Because what my car really needed was a dashboard lava lamp, obviously….

I should be grading papers this evening. Instead, I am sitting here blogging, eating peach cobbler, and listening to all manner of socially conscious music.

Lest you think I’ve been entirely unproductive tonight: Most of the music is for school … some of the blogs are for the new-and-improved site, for which Ron and I have been freelancing for the past year, and which just launched today, complete with a whole section devoted to our expertise on all things Route 66-related … and I worked up several Trip Guide ads after dinner, so I’m not a total loser.


Input needed

I am using an activism theme in my classroom next semester. Each student will be required to select a cause, then complete a series of writing projects designed to promote that cause.

Of course, in the midst of becoming more effective writers, my kids also have to prepare for their End-of-Instruction test — which will require them to identify some literary devices — so we can’t neglect that.

The kids’ favorite way to learn literary terms is to listen to a song and then identify all the figurative language and sound devices used in the lyrics, so to tie our literature and composition lessons together (and to reinforce the idea that words are powerful tools), I would like to confine next semester’s playlist to music with a social conscience.

As I’m sure you can imagine, my iPod contains a pretty extensive collection of left-leaning anthems — everything from Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” to Steve Earle’s “Amerika v. 6.0” and Eminem’s “Mosh” — but my goal for the semester is to help my kids become effective activists for their own beliefs, not indoctrinate them with mine, so I really need some conservative stuff to balance things out.

I’ve got Hag’s “Fightin’ Side of Me,” Charlie Daniels’ “In America,” and Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten?” on the list, but I’d like to give the kids something a little more substantial than a handful of Nashville cliches about God and country. (I’d also like to find stuff that doesn’t suck. I can listen to a crappy song once, maybe twice, but I am not willing to hear Toby Keith bleat about putting a boot up somebody’s arse six times in a single day, y’know?)

Thanks in advance for your ideas … and feel free to post any liberal-leaning suggestions you might have, too. Whatever doesn’t make it into a lesson plan will probably end up on a Folk Thursday playlist somewhere along the way. 🙂


Another meme

Lifted from a friend’s blog.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Drove parts of the Lincoln Highway.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn’t make any resolutions last year, and I probably won’t make any this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My little sister had another boy in December.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Scout slipped away from us in March.

5. What countries did you visit? Just my own. But I explored parts of it I hadn’t seen before.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? More patience, and perhaps another marathon.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Dates only matter when you are counting years. I choose not to.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? My students posted the highest EOI test scores in the building, and the third-highest in the district. I’m not sure how much of that I can claim as my own achievement, though. The kids did the work; I just facilitated.

9. What was your biggest failure? I still haven’t broken my terrible swearing habit.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Not that I can recall.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Spray paint for my car. 🙂

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Bob Waldmire, who faced the prospect of death exactly as he faced life: on his own terms, and with his usual good humor.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? No one. I see no reason to give negative people the right to depress me.

14. Where did most of your money go? My classroom.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Walter!

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? “Here, There and Everywhere.” It flew under my radar until I bought a copy of Revolver a few weeks ago and realized it fit into the life of a fictional character I’ve been working with for years.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
(a) Happier or Sadder? Neither. I’m sadder when I think of Scout and Bob, but happier when Walter is curled up on my chest, purring his heart out.
(b) Thinner or Fatter? Neither.
(c) Richer or Poorer? Richer. I’ve added several new friends and an art car to my life.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Studying and reading the Journal and the Sentinel.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Swearing.

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2009? Watching Jamie and Hazel open presents.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Stayed in love.

22. How many one-night stands? Zero.

23. What was your favorite TV program? I haven’t watched TV in almost a decade.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No. I don’t do hate.

25. What was the best book you read? Probably The Road.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? A few Beatles albums I hadn’t listened to before.

27. What did you want and get? A cat.

28. What did you want and not get? A Karmann Ghia.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Was Gran Torino this year?

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Birthdays are against my religion.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Elevating my thought.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Whatever works in the classroom.

33. What kept you sane? Walter and Riggy.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I’ve been largely ignoring celebrities.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Immigration reform. This directly affects some of my kids, and it hacks me off to no end to see people turn their lives into a political football — or, worse, an excuse to indulge vicious xenophobic tendencies.

36. Whom did you miss? Scout.

37. Who was the best new person you met? Too many to list. I meet 150 wonderful new people every year.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. When we depend on individuals for our happiness, we are vulnerable to loss. When we recognize them as expressions of God, we never have to live without them. It wasn’t new information, but I had to live it this year.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. “Every silver lining’s got a touch of grey.” — The Grateful Dead

40. What are your resolutions for 2010? None. Resolutions impose artificial deadlines on healing — and give error room to operate through guilt when those deadlines prove unrealistic. I’m not going there.

Jan. 1 Daybook

I might as well start the year off with a nice meme.

For today…

Outside my window… neighbors shooting off fireworks.
I am thinking… I need to plan some lessons.
From the classroom… grading papers and writing the kids’ first-semester final.
I am thankful for… Walter, who is being cuddly right now.
From the kitchen… hummus, Texas caviar, and tortilla roll-ups for a party this evening.
I am wearing… jeans and a sweatshirt with Riggy’s footprints all over it.
I am reading… the Foxfire books my in-laws gave us for Christmas.
I am hoping… that I can finish all the work I need to do before my break ends.
I am creating… an art car!
I am praying… to know that I have all the patience I need to keep my temper while working on this year’s Trip Guide.
Around the house… a noisy dishwasher and a yawning husband.
One of my favorite things… my new paint job on the car.
A few plans for the rest of the week… grade papers, attend two parties, plan lessons, write final, blog, read, relax.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you…