Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Original Boyz N the Hood

Just a few hours after I heard about/read about the fol-de-rol regarding the audacity of those Latinos who recorded the national anthem in something other than the Official Language of America (see post immediately below), I headed to Cracker Barrel for something to eat.

Cracker Barrel, indeed.

I was shopping in the store part of the joint (and don't tell Alanna, but I picked up a very early Christmas present for her) when a man nearby turned his back to me. From the front, his t-shirt was pure black. When he turned around, however, I discovered it wasn't his shirt that was pure black: it was his heart. Crisply screen-printed on the back were a gaggle of white-sheeted KKK dolts with red glowing eyes, and above them this logo: The Original Boyz N the Hood.

On the naivete scale, I probably register between a 2 and a 3. (That's way down from my early 20's when I deserved, at best, a 9.) I haven't seen it all, but I've seen a lot and not a whole lot shocks me, at least not a whole lot that shows its face in the light of day. This, however, stunned me.

I live in the South. I've lived here a long time. I've suffered through some awful gatherings when it was "just us white folks" and certain parties therefore saw fit to discuss at length what they really thought of "those darkies." Always in these situations I was a subordinate: when it was my future ex-husband and his family, I had no choice but to sit down and shut up. (And that's a blog post for another day.) When it was my boss and co-workers, again I lacked a position of strength from which to protest. As I write this, it occurs to me how similar these situations were. In both, I was an economic dependent. I no longer live in a world where I have to listen to this garbage; in my world I get to lead discussions about why this is garbage. (That, too, is a post for another day.)

I looked around to see if other people in the room were reacting to this shit, uh, shirt. If they had seen it and were bothered by it, like me, they were acting as if it wasn't there. (If they had seen it and approved, they were likewise acting neutral, I suppose.) I paid for the Christmas gift for Alanna. I got myself seated and was just settling in when the people at the table next to me returned to their seats: Mr. KKK, his redheaded woman...and a boy of about 10.

It's hard to enjoy lemon pepper grilled trout and evaluate your moral system at the same time.

I had an urge to say something to him, punch him, spit in his gravy, something. Something. Some of this probably sprang from those uncomfortable social gatherings in the past. Some of it might be absolute frustration that dunderheads like this still exist.

Of course I did nothing.

Like most people who oppose racism, all I did was sit there quietly and fail to enjoy my lemon pepper grilled trout.

More than anything, I was bothered by the presence of the ten-year-old boy. His boy? Her boy? Their boy? Does it matter? The boy symbolized the worldviews that get passed from generation to generation, feeding ugly attitudes fresh blood unless something intervenes to change the child's mind. (See this.) In the case of my children, their father left and took his racist views with him. Once or twice when my kids were little they would return from a visit with him and start talking about junglebunnies. So we'd talk about it.

When Tall Son was still in high school the teen auxiliary of the local KKK tried to recruit him into some trouble they had planned. Tall Son went to the principal with what he knew and the trouble never materialized. Only a few people -- and now you -- know what Tall Son did.

I wish I had his courage.

Here's what really kept me from enjoying that trout, though: I don't support his message, but I reluctantly support his right to wear the damn shirt. If I think Latinos have the right to sing the anthem in something other than the Official Language of America, I suppose I have to think racists have the right to air their views.* Other than wearing the shirt, the man did nothing untoward. He and his redheaded woman gossiped about people at work and discussed plans for the weekend (nothing was mentioned about matches and crosses).

Struggling for moral clarity is a bitch.

*On the other hand, I don't support Bush's right to criticize the Latinos for singing in the "wrong" language. As president, he is supposed to be providing leadership, not pouring lighter fluid on the fires of racism.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Glad to hear we have nothing better to worry about in this country

$3.00/gallon gas and rising?
Nearly 2400 dead soldiers with more to follow?
A deficit of 200 gazillion-gazillion dollars and growing?

Are these important issues that require our full and prompt attention?

Today apparently none of these is as important as the wrong kind of singing.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The national anthem should be sung in English -- not Spanish -- President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over the millions of immigrants here illegally.

"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us."

A Spanish language version of the national anthem was released Friday by a British music producer, Adam Kidron, who said he wanted to honor America's immigrants.

When the president was asked at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

Waveflux gives the controversy the gravitas it deserves.

Shakes Sis puts the controversy squarely in context, juxtaposing it with the horrific story out of Texas in which a pair of skinheads nearly beat and sodomized a Latino kid to death, and explaining just why this particular type of Shit Happens.

That's as much strength as I have to read up on what ought to be a total non-issue.

Some of my best friends are immigrants. Some of my best students are immigrants. Fortunately for them, I suppose, they all speak English.

I don't know what language they sing in, though.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

C minus. Let's see if you can do better in revision.

With dozens of papers, a neglected family, and a filthy house all awaiting my attention, I clearly have no time to blog.

It's the bad writing, though, that caught my attention. Or maybe it was bad thinking. In my world, they're the same thing.

Let's look at the lead on the "dismantle FEMA" story as presented by the AP:

Hurricane Katrina turned FEMA into a "symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy" so far beyond repair that it should be scrapped, senators said Thursday.
Note the actor in that story: Hurricane Katrina. (Oh, and the photo was clearly chosen because it caught Collins and Lieberman at their best:)

But here's my point: Katrina's a hurricane, people. It can act in all sorts of horrific natural ways, but Katrina isn't to blame for the affairs of men.

I see the AP has brought in its sources for our review. Let's see how that looks:

Excerpts from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report, "Hurricane Katrina: A Nation Still Unprepared," released Thursday:

_ On the White House:

"The White House failed to grasp the gravity of the situation as it unfolded." Concerns "appear to have gone unheeded by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security in the period prior to Katrina."

_ On Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff:

As the storm approached, "Leadership _ direction, encouragement, a sense of purpose and urgency _ was needed. Secretary Chertoff did not provide it. ... Despite knowledge that Katrina was a looming 'nightmare scenario,' DHS Secretary Chertoff failed to adequately prepare the federal government for what became one of the most destructive natural disasters in the nation's history."

_ On the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

"FEMA went to war without enough troops. ... FEMA was unprepared for a catastrophic event on the scale of Katrina. Well before Katrina, FEMA's relationships with state and local officials, once a strength, had been eroded in part because certain preparedness grant programs were transferred elsewhere in the Department of Homeland Security."

_ On then-FEMA chief Michael Brown:

"FEMA's director, Michael Brown, lacked the leadership skills that were needed for his critical position. Before landfall, Brown did not direct the adequate prepositioning of critical personnel and equipment, and willfully failed to communicate with Secretary Chertoff, to whom he was supposed to report."

Notice, class, that in the SOURCE MATERIAL the actors are very different nouns: White House, Chertoff, FEMA, and Brown. The Senate panel didn't accuse Katrina, act of nature, act of God, what have you, of anything. This mess was man-made.

The point, class, is simply this: when we paraphrase, we have to be careful not to change the meaning of the source material.

I'd like to see some revisions by tomorrow, please.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Yet another Friday Fib: Katherine, with Hyperlinks

and flirts
for office.
Katherine Harris:
a joke only she fails to get.

Friday's Fib: Liberation

came to
say can be
folded into one
simple Fib poem: liberating!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bitty's Thursday Fib poem: Next Time

we should
select a
President based on
brains, not bravado and bloodline.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bitty: Official Poetry Geek

I don't know what's come over me lately.

Maybe it's because I've finally figured out how to teach poetry to students, which means I've figured out how to read it myself.

Maybe it's because I've given myself permission to not like all poetry. It's ok to call some of it pointless and weird and obscure. This does not make me a bad person. It might simply mean there's some bad poetry out there. Or maybe not. (It seems I've blogged this sentiment before.)

I like to think that poetry has been stalking me of late, not in the life-threatening way, but in the this-would-change-your-life-if-only-you'd-pay-attention way.

Tonight I attended a poetry reading given by faculty members. Cool it was.

There might have been as many as a hundred audience members. The modest room was packed; standing room only. Once or twice my mind wandered as voices tripped gracefully across deliberately disjointed lines, but even then I heard music in the rhythm, saw color and felt heat in the images. For most of the hour and a half I focused intently on nearly every word and found very little obscure, weird, or pointless.

I believe eight people read (one sang). Eight poets; eight very different voices.

Cool it was.

Bitty's first Fib poem: Brooke and Katie

the same day
give birth which just proves
God too has a sense of humor

Fib poems are burning up the blogosphere. Check it out here.

Thanks to Sarah, among others, for the info and inspiration.

(Poem edited 4-20.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

May you have all the eggs your little heart desires!

(Any day that is an official excuse to each chocolate is a good one!)

Friday, April 14, 2006

National Poetry Month: The Warden Said to Me...


---Etheridge Knight

The warden said to me the other day
(innocently, I think), "Say, etheridge,
why come the black boys don't run off
like the white boys do?"
I lowered my jaw and scratched my head
and said (innocently, I think), "Well, suh,
I ain't for sure, but I reckon it's cause
we ain't got no wheres to run to."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

National Poetry Month: Wheels

My students like and have done a great job interpreting this poem. I think the young men choose it because if they've gotta do poetry, it might as well have a guy theme:


---Jim Daniels

My brother kept
in a frame on the wall
pictures of every motorcycle, car, truck:
in his rusted out Impala convertible
wearing his cap and gown
in his yellow Barracuda
with a girl leaning into him
on his Honda 350
on his Honda 750 with the boys
holding a beer
in his first rig
wearing a baseball hat backwards
in his Mercury Montego
getting married
in his black LTD
trying to sell real estate
back to driving trucks
a shiny new rig
on his Harley Sportster
with his wife on the back
his son in a car seat
with his own steering wheel
my brother leaning over him
in an old Ford pickup
and they are
holding a wrench a rag
a hose a shammy

My brother helmetless
rides off on his Harley
my brother's feet
rarely touch the ground-
waving waving
face pressed to the wind
no camera to save him.

What should I have done?

R came in for his conference. He was pleasant and polite and upbeat...

His eyes were watering; every one of his nerves seemed to be twitching. When he wasn’t wiggling individual body parts, he was rocking his whole body back and forth.

He seemed to be doing the polite thing when he responded to me: Uh huh. Uh-huh. Yeah. Uh-huh.




I wanted to ask him if he was all right, but I knew he would say yes.

He would have said yes.

But I should have asked him.

He might have said no.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Britney Spears' Madonna Moment, Part Two

So I'm hanging out at Waveflux's blog and I see he found the reverse angle of the Britney-giving-birth statue. Here's the link. I won't post the pic, but you can look if you want. Dear Lord.

All this is all the more ironic since (a) Brit had a c-section and (b) someone let poor little Sean Preston fall on that tiny head recently.

I'm imagining the delight the sculptor, who has self-identified as a Spears admirer, took in fashioning Britney's, um, you know.

She's not my favorite icon, but this is no way to pay "tribute" to anyone. If I were her, I'd sue.


National Poetry Month: Leaves of Grass

If you haven't read it in a while, maybe it's time to revisit it.

It seems a progressive kind of poem, no?

Leaves of Grass juxtaposed with Kate Chopin's The Awakening brought about my personal literary epiphany regarding how to interpret literary texts. The paper assignment was to interpret any of the other texts we'd read that semester in terms of Leaves of Grass. It turns out that Chopin was heavily influenced by Whitman, to the point that one could almost argue that LOG was Edna Pontellier's marching orders. At times, Chopin even appropriates Whitman's language. I can't tell you where just now, but give me both books and an hour and I'll get back to you. In any event, that exercise more than anything else got me started on the happy road to literary interpretation.

Here's the beginning of the poem:

And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease . . . . observing a spear of summer grass.

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes . . . . the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume . . . . it has no taste of the distillation . . . . it is
It is for my mouth forever . . . . I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echos, ripples, and buzzed whispers . . . . loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration . . . . the beating of my heart . . . . the passing of blood
and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and darkcolored sea-
rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice . . . . words loosed to the eddies of
the wind,
A few light kisses . . . . a few embraces . . . . a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hillsides,
The feeling of health . . . . the full-noon trill . . . . the song of me rising from bed
and meeting the sun.

Have you reckoned a thousand acres much? Have you reckoned the earth much?
Have you practiced so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun . . . . there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand . . . . nor look through the
eyes of the dead . . . . nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.

I have heard what the talkers were talking . . . . the talk of the beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.

A few choice words for Mr. Bush

In a word or two, Shakers describe the Bush presidency.

April is National Poetry Month

I've been so busy teaching poetry and reading poetry and reading student papers about poetry that I forgot that April is National Poetry Month!

To be followed by more poems...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Britney Spears' Madonna Moment

Not that Madonna.

I won't pretend to understand this.

A life-size sculpture of a naked Britney Spears kneeling on a bearskin rug as she gives birth will be on display next month at Brooklyn's Capla Kesting Fine Art Gallery.

The sculpture is to appear next to a display case filled with anti-abortion materials. It was created by Daniel Edwards, who said he never spoke to the 24-year-old pop star or met her, and fashioned her face and figure from photographs.

"I admire her. This is an idealized figure," Edwards said Tuesday in a phone interview from his home, which is near his studio in Moosup, Conn.


Edwards, whose sculpture of Ted Williams' decapitated head — which was frozen in the hope that medical science could one day revive the baseball great — stirred up an artistic storm, said the sculpture of Spears was a "new take on pro-life."

"Pro-lifers normally promote bloody images of abortion. This is the image of birth," he said.

Pro-lifers and pro-choicers seem to hate the statue equally. Finally, something we can agree on!

I'm twisted enough to wonder what the statue looks like from the other angle...

Sunday Morning Sex Chat

Via Blondesense, we learn that Pat Robertson gets some fairly kinky messages from The Lord.

Hawking his new book on miracles, Robertson tells CBS News's Rita Braver of his healing an asthmatic woman in Jerusalem by discussing her sex life. He did this, of course, because His Lord Jesus Christ told him to. And Robertson's wife was there, so all was well.

Fortunately Sex Chat appears early in the video version, so if you choose to hear it in Pat's own voice, you don't have to sit through the rest of the miracles. Ah, the gleam in Robertson's beady eyes as he describes the poor suffering woman... ("And here, this haunting woman, she looked like-- she really looked like she was terrified-- very attractive-- striking brunette, 45 years old, you know thin, 5'8" kinda thing. And-- she had this look in her eyes.") And interestingly, he doesn't maintain a lot of eye contact with Braver as he recounts his little fantasy, although for as much of the interview as I could bear to watch, he made very little eye contact with her, period. Mostly he seemed to be enjoying the mental pictures flitting through his mind.

Did I mention his wife was there, too? (A Sex Chat threesome.) He certainly brings it up enough.

Now all Robertson needs is a message from The Lord to help him heal the Christian Coalition's financial woes.

Maybe a little more sex talk would be in order.

'Tis the reason for the season...

This is infantile, but I offer it anyway:

(forwarded to me by Faraway Daughter)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging on Saturday: "Home Burial"

I was unable to blog yesterday because __________________.

I've heard all the excuses for late assignments. I won't burden you with mine.

Having announced last week that this is the "All Sandburg All the Time Blog," I now would like to remind you that many rules were meant to be broken. This week we will turn instead to Robert Frost, primarily because the poem at hand will figure into a future post that I simply have no time to finish now because __________________.

For those of us who teach, "Home Burial" primes the discussion pump wonderfully. Even my most catatonic students usually get into this poem because at 18-20 they're really interested in male/female relationships. Also, just as they stand on the threshhold of their adulthoods, a sad number of them are dealing with family deaths.

Here are your discussion questions:
1. Who is most sympathetic here, the husband or Amy?
2. Read the poem for "stage directions." Where is each character standing as each line is delivered? (Asking students to stage the poem as a play also allows for interesting interpretation.)
3. Might the lines "‘Three foggy mornings and one rainy day/Will rot the best birch fence a man can build’" (96-7) refer to something more than literal fog and rain and fence?

(Friend Alanna has a film clip of this poem, starring a young Joan Allen. EDIT: I did some research. The clip is part of a PBS video, part of a series. The video is called Voices and Visions: Robert Frost...and our school library has it. Maybe yours does, too.)

The line numbers were intrusive, so I deleted them. You can find the poem with line numbers intact at Bartleby.)
Home Burial
--Robert Frost

He saw her from the bottom of the stairs
Before she saw him. She was starting down,
Looking back over her shoulder at some fear.
She took a doubtful step and then undid it
To raise herself and look again. He spoke
Advancing toward her: “What is it you see
From up there always—for I want to know.”
She turned and sank upon her skirts at that,
And her face changed from terrified to dull.
He said to gain time: “What is it you see,”
Mounting until she cowered under him.
“I will find out now—you must tell me, dear.”
She, in her place, refused him any help
With the least stiffening of her neck and silence.
She let him look, sure that he wouldn’t see,
Blind creature; and a while he didn’t see.
But at last he murmured, “Oh,” and again, “Oh.”

“What is it—what?” she said.

“Just that I see.”

“You don’t,” she challenged. “Tell me what it is.”

“The wonder is I didn’t see at once.
I never noticed it from here before.
I must be wonted to it—that’s the reason.
The little graveyard where my people are!
So small the window frames the whole of it.
Not so much larger than a bedroom, is it?
There are three stones of slate and one of marble,
Broad-shouldered little slabs there in the sunlight
On the sidehill. We haven’t to mind those.
But I understand: it is not the stones,
But the child’s mound——”

“Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t,” she cried.

She withdrew shrinking from beneath his arm
That rested on the banister, and slid downstairs;
And turned on him with such a daunting look,
He said twice over before he knew himself:
“Can’t a man speak of his own child he’s lost?”

“Not you! Oh, where’s my hat? Oh, I don’t need it!
I must get out of here. I must get air.
I don’t know rightly whether any man can.”

“Amy! Don’t go to someone else this time.
Listen to me. I won’t come down the stairs.”
He sat and fixed his chin between his fists.
“There’s something I should like to ask you, dear.”

“You don’t know how to ask it.”

“Help me, then.”
Her fingers moved the latch for all reply.

“My words are nearly always an offence.
I don’t know how to speak of anything
So as to please you. But I might be taught
I should suppose. I can’t say I see how.
A man must partly give up being a man
With women-folk. We could have some arrangement
By which I’d bind myself to keep hands off
Anything special you’re a-mind to name.
Though I don’t like such things ’twixt those that love.
Two that don’t love can’t live together without them.
But two that do can’t live together with them.”
She moved the latch a little. “Don’t—don’t go.
Don’t carry it to someone else this time.
Tell me about it if it’s something human.
Let me into your grief. I’m not so much
Unlike other folks as your standing there
Apart would make me out. Give me my chance.
I do think, though, you overdo it a little.
What was it brought you up to think it the thing
To take your mother-loss of a first child
So inconsolably—in the face of love.
You’d think his memory might be satisfied——”

“There you go sneering now!”

“I’m not, I’m not!
You make me angry. I’ll come down to you.
God, what a woman! And it’s come to this,
A man can’t speak of his own child that’s dead.”

“You can’t because you don’t know how.
If you had any feelings, you that dug
With your own hand—how could you?—his little grave;
I saw you from that very window there,
Making the gravel leap and leap in air,
Leap up, like that, like that, and land so lightly
And roll back down the mound beside the hole.
I thought, Who is that man? I didn’t know you.
And I crept down the stairs and up the stairs
To look again, and still your spade kept lifting.
Then you came in. I heard your rumbling voice
Out in the kitchen, and I don’t know why,
But I went near to see with my own eyes.
You could sit there with the stains on your shoes
Of the fresh earth from your own baby’s grave
And talk about your everyday concerns.
You had stood the spade up against the wall
Outside there in the entry, for I saw it.”

“I shall laugh the worst laugh I ever laughed.
I’m cursed. God, if I don’t believe I’m cursed.”

“I can repeat the very words you were saying.
‘Three foggy mornings and one rainy day
Will rot the best birch fence a man can build.’
Think of it, talk like that at such a time!
What had how long it takes a birch to rot
To do with what was in the darkened parlour.
You couldn’t care! The nearest friends can go
With anyone to death, comes so far short
They might as well not try to go at all.
No, from the time when one is sick to death,
One is alone, and he dies more alone.
Friends make pretence of following to the grave,
But before one is in it, their minds are turned
And making the best of their way back to life
And living people, and things they understand.
But the world’s evil. I won’t have grief so
If I can change it. Oh, I won’t, I won’t!”

“There, you have said it all and you feel better.
You won’t go now. You’re crying. Close the door.
The heart’s gone out of it: why keep it up.
Amy! There’s someone coming down the road!”

“You—oh, you think the talk is all. I must go—
Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you——”

“If—you—do!” She was opening the door wider.
Where do you mean to go? First tell me that.
I’ll follow and bring you back by force. I will!—”

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Almost End of One Very Long Week

I've spent the week conferencing with students and am once again reminded of the range of their diversity. I'm not talking skin tones here.

The last young man to visit, B, said "yes, ma'am" everytime I asked him a question. He shook my hand on the way out. Here I am in one of the most conservative corners of Florida, and he reminded me how very much my students don't practice those infamous Southern manners.

Now, I don't demand or expect "ma'am." It's just nice to hear it. It reflects well not on me, but on B and his family.

In contrast with B's manners, somewhere between 10 and 12 students couldn't bother to keep their appointments. Most did get in touch, but several didn't.

One pair of students just decided that they would share his appointment. The half-hour I scheduled for him was hardly adequate to discuss his papers. I could hardly squeeze her in, too.

One student was flabbergasted by her (rather generous) B. "I've made A's in all my classes before. I have all the papers! I can get them and show you!" she cried. I can only assume her problems with organizing effectively and with writing eloquent sentences are recent afflictions.

I have yet to figure out how tactfully to say your writing is barely literate. Fortunately only a handful of students fall into this category. It's hard to know what do to for them when the best solution would be Mr. Peabody's Way Back Machine, set to return them to the year they were age 6, and back to their public library. Read, my pretties! Read!

Teacher's Assistant Hates Our Freedoms

Yesterday, Homeland Security agents taught a valuable lesson to a group of elementary school children when they nabbed a local teacher's assistant who represented a major threat to national security:

Leander Pickett says he was handcuffed, roughed up and humiliated by two Homeland Security officers who refused to move their car from the path of waiting school buses.


[A]s Pickett was directing bus traffic, he said he was handcuffed and roughed up and humiliated by the very people that were supposed to protect him.

"I walked up to him and said, 'Sir, you need to move.' That's when he said 'I'm a police officer. I'm with Homeland Security ... I'll move it when I want to.' That's when he started grabbing me on my arm," Pickett said.
However, Homeland Security tells a different story.

The department said the only reason the officers were at the school was because they pulled over to look at a map.

The department also said it's looking into what happened, and that Pickett's version is wrong. It claims he was antagonizing the officers.

Several people were outside of the school, watching the incident take place, and those witnesses agree with Pickett's story.

The school's principal said the incident upset students.

"Mr. Pickett asked the guy blocking the bus loading zone to move, and the guy told him he would move his car when he got ready to move it," said Englewood coach Alton Jackson.

"At that point I intervened and I went up to the gentleman and said, 'Mr. Pickett is an employee here,' and they said that didn't matter," said Englewood media specialist, Terri Dreisonstok.

"'We're with Homeland Security,' and on and on they went, and pretty soon, before you know it, he's handcuffed and slammed against a car," Brinson [the principal] said. "All the children are watching, they're all upset."
After about 30 minutes, the men released Pickett.


The central office of Homeland Security contacted Channel 4 about the incident and stated that it considers all allegations seriously and the matter has been referred to a neutral investigative entity.

Where to begin?

1. In the video that accompanies the online story, reporter Emily Pantiledes demonstrates the location of the incident. The agents pulled into the driveway from the wrong direction, past the red and white "Do Not Enter" sign, effectively blocking the exit of the buses that were delivering children to school.

2. The HS agents were lost.

3. Whatever "turrists" the agents might have been looking for now know that Homeland Security is prowling the area.

4. Think of the children.

5. Might it have mattered that Mr. Pickett is a Big. Black. Man.?

Earlier yesterday, I bought a plane ticket to San Diego. I'm going one way, coast-to-coast (albeit with one stop). I already presumed that that profile would land me in some HS agent's inbox today. Once they pull the poop on me and see that I'm also a college instructor (therefore presumably liberal, therefore presumably undermining American freedoms), the local threat level will probably elevate. They may well have already hunted down this blog.

If so, I direct these comments to the ladies and gentlemen of Homeland Security: I'm going coast to coast because I live here and my daughter's family lives there. I bought a one-way ticket because I'm traveling back to this coast by car with said daughter's family. As you well know, I'm in the phone book if you need further information. And you know where I live. Y'all have a nice day.

Pedophilic PR men. Handcuff-happy Homeland Security agents. And big brother watching me as I make these keystrokes.

Excuse me while I go curl up with a roll of duct tape and suck my thumb.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Most excellent news

The sublime Shakespeare's Sister, now also featuring He Whom I Hope I Can Call My Bloggy Pal, Waveflux, has won the Koufax Award for Best Group Blog.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer blog. Congrats, guys.

For the rest of you, go read.

Seen on a Bumper Sticker

Critical thinking
The other national deficit

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Movie a REAL Nerd Anticipates

I've watched and listened patiently as people made crazy plans -- camping out for days at movie theaters; sitting through a festival of an entire series, culminating in the premiere of "the last one" -- all in anticipation of Star Wars 27, Lord of the Rings 42, and other movies. I didn't get it. It's just a movie, people, ok? You can get it on Netflix in a few weeks.

Until now.

June. A Prairie Home Companion.

I'll be there.