Monday, June 30, 2008

How Did This Happen and What Does It Say About Me?

The other night I stopped in the grocery store to pick up a few things, and I found myself filling the cart with beverages. When I got home and started putting them away I found that the cupboards and fridge were already loaded with drinks and drink-making materials. Am I just a sucker for liquids? Is it nasty American consumerism run rampant in a very specialized area?Is it the boy scout in me trying to be prepared for any situation? Or is it something else? What follows is an annotated list of the drinks (and powders and gels to make drinks) in my kitchen.

• mineral water
• milk
• half and half
• orange juice
• apple juice
• four kinds of beer
• French berry lemonade
• cream soda
• tonic water
• margarita mix
• rice milk
• three different brands of sports drink (in liquid form, as well as two flavors of gel and one of powder to make more sports drinks)
• two flavored syrups to make Italian sodas (pomegranate and blood orange)
• peach nectar (good for making popsicles)
• guava nectar (good for making popsicles)
• mango nectar (good for making popsicles)
• five different liquors
• a handful of bottles of red and white wine
• crystals to make the all-natural caffeine-free fake coffee drink I have every morning
• coffee (for guests)
• herbal tea
• hot chocolate
• small boxes of Juicy Juice 

I know I'm stocked up right now, but this seems like a lot of drinks. Am I out of line? There are two boys, and a number of the items on the list are for them. The funny thing is I drink a lot of plain ol' water, too.

More Track and Field Predictions

Tonight is the men's 5000 meter finals. I'm picking Bernard Lagat to win and Matt Tegenkamp to place second. Third place seems wide open to me. I'm tempted to pick the baby-faced Galen Rupp for third, but I'll be cheering for local boy Matt Gabrielson to surprise a bunch of people and pull off a spot on the team.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Handicapping the 10k

We were going to go to the track tonight to watch the ponies run, but a storm blew in, so we decided to settle for Mexican seafood instead. The ceviche tostadas were the hands-down winners on that front, but that's not really the matter at hand.

Today is the first day of the Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, and I want to make my picks public in advance of tonight's race. Most of the events today are preliminary heats, but the women's 10,000 meter final goes off at 9:20 pacific time. There's a field of 24 runners. Here's my exacta for tonight's race, the three Olympic qualifiers in the predicted order of their finish:

1. Shalane Flanagan
2. Kara Goucher
3. Katie McGregor

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Antigone in Her Tomb

Your will, finally, is unknowable. I am
exhausted, exasperated. Look
where my most willful
vows have landed me. Father, mother, and a brother already
underground, exiled for eternity from our native
Thebes . . . I claim no kin in that city. My
so-called sister mourns alone,
respected by a fool and other frauds, a
quorum of spineless idiots
posing as law-abiding citizens. The
offense reeks—a blind man can see that.
No one deserves such a sentence, least of all
my deceived, much-wronged brother—
left to rot on the desert plain. Generations will
know I would not accept that un-
just decree. I am not sorry, though I admit
I may have misjudged the jury of the gods.
Here I will end my otherwise unending agony,
groomless, convicted, and unconvinced.
From now on, on the surface of this most grotesque
earth, my name will echo, a doer of
deeds, one who believes, who acts, while
Creon—cruel, unjust—will be forever
banished from the rolls of the noble.
Always, always, always,

—Dallas Crow

"Antigone in Her Tomb" originally appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of Arion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For a Good Time, Call . . . (pt. 2)

Count No Count (aka Little Billy Faulkner, Wild Bill Faulkner, Wee Willie Faulkner, and the Nobel laureate). Or is it the German translation machine? You be the judge.

On a more serious note, here’s Faulkner’s hit single, his Nobel acceptance speech. I could listen to it for hours, maybe even until “the last ding dong of doom.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Poor Kid—Punning Already at Age Five

I woke up W. this morning by chanting a little Bob Marley to him: "Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights." His first words of the day? "Dad, you should've said, 'Get up, stand up. Stand up for your lefts.'"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Teaching the Villanelle

Every year I make my students attempt a villanelle.
They complain, whine, contemplate spontaneous combustion.
An aspiring Dante consigns me to my own private ring in Hell.

They tell each other the guidelines are impossible,
swear to me the assignment requires unattainable perfection.
I urge them not to think of the villanelle’s

form as a constraint, but as a container—a vase, a well—
into which words are poured. They laugh sourly at my suggestion,
convinced of conspiracy: one more teacher’s maliciously-designed Hell.

I demur, though not demurely, tell them filling the form well
is one art, playing with it an equally valid option.
As evidence I offer Carruth’s extended villanelle

and Klappert’s “Ellie Mae.” For a few the stanzas start to gel.
To their surprise they find a friend in repetition.
The assignment becomes a puzzle rather than a sentence in Hell.

One student wakes more slowly to the task, Monday’s 8:30 bell
ringing as he prints out his formal explosion,
cursing not the darkness but his father in his villanelle—
a curse disguised as a blessing for his adolescent Hell.

—Dallas Crow

"Teaching the Villanelle" originally appeared in the Fall 2003 issue of Minnesota English Journal.

Friday, June 13, 2008


A few years ago, a student introduced me to this word—or perhaps, since I can’t find a traditional print dictionary that includes it, pseudoword (which is itself not actually an official, real word either, though perhaps it should be as well)—and I fell in love with it immediately. It means the fear of palindromes, and it is a term that is pleasing to me for its aesthetic logic. The urban dictionary lists it, as does wikipedia, and I’m all for everyone using it whenever possible, so that it becomes a legitimately recognized word. Of course, the opportunity to bring up the fear of palindromes doesn’t necessarily pop up all that often in conversation or in print, but it’s worth working on. If triskaidekaphobia can be a real word—and it is (the fear or superstition regarding the number 13)—why not aibohphobia?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Breakfast Chez Corvus

Scrambled eggs with andouille sausage, sautéed onions and red peppers, mozzarella, and a bit of sun-dried tomato and basil, along with two slices of ciabatta toast. Highly recommended.

Monday, June 9, 2008

"The Wind Doesn't Blow. It Sucks!"

I saw the adage above on a fellow cyclist’s t-shirt the summer I was 14 while biking across Iowa (take heart middle school teachers—some things that enter the adolescent brain appear to lodge there permanently). 28 years later, I have had cause to recall it any number of times while training for this marathon. It occurred to me today when I turned the third corner of my rectangular route, expecting relief after running into the wind for the first two legs, only to find myself fighting a headwind again. The homestretch also featured a headwind. How does it do that?

Earlier this spring I almost wrote another entry with this title, and I was going to claim that nothing was as likely to stop me as a stiff headwind. Especially if it’s on a particularly long stretch, and even more so if that long stretch is uphill. In fact, I’m not sure that’s true. I may have been as disheartened at times over the years by hills as I have been by headwinds, though I think I have had more successes on hills than I have heading into the wind.

Well, as I predicted last week, the last few days have been slogs, but yesterday and today I put long uphills in the second half of my runs. Today, I put in the very hill I’m going to have to face at around 20 miles in the marathon. I plan on running it so many times before the race that I will know every landmark along the way. Even though today’s run wasn’t easy, I’m already feeling like that hill is a little more manageable.

I made it over the eight-mile mark today, only a day or two after my training schedule called for it, but I certainly didn’t find any endorphins there. I’ll have to look for them again another day.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


This week marks the beginning of the eighteen-week marathon training program, and I got off to a great start by missing the first two days of it. Nonetheless, today I had the first really good run since I started this blog. Went over forty-five minutes, picking up the pace as I went along. According to the bipolar runner’s guide, this successful run will be followed by some ugly ones in the coming days, but today I finally felt like a runner rather than a poseur.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Last night I went to a coffee shop between 6 and 7 o’clock to grade my last batch of papers for the year. In trying to decide what to order (I rarely go to coffee shops or drink coffee, and after a hot, sunny day I was contemplating my first iced cup of the year, but a storm was coming in, the sky had darkened severely, and there was clearly something to be said for a warm mug, not to mention the question of sizes, choice of blends, etc.) I forgot to make mine a decaf. At 2 am I was dancing up a storm in my living room.