The Dream

For many years, I have had “the dream” at the beginning of August. It always involves being at school in some way. I figure it’s a strategy for a teacher’s subconscious mind to get back in sync with the academic calendar.


At some point I began to ask around, to see if others had the same manifestation, and (not to my surprise) many did. (Of course, you can find references to this if you search online.)

When I say “it always involves school in some way” I mean that the dream was a sort of snapshot of normal activity during the school day. Other teachers regularly told me of their versions that involved teaching naked, or the anxiety of not knowing where the classroom was on the first day. Originally I was shocked and appalled, but eventually I came to anticipate this sort of  response.

Sure enough, my dream arrived on schedule this year, on August 1 (even though i was out of the country, nor was I scheduled to return). This time it involved three distinct bits of small talk with three students, all of one vintage: Caroline, Emma, and Jamie. It was over in a moment; no anxiety, no stress. Was it the last in a long succession of these re-calibrations? Maybe. We’ll find out next August.

The 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

It’s this week, until Sunday, in Millennium Park!

You match the names with the faces. The first one to get ’em all correct wins… an appropriate prize of some sort.

Jason Adasiewicz, Dee Alexander, Marshall Allen, Terence Blanchard, David Boykin, Gary Burton, Ravi Coltrane, Ernest Khabeer Dawkins, Liberty Ellman, The Elmhurst College Jazz Ensemble, Kevin Eubanks, George (and Bruz, and Chico) Freeman, Mary Halvorsen, Tom Harrell, Tootie Heath, Dave Holland, Rob Mazurek, Myra Melford, Rufus Reid, Tomeka Reid, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Matt Shipp, Esperanza Spaulding, Chad Taylor, Corey Wilkes, The Chicago Yestet.


























(A dilemma: the Tootie Heath Trio is playing at the same time as the Yestet.)

P.S. All the performances listed here have no admission charge. You get “in” for nada.

Update: the prize has been claimed by surfer Erin W., of Algoma, a self-proclaimed “L7” who googled everybody and who writes, “Why don’t they all just learn the melody better?”

Processing a go-go!

No darkroom? No problem!

“I had pretty much given up on shooting black & white real Infrared film some years ago when the local photo lab stopped hand processing… but this first test batch with the Ilford USA lab and the related scans are suburb [sic] and free of any debris or dust. It makes me wish I had a darkroom still to go hand-print & enlarge them myself…”

A Masochist Proofreader’s Paradise

A case could be made that, in a public school, the release of this sort of a post raises a moral issue.

Click to access Homecoming%20Parade%202014%20Packet.pdf

After one clicks on the link, the title “Homecoming 2014” becomes 2014 Homecoming in the text; which do you prefer? Did the same person write both the link and the headline?

The sentences in the first paragraph seem to be in random order. Let’s try sentence #4, followed by sentence #2. Sentence #3 is negligible, as it likely won’t influence the behavior of participants, and sentence #1 should just… disappear. What follows is a substantial space, and two exclamatory statements in bold type, from which a distinction is made between “your pride” and “our parade.”

After another huge space the second paragraph is a third exclamatory statement that begins with “Once again, it’s time to get ready.” Most readers have never participated in this particular parade, and so this does not apply to us (perhaps the sponsors are reminding themselves?). This is followed by a fourth consecutive exclamatory statement, then an expression of the writers’ ongoing encouragement to join in on the fun: if you live or work in Barrington, you can enter a float. At the end of this second paragraph, we come to the only piece of advice for interpreting the theme, and that is to think of “fun, unique ways” to interpret the theme. The paragraph closes with yet another exclamation, this time a reminder to make a float that is also relevant to the community.


The theme for Homecoming is “Arabian Nights.” This is also the title of a collection of Arabic folk tales structured as stories told by Scheherezade (the only virgin left in the land) to her husband the king, who has murdered a series of his brides on the theory that women cannot be trusted much beyond their wedding night. Scheherazade thwarts her supposed fate by telling stories to her husband at bedtime but leaving each unfinished, “cliff-hanger” style, in order to spare her own life for one more night. Have you visualized any fun, unique ways to incorporate this into a parade float yet?


 There’s more proofing to be done, and it’s left to you. Read the “Homecoming Float and Vehicle Rules” (hint: #3 and #7, although we also enjoy #8 as a non sequitur).

One Never Knows, Do One?


Rolling Stone and the World Wide Intercom aren’t the only places where one can’t believe everything one reads. Ain’t that right, buddy? (Spoiler alert: Bolden died in 1931.)

W. o’ W.: Amanda Petrusich

“With records in general, people are quick to talk about the analog experience of music, saying a lot of cliché things about warmth, texture, and authenticity, and how it ‘just sounds better…’  the first time you hear a 78, it doesn’t sound great. It is noisy either because the shellac is damaged or it wasn’t pressed well to begin with. They were often recorded on rudimentary setups, and everything sounds a little shoddy… [but] there is something about hearing every second of the hundred years that record has been around.

“Nowadays, people are hyper-aware, when they step into a recording studio, of the ways in which it will be the defining record of that performance, but that just didn’t exist back then. People didn’t really think about it; it was all so new. So there’s something really raw and pure about the way they perform—with singing, in particular, and I think you can hear it in the instrumentation a little bit, too.

“There’s a certain mystical quality to it… I listen to LPs, I listen to CDs in my car, and I have an iPod. But there’s something about hearing 78s that is such a singular and transformative experience.”

The Lisbon Negatives

We visited the great city of Lisbon last year. Whilst meandering we met a cohort of gentlemen in a park, fixin’ to spark a doob or two. I worked the crowd (neither for a hit, nor was one offered) and we all got along very well. Maybe you’ve seen the group shot, with minha mulher, in the header rotation. (Keep refreshing and you’ll see it. Eventually.)

When we returned we moved on to other pressing issues–like, oh, preparing to retire. I developed the film in April. The first roll looked a tad dense so I made scientific and intuitive adjustments as I worked. Hmm, they looked more than a tad contrasty as well. I realized that I had been using a poorly labeled (by moi) bottle of print developer, rather than developer for film. Talk about your teachable moments: I laid out my technical incompetency for all the students to experience as a destabilizing dose of schadenfreude. These dense, grainy, contrasty negatives are destined for the Sabatier-style printing; stay tuned.