January 20, 2008

fieldwork?: basketball game

yesterday I attended my first USU basketball game... at SHU, our basketball team is small and still in its incipient/beginning phase, so it doesn't have as big of a fan base compared to a larger university, such as USU... it was a fun experience and USU won.

while walking out of the "Spectrum" I heard people talk about how "exciting" the game was when USU was behind (losing), it was more exciting to see if USU will catch up or not (a hard earned victory is much more satisfying than a ten point lead)... for me, the whole event- not just the actual game- was "exciting" especially the people (various groups inside the Spectrum).

I'm taking a "fieldwork" class right now so my mind is in "fieldwork" mode. I know that not everything is academic, and when I attended this event, I didn't intend for it to be a fieldwork of some sort, I actually attended for personal interest BUT I couldn't help it...

I sat in the toppest row because I wanted a good incompassing view. The enemy team were warming up. They wore dark jerseys and shorts. They dribbled, passed, and practiced basketball shots. And then the home team entered and the noise level sky rocketed. Blue, the bull mascot came down from the ceiling- mission-impossible style. Male and female cheerleaders led the procession/ team line while tumbling/ back-flipping... some were running waving a giant banner of USU's "monogram?"... the band played (trombones, trumpets and drums)... the Hurd (student organization devoted to supporting USU athletics, very distinguishable- wearing their blue faces, the official "hurd" blue shirt [show me your "A", your true aggie blood]) started chanting "Jaycee Carroll"- ... the cheerleaders formed a line and started doing lifts while the roster was called... everybody/ most everybody were standing, I stood too because if I didn't I wouldn't be able to see what went on...

singing began, Blue, with the help of the cheerleaders, led the crowd with arm movements- left and then right, then formed "U" "S" "U", then some sort of drum-roll movement/mash potatoe... the lyrics were on the screen (without looking at the screen all I heard were scotsman and thistle and WIN and FIGHT)...

the noise level waned minutely... the people remained standing (so did I)... in this campus and probably across the nation, derogatory chanting was banned, the fans were still able to work around this, they adapted to the restrictions and still made intimidating noises... the old comprehensible chants turned to monotone sound, like a large humming maybe "whoooo" later on some people got bored and started whistling and making obnoxious bird sounds (it was like a jungle)... at one point, they'd vary from "whoooo" to "you, you, you suck" (it sounded like this was what they said)... so the wooing sound always got started whenever the "Enemy" had the ball, BUT whenever, the hero/home team had the ball, chants of "here we go AGGIE, here we go" would start... the crowd would also "woo" at the referees if they made call in favor of the Enemy.... Whenever the Enemy made an airball, the crowd chanted "airball" and in unison, they'd point at the person who made the "airball" (can you just imagine hundreds of people mocking you for your mistake?).... occassionally you'll hear the disappointing sign when the hero missed. And when the hero is trying to make the basket (because of a foul), the crowd would raise their hands in the air and wait. If the hero made it, they'd put their hands down and make the "swoosh" sound, and if not, a sigh of some sort...

there were some international students in front of me (they may be from India or near that region), I'm guessing that they're pretty familiar with the actions because they were able to follow the movements and sing along... fan behavior transcends language/international boundaries...

all of this happened before the first period ended... the energy remained high throughout,

during the first "time out", the cheerleaders had some minutes to fill, and they used this time and "backflipped" across the court in straight lines from left to right and vice versa, diagonally, up and down... another time out, they had shooting contest, another timeout, and they (the camera) was "highlighting" couples in the crowd, when the couples see themselves on screen, they would "kiss" in front of the public... they had AGGIE trivia, Blue would tossed shirts, there were give-aways, more contest, like look-alikes of the coach (Stew Morrill), a version of deal or no-deal, money give aways from sponsors.... AJumprope troupe/team exhibited their jumping and acrobatic skills... the cheerleaders did more tricks

the game ended after the 2nd quarter when the other team forfeited/gave up... Jaycee Carroll set a new school record.... I was a bit disappointed that they ended early (no half time show, and no 20% discount [the USU bookstore promised to give 20% off if USU scored at least 80 points... they had 79 points)

for me, whether USU wins or loses, I think I would have still had fun, the people and the events in-between were more entertaining than the actual game (I'm still glad USU won, the Aggie tower will be shining "blue" tonight)... next time I go, instead of observing, I may actually participate in the chanting, singing, and dancing (upper body miming choreography)...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 9:47 PM | Comments (1)

January 7, 2008

day 1 of spring 08

I'll keep things brief and general because I don't want to cause trouble (can you believe that, "Michael B. Diezmos" causing trouble with his words?). Here in Logan, Utah, the spring semester already began.

I met the new students I'm teaching this spring. I'll apply the things I learned last semester and I'll trust my intuition and the "signs" more (basically being more aware). Even though I already have my lesson plans from last semester, I'm still changing them (revising- re-seeing). The great thing is that I can look at a month's worth of lesson plans and connect them (so they can be more cohesive). Something different I'm doing this semester- I added a supplementary reading: "Wicked..." by Gregory Maguire. The reason why I did this is to make the lessons more cohesive. Every assignment that my students are doing is going to be connected somehow through "Wicked." And I'm actually using one of my old textbooks (from SHU) as another supplementary to further explain different concepts of the writing process and also for writing prompts.

I met my co-workers today and recapped. We shared stories about our holidays and new ideas (what changes they made for their addendum/class). It'll be different this semester because we don't have a common class together. The only times that we'll see each other are during office hours. I do have classes with some of them so I'll see them then. Speaking of classes, I decided to be sane and logical this semester and only take two classes. Even though they're only two, I still have a lot of reading to do. The classes I'm taking are "Fieldwork" and "Folklore and Literature." Some of the books in the fieldwork class include writing ethnographic fieldnotes, people studying people, learning how to ask questions, tales of the field, proper documentation, etc. Some of the Folklore-inspired literature that I'll be reading are Achebe's "Things' fall apart", Toni Morrison's "Beloved", "The Chosen" by ?, Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" and many more.

My Thai roommate returned to Thailand. To finalize his departure, some of his Thai friends stopped by the other day to pick up some food supplies he couldn't bring back home. The tv and microwave are gone (I have to buy them soon or I'll get bored and starve if I get "snow-bound"). My new roommate hasn't arrived yet. I'm using the living room area as a drying room for my snow drenched coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and boots.

I'm glad that SHU printed Rick Sebak's speech in the Forward Magazine. Now instead of watching the tape to remember and to get inspired, I just read the article. I'm utilizing more the concept of genuine small talk, reading (something besides my school work) and ordering the special (every new restaurant/cafe I go to I look for the special, and if it's an old hang-out, I try to order something new).

Things that I'm saving up for and planning- trip to Europe (Spain, Italy, France, and England), California (San Diego, Redwood Forest, San Fransisco), and an internship as a teacher's assistant (hopefully in Hawaii). These may not all come true (but I can dream), and as my old teacher used to say "the great thing about plans is that you can change them!"

Wish me luck!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 10:33 PM | Comments (2)

January 3, 2008

Delicious food, eating, making memories

I'm excited to go back to Logan, UT (continue chasing my dream, teach again- learn from my MISTAKES, take classes- a fresh start). I know a week from now, I'll be "eating" my words (remembering something I forgot to do during the break, wishing for more time as always). Overall, I think I did what I wanted to do for the break. I chillaxed, did various little projects here and there (being in my room feels like being stuck in the past, my room is like a library of memories. I sort of understand how feng shui can change the vibe in my room which I won't see again until December if everything works out- if I'm teaching over the summer and taking classes. I hope so, so that I can graduate "on time"). I found my old yearbook and journals, it was sort of funny and sad reading them.

Last night I finished typing my handwritten lesson plans. Once again it was a good "review" of what I did last semester. It reminded me of things I want to change this semester (the weird thing- while typing the lessons that I did during the DRAMA, I had a hard time getting through it. I was grudging typing it and when I finally got through it and finished the last lesson, I felt the same relief, which I felt at the last day of classes. Airhead moment- one of the things I enjoyed last semester was the challenge of coming up with different color combinations for my limited wardrobe). Tomorrow, I'm going back to Logan. My dad is definitely happy because I'll be working again instead of spending money.

Anyway, this blog entry is not just about yesterday or the break. It's mainly about FOOD, eating, and making memories over the break! In my gastronomical adventure/foray over the break I realized why food is so memorable. They are unforgetable because most of them deal with our five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and sometimes the sixth sense when for no reason, we can just tell by intuition or something that something is delectable. This break I was in candyland nutcracker style. Caveat- I had these delicious and cholesterol-filled cuisine intermittently during the break in MODERATE amounts (balanced with exercise and regular healthy fruit/vegetable etc. diet).

Shopping- While shopping at Ardmore, during my breaks from "painting" or browsing I ate at Ruby's Diner and the Corner Bakery. I had a pineapple shake, fries and an "Aloha" burger (glazed with teriyaki, pineapple, lettuce and tomatoe). At the Corner Bakery (another day) I had creamy loaded baked potatoe soup with crossant.

Downtown Philly trips- you know my deal with Starbucks so I don't have to recap. Sadly though, this holiday, Starbucks didn't have anything new- just the holiday special: peppermint white mocha, eggnog and gingerbread flavors. Before Christmas, my cousin-friend and I, went downtown, ate mostly and shopped in between light meals. Our first stop was Starbucks. I liked the gingerbread latte (nostalgic of pumpkin spice but sweeter [sad news- Milkboy the cafe in Ardmore no longer makes the vanilla creme italian soda which I liked so much]). I tried Starbuck's yogurt parfait and chicken tarragon sandwich several days later. We just talked about life (what was happening in her life, anything new, etc.). It was awesome to eat, buy some cds or books or clothes and eat again. We went to a sushi place. I just got the mochi icecream flavor: green tea, strawberry and mango. She got a spicy Philly roll and "rock and roll" roll and she shared some with me. We dipped them in soysauce, which had a bit of wasabi (I would normally marinate the ginger with the wasabi and soy sauce but Consensus said no). We walked it off afterwards. We were going to an art gallery but it was closed. We walked in the Gallery shopping center instead and ended the night with a meal in Vietnam, the restaurant. I had vietnamese raviolli (some kind of meat, rice noodle, sprinkled with garlic, with a side dish of lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts and mint leaves [for display]), vietnamese iced coffee (powerful- I drank this around 7 pm and I was able to stay awake past 2 am), fried spring roll, and seafood (medley of shrimp, scallops, and squid) and vegetable soup w/ egg yellow noodles (I added some sauce to add more flavor to the broth). The table that we got was nice, it was by a window. I could see half of Philly's skyline.

Another day (because we didn't have time for dessert), we went to Zen tea house and ordered a Thai pandan cake and hot bubble tea (the tea doesn't bubble, but it has tapioca pearls and tea is just an umbrella term- I don't know if the drinks contain tea but I do know that they had tea flavors). I got a thai coconut flavored hot drink and she got an almond one. The pandan cake tasted similar to my drink- pandan and coconut. It was served on a plain plate decorated with whip cream and swirls of syrup. It was a sponge cake, so it was soft and it melted easily in one's mouth. The hot bubble tea warmed my heart/chest, perfect because it was raining outside.

Pre-christmas party to christmas eve and morning celebration- Pre-christmas celebration started at the Wynne Wood lanes in a birthday party of another family friend's daughter (half swedish and filipino- she's 4 years old, she understands english and tagalog but she can only speak in Swedish). Pizza and Pansit, and some bowling. I found out that the politically correct term for me is a "cultural catholic"- sounds more snazzy than "cafeteria catholic." This doesn't strictly define me (one of its criteria, is claiming to be catholic when ASKED, my response is a bit different. I was raised catholic...- deviation- funny but inappropriate joke- because I don't go to church often, my dad thinks I've changed religion and became a mormon [lol]) Christmas eve party took place at my house. More little kids running around. Relatives from CT visited. Eat, sleep, sing, eat, sleep, eat, sing, sing, eat, sing (until 6 am), sleep, then eat some more. Ham, Flan on table decorated by flowers (roses, carnations, lilys, daisies) and christmas colors

Chili's- Before my friend-neighbors confronted me about not keeping in touch, we ate at Chili's and watched a movie. I just had chili soup (unexpectedly- i ordered something else but I got this instead. I didn't complain because we were tyring to catch a movie, be on-time). This soup was an unexpected good surprise. It was mild chili so it wasn't too spicy. It was topped with melting cheese (a la french onion style), below/under it- the peppers, vegetable, reddish/creamy broth. The smell of sweet red pepper lured the mouth, and egg/spurred the hand to scoop a spoonful. The sweet taste died and burned the tongue momentarily, the cycle repeats.

another chili adventure- my family and I were going to go here for my mom's b-day, but we couldn't. My mom was feeling under the weather for her b-day, so we ordered out instead (from chili's). I got spicy honey chipotle breaded chicken, and I sampled other food my family ordered (beans, rice, boneless shanghai wings, mash potatoes, corn). My bro's girlfirend joined us for dinner, so the whole family ate and told stories. Overall an awesome occassion, it's very rare that my family and I sit together for dinner (everybody have different schedules- holidays and birthdays are times when our schedule are in sync). It was nice listening to the stories. My dad recapped our early years here in America. I remembered them when my dad told them, but I found it odd, that I have difficulty recalling them for myself (I wonder if it's some sort of block on my part, but then again, why would I block them? the stories are inspiring and encouraging). For dessert, we had buttercream marble cake and chocolates from Lindt's Chocolatier.

Plates in Ardmore- I had brunch with my high school friends at Plates. It was a nice catch up time. I mostly talked about my semester and I heard work stories from my hs friends. We talked about work, a bit about the past, and we started planning a trip to Europe and meeting in Paris (c. 2009 o 2010) [at Milkboy, I had tofu egg sandwich- they added spice to put more flavor, even though I like the plain taste of tofu, it was done similar to the style of devil eggs but with tofu). Back to Plates- I ordered a salmon grilled burger and water. The salmon burger patti was about 1.5 thick and it was loaded with flavor, spice and seasonings I couldn't name. I just kept eating it because it was delicious. Potatoe chips, crispy fresh on the side, and carrott pineapple/fruit coleslaw-esque salad. For dessert, I had cinnamon bread-pudding topped with butterpecan icecream drizzled with caramel, chocolate and magic.

Family Friend's home during New Years- More Filipino foods (rice, 15-17 inches of fish marinated ins sweet and sour sauce, surrounded by carrots, peppers, egg rolls, shrimp, meatloaf, beansprouts and shrimp), desserts (puto bong-bong, coconut something, sweet brown sticky rice [bico]). I had a bit of "bahama mama" it reminded me of a Dole strawberry, banana, orange pineapple juice gone sour/expired. I had a bit of "French" wine, I didn't like it, I diluted it with sparkling apple cider. The family friend's grand child entertained us- he was filled with energy, he kept running around, dancing and singing. He tumbled once in a while. I have some new year's resolution. One of them is to not get left behind (most are moving on with their lives and I should too).

Artisan gelati and cafe/di bruno bros- more downtown food stops, I recently discover while trying to find other cafes to hang out in order to have a conducive environment for reflecting and being a bohemian poet. Before leaving Philly, I went to the Art museum. I was inspired by Mark Doty (after reading "still life with oysters and lemon") to go to the museum and scrutinize the still lifes. I bought art from an associate artist, and also a book for my co-worker as a thank-you gift. Here's the story, originally I was looking for Corner Bakery (I wanted to order their 3 in 1 salad deal). I walked for three blocks and I couldn't find it so I changed my mind and tried to find a place that had chicken pot pie. I couldn't find any and I was hungry so I settled for mediocre pizza. To redeem my culinary taste, I bought a "snowball" at a italian food market di bruno bros. at chestnut street and ate it in the artisan gelati and cafe at 20th and Sansom st. The "snowball" pastry had bavarian creme layers between cake, frosted by meringue, sprinkled by coconut. I ate this with an awesome plain "latte." I'm used to flavored lattes but this plain one with sugar (brown sugar from HI) surprised me, it was quite potent too, I stayed awake for hours. If I had more money, I would probably try the gelati, but I didn't (so next time). I ate my snowball, sipped my latte while editing a poem I wrote and while reflecting. Good time for solitude. Outside, building towering over me, and buses passing by. I felt the draft of cold air as i write...

dentist- this week I had my bi-annual teeth cleaning (how apt!). The bad news was that my gums easily bled. This could mean that my gums are sensitive and/or plaque/gingivitis are lurking around (irony- I flossed more last year- maybe I'm not flossing and brushing properly?). The GREAT news is that I don't have a cavity (or maybe they didn't spot it). My dentist was nostalgic and commented on when he first met me when I was 9 and now he's still my dentist while I'm getting my MA. I was in the mood to celebrate so I got a pastry top chicken pot pie in Boston Market. Delicious! this is sort of a weird/twisted story. I was inspired to eat Chicken pot pie after seeing the gory musical Sweeney Todd (you'll have to know the musical to get the connection, I won't spoil it for you). Back to Boston Market, the pie is delicious/mouthwatering, and it was served with a loaf of corn bread.

Holiday leftovers- the fridge in the house is still somewhat filled with leftovers. It's nice, I don't have to worry about food during the holidays. I can just heat something up whether it's spaghetti (filipino sweet sauce style), a bread with meat fillings, dessert, reliable rice or whatever. During the holidays, my parents don't hear me whine about the paucity of food in the house. I'm always full.

Food are memorable because they integrate all five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. You see the steaming seafood and vegetable vietnamese egg noodle soup, the table set, you hear the crunch of the garlic, the clinking silverwares, the laughter/the stories told in between spoonfulls of nourishment, you smell the pepper, the flowers at the table, the perfumes of loved ones, you taste the sweet pepper, the sour grape/wine, you touch the food, sponge cake/mochi icecream melts in your mouth, sticky rice kisses your lips before being devoured. And sometimes your sixth sense kicks in giving you the urge to eat chicken pot pies because of a movie or some memory. Bon appetite world!

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

Mark Doty, books, and movies

over the break, I read several stuff: Mark Doty's "Still Life with Oysters and Lemons," the first half of Stephen King's "Different Seasons" (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and Apt Pupil), more poems from Pablo Neruda (collection of poetry in "Odes to Opposites"), some short pieces from literary and art magazines (USU and SHU), and I'm starting to read the English translation of Umberto Eco's "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana."

Mark Doty's "Still life..."- I wasn't planning on reading this book because of the title. At first "still life" connoted boring to me. I don't like ultra-realistic paintings (my dislike probably started from the fact that I have difficulty making realistic art myself). However the phrase "Oysters and Lemon" stayed in the back of my mind (there's an element of dadaism in it). My colleague read this book for his class. In the the office, sometimes, he'd discuss this book with me. The book became more interesting. The book's length also made it more appealing to read (only 70 pages, I read it over the break). After reading this book, I became a fan of Mark Doty. He'll be stopping by at USU this semester; I can't wait to hear his talk. I'm planning to read his other stuff (I hope that USU's library has them). For me "Still life with oysters and lemons" is like a big drawn out haiku (if you don't know already, I'm fanatical about haikus); this book has bits of art history (brings back memory of art history classes), art criticism, poetry and its analysis, philosophy, reflections about life (his life), memoir-esque passages. Doty created a good synthesis of academic and personal. I never thought before of being able to pull this together (make them work with each other instead of being in conflict).

King's "Shawshank Redemption" was hopeful, but his "Apt Pupil" was not. Redemption is about a man wrongly imprisoned, and Apt is about obsession especially with the horrors of death camps/holocaust. I watched the movie of Redemption after reading it (it was pretty accurate, I felt the same way after finish it similar to me finishing the book). I felt sorry for the characters in Apt; I was hoping that he would get out of his conundrum.

I continued my never ending review of Spanish by reading more Neruda poems in his collection of "Odes to Opposites" (both English and Spanish). I get bored just learning the grammar and the vocabulary (this is necessary) so I tried spicing it up with literature/poetry. Update on the review- last semester, I got caught up with everything especially teaching. over the break, I finally finished reviewing the vocab/grammar of chapters 1-12 (I'm not motivated to finish reviewing ch. 13-16). I feel like I have the basic (enough to pass spanish 1 year 1. I watch spanish movies, read the subtitles, read short stories, listen to spanish pop music, for the most part I can understand it. the thing I'm most uncomfrotable with is speaking in spanish. I want to get to the point in my education when I can be somewhat comfortable with speaking spanish instead of starting in level one again (so wish me luck!).. lo siento for the digression... two poems in particular created awesome imagery and showed me another perspective (surprised me, made it memorable for me): "Ode to Fall" and "Ode to Waves." Neruda wrote something like fall being a difficult season, it's not easy being fall. Unlike playful spring, fall works (sort of like the ant and grasshopper story). In "Ode to Waves" the image of waves as Venus and later as running horses is novel and beautiful (if you get a chance read it to see for yourself).

Umberto Eco's "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana"- I got this for Christmas ( I chose it because it was on-sale and it's a novel that incorporated pictures- it's not like a graphic novel, the pictures allow us to see what the narrator is seeing, and they play a vital role in restoring the character's memory). So far it's interesting. The main character is around 60 years old and he lost all his memory which pertains to feelings and personal experience. The funny thing is that he still remembers facts but not emotions. He's re-learning things.

I tried catching up with my movies (it's more convinient to watch movies in an urban area versus rural). The first movie is "Golden Compass" (same title as the book). I want to read the book. The movie was a bit choppy. This is the first from the trilogy, and it felt that they were just introducing characters. One character would be introduced and leave and later reintroduced to play a part (I'm betting that the book has better flow, transition, and be more in depth). "Enchanted" was charming, funny and romantic (disney sort of parodied itself). It's witty, I want to see it again. "I am Legend" reminded me of Tom Hawk's "Cast Away" meets "Resident Evil/28 days later/a zombie flick of some sort" (but not so cheesy)- more drama less gore, but still suspenseful. "Sweeney Todd" is a bloody musical (both in british slang and literally). It could have been humorous because you see Johnny Depp slashing someone's throat while singing; but it wasn't. I've never seen such a musical. The juxtaposition is not so strange but it's still disturbing. "Aliens vs Predator: Requiem" is a movie I saw with my friends. It was entertaining. My friends rated it 7 out of 10. The aliens and predator's delivered it right, but the human actors' performance were expectedly disappointing.

I'll try to watch more movies, hopefully the snow in Utah won't hold me back.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 9:34 PM | Comments (0)