"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A blog of a changing year...

New Year's eve blue moon

The last watercolors of the year...

I started blogging in May, and this is number 339. It has been a year of change and awakening for me in many ways--personally, professionally, emotionally, creatively--and much of it is reflected here.  It has opened my eyes and my spirit to writing again, provided me an outlet for painting, for storytelling and photography, for essays, for poetry, for humor, for contact with new and old friends, for thinking, for new adventures and experiments in being creative.

I didn't know where this was going back in May, and I still don't perhaps as I consider  goals for experiences in the new year. I've learned and expanded, but have a long way to go technologically in this digital but emotional and creative world.

How has it changed? One example only are the paintings. I didn't think I'd painted much this year. I've had a show and sold some, but  there's not much new that's framed. Then I thought about all the one's I've posted. I've probably painted more this year, but they're smaller, and  therefore freer and more creative. That's because I needed to make them smaller so I could scan them. Technology led to something new.

I read a statement from Garrison Keeler today in Time. Asked  how he mastered writing and oral storytelling, he replied:
"I didn't. There's no mastery to be had. You love the attempt. You don't master a story any more than you master a river. You feel lucky to canoe down it."

It's been an interesting canoe ride this year, including this blog. Sometimes it has been wonderful, and sometimes its been less than pleasant, but it's never been boring.

Today's watercolors come from looking out the window on a gray morning, bare branches against the sky, and thinking about tonight's new moon.  Bare branches, another year, more life. "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" Shelley.

This is probably my last blog of the year, but I'm working (thinking) about the next one about the awakenings I've had, and my thoughts on the new year. If I don't get it done tonight...tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

is Film dead? Burp!


Thanks to Mark Zimmerman!


Thanks to Mark Zimmerman  for adding this Simon and Garfunkel for previous post...,

but see also my July post on same subject...

"Kodachrome, it gives us those nice bright colors
Gives us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!
I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph
So momma, don't take my Kodachrome away"

And I'd add the prhase: "Everything looks better in black and white."

How is it that Simon and Garfunkel always have philoosphy and words for my emotions?

I miss f/stops

Bought a new camera yestrerday. First new camera I've had in years.

Now to read the instruction manual.  Uh oh!

Now my son Vance, and Mark Zimmerman and Zach Nash would all say, "That's not a real camera."

It is a Nikon, but a Nikon "Coolpix."  What kind of real man's camera is named a "Coolpix," I ask myself. And really, I've had little Sony point and shoot for a couple of years. smaller than a package of cigarettes. I use it for snapshots of the grandkids, and for reference shots for my watercolor paintings...very adept at snapping photos as you drive down the Interstate in New Mexico at 75 mph and getting quick stuff. In fact, many of the photos you've seen on this blog came from it. Nothing like a Carl Zeiss lens.

But it's tax deduct time, and ever since children Vance, Dallas and Derrick got advanced versions of  those cameras, with real telephotos and more features, and video capability, I've wanted one. So that's how I ended up with this new one yesterday, my Christmas-birthday present to myself.

And it's really "cool" all the things that it will do...and not as big as the standard 35 mm electronic versions that Nikon, Canon and others put out. The older and heavier I get, I detest carrying heavy stuff around.

But then I started reading the instruction manual. Yes, I can take a photo already, but then there are all these little icons that show up on the screen...and I have to figure out what they mean--a trip to the manual. And I can't download them yet, because while I've read part of that manual, there are some instructions that aren't clear...computer stuff, you know.

Digital photography is terrific for many uses, I know. Younger generations already take it for granted. As soon as you take his picture, two-year-old grandson Max Bell immediately says, "See!," demanding to see the instant image. Photojournalism has been revolutionized by its immediacy, commerical photography by its variety and flexibility.

Then I thought about my old metal Nikkormat 35 mm camera from the late 60s or early 70s, out in the cold of the garage, in some box. I never had to read the instruction manual. Tri-X 400 film at f11 and 1/250 of a second, focus, and you WILL get a photo. It was simple to load and use and while darkroom took some time, the instructions for it and the darkroom were the same as all the other cameras. And no cute icons. Sure, it weighs more than several of the new ones put together, but the battery never discharges so the shutter won't work. (You don't need the exposure meter's little battery--because of long use, you can literally almost "point and shoot.") And there's that reassuring "slickkkk"" when the focal plane shutter captures a moment. Even though you can't see the image instantly, when you've taken a really good photo, you already know it, can see it in your mind, and excitement builds as you wait for the negative to be developed.

Reminds me of Simon and Garfunkel's "Old Friends." Always there, always dependable, always durable, always... .

Of course, I'm still excited about this newfangled camera and its use this coming year. Now if I could find which box the old Nikkormat is in, and if I could figure out how to disengage the computer virus protection so I could install the new camera's software, I'd take a photo of the Nikkormat  with the Nikon Coolpix, and, reading the instruction manual, figure out how to download it, save it, and then post it with this blog.

I just miss f/stops.

Nikkormat, from an online ad--
One professional in Michigan writes:
"It just feels great."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First born Capricorn

I received a birthday card today from an insurance agent of mine, noting many of the things that happened in the year I was born.

I don't know if it exactly cheered me up, but I started thinking again at this calendar-year's end about all the times the world has been around the sun since I was born.

The birthday isn't here yet, but those of you who follow the stars know the characteristics of a first born Capricorn, I'm sure.

So here's a quiz, even if you don't know the day...what year (Gregorian calendar, not Mayan or other) was I born in?

Here are hints from the card:

American living then and now

Average income--then, $4,027. 2009--$50,986
1st class stamp--then, 3 cents, Now, 42 cents
Gallon of milk--then, 62 cents. Now, $3.99 or so
Population (mil.)--then, 138.4. Now, 306.8.
New home (Ave.)--$3,475. Now, $218,400

Top tunes: You always hurt the one you love, I'll get by, Long ago and far away, sentimental journey, I'll walk alone.

Top movie...Going my way.

One more hint. Average price of a new Ford--then, None made. Now, $20,900.

So how many times around the sun?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Who is a journalist?

Who is a journalist?

“Bon jour,” say the French when greeting someone in the mornings: “Good day.” The Latin-derived French word is closest to the original Latin “diurnum” for “day.”  In late Latin, “diurnalis” meant “journal,” a daily record. As the word migrated into late Middle English as “journal,” it meant a record for travelers of the daily stages of a trip, an itinerary of the “journey.” By the late 1500s, it evolved into any daily record and was applied to periodicals. In the late 1600s, “journalist” described a person who earned a living by writing or editing for a newspaper or periodical. In the 20th Century, it also described people working in broadcast news. All journalists provide a periodic record of events people want to, or need to, know.
      --Oxford English Dictionary

Toasting the passage of time

Some of my travel journals...on the left by itself with the black cover bulges the  journal from a week in Paris--full of photos, writing, ideas,comments, tickets and receipts from places visited, maps and more.

Another year, by our relatively primitive calendars...

One of my Christmas presents  from Susan was  Rooftop Soliloquy, by Roman Payne, labeled a novel, of 22 soliloquys written over a two-year span living in Paris.

What a dream, perfect for a new year, I thought and picked it up eagerly. After the first few pages however, I found it is a book I will not finish.

Written in first person, the ideas of that first page were intriquing. I quote:

"It was a time I slept in many rooms, called myself by many names. I wandered through  the quarters of the city like alluvium wanders the river banks....Mine was a world of rooftops and love songs.
"Many friends of old assembled--tried companions, those long-traveled. with stories yet untold. There we gathered beneath the broad moon that hung like a pendant on a string.
"Golden-lipped girls with sleek hair, voluptuous breasts, and eyes slender as pearls strolled in and out of their clouds of perfume....
"We toasted the city and the passage of time...."

Those phrases are about as deep as the book gets. In the rest of the book, the writer, a poet and musician and what the French would call a "rake," wanders from one  day to the next, telling of his poetry and music and number of girls he sleeps with--not in that order. It frankly gets boring, because there's no depth. He spouts similes together like  a string of tattered beads (pun intended), more like diarrhea than imagery (another pun intended). I'll give him this--he works overtime to cram as many as possible on each page, and he's published a book, which I have not.

But in my mind, a journal is supposed to be more than just "what I did today." There should be observations, thoughts, fresh ideas, perspectives, to make the writing worthwhile and keep it from being shallow.

In the travel journals I've kept--whether in Paris or Italy or Mali, or on the way to New Mexico or Montana or elsewhere, a brief account of the day's events is great, but just taking time to sit down at the end of the day, or at breakfast, and think, and write, is more valuable. My students on our  New Mexico study trips produced some of the finest writing, some of it literature quality, from their experiences and observations. Susan and I have found that our journals from traveling can be picked up again years later and read...bringing back exact times and places and meals and everything else. We collect receipts, tickets, photos, menus, maps, and other scraps of information from where we've been, and paste them in those journals along with the writing. Reading our journals is like going on the trip again. Our observations add meat and humor to them.

If you think of the great journals of history, the ones that come to mind for most Americans are those of Lewis and Clark. They're historical treasures, not because they kept writing about themselves, but the world around them. I can remember the trip to Glacier Park in Montana that son Travis and I took about seven years ago, tag team driving. When he was driving--much of it up the Lewis and Clark trail on the Missouri River, I would be writing in my journals, and the imagination flowed from my pens.
There is a Gospel song, taken out of context, that springs from those pages: "Precious Memories."

I'm not a diary keeper, like my Dad, but as we end this year, and we take stock of where and when we've been, journal thoughts are important. I guess that's why I'm a journalist, in the original sense of the word.

Instead of regretting getting older, such journals help us "toast the passage of time."

Rich Pages from the Journal of Paris

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas carol

What's your favorite?

Away in a Manger. Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Joy to the World. Oh Come All Ye Faithful. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. The First Noel. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. We Three Kings of Orient Are. Deck the Halls. Carol of the Bells. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

Would it  not have to do with memories of special times and people brought  to mind when you hear them? Perhaps the twinkling lights on a Christmas tree, with presents stacked underneath? Maybe looking at the snow fall outside the window on Christmas eve. Or a group of friends going "caroling." Or your parents taking you out to view all the pretty lights while the radio plays carols. Or the laughter and good times of a Christmas meal.

I think the appeal of carols is universal...a reminder of home and loved ones, of good times, and of sad times, of family members a long way away or who have died. While it's not a carol, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"  perfectly expresses the emotions that carols awaken.

They're also music much needed in this helter-skelter world we live in, peace amid the hassle, reminding us that there is something more important that shopping, and non-stop commercial noise.

My favorite? I think it's the first carol I remember hearing. For some reason ever since I've heard it, a specific picture has come to mind. It calms me as I think of a cold, starlit night, a field of snow, and a solitary house or shed, with warm light poring forth, smoke rising in the still quiet air, and people gathered around a newborn baby, basking in the glow of the warmth of new life and love.

"Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is quiet... ."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Eat your heart out...

New Year's Eve's dinner, from Chef Susan, my artist in the kitchen--Susan, Alexx, Terry

Smoked salmon, deviled eggs, heirloom tomatores with vinaigrette, thinly sliced avocados drenched with lemon juice and sprinkling of Kosher salt, capers, pickles, small potatoes stuffed with sour cream/chive/white wine, asparagus, sliced lemons, minced onion, kale for garnish.

Plus Joullian chardonnay, Castle Rock pinot noir, blizzard outside, fire in the fireplace.

Merry Christmas!

Winter solstice photo



For those of you interested in the solstice and Chaco...

This photo was taken by Chaco Park Ranger G.B. Cornucopia in 2004.

Christina Solstad in her spirit of Chaco blog posted the following comments about this year:

"Since I could not be there in person, I spoke to G.B. Cornucopia, park ranger extraordinaire, and dear friend. The photo is one G.B. sent me from a previous year.
"This morning at Chaco was clear and cold, with 43 hardy souls showing up at Pueblo Bonito before sunrise. They got to watch the sun's beam of light shine through a high corner doorway, and onto the wall. This is the only time it looks like this. 
"See how the sunlight in the photo marks a nice square shape on the wall? 
The changing size and shape of the resulting light on the stone wall would have allowed the ancient Chacoans to mark important events, such as the return to longer days. 
"Don't you think you would have wanted to mark and celebrate the return of more sunlight! 
"I have yet to see this with my own eyes. One day I will! 
"I was there one year for solstice, but it snowed, so we could not see the sun. Instead, I experienced another kind of magic. That will be another post!"

Clark's note: When she says it is cold, you have no idea how cold it gets at Chaco. I was there for spring equinox this year, and March in the desert night is bone-chilling and numbing. Get up to see the sunrise and sun markers at Rinconada kiva, and there is no way to get warm. 

And it is worth it and welcome to see the return of the sun, watching time slide down the cliff faces untilt he markers appear for a few moments on the old stone walls.

Snow storm!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Mountain cabin...--watercolor

Best wishes from Terry and Susan

Monday, December 21, 2009

For Jimmy Epperson, Cezanne

Cezanne, in the Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth...we have both sat there and wondered and cried, my friend

Art in the open, light, journalism that matters... Hemingway: "Cezanne was hungry too."


Studio time

Where I paint...my dad's old oak drawing table, and stuff on the walls, including lead glass cross made by Navajos for my uncle Rex many years ago.

File on the right are many of the ones you don't see...mistakes and trials and others, plus some good ones. No place to put the stuff.

Wife's treadmill, with one of my Dad's unfinished oil paintings, some of my work, a Dogan mask from Mali, and the edge of my art books shelf.

The other wall...my recently acquired antique library table, computer, underneath Dad's drawing of the knight and fair maiden I wrote about earlier...done when he was 14 years old! on the door is another souvenir of Mali.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Still crazy, after all these years...

A year of turmoil and blessing

As the year really ends tomorrow, I am reflecting...on things past, for the future...

When I travel New Mexico, I can see the stars and Milky Way, and think of how as rebirth comes, we age, measured in the by the number of times our little globe has circled the sun.

Our perception of time is so shallow.

This past year has been a year of invasions, of joys, of turmoil, of disappointments, of loves and fears, of futures and pasts, of hopes and sadness, of beauty and blandness, of what might have been and what is, of art and ugliness, or principles and politics, of goodness and greed....

For me, the year started with the births of Sarah Elizabeth Grace Clark in Florida and Liberty Faye Clark in Missouri...

Granddaughters carrying the names of great-grand mother and mother.  It included the hope of a new President to lead us out of America's dark ages, of children and grandchildren and a lemonade stand, of a step-daughter's graduation, of turmoil and conflict at work, and friendships that matter, especially with the state press, of times and incidents regretted, of trips with my wife to San Diego and New Mexico and Fort Wroth, and by myself to Lubbock and Amarillo and Santa Fe and Missouri and Florida, of phone calls and Skype with children, of a new future in a career, of sons and daughters dying in lands of hatred, of parents and loved ones in grief, of music amid the cacophony of modern life, of friendships discovered and renewed and strengthened, of words well-written, of tragedies poorly played, of passion in teaching and good students, of an aging uncle and the genetic family, of chess  games played and tears and laughter, as in all of life.

The memories increase as the twirling world sweeps around the sun. May the new year be better... .

When the sun stands still...

Another day at Chaco

It will tomorrow, Dec. 21

Solstice...literally "sun standing still."

The shortest day of the year, the beginning of "winter."

We "civilized," scientifically educated types don't pay much attention to it any more. Just a day on the calendar. and six months from now on June 21, we'll ignore summer solstice just as we do the fall and spring equinoxes...when the days and nights are of equal length. Official beginnings of the seasons on our calendars.

...but it hasn't always been thus, and the calendars have changed, just as we have.

Ancient peoples (don't call them "primitive")--all around this tilted, spinning, orbiting world--knew these dates intimately, measured them, marked them, remembered them...all without all our fancy technology--atomic clocks and telescopes and calculus and more.

How and why?

They spent a lot of time looking at the skies, especially at night, studying the stars. They spent years marking the path of the sun across the daytime skies. Think about the patience, the intelligence, the determination. In the oral cultures without a writing record, what they did boggles the mind...whether the Druids at Stonehenge in England 4,400 years ago, or the Anasazi in New Mexico, 1,000 years ago. In literate civilizations like the Egyptians, Incas and the Mayans, the results are even more astounding and complicated. Their writing in stone still amazes and influences us. Even a movie this year seeks to cash in on Mayan knowledge: "2012."

They learned and knew things we don't know or have forgotten. They knew the stars and could see the Milky Way...the pathway of souls. We ignore the stars and can't see the Milky Way anymore if we live in a populated area and wonder if we have souls. They could see and feel the earth moving under them. We think we move the world.

Every culture in the world has marked the meanings of solstices with celebrations or rituals or worship or sacrifices. We have sacrificed the solstices to scientific facts, devoid of meaning.

Consider how long it took the Anasazi of New Mexico at Chaco Canyon to construct their highly accurate sun dagger atop Fajada Butte, measuring solstices, equinoxes and even lunar cycles? You would make a mark one year, but need to wait another to confirm it. What if the skies were cloudy? The kivas and the roads and walls all fit into geometric and celestial coordinates. Yet they accomplished it, and only because it was somehow extremely important.

In pre-Incan South America from about 1000 to 1300 AD, they found the precise location of the equator...even better than modern science did until we got satellite GPS technology. Those people built a semi-circular wall on the top of a hill. One end was precisely on the equator. And a line to the other end of the wall forms a 23.5 degree angle--the precise tilt of the earth's axis that causes these seasons. By the way, this location is 1,000 feet north of the "true equator" measured by civilized French astronomers in the 1700s. For the scientific record, the equator is where no shadows are cast on the equinoxes. The sun is perpendicular.

At Chichen Itza in the Yucatan of Mexico, the Pyramid of Kukulkan built about 1050 was used as a calendar: four stairways, each with 91 steps and a platform at the top, making a total of 365, the number of days in a calendar year. About 1,000 before Archbishop Usher of Armagh concluded from The bible that creation occurred at 4004 B.C., the Mayans had calculated the cosmos was 90 million years old. The result was an extremely accurate calendar that predicted the coming of eclipses and the revolutions of Venus to an error of one day in 6,000 years. Think of the years and study and knowledge required just to get the measurements exactly right before building the pyramid...the please the god and to be able to survive.

Why? When you are people of the earth and the skies--not of air-conditioned, manufactured concrete and glass insulated environments--knowledge is survival...when to plant crops, when to harvest, when to "lay by in store" to keep from freezing or starving to death in the "famine months" of what we call "winter." And since you are insignificant in the cosmos, you need help...hence religion and sacrifices...common to all religions. The god is the sun, the source of life; the earth is the mother, the giver of food, You offer sacrifices on winter solstice to persuade god not to keep dipping lower on the horizon, but to reverse course and come back. At summer solstice, you offer thanksgiving. Life and death have meaning.

Tomorrow, a year ends, and while the sun barely "moves" for a few days--in terms of days getting longer in the northern hemisphere--the great orbit around the sun begins anew--rebirth in the earth, and aging of its creatures.

What are we missing? We don't even know.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Simon and Garfunkel paintings

Watercolors, while listening to....

Simon and Garfunkel speak to me in so many ways, about personal life, love and loss...

While they're blaring in the background, and the wine is flowing on a Friday night...
From sounds of Silence to Scarborough Fair to Mrs. Robinson to Bridge over Troubled waters, to Still crazy...

These paintings flowed from my brush... Dancers in the Desert, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse...don't ask me why, just listen....

A longer time ago

Back when I was cute...a sketch by Dad

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Christmas Card


For special friends who raise Borsoi

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another year drawing to a close

Oklahoma sunset, from the back porch of Jim and Jennifer Henry

Snow in Santa Fe

Winter in Santa Fe...in the Sangre de Cristos, on the way to the ski basin, on the road from Clines Corners, and in the National Cemetery, including a grave of a WWI soldier, reclining against a tree, forever, rose in his hand,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oklahoma cold

Toesies are frozies

Nosies are rosies

Doors should be closies

Icicles are growsies 

Wind's a blowsies

No time to moseysies

Just to be cozysies

Ain't no posies

Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas, watercolor

Merry Christmas!   "Snow on Old North"  --watercolor

My "official" watercolor Christmas card...watercolor of the clock tower of Old North, which has survived 116 Christmases in Edmond, the first building of the Central Territorial Normal School (teachers' college) in 1893. I actually had journalism classes in the building many years ago. It has undergone extensive and expensive renovation in the past few years to stabilize it to make it safe for habitation again. The job's still not done, but this is the icon of UCO.

Color photo below isn't mine, but for those of you who don't know the school, this is the perspective.

Last year's Christmas card is the other painting. I scan these onto card stock for a few of my academic colleagues.-- "ClarkCards"!

The bottom photo from the official UCO archives, was taken in the winter of 1913-14. Look at that open prairie!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Years aqo

One of my Dad's sketches of me, He was the real artist

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I teach

This is why I teach, for extra special students, who have passion and humor and character and talent and intelligence and hard work.

Caleb McWilliams, copy editor at The Oklahoman, a proud Choctaw and journalist.

Thanks sir, for making the year worthwhile.

Another graduation today...more ex-students

The years don't creep by, but fly by, and the ranks of my students continue to grow.

Later today --as I have every year since 1991 for two or three times a year--I'll put on my academic "regalia"--robe, doctoral degree robe and black beret with gold tassel, and at 2 p.m. march into the field house at UCO in the processional with other faculty.

There we'll sit amid the pomp and ceremony as hundreds of students from the College of Liberal Arts and another college gather on the floor, the stands packed with family members and loved ones. On the podium the administrative deans and vice presidents and president will gather. There will be a few remarks, and then the graduates will file forward, have their names called, and there will be cheers and yells from the stands in celebration. Some of the students will catch my eye, and other profs', and we'll give them thumbs up and congrats. When we march out I'll see the smiles and there will be some "Dr. Clark"s shouted. It's cold, but there will be plenty who gather outside and want a photo taken, and more or my students with degrees in journalism, public relations, advertising and photography and broadcasting, will pass into memory and their futures. I'm proud that our department, Journalism and then Mass Communication, has more graduates than any other on campus.

If you want to watch you can catch it on line at http://www.uco.edu/commencement.asp

It's a great job.

Note to Sharon, et. al.:
Many have "crossed the hall"
But it doesn't cast a pall
on some of the best, I'm proud of 'em all
So here's more of the roll call:

2003--Michael Larson, Timber Massey, Nicole Maxwell, John McBee, Danny Peters, Summer Pratt, Michael Ross, Ann Schlesselman, Emile Trulove.
2004--Morgan Rabatine, Marck Schlachtenhaufen, Sara Wheeler.
2005--Miacah Gambino, Caleb Germany, Bonnie Harris, Chrystal Lambert, Paul Riedel, Carolyn Seelen, Cody Vignal, John Williams.
2006--Carol and Luie Booth, Courtney Bryce, Matt Cauthron, Kelly chambers, Brett Deering, Radina Gigovna, Sara Lorenzen, Midori Sasaki, Naomi Takebuchi.
2007--Justin Avera, Tiffany Batdorf, Karissa Bradshaw, Vallery Brown, teddy Burch, Lindsay Cobb, Chad Crow, Elizabeth Erwin, Ronnie Helton, Lindsey Laird, Kelly Petruschewitz, Niq'uita Pollard, Megan Rossman, Charles Sager, Desiree Treebie, Meika Yates, Nathan Winfrey.
2008--Robert Agnew, Jessica Akers, Ashlie Cambell, Tess Mack, Allison Gober, Ivo Lupov, Jeff Massie, Katie McCannon, Aaron Wright.

The plaque is not yet up for those students who graduated in spring of 2009. coming soon.

I've missed some, and some I can't read my handwriting, which is getting worse, along with my memory. And some I probably have the years wrong. I'll add a few more soon. And the ones I mentioned on the first post without the years aren't included here. But these are a few of the students who have enriched me, students who are more than names and face, living stories I can remember and tell and treasure, sparkling like grains of sand, in the river of my life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Back in 1991....

I started looking at those UCO graduation plaques today, and seeing many of the names made me feel really old. It's been 20 years since I started teaching at UCO. Some of those first students are middle aged now, and probably grandparents. But it's not depressing, at least not yet.

I know I'm going to leave off more names, but here are ones who I remember clearly, both from class and/or because of what they're doing now. Some I've lost track of, but still remember.

Those I clearly remember: Class of 1991: Heidi Naconezney, Keith Purtell.
1992--Marie Bigger, David Lobaugh, Linda Morgan, Judy LeBlanc, Justin Seymour, Marie Knupke, Chuck Dozier, Brent Remeroski.
1993--Will Andrews, Dustin Jones, Misty Pace, Tom Searles, Joe Pyndenkosky.
1994--Marcia Benedict, Heidi Brandeis, Joey Niebruggee.
1995--Hal Adamson, Joyce Kirkly, Mike Simons, Janet Runge, Susan Reger.
1996--Jaconna Aguiree, Kelly Beard, Julie Dyer, Cynthia Chung, Jennifer Palmer, Heather Sala, Anthony Thompkins, Travis Voth, David McNeese.
1997--Heidi Centralla, Gayleen Langthorne, Jill Massey, Mo Garth, Shirley Taylor.
1998--Jessica Halliburton, Penny Hubbard, Meredith Jordan, Robin Little, Scott O'Daniel, Rebecca Rutledge, Dan Threlkeld, David Hanniger, Joanna Clauston.
1999--Dale Archer, Bill Bootz, Kevin Boudreau, Suzette Dyer, Joanna Hefley, Jim Hulsey, Amy Kelly, Susan Reger, Negeen Sobhani, Bill Wiseman, Ann Phillip, Dwayne Smoot.
2000--Lacy Amen, Stephanie Eggeling, Jay Gourley, Julie Jordan, Justin Villines, Wendy Werber.
2001--Chad Anderson, Kimberly Hawes, Michael Tortorelli, Lauren Vargas, Sara Morrell.
2002 Karla Bradshaw, Emily Bullard, Sheri Guyse, Leslie McKay, Sharon Rowan, Mary Perkins, John Reagor.

The list gets longer the closer in time it gets, because I can remember more, but it balances out, because I taught fewer students and administrative duties increased, and my memory got clogged up. Some I remember I can't find their names, and some are married and have different last names now.

I didn't repeat those I mentioned yesterday. As you can tell, some years were richer than others, but it was always fluid. I know I've missed some, and I'll amend it later.

The rest of list tomorrow.

Now you understand my poem, published earlier. Susan says it's sensual. I suppose it is, but it's also true:

My students
flow through my life
like the grains of sand
along the north bank
of the Red River.

Swept by the current,
the grains are sculpted
into sand bars
or drifts snagged
against old trees.
The muddy water
submerges most
of the sand,
or dissolves it,
carrying it downstream.
But in the sand bars
on the north bank,
the sun glistens off
the crystals in individual grains.
The students attract attention,
and bring vivid
relief and color
to a monochrome prairie.
The sparkling grains
stand out like memories,
before time carries
them down river.
I must go there soon
before the river rises again.

More students, and semesters...

I went to the office today and began looking at the plaques of all the graduates, starting in 1991, the end of my first year at UCO.

Now I really feel old. I also realized I can't add (why I'm a journalist and not an accountant). the figure of some 2,500 students should be doubled. I think I've probably had about 5,000 students overall--an average of about 100 a semester). The journalism department always graduated a lot of students, reaching about 100 a year (fall, spring, summer) before we merged with communication in 2005. Since then we're averaged about 150-180 graduates a year.

I started looking at all those names, and many of them I don't know...and from earlier years also, names and faces fading from memory.

But many stand out, and after yesterday's post, I know there are many I recall, looking at the reflections of the names engraved on the plaques, engraved with their faces on my memory of outstanding students and good times, of lives influenced.

I received two notes on Facebook and one on the blog from people I left off yesterday's post, Ashley Romano and Vallery Brown, and Cynthia Mitchell. I'm thankful for Facebook because it has hooked me up with many of my former students who I'd lost track of, like Trisha Pinckard and Tim Barker of OSU, among others..

Here are their notes. They make professing, and journalism, worthwhile.

Ashley: "It occurred to me that I never said thank you before I left journalism and snuck off to the art department. I remember being a senior in high school and taking a college visit to UCO. You showed me around the department. You reminded me of my grandpa, bright-eyed and full of finesse. I was sold. I enjoyed my time in the department and most of my ... See Moretime at The Vista (wink, wink). You taught me how to be a decent writer and a better observer. You introduced me to New Mexico, and now I can't wait to go back each fall. I think more than all of this though you taught me to be a problem solver. For that, I am indebted to you. It seems so impersonal, writing this on Facebook. But thank you, Dr. Clark.'

From Vallery: "I'm proud to be among that 2500. I was only dipping a toe in the water when I started taking j classes at UCO. But your passion, teaching and mentorship kept me going. I purposely stacked all my classes so I always had you or Dr. Hanebutt. ;). I blame you for my career in news! And my imminent MA in journalism!

"To you! And all the toes you pulled in the water! :)"

Cynthia: "This post is great. When I first started at the paper I'm at now, they made reference to you, and your OPA classes. I was proud to say I was once a student."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another semester

Comes to an end. More students graduate. More will return in spring. Some will not.
How many has it been?

I started teaching college in September, 1986, teaching editng and reporting at Oklahoma State University, taking over from Mickey Bugeja who left late to go to Ohio University. I'd applied there a year earlier for a photography position, but didn't get it. Marlan Nelson told me I didn't want that job.

Then a year later, he called. It was a one-year position, no guarantees of continuation, but I so wanted to do it. Neysa and I had sold the Waurika News-Democrat in February that year--our last issue was the Challenger explosion. I became the ad director of the Duncan Banner for six months when Nelson called.

That first semester, I had 60 students in editing and 60 in reporting. The next semester I got editing and photography, It was a tough year with the family still in Waurika, but it was a dream come true. I met my last mentor and friend Harry Heath, who forgot more about journalism than I'd ever known.

My teaching was good enough that I was rehired, and taught at OSU for another three years, before the job as chair opened at then Central State University, my alma mater. I didn't think I'd get the job, but Harry said firmly, "You're going to Edmond." He was right. Irony of ironies, I got the job, replacing my former reporting professor from 25 years earlier, Ray Tassin. Full circle. Our department was small--five full time faculty members, and through the years it grew in size and stature--one of the key elements being my friendship with Harry and the state press. Today it has more than 20 full time, and the department has changed radically, with technology and administrations. So have I.

There were some good years and rough years personally. My children grew up. I made personal mistakes that keep me from judging others. But there was one constant, it seemed. Every year there were favorite students--students who excelled, who were dedicated, who earned journalism and PR and advertising and photography jobs throughout the state. As chair of the department, I got to know almost all the students in the department, not just the ones in my classes. That was a blessing.

I'd told Harry I wanted to become the primary resource person in Oklahoma for small newspapers and the people who work for them. At the time, Harry was the primary resource person for all newspaper people in the state.

Gradually, because of our many graduates, and because I work with the press, and because the semesters have passed, I was fortunate enough to know a bunch of people in our profession.

Unfortunately, there have been so many students that I've begun to forget their names. I was waiting for Ben Blackstock for lunch one day at a deli near Portland and Memorial and walked by a door. Out came a bright-eyed young woman, saying "Dr. Clark!" I remembered her face, but not her name, but didn't admit it. Instead, I pretended I did, and asked her what she was doing--working in a chiropractic office--and about her husband (big diamond ring on her finger).

Similar events are more and more common. And it seems Susan and I can't go anywhere in the metro area to eat or to other stores but what we run into former and present students serving as employees and managers. And the ones who are working for papers and in broadcast keep in touch by different means. The workshops for OPA have helped, with more students around the state...one person even called me a "legend." That's scary.

It all boils down to one semester after another.

Let's see, there have been 47 of them now--not counting summers. That's 19 more.

How many students per semester? It varies, but a little simple math means I've had about 2,500 students over the semesters. I could write a book on the lives and adventures of the best ones. I've had parents and children of parents. They make me proud, from Steve Curry in the Navy, to Dr. Shelly Sitton of OSU and Angel Riggs of UCO finishing her doctorate at OSU, to Richard Mize, Leslie Belcher, Angie Altizer, Tim Barker and Polly Basore and Kathy Porter from OSU, to Penny Owen, Mike Erwin at Sallisaw, to Billye Johnson in Dallas, Audra Frantz in Oklahoma City, Farzie Razak and Kelly Crow in New York City, to Abby Rhodes, to John Clanton and Leslie Wakulich and Marta McClosky, to Carol Cole, to Zach Nash and Mark Zimmerman to Jimmy Epperson, to Fawn Porter and Kristen Armstrong, to Ashley Barcum of OETA, to Caleb McWilliams who graduates Saturday and is already working full time as a copy editor at The Oklahoman, to a multitude of others. I hesitate to mention even these because I value my students and don't want to slight them or leave them out--there are so many more who are equally special, and I'm writing this off the top of my head without a list in front of me. They not only make me proud, they make me look good. There are so many. I'll go up to work and make a list of the ones I remember well and write more. It's amazing to me and wonderful (in the original sense of the word (full of wonder).

Some students are gone and forgotten forever. Others are memories. Others have gone on to bigger and greater things. Others are valued friends. Others are teaching other journalists. I look at the list of graduates on our wall at work, and many of the names no longer bring faces to mind. But others will be part of me forever.

The end of a semester is bitter-sweet. I'm glad the hassle is over. I hate grading. I'm sad to see students go, because the classroom and the students matter most to me. This semester has been special since I'm no longer chair...I get to be a professor and concentrate on teaching, on students.

This Saturday a lot of my really good students will graduate, and I'll get my photo taken with them, and then they'll be gone.

The passing of a semester means I'm older, but I have more students who are telling stories about "Remember when Clark..." And next semester, there will be more.

It's a good life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tiger, tiger, with apologies to William Blake

Sorry William, this is too good to pass up.

By Terry M. Clark

Tyger, tyger, burning bright
Tiger, tiger, such a fright
In the forests of the night,
In the rooms of the night
What immortal hand or eye
What immoral hand and eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Could ruin thy stupid vanity?
In what distant deeps or skies
On what distant greens and thighs
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
Burnt the lust of thine lies?
On what winds dare he aspire?
On what putts did you then sire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
What the hand playing with fire?
And what shoulder and what art
And what flesh and what tart
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
Could shank the trust for a start?
And when they heart began to beat,
And when thy wood began to heat
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What dread sheet and what dread meat?
What the hammer? What the chain?
What the par? What the claim?
In what furnace was thy brain?
In what hole was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
What the bed? What dread gasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp
Dare its costly comings rasp?
When the stars threw down their spears
When the star threw down his beers
And water'd heaven with their tears
And water'd wenches with his leers,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did he come so he could be?
Did He who made the lamb make there?
Did he who made one maid, make three?

Tiger, tiger, what a fright
Would that your wood would see the light?
What blonde wife would not cry?
What part of thee she'd like to fry!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Uncles, and aunts, are special

Uncle Mike and Terry Mike, a long time ago at Bandelier, N.M.

When your parents come from big families, you have lots of aunts and uncles, and I think each child has favorites.

I only have one uncle left, Mike Clark of Santa Fe. He was the fourth of five brothers, and I guess it says something about the relationship of brothers that my middle name comes from him. After dad--Terrene Miller--was Louis Wells, Rex Thweat, Mike, and Champ.

On my mother's side, my last uncle, E.T. Culp, died this past year. My mother's other brother , J.C., died many years ago, and her three sisters Gladys, Ima and Vera--have long been dead too. I wasn't as close to them as I was the Clarks, primarily because they all lived in Texas and I grew up in New Mexico. My favorite aunt was  Vera, known by all as Sissie. She had a dry sense of humor and helped raise me in the early years.

Mike has been in and out of my life several times, but he always seemed to come "home" to visit us in Albuquerque. From him, I learned not to smoke...that's another story. And I gave him the mumps when he was visiting one winter. There are a multitude of other stories. In these past few years, now that his traveling days are done, and my life has changed, it's my turn to visit him as often as possible.

There I learn a lot about my Dad that I didn't know--about his school days, how he hit a coach, how he stood up for his younger brothers, how he lost his leg under a train, and a thousand things he never talked about or I didn't ask him--gone forever now except for Mike. Mike looks a lot like my Dad,  and we play chess and I listen to stories of this world traveler, teacher and Navy combat veteran of both WWII and Korea.

My grandchildren already love their uncles and aunts, especially "Uncle TaTa," Travis. But I know that Uncle Vance, Aunt Dallas and Uncle Derrick will be special to certain ones of them as they grow up and gather memories, along with Aunt Kerin, Uncle Todd and Aunt Naomi. Both Mike and Sissie were single, as is Travis, and I think that helps cement a special bond with nephews and nieces. I know my children have special love for Aunt Janice, also single.

Years from now, I think my grandchildren will come visiting their aunts and uncles, asking questions about their parents, learning more about the family that only oral stories seem to be able to preserve.


Walt Whitman on TV? In an ad?

Yep, Levis new ad sets "Oh Pioneers!" to an amazing vido.

What is this world coming to? Something real compared to all the plastic overdone special effects.

There is hope.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Poetry and The Canyon

One of the times I do write poetry is when I'm camping alone at Chaco Canyon. See photos and paintings from my August 7-9 posts.

Excerpts from my last trip:

The high cliffs and boulders
teach us something we need.
they are not in a hurry.
Life and time swirl around them and change comes in its own time.
We need to slow down and enjoy
the fossils and lichen on the rocks,
the crevices in the sandstone cliffs,
enjoying the texture of our skin.

They teach us that all our hurries
and our worries just don't amount to much.

What amounts to much
is how much time and joy
we spend exploring ...

The desert wind is cool on my back
as the sun droops.
My fire's heat creates a million universes.

We have a million universes
to be created by our heat.

A crow flies overhead, cawing
mocking me stuck on the ground.

The sunlight is climbing up the cliffs east of me
as the sun dips behind the western cliffs
The crows are gone
Soon will be the bats
And always the stars
as the campfire pops...

What "time" is it here?
Time "zones"?
How arrogant that we think we control time.
The only time zone is present tense.
The Anasazi are laughing

Poetry and "real"

Over the yers I've learned to see and think in metaphors, but poetry is rare.
I find my poetry comes mostly in times of love, loss and loneliness...times of emotional rawness. I think that's what makes great artists...they're raw emotionally most of the time. Their senses are open wounds. Most of us have senses that are dulled or drugged by everyday life, and it takes exceptioal effort to go into detox to become real again.

From the Velveteen Rabbit:

“'What is REAL?' asked the Rabbit one day, 'Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?''Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.[...] 'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?''It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to the people who don't understand.'”

Thoughts on poetry- muscles and muses

In "Zen in the Art of Writing," Ray Bradbury urges writers to read poetry every day, because it makes you use muscles you don't usually use--except he said it more gracefully.

This culture of ours doesn't read much poetry, nor do we talk about it much. Has it always been thus? Reading the Romantics like Shelly and Byron and Keats would give you that impression. They were also outcasts, as most real artists are in their own time, because they push boundaries and project truths in ways that jar people...Cezanne and Goya, Ginsberg and Burroughs, et. al. How long since you have sat down and discussed poetry with someone, just for the fun of it? "What do you think this means?" "What a great image." I know of some "book circles." Are there any "poetry circles." I'm not a nerd nor effeminate, but I know a chance to sit down and talk with friends about such art, whether  in John Donne or O'Keeffe or others stretches the mind and creates lasting memories.

Why did I wake up this morning thinking about poetry? I don't know...maybe leftovers from Simon and Garfunkel last night, and from "spirited' conversations with Zach and Kathy Nash last night about the joys and passion of writing journalism. And thanks to my blog, I've met a talented poet, K. Lawson Gilbert, whose blog Old Mossy Moon is alive with her poetry. She often comments on my stuff, and I'm stunned by her words and thoughts. Read it yourself at http://oldmossymoon.blogspot.com/

I do know there are times when you are some how "in the spirit" (Hmm, is that what John meant  when he wrote Revelation?) and art flows from you, whether words or paint or music, where it's almost not you, but --for lack of a better word--muse speaking directly through you.

You go back and wonder, "How did I write that?" "Did I really paint that?" I still believe that the geniuses like Whitman, Mozart, Michelangelo were much more in tune with themselves and the muse because they always seemed to be "in the groove." Whatever they touched seemed to turn to art. I know, we don't see their failures, their anguish, their long labor and sweat and doubts. They had them, and the volume of their successes makes us forget they also struggled...but perhaps much less than us mere mortals. Or perhaps more...maybe that was the key to their greatness.

Zach and I were talking about a mutual friend last night who is a terrific writer...when she writes, it comes from deep inside. Zach and I both wish we had her talent, but he wisely observed, that perhaps we can't write like that because of where she came from. (Hemingway said the best training for a write was an unhappy childhood, and this friend of ours has had that...)

Zach and I agree that a blog is a journalist's, and an artist's, outlet for thoughts, for inspiration, for boosting the ego. It's journalism, it's a byline. I think perhaps though, that poetry is its own byline, just like any art.

"When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd...."

My wife Susan's sketch of Walt Whitman, which hangs on the wall opposite this computer where we see it everyday. Underneath an old photo of her Confederate ancestor.

I know of no more haunting, beautiful line in American poetry,

Walt Whitman's classic elegy on the death of Lincoln

The rhythm of life and death and beauty...a phrase that draws you in and links you with poet and past...

I try to imagine how he reacted when he first heard the news of the assassination. I try to imagine his tears, his shock, his sense of loss. I wish I could see him sitting down an an oak table, light from a kerosene lantern wavering nearby. He pulls out paper, opens an inkwell, dips the pen nub in the black liquid and begins to scrawl words that flow from his creative genius.

I think tears probably burred some of the ink on the paper, and I don't think he had to think as the words poured forth from deep inside him.

"And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd and yet shall morn with ever returning spring.
Ever returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
and thought of him I love."

Friday, December 4, 2009


Voices of living... of more than one generation ... "like a bridge over troubled waters" ...why did they ever split up? but then maybe we treasure them more now.

magic! they leave the crowd, and me, breathless

Simon and Garfunkel live!

The rock and roll hall of fame concert...here they are, singing The Sounds of Silence... "songs that voices never shared"--poets and movers of the soul, "my words like silent raindrops fell" ...to the neon god they made

the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls"

How do they know me so well! what a celebration of music and life and love...present and past and future... crystal clear guitar music and voices of life....we age but their words and music and passion do not....literature....music that makes you cry

Still crazy after all these years!

The once and future Vista!

The coming redesign, with the last issue of this semester at the top.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Salute to The Vista!

(I'm unable to download the pdf sent to me by adviser Teddy Burch of today's page one and the future pages, but I'll figure it out soon. Meanwhile...Today's issue of the student newspaper at UCO, The Vista, capped an energetic, tremendous semester of transition and excellence. This is some of the strongest content we've had in a long time. We are packed with talent, and the staff and adviser have set a high standard that previous editors would be proud of. I'm thankful I know these students and adviser and have been able to work with them. I'm proud, as a journalist, what they have achieved.

I'm also proud and encouraged that these students--I started to call them kids, but they're not, and I've never treated them as such--are so dedicated, so passionate. As editor Laura Hoffert puts it, they "bleed ink." They have the "fire in the belly" that sets great journalists apart from the crowd.

Look The Vista up online and read copy editor Caleb McWilliams' closing column as a copy editor. He's been hired full time at The Oklahoman in that slot...not the first UCO grad to be professional and good enough to go that job (Chad Anderson), also held on a part-time basis in the past by both myself and Bill Hickman

As it has been with me, returning just to professing after 20 years, it has been a year of transition for them. They've merged newsroom with our terrific broadcast students, and actually like them and vice-versa for the most part. How can you tell? Because they constantly gibe each other, face to face or in private--as they should. Big adjustment and transition--not always smooth, for all of them, but they have the energy and spirit to make it work. The transitions will continue with a redesign coming for the first time in years when the new semester begins. New blood, new ideas, new potential.

I mostly fear for their future, that this staff and my other students will be able to find jobs in the fields of their passion. In spite of changing technology however, journalism ain't dead, and is in good hands with the caliber of students I'm privileged to call mine.

Here's to the lifeblood of The Vista, the student voice of UCO since 1903--our students.

Thank you.

Simon and Garfunkel

They touch my soul.

"Sounds of Silence"
"Scarborough Fair"
"Homeward Bound"
"Mrs. Robinson"
"Bridge Over Troubled Waters"
"Old Friends"
"Still Crazy"

After all these years

Still handsome, after all these years,
Fort Worth memories

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Santa Fe plaza

You can never tell when it will snow in Santa Fe. I've seen it on Thanksgiving, and in late March. The Plaza at the end of the Santa Fe Trail, looking north. On the opposite side is the Palace of the Governors where Indians sell their jewelry and art in the day. This is the oldest capital city in what is now the United States, as Santa Fe is celebrating its 400th anniversary.

Think of all the snows, and travelers who have gathered here over the centuries. Santa Fe bills itself as "The City Different." I love it when the tourists are gone, when snow hushes the traffic, when the smell of pinon smoke and green chili take you back to simpler times and feed your imagination. You can sense time here.

Fort Worth memories

4525 Trueland Drive, southeast Fort Worth. After all these years I can still remember the address. I lived here through first grade, walking down that gravel road to school. No car, no school buses. My teacher's name was "Mrs. Gaylee." My brother Jerry was born when we lived here. Dad painted Christmas scenes on the glass of the front door. I still have a snow scene he painted looking out the front window one day, of the vacant lot and trees. He started in the morning and quit in the afternoon when the snow stopped.

This house was also hit by lightning. I was asleep in my bed and can remember concentric white circles coming in toward the the center--like the reverse of little waves going out when a rock hits a pond--and when the circles got to the center of my forehead, lightening hit, blowing the fuse box and waking me up.

The house to the south, shaded by the trees, had chickens, and I remember the people cutting their heads off for dinner and the headless birds running around in circles before they flopped over. Terrifying. To the north in the field we had a garden and corn, and a clothes line. Behind the house my Dad had a small studio for painting. I remember seeing my first praying mantis out there one night.

I have a large yellowing and framed pen-an-ink drawing my dad did on veteran's day when he was only 14 --of a knight outside a castle raising his hand to a fair maiden in the window. The drawing was the only thing my grandmother saved from a house fire when they lived in Comanche, Ok., in the 1920s. And it was hanging over the fuse box struck by lightning in Fort Worth. Today it hangs in my studio.

Isn't it amazing what we remember from our childhood?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Four of my six grandkids!

Liberty Faye Clark!

Abby Page, Erin Ann and Max Samuel Bell!