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Orlando

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

Orlando

The problem with death has always been its finality.
No take backs.
Those smiles that rhumba'd.
the pride of our country.
A rainbow composed of more sunlight than color.
and as the angry clouds lift from the disaster 
the prism is a memory.
the reality
a darkness.

The Huge Huge

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

Straight guys shouldn't write blogs about penis size. I mean, there are a limited amount of directions for said narrative:

"I have a huge dongpipe, and it's cool."

"I have a average dongpipe, and my dong related activities are unrelated to its size."

And, of course, the most fascinating to the general public: "I have a tiny dongpipe and here is how I work to overcome this  . . . shortcoming."

Personally, with the exception of casual sympathy for the micropenis'd (there ARE other ways to please each other though), I find all three storylines rather dull.  HBO felt differently, apparently, when they green-lit their 2009 original series Hung. The entire plot of the show revolved around the main character being a good looking middle-aged guy with a huge schlong. Essentially the guy's penis was the main character.  I watched a few episodes. There was a lot of spur of the moment sex and seemingly satisfied customers. But, with a one eyed worm that hides inside a guys pants all episode as the lead, I legitimately didn't give a damn for any of the characters -- including the dong's owner.  The show lasted 3 seasons. My guess is that it got extended for the later two because the only thing HBO loves more than entertainment is the opportunity to increase viewership with the promise of nudity. It is the Victoria's Fashion Show of TV stations in that way.


Don't You Dare Cross(walk) Me!

Thursday, May 19, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

It's still free to park in Easthampton, MA. I see this as a temporary perk that will be short lived as our tucked away hamlet fills itself with more and more quality establishments.

For a itinerant worker such as myself, it isn't the buck I save on parking meters that gets me so excited. It is the relief I feel not having to worry about if I'm going to get a ticket. Personally, I've found that the majority of the times I do receive tickets, I'd put in enough money for the maximum time allowed. I'm not sure if the meter maids get sick of staring at my car during their rounds, or if their route randomly passes my vehicle after 3 hours and 2 minutes -- and by not sure, I mean of fucking course they are -- but either way, I get got. And in truth, the constant fear of a parking violation is much worse than the $10-15 fine.  Most of the time.

Today I went to the local coffee shop to work. Parking was free. Not only was it free, but there were a plethora of spots available. A literal plethora. I chose a spot directly across from my shop of choice, two spots back from the crosswalk. I got out and reflexively walked behind my car to the curb side where a meter will greet me in 5 years. But not today. I opened the passenger door to retrieve my computer and consciously decided to use the crosswalk instead of just darting across the two lane road.  The street wasn't particularly busy, but with parked cars on both sides, it can feel congested and filled with blind spots for both pedestrians and motorists.

A beige station wagon was already speeding toward the crosswalk, and just looking at the guy's face, I instinctively knew he wasn't going to stop.  He could. He had enough time and space. But his face -- the mustache, the shitty knock-off sunglasses -- told me that not only was he cruising through those white lines, he but simultaneously telling himself that he didn't have enough time to stop even if he wanted to.  He had the space. He didn't want to.

from collegehumor.com

I Solved Parenting. You're Welcome Parents!

Friday, May 13, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

I always get a mini-rush before writing a piece on parenting just imagining of all the people with children who will read it and think, "This shithead doesn't even have kids, how can he pretend to know anything about parenting?" No punchline here, I just enjoy the rush.

Before I get to the heat of the meat and talk about parenting, I first want to talk a bit about marketing.  I saw this image on Facebook today.
I'm sure there is a Snopes.com article about how this is not a real poster, not a real train, and not a real person, but, the points still remains. 
This poster succinctly draws attention to the relationship between how bad you feel about yourself, and the money you are told to spend to correct those "problems." Of course, often it is the same companies publishing articles about thigh gaps, extra long lashes, push-up bras, and powder supplements that are stacking your money as you attempt to measure up. This profit cycle, for the most part, goes interrupted . . . until parenthood. 

The Yin and Yang on State St.

Monday, May 9, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

The good.

As a sit in my idling car outside a small grocery store, a mom walks her crying toddler up to the entrance.  The daughter, held tightly by her left hand, is old enough to walk and old enough to throw a temper tantrum.  She is doing both with abandon.

A second mother, also accompanying her small child then exit the grocery. It's clear that these relatively new mothers know each other. They begin a conversation miles above the still-crying girl and the young boy who exchange glances a foot or two above the pavement.  Without prompt, the boy drops his mother's hand and takes two wobbly but direct steps toward the girl. He wraps his arms around her for no other reason than because she is crying.

Pictured: A reasonable facsimile of the event that transpired

Flexing My Way to Athletic Prowess

Thursday, March 17, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

Only once, in an educational career that has spanned three decades, has my physical fitness ever been formally measured.  And, because the Devil, capital D, run's all middle schools, that time was during my 7th grade gym class. Smack in the middle of my pubescent transformation, the Board of Education had me go through a series of physical challenges a la Double Dare.

For one class period all the guys lined up next to the pull-up bar and took turns seeing which of us spaghetti-armed 80 pound towels could haul our newly smelly bodies up and over the literal and metaphoric bar. I still remember that I almost did one.  That was how horrific this experience was -- the accomplishment of barely failing to meet the lowest possible standard was memorable.  "Almost" would be the title of my one-man play, which focuses solely on middle school gym class.  The predicted run time is 3 hours. Inevitably, the pull-up exercise would devolve into watching the severely overweight students get put through this same farce. The difference now, of course was that we, their peers, had just fully embarrassed ourselves, and we took that aggression out on the most vulnerable as we mocked from the sideline. Brutal. 

I'm rooting for you Tiger.
This week of scoliosis tests and measuring arm strength always culminated in a mile run around the unofficial track that was our soccer field. While our school system lacked the funds for a pool, insecurities ran at "swimming without a shirt on" levels during the weighing and measuring period that was our middle school Combine.

Crash Test Dummies

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

The pedestrian getting off the PVTA bus didn't even glance at the road before walking. Perhaps this adult sized person, bundled against the wind, was having a flashback to his or her days in elementary school when the vigilant bus driver would unfurl the flashing STOP sign in order to assure safe passage. Unfortunately for everyone, this a public bus, sans signage.

Additionally, the bus was pulled over into a designated bus stop outlet, which allowed traffic to freely flow in both directions. So, when this passenger exited the bus and immediately began to hustle across the street, cars flowed in both directions. This pedestrian acted immune to the consistent smushability of the human body.

The saving grace for our capricious Frogger was that he or she dashed into traffic within the confines of a crosswalk. In Massachusetts, crosswalks are a Big Deal. Capital B, capital D. If you fail to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, no matter what happens, it will be considered completely your fault. Unless otherwise dictated by a traffic signal, crosswalks are considered the Holy Land of pedestrian safety. Inside their boarders, no harm shall be done. And so it was written.

And while, legally speaking, crosswalks may serve to protect pedestrians from vehicular manslaughter, those thick white lines are not, literally speaking, a forcefield.  Which is to say that if a speeding piece of rolling metal were to come in contact with the delicate musculature of a human spine, even while basking in the holy light of the hallowed crosswalk, you dead. Dee Eey Dee, Ded. Maybe you'll get an extra shiny halo in heaven, but not in the morgue.

In Line and Outta Line in the Locker Room

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

I've stayed away from locker room centered posts for awhile now. Karma's a bitch and I have no desire to upset the delicate nature of a scale already so precariously balanced.  But yesterday. . . Maaaaaaaan . . . Yesterday. What I saw yesterday in that beat up bygone-era UMASS men's locker room, now used only by recreational swimmers, I don't know what to do BUT write about it.

I have seen a great many bizarre and impossible to predict souls slosh their way through this locker room over the better part of the last decade.  And, more to the point, some aspects of the freak show are now par for the course.  It would be weird if I didn't see some aspect of the show.  I mean, the locker room just isn't the same without Unbelievable-amount-of-back-hair Guy or Jocky McJockerson.

Or, like yesterday, I saw the dude who looks like a miniature version of the Dunkin Donuts' "Time to make the donuts!" Guy from their 90's TV ads. This cross between a New England celebrity (I once saw the actual DD guy while shopping in a Pittsfield TJ Maxx as a youngster) and the Johnny Depp idiration of the Oompa Loompa (see picture puzzle below).  This mostly harmless character has a particular propensity for shuffling along the cement floor in his shower shoes -- totally naked. Like, he's holding his towel lazily in his right, but shuffling like a sad, droopy-skinned, wind-up toy robot.


And this, is normal to me.  It no longer even blips my radar. Catching a passing glimpse of Mini-DD is merely checking off a square on my work-out BINGO card.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it don't.

But yesterday.  Maaaaaaaaan. Yesterday, we had some wild card shit go down. Possibly even a technical foul.

You've Got to Fight for the Right, to be on the Right, and be Right

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

A few days ago I received an email containing an organized file of my students' reviews from last semester. For each class I was given two zip files. One file was the result of the students'  1-9 rankings of both my teaching and the class itself, in a variety of areas.  The second file for each class contained the students' open response prompts about what they felt were the strengths and weaknesses of the course.

Overall, I was tremendously pleased with both my scores and the feedback, which was almost entirely positive. And I love that. I do. I can't front. I work hard to put together an entertaining and informative class, so I'm proud when my message hits its mark. I'm human and therefore subject to flattery as much as the next person.

What concerns me even more, however, is the constructive criticism.  I have a particular, and sometimes peculiar, teaching style.  I most certainly use humor to keep the classroom energy high and hold interest.  I recognize that this style will not suit every student.  It can't.  No teaching style can.  Therefore, it isn't surprising that a few students find my antics immature and distracting.  While I lament this, even I am forced to forgive myself for 2 or 3 misses out of 300.  Not much I can do there. 

That said, there is another segment of my student population that both thoroughly enjoyed my class, and simultaneously has constructive criticism. They have feedback.  Some of it is procedural stuff -- put your slides online, put your lectures online, put yourself online -- but other critiques are more substantive.  

Digging Deep for Optimism

Friday, January 15, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

It's been a tough few weeks. It got cold.  The world lost a few great famous people, one's that left their mark in their respective arts.  But I am not one to wax on about such things.  Death is final and terrifying and oftentimes requires deep breathing.  So, to do my part, I offer you a deep breath.  Because as I said, it's cold out there.

Last weekend Viking's kicker Blair Walsh missed a gimme of a field goal versus the Seahawks, which sealed his team's playoff defeat.   It really was a short kick. Twenty-seven yards.  Shorter than an extra point. Blair Walsh, an extremely talented kicker, had the worst day of his professional life -- by far.  Post-game he dutifully answered questions from reporters.  He took complete responsibility for the shank and for his teams subsequent defeat. He made no attempt to diffuse the blame across the concept of "team."  Blair just spoke the truth.  He messed up when it meant the most for his team.  And after the reporters finished with their questions and dispersed, he broke down at his locker.

This is not the deep breath. You have to wait for it.

How My Students Are This Semester

Friday, January 8, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

How are your students this semester?

I get this question multiple times at the beginning of each semester that I've taught at the college level. And while I firmly understand that the intent of the question is to gain more insight into my teaching experience and show interest in my life in general, it's a question that has constantly irked me.

The question presupposed the idea that there are good classes and bad classes. Good students and bad students. And I can tell you that this mentality has rubbed off on the student body. In many student meetings I've had UMass students talk about their education as if is somehow less than the educational experience at nearby colleges like Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and Mt. Holyoke. There is this invisible glass ceilings that UMass students feel their education is below in a geographic area chocked full of management-level educational institutions.



The Tyranny of Overusing the Word "Tyranny"

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

I never do this. I never start with a definition. It's trite. It's cliche. It's . . . the beginning to almost every horrific wedding speech. But here we go.

Tyranny is defined as "cruel and oppressive government or rule." And I'm not sure whether we've lost track of what "cruel" is, what "oppression" is, or both. But people across the US have been talking a hell of a lot about tyranny lately, and with all the tyranny talk -- Tyranny this . . . Tyranny that . . . the word has lost all meaning.

It bemuses me that any of the "Big Two" political parties in America could believe there is any systematic tyranny in the USA. I mean, the president is a Democratic, both houses of government are Republican led, and as a unit they do almost no governing. No governing and oppressive governing are very different animals. No governance is like a sheep that has gone lost and returns years later with matted wool and a desperate need to be shorn.

Whereas THIS is an oppressive government (Warning: this metaphor is graphic).

Now can you see the difference?