Biscuits, Triscuits…

Keep Asking Questions
February 24, 2018, 11:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have not written in this blog for almost 5 years, and I should have been writing in here more frequently, but life happened and I think that’s ok. However, I wish the reason for me feeling so compelled to write in here again was not due to the recent events in schools. I am not one to get in political arguments or to rant about politics, society, etc… I prefer to listen and learn but rarely express my own opinions in an outward way because I’ve found, particularly via the internet, expressing opinions often just leads to countless arguments that go nowhere and who has time for that?

That being said, I do feel that it’s important to speak up, and perhaps I should have spoken up sooner. I do have other projects I am working on as my way to deal with the current political state of the United States, but they don’t have to do with the school shootings and the president’s thoughts to arm teachers, and now that this is an option being considered, in addition to many others, I feel I must say something. So here it is:

I am an educator. I teach young children and have been doing so for several years. Knowing other educators, we all commiserate with each other that we do this because we love it and not because of the money. It is a widely known fact, written about relatively consistently that the way educators in schools, particularly preschools, are paid does not help with motivating teachers. We do it because we care and because we love it, and we think it’s important. However, because of this, burnout is high and good teachers don’t always teach forever. There are multiple articles, a few of which can be found here, and here that very coherently discuss the flaws in this system, much better than I can.

Poorly paid teachers is only one of many problems likely contributing to what is currently happening in American society. Another is the accessibility of guns. This is an argument that is impossible to win. You can say, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” or, “If it wasn’t guns it would be something else,” and maybe that’s true, but it cannot be denied that this is a problem, and I have to say that I do not agree with the solutions being presented. They only show how little non-educators understand of what teachers jobs really are. It is our job to keep children safe, and it is our job to educate and to help children learn and grow.

Everyday, there are a million things running through the mind of an educator from how a lesson is presented, to how the classroom needs to be changed to help the children learn, to the individual children, how to help them, guide them, keep them safe, and keeping in mind every little fact we know about each student we have on how they learn, function, communicate and interact with others. Nowhere in there should there be a place for a gun. In early childhood, it is an even worse safety hazard as children are so much more capable than many people believe and having a firearm even hidden but in arms reach is completely unacceptable and unsafe. In older education settings, from elementary through high school, there are a whole different set of thoughts running through a teacher’s heads and the students are even more capable, leaving access to a gun in a classroom to be a terrible risk that (I assume) few educators are willing to take. Even if it’s not the educators themselves but “highly adept people,” within the schools that have guns, it’s still a completely unsafe environment for it. I understand protecting students but the question in addition to figuring out reasonable safety precautions should be, “Why is this happening?” Sometimes this happens because a non-student decides to come in to a school and make a terrible mistake, but more recently this has been students coming in to their own schools with guns.

This must lead one to wonder what is going on. It can’t just be guns, it can’t just be angry students. Why are students doing this? Would they do it or succeed with it if guns weren’t available? Did anyone know these students were hurting? If so, then what was being done about it? And if not, then why didn’t they and how to we improve that in the future?

This brings me back to educators being poorly paid. This is not to make a generalization, but in America, it is believed that educators are the reasons that children are doing well or failing in school settings, yet we are paid next to nothing. How on earth is every single teacher in every single school going to be motivated to not only teach children but to be aware that children are in trouble and to try to do something about it if they can barely afford their own rents let alone to pay for their own children, expenses, etc…? And what about counselors? What are they paid and what is their role supposed to be? How about the parents? Are they responsible in any way for knowing or not knowing that their kid is feeling so distraught that they want to hurt their classmates? And what about other students? Cyber bullying is real and so is regular bullying. Children can be mean, and it doesn’t come from video games. Certainly media and TV shows can play a part in this but we can’t just point a finger and start banning video games and censoring television shows because that’s not going to solve the problem at this point. It will only create more.

There’s much to be said and many factors to blame but right now it shouldn’t be about blame, it should be about moving forward and helping to create a sense of security back in our schools and with our students and families. And teachers or school faculty being armed with guns is not the way to do that. If you are going to spend more money on teachers, spend it on their education, spend it on their salary to help them know their job is important verses saying they will get more money to bring a firearm into their classroom and increase the chances of violence and insecurity. Spend money on sensitivity and compassion training in schools for counselors and helping parents to know signs of when their child could be unhappy or bullied. Don’t throw money at guns in the school, that is the most disrespectful thing to do to students and teachers and will ultimately only bring on more violence.

I don’t have the answers, but I have a lot of questions and I feel like that’s what we have to do right now. We should be asking questions and trying to discover how to move forward from here without adding more potential harm to the lives of students and educators everywhere. I understand people truly believe guns keep people safe but if they’ve ever worked in a school they have to see that adding guns to this environment is just begging for disaster. There must be another solution.

If the evidence shows that we do see having access to certain guns as helpful then it can be looked into, but potential restrictions or limitations should also be considered as we move forward. Ultimately, it’s important to ask the questions and keep at it until we get answers that aren’t inane ideas that ultimately give more money to the NRA. Lets work hard to keep our children safe and not just present band-aid solutions. And lets listen to the students, the victims and their families who are speaking out against what is happening. Then lets think about why, in 2018, these events and these questions even have to be asked at all.


“Sunny’s Magical Tea Party”- Patrick Maguire
October 8, 2013, 7:36 pm
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All the guests finally arrive.  There is Teddy and Mr. Flamingo, Puff Puff the lion, Piggy Squealson, and Joanna.  Teddy had asked if Ribbit the evil frog could join but Sunny would hear none of it.  A blue blanket, suspended by a great many push pins, hangs securely overhead.  The tea party is lit by a single electric lantern.  The animals intentionally distance themselves from where the lantern’s circular cover creates a diagonal pocket of shadow. 

Upon the tent’s construction, some weeks prior, Sunny explained the purpose of the false azure sky.  “It keeps all the bad things out so we can stay safe.” 

To which Puff Puff the lion retorted: “But we would protect you, Miss Sunny!”

“I know, but this makes it so you don’t have to.”

And Sunny’s words ring true.  The loud, angry voices emanating from the kitchen are wholly swallowed by the magical tent and the dining party is none the wiser.  Though if she could hear them yelling, the subject matter is anything but unfamiliar.

Small plastic wafers are being heated in the fluorescent pink oven, which was purchased from a catalogue.  It was featured on page thirty-seven beside a baby blue workbench for boys.

Each of the attendees has been allotted the plate and saucer that presently sits before them.  An additional bowl filled with honey occupies the center of the irregular friendship circle.

The children’s stove dings twice to signal that it’s contents are ready for consumption.  Each plate is given two cookies and Sunny accents the treat by pouring a dab of honey over it.  After Mr. Flamingo complements the scrumptiousness of the golden sweetener Sunny describes it’s acquisition to the table.  She was given the honey from a group of apologetic bees that routinely buzz the hedge out back as an act of atonement for a stinging incident.  The noble queen had commissioned her best worker bees to tap the most elegant flowers.  The purpose being to prepare a gift for Sunny.  In an extravagant ceremony thirty of the strongest bee soldiers flew a ceramic pot out to her.  In return she promised never again to use the spot as the setting for her jungle adventures. 

The guests love the story, well, all but Teddy who mumbles ‘hogwash’ under his breath.  Sunny has half a mind to exile the curmudgeonly bear to the haunted closet where Ribbit the evil frog is no doubt reconsidering past transgressions.  Ribbit knows what he did.

With the tale completed everyone concentrates on their meal.  Sunny scans her band of friends.  Joanna sits to her left.  At one time the rag-tag pound puppy was incarcerated behind cardboard bars on a felony count of cuteness.  Sunny would have none of that and sprung her free for 12.95.  Though quiet, Joanna often provides Sunny with moral support.  Just one look at her marble eyes beneath those big floppy ears prompts an uncontrollable grin.

Going further around the circle sits Piggy Squealson.  Piggy has fluffy white hair covering the majority of his body.  His left ear hangs half off and sometimes when hugged with an unusual tightness his stuffing puffs out.  Some time ago Sunny wanted to see if the serrated knife she stole from the kitchen was sharp enough.  Piggy Squealson’s ear was the litmus test, mostly because Sunny knew he would forgive her.  In the end she was too scared to use the knife as intended but loved Piggy all the more for his sacrifice.

Puff Puff the lion takes the place directly across from Sunny.  His name comes from an unfortunate incident with the dryer.  His once ferocious mane is now a permed poof.  Puff Puff is a regular sidekick on Sunny’s adventures since his hand puppet form makes for easy traveling. 

Mr. Flamingo is the next around the continuum.  He nibbles at his meal with a certain refinement.  Sunny adores the uneven lumps that contort his neck and bulge his torso.  She made him in a crafts class from a pattern the teacher had handed out.  His many deformities and miscolorations are what makes him so charming to Sunny.

Finally, Teddy holds the place to Sunny’s right.  His old button eyes are no longer sewn in tight and his once smiling face has fallen to more of a frown.  Once the prized toy of her father, Teddy and Sunny have a strained relationship.  But, as bitter old friends sometimes do, neither will give up on the other.

“The tea is made from all that is good and it will ward off all that is bad.”  Sunny announces the reason they are all here.

“But oink what if oink it doesn’t work?!” Piggy Squealson wrinkles his nose.

“We have to try Piggy!  How will we know if we don’t try?”

So, they all gulp down the putrid potion.  It tastes so awful it has to work.  She used the reddest leaves from the tree in the front yard, milk from the refrigerator, cereal dust from the bottom of the box, and squeezed the juice from a single blueberry.  All of which was stirred and mashed with a cinnamon stick left on the kitchen table from yesterday’s diner.

Each looks into the other’s eyes to see if there was any signs of the potion taking effect.  The front door slams but the magical blanket holds it’s will.  Though if she could hear it she would recognize that this is her mother leaving without her.

Sunny yells distractingly: “Let the parade begin!”  With full stomachs the party takes to it’s feet.  Sunny swishes her oversized t-shirt left and right.  The drums kick on over an angelic chorus of horns.  Joanna joins behind, shaking her head so that her ears flop to the beat.  Piggy Squealson gets up on his hind legs and moves his hips to bounce his curly tail.  Puff Puff the lion lets out intermittent growls to match the melody while imitating a windmill with his arms.  Mr. Flamingo flies up and down while conducting the band with his beak.  Teddy doesn’t join the line but he does eek out a smile which catches Sunny’s eye.  In an instant she leaps on him and the other animals follow.  Teddy mistakenly lets his happiness show while playfully trying to get out from under the mound of bodies.  When the pig pile is over each lies exhausted beside the other. 

And then her father enters the tent.  The festivities quickly end.  The magical blanket has failed.  Today’s concoction is no good.  He lays down beside her and folds his hands around her.  They will have to attempt a different recipe tomorrow.

White Hinterland- Kairos
June 9, 2010, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

White Hinterland


Dead Oceans

This Portland duo released Kairos March 9th, and this overbooked writer only now got about to writing about it. That being said, it’s a pretty amazing album with dub and electronic elements coming far from left field melting into this warm lo-fi creation with sweet female vocals and dance-y guitar riffs. The album cover is a pretty great visual interpretation of White Hinterland’s sound; it’s a bit muddled and unclear, white-washed and faded but glimmering with sunspots that leak through the speakers as little gems of sound.

Each element of sound clicks into place slowly but assuredly. The areas where it all comes together make the slow drive even more worthwhile. “No Logic” bleats and dances crookedly, showcasing Casey Dienel’s curiously echoed vocals. Her voice is crystalline and mysterious, a little bit Feist and a little M.I.A. depending on how she is using it. It drops and drips with rhythm and gentility overtop blanketed electronics and bumbling drums beats provided by both Dienels and Shawn Creeden. There’s a tribal quality, a very organic and earthly sound that rises from the duo’s creation and is fortified through clicks, yelps, thumb pianos, low drumming and airy vocals.

Each song throughout the album provides a distinct feeling of being transported elsewhere. “Bow & Arrow” enters with bass-y, hollow drumming and enters into the chorus of horns and reggae style singing that bellows and creates the perfect mood. The vocals seem to be adaptable to any style, and the instrumentation continues to shake it up with each song.

Nothing is normal, nothing is boring. White Hinterland gives new life into styles that have been long dead or overdone. Each aspect that could be found trite elsewhere fits perfectly in with the sounds these two are exploring. I personally can’t wait to hear more. –

City Center Soundbite on Deli Website
January 30, 2010, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Deli Magazine Articles, Uncategorized

This was posted on the Deli site! Find link here!

City Center

plugged in, ready to break out
by Lauren Piper

City Center formed in 2007 as the side project of Fred Thomas and Ryan Howard of Saturday Looks Good to Me. After just dabbling and recording over the past couple years, the duo recently released their self-titled full-length City Center. The album is beautifully diverse and swims with sound and experimental electronic loveliness. With brief guest appearances by Mary Pearson from High Places, other friends, as well as tons of sampling, City Center takes sounds that would typically be dubbed as noise or strange and makes something so much more fluid and meaningful. Their raw textures and busy electronic orchestration creates a watery, floating feeling and the vocals are clear, yet soft and blisteringly sweet with harmonies. The duo also has a really entertaining blog, which is apparently how the whole band began in the first place.

City Center
Self Titled

listen to “Various Tracks”

What is the history of the blog?
The band basically started as the blog. The project was mostly Fred being broke, bored and lonely in New York with nothing to do except record jams in his bedroom and then post mp3s for the hell of it, trying to reach out in some way. It was a sort of therapeutic thing that grew into an actual band.

What was the motivation behind forming City Center?
City Center rose out of the time-honored scenario of living in New York and not being able to pay rent on a practice space, so switching from traditional rock instrumentation to headphone-based/created music. At this point it’s almost a cliche, but a combination of being frustrated with the typical means of producing guitar-bass-drums music and a more isolated/cloistered creative existence were the jumping off points. We also had an eye-opening experience when our old rock band toured with The Blow and High Places. We opened up every night with two drummers and tons of guitars feeling boring and played out, like a bad Allman Brothers or something. That was right around the time things started to change in our heads.

What is your live show like?
The live show is always a little more sprawling and exploratory than the recordings. Our records lean a little more towards soft washy pop songs, where as live we prefer to jump around and rage a little. It’s basically just the two of us standing in front of identical samplers and mixers, so we get bored and start going crazy, freaking out in a gentle, fun way.

What instruments/sounds/experimentations were used for your self-titled album?
The entire album was made with a Roland SP404 sampler and an acoustic guitar. There are a lot of samples of field recordings and some older songs, but it’s mostly just guitar, voice and samples manipulated by the 404. A few friends helped us out on it. We made around 50 songs and kinda distilled them down to their best elements and threw all the rest away.

Collaboratively what are your top five favorite songs right now?
We always go nuts on the production and disposable nature of pop radio. For instance, recent amazements include: 1.Keri Hilson featuring Kanye West & Ne-Yo &quotKnock You Down” 2.Black Eyed Peas &quotI Gotta Feeling” 3.Li’l Wayne featuring Young Money &quotEvery Girl” 4.Hurricane Chris featuring Superstarr &quotHalle Berry (She’s Fine)” 5.Beyonce &quotEgo”
June 17, 2009, 12:18 am
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So I’m still working out some kinks, I’m in a state of confusion as to why this page doesn’t show up on my page, but it will soon, so until then, go here to contact me or just see me walking through the warehouse district of my lovely home in Bushwick. The sun was blaring bright that day.