Sunday, December 21, 2008
Today's Geekdad links to a Cartoon Brew post by an author trying to determine the 100 greatest Looney Tunes cartoons for an upcoming book. (I am SO putting in my virtual order for that book right now!)
See -- I grew up in the olden times when cartoons only were broadcast on Saturday mornings. There were just a few channels, no cable, and certainly nothing to record them with at home -- if you didn't watch them as they aired you just missed them. So every Saturday morning I plopped down on the floor in front of the TV (always the requisite 6' away, marked by a line on the floor, to allegedly preserve my eyesight) and watched cartoons for a few hours.
My favorite then and now were Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons, and I never met a cartoon I didn't like. Bugs, Wile E. , Sylvester, Granny, Daffy, Elmer and especially Sam were like my extended family. Sure, I didn't get a lot of the jokes but the stuff I understood was hilarious. And growing up in Knightdale I didn't get a whole lot of culture ('cept for Southern, of course) so when Bugs did a parody of an opera, for example, it was my first introduction to any kind of opera.
A few years back I showed a bunch of my favorites at NCSSM and got a pretty good response -most of the students had only seen a few (if any) and thought they were great. What really made it for me was Catherine, a student who loved them just as much as I did; she would just burst out laughing when I mentioned the title of a cartoon and shout "I loved that one!"
Over the past several months I've rented/borrowed a bunch of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection series from the library & Blockbuster -- note to Durham County residents: apparently some parents are allowing their children to use these DVDs as pucks in street hockey games from the condition they're in -- and have watched them with my daughters (8 and 6). Fortunately they've enjoyed them just as much as I have and to my wife's amusement/chagrin can go around the house spouting the catchphrases they remember ("I taut I taw a puddytat!" "Thufferin' thuccotash!" "I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque!" etc.).
The nice thing too is that the great majority of these cartoons can be found on YouTube.
We've had lots of conversations about the issues that come up. Violence, for example -- they know that real guns are dangerous but being shot in the face with a shotgun in Looney Tunes is really funny. Other things weve talked about are cross-dressing (Bugs and Elmer), physics (Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote) and racial stereotypes (Germans, Speedy Gonzales and others). The third installment of the Looney Tunes collections has an introduction by Whoopi Goldberg about the concerns of stereotyping, and why it's important to see these cartoons as a product of their time.
So -- WHEW -- with all that intro -- I tried to make a list of my top ten Looney Tunes cartoons. I had to stop at 12 (or 14, depending on how you count) 'cause it just got too hard after that. Each is linked to a YouTube video for your enjoyment. Got a favorite I didn't list? Post yours in the comments.
Rabbit of Seville
What’s Opera Doc
Rabbit Seasoning/Duck! Rabbit! Duck!/Rabbit Fire (the “hunting trilogy”)
What’s Up Doc?
Bully for Bugs
High Diving Hare
Feed the Kitty
One Froggy Evening
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Anyhow, in the middle of the class I hear from the other side of the room "What is this?" and "Maybe 'it's raining men' or something." I don't have any idea what they're talking about, so I ask. "It's this thing on Google today -- what is it?" one asked. Oh, it must be one of those special Google logos, I thought, trying in vain to think what November 21 must be the anniversary of. As it turns out, this is the logo they saw:
"Magritte!" I shouted.
"What?" came a chorus. I think they thought I'd lost my mind.
So I clicked the logo and found out that Google is honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rene Magritte, who has always been one of my favorite painters of all time. I used to have his posters in my room at Jordan and I made a mental vow to get more for the new classroom.
Anyhow, the real delight came in spending the next 15-20 minutes with these students completely off-task and enthralled as we clicked image after image to see more of Magritte's work. Each time I tried to explain ("it's a picture of a pipe, not a real pipe" or "see how the horse appears to be in front of and behind the trees at the same time?") and you would see these amazing looks come over their faces as they "got" it. I don't think these students (who are very bright) had ever seen this kind of art before and this inadvertent introduction to it was priceless. So thanks, Google, and happy birthday Rene Magritte!
Here are some of my favorite works:
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
As we were down by the Eno we were greeted by a man who had just crossed the river to the other side and was busy putting his socks and shoes back on. Turns out he was Bill, the caretaker of Ayr Mount, who has lived on the grounds for 22 years with his wife (who does the tours of the house). He noted that he was on his way to retrieve the tractor that he had left the previous day on the other side of the Eno at the other trail. We watched him scramble up the bank and disappear.
Turns out the other trail he was referring to was exactly where we were going, the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail. (It was only a short drive away, I knew, but I didn't realize that the two sites are just across the river from other until I used Google Maps.) From 1948-1968 it was a real one mile dirt track speedway featuring the likes of Richard Petty, but now the main part of the trail is a one mile dirt oval with amazingly gorgeous colorful trees all around. There are other paths to branch off to if you want a longer jaunt as well. We all loved the old concrete grandstand that still remains at the finish line.
And wouldn't you know it, we did run into Bill on the walk to the oval -- he had located the tractor and was driving it back to Ayr Mount. He gave us a big grin and wave as he passed.
Two great places to visit and only a short drive away -- we'll go back and explore more next time, only with a full picnic basket in hand.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Here is the final updates for each early voting site, first with the totals through 10/25 and then with the final numbers:
Board of Elections office: 10, 702/19,452
East Regional Library: 5,320/11.031
Forestview Elementary: 3,526/7,254
NC Central: 7,054/14,353
North Regional Library: 9,429/17,421
Southwest Elementary: 9,420/18,825
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Here's the breakdown by site:
Board of Elections office: 10, 702 (21%)
Duke: 4,498 (9%)
East Regional Library: 5,320 (11%)
Forestview Elementary: 3,526 (7%)
NC Central: 7,054 (14%)
North Regional Library: 9,429 (19%)
Southwest Elementary: 9,420 (19%)
There are 175,000 registered voters in Durham and the BOE is expecting about 90-100,000 total early voters, so expect to see some big increases in the numbers above by the end of the day on November 1.
One number leaps out: why is Duke so paltry? Apparently there was a lot of interest in and support from the Duke community to get this location (new this year) but that's a seriously puny turnout. C'mon Blue Devils -- do something right for a change.
EDIT: After checking the State Board of Elections site it looks like more than 1 million people in the state have already voted early, making Durham's total about 5% of the statewide total. The state site has breakdowns in race and party as well ... more on that later.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
I picked up the latest Independent Weekly at the library this afternoon and was appalled by the cover. No, silly, you know I'm a fan of local food, but cripes, who thought of this headline?
EAT WHERE YOU'RE AT
I know people bitch all the time about grammar these days but would it hurt a newspaper to use grammar correctly on the cover? Okay, you're saying, it's just an alternative paper. True, but given that the Herald-Sun is now trumpeting how great they are only because the N&O staff is dropping like flies alternative papers may be all we're left with one day. (No offense intended to the delightful M. Chen at the H-S.)
On the other hand, I shouldn't complain too much. The article is about cool places to eat in the periphery of the Triangle and well worth a read.
And while I was there searching for an image of the actual cover (which I clearly failed to locate) I read this amazing story of a guy who wrote to Joe Biden in '72 after his wife and children were killed and Biden's response. You may have seen Biden's reference to this in the debate with She Who Must Not Be Named but this made it even more real for me. Very touching.
P.S. Feel free to find all the grammatical mistakes above, but remember, I don't get paid to write or edit! (Clearly.)
Sunday, September 28, 2008
If you haven't been before, a visit to Historic Stagville in Durham is a must. I took my African-American history class there for a field trip and it was a very awe-inspiring visit. Based on our discussions the following day I think the students were really able to get a sense of the lives of slaves who lived there and contrast that with what we had read in our textbooks and other sources. There were a number of moments of great impact, but none more so than when students could see and touch the fingerprints and toeprints of slaves (and slave children, we think) that were left in the bricks (touched before being completely cool) and that were used in the chimneys. It just hit home to them how real those lives were.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Anyhow, this morning I got my weekly e-mail from Craig and Seth at Wine Authorities which is amusing since I rarely drink wine. (My younger and Craig's were pals in preschool.) This morning's missive announced their first birthday celebration from 5-7 on Wednesday featuring an Only Burger truck.
What's an Only Burger truck? Good question! Apparently it's the brainchild of Tom Ferguson of Durham Catering and Sam Poley, formerly of Starlu. According to the e-mail it's the truck's debut, so I'd be interested to see the reviews. On the Only Burger website it looks like single burgers are $4 and doubles are $6.50, which seems hefty for a to-go burger, but maybe it's incredibly delicious.
P.S. I also stumbled on this blog when checking for info on Only Burger which looks like an interesting source for Durham food. Maybe they'll post a review!
Monday, August 25, 2008
But I'll leave you with this: on Sunday the N&O did a nice piece on responses of teachers to an annual survey of working conditions. Eye-opening. Seriously, check out the database now and see what teachers in various schools had to say about how they felt supported, whether they're held to professional standards, have resources they need, and more. Unfortunately there's no way to select one or more at a time and see them in a spreadsheet so you can compare school to school, but you could do that yourself.
Happy new academic year to all!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Well, no. When I got back I looked it up again -- the book suggests that you climb to the overlook then the summit, then retreat back the way you came. Who wants to do that when there's another option? My two hour journey around the whole mountain led to a beautiful overlook, a disppointing summit (just a cell phone tower and fenced-off fire tower), a stroll alongside the Eno River and quite a bit of up-and-down. Apparently this word "mountain" in the hike's name should have given me a clue, eh? My only real frustration was having that "50 minute" time in my head so the last 30 minutes or so I kept thinking the end was just around the corner.
Beautiful scenery, moderate hike, well worth your time. And a clean bathroom to boot!
All 43 pics are at my Facebook album here:
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
- Mexico sez: hey, we don't got no -- sorry, skipping the offensive stereotypical retort here -- we've found no salmonella (and the U.S. responds, "did too!")
- Wal-Mart is taking the claim that some guy got salmonella from their peppers "very seriously" -- and as the Consumerist points out, this is what "companies use over and over again to appear contrite without actually saying or doing anything." Stay tuned on this one.
- This guy (director of the Paleobiotics Lab) says "our sick, leaky guts" should share the blame.
- Oh, great, let's just irradiate everything to oblivion, just in case, to be safe you know.
And finally, it's nice to see that someone took my Law and Order meme literally:
"Holding a tomato in one hand and a jalapeño in the other, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee, pressed the FDA on whether the tomato was still a "vegetable of interest" or had been cleared. "
Vegetable of interest -- heh.
P.S. Still no salmonella outbreak at the Durham Farmer's Market. I'm just saying.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Was I right or what? Last month I had an exclusive (MUST! CITE! TAKETHEBULL!) interview with Durham's own Chad Bullock who was up for a Teen Choice Award for his anti-smoking activism, and on Sunday night he won! I'm not sure if he was more excited about the $100,000 or by being presented the award by Scarlett Johannsson. (jk!)
Anyhow, here's what Chad said he'd do if he won:
"Tobacco companies have millions and millions of dollars to spend on whatever they way. This prize money will be a great help in my efforts. I will use all of the prize money on efforts to engage youth across the nation in taking action in their local communities. I have a project called ElectriFYIed Youth Project and we will be present and many key youth events around the country aiming to spark a generation of "electric" leaders."
Way to go Chad! We're very proud of you.
(Hat tip to SAL for news of the win!)
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I suppose right off the bat I should've known that a place that uses that much duct tape to reupholster their booths would have some other issues. But I plowed ahead full steam. Z ordered a poached egg (her favorite), bacon, grits (instead of the home fries option) and an English muffin. L initially wanted a pancake but I for some reason talked her into her other favorite, pasta with Parmesan cheese. I was so fixed on their orders that I just skimmed the menu quickly and ordered a BLT -- I mean, how bad can a BLT be?
Next bad omen: there were two games on the badly photocopied kids' menu, tic-tac-toe and dots, the kind where you connect the dots to make boxes and put your initials inside. But we didn't get anything to write or color with, so fortunately the girls had books to pass the time. I spent my time not noticing the stains in the booth fabric behind them or the sketchy looking ceiling tiles above.
So the food comes after a while and I'm surprised at what's in front of me. It's an open-face BLT on a hoagie roll; the whole thing is in a skillet and covered with a thick coating of melted Cheddar. Again, this is my fault since I didn't read the menu, but I just never imagined a BLT like this. I ended up peeling a slice of cheese-coated bacon off for Z, trading her unadorned bacon to L.
Z's plate comes with a poached egg, bacon, and a white cup that's foamy at the top. Turns out that was the grits with an inch of airy margarine on top. She makes it clear that she's not about to eat it. L, poor thing, has this big bowl of pasta that's fettuccine. If you know your pastas you know that a long wide noodle isn't usually the best thing for kids, especially when you sprinkle it with parsley. She eats a couple of bites and is done.
I start taking something from this plate and that, trying to find some combination they can eat. When the delayed English muffin makes its appearance I'm delighted, except when I find that both halves have been covered in the aforementioned margariney stuff. I put jelly on it and L ate a few bites, but that's about it. I give out all of my fries, which (true to form) appear to be those fries that are assembled out of potato bits, frozen and then fried. Bad but not horrible.
On the car ride home the girls are just a riot. "My poached egg wasn't runny," says Z. "Why on earth would someone put parsley on pasta?" says L. "Yeah," says Z, "you're supposed to eat parsley after your meal for fresh breath." "I should have had a pancake," says L. Etc.
"Was it the worst restaurant meal you ever had?" I ask.
L nods. Z right away says "No, it was 2nd worst." I feel a bit better about this and so I ask what the worst one was. "I don't know, I haven't discovered it yet," she added, in perfect 7 year old logic. This morning she said what made it not the worst ever was the cheese-coated bacon. I'll be sure to use this in the Healthy Living portion of my application for Parent of the Year.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Anyhow, that's now what I wanted to talk about. I'd like to talk about why I LOVE the downtown library.
My family and I are what you'd call fairly heavy users of the library. I'm a junkie of the online catalog and I place holds on books all the time. Since 2000 when my younger daughter was born I've gone into the library weekly to pick up books and I started to worry that folks working at the circulation desk would think I was a nut, since they had to write my name on the hold slips that wrapped around the books.
And yet, the ladies (with the occasional male) at the downtown library have always greeted me very pleasantly and it's become a running joke whenever I go in -- instead of a groan and "oh, it's you again" it's "Hey, we've got your books on hold!" with a big smile. Even better, in the last couple of years if they see me as I walk in they've already turned around to pick up the books off the shelves behind them and have them ready before I get to the counter. Now that's service! It also reminds me why I love living in Durham and feeling like I live in a small town.
Since we've moved to North Durham this summer I'm more likely to be found at the (beautiful) North Regional branch with its self-service hold pick-ups, so I don't have the affinity for that location yet. But I still find time to stop by the main branch to at least say hello.
So one big shout out to all the ladies whose names I know by heart: Cleo, Myrtle, Cecilia and especially Sumayyah -- you rock!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I interviewed Chad by e-mail earlier this evening about his efforts:
Why smoking? What got you started?
Tobacco products killed my great grandfather. Tobacco products kill 440,000 people a year in the US. It is sad that this takes place when it can be prevented. In fact, it is the leading cause of preventable deaths. Tobacco products are the only products that when used as intended, it will kill it's user. For many years tobacco companies have been getting away with killing people and I will not just sit and let that happen.
Why [work to eliminate smoking at] the Durham Bulls Athletic Park?
The Durham Bulls park is a large family event and historic part of Durham aka the birthplace of tobacco. Thousands of fans go to these games and many of those fans are children. Second hand smoke is sometimes more harmful than the actual smoke that the smoker takes in. Me and some of my peers got together and conducted hundreds of surveys at the park. The results came back and a majority of the fans, smokers and non-smokers, supported a smoke free park. We presented that to the General Manager George Habel and a few months later, the park was smoke free! Its ironic as it is In the center of Durham's historic tobacco district.
You get $10,000 for your cause from Do Something and possibly $100,000 if you win. What do you plan to do with the money?
Tobacco companies have millions and millions of dollars to spend on whatever they way. This prize money will be a great help in my efforts. I will use all of the prize money on efforts to engage youth across the nation in taking action in their local communities. I have a project called ElectriFYIed Youth Project and we will be present and many key youth events around the country aiming to spark a generation of "electric" leaders.
Are you continuing with your fight against smoking in college? If so, how?
I am currently traveling across the country speaking to teens about the tobacco industry while in college. Its a crazy schedule but a majority of my courses are online. I have an event coming up soon with 4000 advocates that I must train, so it can be very busy at times...I love it.
How do you feel about Durham?
Durham...I like it. Traveling all over, I always have some joy coming back to Durham. Its small and slow sometimes, but overall I believe that it has a lot to offer.
The two main trails go down by the Little River itself which is more creek-like than river-like. The south river trail took me about 45 minutes and the ridge/north river loop took about 90 minutes. Both are relatively easy and largely unused -- in three times hiking there I've seen a total of four other people hiking. The trails are well-marked with signs with the glaring exception of one point on the south river loop; because of that J and I ended up walking around for a while on some really nice private paths that border the park which you're really not supposed to do. There are no signs on those paths either, so it took us a while to figure out which way to go to get back on the right trail. (And no way were we going to retrace our steps, though I did have moments of horror imagining getting lost in a park that close to my house.)
There are some nice clean bathrooms there (definitely a plus), a butterfly garden area (that was roped off) and one of those horrible generic plastic and metal climbing structures that any kid in his/her right mind would be bored to tears from after ten minutes. Also, there's a picnic shelter and some open spaces for tossing a Frisbee around.
I've spotted lots of animals there -- deer, turtles, groundhogs (I think) and rabbits. I kept having the feeling when I was hiking that there might be a bear just around the corner, but fortunately never saw one. It's definitely recommended if you're interested in getting lost in the woods (figuratively) for a while.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Dear Minor League Baseball Fan,
We’re inviting you to become part of Durham Athletic Park history and help support the renovation of the most revered minor league baseball park in the country.
Renaissance Downtown Durham, Inc. --- the foundation for Downtown Durham, Inc. --- is helping the City of Durham with the renovation by raising money for the brand new seats. Click through to see photographs of the new seats and the sections. Nine of the sections have been set aside for group sales, with the remainder available for individual seat sales.
When you underwrite the cost of a seat you will:
* receive a charitable tax deduction from Renaissance Downtown Durham, Inc.
* have your name on a plaque on that seat
* have your name placed on a large commemorative plaque at the entrance
* receive a free pass to the Durham World Beer Festival, October 4th at the new Durham Bulls Athletic Park (1 free pass for every 2 seats underwritten)
Please take a moment and review this opportunity to become part of history and go to the beer festival for free.
Friends of the DAP
Bill Kalkhof, Rennaissance Downtown Durham, Inc.
Daniel Bradford, World Beer Festival