Friday, February 29, 2008

The stories

I have to say, this was actually quite a fun experience. I haven't really written like this since college. It kind of stretched my creative abilities a bit.  I tried to write a different style of story for every picture; partly to keep my brain interested, and partly to spare your sanity. As a slight disclaimer, some readers sent more than one picture, for those who did, I just picked my favorite one. I didn't want to keep everyone waiting 'til Christmas. Anyway, I'm entertained by how things turned out, and I hope you are too.

Presenting, Storytime with Mr. B:

  December, 1992 - the back of an abandoned flour mill just outside of Westhope North Dakota. There had been no reason to suspect that the facsimile had gotten into the wrong hands. A blue sequin top on a six foot four blonde isn't exactly hard to miss. The three of them sat around an old kitchen table playing bridge. Slivers of sunshine filtered through the dusty window casting a soft, anxious glow over the motley assemblage.
   It had taken nearly three days to find it, the operation had run seamlessly and now it was all over but the waiting. In a matter of a few short hours she'd walk through the door, hand it over, and they'd all leave - one by one.
  Suddenly, a loud creaking on the stairs. They hadn't been expecting anyone. They looked apprehensively toward the door that led to the stairs that led to the bottom floor. It swung open slowly and there stood whiskers. He didn't look happy. No one moved, no one spoke.
  Whiskers sauntered slowly into the room. He looked around, pausing only momentarily on the group seated around the table. He walked over to the window. He had to choose his words carefully. He scaled the wall and stood in the window sill. He was short, but that had never been a problem. He'd built a reputation based on ruthless persona, and a staunch loathing of personal intimacy.
  He whipped around quickly only to be confronted by the business end of a pistol. He flinchlessly opened his arms and simply said, "Go ahead." Little did the man holding the pistol know that Whiskers had the reflexes of a cat and could catch a bullet at point blank range - should the need arise.
  After what seemed an eternity, the man lowered the pistol and sullenly returned to the table.
  "We've been compromised. The mission has been aborted," said Whiskers. Not waiting for a reaction he continued, "Apparently our female cohort harbors a fondness for teacup poodles. She sold out. It's over, just...go home."
  Whiskers leapt down from the window, and crossed to the open door. He turned to face the group, then left without another word.

  She had never been popular with the boys. It could have been her mother - sleevess and scornful. It could have been the fact that she could put a beer cup in places where most girls could only fit a shotglass - though usually that was in her favor - but it was mostly because she was a staunch conservative republican in a see of wildly liberal democrats.
  Earlier that day she had prepared herself for the worst. The republican congressional delegate would be in the parade, and she feared what might happen to him. She'd worn her tube-top/slingshot and hidden several buckshot in the folds of her fleshy middle. She'd be there to protect her prince if the time came for such action.
  She felt alone at the parade. Sleeveless, like her mother, and under said matron's scornful eye. She hadn't let her talents go to waste. Not on a hot day like this. She was showing her conservative spirit and would be ready at a moment - or two's - notice to spring into action with the help of a remote-controlled chair lift. Unfortunately for her, the parade went off without a hitch. Liberal as they were, the local townsfolk were politically respectful.
  She still felt alone as the parade ended. Sleeveless, like her mother, who'd left hours beforehand to go home and prepare a dinner of leftover fried chicken and cornbread. And scorned - the delegate hadn't even waved at her - though she'd been his only local constituent. After all, she'd never been popular with the boys.

  Ray stepped out into the rain. Today would be the day. Talk around the water-cooler seemed to indicate that Sheila might be interested. It was now or never. If he didn't act he'd regret it for the rest of his life.
  April was usually a lucky month for Ray - except for that time he'd lost his wallet, his favorite recipe for quiche, and his mother all in the same week back in April of 1987, but he felt good about his decision today.
  He only knew three things about Sheila: She was born in Schenectady, she spoke 3 languages fluently, and she took a morning coffee break at exactly 10:17 every day. He hoped to learn much more in the coming days, but he had to do this first, just to make sure.
  The bus-ride to the office wasn't as awkward as he'd been expecting, but then people in this part of town were used to eccentricity. He stepped of at his stop - the 7th from his house - and walked the remaining two blocks, trying - ineffectively - to remain as inconspicuous as possible.
  He stopped in front of the double doors. 12 floors above him the coffee machine was dripping, the copy machine was whirring, and Sheila was probably sitting at her desk, head cocked coquettishly to the side.
  He stepped off the elevator, turned the corner, and came to a dead stop. There she was, headed straight for him - and wearing a chicken costume. He didn't quite know what to make of it all.
  "Sheila?" he queried
  She merely turned her head and looked a bit sheepish - which is difficult in a chicken costume.
  "I had no idea..." he continued.
She removed the head of the costume. Her long auburn locks fell about her shoulders, framing her pale, victorian features perfectly.
  "I had to make sure." she said, "And now I am."
  She stepped toward him, and he toward her. From out of nowhere music began playing and they knew it was meant to be. He grabbed her wing and they left - she in her chicken costume and he in his hot pink biker shorts and 10-gallon hat - to start a new life together.
  Unfortunately in the middle of the crosswalk they were hit by a stray souvlaki vendor and killed instantly. April was only usually a lucky month for Ray.

   37-year-old Jaques LeBlanc died Thursday when his nostrils and mouth were glued shut in a community enhancement project gone awry.
   According to authorities Jaques had been working on a mural at the Pyrenees train station in downtown Paris when he inadvertently wiped quick-drying grout on his face and was unable to remove it before suffocating.
Bystanders on the opposite train platform watched, but were unable to offer assistance.
   "Je ne pourrais pas le croire," said Marie Ruelle, a resident of Paris and frequent patron of the public transit system. "Qui est assez stupide pour coller leur nez et leur bouche fermés en même temps ? À mon avis il le mérite."
   Pierre Legrand, chief of the Paris police department, said Jaque was dead when the police arrived several hours later.
   He said the police were notified when the smell became too much for subway travelers.
   The community enhancement project involved refurbishing several tile murals in subway stations around the city and is scheduled to be completed later this year.  
   According to the Urban Renovative Institute for Neighborhood Enhancement Jacque's death - though tragic - shouldn't postpone the completion deadline.  
   For more information on community enhancement projects in your area you can contact the institute at 10920983827.

  When I told her what I planned to do, she just kind of stared at me.  Not a laugh, not a word of discouragement - nothing.  Just a blank look, and then she walked away.  At this point I figured I had to do it, if for no other reason than to vindicate myself against such an emotionless reaction.
  It wasn't as hard.  The old man lived out in the middle of nowhere and it's not like he had the thing locked up.  It was just sort of out there.
  I walked right through the gate.  He didn't even have a guard dog or anything.  I probably could have taken it with him and his family standing right there in the yard, but just to make sure it went off without a hitch, I went when they were all at that absurd little candy factory of theirs.
  I picked her up at her house on the seashore.  When she came out the door she had a look of complete disbelief on her face.  That was more along the lines of what I was looking for in a reaction.  She climbed in, leaned close, and with a coy little smile on her face gave me a tender kiss.  
  She put her head on my shoulder and we drove away into the sunset.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was ours.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Booty Call

All of the faculty and staff employed at my school - and I'm assuming pretty much everywhere in the district - wear a lanyard.  They are adorned with ID tags, keys, timers, whistles, and various other educationally facilitating accouterments. Mine only had a whistle - until Tuesday.  I got my first key.  It's like a right of passage.  Oddly enough it's a key to the kitchen - perhaps the most important key of them all.  I now hold the power for after-school tutoring snacks around my neck.  It's kind of an awesome feeling.

There's a young third grader who came to school with his shirt buttoned up all the way to the top.  After school I said to him, "We need to have a chat..." then proceeded to explain the coolness of unbuttoning that top button.  Mine was undone and he said, "But I can see your booty." 

Also, according to the first grade, making out is when you kiss and you take your clothes off.

A friend of mine came to visit this weekend and he came to school with me.  This was an entertaining experience.  Within about 5 minutes of doing recess duty he had a posse of third grade girls.  They would attatch themselves to him and start calling me a hater - with his encouragement.  Everyone also thought we were brothers.  It was weird.

Monday, February 25, 2008


In one third grade class I'm helping the kids read a book.  I was reviewing what we'd read last week.  We were talking about a cookie purchase that one of the characters had made and I asked the kids what kind of cookies they were.  One boy said, "100% good."

A boy made a game of head-butting me in the stomach.  The third time he did it he said, "Ow, that hurt.  You have tight abs."  Totally made my day.

Man, when it rains it pours.  All of the following happened in one day:

I was singing while helping my first graders and one of them said, "I bet my dad could do that, but he's dead."

One of the other first graders proposed.

I thought about accepting the proposal after this:  I was sending a text message and one girl asked, "Who are you texting, your wife?"  Without missing a beat another girl said, "You know he doesn't have anybody."  Heartbreak.

We were working on "og" family words i.e. dog, hog, smog, etc.  They were supposed to write a sentence about a frog and a dog.  The first sentence to be created - The dog peed on the frog.

A third grader said to me, "Do you know who the coolest person in this school is, boy or girl?"  Jokingly I replied, "Uh, me!"  And she said, "yep."  Heartwarming.

I jumped rope today with the third grade girls.  They were all impressed.

Yesterday I was working with the first graders on the "it" word family i.e. sit, bit, hit etc.  You can imagine the sorts of fun we had there.  The following were added to the beginning of "it" - t, sh, cl.  Most of the time I just said those weren't words, and laughed on the inside.

The pictures submitted, along with their accompanying stories will be forthcoming shortly.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Story time with Mr. B

We're testing ESL kids at my school.  We're into the 1st and 2nd graders at this point.  In the "writing" portion of the test there's a question that says:  "Look at the picture.  Write a story about the picture.  Tell what probably happened before, what is happening now, and what will happen after..."  I think I'd like to try that.  So, someone send me a random picture, and I'll write you a story to accompany it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Here's your sign

My elementary school employs some of the best teachers in the State, and probably in the country.  I'm grateful to be in the presence of such talented educators. I think, then, it only fits that we are also home to some of the most incompetent aides known to human-kind.  The following conversation occurred between myself and one of these dim-witted would-be demagogues.  For anonymity's sake, we'll call her Mary:

Mary: Have you seen (the boss)
Me: No, she's at the district.
Mary: Where?
Me: The district office, she had a meeting.
Mary: Where?
Me: The district office, you know the offices for the school district?
Mary: Oh, she's in the office?
Me: No, she's at the offices of Granite School District, like...downtown...
Mary: Oh, so she's not in the building?
Me: No...

I wore my plaid pants to school. Not so unusual. A 1st grader asked me why I was wearing pants that look like pajama pants.

Our little racist had the opportunity to sit down with one of our aides and have a chat.  She's an older African-American woman who grew up in Alabama during the civil rights movement.  I think she left quite an impression on him.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

And now, a poem...

I made my first student cry.  At this point some of you might be thinking, "Oh no!  That's terrible, poor kid..." but I assure you, among educators it's a badge of honor.  It means we've gotten through.  I'm rather proud of that moment.  it happened because my Spanish students were being rather uncontrollable.  I like to have a friendly relationship with my kids, and have fun etc. but they were getting a bit out of hand.  So I laid down the law.

I love it when students think up their own punishments inadvertently.  A young man in the 3rd grade called a girl in his class a n*****.  No one was happy with this situation.  He was assigned three book reports and a stack of worksheets, along with a series of lectures from various adults, and not being allowed back in class.  I was watching him at one point and he said, "do I have to write a letter to the teacher?" i.e. an apology - I thought "what a fantastic idea!" and said, "Yes, you do."  Love it.

Ms. Larson's sixth grade class was writing poems today, so during a short break I wrote one as well:

I Am

I am scrawny and eccentric
I wonder if the perfect brownie exists
I hear the warblings of fairies
I see the sky dance
I want a bigger bank account
I am scrawny and eccentric

I pretend I'm a super-hero
I feel tall
I touch a metaphorical pig ear
I worry about the future of my kids
I cry when I laugh to hard
I am scrawny and eccentric

I understand geometry
I say "Long live the Larson!"
I dream in color
I try to laugh
I hope I make a difference
I am scrawny and eccentric

I read it to them and they snapped.

For those of you who'd like to tap your own poetic reservoirs, here's the form for this particular poem:

I am (two descriptive things)
I wonder (something you wonder about)
I hear (some imaginary thing you hear)
I see (some imaginary thing you see)
I want (something you really want)
I am (first line of the poem)

I pretend (something you pretend)
I feel (something you really feel)
I touch (something imaginary you touch)
I worry (something you worry about/fear/etc.)
I cry (something that makes you cry)
I am (first line of poem)

I understand (something you understand)
I say (something you say/want to say)
I dream (something you dream about)
I try (something you try to do)
I hope (something you hope for)
I am (first line of poem)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Overheard at Gourley Elementary...

6th Grader: Ms. Larson, Debbie is my mom's boyfriend's sister.
Ms. Larson: What??
6G: Debbie is my mom's boyfriend's siter.
ML: Do I know Debbie?
6G: No...
Other 6th Grader: (look of bewilderment)

3rd grader: I'm allergic to spring...

And here are some pictures, just for fun.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

San Valentino

Everyone else did it, so I figured I'd add my two cents about Valentine's Day.

Recently I've come under the opinion that Valentine's is great - a day to celebrate love in all its forms. Then, I did some research and found that no, in fact, Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate romantic love - leaving all of us poor saps who don't have that, out in the cold. I think we should petition for a redefinition of the day. If it's really all about romantic love, why do first graders have Valentine's parties?

I think maybe I'll just keep my slightly misguided view of V-day in tact. That makes it more fun. Then I can celebrate with friends, family, the human race...and my first graders. Plus, I think V-day is a lot more enjoyable when one isn't bitter and resentful.

I had a blast at school today. My first graders noticed my birthmark the other day (a white patch of hair on the back of my head, for those who don't know me) and asked why I don't dye it. I told them that I used to color it with markers in high school and they said I should do that again. So today I colored it pink.

I got several valentines from students today. One was a reminder that we do, in fact, teach on the West Side of the valley - and I wouldn't have it any other way:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

E is for effort

Additions to the 1st grade sentence board:
I am good at robots.
I am afraid of cheese.

Also, one of the activities on the seatwork in first grade this week was a 'fill in the blank with the right word from the word box' activity.  We were working with the 'id' word family - kid, lid, did, hid etc.  The sentence said, "Mom put a ___ on the pot."  The appropriate answer, obviously, is lid.  One youngster put "kid," thus changing the entire meaning of the sentence

Another childhood phrase has survived the test of time: "What you say is what you are, you're a naked movie star."  I ask myself why anyone would want to be a naked movie star.  A hot, rich movie star perhaps...but naked?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Apparently, I'm it.

I've been tagged.  I've always wanted to be blog tagged, so I'm gonna do it - enjoy.

Two Names You Go By: Greg, Mr. B
Things You Are Wearing Right Now: Shoes, socks, shirt, pants, and a rockin' watch.
Two things you Want (or have) in a Relationship: Honesty, laughter
Two of Your Favorite Things to do: travel and play with kids
Two things you did last night: Fireside, watched The Office with new friends from the ward.
Two people you talked to last night: Tara and Andrea
Two Things You're doing tomorrow: Institute, school lunch.
Two Longest Car Rides: From Salt Lake to Orlando, and Orlando to Salt Lake
Two Favorite Holidays: Red Shoe Day, National pancake day
Two Favorite Drinks: Egg Nog and Chocolate Milk
Two Things About Me you may not have known: Once I built a phone.  I'm a cabin boy.
Two jobs I have had in my life: Role Hopper at Epcot, coolest substitute teacher known to man.
Two Movies I would watch over and over: To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar; and Clue
Two of my favorite foods: Pasta Alfredo, brownies
Two places I'd rather be right now: The beach, in the arms of someone special.
Five People I am tagging: Max, Erica, Leah, Joe/Angie, and...anyone who happens upon this blog from Bozeman Montana.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I was meant for the stage.

The following conversation with a 2nd grader has been translated into English and paraphrased for your convenience:

2G - Can I ask you a question? ...are you a woman?
Mr. B - Uh...No.  Clearly I'm a man.  Why?
2G - Well, because my cousin is gay...and a woman at the same time.

I really didn't know how to process all of that.  I wasn't sure if she thought I was gay or what.  And I really don't know why she thought I was a woman...

A friend of mine recently sent me a text message saying, "It's 72 degrees here. I love where I live." He lives in Southern California. I was almost jealous, but then I remembered that I get to do cool things like going sledding with elementary school kids - which I got to do again on Friday - and realized that I too love where I live.

Lend Me a Tenor has officially come to and end. It's always a mixture of feelings when a show is over. I think for this one it was more a sad thing than a happy thing. Sure I'll have a greater level of sanity, and hopefully a little more free time, but I had so much fun with this show. Honestly it was a blast. It was great to work with so many professional and talented people. I think I laughed every single night I was at the theater - and that was just backstage. Between the stories we shared, the funny moments that we laughed about, and the cast prayers where we would end up in tears by the end because we were laughing so hard, there was never a dull moment.

And being on stage's intoxicating. Even after six weeks of performing the same show I wasn't tired of it. In fact the very last show was one of the best of the entire run. All of us were on top of our game, and the audience was incredible. It's like a drug. Nothing makes me happier than making other people laugh.

On that note - I auditioned for Annie Get Your Gun and I made it. I'm part of the general ensemble. That's like being "3rd guy from the left" or whoever. I guess I also get to be the prop master of "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show." From what I understand that's a little bit part/cameo that has some potential to be kind of funny. Should be a good time. It's less pressure anyway. And with a cameo I can do my best to steal the show. ;) I'll post more details about dates etc. when more info becomes available.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I was only acting...

Ok, so I really have two jobs at the moment, though one of them is more just for fun. I do get paid for it, however, so I guess technically it's a job. And just as much entertaining stuff happens in that job as in my day-job. It's my play, for those who aren't diggin' my ambiguity. And I thought that I might share a couple of experiences from that one too.

Just a couple of moments that have brought me great joy -

There's a part in the play where one of the characters is thought to be dead. It's always interesting to hear what patrons will say not-so-quietly in reference to this event. One woman, when she found out that the guy was "dead" simply said, "Oh shit."

For those of you who know me, or really who've ever even met me, you know that I'm not really all that athletic. Hand-eye coordination and I aren't the best of friends. I'm good at things like punting, and horse-back riding. Well, there's a part in the show where one character throws me a wine bottle. The guy I usually act with is facing me when this happens, so it's easy enough. The other guy throws it over his back. Usually this isn't a problem because I can catch pretty well with both hands. However, the other night he misjudged where I was standing and the bottle started flying away from me. I sort of lunged toward the spot where it was going to land, shatter, and cause mayhem, and caught it by the neck of the bottle. I was completely surprised and delighted. I also heard some sounds of surprise and delight from the audience, which made me realize that not only was is awesome for me, but was pretty cool in general. Good times.

I really love acting. Honestly it's my passion. And I'm good at it. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I think it's asinine to have a talent and be shy about recognizing it. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to make money doing two things I love so much.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I'm good at lightning

My boss informed me at recess that she occasionally has themed Family Home Evenings with her family.  She kept telling the children that were surrounding us to go away and walk back in a minute.  This was to inform me that one of her themed FHE's was about masturbation.  I almost lost it.  She said, "It's amazing how you can make the hymns apply..."  She told me that for treats they eat twinkies and snowballs.  Great idea.

I love how easy friendship is for children.  There's nothing complicated about it - you're just friends.  There's no worrying about give and take, you just treat them like a friend because that's all they are.  Plain and simple.  I wish it was that easy in adulthood.

One of the learning centers in the first grade classroom I help out in consists of a series of cards with phrases such as "I like___", "I'm good at ___", or "I'm not afraid of ___".  These are accompanied by another series of cards with words like "ice cream",  "soccer", and "lightning".  Today my favorite first grade sentences include - "I'm good at bunnies." and "I'm not afraid of Jupiter."

P to the S - Ms. Larson is the coolest 6th grade teacher I know.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

General Mayhem

There are a few moments in my job when my heart just feels sad.  Right now we're doing benchmark reading tests.  I tested a 5th grade girl today who reads an average of 16 words per minute.  To give you an idea of what that means, that last sentence has 16 words in it.  I read about 245 words per minute on a sixth grade level.

Then there are moments when my heart is full to the brim:

When the second grade boy tells me jokes at recess

When one of my favorite third grader boys says, "I need a hug, I'm having a rough day."

When the kindergarten girl runs at full speed to give me a hug

When random students I don't ever remember even seeing say, "Hi Mr. B!"

The adorable new kindergartener who looks to me with his puppy dog eyes when he's scared or unsure.

The way my Spanish-speaking kids sound like adults when they talk.

The way my boss likes to give me a hard time, but deep down thinks I'm indispensable.

The fact that I have a secret hand-shake with the coolest kid in 6th grade.

When I test a 4th grader and he reads over 200 wpm.

Overall, I think the positives outweigh the negatives...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Other than that...

Ok, so here was the other template I was considering...and really I'm still thinking about it, but I don't have time to change it over, but plus I haven't reached any definite conclusions.  Votes?

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Ok, so I figured it was about time for a change in scenery, so I found this awesome template for my blog.  I hope you like it.  If you have any suggestions for further changes let me know.  I just need to upload my links on the sidebar and I'm pretty much done.  Woot!