:::this is the way the world ends:::

Category: Informational (Page 1 of 3)


If you haven’t yet seen U2-3D, I highly recommend getting to your closest IMAX theater to take it in. It gives a whole new experience to “Vertigo.” There are some amazing shots, and the 3D quality of it is such that you feel you could reach out and take Bono’s glasses right off his face. It also gives you some of the little details of what goes on up on stage–Larry Mullen’s orange Fanta, for example. The set list is very good, and while it can’t quite capture actually being at the concert, it’s the closest thing available. Even just some of the shots over the crowd are remarkable, and the whole film gives you the virtual experience of what it must be like to be walking out on those catwalks in front of thousands of people. I think the film is in limited release now, but supposed to be wider in the next few weeks. I’m not sure it will be coming to the Hutchinson Cosmosphere, however…


The holidays are upon us. I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving next week, wherever you will be. Jen and I will be in the Pacific Northwest from Tuesday through Sunday. So here’s wishing you a good feast to you and yours, from there.

As it happens, I have a fairly grand holiday break set up for myself this year, due to the fact that my class ends the week of December 10, I’m three days a week at Graywolf, and I have saved up vacation days all year, apparently. I will more or less be off of a regular work schedule from December 13 to January 7.

I’m hoping that might mean I can come to Kansas for a few days somewhere in there–either before Christmas or sometime after. I will certainly be in Minnesota roughly December 23-26 for family gatherings here. I thought I would see when others of you might be around the McPherson area during the holidays, to see if I can match my schedule to yours, as it would be great to see you all, in addition to my parents, grandparents, and extended family.

I need to get my air fare set as soon as possible, so let me know what your plans may be. And of course, it’s always interesting to know what all of you are doing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s…

The Ivory Tower

I’m writing this post from my new office at Macalester College. It feels right now rather incredible to be here, even just for one semester, teaching one class. And it’s exciting and a little daunting to have an office in the department and the building where I used to take classes myself, meet with professors and advisers, and generally skulk. It’s a little like Hagrid finally getting his chance to teach at Hogwarts.

So I’m busy on my Thursdays and Fridays away from Graywolf–preparing my syllabus, creating assignments, and fretting in positive ways about the fall semester. I’m sort of giddy to be back on a campus, right across from the library and chapel, and around some of the bustle that’s already starting to take place. My class doesn’t start until September 10, so luckily I have some time yet. It will be a great experiment to be back in the classroom again, and I’m feeling like it’s a great time to return to it. And with just a one-class appointment, it’s not a huge loss if it all doesn’t go perfectly–so in it’s way, it’s nice to have some pressure off.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get some writing in and some freelance editing to try to make up some of my reduced salary. This seems like a much healthier schedule for me, and I’m finding myself happier even than I thought I’d be at taking a step back from Graywolf. Here’s to good things ahead.

Offset your footprint

I’ve found this site about a year ago, which most people here probably already know about: www.carbonfund.org

It allows you to calculate the amount of carbon you create in a year, advises on carbon reduction, and allows you to choose what projects you want to put your donation toward when you offset through CarbonFund. It also lists partners in the project, which may be a determining factor when you buy your next computer, bike rack, or CD – another way to offset your footprint. Something worth considering.

Another passing

I attended the funeral service yesterday for Bob Hapgood, Sr.  He was of course a neighbor of mine and the father to Tony and Bobby, childhood friends.

His death was sudden and unexpected, but the result ultimately of a food habit. Bob had heart surgery several years ago and had a recent heart attack. As his wife, Jeanne, said, “he went in for the surgery and never came home from the hospital.”

I admit it was a tougher loss than I thought it might be, to see the effects on the kids, my friends, eyes welling, but holding back the floods, bravely soldiering on. Bob was a local celebrity and apparently everyone’s friend; what seemed like the entire town reportedly showed for the viewing of the body the night before.  The wait was over two hours for the entire two hours the viewing was open. I saw the Shotts’ at the funeral service, which was a pleasant surprise.

I have been doing a lot of reflection as we are prone to do in these instances. Bob was 65 — just a couple of years older than my father. The boys are a year older and a year younger than myself. I wonder if I am putting enough into living for the moment, and putting enough of myself into all of the important relationships in my life.

I have also been thinking about the lyrics of the song on Deathcab’s CD, “What Sara Said” and what a powerful piece that is.

Summer Approaches…

It is actually 70 degrees here in Minnesota. Which means we only have three or four more snow storms before summer arrives. That got us thinking…

Are any and all of you interested in coming to Minnesota for a weekend at the Aspengren lake place? After talking previously with J. E. and Toby about this, it seems a non-holiday weekend would work best for many of us. That said, let us know if this sounds fun and if there’s a good weekend that you could take the drive or flight up this way. It would be terrific to have you.

Jen’s parents’ place is great–four bedrooms, two bathrooms, very family friendly. There’s a good kitchen too, a nice patio for outdoor lounging, and they have a dock in the lake with boat and jetski. Lots of fun things to do in the little town of Elysian, MN, about one mile away. There are great paved bike and running trails that run for miles.

No HUGE rush, but if we’re thinking of doing this in early June or some such we should begin making plans so we can all get it on the calendar.

Post Omnibus

This is my official return to the blog.

(pause for applause.)

1) Our house is on the market now and we’ve had some stong interest already. I’ll post the MLS listing as soon as it is available.

2) I came across the painting below, Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre by Peter Doig, in an old issue of Harper’s that had been lying around for a few months. I reminded me a bit of some of Ned’s work. Especially Concrete Cabin. I’ve had some Doig’s images on my computer desk top for a few weeks now. I think they’re in my dreams now.

3) Here is another modern use of the pipe organ: Megalomania from an early Muse album, Origin of Symmetry. And another track thrown in for good measure: New Born. My guess is that Muse is a bit too bombastic for the tastes of the Hollow Men brothers but I like their baroque operaticism. Their newer albums are more refined but, sadly, they don’t feature the pipe organ. Some people say Muse sounds like Radiohead but a close listening will reveal that Muse is much more romantic and hot-blooded than the ultra-cool Radiohead. Perhaps Muse could be described as a blending of the best of Radiohead and Queen.

4) I am currently reading The Mill and the Cross: Peter Bruegel’s “Way to Calvary” by Machael Francis Gibson — very well written art history. Reading one book about one painting is very enjoyable. I only wish I could see the painting first hand.



Two things today. First- I have been unsuccessful in reading the protected blogs even with the password. I get a blank screen when I attempt to look at them. If anyone else has had this problem or knows how to fix it regardless, I would be interested in some assistance. I am curious about who passed.

Secondly- about the Myers-Briggs. What I would like to do with these is more of a self-analysis piece. I think it would be really interesting and possibly a growth experience to be able to compare how we see ourselves compared to how our close friends see us. So with the information provided by the tests (which I must add, I am not qualified necessarily to interpret), I would encourage each of you to read the descriptions provided in the connected sites and find a few things you agree strongly with about yourselves and some things you might disagree with and, if willing, submit those to the rest of us to dialogue about. My thinking is that this will provide a little information to others about what we percieve about ourselves and also some feedback; so it may be beneficial both ways.

Another interesting thing I have come accross lately has to do with the show Gilligan’s Island. Which character do you most identify with and why. Will provide more on this later.

Paging Peters

I hope we hear from Jeff on his Mental Health posting, personality tests, and our group dynamic. Everyone has submitted their Meyers-Briggs test, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re excited to read the results and Jeff’s analysis.

No pressure but friendly pressure. I don’t want to lose that thread here on the site.


Three Things I’d Like You to Know


We have talked briefly about fasting on this blog, but never in depth. This February 24th, I am going to participate in a Thirty-Hour-Famine. This amounts more to a hunger strike than a fast, which implies a more spiritual journey. I will be going thirty hours without food in order to raise money for Worldvision activities in Uganda. I am once again calling upon my friends and family to donate to this cause by the date above. Checks can be made to WorldVision for any amount. I will say that I will cut a check for five dollars more than the largest check I get from any of you.

Two: Recently, I have been reading some essays by John Ruskin. Oddly enough, I searched out one of his essays, because Gandhi mentioned it having changed his life (come to find out, so did Proust, Tolstoy, and William Morris). The essay is called “Unto This Last”. It is a four part, medium length essay expounding on the inherent problems of England’s capitalist economy. I have read things by John Berger challenging the notions of capitalism as well, but Ruskin’s is more direct, more reasoned, and oddly more contemporary. It is written in high Victorian language, which is beautiful and difficult to understand. Ruskin is rapidly becoming one of my favorite historical essayists. Many economists after Ruskin have felt compelled to answer to his charges in this essay.

Three: Shoot. I forgot what number three was.

Recommended: Pan’s Labyrinth


Though there are more scenes of graphic violence than I would have liked I highly recommend this movie. I didn’t see a better movie in 2006 and I don’t expect to see a better movie in 2007. I’m looking forward to Netflixing Guillermo del Toro’s other work as well.

Poetry Post

Here’s an appropriate first poem to start the New Year. It starts with a muzak-version of Dylan and ends on a Dear Abby letter, and in between gets at our present moment.


Hard Rain

After I heard “It’s a Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood there’s nothing
we can’t pluck the stinger from,

nothing we can’t turn into a soft drink flavor or a t-shirt.
Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people

quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

“You can’t keep beating yourself up, Billy,”
I heard the therapist say on television
to the teenage murderer,
“about all those people you killed—
you just have to be the best person you can be,

one day at a time”—

and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:

My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
are covered with blood–
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present.
Should I say something?

Signed, America.

I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,

but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—

whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.

–Tony Hoagland

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