27 April 2006

More shameless plagiarizing

Are there any original ideas left??!!

A-Z (which makes me ponder: Do the children of NBC and CBS employees have to leave the classroom when the kindergarten class starts learning their ABCs?)

A - Available: Only for parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, catering and small affairs (hourly-rates or not)
A - Age: 41
A - Annoyance: Smokers who think the roadside is their personal ashtray.

B - Best Friends: Seraphim. Tied for second place: everyone else.
B - Bad Habit: I've been a nail-biter since at least kindergarten.
B - Birthday: Day of the Groundhog.

C - Crush: Seraphim! (est. 1998)
C - Car: The world-famous PMT® (2004 Honda Element) and the yet-to-be-nicknamed '05 Honda Civic Hybrid.
C - Cats: No feline's stubbornness is a match for PUDDY'S!

D - Dead Pets Name: Dogs - Brandy, Blue, Gracie (Blue's widow ... she's sick and it's a matter of time :-(((), Wolfgang. Cat - Sylvester (1975-82).
D - Desk Top Picture: Tiger.
D - Dogs: (alleged) Puddy, age 11.

E - Easiest person to talk to: Beautiful Seraphim. (runner-up = myself)
E - Eggs: Over easy, perferably part of an IHOP Breakfast Sampler. When the bloody hell are we gonna get an IHOP in our neighborhood??!!
E - Email: A staple of my communication since December 29, 1996.

F - Favorite color: Blue.
F - Food: Boiled peanuts, especially scalding hot out of the boiler.
F - Foreign Slang: Bloody! (see above)

G - Gummy Bears or Worms: Brach's Candy Corn.
G - God: Yes. Fan club = that's a problem.
G - Good Times: Bad Times / I know I've had my share.....

H - Hair Color: Flesh.
H - Height: 5-11.
H - Happy: [The Rolling Stones, 1972.]

I - Ice Cream: Vanilla, perferably soft-serve.
I - In school?: No, I swim alone.
I - Introverted or Extroverted?: Very extroverted on paper. Introverted in person (except when around friends).

J - Jewelry: None at the present, if you don't count that gold necklace with a giant "Kia" logo .
J - Job: Patience rarely reaches this level.
J - Jokes: If you broke a vinyl record by Morris Albert, did you hurt his "Feelings."?

K - Kids: Tiger (14) and Puddy (11).
K - Karate: Was a green belt in Tae Kwon Do back in '84. Forgot all the moves, tho'
K - Kung fu: Grip.

L - Longest Car Ride: In recent history? Laurel, Miss. to Rincon, Ga. in one day. 580 miles.
L - Longest relationship: still going........ Seraphim, at over 8 years (Married for 5)
L - Last phone call: Son Tiger and ex-wife Josiebelle.

M - Milk Flavor: I'd rather crawl back to the ex-wife.
M - Mothers Name: Sarah.
M - Movie Last Watched: Fun With Dick and Jane "Don't take away my Telemundo!!!"

N - Number of Siblings: One, younger.
N - Northern or Southern: Alabama by way of Arkansas with a touch of Missouri thrown in to confound.
N - Name: Talmadge Quirkius Gleck, IX

O - One Phobia: Lightning (after two times being within 50 feet of it, and getting hit on the phone a couple years ago - egad!)
O - Open or Closed?: Open hearts .... open minds ... open doors ..... op --- HEY!
O - Orgasm: Proprietary information.

P - Parents, are they married or divorced: Married since 1964.
P - Part of your jerking: Cool, as in The Capitols' old '60s pop hit "Cool Jerk."
P - Part of your personality you like best: My tender loving sarcasm.

Q - Quote: "When life gives you lemons, buy Japanese."
Q - Question for the next person?: How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?
Q - Quick or Slow?: Good things usually take time.

R - Reality TV Show: Classic game shows.
R - Right or Left: Right-handed.
R - Right now: It's 215 in the morning, and Seraphim seems to be awake for some reason.

S - Song Last Heard: "Way Down Now" by World Party.
S - Season: Autumn.
S - Sport: I try to be, even when losing.

T - Time you woke up: 750 AM
T - Time Now: 217 AM.
T - Time for bed: 1-2 AM, usually.

U - Unknown Fact about me: I'm not allergic to poison ivy.
U - Unicorns: Seraphim already covered this on her comments to Nettiemac's post. (PS - ewwwwwwwww)
U - You are: the reason God made Oklahoma. (Hey, be thankful you didn't inspire Him to create south Alabama)

V - Vegetable you hate: Brussel sprouts.
V - Vegetable you love: White acre peas.
V - Voice: Good thing I have one, otherwise it'd be a bit hard for me to find a job...

W- Worst Habits: Those hats which nuns used to wear.
W- Where are you going to travel next?: Montgomery, Alabanana.
W - Where were you born?: Birmingham, Alabanana.

X - X-Rays: "I asked the doctor to take your picture / So I can look at you from inside as well"
X - XXX: Leaves six more for Seraphim.
X - Xylophone: Strike the notes G-E-C.

Y - Year you were born: 1965
Y - Year it is now: 2006
Y - Yellow: Label. (brand of syrup sold in Ala.)

Z - Zoo Animal: Tiger.
Z - Zodiac: Aquarius.
Z - Zoolander: Sounds like a sci-fi series about an immortal animal.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Where's a SCRABBLE game when I need one?" Gleck

23 April 2006

Mrs. Livingston, I presume

Further ruminating on Mr. Holland's Opus quickly brings one of my childhood teachers to mind. In my previous entry, I remark that the movie "...shows how teachers can inspire students, and how some of the more talented ones can take creative paths to reach students who might not respond via more conventional means."

Looking back on my own life, one teacher met that challenge ... and, above all else, affected and inspired me in such a positive way:

Mrs. Sara Livingston. She was my 4th grade homeroom & English teacher (1974-75) at Pierce Street Elementary School in Tupelo, Miss. She had a profoundly unique way of teaching English, and between her and my paternal grandmother, taught me an appreciation for words and the wonderful English language.

And that, by the way, is not a pseudonym. In case Google picks this up, I'd love for there to be a chance either Mrs. Livingston herself, or one of her children, might see it. Teachers often labor without any appreciation expressed for their efforts. They make embarrassingly poor wages given the power and importance of work they do. Okay, sure, a doctor makes a six-figure salary. Great. Who bloody TEACHES the doctor??!!??!!

Doctors, athletes, CEOs and members of Congress make disgracefully high salaries, while those who teach them struggle with terrible pay, no overtime (Summers off?? HAH! Maybe for part of it, but teachers are paid for nine months of the year -- if they get a paycheck for 12 months it's because their pay is reduced for the nine months to 'fund' the other three checks.), and -- most importantly and outrageously -- have to pay for most supplies out of their own pockets!

Think about that fact long and hard, good people. In my work, in Seraphim's work, and I dare say in Nettiemac's and Bolivar's work ... who pays for the supplies and tools we need to do our jobs?? I know in my case it's my employer! When the toner cartridge in my laser printer starts kicking the big one, I mention that to my station manager. Then, on his next trip to Office Depot, he buys another cartridge for me with the Visa card assigned him by the state. I'm sure Bolivar's manager at Kroger also has an expense account with which to procure office supplies, etc.

But teachers? Hah! My ex-wife is a 6th grade teacher, and when the toner in her printer started giving out, do you think she went to her principal and said, "I'm going to need another cartridge."? Not if she didn't want to be laughed out of her office!

We have bad teachers, Lord knows I had my share of 'em. The ones who make you shake your fist at the whole tenure system. The system isn't perfect. Still, the way we treat the good teachers (who, I have to believe, outnumber the bad), is a national disgrace.

People who inspire us to be who we are today. And they have to buy their own @#$%ing supplies.

God bless America.

Mrs. Livingston, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for taking an interest in a social outcast who had some trouble adjusting back in those weird days. I have no doubt there's a special place for you in Heaven.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Apple Scruff" Gleck

[TCM] MOVIE -- Horror

"Mr. Pachelbel's Canon" (1945) Heartwarming tale of a frustrated music teacher fired for alleged Communist sympathies, and his constantly-interrupted efforts to write his 'great symphony' while working a series of odd jobs. Johann Pachelbel: Charlie Chaplin, Iris Pachelbel: Agnes Moorhead, Principal Roger Stiffbutt: Gale Gordon. (B/W, 72 min.)
******************

Sometimes I wish a film like that could pop up on Turner Classic Movies. To say I loathe the Canon in D is putting it mildly. I fail to see how it ever became one of the workhorses of classical music! Sure, Peter Schickele (a/k/a PDQ Bach) thumbed his nose at the Canon on his 1991 album, "WTWP Classical Talkety-Talk Radio" (WTWP = Wall To Wall Pachelbel) ..... however, I'm still waiting for a punk band or other angst-ridden group to grab this piece of musical horse phlegm by the gonads and rework it into a rage-filled masterpiece. C'mon! It can be done.

Okay, the inspiration for this post came yesterday evening when I was doing some channel-surfing. On one of the Encore channels, the 1995 movie Mr. Holland's Opus had just come on. I hadn't watched that thing in years, so down went the remote. Seraphim woke up from a short nap and joined me.

This movie is significant in our life in that it was the second movie we watched together -- Seraphim had come over to Troy from Columbus for our second date, and we watched Mr. Holland's Opus on video. [side thought: Seraphim and I have been together for a long time. When I first met her and we'd just begun dating, I had yet to hear of something called a DVD.]

It's funny, Richard Dreyfuss figures into our first two movies .... on our first date, we watched Krippendorf's Tribe at the theater. Maybe we should have a Richard Dreyfuss film festival on our next anniversary. Yes, even Jaws.

But -- yet again -- I digress. Mr. Holland's Opus is a favorite movie of mine; always has been, and always will be. I appreciate the film even more today because of a good friend of mine, whom I met since I last saw Opus, is a middle school band director. Looking at the movie, I wonder what influence Birdman will have on his students.

Yes, the movie is a Hollywood treatment (duhhhh ... it's called A MOVIE!), and some music teachers have taken offense to what they perceive as a distortion of their jobs. Yes, the movie does have faults. Several of them bug me to no end. Yet, all in all, the movie's heart is in the right place and it portrays the struggles of a man's life fairly well.

BUT, snarky soul that I am, I have to proffer several questions. And I would advise anyone who has never seen this movie to stop right here and now, for there are some spoilers. Don'wanna ruin this for anyone, mmm-kay? Allright, then, my questions:

1) I cannot believe the writer and director left the issue of Roweena unresolved (the young lady who blew everyone away at the Gershwin play audition with her beautiful rendition of "I Got Rhythm"). She had the hots for Mr. Holland, and even propositioned him to leave his family and go to New York with her. But at the big hoo-hah at the end, she was nowhere to be found. Why didn't she return as a big Tony-award-winning Broadway diva? Roweena was just left hanging. Glaringly dumb move. (then again, I have this on lowly VHS; maybe on the extra features part of the DVD, the Roweena question is addressed).

2) If The Little Red-Haired Girl -- a/k/a Miss "Play The Sunset" -- grew up to be guvnah of their great state, why come she didn't champion Mr. Holland's livelihood?? The reason for the big retirement party, after all, was because Mr. Holland was forced out of his gig because of BUDGET CUTS. The school was deep-six'ing the entire music program.

If the governor had a brain, she would think back and realize that Mr. Holland provided the spark of inspiration. She lacked self-esteem, but it was A FRIGGIN' MUSIC TEACHER whose words ("Play the sunset") caused a little girl to turn the corner. You'd think the woman might be a major advocate for school music programs, that she'd fight any attempts to kill those programs in her state. True, it's state legislatures who ultimately pass budgets ... but the governor has the power of the bully pulpit and the power of the veto pen. Where was the governor?????

Or maybe she was a Republican like Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, who used so-called "liberal" programs to get where they are, and - once at the top - proceed to advocate for their dismantling.

3) The city parade scene, the one where Iris suspects baby Cole may be deaf (the fire truck horn drives 3/4 of the town into raging tinnitus, but little Cole sleeps unfazed through the whole thing), features Mr. Holland's fledgling marching band. They march down the streets in a 1965 parade playing "Louie Louie."

Ummmmmm, small problem: nothing coming close to rock and/or roll was played by marching bands back then, and certainly not in a public performance of that nature. I think Cliff Nobles' 1968 hit "The Horse" was just about the first contemporary song heard during marching band performances (Birdman might be able to clarify here .... or Seraphim? Anyone? Anyone?)

In any case, "Louie Louie" was more than a little controversial in its day. Ain'noway a young, non-tenured band teacher was gonna lead a bunch of students in what was considered by many to be an obscene song.

*********
Whooookay, those pickings-of-nit aside, I give the movie a strong 8 quarter-notes out of 10. It shows how teachers can inspire students, and how some of the more talented ones can take creative paths to reach students who might not respond via more conventional means.

It's a good movie. And goes to prove that on occasion there IS something good on Encore. :-)

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "This one time, at band camp..." Gleck

09 April 2006

Some Sunday Scattershooting

It's me -- Mr. Gleck in the conservatory with the keyboard. This time I offer some random hairballs of thought which I've hacked up:

1) Why is it that a 6-volt "lantern" battery -- much LARGER than two or three 1.5-volt "C" or "D" cells -- doesn't last for diddly in a flashlight??!! Geez, I can get more light out of one running on two "AA" cells!

2) Last night Seraphim and I watched Must Love Dogs on DVD. We saw it last Summer in the theater, and I thought it to be a most entertaining, funny and sweet movie. Even funnier the second time around. But it still makes me thankful I didn't have to go through a bunch of bad post-divorce dates before finding Seraphim.

3) This time that movie produced another thought: Sarah's father, explaining to her daughter why he was juggling three young women at once, said "I've already had the love of my life", referring to Sarah's deceased mother. I can't express how much that statement haunted me. Seraphim is the much-fabled Love Of My Life. Her presence in my life has set such a high-water mark on my soul that nobody else could conceivably match it. In other words: I completely identified with what that man said.

4) This morning I saw a commercial for a "vocal coach" computer program. Using the included ''deluxe headset/mic', the software more or less teaches you how to sing. Dazzle 'em at the karaoke bar. Mesmerize 'em from the choir loft. Blow their minds clear to Orangeburg with your mastery of "contemporary christian" soundtrack tapes. Wow. Now people like me who can more easily carry a Coke machine than a tune can, with practice, initiative and three easy payments of only $33.33 a month, be able to sing as well as Nettiemac.

5) Every time I think about people who sing terribly, four folks come to mind. Not William Hung and the three girls who call themselves The Shaggs. This is worse. These four guys make the aforementioned sound as harmonious as The Beach Boys ... or at least Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Or Any Combination Thereof. I'm talking about The Landmines. They made their first and only appearance in the 1981 movie Up The Academy.

6) One of the smartest things I've done in the last six months is to opt for the "product protection" when I bought my MP3 player last December at Best Buy. Guess what? After acting strangely for a time, it finally wacked out. White screen, no graphics, no sound, no nothing. I thought BLUE was the "screen of death." Well, I returned it and - after going through a crazy rigamarole - will receive a compleat refund (in the form of a Best Buy gift card) "within "7 business days."

7) If you're shopping for an MP3 player, may I NOT suggest the Philips GoGear. Go for the Creative Zen, which is something I plan on doing when I get the Best Buy card.

8) Bright side: at least the player made it to and from Arkansas without incident.

9) I think I might get a Walkman instead. Wonder how many gigs those'll hold......

10) The manual keeps referring to something called "cassettes." What's a cassette?

11) The weather is wonderful today. I think we're going to go out to Hilton Head for the afternoon and bask in the nice upper-60s weather. Yeah.

12) Puddy turns 11 today. Happy Birthday, my Sweetie Girl!

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Got My Bathin' Suit And My Flip Flops Ready" Gleck

04 April 2006

A "Power" Trip


As long as we're on the topic of alma maters, I've got to chime in about a new slogan which Arkansas State University not only adopted as its mantrus supremus, but also COPYRIGHTED as well.

The slogan is "Powering Minds" -- oops, better add the "®" to that.

It's a nice, ummm, powerful positioning statement (as we're fond of saying in the radio biz). But I'm a tad bit bugged about it.

However, before I go into that, let me say my unease is -- heh heh -- powerfully tempered by the icon that's been adopted to serve as ASU's new "visual icon." Well, "adopted" wouldn't be the proper phrase; what ASU did was tap a truly esoteric piece of engraved stone on a long-dormant entrance to one of the oldest buildings on campus, Wilson Hall. Part of Wilson used to house the library until 1963, when a new building opened (yes, with bland yellowish-tan brick). This engraved image of a scholar, a dignified carving which always reminded me of Auguste Rodin's famous statue The Thinker, was a forgotten portal amidst a growing campus.

Seeing that image as the dominant motif of the university's website gave me goosebumps. It also - yeah, yeah - made me a little misty.

It reminds me of another Arkansas State "lost icon", something I always liked to call The Arch To Nowhere. It was an entryway to the first building on the campus, the predecessor to Wilson Hall. On it is engraved ASU's original name "A&M COLLEGE."

Funny thing, the building ... and the STREET (!) which passed in front of it ... no longer exist. The roadway, the original alignment of Aggie Road, was torn up and replaced with green, green grass some time in the '50s. [Hmph, Arkansas State was destroying roads even then, too!] But the arch remains, and is a focal point in that "quad" area of the campus. A very dignified reminder of ASU's history. Just like the scholar.

But back to the slogan. Powering Minds®. One question: WHY? It sounds like something I'd sooner expect from Troy Not-State University, an institution which places greater importance on appearance than anything substantially academic. I'll be the first to admit that T(NS)U's campus as a whole is more picturesque than my beloved A-State's. I mean, Troy has hills. Jonesboro has .... tiny inclines. We're talking flat Delta country where I'm from, people.

Troy's buildings have some beautiful facades -- Bibb Graves Hall and its palladium sit proudly atop this knoll, for eons a beacon to the immediate vicinity. Arkansas State, meanwhile, is powering structures (heh, sorry - they wouldn't sue ALUMNI ... would they??) with bland yellowish-tan brick.

It just goes to show you: Appearance ain't everything. What's important is not what the classrooms look like on the outside -- it's what takes place INSIDE those classrooms.

I spent the years 1990 through 2000 in the employ of Troy Not-State. I sat in amazement as the administration was constantly cooking up slogans to promote the university as if it were a soft drink. I learned one, um, er, powerful lesson from my years in Troy:

Sloganeering = Shortcomings.

Why does Arkansas State have to stoop to such petty sloganeering? Why?

Can you hear me up there, Jumping Joe? I'm talking to YOU.

It's drizzling outside. No, wait. Joe heard me.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Mind Proudly Powered by Indian Joe" Gleck

PS -- I still love you.