Monday, October 31, 2011

Saddle up with the Ghouls and Boys

Posted by PicasaWhat other time of the year can you get a visit from not one, but two cowgirls, Snow White, three Eskimo  girls, the Grim Reaper, Rapunzel, a ghoul, a scary blue-haired girl, and a pepper shaker?  Did I forget Elmo?  Gotta have a cute Elmo to round things out.  Tack on a gangsta computer wizard with blue tresses, and it's another great Halloween on 3rd Street.  

Kelly MacLeod and the Metamorphoses of DSU

My friend Kelly MacLeod knows how to get something great out of the people she works with.  Wouldn't it be great if we could all elicit similar things from our students?  She's good, and the work her students did with the play at DSU on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night (when we went) is a testament to her ability to inspire. They did a contemporary twist on Ovid's Metamorphoses and rocked it solid.   Thanks, Kelly!  Thanks, students!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cool New DSU Commercials

DSU "Vampire" Commercial, 2011 from Dakota State on Vimeo.Dr. Knowlton says our new commercials were slated to run during the World Series game last night, when Mr. Crisler's Cardinals whipped the Rangers to win the title of world champs.  They're going to get the attention of young people looking for cool factor, that's for sure.  What do you think?

DSU 'Techie' Commercial 2011 from Dakota State on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Sledgehammer" Moviemaking--You Thought You Couldn't Make Movies

How's about making that horror movie you always knew you had in you.  Don't have a huge production budget?  No problem.  Get out the video camera, flip video, or whatever, and see if you can top this little number.  Think it's bad?  Come on!  Do better.

A Sweet Birthday Celebration for the Wife

Yesterday the wife celebrated her birthday once again, and, like usual, the shower of gifts got to me, too, and in just the way I like.  One of our friends whose cooking talents are a gift she shares with us (you know who you are, CB) offered up her knock-out bread pudding and her makes-me-wanna-shout caramel topping as a birthday gift.  Yes, our trousers are little tighter as a result, but it's worth the squeeze!  Thank you, birthday goddess!  And, happy birthday, dear wife!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Long Arm of the Tripod

Daughter, daughter's guy, wife, me in camera as they two folks from Minneapolis aimed to return with their newly acquired transportation.  Turns out, their other car had trouble on the way home and I'm still waiting to find out how the trouble evolves.  We enjoyed having them here and don't like the idea that there's trouble in their lives.  Keep good wishes in mind, please.  

Crowded Schedule

"Time is what keeps everything from happening at once."  Ray Cummings.

Ray, is time a thing that moves in a stream, or comes in clumps like cottage cheese?  Does it flow like a river, come down from north like a wind, or does it rumble from time to time like California earthquakes?  I'd like to know, because lately it seems as though the long stretches of quiet, the bowl of sun and space with nothing to stir it but my own steps forward, these seem gone, or become the dumped contents of a pair of salad tongs.  One arm of the tongs is me.  What is the other?  

This week, in addition to my teaching, I've done a prep session for students getting ready for the CAAP exam, co-hosted, sort of, a conference for the GPACW, participated in a panel discussion of the English for New Media program at DSU, and led a workshop (with a colleague) on the multimedia authoring software Sophie, which neither of us knew before we took on the workshop.  

Nothing wrong with keeping busy, except when it invades the need for quiet, or time with family.  It just so happens my sister and her man came through this week on their RV journey west after selling their home, quitting their jobs, and packing everything into an 18 year old motor home and leaving Nashville for California via St. Louis, South Dakota, Boise, Portland, and maybe even Seattle.  Then my daughter and her man arrived for a visit from Minneapolis.  So it's great having them here, but I wish, Ray, that there could be less of it all happening at once.  

It's all good.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Characters in a Pinon Tree

Our tan-clad hero cooks up some new kind of trouble every episode, and the wife and I are Breaking Bad fans, following the troubled twosome of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, unlikely allies in making meth for Albuquerque.  Sure, we came to the party late, but that doesn't make us any less enthusiastic.  

The wife reminded me that each episode is a reminder of what I tell my creative writing students about how they should put their characters up a tree (or any difficulty) and then keep pelting them with trouble until something happens.  Trouble seems to be at their elbows at every turn.  That's what keeps us coming back.  

Our Slightly-Open Door Policy

Early this month we had our first visitors to our offering on Airbnb, which we used to book our place in Seattle when we traveled there last summer.  The deal was, list your own place to stay and you get 20 bucks off, so we did.  Little did we know that people would want to stay here!  But, apparently, they would!

In fact, while we were IN Seattle in July, we had our first request to stay, but that wouldn't work, so it wasn't until October, when two traveling Wisconsonites, seen here in a corny photo shot in Mitchel after they left, booked with us and actually stayed.  Same day as our return from the marathon?  Sure.  They were a lively pair, and we enjoyed having them stay with us on their journey west.  We look forward to having more visitors.

As of today, our August House is the ONLY place in eastern South Dakota to stay using Airbnb.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Sonnet to Vandalize Your Car

My students are writing sonnets.  Go figure.  Makes me want to do one or two myself, so I do.

Sonnet XIII

This bad sonnet wants to punch you in the gut
Make your momma cry and your dad get drunk
The rhyme makes you think you woke with a slut
Or made bad sexy with a tattooed punk,
You get done reading and your mind’s gone wild
Like a tornado pickup truck four wheel drive
Ripping up a cornfield like a crazed meth child,
Wondering if you wanted still to be alive.
But a sonnet can’t hit, and your dad don’t drink,
Your momma seems happy and your loved one mild,
And the scene with the pickup truck—just spilled ink,
Lines on a page, like this one (there, you smiled). 
A sonnet can turn like that, bad to good,
Or come out swinging like Mrs. Tiger Wood(s).  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Great Day, October, South Dakota Style

What could be better?  Another beautiful October day, temps in the 70's, a light breeze, the smell of fall in the air, full moon hanging over the back yard with clouds cris-crossing beneath it, a light show on the horizon.  A nice lunch, good class, and then a good bike ride with a friend out east and north of town, followed by a soothing shower, a great salad, a stop at some friends for a great time with kids, then capped off with a trip to the BrickHouse for some photos, art work, gelato, and kuchen.  And home to come to.  Thanks to the people who make it happen.

Yours Truly in the News

Chuck Clement covered the doings at the Smith Zimmermann Museum on Sunday afternoon and wrote up this fine story.  The paper version of the story featured a photo of yours truly.  Story on the Madison Daily Leader.

Milton Conference Coming Up

Poster for the John R. Milton Writer's Conference, 2011
Looking forward to the John R. Milton Writer's Conference in Vermillion, SD, at the end of October, the 27-29th. It's going to feature a number of good writers and teachers of writing, giving readings and presentations.  I hope to take a group of students there and have them rub elbows with the folks there.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Smith-Zimmermann's 50th Anniversary

Here's a video I made to give a sense of what the dedication was like in 1961 of the Smith-Zimmermann Museum in Madison, SD.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

An Ode to Speed, Corvette Style

My friend EJ is a curious fellow, 
heavy is his foot, and his jacket yellow.  
When his car came back a new Corvette,
He told himself, it isn't tested yet,
so he went out east where the road is flat,
bucked up his belt and pulled down his hat.
He looked both ways, put the hammer down,
watched that speedometer go around.
He hunkered down low, the road whizzing by,
and discovered a speed limit, way up high.
But another was watching, with a little red pen,
and he told EJ not to speed again.
But EJ knows, though he has to pay,
the Corvette rumbles for another fray.  

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Marathon From Back in the Pack

I know from long experience--over 20 years of it--that running marathons is no piece of cake, but it's hard to realize just how more traumatic it is when you're out there for the extra-long run, like four and a half hours.  I once ran with a friend in Omaha way back in the pack, taking things slow and easy, and it was one of the hardest I'd ever done, until Sunday's Twin Cities Marathon.  Yesterday I finished in about four hours and 27 minutes, with the final 2.2 miles taking me almost a half an hour, and I was "running " the whole time.  But slowly.

But I was only slightly behind the average finishing time of 4:20.  So there were still a lot of people behind me, coming in at 4972nd of 8535 finishers.  The marathon results page here shows a lot of information on each runner, including where you were in the pack.  There's even video, where you can watch yours truly come across the finish line.  Sadly, my data shows me slipping gradually back through the pack a thousand at a time, with people streaming by all through the miles that went by.  I started too fast, hitting the half-way mark at just two hours, and as the race wore on, and my stuffy head and sore throat took their toll on me, I slowed more and more, with a constant wave of runners passing me.

But, there's a good possibility I'll try it again.  I may never reach the 3:04 marathon time that stands as my PR, but maybe a Boston qualifying time is still a possibility.

Minimize the Me

A note to my writers in the composition class I'm teaching:  minimize the "me."  I'm often reading papers that have, at their center, the experiences of the writer, with any other ideas, information, narratives, and examples playing second fiddle to those experiences.  I encourage them to pull in, and draw out, the comments and experiences and ideas of others.  Once they see how powerful that can make their writing, and how it can enhance their own narratives, they get on board.  Most of them.