RSS Feed

Memorial

Posted on

The origin of Memorial Day is a bit . . . controversial. Don’t believe me? Take a look at snopes.com. That place is usually pretty solid with the answers. It’s kind of what Snopes does.

Anyway.

Happy Memorial Day everyone. May those who paid the ultimate price in service of their country be remembered. In fact, may all loved ones be remembered. Why not, right? A day to remember all of our fallen friends and family isn’t a bad thing, is it? I mean, does it really matter how or where they died to offer up a day of remembrance? My grandma visits her parents and husband today–none of them died in a war. I don’t see anything wrong with her taking flowers to their graves today, do you?

Me? I don’t. I don’t have a lot of military family members. I’ve also been lucky enough to have not lost many loved ones. Of the ones I have lost, I remember them my own ways on my own days and frankly it’s between them and me.

It’s whatever.

That said, I find it odd wishing people a ‘happy’ Memorial Day. Maybe, to a certain extent, there can be some happiness around remembering your children, spouses, parents, friends, and other family members and acquaintances who died serving their country. I guess when I think of those around me who have died I can smile at the good times we had. In fact I do, remembering the way my friend Nathan called me “Stu-Stu-Stuevio” like he was singing that Phil Collins song “Sussudio.” I laugh, occasionally, when I think of the student I lost a few years ago in a car accident. His sly comments in class were always entertaining. He was a good kid who possessed just the right amount of smartass and intelligence to make me fond of him.

*le sigh*

Still, considering what Memorial Day is for on a national scale, I can’t completely commit to a ‘happy’ one in that regard, you know? Instead, what I do–what my family does–every year is spend Memorial Day at Adventureland. It isn’t important. It isn’t noble. It isn’t altruistic, heroic, or anything even remotely close to anything like that.

It is, however, memorial.

Yearbook, Take Four

Posted on

This year marks the fourth time I’ve been a yearbook adviser, the sixth time I’ve been a video yearbook adviser, the third time I’ve been a website adviser (thethunderbeat.org natch), and the second time I’ve been a literary magazine adviser. I also teach and write and live my life a bit . . . .

Anyway.

Today my video yearbook and yearbook staffs distributed this year’s edition, Vol. #38 for those keeping track. And it is no lie to say this year’s creations are the best I’ve advised on (not that the others are crap, I’m just saying, this stuff has come together quite nicely this time around). Here’s a pic:

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 4.36.26 PM

We’re using this cool app called Aurasma this year too. Don’t know what that is? Don’t know how to use it? Here is a tutorial! Yeah. It’s whatever.

Anyway.

I work hard on these productions, all of them. But I don’t work nearly as hard as the students. They put in far more hours than many of their peers. They dedicate themselves to their work far more intensely than many of their peers. They show more heart and depth and determination than many adults I’ve met. At the end of the year it pays off in their work. They do the best they can with the time they are given.

I must use my meager platform to say I am proud of them.

May the Fourth be With You

Posted on

I know I said I was going to write about Stan Lee this week, but seeing as it is a bit of a holiday in my culture, I figured I’d write about Star Wars instead. Ah, the freedom of running your own blog with few followers . . . . It’s . . . awesome?

Anyway.

I’m a nerdy guy. I’m sure you’ve picked up on that by now.

I imagine science can figure out why some guys are into football and others are into comic books and others still are into all of it. I’m not science though and I’m also not one to question who I am. I am, on the other hand, one to revel in it.

So I have a lot of Star Wars memories . . . .

A lot.

A drive-in showing of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is the first thing that pops into my head. It was the second film that night. I couldn’t tell you what the first one was. I’m sure it sucked though. What’s odd is though I remember this movie first, I know I saw A New Hope before it because I wasn’t confused at all . . . . Memory is a strange thing . . . .

I remember seeing Star Wars: Return of the Jedi when I was five with my uncle Barry who was 13. I ate so much popcorn when we went that I spent the night puking in my grandma’s downstairs bathroom. I can still hear her shrieking at Barry something along the lines of “How much popcorn did you let him eat?”

I didn’t even care.

That’s how awesome that movie is.

I can fast forward to the premier of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceSeveral of my friends, my dad, and I all went to the opening show. I can remember standing in line, heart beating quickly as I anticipated what was to come. My brother-in-law was late because of his job. He drove like 100 mph over the interstate to make it. He didn’t even miss a trailer. He must have been channeling Anakin Skywalker’s Midi-chlorians or something (he can fly a pod racer really fast).

Then there was the all but ignored masterpiece, Fanboyswhich says everything all of us nerds wanted to say about Episode I but couldn’t quite articulate. It’s so brilliant I kind of want to cry whenever I think about it (I may cry a little bit every time I watch it though you’ll never know).

Watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars with my kids has been nothing short of amazing.

Then, of course, the trailer for the newest movie came along and every other memory of the films I’ve had since I was a little boy vanished because I became that little boy again, waiting with the eager anticipation only a child should have.

Christmas can’t come soon enough.

In the meantime, May the Fourth be With You.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: It’s Legit, for Real

Posted on

I’m teaching this science fiction/fantasy writing class this summer. Right now I am in the process of creating a sort of guide for students to understand the various forms of science fiction/fantasy. Here is the cover and the first page:

specficinfobook2

Clearly, it’s a rough draft but pay attention to the blurb on the bottom of the cover. It says volumes about my philosophy on writing without saying too much.

I’m thinking next week I’ll write about one of my biggest writing heroes . . . Stan Lee. But don’t quote me on that because you never know what sort of whim I might have . . . .

K’Fay

Posted on

I took another Monday off from blogging last week because I had just returned home from a trip. My family and I had ventured up to Battle Creek, NE to visit my 81-year-old grandmother. She’s a great lady. Despite the fact that we have differing opinions on . . . a great many things . . . I love her dearly.

I try to get a photo of her every time I visit. I didn’t last time, but here is one from the time before:

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 7.53.14 PM

She’s pretty sweet in many ways. She lives on the acreage her parents lived in for many years. When her mother passed away in the early 1980s, she moved there from Hannibal, MO with her husband (my grandfather) and youngest children to help her father out. My father, her oldest child, had long since grown up, moved out, and created a family all his own. After her father died 15 or so years later and all her children were grown and off living their own lives, she stayed, so did her husband. When he followed her mother and father to the grave a few years later, history-in a way-repeated itself because I moved in with her. I spent two-and-a-half of the best years of my life on that little acreage. When I lived there, I really became a writer, I learned how to farm, I graduated from college (the first time) . . . I also gained 30 pounds.

She’s a great cook.

The weight melted off when I moved out . . . .

Anyway.

There are a lot of quirks to my grandmother’s personality I could explain here. I could tell you all about her bout with polio, about how more than one doctor said she would never walk yet here she is, 81, still walking like a champ. I could describe her deep and enviable faith or her sharp, if a bit forgetful, mind.

But I’m not.

I’m going to tell you how she pronounces the word ‘cafe.’

It’s ‘k’fay.’

Of all the many endearing things about her, I think I like this one the most. In my admittedly small world, it gives her a uniqueness that I will remember long after she’s gone.

Of course, I plan on her being around for a good many years to come, so I have no idea why I feel the need to write this.

A Teacher’s Spring Break Part #2

Posted on

So, here are the photos I mentioned last week.

The day before spring break I was gifted with some Sour Patch Kids Ladders, otherwise known as the human centipede of candy. They were delightfully horrifying in their grotesque deliciousness. 

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.45.03 PM

 

That same day, upon finally coming home after a long, long last day before spring break, I doffed the monkey suit of the average American teacher and threw on a Shakespeare t-shirt (Hamlet’s soliloquy in the shape of a skull, nooch), my fave sweater, and these amazing pajama pants. What’s that you say? You can’t see my legs? Of course you can’t, my pants are camouflage!

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.48.33 PM

 

My first full day of spring break began with a trip to the gym where I did nearly nothing while my daughter flipped and flopped around so that I was like to have a heart attack (had I not learned long ago not to watch for too long).

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.51.34 PM

 

Day #2 saw me try my hand at omelet cooking. It’s taste, of peppers, turkey, spinach, Tabasco, and (naturally) egg was far superior to it appearance.

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.53.05 PM

 

Some have argued that spring break cannot officially begin until Monday. I say those who make such outlandish claims are fools. However, I wondered on down to Hannibal, MO this day where I was gifted with a tenderloin as big as my head and root beer that was almost as delectable as regular beer.

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.54.37 PM

 

There is a theme running through Hannibal that would seem extreme anywhere else. I like to think Mark Twain would be pleased that this hotel is the place where my mother decided to stay with my father when they were teenagers in love.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.57.09 PM

 

Returning home to Omaha on the fifth day of my spring break might have been a harrowing experience had I decided to leave Hannibal a few hours later. As it was, I just beat one of the first spring storms of the season home. This was the ominous sky that night shortly after I was tucked safely away in my recliner in the basement rec room.

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.58.39 PM

 

A day of relaxing followed my sojourn to Mark Twain’s hometown. It ended with an ominous message from my daughter. “These rocks are magic,” she said. “Magic.” I had to refrain from touching them but I figured a photo to memorialize these auspicious stones was in order.

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.00.25 PM

 

On Day #7 I began to realize I should probably start being productive. The below image is my attempt at that. I’m not going to lie to you fine readers. I completed one of these tasks . . . .

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.02.05 PM

 

After the insanity that was an attempt at work on the previous day, I realized I needed a bit more relaxation. Therefore, I rented six films and over the course of the final weekend of spring break 2015, watched them all. If you’re curious, they were all pretty good and included The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part #1, Annie, Evil Dead, John Wick, Cloud Atlasand Lucy

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.03.14 PM

 

Finally, on the ninth and final day of spring break I completed my relaxation by hanging out (still on my recliner in case you were wondering) with this guy. Yes, he is almost as handsome as me.

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.09.15 PM

 

I didn’t learn much.

It was great.

 

 

 

A Teacher’s Spring Break Part #1

Posted on

I have been in education most of my adult life. I’ve taken a few back roads and side streets into other careers. I had a taste of editing. I worked seriously in retail. Before all that, I probably had about 50 jobs ranging from slinging burgers at McDonald’s to counting stalks of corn for a seed company. I also spent a few summers at a steel mill. The pay was great at that one, but the place I worked in at the mill, known colloquially as “The Pit,” could get so hot I would be a couple of pounds lighter at the end of my shift than I was at the beginning. Shifts, by the way, ran either from 8am-4pm, 4pm-midnight, or midnight to 8am.

These jobs–all of them, from editing shitty journalistic stories for a shitty little indy newspaper, to wrapping bundles of rebar in “The Pit,” were their own kinds of hard. Some were more punishing to the brain, others to the body, and many to the soul–at least for me. I know SpongeBob’s soul is happiest when he’s slinging hash. So I’m not judging those who enjoy these jobs. In fact, I praise those who love these jobs, who are qualified for these jobs, and who spend years perfecting their performance at these jobs.

I’m an artist though folks and we’re a weird lot, especially in the eyes of modern society. I don’t like the concept of working for a living. I don’t understand how spending your hours for a handful of dimes is a noble endeavor, something we should look forward to. It baffles me. My dad spent 25 years working at a steel mill to support his family. I don’t consider his work honorable simply because he was working. The honor of work for work’s sake is–in my humble opinion–a lie. I consider his work honorable because he did it to support a family he decided to start when he was 19.

Look, money has never been a motivator for me. I like to be happy and I am happiest when I am being an artist because I don’t consider it a job (you already know how I feel about jobs). Today though, I do two things to earn the money I am–for the most part–unconcerned with: write and teach. I know I need money and I’ve found a couple of things to do that don’t slowly destroy my mind, body, and soul, because, as I mentioned, I find something unforgivably wrong with thinking working a job that is slowly destroying you is an absolute good, simply because having a job is the ‘right’ thing to do.

Luckily for me, one of my current money-making schemes (teaching) has this glorious thing called spring break. I’m on day three of it right now and it’s amazing.

Next week, I’ll have pictures. I’m sure they won’t be anything like this, but they’ll be pretty cool.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 618 other followers

%d bloggers like this: