Thursday, August 28, 2008

renewing the confidence in my teeth

Do teeth hold the memories of words?
and if so,
Do faulty word decisions spawn cavity graveyards?
Does the enamel wear well when washed with weathered words?
or does it flake off... like Gumbo-limbo bark?

Food I suppose must mingle as well
to sew the patchwork collage of nostalgic quilts
in which we wrap ourselves with
during winter's wicked fits,
or leave collecting dust in the tomb of our pits.

Well then what of crowns?
And tell me, what of the fillings?
Should I fear a loss of muse born poems
at first hiss of the drill bit?
And since the bold roast fuels long hours of inspired verse,
is whitening the most frightening thought short of a sudden fist?
No wonder the old suffer Alzheimer's kiss
in between the gum and dentures
still sits enough space to slip
despite the pliant grip.
And when we delicately floss
to disengage the detritus
are we saved
from the lies read out loud in disguise?
Are we tending the fields, while we're bleeding to heal,
and do dreams of losing teeth herald
lexiconic decay?

I haven't had confidence in my teeth for years,
maybe that's why I'm so afraid to speak out, or out loud.
(Or why when I do, eyes roll and smiles fold.)
But if I chew hard, or bite down instead of tear
will my words aid the way my thoughts are often indigested?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grad school

New options:

MFA Creative Writing- NCSU
MA Film Studies- NCSU
MA Library Sciences- UNC
(with the option of doing a joint Masters degree with Art History)
MA Comparative Literature- UNC

Follow the links and review the programs. Let me know what you think, absent readers. An inquiring mind would like to know!

Yours in ghost,


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

the science of this

Mocking though your credit shouts
-however, blind to this you pose-
your flat-born heresy is cold.
Did involvement play a role in the theatre games that preceded,
lackluster and nape pulling?
Was enthusiasm begrudged for sulk and bulk
where corner-store insight sold at double the worth,
unedited and napkin told?
Next bid, next bid!
Do I hear...
Nothing more for your heliocentrics,
now white dwarf and sinking to haze and blur.
Did the rays prove too carcinogenic,
or did the speed, pushing to bend, fold you?
Here, in the dead set center of your foamcore,
wire hanger held universe,
where gravity won't budge to push
white chalk constellations smudged,
dark matter is more night than force,
more hold than sway.
Time and curious fingers mold your fate-
all spray paint sprinkles
and bent orbits.
Your cosmology fails,
isotropic in its catastrophe,
unaware of its parallels
dead of its own devices.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Critical Stance

Before following the Hyperlinks in this opinion blog, please note that some of the lyrics/ videos I reference pertain to sensitive subject matter. You can even say they are, politically, one-sided. Whereas many of you know where I stand politically, know that it is not my intention to teach students to think like me. I use these examples because they are what I know as well as fine examples for my case and point.

Thank you!

As an educator, and specifically a Language Arts teacher, one the many standards I have to teach is something vaguely referred to as "critical stance". But this is one of those standards I take to heart for deeper, perhaps, than any of my responsibilities do I feel the urgency to to teach students to form their own opinions, be discerning and active receivers of information and always, above all things, to seek out the truth.
It seems like an unrealistic expectation, especially when faced with seventh graders who frown at the idea of picking up a pencil, suggest "more fun stuff" as a means of improving Language Arts class when solicited for their opinion and ask, even in the midst of a test, if they can listen to their MP3 players while they work. I can't blame them for these things, as I'm not so far removed from my middle school years where I don't remember wanting to pull out my Walkman during quiet, essay writing time. How, then, to teach them something as complicated and involved as critical stance? The answer lay in the MP3 players.
Well, maybe not their MP3 players, but mine will do.
Music. No its not the full answer. Making my way to the full answer would involve assigning them "watch TV" as a homework assignment.

Wait. Slow down a second. Did he just say it's a good idea to encourage kids to watch TV and listen to music?
Yes and no.

One major concern of mine is implementing Hip Hop music into my curriculum. While this year was not the shining example I was hoping to have on my resume, I spent the year contemplating and sketching the thin frames of what will soon fill in and be full "plans". Why Hip Hop? Well, there's the obvious reason that the kids love it already. Why not work around what they love? Also, Hip Hop provides many songs critical of today's America, today's world and society in general. Take for instance Sage Francis, who's Makeshift Patriot , released immediately after 9/11 anticipated the negative aspects of the Patriot Act and warned people to not wave their rights with the flags. He also produced a modern day version of Bob Dylan's Master's of War. Nowadays, there is even a sort of meta-criticism going on, with up-and-comer NYOil eloquently censures veteran rapper Nas's new polemical song about the use of the "n" word. NYOil effectively rebukes Nas for his superficial treatment of what could be the next step in a currently polarizing dialog among prominent African American leaders, musicians and activists. now, I wouldn't use this case with 7th graders, but 12th graders could have quite the dialog and debate over this issue. And it doesn't stop there. Underground artist Glue has a song about political prisoner Leonard Peltier, while Common makes a similar Assata Shakur. I think it's important for students to know that rappers are thoroughly interested in the world around them and take an active part, like Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bob Marley, Pete Seger, and so many others.

TV advertisements can then be addressed. Students can be taught to analyze the language used in commercials and see if the claims made for (insert product name) are truly accurate, or mere semantic tricks used to lure and lull. It would be a fun assignment, where kids would write out words that stand out as being particularly vague, or else count the amount of times that vague adjectives are used after having supplied them a list. Through this, they can realize that the language used only serves to foster inferences about the superiority of a given product. This metacognitive process, of analyzing their own derived inferences, will help prevent them from jumping to conclusions and hopefully encourage them to do some deeper product comparisons. In class, then, we can discuss the effectiveness of particular commercials. I'm not trying to create an anti-consumerist army, but a knowledgeable, discerning group of consumers.

I think that the analysis of the lyrics and their purpose could feed nicely into the analysis of advertisements, making them realize that they to can become "active" if only on a small scale. Ultimately, I would to encourage them to research the products before they purchase them, looking into worker rights, environmental impact, etc. of each company, but teaching them to think first about something as small, yet pervasive as the language of advertisements would be a good place to start.

If you want to read more about the use of songs and the analysis of advertisements in the classroom, read these 2 articles:

Advertisements Article
Songs Article

Monday, June 9, 2008


The albatross lingers on soiled waters, ankle deep and toe dry. Don't I resemble myself, he wonders, more often than I actually assume the identity? Crooked beak and lost steps, slogging and pruning, never minding the silken death that awaits him.

Never mind him; his situation is more hopeful than that of the newt, half starved and ghastly under the pale flourescent glow of post-apocalyptic porch light droning, since the moths have gone their seperate ways and the buzz has given way to flicker. Why cling? Why sit still? Why mull over the humdrum? Bumming has never become of you, tugging has never outdone you, and running has ever worn you out. Even your tail, severed and wriggling has a better shot at regrowing a replacement you than you do of ever finding your balance again. But why cry? Know your plight, carry your cross, blaspheme and excommunicate yourself merrily, without, of course, giving in to the confusion of wayward moths, gnats and those "por si las moscas" flies. Tumble yourself a landslide through pavement cracks and find yourself a forest among the sidewalk weeds. You can even be king; but don't find yourself a forest to be conquered.

Oh, and one more thing: to the quail who eats the snail that fell from flick- desist.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


HaHa! Hyperlink, not hotlink.

I'm so foolish. I should have known that you do it like this.

Here's a link to the Mountain Goats. I have recently come to love them, and you should too.

yours in ghost,


(PS this post was only to try out hyperlinking, which i learned from Iron Spider)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sublime Portraiture (Atmosphere "When Life Gives You Lemons..." Review)

If you know me, you know that Atmosphere was the lifeline that brought me back to Hip Hop's shore while being dragged down by the mainstream's undertow.

It has been 3 years since an official Atmosphere full-length dropped, but the boys stayed busy. Starting in July of last summer, Atmosphere has been putting out EPs in the Sad Clown Bad Dub series coupled with the changing seasons. There was nothing necessarily ground-breaking about the releases although all were incredible. That led me to one of two conclusions: 1. They are putting out music that won't vibe with the announced full-length album. 2. They are doing nothing new and this will reflect poorly on the album.

I chose the former. Their free Christmas release "Strickly Leakage" was further evidence, as it was filled with one-off tracks that stood alone as good b-sides. When the first single, "Shoulda Known" came out, I grew quickly afraid that the release would be sub-par, as it certainly had dexterous word-play and a solid beat but lacked that quality that could separate it from the songs found on the Sad Clown season series; in fact, there were better songs on the Sad Clown records.

Then the album came out and I realized that I should have trusted my gut. Beautiful.

Filled with tales of people in tragic or melancholy situations, the album lives up to its title, as many of the characters do not make a pitcher of bitter lemonade, but paint their respective worlds gold. Sure, some characters such as those found in "Shoulda Known," "Guarantees," and "Me" never really find the ability to lift that brush, but the lemons are there and there is a sense of reflection found in the narrators of the songs, coming to grips with their lessons learned. The theme applies throughout the course of the album, but never becomes dull or drab, for the more joyous sounding tracks, such as the upbeat "You" and the progressive "Puppets" and "Dreamer" , bring light and hope beyond the context of the lyrics. To further evolve the cohesiveness of the album, the first track kicks off with a soft music box piano and ends with a similar melody and the triumphant, encapsulating tack "In Her Music Box". The care he takes in composing these sublime portraits of people add urgency to their plights and hope in their minor victories. "Dreamer" is perhaps the finest example, in which a mother decides that becoming a single mother would be better than dealing with a dead-beat. She gains victory because her plight is painted with such finesse as to have the listener cheering for her liberation from one dilemma and introduction into another. First single "Shoulda Known" finds renewed meaning alongside the other tracks, seeming to pull you into the struggle of someone realizing that their friend's addiction might just be beyond help. A young girl finding solace in Hip Hop in the closer "In Her Music Box" fills the reader with a sense of nostalgia for those things that brought us comfort in our youth, while dually recognizing just how perceptive youth can be, especially when faced with dueling parents. Even when talking about himself in the glum "Me", he brings his own bad decisions to the surface unlike before, reflecting in front of canvas as opposed to simple lamenting over empty shot glasses.

The album separates itself in more ways than its sense of focus: Slug and Ant bring in surprises as well. Songs such as "The Skinny" and "Your Glasshouse" keep the listener convinced that Slug is going in one direction until he pulls a dramatic u-turn at the end that certainly makes you smile and appreciate his story-telling ability ("Your Glasshouse") and his use of conceit ("The Skinny"). Another example of such an unexpected twist, but perhaps only for those who know Atmosphere's catalog and Slug's subject matter, is the sweet sounding "Yesterday". Another fine example of him steering clear of predictability is on the piano driven, Tom Waits beatbox assisted "The Waitress". You should know by now that Slug's subject matter frequently focuses on heartache, and this song fits fine into that realm; however, instead of himself being the hopeless one desiring the otherwise less than desirable working class girl (see: "Denvermolorado" from Seven's Travels, "Dirty Girl" Felt 2, etc.)... well, you listen, and see how clearly he communicates that it is not him this time. Also, note how the point of the song is not the dsire for a woman, but a much deeper and reflective one.

Although clearly a Hip Hop album, this record does one thing, content-wise to separate itself from the herd. As far as the genre is concerned, you might have noticed that it is the only that is consumed with itself and its current status. How many times have you heard rappers complaining about fellow rappers, the demise of the genre, wasted entire songs and albums obsessed with itself? Well, although Slug has done this in the past, this album is devoid of any of this. One might argue that "Puppets" falls into this category, but you can just as easily argue for a universality about it.

The final surprise here is the sound of the album. While Ant still mans the helm, he steers clear of the predictable drum machine waves and machine-conjured lakes, navigating the record into the vast ocean of live instrumentation. There are pre-programmed and computerized elements that pair nicely with the live sound, but the difference in sound is immediately notable and to the strength of the album and their evolution. Nate "Guitar Man" Collins drives the soon-to-be crowd favorite "Guarantees" and live horns add a purity to the jazz of "Wild Wild Horses". It's as if Ant is responding to Slug's maturity with quite a bit of his own. No; it just shows how on point the two are as a pair. The two guest appearances,Tom Waits and TV on the Radio's Tunde Adibempe add another element of freshness, as Tom Waits lends an unexpected beat-box to "The Waitress" and Tunde lends his smooth vocals and an odd sounding instrument to "Your Glasshouse".

There is no better way to end this review than with the word that runs through my ears every time I hear the record: evolution. The first time I heard it I loved it. Listening to it now, a month and countless listens later, I acknowledge how beautiful and special this contribution is to music and to me. Neisel said he would wait a while before he measured its greatness. It's been long enough. I've purchased at least 10 records since I got this one in the mail and have given none a full, thorough listen, thanks to this record (as well as Radiohead and Why?). Atmosphere has evolved and successfully created a record that stays true to its title, true to their style and true to the notion that band can grow. Much like the characters in the record, they pushed past the pigeonholing, labeling and critical failure of their last record to create, if I may, gold.

By the time the record is over, you don't necessarily see a bright and sunny landscape before you, but understand that the tiny gleam of light peeking through the ominous clouds holds hope that cannot be fully appreciated unless you reflect on the rain and contemplate the thunder. And if the forecast predicts and endless storm, grab your umbrella.

This one is definitely a 10.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Song idea....

Well, here's a song idea. It's very much punk-rock inspired, with a twist of White Stripes originality, mixed with some Morrissey style crooning in the third chorus.
Bass heavy with alternating versions of the same riff, this song will employ quite a bit of progression and lack traditional song constraints.

Hey, if you have a band and want to try it out, let me know!!!

yours in ghost,


I've got a little girl at home, its true
I've got a little girl, I thought you knew
But I can't stop seeing myself with you
I can't stop seeing myself with you
No, I can't stop seeing myself with you

I've got a little girl at home it's true
Yes I've got a little girl, I thought you knew
But I can't stop seeing myself with you
I can't stop seeing myself with you
No, I can't stop seeing myself with you

I've got a little girl at home it's true
Yes I've got a little girl, I thought you knew
But I can't stop seeing myself with you
I can't stop seeing myself with you
Well I can't stop seeing myself with you

And even though I pine and moan it's true
And my moon hangs low in its autumn hue
And the days make haste from my hazy view
Rummaging through a crate of the greats of blues
None can capture all this conflict as it bubbles forth
And I'm hiding and denying, eyes glazed off course
Mind lingers on your south as I speed up north
All the records that once eased me now I greet as chores
And the light-ning-falls
And the stalled-tires-squeal
And the blood-runs-thin
and the adren-a-line
surges swiftly through my body as I flatten the gas
And all the while my thoughts linger on your lulling voice
as it hums to the drums of your favorite tracks
And at the moment I remember that I still have choice...

the car wraps itself around a sudden pole
the last thing my eyes catch is the "wrong way" sign....

yes I got a little girl at home it's true
But I can't stop seeing myself with you
No, I....

Friday, April 25, 2008

His Dark Materials Review

There is no doubt that I was drawn to see the film version of Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass because of the controversy surrounding it. Someone had mentioned that Christians were ticked off and some were boycotting it, so I decided to do just the opposite. This says nothing about me in regards to my respect for Christians though- I am merely drawn to controversy like a cat to a dangling string. If you know me, then you know that I have respect for Christians who are not overly preachy or judgmental, such as my mother, my brother and my aunt, a nun, who is perhaps one of the truest people I know. Enough about that, I don't need to defend myself.
Immediately after watching the film I ran to a bookstore and purchased the anthology of the trilogy. I dived into it after enjoying The Hobbit.  
What Phillip Pullman created is a universe uniquely his own and yet so connected with our own, from physical similarities to metaphoric, that he earns his place among the great writers of our time. Compass starts off as a children's tale, and not much more than that. At first Lyra is no more than a curious and audacious child, bent on conquering her playmates in war games and seeking the most parlous thrills of which she can conceive. One such caper has her stumble upon an attempted poisoning and and a discussion about a scientific phenomenon known as "Dust."  This first adventure thrusts her into the midst of an adventure that rivals Tolkein's work and crosses generational gaps as though they were but the spaces in sidewalks. 
The grounding of the story in world much like our own, save for- most obviously- the daemons, is what gives the tale its initial appeal. I was amazed at how seamlessly he weaved the daemons into the world. Daemons are, essentially, physical manifestations of one's soul, or one's true self as its form delineates in adult life. Lyra's daemon, Pantalaimon, changes shape according to her mood and to fit her objective: if she's feeling sneaky, he'll change into a moth. Of most note, however, is Pullman's ability to establish this creature as an extension of the character, thus delving into some insight one might miss, and adding a new vulnerability to each character, as the death of a daemon means the death of a person, and visa-versa. Sure, it sounds fantastic, but once a few chapters into the tale, you begin to appreciate them not as "fantastic elements" but as integral parts of each character. Other genre defining elements- such as the hundreds of years old witches, the talking armored bears and the "humans" of a third world who look like an amalgam of elephants and gazelles- blend similarly.
Pullman's fascination with parallel universe theories and dark matter form the sturdy backbone of the novels. A "subtle knife" is created and passed to Will, Lyra's partner in her quest, a boy from our own world who stumbles upon a window through which he travels into a parallel universe. The knife can cut through anything, but most importantly it cuts a window through the parallel universes allowing people to travel through if they should stumble across one. The dark matter is called "dust" in Lyra's world and dark matter in our own. It appears to have a consciousness as it gravitates toward adults and moves in an all too meditated current in one of the many known universes. Being the master storyteller he is, Pullman stretches the explanation of this matter throughout the course of the three books, divulging fragments at a time to keep the reader wanting more and constantly expounding upon its significance in subtle, puzzle-like eloquence.  
The great and inescapable controversy is what Pullman handles most deftly. Ask anyone and they will tell you, "Oh, isn't that the book where some little girl kills God?" To that I answer yes and no. After reading the novels you will see that they are not direct, malevolent attacks of Christianity, but a poignant, humanistic study of those things that make us human- namely compassion, intrigue and the quest for knowledge. The book's central argument is that man is not here to be controlled but to live in commune with nature and the universe, while simultaneously discovering its truths and tearing at fabrications until all we have is truth, each other and the wisdom that death is not something to fear and that life is meant to be lived. 
Pullman once stated that the novels were a response to C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia," but I hold my conviction firm that he did not do so maliciously. On a superficial level, it was necessary to create a world stripped of allegory (as Tolkein's works, although not meant as allegories, have suffered from such labeling) and a re-examination of the vague concepts "right" and "wrong", and "good" and "evil". Sure this has been done, but to use children as central characters we are reminded of the innocence of youth and Pullman uses that pretense as the surface upon which we should dissect morality. For Will, it was once necessary to kill and forget the implications, just as much as it was later necessary to feel compassionate in order to survive. Selfishness, lying and other such moral and ethical ideas are similarly examined and allowed to evolve from polarities. Concurrently, it was essential to examine the nature of these ideas from a non-Christian standpoint, so that when "the church" and "God" are killed, their deaths fuel the existential understanding that humanity can make the right decisions without religion. In fact, at the end of the novel, Lyra and Will are charged with the responsibility to spread truth, foster inquiry and live humanitarian and ethical lives because everyone deserves truth, everyone deserves love and everyone deserves the right to carve his or her own path.

I think that Pullman probably respects good Christians and other people of faith so long as they don't judge or use their faith to belittle or control. The humanistic messages of his novel speak to this too loudly for it to not be true. 
From a Wiccan standpoint, it's cool to see the notion of a universal consciousness manifested through the dust and similarly, although unintentionally, there are elements that I can even call mirroring of Wiccan tenets. Excellent!  

So it goes without saying that I highly recommend these books. 

yours in ghost,


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008


I dare you,
broken and open,
your fist a brick tipped into the ocean.
Sure, a splash; 
but on who's radar?
Your glowing impenetrability
your emboldened color
can't help you swim
or brag about your dent, 
gone as soon as impact
as gone as a breath on a cold day.
The ripples subside-
a failed exam on a bed of murder,
blood engulfing the damning letter.
A bold move.
Very brave, very macho, very patriotic.
Soon to sink to the depths
save the Atlantis allusions
and the detrimental environmental impact.
Sand in the abyss shrugged off by some phosphorescent monstrosity. 


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Acrylic Experiment

Long time!
Well, here's my first attempt at using acrylics. I used black, white and a set of basic colrs (Green, yellow, red, blue, b & w). My biggest acheivement so far, in my opinion, was the skin tone I came up with and then reproduced with ease.
Payday Friday! That means I'll be hitting up Michael's (the only art store in this, the armpit) and fetching canvass, more than likely the student friendly canvass boards.

More to come soon, my absent readers, I promise; including video podcasts!

yours in ghost,