Archive for the ‘Collectorys’ Category


I’m Sorta Vampiric: I Want To Suck Your Blood, But Only To The Surface Of Your Skin Where It Will Leave A Bruise And Let The World Know You Are Mine

October 27, 2010

When other little girls wanted to be ballerina dancers, I kind of wanted to be a vampire.
• Angelina Jolie

I wanted to be a trapeze artist. I loved the shiny, sparkly costumes I wore for ballet and tap recitals and I remember thinking that joining the circus would be a perfect way to continue wearing such loveliness as a grownup. Even when I was small, I knew I wasn’t interested in being a ballerina—it just didn’t seem like fun—its seriousness and the patterned perfection of its movement sucked the joy out of my dancing.

I designed circuswear for myself, crayoning colorfully fanciful outfits of gossamer fabrics bedazzled with jewels. I practiced in a friend’s basement where her father had hung a trapeze from the ceiling. As I swung, head dangling, my fingers almost touched the floor and I can still remember the horror I felt one afternoon when I realized that real trapeze artists’ fingers were far from the solid safety of the circus ring. I did not like heights. I still do not. And I still wonder what I was thinking when I imagined that this was a possible career for me. I must have been blinded by the glittery gleam of sequins and rhinestones.

Some memories of childhood are vivid and easily recalled. Others are lost, but not necessarily forever. Italian poet and novelist Cesare Pavese said that the richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten. I call the things that evoke these forgotten memories evocateurs. It’s difficult to predict what will trigger recollection. Recently, it was an episode of Freaks and Geeks (currently airing on on IFC, the Independent Film Channel, and created by Paul Feig, executive produced by Judd Apatow, first airing on NBC during the 1999-2000 season) that brought back a flood of memories.

In the episode, Sam (John Francis Daley) breaks up with Cindy Sanders (Natasha Melnick), the girl he’s pined over for many episodes. He’s finally become her boyfriend, but their love is not meant to be. She disdains the family heirloom necklace he’s given her (“How much did it cost?” she asks) and doesn’t find the movie he’s taken her to—The Jerk—funny at all. When she leans over in the theatre and gives him a hickey, he doesn’t know what’s happening, but he doesn’t like it. And that’s what let loose the flood of memory.

A hickey. When I was in grade school, I got a Mickey Mouse Club shirt. It was a white cotton turtleneck shirt with short sleeves, just like the one that Annette and the other Mouseketeers wore on the television show. My name was on the front and on the back was the circular MMC logo. I loved that shirt and wore it often, but I retired it when I started high school. Until the first time I got a hickey.

It was summer in southern California, much too hot to wear a high-necked sweater, and I was desperate not to go down to breakfast with my neck providing evidence of the previous night’s passion (tame passion, folks, I was the quintessentially “good girl” back then and my parents were ever vigilant for evidence otherwise). Desperately, I searched through the drawers for something to put on, rejecting scarves tied around my neck as too dressy for a day of babysitting and chores, and finally coming across my old friend. Thank goodness my mother and Aunt Mildred insisted on buying their children just about any kind of apparel in the largest size available so that we’d get plenty of wear from our you’ll-grow-into-it clothes. The extra large still fit. I pulled it on with my shorts and was saved from unpleasant inquiries. I hadn’t thought about that shirt in decades even though I’ve been immersed in memories related to my art exhibit entitled Flaming Youth and think often about adolescence for the courses I teach.

I’m currently doing a bit of vampire research for a paper and presentation I’m working on about the possibility of engaging in serious research about just about anything. This work is entitled, “Tootsie Pops and Toilet Paper, Vampires and Zombies: Reimagining Research through the Engaging and Creative Processes, Projects, and Products of The Collectory,” and another thought evoked by this F&G episode was how the process of the vampire’s bite and the hickey are similar, both marking the receiver as the property of the one who sucks the blood*. The paths of memory are twisted indeed.

Have you recalled a memory recently? If so, what triggered it? Write it down so you won’t forget. If not, spend a bit of time in the fields of remembrance and see what you find.

The existence of forgetting has never been proved. We only know that some things don’t come to mind when we want them.
• Friedrich Nietzsche

* How do you give a hickey? Put your mouth against the side of the the person’s neck as though you are going to kiss it, leaving your mouth slightly open. Then suck the skin into your mouth, causing the blood vessels to break and leaving a red somewhat circular bruise. This is a fairly speedy process. I have no explanation for how to actually suck someone’s blood from their body. You’re on your own for that one.


Happy Rabbits Farm*—Home Of Rapidly Multiplying Stacks And Shelves Of Books And The Endless Ideas They Inspire, Support, And Challenge

October 24, 2010

Note: I’m publishing this post on Zinnfull, but it can also be found as the first post at a new blog I’ve begun, “Shelf Analysis,” at

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you will have a dozen.
• John Steinbeck

Without sufficient money for a meal I have spent the few pence I possessed to obtain from a library one of Scott’s novels, and, reading it, forgot hunger and cold, and felt myself rich and happy.
• Hans Christian Andersen

I am obsessed by books. They are my greatest indulgence. I seldom go on a trip without buying books. I almost never leave a thrift store without a book or two. Deliver me from the shelves of sell-‘em-for-a-dollar-each library discards. I will take some home. I am endlessly amused, inspired, comforted, educated, delighted, confounded, transported, and overwhelmed by books.

My first collectable was a book. Most of the trouble I got into as a child can be traced to books, whether I was challenging a teacher because of something I’d read, reading the wrong book when I should have been reading something else, reading inappropriate books, or just plain reading: “You always were a little shit,” my stepfather told me not too long ago, “always your nose in a book, and always wanting a ride to the library to get more books.”

I don’t doubt that I was a little shit. I was a smartypants and a smartmouth who hadn’t learned the kinds of discretionary skills that now moderate my smartiness, although I did learn to keep quiet and keep my ideas to myself. This is not necessarily a good skill for students—or children—to develop. Be warned. If you want students of any age to read, you should probably be prepared for them to think and wonder and question. Books are dangerous that way.

In Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg (1926) wrote, “The farm boys in their evenings at Jones’s store in Gentryville talked about how Abe Lincoln was always reading, digging into books, stretching out flat on his stomach in front of the fireplace, studying till midnight and past midnight. . .The next thing Abe would be reading books between the plow handles, it seemed to them.” I grew up in Springfield, Illinois, surrounded by Lincoln lore and learned from a National Park Service brochure that some of the books Lincoln read were Parson Weems’ Life of Washington, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Robinson Crusoe, and The Arabian Nights. I wish that Lincoln had been an autobibliographer.**

An autobibliographer tracks her or his reading and revisits these tracks, following the trails that lead to self-understanding. Through “shelf analysis”—the exploration of reading preferences and avoidances—passions and interests are revealed and deeper understanding of personal intellect is possible. Researching your reading choices is one way to begin to know your own mind. As tastes change and mature—or stay the same—these attractions and repulsions continue to be revelatory. I am the same person I was when I collected my first book, and I see in its pages the origins of some of my current reading obsessions.

That first book I collected, Dante’s Inferno, a folio edition with engravings by Gustave Dore depicting the nine circles of hell, began my fascination with the grotesque and gory. Coupled with regular revisitings in Springfield newspapers about the Donner Party and their cannibalistic scandals, as well as the radio spookiness I shared regularly with my grandpa, I grew up loving Cinderella, but loving all kinds of creepy stuff more. I understand why my latest acquisitions include the following from the stacks sitting in the living room waiting to be filed, all of them for Yuckology 101: Vile and Disgusting Literacy Activities for Children of All Ages:

Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum (2008). “There’s a lot of them./Enough for us to eat well,/and then keep eating.” (p. 114). Who can resist poetry celebrating the undead? Not me.

The Munsters and the Great Camera Caper by William Johnston (1965). This “Authorized Edition based on the well-known television series” is one of those dandy Whitman Publishing Company shiny-covered books celebrating schlocky TV. It’s chockfull of Munster wisdom like this from Herman, “Things are always darkest before the nightfall. I guess nothing seems as bad in the dark as it did in the daylight” (p. 205).

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology by Lawrence Weschler (1995). Weschler’s book celebrates the odd and wonder•full and visits David Wilson’s Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles.

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett (2007). “I get edgy near sharp knives,” Little Mouse writes, while above him, the page informs readers that aichmophobia is the fear of knives and the facing page shows a triumphant farmer’s wife on the front page of the newspaper, holding three mice tails. This participatory children’s book invites readers to record their fears on its pages.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols by Michael P. Spradlin (2009). Fair warning, “Zombie Claus Is Coming to Town,” and “He eats you when you’re sleeping;/He bites when you’re awake./He chews if you’ve been bad or good,/So just hide for goodness’ sake!” The kids will love singing these.

• And finally, I love black and white artmaking and I get inspiration paging through books of copyright-free images. Mostly this stuff is only available on the internet now and that’s just not the same as looking through books where serendipitous discoveries await. Dover Publication’s (2010) Spiders, Insects and Crustaceans is the latest addition to my collection.

Of course, I bought some cotton candy books too, but since I read five or six of these a week, they don’t really count except to reassure you that it’s not all serious stuff around here.

Consider beginning your own autobibliographical studies. Record the books or magazines or newspaper articles you read or your web searches or other literacy activities. Be sure to date everything and keep track of bibliographical data. In time, revisiting these records is bound to be interesting!

Books are becoming everything to me. If I had at this moment my choice of life I would bury myself in one of those immense libraries that we saw together at the universities, and would never pass a waking hour without a book before me.
• Lord Macaulay

* Because ideas are always blossoming at The House of Stuff, my husband and I call our home Happy Rabbits Farm, home to The Amuseum of Un-Natural History, Keep Smilin’ Music, Dr. Z’s House of Fun, and more.

** For insights into Lincoln’s reading, see Robert Bray’s (Summer 2007), What Abraham Lincoln Read: An Evaluative and Annotated List (Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Vol. 28, No. 2).


Education Is Homeland Security

July 23, 2010

For July 19, 2010

The Possible’s slow fuse is lit
 By the Imagination.
• Emily Dickinson

I’m a no-nonsense kind of gal. I don’t coo over babies and long to have another tiny one around the house, although, note to my children, I really enjoyed them when they were tiny. I don’t like tearjerkers. I wear comfortable shoes. I visit a hair stylist only to have a couple of inches chopped off the parts of my hair that have grown irritatingly long. I cut my own bangs. I spend less than ten dollars a year on makeup. My girly side never fully developed, although I do love shiny stuff like rhinestones.

While other little girls were sugar and spicing it, I preferred reading revolting stuff, grubbing in the trash, and taking my fashion cues from movie gangsters, my grandpa, and Fred Astaire. I’ll take snips and snails and puppy dog tails over pink frou-frouish delectables any day. And about that shiny stuff, crows like it too.

I usually eschew the touchy and feely, but sometimes in the business of teaching, I need it. I need to be reminded why I do this job that can often feel thankless. Teachers are blamed for many things that are beyond their control. We are easy targets for cultural disappointment.

We can design meaningful lessons and we can provide classroom opportunities that are differentiated to address our students’ multiple learning preferences and abilities, but, in the end, we cannot force anyone to learn. Still, we need to believe that it’s possible that all of our students will learn. I think often about what’s possible in the classroom, and sometimes I ask my students to think about it too.

I’ve been working for years on a collaborative found poem taken from responses to the question, “What is possible in your classroom?” This year, some of the responses are from students finishing a teacher licensure program. The ongoing poem is entitled “Education Is Homeland Security,” and here are a few of this year’s responses. I’ll add them to the others to remind me that regardless of how bleak things may seem, what teachers do matters and continues to make a difference in people’s lives:

It is possible to inspire, love, challenge, intrigue, respect, cherish, and give one hundred percent to your students. It is possible to share yourself and stay true to who you are. It is possible to be someone’s favorite teacher.

It is possible to create a space that celebrates students as individuals and as impassioned collectives. It is possible for students to change their communities. It is possible for education to be an adventure we as a class embark upon every day.

It is possible for students who don’t want to discover anything to change everything.

It is possible that each day as students leave our room, they will know that they are loved .No matter what type of home students come from, they have a safe haven where people believe in them. Connection.

It is possible for me to choose to love and care about each student who comes into my classroom.

In my classroom, it is possible for students to learn valuable life skills, no matter their academic skill level. I want to make a difference in all of my students’ lives. In my classroom, it is possible to be successful. Hopefully, it is also possible to dream.

You’ll see more of these later. As a funsultant, I am inspired by these possibilities and by the opportunities for learning that are orchestrated in classrooms around the world. What is possible is unlimited.

If a teacher has ever made a difference in your life or challenged your thinking or helped you in any way, I hope you’ll let her or him know. S/he needs your encouragement in order to live in the possibilities.

We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize. • Thich Nhat Hanh


Reading Is To The Mind What Exercise Is To The Body*

July 14, 2010

A large, still book is a piece of quietness, succulent and nourishing in a noisy world, which I approach and imbibe with “a sort of greedy enjoyment,” as Marcel Proust said of those rooms of his old home whose air was “saturated with the bouquet of silence.” • Holbrook Jackson

The alarm on my phone will soon be melodically reminding me to shower and get ready for work. I’ve been reading my way into the day. Sometimes this is simply a relaxing time of mindlessness and other times, I nibble at several books at once, taking small bites and chewing on them, doing a bit of writing as well.

The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night, whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness. • Holbrook Jackson

These nibblebooks are usually related to Collectory topics I’m interested in, and they are the ones I collect, the ones that line the shelves in every room. They’re mostly non-fiction. Cottoncandy quickread books are mostly fiction and are usually only brief guests in my home. The volumes of fiction that settle in on my shelves are those I want to read and reread because of the lyricism of their language or the connections of their content.

Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and find it full of books – even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome. • William Ewart Gladstone

I’m not sure where the myth comes from that says once you begin a book you should always read it from start to finish. Do schools promote this fiction? I seldom do this with non-fiction. I choose a chapter that interests me and begin there. Or I search the index for a particular topic and read all the references to that area of interest first. Or I look in the index for topics I’m not familiar with. Or I just flip through the book, waiting for something to catch my eye. Almost always I’ve finished the entire book before I realize there’s nothing I haven’t read. I just haven’t read it in the order it was written. Instead, I read it in the order of personal interest.

An ordinary man can… surround himself with two thousand books… and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy. • Augustine Birrell

I also quit reading books that don’t interest me. This is particularly true for fiction since I’m aware that with non-fiction, especially books related to something I’m exploring, I may bring different eyes to the task later. Still, once you’re not in school and have no academic or professional reasons for reading something, it’s okay to close the covers and say adieu.

What are your reading patterns?

Books support us in our solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves. • Jeremy Collier

* The title quotation is provided by Richard Steele from The Tatler in 1710.


If Words Are Evidence, You Should Be A Detective.* Remembering The Holidays In Southern California, December 1995

June 24, 2010

For Friday, June 17, 2010

Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap. • George Bernard Shaw (apropos because what I just found in the back of my journal was a variety of fifteen-year-old musings, long forgotten)

Of course, I saw relatives during a holiday visit almost fifteen years ago. Just about every relative or in-law I have lives in SoCal. But I don’t spend much time writing about family relationships. Perhaps I should, but I like viewing these connections through a lens smeared with the Vaseline® of forgetfulness.

Someone was probably grumpy. Someone else probably said something hurtful to somebody that s/he’d like to take back, but it’s too late because you can’t put the peel back on a banana unless you’re stuffing it with chocolate chips and marshmallows so you can wrap it in tinfoil and roast it over a fire. I had fun. I was ready for the solitude of home. The imagined home of nostalgic reminiscence is not the same as the home you create for yourself. The media-induced wonder of familial delight can be elusive.

That’s not the stuff I saved all these years ago and recently found in the back of the journal I used while traveling to Washington, D.C. It’s not just band names I collect. I am fond of signs, forever imagining the creative inspiration that led to a business name:

Lady Mina Skin Care & Electrolysis
The Hall of Frame
The House of Madame JoJo
Gaga Coffee House
Betty Arms Apartments (Oh, Betty, what are you doing without your arms?
Wine Mess Liquors
Inn Kahoots
Clear H2O Cafe
Poly Plaza
Kitty & Doggy Dunk
Anastasia’s Asylum (a restaurant, not an S&M attraction)
Bamboo Pizza Coffee Shop
Morry’s of Naples—“Your Party Store”
Doo Wash Café, Laundromat, Cleaners, Restaurant
Rushing Mighty Wind Christian Assembly
Hair Explosion Salon
The Grateful Head Salon
To the Maxx Hair Salon
Hair-Um (Have you noticed how many puns are used in hair establishment naming? They seem to be a Mane Attraction when naming Clip Joints.)
Jungle Video
Orchid Bowl, Home of the Galleon Room
Geoffreys of Malibu (a restaurant)
Mrs. Steve’s Donuts, Chinese Fast Food, Ice Cream
Comida China at Patty’s Chinese Express (the melding of cultures in SoCal is always interesting and I am also reminded that Via Verde is way more swanky-sounding than Green Street)
Vinyl Horse Fencing (Hmmm, I have several vinyl horses and they stay in place whether I fence them or not.)
Here’s one I want to answer the phone for: The Macadero Apartments in Atascadero. I would want to be wearing a bolero while doing so, perhaps a sombrero as well.
Chateau Lisa Apartments (Betty Arms? Chateau Lisa? Come on, folks, I know you love your names, but Bobby Avenue and Frank’s Bank and their ilk lack a certain je ne sais quoi.)
Haus of Pizza
Bobby Ray’s 24 Hour Restaurant
Hedda & Kranky’s Ice Cream
The Egyptian Pharmacy
Creative Cakery

And, of course, there are many communities like the Diamond Grove—A Gated Community for Active Adults. Do the gates keep people in or out?

I also enjoyed the compelling endorsement on a Saturn billboard, a family group who assert, “We’ll probably buy another one.”

Target announces that it’s having a “Re-Grand Opening.” What does this mean? And how grand will it actually be?

And finally, signs remind me that we can rely on advertising when we have difficulty formulating a philosophy of our own: Sauza comforts us with the reminder that “life is harsh” and that our “tequila shouldn’t be.” And then there are the friendly folks at Long Beach Cellular who provide this piece of advice: “To stay on top you got to stay in touch.” Bless their hearts. It’s too late to correct them now, although I definitely prefer my philosophical statements to be grammatically correct.

What’s your favorite sign?

“On the eighth green of Los Coyotes Country Club Golf Course is a six-year-old custom home being offered by McGarvey-Clark Realty. . .two ten-gallon salt water aquariums introduce a living room accented by a marble fireplace.” This December 23, 1995, clip from the Santa Ana Register reminds all of us that copywriters are human. I imagine as I read it that as potential buyers enter the foyer, the fish speak: “Hi, we’re the fish and this here’s the living room. Sushi, anyone?”

• This quotation is on a junior high school reader board, but by the time I’ve written it down, the school is gone and I don’t know its name.


Playing Games With Band Names: “Rendered Useless” As I Explore The “Staggering Depths” Of “Unfallen Heroes” And “The Deep Sea Vents” “Beyond the Red Horizon” With “The Control Freaks.” Stop Me Now.

June 12, 2010

For Friday, June 11, 2010, still on the road and still having problems connecting, although fortunately, not with my brain.

I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells. • Dr. Seuss

More band names from Portland, Oregon, entertainment mags to entertain you, along with suggested braindancing activities:

School-related band names: Math the Band (What math-themed songs might they play? Invent the names; write the lyrics.) Doubleplusgood (What other literary allusions would make good band names?) Guidance Counselor (Cliques or other school groups and employees?)

Early morning foodish names: Create your own, inspired by Pancake Breakfast, Brkfst Sndwch, and Breakfast Mountain. Mine are: French Toast, Western Omelet, Overeasy, Huevos Rancheros, TV Dinner, The Spamtones, and The Velveta Underground (definitely a tribute band with recipe-themed tunes). My husband suggests Pigs in a Blanket.

Directives: Create a band name that orders people around like Stick to Your Guns, Bring Me Solace, Explode Into Colors, Raise the Bridges, Cage the Elephant, and Close Your Eyes.

Wordplay: Thuggage and Bearracuda. Create a band name that’s a play on words.

Story creation: Insominac Folklore—choose a band name and write a story to go with it:

A Place to Bury Strangers

The Grave Babies

The Tallest Man on Earth

Old Death Whisper

Indelible Terror

Alien Parachute Man

Crypt of the Grave

Bloody Panda

Kill the Kids

Whispering Tongues

The Closet Monsters

Facing Extinction

Vampire Weekend

I Am the Monster

The Ghost Inside

Game creation: Jar of Lies. What would the rules for this game be?

And one of my all-time favorites: Dragging an Ox through Water. Plus still more mundane names to inspire you: Window Pane, My Morning Jacket, The Sale, and Stimulus Package. Just look around the room you’re sitting in. I see The Mirrors, Ice Bucket, File Folders, Scotch Tape, and Sofa Cushions.

Invent a game to go with the name of a musical group you like. Rolling Stones would probably be an outside game; write its rules.

Still more possibilities from The Simpsons: Steamed Hams, My Cat’s Name Is Mittens, Nerdy Likes His Booky Wook, Fatty Fat Fat Fat, and It Didn’t Die.


You Knew It Was Coming And Here It Is, A Traveling Band Names’ Posting. This Does Not Mean That The Bands Are Traveling, Although They Might Be. But I Am And The Collecting Continues.

June 10, 2010

Some possible band names suggested by quotations from The Simpsons, from the site You’ll Have to Speak Up, I’m Wearing a Towel; I Beat the Smart Kids; Tastes Like Burning; You Don’t Make Friends with Salad; and My Cat’s Breath Smells Like Cat Food.

I am disappointed and frustrated by my fruitless search for band names from the Midwest and the East coast. There was nothing useful in Minneapolis-St. Paul or Chicago and I’ve found nothing in Washington, D.C., although I’m still hopeful and still hunting. Of course, I could go online and find out the names of bands who are active in these areas, but that’s not the way this works. I want to hunt through pages looking for good ones. Otherwise it’s a chore and not a game. I don’t need more work in my life.

Fortunately for me—unfortunately for you—I found a bonanza in Portland, Oregon, before we left the train station there, and I’ve finally had a chance to go through the entertainment magazines and record some favorites. Today, I’m just going to share a few, but more band name games are coming at you soon. I know you can’t wait. These are from the Portland [Oregon] Mercury for May 27, 2010, and Portland’s Willamette Week for May 26, 2010.


Ghost Town Waltz

Million Brazillions

Throwback Suburbia

Yogoman Burning Band

Betrayed by Weakness

Tiny Knives

The Hand that Bleeds

Dead Winter Carpenters

Deformity and Gorbachev

Hairspray Blues


Puke ‘n’ Rally

The Beaker Heads

Drive-By Truckers

Several of my favorites also fall into the category of mundane names, making the common ironically amusing: The Student Loan, Hurt Bird, Shopping Cart, First Aid Kit, Cheap Eats, and Night Gown (although I believe that nightgown is the correct spelling for sleeping apparel so this may refer to some sparkly and spangled fancy dress worn by a lady singer).

What mundane name would you give your band?

And more from The Simpsons: Commander Cuckoo-Bananas, To The Beemobile, Flaming Moes, Purple Is A Fruit, and Just My Bones…And Organs.