Archive for July 15th, 2008

As evening fades into night, and the stoner cockroach calliope summons the neighborhood children to buy ice cream, I take a moment to remember the drying overhead projector sheets on the lawn.

[I then take a different moment to think whether I would have caught merry hell for the above sentence in my college creative writing class ;-)]


Despite the fact that being lefthanded makes operating an overhead projector an exercise in masochism [for those of you wondering why, just recall that the fan on many overhead projectors blows to the right of the machine, or, from a lefthander’s perspective, directly into ones left side as one writes], I really love working a classroom this way. I can look at the students; I can write; I can draw in different colors.  I might get a bit overheated, but that’s in some ways easier to work through than the fumes from dry-erase markers.  Also, unlike using the whiteboard, I can take a record of what was discussed home with me.

Do I ever type these ‘records’ up?  Not too often.  Once, when I had a secretary, I tried having her type them up for me, but her word processing skills were not quite adequate for this task. [This was 10 years ago, and we weren’t able to pay much.].  Now I keep just about everything til the end of the term, and then just keep the sheets that have genuine long-term interest. The rest get washed off….

Thus, the multitude of acetate sheets lying out in the gloaming.

This set of cleaning went very quickly, thanks to a deep tray of water, left over from the weekend’s siberian iris planting.  I could put the plastic sheet, writing side down, in the water, and then agitate it side-to-side a few times.

I could see my words melting into the water — first the letters fuzzed around the edges, then they seemed to detach from the plastic, existing briefly as colored shapes in the water, still recognizable as reversed words……then as I agitated the plastic, they blurred into liquid ink and disappeared. Even as the water got darker from the accumulated ink, for each page there was a moment when the words were visible as words, but weren’t attached to the plastic.  It was as if they were going to be carried in the water the way they had been carried in the air when I was lecturing — and maybe they had just as much lingering impact then as now?

I poured the inky water out onto the siberian irises.  There might be more life in those words yet.

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There’s a tagline used at the end of a short radio spot about classical music that goes something like “reminding you that all music was once new”. I appreciate the thought, but that doesn’t change my preference for harmony over dissonance, and for tunes I might want to hum or whistle in the future. So I was heartily amused by this:

During a radio interview between acts at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a famous singer recently said she could not understand why audiences were so reluctant to listen to new music, given that they were more than ready to attend sporting events whose outcome was uncertain. It was a daft analogy. Having spent most of the last century writing music few people were expected to understand, much less enjoy, the high priests of music were now portrayed as innocent victims of the public’s lack of imagination. If they don’t know in advance whether Nadal or Federer is going to win, but still love Wimbledon, why don’t they enjoy it when an enraged percussionist plays a series of brutal, fragmented chords on his electric marimba? What’s wrong with them? The reason the sports analogy fails is because when Spain plays Germany, everyone knows that the game will be played with one ball, not eight; and that the final score will be 1-0 or 3-2 or even 8-1 – but definitely not 1,600,758 to Arf-Arf the Chalet Ate My Banana. The public may not know in advance what the score will be, but it at least understands the rules of the game. — Joe Queenan

Anyone else remember Steve Martin’s old suggestion that when you were around young children, you should always speak strangely? “Just imagine — the kid goes to kindergarten and the teacher says ‘And what’s your name?’, and the kid says “Mamu dogface to the banana patch!”. And the teacher goes ‘Give this kid the special test….'”

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