Can’t Miss

Posting a blogday commemorative at a quarter of ten on the last day of winter break and after a particularly slow blogyear feels like the felicitations equivalent of realizing on the way home from work that it’s your kid’s ninth birthday and stopping by Circle K to pick up–surprise!–as gifts a small cherry slush and a Slim Jim. Nevertheless. Earth Wide Moth is nine, and that still matters around here. “Here” meaning the blog. May the blogpace quicken–or at the very least stay its measured speed–over the months to come.

Pinata before the BOOM!

Manic Monfri

Most notable about EWM’s sixth year (2009, plus a few days) is that never in a month did I write more than ten entries. I don’t know whether this is more a comment on the blog or a comment on the year or a comment on their irreconcilability, their mismatch. Whatever the causes, there was less, less than any year before considering every other annual cycle consisted of 10+ monthly entries. 2009: Tweets a-bunch, blogs abyss.

Indeed, today marks another blogday, and since I haven’t missed announcing any previous blogday, I feel an obligation to mention the historic occasion (everything, after all, is more impactful if “historic”). Cake? No. We will celebrate at home later with leftover cod chowder (simple, delicious, i.e., better than expected), cheddar biscuits, and if somebody else feels like baking them, brownies. Today also happens to be a Monfri to top all Monfries: the first day of the first week of the new semester at EMU and, for me, the last day of the first week of the new semester at EMU. Frenzied, manic. Monfri, the average of Monday and Friday, their median, or Wednesday, depending on how you mark it in your day planner. Monfri, the grue moon of academe. No telling whether today is also EWM’s Monfri, the critical moment mid-distant between its initiation and its termination. No telling.

I’m teaching ENGL328 this semester, again unpicking the triple squareknot at the intersection of writing, style, and technology. Introducing myself in the first class this morning, I mentioned that I’m looking forward to re-establishing a regular reading and writing schedule this winter (perhaps it sounded like “irregular” as I said it). It’s not that I neglected to read and write in the fall, exactly. But I wouldn’t describe those four months as acceptably disciplined or scheduled. Not up to my standards, anyway. And I gather, hints and clues, that it’s typical in first years of new appointments to experience an irregular stride, an arrhythmia attributable to figuring things out, getting bearings, settling.

And Adult

Ph. turns 18 today. Among my many feelings on this day: That was

I’ve blogged most of his teenage birthdays. You’ll see those entries
listed over at the right, in the Yesterblog (the On This Day in EWM History
feature). And I suppose this entry marks the conclusion of Ph. birthday-blogging,
enjoyable though the practice has been. I mean, adult children can blog their
own birthdays.

To make this celebratory entry stand tall among the others, I had to dig for
a few minutes in the photo album, dredge up a couple of photos that, for me
anyway, span (or somehow thematically encapsulate) Ph.’s childhood. Chose

1.) Giddy-up: this one is from when Ph. was about four years old, when my mom
took him to ride the ponies at some ranch near Raytown, Mo. Apparently
they made a fine time of it. Yes, those are leather chaps.

2.) Scorching the Tiffany Springs nets: here, Ph. is drilling a ball past me
on one of the many, many extended shoot-arounds we enjoyed at the Tiffany
Springs fields just north of Kansas City (bordering on the south edge of MCI
airport). I’d guess he was eight or nine in this photo–the days when we’d hang
around at the field until long after everyone else had (sensibly) gone home.


My dear friend, Blog, is celebrating a birthday today, marking the start of a sixth year.

You probably aren’t sure what sort of present is appropriate for a blog. I wasn’t sure myself, but after I thought about it for awhile, I decided it would be nice enough to ante up for another year’s worth of hosting. A pinch of money: much easier to give than the gift of time (which is what Blog really needs if it is to avoid rotting in the year to come).

In Bad Decline

If you bumped into me on the sidewalk or in the hallway, I might have
mentioned that the visitnow one month agoto
Gettysburg on the Fourth of July was, um, thought-provoking in all sorts of
unanticipated ways.  The placeswar
memorials, battlefields, and the famous cemeterystruck
a chord with me. I was intrigued by being there.  But I thought some
of the re-enactment stuff was oddodd dialed
beyond historical fetishism and into a new range of fantastical dress-up geekery.  I
recovered and was more or less
granted amnesty, I think, for what was a glaring foot-in-mouth moment during which I
compared the degree of geekery between Civil War re-enactors and the Lucas-heads
who attend Star Wars conventions dressed as Chewy and C3PO. 

In one of those subsequent, casual, "we went to Gettysburg" hallway conversations, I
mentioned how the re-enactments left me with a lingering uneasiness about what
was happening at those sites now. Re-enacting war is a strange brew: a half-and-half
concoction blending parts of the worst of Hollywood spectacle and adult
play-acting (no matter how seriously) in the grim, horrific, and atrocious
war-deeds perpetrated on those now-hallowed grounds. Chilling, but hard to pin
down because I didn’t openly object to it (the geekery comment was never meant
to disparage anyone), and I don’t have any problem with gestures of tribute,
respect, and commemoration.

Eventually, in that hallway conversation, the person I was talking with asked
me if I’d read George Saunders’ short story
"CivilWarLand in Bad Decline." 
I hadn’t read it; hadn’t read anything by Saunders, even though his name is the
first one that pops up when I mention Writing Program and Syracuse U. to anyone
who has lived in Central N.Y. for a few years (and then I have to explain how
Saunders is in the creative writing program, which hangs its colorful hat in
English and Textual Studies, and ‘no I’ve never met him or studied with him’,
and so on, until the perplexed looks give way to a change of topic).  "CivilWarLand
in Bad Decline," if you haven’t read it, is a dystopian romp through a
gang-plagued, run-down, underfunded Civil War park.  At breakneck pace,
Saunders writes of a great range of escapades as the ethic of historical
preservation gives way to a relentless assault by modern forces.  Reading
it did not make me feel better about the re-enactments; neither did it make me
feel worse.  But I laughed, and I also thought more carefully about that
profoundly difficult balance between celebrating war and properly reckoning with
the horrible mess it always (and to this day) makes of lives.

Here’s Saunders, a point where the new gun-loving employee joins the staff at

Just after lunch next day a guy shows up at Personnel looking so
completely Civil War they immediately hire him and send him out to sit on
the porch of the old Kriegal place with a butter churn. His name’s Samuel
and he doesn’t say a word going through Costuming and at the end of the day
leaves on a bike. I do the normal clandestine New Employee Observation from
the O’Toole gazebo and I like what I see. He seems to have a passable
knowledge of how to pretend to churn butter. At one point he makes the
mistake of departing from the list of Then-Current Events to discuss the
World Series with a Visitor, but my feeling is, we can work with that. All
in all he presents a positive and convincing appearance, and I say so in my
review. (14)

Best Of, Vol. 4

Tomorrow will mark four year’s worth of blogging1. The
latest one-year cycle generated 204 entries, five more than I posted
the year before
(the exams-encumbered season of 2006). From the most recent round, here
are the best entries, as judged by a distinguished panel of loyal E.W.M. readers
and enthusiasts2.

Best Titles

  1. Shar-Pei of
  2. Michshapen
  3. Heeling Arts
  4. Picktaneous
  5. Cliff Stitched
    the Lip

Profound Sentiments

  1. Walking the
  2. Long Jump
  3. #0033BD
  4. At Seven Mos.
  5. Y.

Funniest E.W.M Comic

  1. Hearing,
  2. Kibble

World-Changing Ideas

  1. Databasic
  2. Did Bitzer
  3. Writers House
  4. How Far Can We
  5. Chreod:
    Alignment of Set-ups

1 The official and certified
blogday of Earth Wide Moth is January 4, but because the first-ever entry is
date-stamped January 6, the latter date is the observed blogday.
2 Due to a
sharp drop-off
in reader loyalty during the 2007 blogging cycle, Best Of Vol. 4 entries were
selected more or less randomly, according to the whimsy of, well, me.