Saturday, March 31, 2007

Famous Etowah (War) Eagles

During the first Gulf War, the principal of Etowah (pronounced Eddy-wah if you called it on the phone), Bill Carpenter, in a fit of political correctness, decided to change the name of the school mascot from War Eagles to the now-pussified-Eagles. The school colors were also changed from a distinct powder-blue and gold, to a deep navy-blue and yellow (they still called it gold).
He wasn't the only one at the time. I remember Norman calling Fox97 and requesting Edwin Starr's "War" and them telling us that they weren't going to play it during the war. The irony was astounding; "We'll not play a war protest song during the war because it might offend someone." Sheesh!

I was in Georgia last week for Spring Break. We drove up to Dillard, Rabun County, Georgia to spend two nights, and on the way back we stopped somewhere on US 441 in Habersham County so my mom could use the loo. While I was waiting in the car, I noticed a big dude get out of his truck and walk inside. I looked at him and thought to myself, "that looks like Freddy Sneed." I told my wife that I thought I had gone to high school with the guy. She thought I was crazy. When he came out of the store (my Mom fell in), I got out of my car and said something like "Pardon me, but you look like my friend" and before I could say his name, he recognized me. It was Alan "Freddy" Sneed. Most people that went to Etowah won't remember him unless I mention that he was one of about only 10 African-Americans at school, and that he was the only one with an afro. We talked for a minute, and he handed me a self-made CD by his band Rusted Soul (see their MySpace page below). They're not half bad. It was great to see him. You can see on the page that he now goes by "Mellow." Cool.


http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=119604904

Later on that week I was watching TV and a commercial came on for the Woodstock Outlet. The girl on camera was vaguely familiar, and then I realized that I had gone to high school with her too. She was the editor of the 1991 yearbook. I can't remember her name, but she was one of those involved-in-everything type girls that really used to bug me (the old me).

So it got me to thinking: Who is the most famous Etowah High School alumnus? Is it the girl in the Woodstock Outlet ad? Is it that one girl that was on Star Search but last I heard was stripping? I put it out there to you, comb the web and find me the names of famous Etowah alumni, if it is that there are any. I nominate myself for all the movie scores that I've written.

I just glanced over at the Etowah web page. Buddy Walker won teacher of the year. Mrs. Hayes, Gustafson, Hunsucker, Payne, Lucking, and Coach Childress are all still there. The secretaries are all the same. Hannah Kelley is still there, looks the same (was the woman ever young?), and doesn't have a webpage or email link.

Woodstock, Georgia, ¡Cómo has cambiado!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Submission

So, I am almost done editing my dissertation for presentation to my entire committee. I will give it to them today. They will give me their revisions/feedback by April 16th, and I will then edit it and give the final defense copy back to them on April 18th. The defense date is Thursday May 3, 2007. Hopefully, on that day, I will be Dr. John McLarty Williams III.

Ojalá

Thursday, March 29, 2007

An idea: Why Conan O'Brien shouldn't take over the Tonight Show

I have long been a fan of Conan O'Brien, but lately something has changed. I don't know if it's me, that as I've gotten older, I no longer find his brand of humor entertaining. It could be that he has changed, though I can't really say why this might be. I just know that when I watch his show, it's all attitude and schtick. His charisma seems too boyish for a man in his mid-40's. He is a great interviewer, but his stand-up routines at the beginning of his show, and the skits they do are not that funny to me anymore.

In 2004, Jay Leno announced that when he retires in 2009, Conan O'Brien will take over as host. I think that this is a terrible mistake. O'Brien doesn't have what it takes. When I think of Johnny Carson, I think of a charismatic man with impeccable timing and a quick wit. He was able to milk unexpected comments from his guests into comic gold. His skits were funny. O'Brien has those skills, but not in spades. He lacks something. Leno wasn't much better. He pre-interviewed his guests and stuck to the script. Don't even mention David Letterman; Kelly Ripa is funnier than he is.

I have an idea of who would make an excellent, Johnny Carson-like host of the Tonight Show: Ryan Seacrest. As I've watched American Idol through the years, I have noticed just how quick-witted and charismatic he is. He always has a comeback to a contestant's assertion, to Simon's insults, to almost anything. He is witty, and charming, and would be a natural.

I'd love to know what everyone else thinks of my idea.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

VIce President Cheney to speak at BYU graduation commencement

Evidently, this is the only place the Vice President can appear in public and not get boo-ed:
http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/63676

We all know how much tolerance BYU has for protests; don't expect them to allow even an editorial in the Daily Universe criticizing this decision . I enjoy how the article states that,

"An invitation for Vice President Cheney to speak at BYU's April commencement was extended by members of the First Presidency of the LDS Church in their capacities as chair and vice chairs of the BYU Board of Trustees."

Membership on The Board of Trustees of BYU is a paid position. I do not think it is appropriate to say that "The First Presidency" of the LDS Church extended the invitation. It would be entirely appropriate to say that the Chair and Vice Chairs of the Board of Trustees, who are also the members of the First Presidency, extended the invitation. I think that any time the Brethren do something in relation to anything for which they receive a salary, a clear distinction should be made between their labor and their calling. If President Hinckley, in his role as prophet, thinks that inviting the VP to BYU is a good idea, so be it. However, if that decision is reached in his capacity as a paid member of the Board of Trustees, then I think it is perfectly acceptable to disagree with that decision and to voice opposition to it. I do not think highly of the Vice President. I feel that he has brought dishonor to the office through his under-handed dealings and involvement with the Scooter Libby and Attorney General debacles and scandals, and that he should resign. I do not think that BYU should associate itself with a man who carries the taint of scandal, let alone honor him as the keynote speaker at a graduation.

I realize that the VP has not been convicted of any crime....yet. I just think that the controversy will cast a bad light on the church. If you disagree with my hair-splitting about the roles of the First Presidency, I can understand your side of the argument. My side goes back to my feeling that having a General Authority as the President of BYU is a less than optimal situation for the students. I felt that many decisions made about the campus while I was there were made unilaterally, without taking the students' worries and complaints into full consideration. I do think that the Board of Trustees SHOULD be constituted from the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. However, I believe a distinction should be made when describing their actions when they are fulfilling that role versus their role as Apostles.

Regardless, he will speak at the ceremony. His heart only pumps at 66% of capacity these days, and given how hard a heart he must have, it must really be straining to supply blood to his brain lately. Perhaps his anger, his outbursts, his poor decisions, and his lapsed morals are attributable to diminished capacity because of his multiple heart attacks and shunts and such.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Coker College, Here We Come!

So, I have accepted a position as Assitant Professor of Spanish at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. Therefore, the blog is again public.

Monday, March 26, 2007

All over the place

1. Marley asked my Mom where babies come from. I responded that Mommy and I had prayed to Heavenly Father to have a baby for over a year, and that when Mommy finally got pregnant, we were very happy. Marley then asked, and I quote, "Did you do it every day?" It took us a couple of seconds of awkward silence to realize that the antecedent of "it" was "pray" and not "have sex."

2. Jack is starting to vocalize, he screams "BAAAAA" at my Dad all the time now. He also says something like "Gungagalungala" when he wants to nurse. I have heard him say "Mama" and "hi" for sure now.

3. I should know by tomorrow if Utah will offer me the one year visiting position or not. If not, I will most likely take the job at Coker College. If they do, I will pray furiously about it, but if the salary is decent enough, I am inclined to go teach at the U of U. One thing's for certain, my blog should be public again very soon.

4. We spent two nights at the Chalet Village of the Dillard House in Dillard, Rabun County, Georgia last week. The house has 3 bedrooms and a loft, an extra-large hottub, wireless internet, cable tv, full kitchen. It was $139 a night. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting a getaway weekend in the mountains. Rates vary according to the season.

5. I got feedback on my dissertation today. It's not as good as I had hoped. Time to knuckle down and "turn this mother out" as some rap artist used to say.

6. The TV show Lost is just pissing me off now.

7. My grandpa didn't look good last week. He's 94. His time is probably short in this earth. I love him dearly, and I have hope and faith in the resurrection. The only part about him dying that really is hard is that while I truly believe that I will see him again some day, going through life without his cheerful demeanor and wisdom is hard. I want my children to know him, and know him well. Marley will remember him, but they will be the memories of a child of a very old man. My memories of him are of a burly man who was still splitting firewood in his early 80's. Of a man that test drove my Dodge Daytona and said "Wow she's peppy." I'll miss him so so much.

8. While helping my mom sort through some of my grandma's old possessions we found a note Grandma had written on the tag to her Christmas present from 1979. We gave her a copper tea kettle. She wrote on the tag, "I give her the money for the gifts and this is the results. 'I love you' just written down, not meant." I burnt the note in the fireplace. My grandma was cruel to my mother her whole life. I hope burning that hateful reminder of Moselle's cruelty was cathartic for my mom.

9. After four years of serving in the Uptown Branch and New Orleans 1st Branch Presidencies, yesterday I was finally released as 1st counselor to the branch president. I have not been giving a new calling. Matt Brady is now the first counselor, and Daniel Van Dam, not yet home a week from his mission is the new second counselor. Daniel leaves for Auburn in the Fall, so this is a stop-gap move. I can think of few young men as sober and spiritual as Daniel. He is an excellent choice.

10. The new series Battlestar Galactica is just excellent. Last night, my good buddy Layton Alldredge and I finished watching Season 2.5. The series is nothing like the original. I highly recommend it. It's not like watching other SciFi Channel series. It has high production values and doesn't get bogged down in techno-babble the way the Star Trek and Stargate ones do. Plus Caprica 6 is smokin' hot.

11. I thought of an idea for a scales that would be programmable and you could set your goal weight into it. Then, whenever you weighed, it would tell you "You are above your target weight", "You have achieved your target weight", or "You are below your target weight." That way you wouldn't obsess about the number and would worry more about reaching your goal. My own diet is restarting today. I stopped during Mardi Gras and have paid the price by regaining all the weight I lost. Here we go again.

12. I have a student this semester that asked me to miss class for Passover. No problem, but she will be missing an exam. She asked me to take it after she came back, again no problem given the class schedule (it wouldn't allow her proper preparation time). But, her reasoning for wanting to take it after she came back instead of before leaving was:

"I was not able to study as much as I usually do for the last exam because I was extremely ill and I really need to provide myself with adequate time so I can do very well on this one. My parents financial support for Tulane relies solely on the basis that I maintain a 4.0. With my last exam grade, I think it is near impossible for me to still get an A in your class, but I need to do whatever I can to get at least close or else I will find myself attending state school next semester."

Nothing like trying to emotionally blackmail your professor into giving you what you want. Also, I get the feeling that she is stretching the truth a bit. I mean what parents demand a 4.0? Demanding she do her absolute best is one thing, but if her best isn't a 4.0, how could any parent hold that against her. Your best, your honest best, should always suffice. So many students are jailhouse lawyers these days it makes the job not so much fun.

13. Today is Mickelle's birthday. She is 31 and is sexy as hell.

14. Rome ended last night. After Northern Exposure, I credit Rome with being the best television program of all time and Lucius Vorenus being one of my favorite characters of all time in any format. It was superbly acted with the most notables being Titus Pullo, Mark Antony, Octavian Caesar, Lucius Vorenus, and Attia of the Julii. The actors playing Pullo, Antony, and Vorenus being the best. I would think that Antony especially would get an Emmy nod for his work. He was fabulous.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Speak into the mike

So, Mickelle and I went and saw The Departed tonight. It was awesome. Just awesome. It has left me convinced of several things:

1. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors around. I usually forget it's him and start thinking of him as the character he's playing.

2. Matt Damon did an equally amazing job, in no way subservient to DiCaprio.

3. Jack Nicholson was his usual self. I admit, dejectedly, that I liked him in this movie. He usually bugs me, and given his sort-of involvement in the Roman Polanski sortid thing, I have always viewed him suspiciously. Nevertheless, he is a talented actor.

The movie is gripping. It tells a story. It has perfect characterization. You care about the characters. They are compelling. You can't figure out who's bad and who's good. The plot is not predictable at all. At one point in the movie, something so unexpected happened that I just yelled out "Oh, Shit!" Mickelle slugged me in the arm and people laughed at me, but it was an honest reaction--something I'm still trying to figure out. It just blew me away.

This is one of the best movies I've seen in ages.

(It's not for the faint of heart)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

UPDATED: A real humdinger

UPDATE & EDIT (4-2-2014) This post formerly was a brief aside about the wisdom of naming things after living people and/or naming them after people of little renown.  Out of respect for the palpable grief evidenced in the bitter and angry comments left here today, some seven years after I glibly asked who in the hell Jon Jon Tarvin was, I am editing the post in order to end the anger portion of your current passage through the task of mourning your beloved.

I withdraw the offending question in the hope that you'll all move along--figuratively and literally--in your grieving and recognize that someone questioning something doesn't mean that they are evil, or incapable of love, or have never lost someone (check out Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease to see one example of what I've endured in this life, watching someone I loved decay slowly).

Questioning things is part and parcel of a democracy, of an education, and of life. From the comments below in praise of Jon Jon, it sounds like he might wince at some of the more angry things said.  But, don't worry; I do not think any of you are evil, or unloving, or bad people for questioning my questioning.  Rather, having grieved many many times in this life for family and friends taken from me before their time, I'll say that I know how you feel; I understand your anger; I recognize it, but I do not agree that merely loving someone a whole lot means that it's improper to question something, seven years ago.

Finally, I must acknowledge that I was incorrect in my comment earlier in the day. It was Alan Gibson (not Greene) who died at 92 & Woodstock Road.  I confused him with Joe Greene, another classmate who died tragically.  It's been a long time.

Blown Away

So yesterday was just a great day. I was totally blown away at how awesome it was. The only better day I've ever had was the day I married Mickelle.

It was so awesome, mind-blowingly awesome, because I both finished my dissertation, as in I handed it in to my director, and I got a job offer from Coker College in Hartsville, SC.

And then this morning I got a call from the University of Utah to interview me, again, for the visiting professor position.

And then suddenly I've got all these options.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

bistec y mamá, da me un beso

I just learned today that the great French philosopher Jean Baudrillard passed away on March 6, 2007. I enjoyed reading his book Seduction, and I have quoted it several times on this blog. He savages the lies of desire and seduction, pointing out that pornography is a gigantic falsehood that fools and enslaves people to their desires, which can never truly be fulfilled.

Sex is funny that way. The desire can be satiated, but it will always come back. My old post on Beyonce Knowles was a key example, as was my one on Tyra Banks, on how the sign, the object of desire is unattainable. Baudrillard expressed these ideas far better than I ever could.

He was very controversial, claiming that the first Gulf War didn't happen because it was more like an arcade game than an actual war (okay I oversimplified his argument a lot there).

We are poorer for his loss. He was the last of the truly great philosopher that came to fame in the 1960s. Lacan died years ago. We lost Derrida a couple back, and now Baudrillard joins them.

Some people were convinced that he faked his death as a means of railing against the simulacra of postmodernity. Alas, if it was a ruse, it worked too well. He is dead.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Baudrillard

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Perspective

Park (park) v./n. Before children, a verb meaning, “to go somewhere and neck.” After children, a noun meaning a place with a swing set and slide.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Redemption?

Steroids or not, we'll never know. We can know now if he's juiced or not. According to this article:
http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ti-mlb_07_sosa031107&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

he looks big and buff like he did during the supposed steroid years. I liked Sosa. I hope he can come back and make me like him again. That way I won't feel bad for always saying my favorite baseball players are Braves.

Favorite current players:

1. Tom Glavine
2. John Smoltz
3. Chipper Jones
4. Ichiro Suzuki
5. Carlos Delgado


Favorite all-time players:
1. Dale Murphy
2. Tony Gwynn
3. Brooks Robinson
4. Hank Aaron
5. Warren Spahn
6. Phil Neikro
7. Ted Williams
8. Nolan Ryan
9. Rod Carew
10. Tom Glavine

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A cool photo and what's known as deep shit

Well, I'm in deep shit now. Mickelle took the post down herself. I do not recoil at the thought of someone else knowing vague details about my sex life. Evidently, no one born in Deseret shares my feelings.


Also, on a completely unrelated note, I think this photograph is awesome, and I know my sister will love it.




















* Mickelle is sure to get pissed about this post.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

All Mixed Up

Those who have known me for a long time will remember my love of the band 311. From 1995-1999 they were by far my favorite band. I saw them in concert at least 3 times that I can remember, and had all of their albums, DVDs, etc. I also knew almost every word to every song on their first 3 discs.

Since 1999 311 has still been making music, only unfortunately, they've forgotten how to write a damned chorus. Their songs have no hooks anymore. They've become too New Wave "amber is the color of your energy" whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

So, it was with some shock last night that I watched the first contestant, beat-boxing Blake Lewis, launch into a really weakly-voiced reggae-ified version of 311's "All Mixed Up." He sang both the Nick Hexum part and the SA Martinez part. His voice was weak on the low part of his register (of course Randy said he was "pitchy"). To my even greater shock, none of the judges had ever heard the song before and called it "modern" and "fresh" in spite of the song having been a Top 40 hit in 1996. He received praise and will most likely be back next week.

I just think it's cool that 311 was on a mainstream TV show, and that the judges had no idea what song he was singing, even if I didn't care for his rendition.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Clap Your Hands, Say "Yeah"

So, after hearing about this band called Clap Your Hands Say Yeah for the past couple of years, the other day I went and bought their album. Here's my review.

There are 12 songs on the album, all of which have just fabulous music. Nine of the songs bear repeated listening and contain what can be called "infectious grooves." Four of the songs could be radio hits. I am really enjoying this album. Only there's one problem:

The lead singer has a very annoying voice. And by very annoying, I mean it sounds like a cat-in-heat getting run over by an insane carnie crossed with an annoyed Don Knotts.

Grrrrrr

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Frustrated

If you are part of the sensitive Mormon set, you really won't find this post all that palatable; stop reading right now.


If you're not part of the aforementioned set, let me just say how frustrated I am right now with all aspects of my life. Frustrate means "to disappoint" in Latin and has as its root the idea "in vain."

Is all this effort in vain? I've been in school non-stop since nineteen ninety-five. I have been kissing ass instead of kicking ass during most of my adult life. This whole process of finding a job in academia is just a mess. I have encountered bigotry, weak scholarship, odious personalities, and a near pan-academia lack of professionalism as I've searched for a job. One school that I visited didn't contact me for FOUR F***ING weeks after my on campus interview. I emailed them to ask about the position. Three days later I get a response saying that the position had been offered to someone else and that they had accepted it the previous week. I'm left wondering if I would have ever been contacted had I not emailed them.

I don't really care where I get a job anymore. I really want the job at North Alabama, but Coker would work too. Hell, U of U for one year Visiting would be alright. I've quit caring. Yesterday in my interview with the selection committee I just decided to be myself and answer the questions how I would if I were just talking and not trying to get a job and to impress them. I call it my "Red" from Shawshank Redemption Parole Board Approach. Every interview, you always get the same two questions: 1) What are your biggest strengths as a professor? and 2) What is your biggest weakness?

I told them that my biggest strength is that I'm a gifted teacher, proven by my repeated perfect scores in my student evaluations. When they asked me my weakness, I answered "Pride." And when they asked me how so, I responded that I really didn't think I had any weaknesses that needed mentioning, that I read my evaluations and took the feedback from them to heart and tried to better myself more and more each semester.

I know it's prideful, but I admitted it to them, because if I had to say "I care too much" again I was going to hate myself.

Coker has poor pay, really bad benefits ($822 a month for health insurance for my family) and no dental insurance. But, it's a job, it's a great town, and the people were pleasant and collegial. They even invited me to their faculty senate meeting.

I am also frustrated spiritually right now. I seem to be numb to any sort of intuition or prompting of the Spirit. I don't have time to do anything that I should, so it's my own fault, but I was hoping I might have built up credit from years past to serve me in this time of need.

I am so stressed out. I am still getting over that hellaciously bad cold I caught in Whyoming (not a typo). One of my classes is filled with little preppie shits that jailhouse-lawyer with me over every point on every quiz. Their indifference to their acquisition of knowledge in my class astounds me. Their sole concern is their grade. It can feel maddening at times. George Harrison sang "All Things Must Pass" beautifully, and I know that it is true, but then I read something by say, Abram J. Ryan that says "

How swift they go,
Life's many years,
With their winds of woe
And their storms of tears,
And their darkest of nights whose shadowy slopes
Are lit with the flashes of starriest hopes,
And their sunshiny days in whose calm heavens loom
The clouds of the tempest -- the shadows of the gloom!
And ah! we pray
With a grief so drear,
That the years may stay
When their graves are near;
Tho' the brows of To-morrows be radiant and bright,
With love and with beauty, with life and with light,
The dead hearts of Yesterdays, cold on the bier,
To the hearts that survive them, are evermore dear. "

or by Ruben Dario that laments
"Juventud, divine tesoro,
ya te vas para no volver.
Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro.
Y a veces lloro sin querer."

And I wonder if one day I'll wake up and be an old man and look forward to the grave and a hoped for reuniting with my loved ones beyond the pale. (No, I'm not depressed, just worn out and stressed).

I haven't been at home with my family in two weeks. I've been sick, on three different trips, to the doctor, been told I had blood in my sinuses. After working on my diet, this morning I weighed 387, so I can't seem to get below that number, no matter careful I might be.

Perhaps my faith is being tested, but I feel like I've been tested enough. I need a Staples Easy Button for my life right now.

Imagine going to school for 12 years and vying with 300 other people for 75 jobs and knowing that there is no private sector.




Fark me! This is worse than the dissertation, which I can't finish because I've been travelling all over the damned country trying to get a job so that this will all mean something.