Friday, August 31, 2007

Guitar Heroing with the kids

I'm embarrassed to say that I'm hopelessly addicted to Guitar Hero (the very cool game for PS 2 game systems). Until now I haven't blinked at any of the games our oldest son has played, but this one is somehow different, more participatory, more opportunities for a type of learning I understand. For those who haven't played, you actually have a guitar-controller and hit the "notes" as they come down at you on the screen. It's nifty because if you don't hit them then the song doesn't play that note. You feel quite like the superstar when you nail 40 or so notes in a row.
My rationalizations for spending time on that which I have no time for:

1. As pathetic as it sounds, it's the closest I will ever get to actually producing music as I have NO music background--none, no piano, can't sing tenor, nada

2. I am listening to and learning the titles to music, something I've always sucked at. Favorites so far: Smoke on the water by Deep Purple, Sharped dress man by ZZ Top, and More than a feeling by Boston from GH I AND Cherry pie by Warrant, Rock this town by the Stray Cats, and You really got me going by Van Halen from GH II (see complete lists here I and here II). It's amazing how many songs I'm familiar with but do not know the title or artists--i.e. Smoke on the water and Cherry pie

3. I get to spend quality time with my two sons. Of course I can't even come close to competing with my oldest as he has already passed off all the songs on medium and some on expert. But I was, for awhile, pretty competitive with my six-year old--an you thought the new music thing was pathetic. Eventually I did start falling behind so one day after I got home from work, he says, "Dad, I was feeling bad for you so I passed off two songs for you under your career" (each person has their own career where you add songs, venues, and even equipment as you pass off songs).

4. It's really quite challenging and takes an immense amount of focus; finally passing off Heart-Shaped box by Nirvana, though I don't particularly like the song, was quite an accomplishment for me. It's kind of unnerving when you start missing notes: the "crowd" starts to boo and then, if you keep missing, the song stops completely with a bing "zonk" type sound.
5. I'm participating in the cutting edge of physical participatory (ok, that might be a stretch) gaming. Still, how can one not enjoy this game as you move your fingers along the colored frets, while strumming the notes and hitting the wammy bar on the long notes?

Friday, August 24, 2007

High School Reunion Obsessional

I figured I might as well blog a bit as I basically wasted most of yesterday reading bios on my 20th high school reunion site, composing my own, and finding pictures to go with it. At first I wasn't going to get involved, as I say in the bio, but I was so taken in by everyone's life-stories I just had to. I'm no expert on high school reunions, but it seems the pre-reunion online bios is a must. Kind of loosens everyone up, convinces many (at least that's what lots have said) to attend and gives people who can't attend a chance to participate.

I really took to heart the advice I always give to students: compose early and then revise revise revise. I started writing my bio about a month ago. It's not like I was working on it daily, but every once in awhile I'd read over it. In fact until I came up with my "I used to think..." trope, I was absolutely positive I wouldn't send anything in. I just couldn't do the standard life-travelogue, my kids are amazing post. Don't get me wrong--I've enjoyed these kinds of posts, but it just didn't feel like me. Instead I had to play off the whole genre of the bio, take a few risks, and speak to the realities of life, so I could then later obsess about how it all will be received. Sometimes I think I'm a raving fucking lunatic.

I still can't believe I posted a bio and then immediately sent in $38 for the reunion dinner--where have my "I don't care," anti-high school selves gone? I doubt I could clarify my convoluted feelings on all this with 20 visits to my therapist. And what do I do with to salve my obsessional wounds? I write some more stuff that you all can look at and say, "Wow, that guy is a fucking lunatic."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Six Stitches, Seven dum-dum suckers, and a Frosty

Last night, right before we got the kids down, I was wiping brownish colored water (sign that cooler is a piece of crap) off my swamp cooler thingie and was just about finished with said job that I had put off for some time, when my wife (what was she thinking!) allowed our six year old son to fall in the tub, splitting his chin wide open. I jumped off the stool and wife immediately--she was like so much better in the panic than me--said, "Let's go to Weecare." Shit, shit I thought, selfishly grasping at fading images of my nightly microwave popcorn and episode of Northern Exposure.

Six stitches and seven (one for not crying during the stitches) dum-dum suckers later and we were headed to Wendy's, a post-stitches tradition, where son ordered a vanilla Frosty:

"Hey, dad?"
"What son?"
"Hurting my chin wasn't too bad," he said grasping all seven dum-dum suckers in his left hand and taking a large bite of Frosty in the other. "And it's late, right? I get to stay up late, huh?"

Well, I'm off to split my chin on the tub.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I've been reading a backlog of emails for an hour or so from my children's lit listserv in preparation for teaching ch lit this fall. So far I found (reading a listserv is kind of like finding a cheap treasure at the DI) a great link to an article about Harry Potter by Stephen King which I'm going to pair with an article MB sent me about HP by Michael Berube. While I have never completely read a HP book and will not have my students read one, I do want to use the HP hysterium to discuss issues of writing for children, publishing, movie tie-ins, and, especially, children literacy or the perceived lack thereof, etc.

I still have 1735 messages to go through, the price I must pay to consider myself worthy.