Friday, April 29, 2011

Man on a mission

-To Murph and the Magic Tones at the Armada Room of the Holiday Inn-
Elwood: We're putting the band back together.
Jake: You were the backbone. The nerve centre of a great rhythm and blues band. You can, make that live, breath and jump again.

-To Mr. Fabulous, the Matre'd in the dining room of the Chez Paul restaraunt-
Jake: We're putting the band back together. We need ya man, we need your horn.
Mr Fabulous: I can't, I really can't. 
Elwood: We got everybody but Matt guitar Murphy and Blue Lou and we're getting them next. 
Mr Fabulous: No way.
Jake: If you say no, Elwood and I will come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. 
Mr Fabulous: Okay, okay, I'll play. You got me. 

Tryouts are coming up in just 2 weeks and I feel like a blues man trying to reassemble his band for a mission from God to save an orphanage in the last minute. I've done everything I can think of to cajole, convince, or coerce (okay, maybe not coerce) kids to come out for cheer.

I told them straight-out; Every year it seems like people don't go out for cheerleading because they're afraid that someone else, who's too into drama or kinda snooty or way too quiet is going to go out for cheer and they wouldn't want to have to be on squad with that person. As I've been trying to convince you all for the last month or two- if only 4 or 5 girls come out that's who we have to go with, even if they're ineffective, divisive or defective, but if 10, 12, 14, 16 or more come out- then we can pick the most enthusiastic, the most amiable, and the most talented.

I've begged, I've pleaded, I've sent them pictures of when they were on cheer in junior high. I've encouraged them to encourage one another. I guess all I can do now is to hang up the sign-up sheet and run the announcements and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, we lose money. Cheer & Drill share track concessions. Most years we have 5 home meets and make a bundle of money. This year we only had 3. One got cancelled due to rain. Cheer & Drill Squad members who are on Track were all scheduled to work the last meet, Monday May 9 because it's a Boy's Meet. But now, one of their rained-out meets is being rescheduled for that Monday- AND, some of the Drill parents want to grill burgers and brats at the meet for a fundraiser. A girl just told me that no one on Drill can work concessions for that meet because their parents want them to sell burgers and brats. First of all, don't they get that they're taking money away from their own fundraiser by competing with the concessions stand for customers? And secondly, most of the cheerleaders were also on Drill or are also on Track. Especially since I had 3 cheerleaders transfer to different schools this year and 2 more quit- I will have only one or two people able to work. AAAAAUUUUUGHHH!!!

Typical teenagers

I covered a study hall last hour for another teacher. Two of my football cheerleaders, who'll both be Seniors next year were in there. We talked about potential recruits. I don't know if there was anyone that they didn't roll their eyes about, glare at me over, or just generally poo-poo. "Ugh!," "Them?!", and "If they come out, I'll QUIT." were a frequent chorus.

It does seem that the girls who are enthusiastic about coming out are either divisive and drama-prone, or woefully unskilled and ineffective. Whereas those who you'd think would be bright, fun, amiable, and have any modicum of leadership are either already committed to Volleyball, Drill,  or taking stats for the football team- or they're really hesitating about taking the plunge.

At my annual coaching (performance) review, my principal made it clear that we needed to get girls who 1. aren't as on the social-fringe as they have been, 2. will make a deliberate and concerted effort to encourage/lead fans, and 3. be responsible enough to show come to games consistently. Tell me something I don't know, Boss- easier said than done. It's not easy to recruit kids who get along and will do a great job at a small AA school like ours.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I don't get it!!!  When the last Congress passed the Health Care Reform Act, Republicans whipped Seniors and Tea-Partiers into a frenzy by CLAIMING that President Obama wanted to get rid of Medicare. They  use fear and anger to manipulate voters, because they don't have any plausible, responsible plans.  Part of the point of Health Care Reform was to reduce the deficit. NOW, Republicans are claiming that in order to reduce the deficit, they want to end Medicare as we know it; cut benefits, raise ages, and privatize most of it. Remember when they wanted to privatize Social Security?

Where were their screams about the deficit during the Bush years when he gave away our revenue with massive tax breaks to the richest 2% of Americans and to corporations? Where were their screams about the deficit when he started two massive wars off-the books? Don't let them fool us anymore. They don't care about real people, they only care about the money they get from lobbyists and big insurance and drug companies.

Tell Steve King that you can't believe that he supports the Ryan plan!

Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget proposal was one of the most brutal attacks on the social safety net in decades. And almost all the Republicans in the House joined in by voting for it.

Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman called Rep. Ryan's budget bill both "ludicrous" and "cruel." "Ludicrous" because the budget projections were pure fantasy, "cruel" because it proposed massive spending cuts for programs that mainly help children, the poor and the elderly, while slashing taxes for corporations and the ultra-rich.

One of the main programs targeted by the Ryan budget was Medicare, which under the proposal would be destroyed in all but name, and replaced by a voucher program for seniors who'd be dumped into the private insurance market. And if the vouchers didn't cover the cost of insurance, too bad.

I just signed a petition to hold my member of Congress accountable for voting for this irresponsible and extremist proposal. I hope you do too.

You can find out more and take action at the link below. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


MarxhausenTribute by Mal Dog
MarxhausenTribute, a photo by Mal Dog on Flickr.
Artist and professor Reinhold Marxhausen used to tell his students that they were tools in God's hands, and he'd ask them "How has God used you today?" If an artist has a good tool, he uses it a lot, to the point the tool becomes well-worn and very familiar. A tool is not made to just sit in a toolbox, ready to work, but not being used.
~Josh Duncan,

One of my favorite Art professors, mentors, and inspirations. He passed away this weekend, after living with Alzheimer's since 1994.

Our loss is Heaven's gain.

No one will ever be able to be as creative, light-hearted, and out-of-the-box as he was, but I keep his picture on my desk at school to remind me that my job is to help kids see the world in new ways.

Here's a story about him in the Lincoln, NE paper

My Hero

The Art world lost a great genius this weekend, but our loss is Heaven's gain. Check out this video of Reinhold Pieper Marxhausen on Letterman, back in the 80's!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter 2011!

BethEaster2011 003 by Mal Dog
BethEaster2011 003, a photo by Mal Dog on Flickr.
Orange is the new pink!
Check out all my new macro tulip pictures,
visit my photostream on Flickr.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quit yer bitchin'!

Some historical context on federal individual income tax rates can help us understand the gravity of this proposed budget plan:
  • In 1945, at the end of World War II, the top marginal tax rate was 94 percent.
  • In 1954, when Republican Dwight Eisenhower was president, the top marginal tax rate was 91 percent.
  • In 1980, the year Reagan won his presidential election, the top marginal tax rate was 70 percent.
  • By 1989, the year Ronald Reagan’s presidency ended, the top marginal tax rate was 28 percent.
  • When Clinton took office in 1992, he raised the top marginal tax rate to 39.6 percent, where it stayed throughout his presidency.
  • Clinton balanced the budget and left office with a surplus.
  • Bush Jr. chipped away at the top marginal rate until it rested at 35 percent in 2003, where it remains to this day.
Americans (Republicans and Democrats) used to take pride in paying their taxes. Our contributions made this nation great. We lived on less and paid our fair share to make sure all of our most basic needs were met. That changed in the 1980s with the onset of Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics. Reagan slashed the budget more than any president before him and drastically lowered the top marginal tax rate. And we found the trickle didn’t go far. Most Americans never felt one drop.
Read the article I got this from at the God's Politics Blog:

My favorite poem

Every April, our Creative Writing teacher asks the staff to submit our favorite poems, which she has her class post with our pictures on poster board in the hallways. This year I chose one that I figured was particularly appropriate for an Art teacher. 

Drawing Class
By Billy Collins, 2003

If you ever asked me
how my drawing classes are going.

I would tell you that I enjoy
adhering to the outline of a thing,

to follow the slope of an individual pear
or the curve of a glossy piano.

And I love trialing my hand
over the smooth membrane of bond,

the intelligent little trinity
of my fingers gripping the neck of the pencil

while the other two dangle below
like the fleshy legs of a tiny swimmer.

I would add that I can get lost
crosshatching the shadow of a chair

or tracing and retracing
the slight undercarraige of a breast

Even the preparations call out to me -
taping the paper to a wooden board,

brushing its surface clean,
and sharpening a few pencils to a fine point.

The thin hexagonal pencil
is mightier than the pen,

for it can modulate from firm to faint
and shift from thin to borad

whenever it leans more acutely over the page -
the bright yellow pencil,

which is also mightier than the sword
for there is no erasing what the sword can do.

We all started with the box and the ball
then moved on to the cup and the lamp,

the serrated leaf, the acorn with its cap.
But I want to graduate to the glass decanter

and learn how to immobilize in lead
translucent curtains lifted in air.

I want to draw
four straight lines that will connect me

to the four points of the compass,
to the bright spires of cities,

the overlapping trellises,
the turning spokes of the world.

One day I want to draw freehand
a continuous figure

that will begin with me
when the black tip touches the paper

and end with you when it is lifted
and set down beside a luminous morning window.

Earliest Spring

Grant Wood, Spring Plowing, 1932. MFA, Boston
The rolling prairie of earliest Spring
looks like an old quilt covering the hills and farms and wild spaces
with it's different squares and shape in different shades and colors

The corn stubble is still amber
and most of the bean stubble is still a dull grey

But the hay fields are just starting to turn green
like black and white photographs
that someone has touched-up with some watercolors

Here and there squares of the quilt have been tilled or plowed
revealing deep, dark browns

Jagged swathes are an even darker brown, almost black
where farmers are working on terraces and removing dead trees

Black lines trace the ditches where weeds and grass were burned
and faint green whiskers are peeking through the black
where controlled fires shaved culverts clean
deeper greens edge the creeks and brooks

From a distance the woods look like a fuzzy dark taupe
sometimes hinting at dusty rose or plum or just plain grey and brown
who'd imagine the white they wore just weeks ago, the glorious golds months ago, or the summer greens to come?

I can see what Grant Wood saw in his paintings
all my children can see are all the "BABY COWS!" prancing around their patient, stoic mothers

My lawn is finally regaining color and our trees are budding
and my children laugh at how fluffy and fat the robins have become
I figure their feathers are ruffled
like a turned up collar against a brisk April breeze
but my kids know it's because they're all pregnant
and about to have babies

I open my window wide and let the curtains flutter
and inhale the soft, hopeful breath of the new and listen to the chattering chorus of those expectant mothers

Monday, April 04, 2011


DancingCujo by Mal Dog
DancingCujo, a photo by Mal Dog on Flickr.

Having seventh graders paint with oil pastels again today and decided to try and paint a photo that I'd taken of our school mascot a few years ago.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

"Hi, I'm Ted, and I'm a Writaholic.
It's been three days since my last paragraph...

1. Admit we are powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable. Damn right. If it were manageable, I'd be grading research papers right now instead of writing you. 

2. Come to believe that only a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Then again, there is that whole "Catch-22" factor, I mean, if we're sane enough to realize that this is a problem, then maybe we CAN stop any time we want to. I mean who's to say what the definition of sanity really is anyway?

3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. But I don't understand Him, I mean come on- why, why, when there are SO many freaking books in Barnes&Noble, can't God let me be able to make a living at writing. Just a living, I don't have to be THAT rich, or THAT famous. Is that SO much to ask?

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Don’t you wish that some of those corporate CEOs at the oil companies and sub-prime mortgage lenders would do this? How about our politicians? Aren't we writers BECAUSE we're constantly making searching inventories of ourselves? We're some of the few people on this planet who are actually self-reflective, am I right? Or are we just more neurotic than other people?

5. Admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. I spend too much time writing. My wife is an English teacher and she doesn't write as much as me. I'll sit there writing at night while she wants me to watch Criminal Minds with her. I'm shameless. I'm supposed to be devising the assignments for my Photography students right now since it's my planning period, but am I planning? No, I'm writing. I can't help it, it's a compulsion.

6. Be ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Yeah right. He made me this way in the first place. I blame Him. I'm like the monster and He's Doctor Frankenstein. If God hadn't wanted me to be a writer, why'd He invent the personal computer? Is it His sick sense of humor to tease me with the internet but never let me make it to actual printed books or magazines? I bet he gets a real kick out of watching me type away. Like someone who just pretends to throw a ball or Frisbee for their dog to fetch because they think it's funny to watch them scurry after the phantom ball, only to be left sniffing around in circles for a toy that isn't there.

7. Ask Him to remove our shortcomings. The thing is, you have to be careful what you wish for. It's like this; do people who suffer from mental illness really suffer? Because if you have amnesia, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's or dementia, or multiple-personality-disorder, you wouldn't realize that you had it right? Some of those you'd forget you had it even if you did, right? So I figure, maybe this would be a good idea, because I wouldn't be so tormented by this love of writing anymore, I mean, does the person who undergoes a lobotomy miss their frontal lobe?

8. Make a list of all the people we’ve hurt and be willing to make amends to them. 
  • That lady who said she couldn't believe they let someone like me teach in our schools because I compared John McCain to Herbert Hoover and called Sarah Palin, "Caribu Barbie."
  • Those right-wing chicks who figure I'm going to Hell because I said that the way to reduce the number of abortions was to work at eliminating poverty and provide affordable health care rather than simply outlawing it.
  • My daughters that time I was late picking them up from whatever practice because I got so caught up in finishing a piece that probably wasn't for anything more important than a blog.
  • My friends who want to chat with me online, but I feel like they're bugging me like mosquitoes flying around my face while I'm trying to get work done (work being writing something that will never get published anywhere anyway).
  • My wife who wishes I'd watch Criminal Minds with her on the couch with some popcorn.
9. Make direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. I don't know... I love my wife and I enjoy Criminal Minds, but I really don't like popcorn. Frankly, that lady who likes John McCain so well is lost in her own ignorance, let her vote for Donald Trump or Newt or Huck for all I care. I can always find a job in Winnepeg, so long as my wife and kids will move with me. 

10. Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, promptly admit it. Well duh, that's what I'm always doing. Why do writers write? Because we think. That's like asking why birds bird or why bees bee. I admit it, I suck. If I was any good, I'd be Steven King or James Patterson- that doesn't mean I can stop. If I could stop

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out. As opposed to praying that there's enough money in our bank account to pay all our bills again this month, or maybe praying that I could win the lottery without buying a ticket?

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we try to share the message with others and practice these principles in all our affairs. That's all I'm doing here. What did you think? That I'm writing this for my health?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Ashley's Eye

Ashley's Eye by Mal Dog
Ashley's Eye, a photo by Mal Dog on Flickr.

I took one of the photos I took last month and painted it with oil pastels. It's great when a demonstration painting that you do for your class turns out so well. Makes me love my job.

Happy National Poetry Month

"Poetry is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality." ~T.S.Eliot

In honor of April, National Poetry Month,
I thought I'd share some of my own- such as it is 
(thus the title, Max Nix is German for "not much,"
we Midwesterners are known for our self-effacing modesty).

But there is so much better poetry out there, so don't just read mine-