Sunday, February 15, 2009


Last night I went to see a Johnny Cash impersonator. There were several highlights. For instance:
The opening band sang country songs which made me feel like I was back home.
You could hear their New York accents behind their fake midwest twangs, which made me feel superior to them for some reason.
They ended the opening set with "Proud to Be an American"--which reminded me of a fateful November's eve in 2001.


We'd vanished two kegs and a billion boxes of wine. Instead of having a regular D.J., my sister opted for a Karaoke D.J. instead. She had just been married and the post-nuptial debauchery was in full swing.

An average man might think to himself, surely they won't sing ALL NIGHT LONG!? Perhaps it might be a good idea if some of my C.D.s were more than instrumentals. But our Karaoke D.J. was not average. For he needed no cd with audio words. His philosophy: "Any song worth hearin' is a song worth singin'." And that's what Ron did. He sang all the standard wedding songs himself (even the Chicken Dance and Cotton-eyed Joe). But what's to be expected? The guy was a professional. He was all business...until he turned around....

So it was late in the game. My Venezuelan friend just finished singing, "Tweeest and Shout" and everyone was pretty faded. For the last song, Mulletron had everyone gather around in a circle. "But We already did the chicken dance," is what I would have thought if I hadn't been so god-damn drunk.

This was 2 months after 9-11. My new brother-in-law's family was from upstate New York. It was an emotional way to end the night. Mulletron started singing, "Proud to be an American."

There wasn't a dry eye in the entire Parish Hall!

The following day people awkwardly passed each other in the hallway on their way to the bathroom or kitchen. Nobody could quite look each-other in the eye.

"Did we...umm...stand in a circle last night singing 'Proud to Be an American' while swaying back and forth with our arms over each other and crying...or was it a dream?" I said.
"Yeah...I don't want to talk about it." replied my cousin, Kaysie.

***Flashback ending***

As I stood there listening to the fake cowboys sing that emotional tune, I looked around and saw that virtually anyone can succumb to the embarrassing nature of public emotional patriotism. I will list three examples:
1) The man sitting right next to my co-teacher kept screaming (at the top of his lungs, "GO USA!!! I LOVE USA!!! GO AMERICAAAAAAAA!!!!"
2) The man in the front, right section of the theatre standing with his arms up, swaying back and forth as if he were being Saved by Jesus...if Jesus were Patrick Henry.
3)Last but not least were the two volunteers who held up an American Flag and POW Flag high into the air and walked from left to right (repeatedly) in front of the crowd...not really that cheesy? They were trying to do it in slow motion. It was like a scene straight from Napolean Dynamite.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Station Wagon

It's not that I want a station wagon. It's more than that. It just seems a given that I should own one.

It's not even a desire. It's as if a station wagon has always been waiting for me...and I am like Jesus, coming out of the desert. . .Sure I've been tempted...but I'm ready now.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sheep Meat

One of the best parts about teaching is realizing how much smarter you are than other people. Despite the fact that you maybe in your late 20s, 30s (and they are 12).

Most days, I leave school feeling like the smartest person in the world. There are days however when a student jumps out of his/her role as an ignorant being. This is a story about one of those days.

In the state of New York, the English State Test is the equivalent of Jesus in the Catholic church. The Holy Trinity is: English State Test, Math State Test,(and some days I pretend I'm the third part of the trinity--other days I pretend I'm atheist so I don't have to create analogies to understand what is important and what is not).

Anyway, we're preparing for the holiest of tests and I give my students a practice exam. It was your typical 6th grade test which explained the origin of how the border collie went from a sheep herding dog to a family pet.

When I came across Sue's (which is not really her name) paper, I saw that she highlighted every word. So my initial thought was, "you're an idiot". But she proved me wrong with her answers. "I am an idiot" I then thought.

The following are her answers to the questions. It's important not to skim, as you might miss the greatness of her answer.

Explain a Border Collie Trait
She wrote:

"They crouch and use a gaze to hold the sheep's attention."
"They run around sheep into smaller and smaller circles to gather them up."

How Trait Helps with Sheep Herding
"It makes the sheep come close to them so they can eat them. It makes them easier to capture and eat.


Moving on.
Use details from the article "From Farm to Family Room" to support the opinion that a border collie should not be owned by someone who lives in a large city.
She wrote:

"A border collie can not be owned by someone in the city. Because the city is a busy place and the border collie would want to go for a walk"
"But it would mean that it would probably want to go to a zoo and look for sheep and try to kill the sheep and eat him or a grocery store and eat up all the sheep meat."

Again...I feel strange, and cannot put my finger on the feeling inside, but this time it's a cross between: ??????... mixed with that feeling of suspended time when you're about to sneeze, but you never sneeze.

While reading her answer, my mind blew a circuit and thought: "Either she's a genius, or she's witnessed things in life that no child should ever see, or she's secretly a rogue border collie dressed up like a 6th grader, or she's really dumb, or she has an imagination that is sickly amusing, or".....and the thoughts continued for hours thereafter.