Saturday, December 30, 2006

the positive and the negative

In line at the grocery store (no liquor sales tomorrow, must stock up now) I stood behind a mother and daughter pair, the daughter maybe eight years old. The mother had a copy of the local paper in hand, complete with "Hussein Hanged" headline. She was trying, with far more patience than I feel at the moment, to explain to her child just who this person was, why executed, etc. "Well, all right, but what does he have to do with the war? Is this like the airplanes and the big buildings in New York?"

The execution accomplished naught except pleasing some people and creating a martyr for others. I suppose that's a positive.

On a happier note, I've just stumbled across a truly wonderful blog, oz and ends by a historian who also writes (and obviously loves_ children's literature. Any blog stumble that results in twenty minutes of reading is obviously a keeper.

If I don't make it on line tomorrow, a very Happy new year to one and all. Wishing us joy, laughter and peace in 2007.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

one of the last of the good men

I've always had a soft spot for Gerald Ford.

In a world of political chaos and treachery, Ford strove to rise above the fray, protect the nation and never mind the expense to his own political career or ambitions. How many people would describe a call to the presidency as a duty? as a part of civic responsibility? GWB feels "called by God" and WJC worked for decades to reach the Oval Office but that's not the same thing.

Ford was one of the last of the good guys and a dog lover to boot. A very sincere RIP to a man who did a very hard job to the very best of his ability and certainly far better than I would have coped under a more generous set of historical events.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I heard it! I heard it! I heard it!

All I want for Christmas...

Now I can go back to thinking of Mariah Carey as a very bizarre and flawed talent.

Friday, December 15, 2006

a happier note

Speaking of holiday music, as we've been, I've been trying to sing one of my favorite songs of the season in the car. The problem is that "Jesus Child" by John Rutter is written for four parts and, alas, I do not have an alto, tenor and bass along with me for these trips.

"Jesus Child" is written to be sung at a very fast "spit out the consonants" tempo and if you lose concentration for even a moment you'll be behind for the next five pages. Thus it is a glorious fun to ride the musical wave of knowing that you are at exactly the right point, know which notes are next and when you get to make a brief gasp. It's difficult to learn, but just a glorious joyride of a piece to sing once you've learned it.

I did hear Adam Sandler's "Hannukah Song" on the radio yesterday; not nearly as good as his one about Thanksgiving.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

regional Christmas

I'm becoming quite envious of Harriet's Christmas experience. I heard (scanned past) "Little Drummer Boy" four times this morning, electing instead to listen to the BBC coverage of the conclusion of the Diana investifation, which is at least cheerful. Meanwhile Harriet obviously only hears the song occasionally, but has had it up to here with Mariah Carey.

Not only does she have these musical advantages, but she lives around people with strange ideas about creche displays. (A Homer Simpson theme?)

Quite a few folks around here set up their glow-up outdoor creches the day after Thanksgiving. They will take them down on December 26. I think they're mostly pretty ugly, but rarely amusing.

Maybe it's the history teacher in me (OK, it is) but let's have a little accuracy here. Mary and Joseph only got to Bethlehem the night of Jesus' birth. The shepherds didn't come to teh stable until after Jesus was born and the angels gave them a quick heads up. The Wise Men didn't start out on their epic trip until they saw the star in the east and there's no star until after Jesus' birth.

Ergo, the only creatures in the stable as of December 13 should be the animals.

Then there's the issue of was Jesus really born on December 25, because shepherds wouldn't have been in the fields with lambs until spring... oh, never mind.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I am a grinch of music

That does it!!!!

If I hear "Little Drummer Boy" once more I shall scream, and I don't mean that in a rhetorical, ironic or otherwise over used cliche sense.

The song its self is fine - all gifts that we have are important, little things can bring even more joy than big thngs (much of the time, anyway... still waiting to find out how happy that that diamond tennis bracelet might make me) and "rum pum pum pum" is probaby more scintillating as lyrics go for the folks who get stuck with the harmony.

The problem is that it's been recorded by everyone and their Uncle Fred.

Have I heard "All I Want For Christrmas is You" yet? Of course not. It's all "rum pum pum pum." One Mariah Carey moment as I grade papers, is that too much to ask?

rum pum pum pum

Thursday, December 07, 2006

for what it's worth, it was worth all the while

The semester is winding down. There's a frantic scramble amomng some students to catch up with last minute details, while others have worked ahead and can calmly anticipate the exam. The quiet kids (why is it always the quiet kids?!) are coming out of the woodwork to say that they love my class and what will I teach next semester?

(No clue.)

The bottom feeders and ankle biters are trying to rouse my sympathies, patience and indulgence, sometimes indulgences.

I love the seasonal aspect of teaching. We build up to mid-terms, rest for a moment, then race to exams, before collapsing into the wonderful holiday embrace, be it Christmas or the fun of summer vacation. A series of sprints, in a sense, I suppose, but it's also a long-distance trek. Long after my young 'uns have returned home or started logging extra hours at work, I will be reading and reading their final work, calculating and recalculating their grades.

It's rare for me to be satisfied, but I am satisfied with this semester. Remind me again how having a Ph.D. would make it any better?

OK, job security - but other than that? I have done well and so have they.

Monday, December 04, 2006

sudden discoveries

While looking through a desk drawer, I found an uneaten Cadbury Cream Egg.

Elderly? Maybe. Delicious? You betcha.