Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ouch, I am teaching two sections of comp one and I keep singing, “The never ending grading…. Ahhh….ahhhh….ahhhh” to the tune of The Never Ending Story. It so sucks. There are no real caps on my classes, so each one has roughly forty students. If I were at UMSL the classes would have half as many students and I would be being paid twice as much (I talked to an UMSL Dean last week to confirm this). I graded for eight hours yesterday and then taught for four. Today is proving to be longer. I haven’t used up all of my vacation calm yet, but it’s close.

Some of my problems are self created. I am evaluating rough drafts. This is possibly a mistake, but if I don’t give them feedback prior to the final draft then they don’t actually learn much as they don’t really revise. Ah well, seven papers to go and then off to teach.


Monday, June 26, 2006


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and relaxation....
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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Thursday through Sunday I was out of town getting a rest after the craziness of the conference. Jes followed on Friday with Beth and Erica. I don’t generally like to post about being out of town while I’m out of town. It seems imprudent to let the general public know that you’re not home and will not be there anytime soon, especially given all the theft of late in my neighborhood. We left the dog behind to enjoy the central air, bite would be burglars, and bask in the ministrations of our house/dog/cat/fish/snake sitter.

Chris and Vanessa have pictures a’ plenty to post of our conjoined respite, as Chris was breaking in a new water-proof, digital Pentax. I am working on developing a new posting style in which I write less and less often, but am much more vibrantly descriptive. I’ll let you know how it’s coming along in a few days.


Actually written Thursday last, but it failed to post:

I am having fun teaching, despite being woefully underpaid and over burdened with one hundred students spread out over only three classes. This weekend may involve some fun with friends, but for the most part I am going to be reading student “essays” – from the French for “attempt”. I have some students who have submitted only single paragraphs for 3-5 page papers. The upside is that they are easy to grade.

A surprise side benefit from my teaching style is that I pace the entire time I teach. That’s twelve hours of power walking per week. Who knew that teaching could be such an exercise opportunity?


Monday, June 19, 2006

This is a random set of GAS pictures - you can go to my flickr account to see them all, just follow the link at the bottom of the selection or keep refreshing your browser for different random shots.


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Sunday, June 18, 2006

I’ve done a little, very little, event planning in my life. Nothing I’ve done comes anywhere close to what Jes (and many others) pulled off this weekend. I am in awe of my rock star fiancé, whose two years of expert planning helped win the conference for the city and make it what it was. To say that the St. Louis 2006 GAS conference was a success would be to tread briskly on the shores of understatement. Jes isn’t one to blow her own horn, so I am going to.

Immanuel Kant believed that in exceptional art the physical, phenomenal realm is ruptured and the universal, divine, noumenal realm flows in across the bridge built by the artist. In a sense the entire conference was a collaborative work of art, built collectively by the fifteen hundred or so participants. The spirit of creativity and co-inspiration generated by the mass assembly was as palpable as the heat coming off of any one of the many furnaces, kilns, or torches that were simultaneously running in an eight ring circus of practical demonstrations.

Through the success of the conference Jes and her co-chairs have overcome currents of skepticism in the wider glass community, and even from the GAS board itself, putting St. Louis firmly on the international map as a dynamic center for world-class education and production in the glass arts. To paraphrase the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V, people who chose not to attend based on preconceptions about what St. Louis had to offer will regret that decision as stories begin to filter back (And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here).
I’m sure over the next few weeks I will begin to write down some of what I experienced. Right now the primary feeling is exhaustion. My only regret is not having a better sense of what the public could attend so that more of our wider circle of friends and family could have participated in the events. The nice thing is that the events continue. You can still go see Jes’ installation at the Regional Arts Commission or in a few months you can go see it in the Chicago gallery THAT BOUGHT IT!!!! There’s a lot more to that story, but I’ll leave it for Jes to tell. Suffice it to say that the conference both was and is leading to a great deal of professional and artistic success for Jes.

As an “outsider” to the glass world I have been dipping in and out of conference prep for a few weeks (months?) now as a sounding board for Jes and as a pinch hitter for the wider conference. She used me as her personal volunteer, keeping me out of the general pool, with a primary function of shuttling art and supplies from the Third Degree Glass Factory to the lecture and auction sites at The Millennium Hotel – or whatever spill over tasks I could do.

I had a few professional duties from my own working life to attend to over the weekend, meetings and such, but I kept returning to the conference to assist with whatever the crises of the moment might be. I should qualify “crises”, as by all accounts this was one of the most seamless and smoothly run conferences in GAS history. While credit for that should be spread around among many people (Doug, Tracy, Alison, Robin, Jims G & M), Jes’s hard work and long range planning were certainly key.

Obviously there are going to be curveballs, like the equipment vender in the technical display who didn’t pay for a booth with electricity and then tripped a breaker with a high powered kiln, killing the air conditioning for about two hours on one of the hottest days of the year. There are going to be things that you have to roll with and make the best of in any large event, but thankfully those act of God moments were few.

We ended our work last night at nine with a five car caravan filled with awkwardly large display pedestals that had to be out of the hotel ASAP. After they were safely stored back at the factory we went dancing and climbing at the closing ceremonies (party) held at The City Museum. The bartender told me we had more than a thousand people in attendance. It was a hard drinking crowd and by the two a.m. last call the revelers had run the bar out of several top shelf brands. I ended on Dewar’s as there was no more gin at the inn.

The primary sentiment in the room, as people began to consider how they were getting back to their hotels and lives outside of the conference bubble, was one of excitement, celebration, and I think a little awe. It was an inspiring whole that was much more than the sum of its parts. I am so proud of and happy for Jes for her part in all of this. We’re going on vacation soon. It will be good to get away for a while and to take stock of how we’ve been changed by the dynamism of the last few days. Ordinary life might take a little getting used to, especially for my rock star, as I think she is going to be a girl in demand.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

International Glass Conference update:

Yesterday morning I dug Jes’ last showpieces, the river stones, out of the basement and met her at the RAC (Regional Arts Commission) Gallery. It’s across the street from the Pageant and Big Shark Bicycles on Delmar. We installed her show and then I was given another errand. I had to transport this several thousand dollar, seventy pound piece of glass in a massive crate that had just arrived from Italy. I should have taken a picture because it filled the whole back of the van. I took it from the glass studio down to The Millennium Hotel, which is the conference HQ, and had a bitch of a time getting it unloaded and into the auction space.

There were a bunch of men standing around with conference badges on when I arrived at the loading dock and when I asked for their help, seeing that they were affiliated, they told me they were exhibiters just out having a smoke – it was their way of saying that they were artists and weren’t going to help a laborer (soon to be husband of the co-chair of their conference). I meet so few assholes that sometimes it just baffles and surprises me. I took their implied advice and found an honest, hard working and ethical hotel employee to help me. One thing about the Midwest, and St. Louis in particular, if those boys had been local, regardless of the socio economic class of their youth, they wouldn’t have hesitated to help a stranger unload a box from his van.

Later in the evening, much later, after I had taught my class, some of Jes’ friends and former assistants from Alfred arrived (around one thirty in the morning) with their modified Airstream trailer that has been converted into a mobile art gallery. They are doing a tour which began in New York and most recently they were set up in Memphis. They kept talking about their website last night, so I’ll see if I can find it and link it. As for the conference and cool links, you can go to the Third Degree web page and follow the link to the webcam. It is aimed at the main hot shop where many of the more expert demos are taking place.

Most of the conference isn’t open to the general public. Just the Gallery Hop on Friday (when you could go see Jes’ show at the RAC), and the auction on Saturday (where you could go drop several thousand dollars on art glass that has ridden around in my van), there’s also the final party Saturday night at the City Museum, but I think there is a thirty dollar ticket required for that, whereas the other two events are free.

Regional Arts Commission
6128 Delmar Boulevard
Through July 30: “Next in Glass: An Exhibition of Emerging St. Louis Area Glass Artists” Curated by Sam Stang. Featuring Amber Marshall, Jessica Cope, Micah Roufa, Michael Hayes, Brendan Bayless, Nicolas Christianson, Jeremy Lampe, Whitman Rodgers, Kaj Akiria Louis-Johnson
Hours: Mon - Fri 10am- 5 pm, Sat- Sun 12- 5 pm
Gallery Hop Hours: 6 -10 pm


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One of the nice things about having two BBQ grills is that when some asshole in your neighborhood steals one, you still have one left. Does one trust to karma that fuck-whits will get theirs in grand roll of the universal dice? It’s a dangerous thing to wish because of the log in one’s own eye (to paraphrase the parable). I have all the lawn furniture chained up already. I guess I’ll have to get another chain for the remaining grill. In two and a half months we shall leave these fuckers to their own devices.

I was just talking to my landlord about the theft. Between my car, now the grill, and the almost perpetual thefts from Jes’ parents house (recently the licenses plates off the cars twice and bicycles out of the garage - after jumping the nine foot security fence – plus endless odds and ends), the additional theft “tax” on city living is perhaps too high. Her parents are upping the fence ante – building a new one that is higher, faster, and stronger. They have a lovely and historic home and also have to live in the city as a requirement of his job.

Unless St. Louis can get crime under control and education funded (which is one issue, not two separate issues) they will never really have the urban growth and recovery that they hope for. Several low income housing districts in North St. Louis were recently demolished and this has sent of flood of individuals with socio economic challenges down to the south side. As a result my local crime rate is just off the chart.

I have this perpetual desire to have friends over and be social and I can’t do that when I know people are taking a risk parking their car on my street. An obvious corollary would be that I like to have BBQs, but unfortunately my big Weber has been stolen.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Instead of helping stuff bags, Vanessa and I helped do window displays at 3rd degree:


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Teaching went well. I was more effusive about it last night so I should have written something then. I teach for four hours straight Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, so I am doing everything I can to bring in a variety of modes of instruction. I’m looking forward to next week with that class. They are a great bunch of students – very bright and willing to discuss the material. One of them told me after class that I remind him of Eddie Izzard, so I must be doing something right.

I called Jes after work and she was out bar drifting with GAS luminaries. I didn’t have the juice to join them, but it’s good to see all that work turn into lots of fun and friendliness. Speaking of which, I am off to volunteer by stuffing guest bags with brochures.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Well, it’s back to teaching for me. My summer night classes begin this evening. I got up early with Jes to run some GAS conference errands (the conference is this coming weekend). I had to transport several thousand dollars worth of auction pieces in my van from storage to the conference hotel. Yikes! So I’m just home from unloading that and I need to get my lecture notes in order for tonight.

I often run a kind of low grade depression that I chalk up to weltschmertz (weltschmertz differs from the sadness and boredom of ennui by expressing a determined German certainty about the consequences of human nature in the world), but today I am two clicks further on my emotional dial. I am grumpy. I am wrong side of the bed “who stole my meaningless widget” grumpy.

It’s possible that not getting enough sleep, having a meal last night that isn’t quite finding a home in my digestive tract, and listening to the endless atrocities of war on NPR (asymmetrical warfare my ass – try unconstitutional psychological torture chambers) are the roots of my grump, but the trunk and limbs of it are fears over going back to the classroom slightly unprepared.

It’ll be fine. I am the king of winging it and I have a “paint by the numbers” script to be my guide. This always happens to me, a kind of stage fright, so I know better than to be really worried about it. In a sense it is an emotional marker that I take my students and my work seriously.

Time jump – I have detailed lesson plans now for the next two weeks, so that at least means I know what I am going to try to cover tonight and beyond. I am no longer grumpy, now I am just ill. BJ has me convinced that I have sleep apnea – warning signs include an enlarged neck and hypertension. I’ve got the hypertension, and my neck is huge, but then I have a large head so go figure. However, my head isn’t getting larger and my neck is!!!! Well, I am off to make copies of succubus syllabi and perilous prompts.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

One thing about killing zombies, you feel like you’ve had a productive day even if you haven’t left the couch.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

So yesterday was one of the hottest days of the year thus far and I had to spend most of it driving around in my car (rhyme accidental). I have no AC, not sure why, it just went away. I could pay to have the Freon recharged, but my bank account isn’t that large.

My job is on the exact opposite corner of the city as my apartment, and there is no secret passage through the conservatory, so if traffic is bad it can take me an hour or more to get there. This was fine when I taught in the online department as I only went once a week, now that I have been “promoted” to an in-house instructor I will be making the round trip three days a week. My raise will simply be a break even on gasoline. Still, it’s work in a perpetually bad local market.

Yesterday’s trip to there was humorous in that “work” moved buildings and my guess as to where the new building had been located was incorrect. I had to spend a half hour driving around this industrial plaza looking for the new offices. It’s silly to misplace your job. Of course not so silly when someone else moves it and then no one gives you directions.

My two bosses are both on vacation so I am in the lurch a bit. I had to give myself the nickel tour of the new facility, which is state of the art, but smaller than the old facility. Not the best planning there. They are like our new military: leaner, less expensive, and suffering from a near total lack of long range planning skills – an adaptability that offers the illusion of efficiency because it fails to acknowledge that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Anyway, as a result of my heat exhaustion I thought it would be a good idea to make a huge vat of curried split pea soup. It came out great, but is unfortunately too spicy for my paramour to eat. I now have a shit load of spicy soup at my disposal if you are interested. I got the recipe from Julia at the Javaco in the ville. She recently sold out her interests in that venture. Anyway, if you have nostalgia for her curry I can email you the cuisine codex (AKA the recipe). It’s good vegetarian or with chicken added.

I’m thinking of grilling and having poker later so I best get cleaning.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Well, cool. Blogger seems to be working for the moment. I just got several extra posts deleted and I’ve gotten my little flickr slideshow running in the sidebar. I was supposed to be prepping classes that I start teaching next week, but as per usual I’ve put it off until the last – tomorrow & the weekend. Now it’s a little after one in the morning and I am soaking some newly transplanted orchids in the sink and tinkering with blogger.

I’m loving Erica’s new job as she keeps giving us free tickets for various events.
Tonight Erica’s land of free tickets found us going to see Phantom of the Opera at The Fox Theater. I hadn’t seen it before. When I told Mary we were going she commented that as a show it really is all about the set pieces and staging. I’d have to agree. Some of the eighties pseudo rock numbers were musically painful. There’s this section where the phantom is leading the ingénue to his inner sanctum for the first time and despite the immediate presence of a full orchestra these talented singers are instead accompanied by a Casio keyboard and a drum machine.

Erica asked me what I thought of the production. I think that there’s an obvious homoerotic neo-platonic subtext that culminates in a song from the upper rafters in which the phantom – who is also the “angel of music” – bemoans how the young man/rival must love the lead actress because he, older intellectual sufferer of social non acceptance phantom, has tampered with her spirit and filled it with pure music – to which Plato believed the male mind was closer than the female mind. Women were too close to the earth for Plato’s taste as the earth too was a shadow of the ideal realm of pure thought, inspiration and music.

The central female character is transactional (rather than volitional or even a locus of desire) as the young man must love the divine music channeled through the masculine intellect of the phantom, packaged as it is in the socially acceptable girl from his childhood. Thus the mask covers not just the face of the central protagonist, but also the true object of his affections, about whom he continues to remain conflicted. The hero too is willing to sacrifice his supposed love in order to capture the older trickster. Again she is transactional when she allows herself to be used as bait, which is to say that she remains a means to an end rather than an end in herself. Her twin lovers both need her to be remade or to remake her in order for true love to be possible – perhaps a frightening thing to teach young women. However, I did like it when they slid all the stuff around the stage and shot off roman candles.


I know I haven’t been blogging much. “It’s too hot!” and other excuses come to mind. I’ve been playing lots of God of War, which I beat yesterday, so that might improve my communication skills. There have been a number of blog-worthy events that I’ve been wondering how to share. Mary’s sister and daughter were in town the other day (week) and we took them to the Chihuly show at MOBOT. I just got a Flikr account so that I could present the twenty some pictures in a less obtrusive fashion. Look at the ones you like, more later.


GardenFulcrummonkey's Garden photoset


Friday, June 02, 2006

I had an odd dream last night. I was student teaching a combo art English class. My students were doing woodcarvings out of tree trunks in small groups. Each of the three groups finished their carvings and then we discussed the ideas behind the choices they made. The first group had carved a woman in abstract, reminiscent of Picasso. The second group had carved a naturalist representation. The third group had carved a female robot with exaggerated bolts and rivets. We had a great class discussion of aesthetics and then we made chemical explosives, because in the next class we were going to blow things up.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Is anyone else being driven crazy by “it is what it is” and “at the end of the day”? These nightmare propagating memes have taken over NPR and have even occasionally smacked me in the face live and in person. I try to interest people in this linguistic white noise that is the mid-brow equivalent of “like” and they often retort, “It is what it is”. At the end of the day I’m not sure anything can be done about it. I mean, in the final solution and at the bottom of the inning what is there but the certitude of circularity recurring with the same pugnacious tenacity of the redundant “reoccurring”. Ultimately, the bottom line is that both of these memes are a step up from um. I guess they are what they are and I need to get over it.


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The long dark junk food of the soul:

What kind of shape is your somnia in? It’s four-o-nine and mine is fine. I really need to quit coffee until I get this figured out. I don’t feel bad. I’m just too restless to sleep. Maybe the new video game system is rotting my brain. Can video games cause insomnia? I know if the flashes happen too quickly they can trigger epileptic fits in people who are prone to them. Maybe my medulla has gone oblongata as a result of all this digital tomfoolery.

This evening’s recap: I had been working my way through the temple of Pandora, which was deep in a desert and strapped to the back of the last surviving titan, who is doomed to crawl around in the sand until the winds rip the flesh from his body. I had to kill three sirens and a mess o’ Minotaurs to find the place. Anyway, I had only just survived the combined onslaught of several hundred harpies and some undead archers, and I had taken Pandora’s box from the temple, when Aries sensed my victory and the consequent threat to him. He hurled a Doric pillar at me all the way from Athens, Athena’s city that he was ravaging at the time.

This dude Aries is about a city block tall and tricked me into killing my wife and kid earlier, which I only just learned in a series of flashbacks triggered by the caresses of a half clad oracle, hence my current blood vow to avenge Athena and my wife by killing the god of war. So, the pillar impaled me tonight, about two a.m., at the moment of my victory over Pandora’s trap laden temple and I was sent to Hades.

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Luckily, on my fall towards the river Styx I was able to thrust my twin daggers, bound to my wrists with magical chains by Aries in exchange for a vow of servitude, into the body of a ship captain that I had killed much earlier in my quest. I killed him on the same day that I got the memory card and defeated the hydra for Poseidon. So now I am busy trying to climb out of Hades while being forced to kill again all the creatures that I sent there earlier, only now they are all stronger and on fire. Is it any wonder I can’t sleep?

On top of all that I’ve been watching The Gilmore Girls first season box set that Vanessa loaned us and Rory’s grandfather is in the hospital. I assume he’s going to be ok for now, as they were just getting to know each other. Then Rory and the boy with the D name (Dean I think) are dating now. The guy that owns the coffee shop knows about Lorelai and the English teacher from Kissing Jessica Stein, he always plays the verbal types and at one point says to her, “Hey, we both have the wordsmith thing in common”. That’s just the sort of Dorothy Parker line you’d expect from Dorothy Parker Productions.

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In addition to that I’ve been watching the first season of Battlestar Galactica, which I picked up from Net Flicks, and in the last episode I have here Starbuck is breaching the upper atmosphere of a planet in a flat spin after taking out a Cylon raider. She’s lost in a risky venture attempting to atone for the death of her lover, Captain Adama’s son.

And in chapter two of Thomas Pynchon’s opus Mason & Dixon I am tracking his recurring structural hat tips to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, as the whole book is going to be told in flashback and he’s already parodied the line about the Buddha without his lotus flower, only he’s suggesting that his narrator found enlightenment, but then lost it again. Pynchon has also taken Conrad and linked him with Foucault’s Madness and Civilization by asserting that the narrator chose his sea voyage over bedlam, as in a box or out to sea were the only two cures running at the time.

I always thought that V was an attempt, a successful attempt, at turning modernism and postmodernism into characters and having them fight it out. I think he’s doing to same thing here with all the early American schools and various key figures of the enlightenment. I’m told that there’s a talking owl coming up so that means he’s throwing n a little Clash of the Titans as well, fits in nicely with my whole God of War trip.

See what I mean about the coffee… sun will be up soon and I imagine so will I. I’m just sitting here mainlining media, surfing the internet on a laptop while my consoles buzz around me.

Helpless to avoid the blitzkrieg of datum the fish while away their time trying to get me to accidentally feed them as I feed myself: off schedule.

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