Monthly Archives: March 2014

Missing the Magpie

Here’s a long overdue shout-out to my good friend Robert, who contributed to my Indiegogo campaign last year (thanks, and thanks again!). His contribution and others allowed me a “half-battical” last fall, which meant teaching two courses instead of my normal four.  I spent time working on creativity research, and I’ll be offering my first 2-hour workshop this Saturday.


You know how everyone is always posting all kinds of everything on Facebook & Twitter and some of it’s great but so much of it is….not?

What if someone had a blog in which they gathered all kinds of awesome stuff in one place, week after week?  That’s what Robert’s “Magpie Monday” did, and even though there hasn’t been one in a while, it’s still WELL WORTH a look-see because he finds awesome stuff, such as Bookshelf Porn and Ask Baba Yaga and a site with details I didn’t personally actually know or remember about the Piano.


I’m missing Magpie Monday, but at least there are nests to look back through!

Desperate for Silliness (Be There Now)

And so I take these online quizzes all the time
I’m every awesome everyone except
when inexplicably I’m Reagan or a ham
cured by local artisans. These I accept:
I’m Sherlock and Muttley and living in Paris.

So long as I’m not me, not being where here is.

And now I see I’ve failed to impress
you in your social media seriousness
“be authentic” is your web address.

They are made of pathos, these straws I’m grabbing for.
I’m plunging down and down in shallow water
with you with me, ending up we don’t know where.

A good friend complained on the Book of Face yesterday that he was tired of seeing everyone’s Buzzfeed quiz results.

I sympathize totally in one way–as these things go on social media, I participated early on, got tired of it, went back when it caught my eye again, got tired of it again…. And it is interesting to me, and curious, how eager we all are to answer questions about ourselves online and see what a random quiz tells us about what character or place or random object is a good match.

But I can’t frown too hard in the direction of people who are still quizzing themselves relentlessly because they may well be tired of how often they’re notified that I’m playing Candy Crush (though I will say I try very, very hard not to inadvertently click on “invite your friends to play Candy Crush,” but the game sneaks that into its long list of “click to send this person extra moves,” which I’m happy to do if I know that person is actually playing Candy Crush. Unless they emerged from Level 181 sooner than I did in which case why do they need extra moves? Harrumph.)

Another friend said last week she wanted to see more of our own pictures, not silly pictures we were sharing that someone we didn’t even know had posted.

And yes, let’s do that–let’s share some more of our authentic selves with each other.

And yet, is there a spot on our social media that could be an authentic medium for authenticity?

These are lines I cut from the sonnet:

You could eat a salad at McDonald’s, true,
but once you’re there, honestly, why would you?

Paris by Rui Ornelas  on Flickr

Paris by Rui Ornelas
on Flickr

Jimmy Fallon: Happiness Engine

It’s not that I think the Age of Irony is over (if irony didn’t die on 9/11, it can’t die), but something strange is afoot–I’m enjoying comedy bits on TV that are funny…because they’re funny.

What a revelation David Letterman was in 1982–things were funny because they weren’t funny. I was drowsy every morning my junior and senior year in high school because I stayed up for Letterman, and the not-funny=funny spilled over so many places–my dorm’s fundraiser in the Fall of ’83 we had toast on a stick….

I barely ever stay up until 12:30 a.m. any more, and when I do, it’s because I’m grading papers (YES I HAVE A VERY EXCITING LIFE). I still love Letterman in the abstract, but I can’t even manage the 10:30-11:30 CST slot.

However, I have spring break in a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to getting to stay up a little later, but sorry Dave–it’ll be the new Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that I’ll be watching live-ish before I go to bed (instead of on the computer the next day or the next week).

I’m so motivated to watch because the clips I’ve caught have not so much made me laugh out loud (or, as I’m hearing people SAY now, verbally, not type, “LOL”) as they have just MADE ME HAPPY.

The first clue I had that Mr. Fallon was onto something was the verbal hash tag war he had with Jonah Hill. My Mom & I had a conversation about this, in which I was able to explain hash tags to her by comparing them to Library of Congress subject headings (I’d previously explained subject headings to students by saying “they’re like hash tags that old white guys use”).

But here’s when I started to crush on the new Tonight Show pretty hard–Paul Rudd killing it in their lip sync battle.

I’ve watched this so many times. Just–thanks, guys. Wonderful. Just what I needed. Awesome. Every little moment of it. Really.

And here’s when I realized Jimmy Fallon is not just funny, not just really doing great as a new host–


Idina Menzel sang just fine in the Oscars* and I loved Frozen (happy it won), but this is my favorite version of “Let It Go.” The Roots Crew is so great, and they’re all so happy, and it’s so silly, and it’s just–I watch it again and again.

It just makes me happy.

When I lecture on humor, I point out that one of the categories of humor is delight, or childhood wonder–that humor doesn’t have to involve aggression or meanness or irony. It seems to be Jimmy Fallon is trafficking pretty heavy in delight.

I know he did a lot of these things on his other late-night gig, but I’m just now seeing people post them all over Facebook, and I know for a fact my Mom never watched him before he took over for Leno–so, wow.

Keep cranking it out, Mr. Happiness Engine. So happy to be happy out here where it’s still winter.

Proof I need a Happiness Engine–here’s what winter does to me without it:

The Furniture of Winter

Like layering rugs on top of your carpet,
Like your grandmother’s hutch
There is no room for,
Or the trundle bed you’re holding onto
For a friend who’s recently nomadic,
The furniture of winter piles up.

Each shovelful’s a stack of old news
Balanced on top of whole hallways of snow.

All paths are precarious.

The unruly sun shuffles everything by noon,
And then at night the moon freezes
Everything in place.

Like another Collyer brother, you lie
underneath, praying messy prayers
for help, deaf heaven sending down
only more of what you have too much of
already, more, and also too much, snow.

(I started writing it two weeks ago; sadly, we got four more inches of snow this morning, so it’s still relevant.)


Let’s not end there.

Let’s watch the lip sync one more time.

#awesome #thankyou #engineofhappiness

(Les Chatfield from Flickr)

(Les Chatfield from Flickr)

*Loved the Oscars. Probably my favorite ever, and Ellen actually reminded me of Dave a little–the pizza bit was funny because it wasn’t funny, or at least that was my take. Whereas the selfie bit was just delightful to watch.