Obama ( yes we carve) and Pumpkin Eater PumpkinsWe had an absolutely beautiful night for Halloween this year– maybe in the fifties, clear skies, no wind, etc. And as a result, we had lots and lots of trick and/or treaters. Ours is a neighborhood that always gets a lot of trick and/or treaters, and this year we ended up giving away about 750 pieces of candy. Cheap candy, I should point out– we get big bulk bags from Costco of Tootsie Rolls, Smarties, Laffy Taffy, etc.

I felt kind of bad. Andre and Dickish McBastard (et al) stopped by and tried trick and/or treating for beer, and I balked. I only had a couple left, guys. I owe you a couple at the Corner or something like that.

As usual, Will dressed as a knight– well, sort of, since his costume was kind of incomplete, but he was unwilling to wear a hat. As usual, Annette accompanied Will on his candy rounds while I passed out candy. This year, I dressed up as Steve from Blue’s Clues (years and years ago, when Will went trick and/or treating as Blue from Blue’s Clues, I went through a tremendous amount of work to get the perfect shirt), and several small children (and Andre and Stephanie) recognized me as “Steve.”

Interestingly, Will got to a point where he decided it was more fun to give out candy than to actually trick and/or treat himself. So Will sat in the chair I was in for much of the night in the front yard (like I said, it was a beautiful night) and lorded over the candy while Annette and I sat on the stoop and drank wine. An excellent Halloween indeed.

By the way, I received many compliments on my Obama pumpkin. I’m going to take this as a good sign for Tuesday. The pumpkin on the right is one that Will carved at school with his “senior buddies,” which is a program at Greenhills that pairs up sixth graders with 12th graders for various activities, like carving pumpkins. This is a pumpkin eating a pumpkin, which was Will’s idea and one that got from a FoodTV show we were watching the other night.

Oh, and the pumpkins in my new header are here:

Halloween Pumpkins

Of course I’m going to vote; if I don’t…

Three or four people have now sent me this:

I’m not sure if I am getting this because people are afraid I won’t vote, they know I would appreciate both the humor and the technology, if I am the easy butt of jokes, or some combination of all of the above. But don’t worry; I’ll do my part on Tuesday.

McCain to supporters who don’t “look right:” “Get out of my yard, you meddling kids!!!”

I’ve seen this elsewhere in the blogosphere and on Facebook, but I post it here because it took place in my hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa: “Pre-emptive ejection: Audience members removed at McCain rally in Cedar Falls.” Basically, McCain held a rally in Cedar Falls on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa, and before the event began, UNI security kicked out four or five people who apparently didn’t “look right” and/or who McCain staffers thought might be protesters.

By not “look right,” I believe the McCain people were thinking “under 30.” Because why would there be anyone younger than that hanging around a college campus?

There is a bit more at Talking Points Memo, including a link to some (kind of bad quality) video about the students asked to leave:

First off, I don’t really understand why McCain was in Iowa (every election map I’ve seen that has it solid blue and has had it that way for a while now), and I don’t understand why anyone would want to vote for someone to be president who thinks it is perfectly acceptable in this country to simply kick people out because they didn’t “look right.”

But beyond the McCain issues, why in the heck would the University of Northern Iowa rent a public facility to the campaign and then say they can let in/kick out whoever they want? Shouldn’t there be some kind of conditions tied to this, something along the lines of “you can limit the number of people, but you can’t kick people out because they look funny.” I mean, it would have been flat-out illegal to kick out people because they were women or Mexican-American or something like that; why isn’t this against the law too? Why would the UNI police actually follow through on that?

See? Facebook is useful!

This is an article I might include for ENGL 516 in the winter: from Inside Higher Ed, “Taking Facebook Back to Campus.” This isn’t exactly an earth-shattering article, but a lot of my students last year in 516 still thought of Facebook and MySpace as a place where teenagers exchange pictures of themselves drinking and/or having sex, and where having a profile of your own is akin to going to an orgy. Not all of my students, of course– plenty of them (maybe a majority of them?) already had some kind of profile on one of these accounts of their own. But there was enough of a vocal and concerned minority of students with this view that anything I can share with the message “no really, Facebook is actually useful, at least potentially” is probably a good thing.

Digital Culture Books

I got to get out the door this morning to the gym and then I have a day of audio commenting and such for projects ahead of me for much of the rest of the day, but I wanted to post this which I came across this morning: digital culture books from the University of Michigan Press and and the University of Michigan Library. This is clearly good stuff for English 516 and beyond.

A bunch of links I came across yesterday

These are things I was going to link to yesterday, but I went to bed instead. So here they are now:

  • “Typewriter stays relevant in technology-saturated world,” from the LA Times. It’s about a family-run typewriter repair business and it claims that the typewriter is making a resurgence. I don’t know; I hear the argument that computers are a distraction if someone wants to “just write,” but you’d have to peel my computer from my cold, dead hands. I could see this being useful for either 328 or 516.
  • Laptop stand made from a coat hanger. I don’t think this would work that well for me because my Apple laptop doesn’t open flat like the laptop in this design, but it’s still something that’d be worth playing around with for an afternoon.
  • “I think I’m musing my mind,” which is a column from Roger Ebert where he writes about what losing the ability to speak has meant to him for his writing. Kind of an interesting piece, maybe the sort of thing that might be interesting in 328.
  • “Undecided,” by David Sedaris in the current issue of The New Yorker makes me wonder even more about that all-important group of voters and about his voting as a child. Funny stuff.
  • “3 Ways Web-Based Computing Will Change Colleges” from IHE, which is basically about the power of apps like Google Docs for sharing stuff and changing the way that IT works. I think it’s interesting, but there are two big problems. The article addresses one, which is privacy. The other one is that these apps are not quite ready for prime-time for me. Though the sharing part is pretty darn handy, I would agree.
  • Finally, this is something I came across this morning: Jenny Edbauer Rice’s tutorial for iMovie, which is something I might very well use in the next week or so for English 328. A handy start for my student’s future video projects.

Three days crammed into one

Day one: Earthquake Soccer wrap-up. Saturday morning was the last game of the fall season for Will’s soccer team. Because Jim the “real coach” was at a conference, I was in charge. (I see myself as somewhere between an assistant coach and the team manager). The kids played a good game, but came up a couple goals short. Still, the best season by far, 2-3-1, and, if most of these kids come back in the spring, I think we’re going to be good.

Kicking and ScreamingThe “highlight” (or rather low-light) of the game came from the other coach. For non-soccer people (and I am just barely not one of them myself): when the ball goes out of bounds, the other team gets to throw the ball back in. To do so, the thrower must keep both feet on the ground and throw the ball with two hands, over the head, with no spinning or anything. If you throw it badly, the ref will call it and give the ball to the other team. Here’s a helpful wikiHow entry.

Anyway, both teams were getting called on this, probably the other team more than us. Things were going along, and then, kind of all of a sudden, the other coach totally and completely über freaked out. He screamed louder than I have ever screamed (and that’s saying something, believe you me) “THE NEXT ONE OF YOU WHO DOES A BAD THROW IS OUT FOR THE REST OF THE GAME!!! C’MON!! THIS IS FIRST GRADE STUFF!!!” Or something to that effect. It was kind of scary, actually.

The team went out to celebrate after the game for pizza and such (beer for the grown-ups, happily) and opposing team coach’s freak-out was a topic of conversation at both tables. The grown-ups thought that was maybe a wee too much intimidation and intensity for a township rec league for kids 12 and under. The kids (or so I am told by Will) just thought he was kind of a jerk and mean.

Day two: pumpkin carving/halloween decos. We’re quite late in getting our Halloween decorations and pumpkins together this year. And it isn’t the same as it has been, either. Will and I usually to go to this one field and do a “pick your own” kind of pumpkin experience. Well, unless I couldn’t find the right place (entirely possible), that field this year was planted with corn.

Originally, I was going to try to attempt carving with power tools, but that proved to be more trouble than it was worth. I used a drill for some of this, but it was basically a big goopy mess. I did discover two pumpkin carving things this year that I will have to remember for next year though. First, a drywall saw was a super-duper handy tool, much better than the old hacking with a kitchen knife technique. Second, using a template was a good idea and pretty easy to do. My handy-work:

pumpkins 1 pumpkins 2 (including Barack o' Lantern)

The “scar mouth” pumpkin was from a template, as was my attempt at a Barack O’ Lantern. I’ll post some pictures at some point when they are lit up.

Day 3: Fine punkin party. Hosted by Daye The Frenzied Wren and Dickish MacBastard. All I’ll say now is that it featured a pig roast, hanging around in a (kinda cold) barn, and a band of young kids from Milwaukee. Lots and lots of fun.

Oh, and then we came home relatively early and watched Persepolis. Three and a half days of fun. And now I’d better read for English 505 or I will be in trouble come Monday night….

David Byrne in Ann Arbor this evening

Annette and I went to see David Byrne on tour this evening at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater, and a very fine show it was. I’ve been quite a fan of The Talking Heads for some time, and I’ve also enjoyed Byrne’s solo work. What I have liked about his latest CD/Album/Whatever they call these things nowadays, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, is that it is a sort of contemporary return to some of the Brian Eno-influenced Talking Heads songs of old. Really fine stuff, my favorite of the Byrne solo work to date.

Anyway, I’ve been looking forward to this show for a while now, and I must say it delivered. Really sharp, lots of fun, some kind of weird elements that worked, lots of enthusiasm, etc. There will be some kind of review you can read online sometime if you want to– you know how the Google works. But a few personal observations:

  • Byrne et al were a bit late because (rumor has it) they were across the street at Border’s book-shopping. I find this completely believable, but Byrne should have gone to the better and even more local store, Shaman Drum.
  • We were very much in the median age for this show. There were some slightly older folks, and some much younger folks, including a couple of gay men (they were holding hands and such, so I assume…) right in front of us. They were, from my short pov, unfortunately tall.
  • It sure seemed like a lot of people showed up late and/or kept getting up and going to the bathroom or whatever. It was pretty annoying, but, as Annette said, it puts students walking in and out of class for no apparent reason into perspective.

Okay, so for a taste of the event, here are a couple of very short videos:

So, here’s a video of a song I didn’t recognize with the “quasi-interpretive dancers” that appeared in amusing ways throughout the show:

Then there’s this short clip from one of my favorite Talking Heads songs, “Heaven:”

Finally, here’s Byrne is a silly balloon hat that someone gave him during one of the encores:

Good stuff– and now to bed way past my bedtime.