler on the porch. I think the dairy was Greene's and that the milk man was part of the clan. We called him Mr. Greene at any rate. Perhaps he poisoned our poodle? Or was it the mailman?

My paternal grandparents lived up the street. Grandma baby-sat us when Mother worked. Grandma always had Mad magazine for me. I played with toys from the '50s: erector sets, old toy bricks made from real brick. I set them out all over the floor in elaborate designs which I knocked down like Dominoes. Grandma would hide a few coins around the house for my sister and I to find. We'd take these coins next door to the grocer and we could buy bubble gum cigars and candy cigarettes and litte wax bottles full of sugar water with food coloring. There was a 10 cent Coke machine out front of the store with a pull-door and a bottle hanger hanging down. If you weren't fast enough opening the door and snatching your 8-oz glass bottle the door would snap shut and you'd lose your dime. There were crates of Coke bottles next to the machine for the Coke man to pick up and re-use.

I had the run of town. I knew every nook and cranny, and every easy mark for a handfull of treats. I roamed the cemetery, I climbed under bushes and up into trees.

At school I brought a dime every day to buy milk, and got two pennies change. Life seemed simple and beautiful, but like during the '50s there was a lot of darkness beneath the surface. It didn't last.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day #69

I've never wanted kids. I don't think I ever thought a day in my life about having a child or raising a child. But around the holidays I can catch a glimpse of that excitement parents must feel from the joy of their youngins over the holidays. Of course it's not all the kids who feel joy at this time; unfortunately it's a minority at my school. Many kids are indifferent or sad about the holidays. Some are being evicted now. Too many kids are terrifed to spend so much time at home when it's too cold to go outside and they don't have the option to just roam around the streets. They'd rather be in school than at home, and they act out in extraordinary ways to get attention as we get closer to the break.

I don't speak enough here of the good kids: Jay is the only kid in my three classes who is not African-American. He is Guatemalen and his parents don't speak much English. He is a tough, resilient mofo who takes a great deal of ribbing for being Latino. The kids razz him and tell him to take his swine flu ass back to Mexico, they trip him and knock his books down, they taunt him mercifully. But he stands his ground, he wins more and more friends over to his side with his charm and infectious smile. And he's diligent about his classwork, but has indescribably awful English spelling skills, which puts him amongst about the top-third of his classmates in that area.

Or Chandler, who is terrifically bright and who maintains a 122% average in my class because not only does she do every assignment, she also does all the extra credit I assign to kids who are failing in order to try to get them to 60% when they freak out a week before report cards come out. She gets furious if I dare call on anyone else to read out loud in class. She once hustled me out of extra Reesee's Cups on treat day, and then felt so guilty about it she wrote about it in the answer to a question about lying. The question was "tell me about a time you lied to get something. What was it? Was it worth it?" Her answer was worthy of Augustine: "One time I lied to Mr. G to get extra Reesee's Cups. I told him he forgot to give me mine and he believed me and he gave me more. Yes, it was worth it, because I have a sweet tooth."

Or Earache, whose continuous patter and bizarre textual connections and whose Tourette's-like profane outbursts both aggravate and amaze. I find him so entertaining, so charming, so enthusiastic about everything. He asked me if I could drive him home yesterday and I did so just so I could hear him tell me stories for 12minutes. I drove him 12 minutes further away from my house, adding substantially to my commute, just to hear Earache tell me about the baby shower his mother was having, and who was coming, and what foods they would have, and what he hoped the baby's name would be, and how he was going to beat up anyone who messed with the baby, and did I want to come, and did I like cake with blue icing, white icing, or no icing, and he saw a video of a bird which danced like MJ, and did I ever see Forest Gump?, etc.

There are several good kids in each of my clases. Many of the annoying kids are good kids, too. And when I point out "good" kids, I don't necessarily mean that the rest are "bad." Yes, there are some "bad" kids. But most of the not-good kids are not bad, they are troublesome. Whatever, enough. Pray for a snow day!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day #68

So last period might get a lot easier. In one fell swoop, three of the four major troublemakers in the room are gone. JV got transferred out to Mrs. T's class after his IEP meeting. T, because of his age and size, got promoted to 8th grade at an institution for kids who are two years behind schedule. The same thing happened for Pumpkinhead.

I met Pumpkinhead last year. He had health with Miss J next door to me last period last year, but he would always "dip out" and hang around my door. After a while I started letting him in just to get him out the hallway. "Gimme some gum," he would say, and then he'd kind of wander around my room, looking at me as I taught. He failed sixth grade and ended up in my language arts class this year.

Mostly I get along well with Pumpkinhead, but he's been driving me batty the last two weeks. He's known about the possibility he was moving up two grades for a while, and like a long-lost dog being returned home in a car, he kept moving to the door, putting his head out in the hall, and panting, excited about what was around the bend. This caused no end of consternation, because the Big Cheese hates kids hanging around the doors, and she has a camera trained right on my door. I'd shriek at him, he'd get gruff, I'd get in his face and he would break into a wide grin and say "I'm sorry Mr. G. Where's my gum?" He's a "straight-up clown," but I'ma miss him. Hope he does well.

T is also gone. T I won't miss at all, with his smart mouth and his threats to hit me. But I will always regard him as a failure; I set out early to get him and work with him and I failed. I don't like failing. I antagonized him and made him belligerent instead. But he was very challenging. I hope he does well too. But good riddance!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Tunes

We've been eagerly anticipating the release of blog bud The Contrarian's new Lovecraft-inspired CD Eldritch Musicks. Apparently the CDs are ready to ship, and just in time for the solstice awakening of the Old Ones. Ia Cthulu! Cthulu zi Kur!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day #65

I've got my head back on straight lately at school. Instead of letting the pressure get to me I'm easing back and going with the flow, teaching when I can, ignoring the bullshit from superiors, trying to handle my business.

As a result, I can find the kids amusing again, instead of simply agonizing. For example, their propensity to add an additional "uh" syllable to the ends of words cracks me up:

"DeeDee, you have detention today. Don't talk again or I'ma call your house!"


"Are you building an ark?"

"What is you talking about?"

During 2nd period I started calling the kids their names but I added the terminal "uh" syllable: Michael-uh, Misha-uh, To The Point-uh, etc.

First period I played MJ during class work time. DeBoast got up to do an impromptu moonwalk, and it looked great for about two yards and then he fell on his can. Uproarious!

Monday, December 14, 2009

day #64

Held detention today for the entire last period class. They plucked my nerves so hard I gave the entire class detention for the entire week. Their behavior is extraordinary; even Dr. Belly, the new AP, came in and shrieked at them to no effect.

So I'll make them spend an extra half-hour with me every day until they fly right.

6.5 work days until the holiday break. I am totally stoked, dude, as the kids say when they are trying to mock me for being white. Their entire conception of "whiteness" comes from Disney channel shows and the film Half Baked.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


A busy weekend fer shure. Thursday we caught Ellen Cherry's New Years CD release party, which was great fun. There was the Ernie Fowler Trio, there was piano, there was mandolin, there were cellos, there was electric bass and organ, there was a variety of guitars, there was harmony singing, and there was even tuba surprise. And poetry readings! I like the CD a lot; several of the songs are from the Years EP, but they have been updated into swingier, more jazzy affairs with exceptional guitar and bass playing and intricate harmonizing. You should snatch them up here as holiday gifts.

Thursday evening I had insomnia and was awake all night, which made dragging my weary ass through the school day even more taxing than usual. Got home at 4:30 and took a 40-minute nap before being awakened by a phone call, and then headed down to Mick O'Shea's for set-up. The gig went very well. Many old friends dropped by and brought folks along. There was a table of former employees from the old Towson Borders, my sister brought a friend from back in the day, and a solid contingent of Seamus United came out. We hadn't played together in months so the first set was a bit stiff, but once that girl from Ireland jumped up and started dancing our energy levels jumped up and we had a blast.

Last night was Bernie's 40th birthday party out in the sticks. Again, saw many old friends I don't see often enough. And yes, we sound like old people when we talk (topics of conversation: kids today don't know how to work, injuries and aches and pains, the gummerment, etc, etc), but we can still cut a rug.

Today is a day of rest. I should, however, be cleaning the house and doing some lesson plans. But I'm so lazy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day #62

So I'm having a typically stressful day trying to rein in class enough to cram some soon-to-be-tested skills down their throats. We've flown through characterization, idioms and colloquialisms, tone and mood, theme, POV. I need to re-teach everything from the first quarter because their test results were not great, and I also need to teach the new stuff too, even though the reason they are failing tests is not necessarily skills mastery, but text unfamiliarity. And--is it reasonable to expect kids who read two years under grade level to learn literary analysis skills? WTF?

Whatever. I'm having this stressful day and trying to decide if I should fail the girl who became homeless and stopped doing her work, and the Big Cheese makes an announcement that there will be a fire drill @ 2:00. She makes the announcement @ 1:40. The kids on the 2nd floor go ballistic! They are running rampant in the halls, rushing to their lockers to get coats, grabbing their back packs, teachers are standing in doors trying to get them under control, and I'm thinking "What kind of idiot does that?" And then we finally get them under control and back in their classrooms @ 2:00 and then they are jumpy and unfocused and the fire alarm happens at 2:10 and then we are outside and it is frigid cold and the wind is whipping and the field where they have to stand is muddy and they are all dirty and sunk in up to their ankles and then they send us back in and there is mud all over the school and the entire last period is shot.

And then I'm having this typically stressful day and the language arts chair says "we need to have a meeting after school--a brief meeting," and I know what that means and I go to the brief meeting and it's about the test scores and re-teaching and re-grouping and re-focusing and we have to go through all the data and all the students and all the skills and see who missed what and we have to come up with a plan and we're still in school @ 4:30 when I finally just get up and leave because I'd been there since 6:45 and because of the meeting I haven't done my grading or my planning and I'm like "holy shit I'm pooped!" and now I'm going to stop.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Day #61

Sometimes kids set themselves to fight and you can tell they don't really want to, but you can't be sure. There's a ritual to City school fights, where a lot of jawing and "your mammas" ends up with two boys standing cheek-to-cheek, their heads actually tilted in, an intimate almost conjoined connection. They wait like that, like gunslingers, for someone to make the first move so the swinging can commence. Sometimes the swinging never commences, and they start clenching because neither boy wants to fight, they want the teacher to come over and get between them. This way they can say they stood their ground but they don't really have a chance to get hurt.

Two of the biggest sixth graders performed this silly dance in my room yesterday. Gregorious and Talons started jawing as soon as we walked in from lunch, and then they were standing touching cheeks together. I rushed over as much smaller kids pulled on my arms and pleaded "please don't stop this one, please let them fight, we want to see this one, please!" I got between them just as the clenching/wrestling started, and then Talons decided to throw a punch at Gregorious after I got there, like a true pussy. The weakest most frightened kids do that, throwing a sucker punch in effect when the fight is over and they can't get hit back.

As is often the case, Talons' punch missed his target and hit me in the jaw. Even though he packs a good 160 pounds, he didn't do any damage or even really hurt me, but I went ballistic. I grabbed a handful of shirt and threw him into a chair which slid across the floor. I turned and howled at Gregorious to get out and then I hauled Talon by the ear down to the AP, with Gregorious five paces behind us and following.

Of course, true to form, they were sent back to class ten minutes later.

Exactly two weeks until Xmas break. Oh, yeah. Hot diggety!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Day #59

In two weeks and two days I start 1.5 weeks off. It will be a badly needed break from being called "cracker ass muthafucka," from being pushed and jumped on by teenagers, from having to call parents every day. A break from violence, hopelessness, and despair, from seeing the results of poverty, addiction, and abuse. I am counting down the days like a prisoner in his final weeks of incarceration.

And yet over the break I will think of each of my students at least once and I will worry about them and wonder if they are having a good holiday.

Friday, December 04, 2009


When I saw "Eurydice" @ Single Carrot Theater, I thought, "Wow, that's going to be tough to top." And yet, given the streak Single Carrot is on, I knew they would out-do themselves again. I didn't expect it to happen so soon, however.

"Illuminoctem" is an exhilarating home-run. It's a myth re-cast as a short story re-done as a play and re-imagined by the Carrots as a wordless sequence of dance and movement vignettes, and it is AWESOME. It's like Einstein on the Beach meets The Enigma of Kasper Hauser mixed with Duck Amuck. I was totally blown away, and left thinking "I need to see that again."

By turns disturbing, erotic, and beautifully moving, "Illuminoctem" is another triumph. If you haven't seen a show at Single Carrot yet, then you are missing out. This play is a collaboration with many other local artists, including a crew of very clever choreographers, with a fantastic score and amazing light design.

Even the Sun gushed about it. Don't miss!

Day 59

Today Rash was itchin' for a confrontation. I called his house for the gillionth time, hoping to catch his mama and ruin his weekend. Instead his gramma answered, and she said "Mr. G, I want you to take Rash for a walk. Do you hear what I'm saying? He don't have a man in his life, and he needs a man to take him for a walk. You take him where you think you need to: the bathroom, the hallway, or out behind the school. You do what he needs being done. Or, even better, you embarrass him in front of the class. You understand what I'm tellin' you, Mr. G.? You hear what I am saying?"

"Why yes I do. I hear what you are saying. You are requesting that I get physical with your grandson. Do I have your permission?"

"Oh, sweet Jesus. You not only have my permission, you have my request. I want you to be firm with him."

Rash was standing next to me, and I had my phone tilted out so he could hear what Granny was saying. His eyes got bigger and bigger as the phone call progressed. Before I hung up I started rolling up my shirt sleeves. My 6th graders this year have only seen me in dress shirts or sweaters: they haven't seen my arms. They started saying "Damn!" and "Dag!" I pushed my sleeves all the way up as I hung up the phone. Then I picked Rash up and used him as an eraser on the front board. Then I folded him up and rolled him around on the floor a while, and then I opened my supply cabinet and put him inside and locked the door. He calmed down noticeably.

Then T said "you try that on me and I'll hit you." I went after him and he ran out in the hall. I took off my glasses and said "hit me. I want you to hit me." The classroom emptied behind me. "Your class is off the chain," T said, backpedalling, "you need to get them back in the room." "Hit me," I said. "I want you to hit me, because then I can defend myself." I kept moving toward him and my class was following me, eager and abuzz with excitement. Other kids started moving to other classroom doors and looking out.

"You ain't got my mom's permission!" he squealed as I applied the Pinch of Death to his trapezius, and he fell to the floor. I drug him back in my class by his shoes and picked him up and put him in his chair. T is more than twice as big as Rash, but I was making a point and would not be deterred. T has failed twice and uses his size to bully his classmates. "You big and tough, aintcha? You go hard," I said. "A 13-year-old bullying 11-year-olds. Well, you ain't such a much. I wish I was 13 again so I could teach you the lesson you deserve. STAY IN YOUR SEAT AND SHUT YOUR MOUTH."

The other kids in class were clapping and laughing and I asked who was next and then taught my lesson.

Do I enjoy this stuff? Hardly. After being sick for the third time in two weeks, I was frankly winded after rubbing Rash on the board. But it got my point across.

Thank God for the weekend. I am wiped!


Yeah, I'm officially on a Jack Vance kick now. The Star King is hard-boiled sci-fi compared to the more lyrical and mythic Dying Earth series. But the universe is gorgeously imagined, the characters--particularly the villains--are deliciously heinous, and the action is a quite satisfying revenge plot. I can't wait to consume the rest of the series, and recommend again Jack Vance to fans of Ballard, Calvino, Borges, etc...

A couple months back I didn't think I would get to 50 books this year; I feel more confident now. Last year I made 60, and the year before I hit the 100 mark. Slacking in my old age!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I'm drawn to restless souls, to spiritual seekers, to those unsatisfied with every theory, every approach, every explanation. As far as such types go, Joan Halifax has quite the resume: she's a student of Thich Nhat Hahn, she's been an apprenticed shaman in a variety of Mexican and southwestern tribes, she's done retreats and pilgrimages world-wide, she's studied the Dogon and lived amongst them, she's slogged the Himalayas, and she was even married to Stanislov Grof, the pioneer of LSD therapy. A roshi and PhD and shaman all in one: doesn't get more restless than that!

Mostly the book is a collection of stories about her travels, about her meetings with tribal elders, about their warnings and prophecies. I found it a quality addition to the bookcase of similar meandering tomes. She advocates a return to old ways of coexisting with nature, a re-awakening of our deep ecological awareness that we do not live outside of Nature, but that we are part of Nature. And yet she says airplanes and garbage and pollution are part of our world and part of us, we just need to be more sensible and aware of the harm we cause, and we should try to limit or mitigate it; she references the Japanese regret of the pain of human suffering, which recognizes the aesthetic beauty of our sadness: mono no aware. Right now I'm fighting my second sickness in two weeks, this one more daunting than the first, and I'm trying to find the beauty in it.

Guest Blogging

Casey over at The Contrarian has always been kind to Blog-Sothoth, and he recently asked for my favorite albums of the Oughts. I found this assignment particularly difficult, because I don't often listen to what's current. I mean, I'm just discovering the Pixies, Perotin, and Funkadelic!

But whatever. I heard a lot of good albums in the past ten years by The Shins, The Decembrists, Belle and Sebastian, The Flaming Lips, Outkast, Sonic Youth, Ryan Adams, Scott Miller, Toubab Crew, the Ting-Tings, Aimee Mann, etc, etc. But many of these albums were spent after a year or so, and I don't need to hear them again.

Here, however, are the five I haven't exhausted yet. [Were I to add a sixth it would be either Boxer or Heart Like a Lion. Or maybe Spooked--man, I'm terrible at keeping lists concise!]

And speaking of Casey, his new LP Eldritch Musicks is due soon. I've got both Northern Lights and Soft Rock in heavy iTunes rotation, so I'm rather excited to hear his Lovecraft-inspired song cycle. Will it top the Fungi from Yuggoth!?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Day #56

Arson event #3 today, before school even started. It was 7:15, and a handful of kids were in the building, most of them in the cafeteria eating their free Title I breakfast. I was rushing around doing errands, trying to find a copier that worked, etc. I bumped into two 7th graders who are always in the hallway when they aren't supposed to be. I directed them to move along to where they belonged and headed downstairs to the office. I came back three minutes later and my room door was popped and there was smoke in the hall. Then there was an announcement to clear the building.

It appears the two jackasses set fire to a bulletin board. They were on camera when I confronted them, then they were off camera when the fire was set, then they were seen on a different camera fleeing down the hall away from the fire after it started. Their story? "Mr. G was chasing us, that's why we ran." Didn't wash, because I'm on camera on the first floor while they were running upstairs.

My room was popped because some of my students at breakfast saw the fire. One ran to get me and another ran to get the fire extinguisher. By the time an adult knew what was happening, the kids had already alerted the main office, found an adult, and put out the flames! I was quite proud of them.

So the day began with everybody standing outside in the cold for 45 minutes as the fire fighters did their SOP. Figures this morning would be the first truly cold school day of the year.