I took a small video camera into the recording studio with my band, The Sofa Kings, and cut this small movie for our band website. I wrote or co-wrote four of the five songs we recorded, although I am not in the video much until near the end.
Peace (with microphones, electric guitars and drums),
Bear with me on this one: I was reading an article about the author Douglas Hofstadter (who wrote Gödel, Escher, Bach that I used to like to look at but never really could understand it all) and he now has a new book out called I Am A Strange Loop, and the concept of the paradox took hold in my mind.
Thus, another installment of my One Poem Every Month for a Year project.
Standing Inside this Strange Loop
Listen to the Poem
I am standing here inside this strange loop
of sentences — no, wait —
I am lying.
That can’t be true. I am not standing inside of this loop
but I am on the outside, looking in, on top of this tangled hierarchy,
and wondering where the path will take me if I were to surf
the contours of this geometry and skate along the horizon.
I am inside of Bach’s canon, scattershot with no way out,
as the melody folds in on itself —
can you hearhearhearhear me
or is that just another harmonic echo
embedded in the air, shaking the molecules as tremors in the drum?
Creating something that becomes itself is the gift of the magician
and with music, it’s not even there —
only your ears can see the notes landing like snowflakes,
melting, and moving through the cyclical journey
to become ice once again sometime in the distant future,
drawing you back to this memory of the music
in Bach’s own mind.
Up the down staircase, indeed,
as MC Escher — not of some rap-busting rhymes in time
but the artist of the brush and the pen —
visually sends me downstairs while my eyes go up
and my mind is sent spinning in exhausting circles
until one hand writes the other hand’s words
as I, me, the artist, the composer, completely disappears into myself.
Isn’t that just like the poet, too, tossing images into the world
and sounds flutterflutterflutter that coalesce into a theme
only when you stop looking for it?
Or maybe what I am saying here is completely untrue
because, really, I always speak the truth.
Like then, and then, and thenthenthenthenthen.
Logic is missing in this mayhem
and my world is precariously balanced
on the paradoxical threads of yet another
I just came across an article by Jakob Nielson that discusses the skills that young people should be learning. The one-sentence summary of the article is instructive: “Schools should teach deep, strategic computer insights that can’t be learned from reading a manual.” What he means is that schools should not teach to a certain platform or software program, but they should instruct along the lines of critical thinking and problem-solving that will come in handy no matter how technology changes (and it will change — we all know that).
Here is a list of the skills that Jakob says are vital:
- Search Strategies
- Information Credibility
- Battling Information Overload
- Presentation Skills
- Basic Debugging Techniques
- Understanding Usability Guidelines
You can read more at his site but I think this is a nice basic list to think about.
Peace (with the basics),
My classroom weblog site — The Electronic Pencil — was just chosen as the Site of the Week by TechLearning. Cool.
Name: The Electronic Pencil:
Here is what they said:
“This is an excellent example of teachers working together to communicate with students and parents by incorporating the use of technology. In addition to reviewing class work and projects, site visitors can find homework assignments, get an overview of projects for the year, and access the school’s Website. Hodgson reports that the blog has quickly become a place where students engage in authentic publication and learn lessons about digital literacy. Most importantly, these students are developing the sense of being members of a learning community.” — TechLearning
Peace (with pencils),
My rock band, The Sofa Kings, is heading into the recording studio this weekend and it is very exciting because I intend to record the experience on video, too. We have five songs that we intend to put down with the engineer, Paul, who has worked as an engineer extensively throughout our region and who plays with a bunch of, well, hard-hard rock bands. Our goal is record about 12 original songs by the end of 2007, so this is just the first batch for us.
Listen to The Sofa Kings
Four of the five songs are ones that I have written or co-written.
Here is a quick breakdown:
- Gravitational Pull — an older song that I wrote with John, the guitar player, about my wife and how everything seems centered on her (in a wonderful way). I sing on this one.
- Katrina Blows In — I wrote this one in the aftermath of the hurricane season and premiered it at my school where I teach during a benefit concert with an offshoot band I am in called The Millenium Bugs.
- Beacon in the Night — I wrote this one with John, with a sort of gospel feel to it. Don sings it.
- Stubborn Fool — I wrote this one with both Johns and although I do very little on it (just some back-up vocals), I think it is one of the strongest songs lyrically and pop-rock-wise (not a word but it fit).
- No More Mister Fun — I didn’t write any of this one. It is by John, the pianist, and Bob, the drummer. I am just BongoMon on this song.
(What is strange is that I don’t play sax on any of these songs. It just worked out that way. I will be blowing some horn on the next round of songs.)
Peace (with pop songs),
In the course of 10 minutes yesterday, I ran across two mentions of the saxophone (my main axe) in both Newsweek and Time magazines that are worth mentioning. And the Muppets were on my mind, too.
The first was an obituary for Peggy Gilbert, who was one of the first female jazz saxophone players to make a true impact on the world. Gilbert, who died at the age of 102 (see what music can do for you?), shared the stage with such greats as Benny Goodman and Louis Prima, and she didn’t subscribe to the notion that men are better musicians and band leaders than women (and you shouldn’t either). The obit reminds us that Gilbert took on Downbeat magazine when it ran a commentary that seemed to detail how men are better than women. Thanks, Peggy, for being brave and creative!
The second mention was a bit stranger. The article on comedian Jim Carey and a new movie called The Number 23 features a striking picture of Carey, with tattoos and muscles, holding a saxophone like a weapon. I couldn’t find the reason why his character has the saxophone but it doesn’t look good (for him or his saxophone). Maybe the muse plays a supporting role.
Finally, I ran across this video that I just love from the Muppets that I just had to share because, frankly, we all need a good Muppet laugh once in a while:
Peace (with pioneers, players and puppets),
This is another installment in my series of poems I am writing and podcasting every month under the banner of One Poem Per Month for a Year. I wrote it as I watched my oldest son (age 9) playing basketball the other day and was amazed at his athletic abilities and I was wondering where this passion for sports came from (music was my thing). And we had just visited the San Diego Zoo, so animals were on my mind.
The Rhino and Gazelle/ Father and Son
Listen to the Poem
The gazelle inside of you came from somewhere but not from me.
I am more like a crash of rhinos with heads lowered, eyes narrowed, horns raised up in defiant defense.
I am more like the lumbering giant than the fleet footed creature that you are,
darting, moving, skirting the horizon with energy and freedom.
You spring from one side of the world to the other with your motors on full,
an open field with nobody else in motion,
time slowed down to a crawl,
and all of us just watching, watching, watching,
as you surprise your opponent with stealth and speed.
No one expected that of you.
Certainly not me.
To the rhino, the gazelle is just a flash of a rainbow caught from the corner of the eye
and coveted as a dream that has been released to the stars
as if it were but a balloon on a string on a windy day.
No, the rhino remains firmly centered here on this Earth with gravity pulling on the mind
with weight and worry draped like an anchor around the neck.
I could never run like you. Never.
I was always the bull — the muscle — the brawn —
the man in the middle who threw the block and freed up others so that they could gain the glory
and I would often wonder at why it was that I was built so different from all of them
but the gazelle never gazes upon the rhino except in times of need.
And now I know. Now, I know.
I was built to protect the gazelle from others who want to tear down the beauty of the run
and twist in the imperfections, twist it into something ugly and painful
— already it has begun, the self-doubting, the impossibilities, the sound of other voices taking hold on your tongue–
and so I lower my horn and crash into the crowd, a raging rhino,
determined to protect you at any cost from the slow and steady pull of gravity in the world.
Peace (without cages),
I was asked by a colleague from the National Writing Project to donate a short movie to a promotional video he is putting together for fellows at his site around the idea of a technology institute. Brett asked if I would create something that reflected upon last summer’s Tech Matters retreat in Chico, California (where I started this blog project) and so I couldn’t resist using my clay friend, Thelonius, and a dry erase board with stop-motion (plus a wide array of hats) in my movie. That’s what you get, Brett, for asking me to contribute. 🙂
Actually, it was nice to reflect upon that experience many months later and realize that more than the tools that I was exposed to, it is the network of new friends and colleagues that remain the strongest link of the week in Chico. I am still very close to a handful of Tech Matters people (Bonnie, David, Tonya, Maria, Mary, Joe, Troy, Karen, Paul A. — among others) and that is important to me.
Here it is (wow — look, I can close my eyes!):
Peace (in video),
I just got back from California (San Diego) with my family (Legoland, San Diego Zoo, and SeaWorld were all highlights) and I was in the mood for something different, so I popped over to Artpad, where you can make your own drawing and let other people see the process of creation (warning: art has never been my strong suit). Apparently, you can also add to my painting, if you so desire.
Click on my picture to bring you to the artistic recess of my mind:
Peace (with paintbrushes),
We’re off to California
The wonderful California sun
We hear there is summer there
And everything is fun
— sung to “Off to See the Wizard”