Saturday, February 28, 2009


Playing Taboo last night with Kat and Megan on one team, me and Rick on the other, Rick's clues for me are "very hot, fast... San Francisco... peanut oil..."

The word, of course, was "wok."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poetry Projects

I am grading student poetry projects. My eighth graders had to choose three of the poems they've written over the course of this poetry unit, revise them, get two classmates and/or family members to edit their revised drafts, then revise them again. The kids who actually went through the revision process created some amazing stuff. They could choose which poems they wanted to include, except that they had to use one poem that started with the 20 Little Poetry Projects assignment (read the assignment here). One student wrote a 20 L.P.P. about her older sister, a "fabulous senior." This is my favorite part of her great poem:

"Don't be weird," we tell her.
But she's not weird.
Actually Tammy is quite normal.
If being in band, basketball, work, and track is normal.
But, with all these activities to do,
She is still a big calendar of organization.

More excerpts to follow, I am sure. I've got about 130 of these to grade.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

100 Days of Dancing

Yumi posted a link to Ely Kim's "Boombox" as her Facebook status update today, and it totally made me joyous:

BOOMBOX from Ely Kim on Vimeo.

Yumi says she wants the soundtrack. I don't. But it's incredible. That I know immediately that it’s Janet, “Miss You Much”--I knew so many of the songs before I knew them. And wow, all the songs you know without having to hear the words… I kept thinking how yeah, this guy is of my era, of my generation.

The locations are so odd and great, lots of bathrooms and nondescript office spaces and basements and apartments and outdoor spaces that look vaguely familiar, lots of campuses. And day 100's location is so so perfect.

There are so many great details, all through: that cat shirt! the daschund!

I wanna go watch it again.

Here's the song list. The Fader, where I originally watched it, suggests you watch it first then check the list. I think that's smart.

Ely Kim
100 Dances / 100 Songs

001. Heart of Glass / Blondie
002. Jimmy / M.I.A.
003. Deceptacon / Le Tigre
004. Im on Fire / 5000 Volts
005. Je Veux Te Voir / YELLE
006. The Way I Are / Timbaland
007. Too Young / Phoenix
008. Over And Over / Hot Chip
009. Stick It To The Pimp / Peaches
010. Say My Name / Destiny's Child
011. Pin / Yeah Yeah Yeahs
012. Geremia / Bonde Do Role
013. Let Me Clear My Throat / DJ Kool
014. Point Of No Return / Expose
015. Bubble Sex / The Seebach Band
016. Pump Up the Jam / Technotronic
017. Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above / CSS
018. Hella Nervous / Gravy Train
019. Me Plus One / Annie
020. Don't Go / Yaz
021. Bootylicious / Destiny's Child
022. Electric Feel / MGMT
023. Boys Don't Cry / The Cure
024. Lose Control / Missy Elliott
025. Ride The Lightning / Evans And Eagles
026. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough / Michael Jackson
027. Hearts On Fire / Cut Copy
028. Tainted Love / Soft Cell
029. Between Us & Them / Moving Units
030. It Feels Good / Tony Toni Tone
031. Polaris (Club Mix) / Cyber People
032. You Never Can Tell / Chuck Berry
033. Huddle Formation / The Go! Team
034. Pump That / FannyPack
035. My Love / Justin Timberlake
036. Hung Up / Madonna
037. Justice - D.A.N.C.E (MSTRKRFT Remix) / Justice
038. Cybernetic Love / Casco
039. Creep / TLC
040. When I Hear Music / Debbie Deb
041. B.O.B. / Outkast
042. Bubble Pop Electric / Gwen Stefani
043. Miss You Much / Janet Jackson
044. You Spin Me Round / Dead Or Alive
045. Slide In / Goldfrapp
046. Kelly / Van She
047. Mine Fore Life / The Sounds
048. Disco Heat / Calvin Harris
049. Nighttiming / Coconut Records
050. Club Action / Yo Majesty
051. Pogo / Digitalism
052. Lip Gloss / Lil Mama
053. Heartbeats / The Knife
054. Enola Gay / OMD
055. Goodbye Girls / Broadcast
056. Kids In America / Kim Wilde
057. Kiss / Prince
058. Tenderness / General Public
059. Push It / Salt N Pepa
060. Circle, Square, Triangle / Test Icicles
061. Day 'N' Nite (Crookers Remix) / Kid Cudi
062. Shadows / Midnight Juggernauts
063. Paris (Aeroplane Remix) / Friendly Fires
064. Out At The Pictures / Hot Chip
065. Me Myself and I / De La Soul
066. AudioTrack 10 / Diplo
067. Girls & Boys / Blur
068. Heater / Samim
069. I Wanna Dance With Somebody / Whitney Houston
070. Hands In The Air / Girl Talk
071. Limited Edition OJ Slammer / Cadence Weapon
072. Meeting In The Ladys Room / Mary Jane Girls
073. NY Lipps / Soulwax
074. Lex / Ratatat
075. Gravity's Rainbow (Soulwax Remix) / Steve Aoki
076. Once In A Lifetime / Talking Heads
077. Leave It Alone / Operator Please
078. Half Mast / Empire Of The Sun
079. Hardcore Girls / Count and Sinden feat. Rye Rye
080. Dance, Dance, Dance / Lykke Li
081. Never Gonna Get It / En Vogue
082. Blue Monday / New Order
083. Crazy In Love (Featuring Jay-Z) / Beyoncé
084. 10 Dollar / M.I.A.
085. Love To Love You Baby / Donna Summer
086. Steppin' Out / Lo-Fi-Fnk
087. Karle Pyar Karle / Asha Bhosle
088. Love Will Tear Us Apart / Joy Division
089. Straight Up / Paula Abdul
090. My Drive Thru / Santogold, Casablancas, NERD
091. Like A Prayer / Madonna
092. Freedom 90 / George Michael
093. Black & Gold / Sam Sparro
094. B-O-O-T-A-Y / Spank Rock and Benny Blanco
095. Great Dj / The Ting Tings
096. In A Dream / Rockell
097. Don't Stop the Music / Rihanna
098. Hong Kong Garden / Siouxsie & The Banshees
099. It's Tricky / D.M.C.
100. Bizarre Love Triangle / New Order

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another toddler

Mom, dad, kid come into Coffeehouse 5 (Albina and Killingsworth) so mom can get coffee. Kid takes off for the door while mom is ordering, dad chases kid down, brings him back. Kid takes off again but doesn't go anywhere; dad holds kid’s arm firmly. Kid gives up, stops bearing his own weight, swings from dad’s arm, suspended just above the ground.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Coraline: Movie and Book

Movies made from books are hard. I loved Matilda, and was surprised to love it. Usually I just avoid movies made from books I love. I still think the Lord of the Rings books are better; I only ever saw the first movie. Only ever needed to see one. But Coraline was pretty great, although it was strange to see a movie of a book I have read aloud so many times, having taught it to several classes of sixth graders. I realized, as I was watching the movie and recognizing which lines of dialogue came straight from the book, that I know Coraline better than just about any book ever. I've read it out loud multiple times, and discussed it in depth with so many engaged readers. I loved it before teaching it, and had no idea how much more I'd love it after teaching it. My students loved it, connected with it, made these great associations and came up with their own amazing interpretations that hugely deepened my appreciation of it.

I am sad, now, that next time I teach Coraline, many of my students will probably not have the images they create in their heads as they listen and the illustrations by Dave Mckean as their first associations when they think of the characters. It might not be entirely a bad thing that instead of remembering my voice reading it, they'll remember the actors' voices, but it's such a book that leaves space for the reader to fill in the world. There is so much there that is left to the imagination for the reader to complete, making it his or her own book. The movie doesn't entirely take that away, but...

I'm also thinking that it could be fun to read the book with students and then show them the movie--I've done that with Miracle's Boys, and of course showing and discussing different film versions are an intrinsic part of how I teach Romeo and Juliet. But Romeo and Juliet is a play. Plays are meant to be seen and heard. I've used the miniseries of Miracle's Boys in part to talk about what's different, what works and what doesn't. I could do this with Coraline too. But I don't know--part of me wants Coraline just to be its own thing. Its own book.

I am still thinking about this, I can't articulate it well because it's not entirely articulated in my head.


I just finished the first book in Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea series, A Wizard of Earthsea. I read till I fell asleep last night, then got up and read till the end. Then I put the next three in the series on hold at the library.

Laurel and I had been talking about them and race, and she'd said that she thought there were a few very subtle hints--so of course watching for them, I found them less subtle. Some are matter-of fact: When our hero, Ged, meets Vetch, another student who becomes a close friend, Vetch is described as "very dark of skin, not red-brown like Ged and Jasper and most folk of the Archepelago, but black-brown." He is also described as "plain, and his manners were not polished," but since Ged has just been dealing with Jasper, a "polite disdainful youth" who is the son of a Lord, while Ged himself is "a mountain villager who had never been among the sons of rich merchants and noblemen," Vetch's manners and appearance are clearly positive attributes.

& I thought this characterization was pretty awesome and not terribly subtle: "Before nightfall he saw away off on his left hand the long, faint shoreline of a great land, which must be Karego-At. He was in the very sea-roads of those white barbaric folk."

Not related to race, and seeming in one sense to be the sort of cliched wisdom one expects to find in fantasy novels, I thought this advice from the Master Summoner to Ged is actually extremely true and relevant to more than just those of us who are studying to be Wizards: "You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as a man's real power grows and his knowledge widens ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do...." [Italics and ellipsis in the original.]

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love Lockdown

I have been amused all week by the enormous butcher paper posters all over the middle school where I teach, advertising tonight's dance with its LOVE LOCKDOWN theme. The best posters say LET YOUR LOVE LOCK DOWN! I don't really know what that means.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


This morning, sitting at a coffee shop on Killingsworth, I see two punk kids approaching--the boy gently pushes past the girl and opens the door, then rushes through himself before she can.

Friday, February 6, 2009

That smell, you know that smell?

They figured out the smell! Fenugreek seeds?!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

At Albina Press on Albina

This woman is dressed amazing: hair up and back in a casual sort of twist but the bangs are doing something funny, off to the side; a gray t-shirt very tucked into high-waisted black and white flowery print pants that are almost capris but a little longer; and she has her black socks pulled all the way up but they still don’t quite meet the pants. There’s a couple inches of a gap on one side, and on the other side the pants are partly tucked into the socks. (Maybe it’s two different black socks not actually a pair? I can’t tell.) And then black suede shoes, flats with maybe 4 holes for the laces. I had pants vaguely like those at my most nerdiest, seventh grade, but I think they were blue and green flowered or something, and they were at least long enough. But that was in 1987. And anyway I never wore them because they were so high waisted. I was a nerd but I was still trying. Really hard.