The Week That Was, or Summertime Roles

It’s early, but the kids are awake and packing. They get to spend part of today with their Nana. Amy and I will be celebrating our anniversary. We usually stroll through the rose garden we were married in and go out to dinner. We might attempt to make homemade ramen. I’m not sure.

I’m behind on most of my writing. I spent part of my week reading current research on teaching grammar, vocabulary, and style. I’m trying to have a lot of my planning worked out for next year since I’ll likely be taking on a second teaching job online because of some medical bills and other debt exacerbated by our flood. This was also supposed to be a kind of “vacation” week, but I didn’t do well with that.

While I’m catching up on some writing, John King and I discussed Deep Purple’s Machine Head for my latest Lost Chords. The discussion started in a previous post here. We have at least one more planned.

I try to spend some time each day at the park with the kids. We’re in full sunscreen and water mode. I should know better and need to remember to wear a hat. I got a bad headache after a few hours outside.

The kids seem to be enjoying summer.

4YO: How do unicorns say ciao?
Me: I don’t know.
4YO: Do they touch their horns to say ciao?
Me: That sounds right to me.
4YO: Hulk Smash always rips his pants.
Me. Uhhh…yeah. He sure does.

(She refers to the Marvel characters as “Hulk Smash” and “Thorn.”)

4YO: When Moana’s a big girl, she doesn’t wear underwear, but she does wear a diaper as a baby.

(I’ve asked how she knows Moana doesn’t wear underwear. She will not reveal her source.)

4YO: Momma got me in trouble.
Me: How did she do that?
4YO: I was bein’ bad.
Me: *laughs*
4YO: Why are you laughing at me? Momma got me in trouble!

I just found my 6YO’s “Writing Journal,” a school project that she is continuing this summer. Her first entry, from this school year, is “ISZBARIBPULY.” Last night, she wrote, “It is a rabbit” and was illustrating her sentence.

Some of my favorites:

For Christmas I got to sy mi grremo and grepo

The penguin is and the hot chocolate and

My favorite food is cake

I wut $100

There was a Pressess. She had a pone.

I smell air.


UPDATE: It has been discovered that the 4YO packed the cat in her suitcase.

UPDATE II: 4YO’s version of emergency phone numbers: “Relax. Relax. Relax.”

Wherein I play catch-up to the Quinn again.

You can read Quinn’s post here.


War and Peace
My big summer reading project. This is the third start as I’ve had to set it aside for teaching duties. I’m close to finishing (Book 11 of 15, plus two epilogues). Slowly I’ve been catching up on the great Russian literature I’ve missed. Epic, but you knew that.

The Zend Avesta, Part II: The Sirozahs, Yasts and Nyayis
One of my reading projects involves religious, spiritual, and mythological writings. The Zend Avesta is a collection of Zoroastrian texts. I find this interesting, though I know many would find it dull.

I’m catching up on a few magazines I haven’t been able to read: Poetry, Paris Review, my free Harper’s subscription. One day I’ll get to read that one year of McSweeney’s Quarterly I have. One day.

One of the first things that gets cut in my day is viewing time. When I was in Austin and had some downtime I watched It Follows (2015), which I enjoyed. I thought the film used interesting metaphors to capture the fear and anxiety of teenagers dealing with sexuality. I’ve really liked the poster art I’ve seen for the film, mostly throwbacks to VHS box art. Other than that, I watched Re-Animator (1985) for maybe the 20th time.

I have seen Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (2015) about seven times with my oldest daughter. It’s actually watchable and touching. Other than that I’ve only been able to process a few episodes of season four of Bob’s Burgers.

My listening has been more confined than my viewing. On Monday, I recorded an upright bass track for a friend’s solo album that’s coming out later in the year. I had to listen to the song and practice since I haven’t played bass in 3 years. My left hand would work for about 15 minutes. I used to do 4-hour bluegrass gigs.

Anyway, the song is great and I just hope I didn’t mess it up. We did 3 takes, all usable, but each got better, I believe. My intonation was probably the best on the third take.

I’ve been doing frequent pre-bath/book/bedtime dance parties with the kids. Our main groove source has been Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads with a little James Brown thrown in.

Writing and Submitting
The first issue of Ghoulanoids is out! It premiered in Austin at the New South Festival. I stayed with a friend I hadn’t seen in 23 years and it was like we never had down time. I’ve rarely felt that welcome anywhere. Cheers, mi hermano!

If you pre-ordered from Secret Prison, then you should get your comic soon. They should also be available for order through our publisher Drippy Bone.

Ghoulanoids #2 is written. Just needs some tightening and editing. I believe Derek’s even started drawing some pages for it. We have another book (unrelated to Ghoulanoids) coming out in early 2016(?). I have the story outlined, but I’ve got to go back and do detail work.

Derek and I worked really hard from last summer into winter to very little avail. We had a lot of stuff “in meetings.” It was production hell. Then we were excited because we were editorial favorites to re-do the new Madballs comic. Unfortunately, some of the trademark holders refused to let us work on it. After those disappointments, it’s nice to have work flowing and being completed again.

Check out the toys from Dolphin Wizard! We’ll have other collectable toy announcements soon.

I also need to work on my piece for the next Laboratory podcast. See my last post for info on that.

Random Thoughts
Even though I’m with my kids almost every night, I do enjoy the time that opens up in the summer. I’ve been able to cook more for my family. I get to try new things in the summer, instead of simply worrying about the practicality of getting food in bellies. I even have freestyled a few desserts based on fruit we’ve needed to use.

I also take on a few educational projects outside of working on my classes. Every year, I get more into grammar and grammar theories and try to diagram more and more difficult sentences. It’s oddly fun. Studying math has been, too. I’ve been using Khan Academy to study math, history, and computer programming. The first two subjects are weaknesses of mine. The last is something I’ve been playing with on a whim.

Thanks for reading! Happy summer!

Haiku Humpday

Losing my zen when I complain of rain. Atonement: A haiku for my grandmother who said I would be a teacher, but never saw me become one. I miss her homemade bread, soup, and pasta and the way she laughed. And, really, she’s one of the reasons that I have very little to complain about. My haiku: 

A mind of summer
chills the first wintertime soup–
ashes in my mouth.

Summertime is past and gone

Even though my “to-do” list grows by the minute, I needed to take some time to write and hopefully get back into a weekly rhythm. Summer has been busy, mainly music, music, music. I played on two very different recordings and will be excited to hear what happens with them. And, I had a little time for writing and  I’m happy to say a short story was accepted for publication and will be out in a few months. It’s a tribute to one of my favorite filmmakers, Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer.

And with school prep reaching a full roar, I’m part of a group of writers working on a script for a director and production company. I’ll reveal more details when I can. Right now, I’m scheduling time to sleep!

Towards a complete thought.

Chase two wombats, catch none.

I told him that it’s pretty messed up that his reference for country music was the Dire Straits.

It’s hard to muster school spirit when I can’t even cheer for myself.

He was right when he said you don’t have to write to please some old, dead author. I would add to that those living.

Maybe try some new recipes.

I don’t normally think in narratives–mostly images.

This morning, upon waking, I could taste the fried chicken of my dream.

He looks broken and bent, but I wonder if he’s still crooked?

Good teeth make good neighbors.

Summer Reading Project

All year I’ve been planning to read a giant novel or two that I’ve missed. So far, top spots went to War and Peace and Infinite Jest. After an intense year and a thoroughly mushy brain, I’ve decided to dig through our library for novels that I haven’t read, but are the shortest. If we like them, we’ll keep them. If not, we won’t. I’ve never picked books based on length for personal reading, but I think this summer will be the perfect time to experiment and maybe free up some shelf space. Of course, I’ll be reading some other titles in other genres.

Right now the list is as follows:


Invisible Cities: Italo Calvino

Short Stories

Various H.P. Lovecraft collections


What Great Teachers Do Differently: Todd Whitaker


The Iliad

The Facts of a Doorframe: Adrienne Rich