Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary
My Loves

Vincent Murphy

Central New York

Central New York


Come On!


I miss my Missy

Better Days

Better Days
they'll come again

Alicia Vida Billman

Alicia Vida Billman
is 29 today

This says it all!

This says it all!
Friday noon, you're coming home with me Vinny.

Vincent Murphy?

Vincent Murphy?

Tuesday nights

Tuesday nights
are gonna change in May

Mr. Murphy

Mr. Murphy
waiting for his haircut

When I get bored

When I get bored
I take pictures of myself in bathrooms

Graphic Boulevard

Graphic Boulevard
blown transformers and a tree

Cars in Bergenfield

Cars in Bergenfield
didn't do well

House on Queen St

House on Queen St
with a for sale sign in front of it


Storm 2010

Vincent Murphy

Vincent Murphy
and his look alike Bob Murphy

Off my back porch

Off my back porch
Don't worry I didn't take this pic while falling

Down Kellogg Street

Down Kellogg Street

Up Kellogg Street

Up Kellogg Street

My house, our cars

My house, our cars

Winter 2010

Winter 2010


I want summer back!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Knock, Knock"

"Who's there?"
"It's Bill, your next door neighbor, and I have your garbage can."

Well, that's not exactly how it went, but you get the idea. My garbage can, it turns out, wasn't stolen. My neighbor's brother-in-law thought it was theirs and brought it in with their cans. My can was near their cans because the rest of the front of my house was piled high with leaves and branches. I almost didn't tell you guys, but I don't want those who read from far away to think Clinton is choking with crime.

Well, this is it, actually two its. Today is the final day of National Poetry Month and of COM 308 and COM 307, the two writing classes I've been teaching. It has been a great semester. It has been a pretty darn good National Poetry Month. To wrap up the month, I offer you my favorite poem, even though I already posted it awhile ago on the first version of my blog.


When I heard he had entered the harbor,
and circled the wharf for days,
I expected the worst: shallow water,

confusion, some accident to bring
the young humpback to grief.
Don't they depend on a compass

lodged in the salt-flooded folds
of the brain, some delicate
musical mechanism to navigate

their true course? How many ways,
in our century's late iron hours,
might we have led him to disaster?

That, in those days, was how
I'd come to see the world:
dark upon dark, any sense

of spirit an embattled flame
sparked against wind-driven rain
till pain snuffed it out. I thought,

This is what experience gives us ,
and I moved carefully through my life
while I waited. . . Enough,

it wasn't that way at all. The whale
—exuberant, proud maybe, playful,
like the early music of Beethoven—

cruised the footings for smelts
clustered near the pylons
in mercury flocks. He

(do I have the gender right?)
would negotiate the rusty hulls
of the Portuguese fishing boats

— Holy Infant, Little Marie —
with what could only be read
as pleasure, coming close

then diving, trailing on the surface
big spreading circles
until he'd breach, thrilling us

with the release of pressured breath,
and the bulk of his sleek young head
— a wet black leather sofa

already barnacled with ghostly lice —
and his elegant and unlikely mouth,
and the marvelous afterthought of the flukes,

and the way his broad flippers
resembled a pair of clownish gloves
or puppet hands, looming greenish white

beneath the bay's clouded sheen.
When he had consumed his pleasure
of the shimmering swarm, his pleasure, perhaps,

in his own admired performance,
he swam out the harbor mouth,
into the Atlantic. And though grief

has seemed to me itself a dim,
salt suspension in which I've moved,
blind thing, day by day,

through the wreckage, barely aware
of what I stumbled toward, even I
couldn't help but look

at the way this immense figure
graces the dark medium,
and shines so: heaviness

which is no burden to itself.
What did you think, that joy
was some slight thing?

~ Mark Doty ~

When I met Mark Doty he seemed surprised that this was my favorite of all of his poems. How could it not be? Why don't you all put up your favorite poems in a post, and we'll commemorate the end of National Poetry Month together?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

To the Person Who Stole My Garbage Can

I hope you enjoy the fact that it no longer has wheels as much as I have.
I hope you don't let the fact that the clamps on the lid no longer work bother you
I hope you will use it, and you didn't just take it for a ride and junk it somewhere.
I hope you realize that I still used it because I didn't want to see it in a landfill.
I hope that even though the garbage men (sorry sanitation engineers) emptied it, there was still a bag of Missy poo in it when you loaded it into your vehicle.

No, it's not a poem. It happened yesterday between 7:30 and 8:30. And in case you're thinking, no it didn't blow away, and no, the garbage men (well, they're all men and it's my blog. I don't have to be pc all the time) didn't take it because they thought it too was garbage. It wasn't that bad looking, just pathetic. You can tell I'm a little cross about this, can't you?

Should I personalize my next garbage can so no one will dare steal it? What should I put on it? Should I start a business doing personalized garbage cans? Jess, you're kind arty.

I'm cross; answer question 2 in the above paragraph, and it's sure to cheer me up.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ah, Poetry!

Well, National Poetry Month is almost over, so I thought I'd put up five titles for poems I won't write but that represent me in some small way:

1) My Life With Salami

2) Ode To The Plagiarized Paper That Makes Life So Easy

3) I Dream of Taking a Vacation But Have the House Painted Instead

4) Mom, Missy's Freaking Out

5) NPR, You are Satan and I Love You

Of the above poems, I actually wrote "My Dog Needs a Psychiatrist" several years ago. Missy's still as obsessed with me now as she was then. It's a strangely comforting feeling.

Here's a real poem by a real poet, Alicia Ostriker:


That black woman with the extraordinary earrings
Haranguing that black man about the contradictions
Of society, challenging his premises, she's
Been doing it since the freezing Trenton platform
Where the rest of us shivered and looked at our watches.
Doctrinally correct, but
He's tired from work and
He's just been helplessly viewing her breasts
The whole trip between Trenton and New Brunswick.

Father and son in the aisle, the man's
Mouth is hair-thin; nose too; it would seem he exercises
Much control. He is pointing something out
Among the grimy smokestacks of Elizabeth--
Telephone wires? A church? His boy looks aside and says:
"Forget it, dad."


The elderly passenger, the young conductor, negotiate.
The old man puts his
Change in his pocket, leans back
Against the seat and picks his teeth.
The train rattles along, making us all
Fall half-asleep.
Over the brown Jersey horizon the World Trade Center rises
Like a pair of angels
Or a pair of gigantic tusks
And soon the train will dive into the tunnel, emerging
As if newborn, into the mammoth
Starlit City. The young conductor
Comes back again and touches the man's shoulder.

Written in 1989, when the NYC skyline was quite different, Ostriker's poem is something like the poem I think I should write when I take the 167 into the city. I doubt, however, that I will ever write a poem about the NJ Transit. I have written a poem about NYC and here it is:

I Heart New York, Sometimes

On the subway great necked men bend
over their sandwiches, read the Koran,
make the train a house of prayer
while three rails hum beneath us.

This city’s delinquent steam and wreck pulled
out of itself. Uphill in only occasional ways,
it slides not much from cable onto drip coated pylon,
breaks the backs of men who make it shine.

Jesus in miniature hangs everywhere, buffed glossy
with the love of old ladies’ rubbings
in salted bodegas on the edge of the park.

This city's absurdly tilted, disheveled: it's a fire sale
fed when the members of a hundred stunted
alphabets come and go daily, when it’s easy to ride under water.

So, what are some poems you won't write?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Panicky Students

Today is the first day of the last week of classes for my students and me. By this time next week I will have done at least two days of getting up and looking at the mountain of papers I've collected and taking a hunk off of it (kinda like taking a big slice of roast beef off of a, well, pile of roast beef) and reading, reading, reading.

But I can't complain, even though I just did. For all of the nervous wreck inducing moments of this tenure semester, my classes have been outstanding. No, not everybody's getting an A, but the students I've taught this semester have been a pleasure, have been gracious and fun and have put up with my jokes. Not bad.

Gee, I wish the semester would never end -- psych!

In other news, I found a must have book for this summer. It is:
“I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears,” by Jag Bhalla, with drawings by Julia Suits (National Geographic Books; paperback, $13), surveys idioms from around the world. The title is a Russian idiom, which we express in English as “I’m not pulling your leg.” The German idiom for “to have a hangdog look” is to stand like a watered poodle (now also applicable to Portuguese water dogs). The idiom for craziness, in English “around the bend,” is in French to have a spider on the ceiling, in Spanish to have mambo in the head, in Japanese to wrestle alone. In this amusing look at cultural similarities, what we call “a chip on the shoulder” the Italians call a fly on the nose, and what we call “nervous in the Service” is in Spanish like a crocodile in a wallet factory.

Sounds like fun, aye?
Happy Monday
Nick, shear intelligunce, sure!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Well, here it comes, more middle class suburban schlock. But for two dollars a plant I can afford to watch the three lovely perennials I'm about to plant die and not feel too bad. I have no green thumbs, but I try in my own way.

My father and I tried to grow flowers and green beans during two different summers. We got about four beans, and the wildflowers that were guaranteed to grow did not -- at all. I suspect I take after him. I, however, cut more things down, or pay others to do so. I have a small handsaw, and I'm about to go attack some branches with it. My handsaw doesn't have a name, but come to think of it Handy is pretty good since the mower's name is Greenie.

When I mow, I sing my version of the Elton John song Jeannie, but I sing Greenie. No, I don't really know the Elton John song, just the tune, and that probably makes it easier to come up with words. I won't share them with you.

Yeah, it's true. I am a cartoon character. But, aren't we all?

Yesterday was NYC Nick day, and boy was it good to see him. He's a city slicker now, but still the same sweet guy who insists on calling me Dr. Murphy.

How's your weekend been? I'm cooking lamb shanks. Gotta go plant and hack.

Happy Sunday,

Friday, April 24, 2009

Barter Answer

I forgot to tell you the answer. I bartered wireless dog fences and collars for yard work. Good guesses though.


It's Friday, and for the first time in a long time I have no grading. So I'll think I'll make a list of things that are going well, such as:

I have no grading!

It's going to be 84 tomorrow.

Patrick and I are going on a big hike this weekend.

I was nominated for a teaching excellence award by the Student Association.

A semester that has been a really good is almost over.

There are hyacinths in my backyard.

Missy's freakin' out! (I just put that in for Catherine)

Roadie's getting better! (Cath, Rich called last night)

I think I have a pretty good life. How about you? Anything you'd like to celebrate?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I recently joined Goodreads, after reading in a blog post that Clark is on it. I guess I figured it would make me feel good to know that there are other people out there who read. The thing is I realized I don't read. Well, I don't read as much as I'd like to. Maybe it's because I read so many student papers and articles about pedagogy and random stuff like the Sloan Report that I was looking at today, but I just don't feel like I read enough, really read I mean.

I get really excited when I can sit down with 20 or so pages of Murder Most Foul, but the thing is I used to consume books like this one. I've had it for over a month and I'm on page 109. Every spring I come up with a summer reading list. Last summer I listened to NPR about what I should be reading and then I got to work writing so that I could get tenure. I think I read two books on my reading list.

I think that not teaching lit courses doesn't help (great sentence, huh?). I look at so much student writing, and this semester has been one paper after another. But I don't read literature with the students. I read psych, soc, and business articles for their research papers.

But all that's about to change because a new summer lies ahead of me like an unopened book. I'll hike, I'll walk, I'll barbeque, I'll see both Big and Pin, and I swear to god I'll read.

Until then I'll look at what others are reading to try to get a shortlist going for summer because I still have my Opal project to work on. I'll look at everybody's Goodreads and E.L. Fay's blog This Book and I Could be Friends. She reads way more than I do, and her reviews are smart and trustworthy.

So what are you gonna read over the summer?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


has evidently joined the 21st century. Yes, that "Look at me Mom" post was from the irrepressible Pinhead. But that's only one of her many good lines. My favorite Catherine schtick occurred on a seven (maybe eight) hour trip from Utica to New Jersey with Cath and Missy in the backseat all the way down the back roads and Bighead stopping at every yard sale along routes five and 9W. It was the middle of summer, and even with the ac on, the dog was hot, hot, hot. Pin said "Mom, Missy's freaking out!" and I looked back to see Missy leaning, rigid and intense, up against her and panting as if the world was about to end. Missy stayed that way through pretty much the entire trip and a family joke was born.

Sometimes Cath says "Mom, Missy's freaking out" when Missy is basically asleep, sometimes when Missy is slightly nervous. Missy is always a heartbeat away from freaking out, so the line is apropros.

I'm glad Pin is online now, although it does make me nervous to think about what will turn up. Perhaps I will have to block her.

In other news, today is the 2nd annual SUNYIT Meets MVCC art and photography contest and reading. I've recruited several friends to read their stuff and people from Mohawk Valley Community College are coming to read too. It should be fun. So if you're up by Marcy at around 4:00 with nothing to do, come on over to SUNYIT. Tonight is open mic at the College Cafe in Clinton, but I don't know if I can handle singing and reading poetry in one day.

As National Poetry Month draws almost to a close, I'll share with you one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Martin Vest from Pocatello, ID. This poem was the 2008 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor Winner, and I had the pleasure of hearing Marty read it at last year's Rocky Mountain Writers' Festival. It is superb.


At first he looked nice lying in the hearth.
On the end of a torch he kept Frankenstein away.
He lit the streets on a dark walk from a seedy bar.
When you wanted to dance he danced.
When you wanted to sleep
he was a lamp that wouldn’t shut off.
He seethed and roiled in his body of tongues,
climbing the walls like a madman…
He flickered and snapped.
He grew to a roar.
Alarms went off, sirens sounded,
the throat of his upturned flask
chanting go, go, go,
like a flammable cheerleader,
but you stayed…
His smoke clung to your skirts
and coated the dishes
as he tumbled from room to room
screaming more, more…
You remember the night that you met him.
There had been others to choose from—
the drowning man who sat next to you
groping at your blouse as he sunk
to the bottom of his whiskey and soda—
the rain-maker with cold gray eyes
who stared into the melancholy
of his gin and lime.
But Man-on-Fire never stopped grinning,
Man-on-Fire with his twenty shots of everything,
with his flash-paper sleights
fueling the crackle of their own applause—
And you, parched wind,
whistling like a spoke, like a runaway train,
howling in your body
for a keyhole of quick escape,
for a fast way through the wall—
What would you want with water?

Pretty good, huh?
Who are your favorite poets?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

look at ,me= mom
look at me mom
look at me mop

Maybe I'm magic

cause it did rain and it hasn't stopped raining since yesterday. I'm not complaining. It gets me out of yard work. I did have to turn the furnace on though.

Bet you can't believe how boring this blog post looks to be. Blah, blah, blah, the weather, blah, blah, blah, I'm middle class. It's just that . . .

Rain makes me boring
I should stay in bed and keep snoring
But I have to go to work and teach
At least that's what I'm calling it these days

The semester is really winding down, with only nine more days until I get final papers from both classes. Then the action begins. Pinhead is coming on May 8th, so I have to get all papers done before then. She likes constant attention, and will say "Look at me mom" repeatedly if she doesn't get it.

My friend Mikey is visiting and I hope that between the three of us (he, Patrick and I) we can get some Pedi Paws work done on Missy. Missy may not be good about the Pedi Paws, but she shone during bath time Sunday, standing still while I showered and blow dried her. Not like a certain white cat who got a little agita on Saturday.

Well, I'd still like to hear what people would write poems about, so c'mon people. I said boogers, but what about the rest a yuz?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rain, Rain

C'mon and do it! I can't remember when we last had a fire warning here in Oneida County, but this spring is pretty dry so far. Not Idaho dry, mind you. Clark will get a kick out of this: the radio weather dude just said we've gone 11 days without rain. To someone from SE Idaho that may not seem like a long time, but here in CNY it's amazing.

My yard is not completely done, but Rick just called and said they'll finish it tomorrow. Oh frabjous day! I can get my grading done, go to work, and not pick up a rake when I get home.

Today at work we have a cj candidate coming from -- can you believe it? -- Idaho! She's at University of Idaho in Moscow. That's the school most of my high school friends from McCall Donnelly High School (graduating class of 63, people that is) went to. It's bigger than the college I finally went to when I went to college almost 15 years later than I was supposed to.

Funny how life works out. I was going to become a biology major because I worked for almost four years in a fish hatchery raising Chinook salmon. But when the time came to leave McCall, Idaho, I couldn't do it. I just stayed and kept my job at the fish hatchery until the state closed it to rebuild it, and then I went back to NJ for a brief (1 1/2 year) stint with the Murphs. Then I went back to Idaho on vacation and got married. I went to a different sort of Idaho than I was used to in central Idaho. McCall was no desert. Pocatello, on the other hand, well, read the poems.

So, I guess the point of all this is that I never complain about rain, having lived without it for so many years. I used to yearn for those hot sultry NJ summers. Someday (I'm not kidding)I'm gonna write a poem about weather's effect on boogers because you can tell you live in a dry place when you have to dig them out, 'nough said.

So, that prompts a question, and I really do want an answer. If you were to write a poem (assuming you do that sort of thing) about something offbeat or inappropriate, what would your poem be about? Do you think your poem would be funny? Beautiful? Sad? Sexy? Moopy, what would you write about?

Let me know. I'm serious. I'm going for a beautiful booger poem myself. In the meantime, here are some pictures from my hike with Patrick the other night. We went up past the donkey farm around the corner from my house and wound up following a creek and seeing all kinds of stuff.

Happy Monday

Saturday, April 18, 2009


really is an amazing place to live. Yesterday Patrick and I went back up to Hamilton College and hiked again. For those of you who don't know it, Hamilton is a very old, very expensive ($47,000/year) private college in good old Clinton, NY. It is its own little world, complete with Root Glen, a series of trails that go in the woods. We went into Kirkland Glen (also up there), which is maintained by the town of Kirkland (Village of Clinton is in the town of Kirkland, got it?). The trees don't really have leaves yet, but we saw trillium and shooting stars. Then we went up a back road and hiked around on some property with a tree line where people have just dumped garbage for years, and I found a metal twin bed headboard and foot board that I'm going back to get. I just have to cut the little trees that have grown between the bars. Crazy stuff.

The yard is coming along. Noel came and cut the apple tree stumps down, and we loaded the wood. Then I took the grape arbor apart, and Patrick cut the grapes down and we hauled the stuff to the curb, which is completely full the width of my house with my tree trimmings and leaves. We can't get one post out, so if you wanna help, help. It's bent and if it's like the other one P got out, it's in the ground about six feet.

So, things are shaping up. I need a new back porch door, so I might get to go to crazy Bouckville this afternoon after the Vagina Monologues. More about Bouckville (the craziest antique center I've ever seen) later. Gotta go, time to bake brownies for V Day.
Peace and Happy Saturday

Friday, April 17, 2009

I have waited . . .

with a glacier's patience
Smashed every transformer with every trailer
Till nothing was standing
Sixty five miles wide
Still you are nowhere, still you are nowhere
Nowhere in sight
Come out to meet me
Run out to meet me
Come into the light

That's what Neko Case has to say about love in her song This Tornado Loves you from her new cd Middle Cyclone. If you've never listened to her, Neko Case is my new girl crush. Her voice is liquid; as my bandmate Noel says it has no sharp edges. Noel does not say this about my voice.

You'd think that with it being National Poetry Month I'd put up a poem, so I shall. Here's James Hoch, and this is one of my favorites:

My Letter of Introduction to God

I’m 33, Christ’s age; you remember Christ.
I was lucky enough to be born in New Jersey,
so believe I am entitled to a few things: I’d like
a stone house floating on a lake, for the stones
to shimmy and fall into water, to salvage them,
so I could learn masonry. I always wanted
to be a stone mason, so elegant, so strong.
I’d like a house in Mexico and a day for me
to wake, pomegranates growing in my yard.
I’d like a cast iron tub, lavender and sage,
for my wife, Isabelle, to soak in. I’d like a wife
named Isabelle and a few children who look
a little like me, okay, a lot, but better than me,
small enough to run beneath the belly of a horse.
I’d like a horse for my excessively beautiful
children and, if she would agree, for my wife,
my excessively beautiful wife, Isabelle, to ride
through the streets, though no one would
possess her, not even me, who’d try to.
I’d like the streets to be empty, empty of want,
empty streets, except for the horse, his odd
fondness for staring into troughs, and dogs,
a pack who would remind me of people
I have loved and failed to love well enough,
the way they roam back into my life, ones
that would tend not to stray beyond my voice,
and if so, would turn gentle, more caring,
like the horse the children feed pomegranates.

I like this poem because it's just so well done, and in it Hoch makes a little fun of himself too. As a matter of fact, his poem led me to write the following poem, which is nothing like his poem.

On vacation in Cape Cod I think of Idaho, home, and other places

Unfamiliar landscapes take me back. In Idaho they’re breathing smoke right now. The desert, saying “burn baby burn,” is giving up outbuildings, sagebrush, condominiums and homes.

Here, we can’t imagine fire could take hold. The rain comes smelling like chlorine afterwards, and while it’s on there may be a flash flood, or someone may find Jesus again. What can I do? The people are nice, they smile, say hello, and mow their own lawns. Sometimes it’s all too much.

Because I’m from New Jersey, and there at 7:45 the lawn crews start their engines early. I bitch -- and think about who I might call to put a turd in their $6.00-an-hour life so my father can sleep in. At 97 he has little else to do but stay in bed and dream about the city, the boat, the war, his long dead family.
In upstate we are soggy and feed on greens and riggies, pronounce certain words as if they’ve been lying in the back of our throat for awhile. The rains wash our trees, and we know no tan, no brown in summer, no sun in winter. Delirium too energetic, we dig our cars out schloggy, hoisting and dumping the lake effect to piles on each side of the driveway. My snow’s as high as me some years, and I am hid behind it, easy to be wan and gray as the shortest of days.

In Idaho on a big sky day, you can see the top of Chink’s Peak, and the gap and cows aren’t dusted . Miles away the Tetons look like jagged teeth and meth is cooked in their shadow. The Mormons look south to where Marhoni and his horn stand proud, and the rest of us just look up and pray for rain.

What are you listening to and/or reading today?
Good Friday to yuz; ooops, that was last week
P.S.: Clark, please don't think I'm obsessed with, you know.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's National Poetry Month . . .

so I thought I'd put up a new poem that I wrote after hearing Michael Burkard read on Monday. His poems were, some of them, very good, and it turns out he and I are both fans of John Ashbery, that oh so hard to love sometimes wordmeister.

When I was in grad school, my friend Terry would sometimes says "yeah, but you like John Ashbery" as if that explained so much. Maybe it does. If you've never read Ashbery, he's no touchy feely poet. He's become more accessible, and some of his newer (last ten or so years old)poems have more of a presence or personae, or speaker, if you like that sort of thing. Some poems are just plain hard to read, allusory in ways the reader can't figure out unless in possession of a degree in art history (French), but always Ashbery has that quality that is uniquely his. Reading his early poems is like having a conversation with the late Ford Sweatnam, whose poetry was quite accessible, but whose conversation style sometimes defied meaning making, so you just went along with it and appreciated what you could get out of it.

Here is my poem:

Poem for John Ashbery and Michael Burkard

The poet reads his poems about poets, about events and objects.
And I raise my hand and ask not about the impetus, the push,
Not about craft or line length or the sway of the ocean,

But about you, my own poetic standoff, you whose lines defy
deciphering, you whose reference is aloof and sometimes off putting.
I cut my teeth on you at a time when no one knew me, and you and I

Seemed to have the same kind of cluttered minds, thinky syntax
Allusions to the long dead and never touched, but then we changed
And we came into our poems, our presence less hostile, more inviting

The sea sways
The trees are greening here
I still don’t walk the dog every day
I’m a cipher, code for the place
Where the rubber hits the road
Where flesh is still and still flesh
Oh, how the mind plays tricks on us.

I'd put up a John Ashbery poem too, but this post is about me, so I'll close by saying that I received a galley proof of Breadcrumb Scabs, issue 5, which will be out in about two weeks. They kindly published four of my poems, and I was thrilled to see them laid out. If you want to see what I'm talking about about John Ashbery, look at something like Daffy Duck in Hollywood next to My Philosophy of Life. Both are great poems, but they are very different. So, before National Poetry Month is over you should read a poem. Tomorrow I'll post the names of some great poets, and all the world will be righted if we read their work. I'll ask you to tell me who your favorite poets are too, if you're the kind who reads that sort of thing.

Until then,
Happy Thursday

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On Monday

there were five guys in my yard, four of them were working because of a barter deal I made to get my yard cleaned up. I believe in barter as a way of rethinking a system gone a little overboard in its cashcentric nature. I'd like to barter something for roof work next year. Here's a little contest. Can you guess what I bartered? Those of you who know are obviously excluded, but for the rest of yuz, here's a hint:

It's shocking.

Happy Wednesday
Keep those graphic novel titles coming.
I'm counting on yuz.

Monday, April 13, 2009

You're gonna teach what?

Well, I talked about it enough, so I guess I'd better do it. For awhile now I've been thinking about teaching a class on the graphic novel. I think it would be good for me to think about novels in a different way. Mainly I'm a word person; images mean little to nothing to me. The only things I really "see" in my head are sentences and phrases; sometimes I diagram them while I'm thinking or saying them (don't tell anybody). This class idea comes from, I suppose, knowing smart (really smart) people like Carlen Donovan who really like graphic novels and people like Anthony Ford who has created Laura Jones, Suck On This. My background with the graphic novel is scant, at best. So, I'll need some help with a reading list. I'll include Persepolis and if I can decide whether or not J. Lethem's graphic stuff is comic book, I'll include one of his.

Speaking of comic books, Clark, I'm thinking this endeavor takes me onto a slippery slope. How far away from the "real thing" (print only "literature" -- keep the pictures out of it) are we moving when we teach a course on the graphic novel? Am I gonna be sitting in a room with a bunch of 19 year old dudes in Superman t shirts and Spiderman costumes? Maybe I should just stay a stuffy old English teacher.

D not only wants me to teach the course, he wants me to do a curriculum action to get the graphic novel as a distinct course, not just a version of the current novel course. He says it would appeal to a different population. I can only imagine what that population is.

So, if you have any suggestions for graphic novels/comic books (cause that's what they really are, right?) and/or criticism, let me know. I'm swimming in some murky waters here.

Happy Monday

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I warned you

I don't know what it is, but Easter makes me get all crazy. I don't have a basket, haven't colored eggs in years, and have only been to Mass to take my mother once or twice over the last many years. For some reason, yesterday in the car I found myself saying "This is the Lamb of God; happy are those who are called to his table." It made D a little nervous.

Maybe it's the buildup to Easter that strikes a little cord. After all, as a Catholic school kid by the time we got to Easter it had been all those many weeks of madness and deprivation that began with Ash Wednesday. By this I mean extra Masses attended as a class. If you think the Mass is anxiety-inducing, try going with 25 other kids and a nun times 24 (roughly the student and nun population of St. John the Evangelist School).

Whatever the reason, Easter brings back so many memories. Some highlights include:
the year I asked for and received white chocolate, never to ask for it again
the year I received a sugar egg that had a peephole and a sugar-crafted scene inside
the year I took my own missal to church. Yes, it was titled My First Missal.
the many years I wore a new no-sleeve dress to Mass because it used to be warm on Easter
the year (this is a big one) a new rabbit coincided with Easter (Falfee, short for Alfalfa)
the big meal after Mass, then my grandfather sitting in his lawn chair on the sidewalk, telling the neighborhood kids stories)
the year I put chocolate eggs on brother Stephen while he was sleeping as a treat, and he woke up to think he was covered in dried blood. I was actually doing it to be a nice sister, but he didn't believe that
all the years that we ate all those giant leg 'o lambs, as their referred to in my family

Told you it would be sappy.
Happy Easter

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yes, I'm a happy camper . . .

When D gave me the good news the other day, I just didn't time to check on it. But it's true. New York Regional Interconnect has given up its attempt to put in huge power towers and lines that would have cut through CNY in order to provide the NYC area with more stable power transmission. Had it happened, the lines would have cut through some CNY villages, and we up here in the boonies would have seen our power bill go up. Here's an excerpt from the letter I found on NYRI's website:

Letter from Chris Thompson, President of NYRI

April 9, 2009

To Our Friends and Supporters:

On Monday, April 6, 2009, New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) sent a letter to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) administrative law judge Jeffrey Stockholm officially announcing that we were suspending our participation in the PSC's Article VII process.

We were disappointed to have to make this decision after nearly five years working on this project. But we had no choice.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 31 denied our request to review the rules it recently approved for transmission tariffs of the New York State Independent System Operator (NYISO). We requested this review because, if left to stand, the NYISO rules would create an unacceptable financial risk for NYRI's investors. The subsequent FERC denial of our request kept the rules in place, creating a situation where even if our project were to be sited by the PSC, NYRI would face the prospect of being unable to recover its costs for the transmission line.

We know that our friends and supporters of the project are as disappointed and surprised as we are in this turn of events.

The letter goes on to than those groups who supported NYRI's endeavor to trash parts of NY in order to provide air conditioning to other parts.

So, when the lights brownout or even go out this summer when I'm at my parents' house in NJ, I won't complain. Heck, it has to be over 95 degrees for them to turn on the air conditioning. Yes NYRI, I remember the blackout of 2003. Yes, I was up in the boonies and the lights only flickered. Yes, I'm glad you didn't get what you want. Maybe you should put your efforts into solar?

In other news, I didn't make it to NJ. I was not feeling well yesterday, and I am terrified to give the ancient ones anything. So, if you were thinking of robbing my house while I was gone, sorry. If you were thinking of surprising me by doing the yard work, I'll stay in the house and pretend I'm not here. Come on over. Tomorrow, I'll be blogging from CNY, not the big NJ, and I'll put up a disclaimer right now. Easter makes me sappy, and some little Catholicness oozes out.

Happy Saturday
Rejoice, oh ye central New Yorkers. NYRI is gone at least for now.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nobody Guessed It . . .

my tv show, that is. Well, the mystery continues. Today I'm going down the thruway to New Jersey, where I will:
cut my mother's hair
eat overcooked lamb (Aunt Grace's special)
not get to NYC to see Andy because I have forty papers in my backpack to grade
see my Jersey friends at Pri's house on Sunday night
get more sleep than I get at home

After this weekend I'm staying home to do yard work, I swear. In other news, I had to have a stern talk with a student yesterday. As I was talking sternly, I thought of my former student with whom I had dinner on Wednesday. He told me that I get a look that says something like "don't waste my time" when students who haven't come up with the goods try to get me to do what they want. I know of no such look, but I've heard this tale before. I tell people it's my Jersey face. Jess, you never saw such a look; don't ask Nicky if he did (hehe).

I sometimes wonder why some students can't just do the work, get it over with, and move on. Yesterday's student told me that he just forgets about my class: no comment. Being a teacher is always interesting, I'll say that.

I also found out from a bus com student that the business major adviser tells all the students to take bus com from me. Then later in the semester, when he asks them how they're doing in classes and they tell him that they're doing great in all but one class he says, "let me guess, Murphy's class." Life is funny.

So, when I come back after three days of intermittent internet service, will I find more haiku? I hope so.

Welcome to a new blog follower, I hope. Daughter Pin has joined the 21st century and got herself a laptop. So, I expect responses from her, witticisms, nothing tell all. We'll see. She's adorable, but hardy a computer fan. If you do check my blog, welcome Pin. And if you get a google account (I'll explain what google is later) you can post to it. I love you.

Happy Easter/Passover/whatever everybody. No more Friday fish soon. Did you remember to sell your Chametz? Yeah, I got that off the Internet.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

If Twitterers can do it . . .

we can write a haiku, but let's mix it up. Let's write a haiku, not necessarily one about the season, but let's each of us (you see I'm assuming someone will respond) use the word twitter. Tricky, huh?
I'll start

Tenure is scary
Waiting for various votes
Heart all a'twitter


Spring is in the air
Where is the bird twitter?
Maybe they flew south

or since the twitterers are writing about movies, how about you guess this one? We can abandon the word twitter.

Keanu -- the mailbox!
It's actually a big joke
You're no architect

or we could go with tv; can you guess the show?

Wee Irish village
with priest who's kinda hot but
nobody else is

How about you put one up too?
Watcha got?
Happy Thursday

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

If I was a little flower . . .

and I had the misfortune of living in central New York, right about now I'd be wishing I could go back underground. Yeah, the snow stuck. It's white here. That is it. I'm heading south, well, to New Jersey. It better be better on Easter. That's all I'm saying. Carlie, is this global warming, or just an example of how where we live sucks?
Open mic tonight at the College Street Cafe, your truly singing her little heart out. Thank god I have the band, man.
Happy Wednesday

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's snowing.

That's all I'm saying.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hittin' the road

Goodbye Massachusetts.
Missy and I are hittin' the road.
Goodbye Antonio's pizza, you were damn tasty.
Goodbye eight hours of sleep in Catherine's bed.
Hello central New York.
Hello curriculum action I have to finish.
Hello classes I have to prep.
Hello meetings I have to attend.
Hello net sets of papers I get on Tuesday.
Well, at least there's Easter in New Jersey.
Happy Monday

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Greetings from Massachusetts

where I danced like a fool until 2:00 in the morning last night. Alcohol might have been involved.
where I engaged in one of my favorite pastimes, eating steak with Lucas.
where Missy gets too excited.
where I'm going back to bed now.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Understanding Spring

I understood spring in Idaho. It was 70 degrees one day in February (false spring) then it went back to winter. Then in early April, spring came back for about ten minutes (or so it seemed). Maybe it was because I was accustomed to a different kind of spring. In the East we USED TO have spring that meant a sleeveless dress for Easter.

Now we have winter that returns over and over again. Case in point: Monday I may be driving back to snow in central New York. I don't get it.

Yesterday was a thunder storm here in Massachusetts, complete with Missy under Catherine's bed. Today is windy and so far dry, but kinda cold. So, here's the question:
If it's global warming, why isn't it warm?
Mull that one over, and Carlie, I expect a scientific answer.
Happy Saturday
Missy woke me up at 5:30 this morning. Next trip she goes to the kennel.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hello from Massachusetts

where we arrived safely after three grueling hours of rain, wind, fog, wind, rain. I'm happy to be here. More soon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

For those of you who missed it . . .

and that's all of you, we had a rockin' good open mic last night at the College Street Cafe. Noel and I were on guitar and vocals (yeah, I'm trying to make it sound like I played the guitar, but of course I didn't) and we were joined by a local singer/songwriter (no, I don't mean it that way) who played some of his original stuff too. We even had a little Patrick on drums action, but he's rather shy. All in all, despite screwing up Desperado we did well.

Missy read with delight a clipping that Aunt Grace sent from the Bergen Record called "For the Pet Who Doesn't Take to That Doggone Gizmo" because it's all about how another dumb per owner succumbed to the Pedi Paws hype and tried to get his pet's nails under control and wound up getting bitten by said pet. Missy says I should take this a a warning. Here's a line from Bill Ervolin's article about his history of trying to get Jasper's nails trimmed, first at the groomer and then:
"the vet's office, where I'm guessing Jasper was subdued, muzzled and wheeled around like Hannibal Lecter's dog." Pretty funny stuff for me, since I have a mug shots from the vet's office that shows Missy (Billman) with a muzzle on, her eyes burning with resentment.
Missy is going to write to Ervolino and ask him if he's learned his lesson.

In other Missy news, she's still working off the three-quarters of a loaf of bread she got off the counter Tuesday evening. Yesterday it was some African candy, only two pieces. She needs something more to occupy her time while I'm at work or I leave the house for more than five minutes. I, on the other hand, need fewer things to do. Being a rock star/full time college professor isn't always easy. As a matter of fact, I better go prep now, or the buscom kids are gonna smell the lack of preparedness on me and know that I haven't read chapter 12.

Over and out friends. I'll be blogging from the great state of Massachusetts this weekend where Pin is excitedly awaiting her mama's arrival. Wherever you are (and if you're Anthony, that could apparently be any number of places) have a great end of the week. And, as always, rock on.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why is it . . .

that if I couldn't get to sleep until 1:00 last night, I still woke up at 4:45? I think it was regular, not decaf that I made. Well, regardless, I'm dragging a little today. I'm even toying with the idea of canceling my office hour and going back to sleep. Don't get me wrong; it's cool to watch the last 15 minutes of Without a Trace and find out that Sam killed a man when she was a teenager and that she and her sister buried the body. It's also cool that Jack knows and won't tell, advising Sam to "let it go." But really, sleep is cooler. So if you want,read some old posts or answer yesterday's. I'm going back to bed so I can do Open Mic at the College Street Cafe tonight at 8:00 with the band. If you're so inclined, come join us. Cathy named the band, but I can't remember what the name is -- something coffee shop specific.
Night Night