Saturday, May 22, 2004

Listening to: Chris Potter. (More specifically, I'm listening to a playlist on my computer of sax jazz.)

Finished grading papers this afternoon. Hoped to finish yesterday, but happy to not have them hanging over my head tomorrow. Have the last week of the maymester pretty much planned out, so hopefully the grading is all I have to worry about. Fifteen of the original nineteen left. Seems to be a pretty good class, and I sure could use one.

Alex had a tournament today. They dropped two of three games, but they played hard and I'm pretty proud of them. Good kids these are. Go you might Sugar and Spice!

Finished Steve Martin's Shopgirl on Friday. I liked it a lot, but want to reserve more specific comments on the novella until Angela has had a chance to read it. For some reason, I'm very interested in her opinion of this book.

Started Lawrence Block's Hit Man. I'm in the fourth story/chapter and so far like it. The main character, Keller, is a hired killer, and we get to see him in not necessarily a positive light, but certainly a human one. I have been interested in writing about characters the people usually write off as inhuman (not always killers), and so this sort of story intrigues me. I also like the idea of writing a novel so that the chapters are stand alone stories. (This was a device I may have first seen in Walter Mosely's series involving Socrates Fortlow.) I think I will likely read the sequel to this one when I am done. If it isn't good study work for me, it certainly will be entertaining. Even when Block's books don't knock my socks off, I'm not disappointed.

And now the mighty Coltrane blesses us with his "Song of Praise." So I suppose it's time to get back to reading.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Doing a little writing as my students do research.

Why the blame game, particularly with educators? So many teachers are willing to just write off a person because of behavior that is not acceptable or because they haven't figured out a way to solve it. They often pick one answer and assume that if their "methods" or "strategy" doesn't fix it, then there is nothing that can be done. Further, many teachers seem to just do what comes easy: blame the parent.

I am a parent and a teacher, and I am well aware that both have influence on a young person. But there is too much damn oversimplification when things are not working and I am seeing that many children are hurt in the process of adults working to shift some of the responsibility off of themselves.

It is no wonder Jesus said that one must be like a child to enter the kingdom of God.

On another note, I downloaded all but one song (ironically the title track) of Jack DeJohnette's Parallel Realities. I really love it. I like DeJohnette, but I think it the combination of his playing and Metheny's presence that really make me take notice. And happy day! I found the ECM rarum edition of DeJohnette (and Metheny and Bill Frisell) at the library yesterday. Much good stuff to listen to for awhile. (I already have all the Metheny stuff from other discs, but I’ll enjoy this as a collection.

Finished The Burglar On the Prowl. It isn’t great, but I did enjoy it. Bernie's adventures are a wonderful escape. Perhaps I’ll post a more detailed review later. Perhaps not. I’m reading Steve Martin's Shopgirl now. Hope to finish it by the end of the week. I want to spend the weekend on other reading.

That's all for now.

Written May 17, 2004.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Watched the series finale of Frasier the other night. There were tons of cliches in there: dog eating the wedding ring, cannon going off every time, the name of the married couple is mentioned, pregnant woman having the baby in a place not expected (with the two "doctors" not capable of real assistance), the show ending with the main character heading off to find the love of his life and a "new start." But I really enjoyed the program. I found myself laughing even when things were obvious. I had lost interest in the show as a whole some time back, probably after Niles and Daphne finally "found" each other. It was still okay, but I suppose it had lost its charm, and I think my family was interested in some other show that was on another network. (For the life of me, I can’t think of what it was, and I should chide myself for my laziness.)

But near the end, I have to admit, I cried. Frasier recited one of my very favorite poems, Tennyson’s "Ulysees." That poem always gets me. I have trouble teaching it sometimes because I always feel I have to read it, and my voice cracks just little each time. Frasier begins saying it to his family and friends and then the scene fades to him at the station reading it to his radio audience. And there I am in my living room bawling, my twins looking at me and wondering what’s wrong.

Listening to: three Lyle Mays cds shuffling on my computer. I like all his solo work, but I think Fictionary is probably my favorite. Terrific piano trio in the vein of some of Mays’ own influences. One track is called "Bill Evans," and it seems appropriate. Street Dreams and Lyle Mays are enjoyable, though I might think so because there are some hints of that Metheny sound in there. But not so much to make me think it is a clone; just enough perhaps to help me see just how much of an influence Mays has on the songwriting of the group recordings. I really like Solo: Improvisations for Expanded Piano. I feared Solo would remind me too much of Keith Jarrett (not that this would be terrible), but it did not. I bought it the summer it came out, and listened to it a lot in my hot car. The only think I don’t like about it is that some of the quiet moments are perhaps too quiet.

But Fictionary is my fave. I really don’t quite know how to describe a jazz album I like, and maybe I don’t have to. (A friend told me once that I didn’t have to understand jazz, just enjoy it.) I only really listened to this disc a few months ago, but I know that it already is one of those that seems right no matter what my "mood" is. It is strong where it should be, subtle where it needs to be. Of course the disc isn’t hurt by having Jack DeJohnette on drums and Marc Johnson on bass.

That reminds me: I need to get some DeJohnette for my collection. Downloaded "Cantaloupe Island" and something else a few months ago. Have a disc of him with Metheny and I think Dave Holland (what a fine band that is!). Noticed he has something new out.

The Metheny group, I read, is working on a new studio disc. That would make my summer even better!

blog written May 14, 2004

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Listening to: my daughter practice her violin. Was listening to Bruce Hornsby.

Reading Block's The Burgler on the Prowl. A little over a hundred pages into it. So far, I don't love it as much as others in the series, but I think it is getting better. Found paperback first of Steve Martin's Shopgirl. I think I'll read that next. I hear it it will be made into a movie.

One week into the Maymester. Looks like I have a pretty good class. Graded first set of major papers and the second set comes Monday. I am enjoying myself more than I thought I would, but I am very much looking forward to the summer.

Speaking of which, I may have written this already, but I am hoping to spend at least an hour each morning writing and after a day of walking, reading, and playing with the kids, another hour in the evening editing past drafts. If I don't have to do too much other stuff, then I think I can get something accomplished.

Looking into buying a house. Yea! Don't know if we'll manage it this summer, but we've taken the first step.

I am thinking that I will get more blogs done if I write them first on the word processor and block them here. Have so much to learn about computers. At any rate, hope to say a thing or two about Nick Berg's tragic death and the last episode of Frasier.

Enjoy the day!