For those who like the letter Z






There is something I would like to tell you all about, something I would like to get off my chest, something I don't want to pretend about anymore.

I like girls.

I remember when I first discovered I liked girls. It was early 1999, shortly after I had moved to Provo, Utah. I had volunteered to give a girl a ride in my automobile and after she got into my car and put on her seatbelt, I turned on the car and prepared to back out of my parking space.

"You like girls, don't you?" she said.


"You like girls."

She gestured to my cd player which was, I believe, playing K's Choice, a Belgian band fronted by a woman.

"Everytime I get in your car, there's a girl singing."

I thought back and realized she was right. Moonpools & Caterpillars. Juju Club. Natalie Merchant. Even a Lilith Fair cd! How could I have been so blind!

I was stunned and could give no answer but this:

"I guess you're right."

And it's been downhill from there.


Spoken word


Today I took my juniors to watch some poets from HBO's Def Poetry Jam, which I have never seen, but I am interested in slam culture and spoken word and all these things (though not so interested that I have ever actually attended anything) (let alone participated). But I like to see poetry living and alive when so many have given it up as dead.

Anyway, the headliner was Shihan and he was entertaining. But the kids were only marginally more capable of being good for him than they are for me, and he takes his charisma and crowd control on the road.

He had two poems in particular that I liked, "Song Speaks" and "Love Like" (which can be found here), and I though I would talk about them and write about them here at Tehachapiltdownman. However, when I found them online, the words seemed a little limp and dead.

And if I can't appreciate Longfellow today--he was the Most Popular Man in the Universe 150 years ago--is it because I have never walked to the lyceum and listened rapt to his tales of Gitchee Gumee and then cried and laughed and sighed with a smile and been filled by the living words as they ran from the poet's mouth and down his long beard and into the audience.

The audience, where I sit, and I listen, and think eh to that one but oh this one is brilliant and says something I have never heard before--not even imagined--and this, this is what poetry is! and why have I never known this before because it is beautiful and it matters and it is real and it's like my head is lying on the poet's chest and listening to the sound of his heart beating. And that is poetry.


Or, to be absolutely prosaic, maybe it's just a matter of poor punctuation.....


Comic King


Although Master Fob graciously educated me in superheroes while we lived in the same mountain valley, I have to admit that my taste in comics runs along a different line than his. My favorite of recent years was this book, and in the last week I've spent a hundred and fifty dollars (pretax) on this and this, which add to my proud collection that already includes this and this and will soon include this and this.

Yesterday, I escaped the Devil's Den (I went in the use the bathroom) without purchasing either this or this, though I fondled both inappropriately.

The fact is, I love comics or comix or sequential art or whatever you choose to call it. I think it's a wildly expressive medium and if anyone is looking for a primer I suggest this again, or this or this.

If you want superheroes, perhaps my favorite of Master Fob's suggestions was this one.

And of course, if you haven't already indulged, you should certainly try this.

Or this, which Time just called one of the best books ever.

Or this. Or this. Or this.


Crazy hair day


This is homecoming week at Bedrock High. Yesterday was superhero day, tomorrow is favorite sports team day, today is crazy hair day.

My hair, as many of you know, comes in only one style: crazy. But apparently mere crazy is not crazy enough for crazy hair day.

By a stroke of luck, one of my freshman had brought paint with her and so she and some fellow frosh hairstylists offered to goop me up with red and yellow, turning my head into a reasonable facsimile of eternal damnation.

Now my head matches my shoes.

I have a pair of shoes (which unfortunately I canna find a picture of anywhere but they are orange leather Vans) which the kids love. They are "tight kicks" and make me an object of some veneration. If one ne'er-do-think dislikes them, a posse of the righteous will hang them by their intestines for dissing such sweet shoes.

My hair today elicited similar responses.

I have been informed that I should wear my hair this way everyday.

I think it's time to get it all whacked off.


Three ways to slay the dragon


Thrust sword into heart.

Sling smooth stone into eyeball.

Dress as girl dragon and lace lemon maiden pie with dragonsbane.



My body tricked me this morning. It made me think it woke up a fraction of a second before the alarm went off at 4:34 am ready and rarin' to go.

Then I had to pull over on the way here and sleep five minutes.

And another ten in the school parking lot.

Hopefully I was not drooling as students and fellow teachers walked by.


Bombs away!


Yesterday, as I drove from Bedrock High to Costco, I had numerous opportunities to die a violent death by bombing.

First, these huge bombers with the four props and long, long wings were practically cropdusting the desert. They were right above me and flying circles around each other--practicing, I guess, for when Cary Grant next visits. He won't get away this time!

Then, as I was walking into the Costco, a B2 bomber flew overhead and I got to tell you, they are just as noisy as any other jet when they're just a few hundred feet off the ground. I don't know what's so stealthy about them.

I home teach a young feller who fixes up the B2s when they come in for their regular maintenance. Kind of a cool skill.

But if that's not enough to make him cool in your mind, consider that he proposed to his now wife after they watched Napoleon Dynamite.

And if that's not cool enough still, consider that they once found themselves doing a session at the LA Temple with Jon Heder and his wife. Napoleonic spirituality, baby.

And bombs.


In praise of the last minute


(Written on the eve of the first quarter's demise.)

O last minute!
Thou hast come once more!
Heralded by angels
And students galore!

O last minute!
That makes all work sweet!
Watch all the students
Climb to their feet!

O last minute!
Their efforts are for thee!
They'll be up to midnight!
They'll type faithfully!

O last minute!
Motivate them, hooray!
O last minute!
Why don't you come each day?



1. A shoe seam come undone.


2. A collapsed plastic box preventing student homework from flying out the car window.


3. Forks in the fork drawer.


4. Pepperoncinis to spice up tuna.


5. A square of extra toilet paper to lift the seat with.


6. Large bags to keep under eyes.


7. A bag of marshmallows available for emergency consumption.


8. People who smile when they see you.


9. Being right.


10. Working spleen.



Me so boring


I am a boring person. Always have been. Have no intentions of becoming otherwise. However, this is bad for my blog. Instead of living a life worth sharing, I sit and type stuff. Or drive places. Neither of which means much.

So basically I'm left with things to complain about.

For instance:

Sure, the huge lake in the quad has finally gone, but it still reeks of backed up sewage!

I could be interesting sure. Right now people are jumping out of airplanes. I could go watch and maybe get hit by someone's eyeglasses traveling at terminal velocity. Instead, here I am.

You don't have to thank me.

Driving in the desert rain, continued


When I finally left campus yesterday, the rain had mostly let up. However, the insta-rivers were in full force.

Me and the Lapper (my '86 Accord) drove through some deep puddles, marring the all-day bath it had just experienced. We felt safe because we were following a Miata and we figured anything it could get through, we could get through.

Then traffic stopped and busses and big trucks and various things ahead of us started turning around. Some vehicles did drive through the torrent but the Miata decided not to.

Which put me at the front of the line.

I was considering making a go anyway, but then I noticed the huge, eight-foot sagebrush lying in the road was not lying but spinning merrily downstream. So I turned the Lapper around and we took a series of detours to get home.

The best way to get school canceled here is when there are flash flood worries and since it rained all night in Tehachapi and the rain was coming via the valley, I figured (hoped) that Bedrock High would not be in session today.

But I was up early as usual and on the road by 5:30 or so and listening to country radio and its emotional manipulation as I listened for school closures.

The freeway was closed at Rosamond and I was sent on a detour through the desert. And the school closures started coming in. As I drove through districts, they closed. And the DJs said the rain was staying hard through the evening.

And then the rain stopped and the closures stopped.

And I continued driving through highway-coating rivers on my way to Bedrock where I now sit.

Waiting for school today.



Driving in the desert rain


I sit in (one of) my classroom(s) now as the rain pours outside. I haven't seen rain this heavy in a long, long time and I don't want to get wet right before my 75-minute drive home. And so I wait.

The rain fell last night as well and on my drive to work this morning I was worried about drifting away in the deeper puddles I drove through.

Now I just have to pray that the rain leaves my little car in the parking lot where I left it.

And my online reputation grows


Two people have visited my blog for tonsils porous, one for porous tonsils, and one for naked women wallpaper.


If you need help, try Stupid's new blog.

If I need help, well, you're out of luck.



Well, this weekend was one big grading extravaganza and due to a shocking number of missing assignments roughly half my students are failing. Given the general apathy, I see two primary ways to fix this problem before Friday, the end of the quarter.

1) Offer extra credit for breathing.

2) Offer double extra credit for never breathing again.


Ignoring what I know


Here are some things I've learned about crafting popular blog entries in the last few months from observing and attempting.

1. Be funny and be short. Now, these two things are a continuum, by which I mean that the funnier the post, the longer it can be. The shorter the post, the less funny it needs to be.

2. Mention unimportant things that nevertheless really get under the skin. Such as dumb boys and ducks that insist your head is the perfect nest.

3. Don't be demanding. Unless you hit on something folks just can't leave alone, they are unlikely to follow suggested links or engage in deep thought. This is natural--they have a dozen other blogs to check.

4. End with a lie, a joke, an abrupt spot of violence or a burlesque raccoon.

Vocab quiz today


I try to make my junior's vocabulary quizzes as relevant as possible. I only use words that I or a student used in class and I pick examples for the test from current news articles--the test I'm giving today has two examples from articles published today.

And it's easy to get a good grade. If there are 65 points possible (last week's quiz), I make it worth 60 (5 points extra credit). Besides the fact that most of the words were on previous tests as well as many of the examples and definitions.

Yet they say it's too hard.

I diversified the questions last week and got fewer complaints though I think the increase in scores has mostly to do with an increase in studying.

But I figure there might be seven people in the world (fewer than that who will ever stop by here) who might be interested in taking a high school vocab exam.

So here you go.

Copy and paste the invisible words into Word, change the color, and have someone read them to you. Write the words in the blank spaces then use them to fill in the other blanks as well.

If it's overly difficult, let me know.

Good luck.

(invisible words begin here)

1. abbreviate

2. arduous

3. ascertain

4. bias

5. cynical

6. despot

7. fidelity

8. intuition

9. malicious

10. meritocracy

11. momentum

12. segue

13. dichotomy

14. oppress

(and end here)

Vocabulary Quiz

Oct. 14, 2005

(Two points each for correct spelling.)

1. ___________________ 7. ___________________

2. ___________________ 8. ___________________

3. ___________________ 9. ___________________

4. ___________________ 10. ___________________

5. ___________________ 11. __________________

6.____________________ 12. __________________

Circle the correct spelling of the following vocabulary words:

13. dicotemy

14. apress

Match vocabulary terms with these definitions:
(One point for correct word, two points for correct word and spelling.)

___________________: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment

___________________: a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on
the basis of their achievement

___________________: to make briefer

___________________: a ruler with absolute power and authority

___________________: based on a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by

___________________: to make a transition directly from one section or theme to

Fill in the blank, using vocabulary words:
(One point for correct word, two points for correct word and spelling.)

Before all of the game’s boss battles, both Spider-Man and Venom are required to chase said boss around New York before the showdown. In theory, this sounds like a fun way to ___________________ into a huge brawl. In practice, it’s an annoying test of patience that often results in a string of profanities and a hurled controller. (The Badger Herald, Oct. 14)

We are committed to equal opportunity, worth and protection for all races and both sexes. Everyone with equal talents and abilities should have the same access to favorable jobs and positions, in American society generally and at Stanford specifically. This is part of the notion of a ___________________, where one’s position is based solely on ability, not other personal or political criteria. (The Stanford Review, 2005, Issue 1)

Darius Wheeler, played by Jon Magaziner '07, personifies the ___________________ between art's aesthetic and monetary value. While he can instantly determine whether a work is authentic or counterfeit, Darius has more trouble deciding what it means for art to be beautiful. (The Brown Daily Herald, Oct. 14)

The Ku Klux Klan is a terrorist group. It was organized in 1865 to control and ___________________ newly freed slaves through intimidation, violence and murder. Historians will find the statement uncontroversial. (Detroit Free Press, Sept. 30)

Give me two words from the vocabulary that are both verbs and nouns (without changing their spelling):
(One point for correct word, two points for correct word and spelling.)

___________________ ___________________

And two adjectives:
(One point for correct word, two points for correct word and spelling.)

___________________ ___________________

Write sentences that show your understanding of the following words:
(Worth up to two points.)

Word 2. ________________________________________________________________

Word 5. ________________________________________________________________

Word 12. _______________________________________________________________

Find synonyms for the following from the vocabulary:
(One point for correct word, two points for correct word and spelling.)

difficult: ___________________ mean and vicious: ___________________

find out: ___________________ cut short: ___________________


Hool with de boomer


Last night, the Big O and I watched the episode of the Muppet Show with Sandy Duncan. He dearly loved watching the Swedish Chef through muffins in the air and shoot them with a circa 1650 pistol. He also loved watching a crocodile eat frogs. We watched eat sketch dozens of times. So you see what direction he is heading.

Following the Swedish Chef, Waldorf used one of this week's vocabulary words, so I brought the dvd to class today in order to show my juniors segue in action.

(Incidentally, if you have the dvds, watch the Swedish Chef with the subtitles on. Unless you don't want to learn what he's been saying all these years, of course.)

We'll see if it helps them with that word on the test, but what they were really interested in was the Famous Banana Sketch that Fozzie segued into. So we skipped through the dvd and watched on the references to the Famous Banana Sketch (including perhaps the best scene Sandy Duncan has ever performed).

Oh, the Famous Banana Sketch!

And with a yellow banana nonetheless!

Anyway, it may not interest you as much as it interested me, but they started filming that episode the day before I was born and ended the day after I was born. So we have this connection.


More, more


For those of you with room for a little more, these photos of Katrina are some of the best (worst) I've seen.

Out of a sense of obligation


I have made two false starts on posts today, both aborted for different reasons. But since I must write a little something before heading postward, here come some ... thing.

So, in terms of France and the need for everlasting shame I have repealed all access to the school's computers--except for the green one of course which remains under house arrest.

Were it not for the shamefaced betrayal of Broadway in the back of my mind during the summer of '41 I would still be where I was before when I was. Those were the days.

Or so he told me. But as he is the type to type merely to type and for no other reason, we must discount what he would say.

Or type.

Especially as he does it merely to please those whose hearts are elsewhere.

And I don't mean Spain. Not this time. Nor any time. Not saying I mean anywhere else, I merely want to emphasize that I do not mean Spain.

Thank you.

(time elapsed: 55 seconds
(thought expended: none




I have taken so blinkin long to get to this it feels like an afterthought now, but I wanted to at least send a shout-out to my man Hales for taking a subject I think of as merely intellectual and turning it into something moving and fit for spiritual consumption.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elder Hales.

Google me this, Batman


I just received my first visitor from a search engine. And the lucky phrase is porous tonsils.

Great. Just what I want to be remembered for.

My toe


I was going to steal two more ideas today (from Foxy and Brozy), but I don't have the copious artwork necessary for the Brozy-theft. (It's all zipped up on a disk at my apartment.)

And so, my toe.

I have new shoes. They are orange leather Vans and the kids love them. They also must be pinching a nerve because since I started wearing them, my right big toe has gone numb.

At first I thought it was just cutting off blood flow, but shouldn't blood flow back after a few hours? Because it isn't.

Anyone know if I should be worried about this? Elementary students everywhere know you can't stand up without a big toe.


Four stolen thoughts


As per Edgy, I am quite disheartened to learn of the desperate measures that young male alligators are taking in Florida. Apparently they feel disenfranchised from the political process and in their frustration, have taken to getting themselves eaten by pythons and then blowing themselves up.

As per Cicada, I don't much care for milk. I do have it with cereal (though if Silk was cheaper, I would just get that) and on rare occasions with pizza or cake, but unless the cow's been in an onion patch, count me out.

As per Nemesis, when my brother was a high school drama geek, at the opening of a show they would take a cell phone and smash it with a sledgehammer. Cell phones are surprisingly resistant to sledgehammers, it may interest you to know. Other times they would use a toy replica from the dollar store which would shatter and send cell phone shrapnel all over the cell phone-carrying audience.

As per Master Fob, naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women naked women.


Last minute radio blues


I'm about to leave campus, but in order to lessen the likelihood of a fender bender, I'm writing this five-minuter first.


NPR has ruined me. I used to only ever listen to cds in the car and when my FM mysteriously stopped working, I was glad because it meant Lady Steed would no longer put us at the mercy of commercial radio.

But now....

When I started here at Bedrock, I was in our newer car and listening to NPR all three hours of my daily drive. Now I'm back in the Lapper (our '86 Honda Accord LXi with over 360000) and it's missing FM and I find myself skipping between the Beatles' Revolver and a smattering of AM stations.

There isn't much to choose from.

Before the sun comes up in Utah I pick up KSL best, so I can remind myself how little I enjoyed my occasional rush hour drives over Point of the Mountain.

Then I get a Great American Songbook-sort of station, Fox Sports News, a rabid talk station and, until I leave Tehachapi, a Catholic station, which is probably my favorite.

Today I was listening to Fox and learning about the NFL or something equally important to me and it station was being polluted by an opera singer doing what sounded like Hush little baby, don't you cry....

I liked this actually. Two art forms, sports and opera, that I do not actively dislike simultaneously. When I got tired of one, I merely had to refocus my brain to listen to the other.


Maybe all AM radio should be like this.


In my wallet


For a period of a couple months, I was all the rage in Provo Relief Societies. I would come in and tell them a thousand and one interesting ways to keep a journal. I even got fan mail, if you can believe it. Not a lot, but I did.

One of my ideas was making lists, and I suggested the contents of a purse, for example, would be a very interesting snapshot for one's posterity to consider.

I may have got the idea from Robert Fulghum (I think) who once wrote an essay recounting a time when he had a bunch of men empty their wallets and discover just what they are carrying around.

If I ever give one of those presentations again, I may suggest blogging as an alternative to journaling for those who know they won't journal anyway. I think there's something about an immediate audience (instead of a decades hence audience) that gets the writer inside moving.

Anyway, I think I'll empty my wallet right now.

Pocket one (the one with a window to reveal my ID):

On top: A bright pink piece of paper, ID-sized, that says "24.99"--taped onto it is a leetle picture of George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson in prison garb.

Under that: A donor card dated "Sept 10 96ad"

Under that: My BYU ID (the old style current students know not).

Under that: My Utah license punched through the expiration date (Utah took away my California license; California merely punched my Utah license, then let me keep it.)

Under that: My California license that expired in 2000. You should see my hair.

Under that: My current CA license.

Under that: My Costco card.

On the plastic window is a hopelessly faded and ragged "I Voted" sticker.

Opposite pocket (covered in a sticker with a geometric fellow watching tv and saying "Yes!" and a yellow skull warning me "FREE GIFT WITH MEMBERSHIP"):

Upper level:

Financial aid card

My hotline card for the "Ethics Advice Line for Journalists"

My old UCCU membership card

My ordinances cheat sheet

A donor card dated "2000.07.13ad" and with the instructions "Note: please replace any used organs w/ similarly shaped plastic fruit. Thank you."

An undated donor card

Lower lever:

My debit card

My library card


Movie gift card

Flying J discount card

Allstate Club card

Lowest level:

Scrap of paper with unknown phone number in the 208 area code written in pink ink (my handwriting)

There are three more pockets, but I don't want to bore you (or embarrass myself).

In the meantime, if you need an organ, come poke around my corpse.


And the moral of the story is


We've been talking about fables in sophomore English. To start off today, we came up with good, solid, universal lessons worth everyone should learn in life.


Then they made up their own stories to match a moral of their choosing.

One moral we came up with was "Look ahead."


Look ahead

One a pound a time there was a lady named Sally. She was very very poor. She had nothing. One day she was walking to the beach like she does everyday. As she was passing this old abandoned school she found one dollar. She said I will and go buy a lottery ticket. The numbers she used was 25, 32, 15, 7, 13, 35. So she went to her shack. Then at 8:00pm she went to the store to see what the numbers was. she saw and she won. She bought a house got married and had some kids.


I only wish I had time to offer you more moral edification.

(The previous example of student writing can be found at this link.)


Pleats et cetera


I purchased three pairs of pants a couple weeks ago, one with pleats in deliberate contradiction to the strict instructions I received from Lady Steed.

Pleats, she says, make the slightest bulge look like burgeoning fat. Thankfully, I haven't the slightest bulge being an emaciated person, but she still does not approve.

It seems to me those vertical lines should have a thinning effect but goodness knows I'm not the designer in the family. Or the one with recognizable taste. Oh, I have taste! But most people seem unable to recognize it.

I also purchased reading glasses a couple weeks ago. Not that I need reading glasses, but I recently heard that a study where researchers gave reading children reading glasses resulted in a marked decrease in the development of myopia.

I am already myopic, but anything to keep it from getting worse.

Besides, these reading glasses are wicka cool.


Whited sepulchers


Since my General Conference post was lost in a lockup, I'll leave it for now and write instead about how beautiful I'm not.

A long, long time ago, I threatened a post on disgusting things like bodily fluids etc. That post is now.

I am going to mention two foul things that my body does, which foul things I do not know of others' bodies doing. Perhaps they do. Perhaps I am alone in my filth.

Most readers should now vamoose.

I remember once making a list of all the things about myself that I didn't know if other people experienced. For instance, if I eat a lot of Sweetarts, my tongue gets sore. I now know that is a common experience. The following two things may not be.

Last chance to leave.

1. Throat

When I was younger, I was often taken to the doctor for strep throat. Eventually I learned that some tonsils are porous and some are solid and mine were of the porous kind. Those white spots weren't pus packets but Wonder Bread caught in a hole.

I rarely see stuff in my tonsils anymore but stuff still gets stuck back in my throat somewhere. It sits in its little cave and digests in the passing saliva.

Then, one day, of a sudden, it gets loose and comes into my mouth, a little yellow knob of digested food. Completely digested and completely disgusting. I try to spit it out without it touching my tongue.

If I were to put it to my nose and smell it, well, it would smell like crap.

Not metaphorically, but literally, crap.

2. Large intestine

For some reason, Ross Dress for Less is, in the summer, the best example. It is hot outside and I step into the air conditioned coolness and everything a yard from my rectum turns to liquid and I have to run for the bathroom.

I could be sitting at my computer typing and a sudden breeze from the window hits my arms and I'm incontinent.

Maybe it's late fall and I'm sleeping on the grass. A cloud passes before the sun and I gotta go.

I never know when the temperature will hit a certain spot on the mercury and I will have to expel all sorts of foulness. I try to carry loperamide hydrochloride with me all the time just in case.

I have no idea why this is. I suspect my body decides keeping warm is its new priority and it has to expel all waste in order to save its calories for keeping the body warm and alive. I don't know.

But now that I have medical and dental insurance, I intend to get to the bottom of these mysteries.


Npi, I swear.