"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.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Trumping Trick or Treat

Vintage artifact--me, and the photo by friend and colleague Mark Zimmerman taken with a 4x5 Speed Graphic, real flashbulb, 100 ASA film, and then scanned...there aint' no grain in this folks, you can enlarge it to a wall size post if you wish. Mark, a collector of vintage photography equipment and expert in vintage photography, is going to party tonight as WeeGee. 

Favorite "holiday" for all ages--pumpkin carving Jack o'lanterns, and costumes and trick or treat.

I love it because you get to have fun and poke fun--America needs humor more than ever. Past costumes have been a hard-hat wearing Tea-partyier (which almost got me slugged by a fanatic without humor), Steve Irvin the crocodile man, and more.  
This year's obvious version--Trump!
Previous years follow:
With David Nelson


Taureg and gypsy

As bro in law Jim Henry says, "I can see why you're still working"

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Appropriate" questions for the next GOP debate

Candidates, we are aware that previous debate hosts have actually asked questions dealing with issues and obviously not been aware of your flawless pasts.
 Questioning your views without due respect over your monumental statures is a clear sign of disrespect and a misunderstanding of the First Amendment. We know your open-minded supporters and yourselves  clearly know the media roles are to be PR flacks to absolutely promote your views.
No wonder you and they were so angry at the upstart media for not fawning over you and taking everything you say as Gospel. Fox is right, you should not have to put up with negative questioning or questions about the issues.
For this last broadcast debate, we present you the following questions for your approval ahead of time. If any of these offend you, please let us know and we will profusely apologize and correct them.
  • Brother, tell us how you love Jesus.
  • Your worshipfulness, explain your wonderful plan to do away with taxes for the rich, and the awful minimum wage, thereby stimulating the economy.
  • Great one, why should Americans vote for you?
  • Righteous one, please talk about your fantastic program to deport all immigrants and restore American purity.
  • Financial genius,  what how would you cure the socialist Social Security and Medicare?
  • Oh Holy One,  please tell us about your Godly ideas of how you would restore religion to every home.
  •  Reverent respecter of life,  refresh our memories of how you will stop abortion, increase the death penalty, and increase the bombing of our foreign enemies.
  • Highly successful executive and wise stockholder in military contractors, shower us with your brilliant ideas of putting all those international troublemakers in their places and keeping them there. 
  • All: How will you save the country from what we all know is the anti-Christian, pro-Muslim, evil, socialistic, un-American dictatorship we have been subject to during Obama's rule?

Great sentence search champion!

When I teach writing, I have my students go on what I call a  "Great Sentence Search" in the New York Times, which is our daily textbook.
Saturn's moon Enceladus
I firmly believe that in teaching writing, you have to expose students to good writing...it inspires, instructs, and also forces them to read and think. 
A great sentence is one you just know the journalist smiled and said "Yes!" in triumph when he/she wrote it--having had fun writing it. It makes you say "Wow, I wish I had written that."
Today, I found what may be the best ever, from the front page, headlined "With Worlds Visited, the Next Hunt Is for Life on Any of Them." 
Dennis Overbye wrote about NASA's exploration of Saturn's moon Enceladus, by the Cassini spacecraft. NASA is seeking extraterrestrial water, as a sign of life, and this moon spews icy jets of water.
Here is the great sentence:
"Enceladus is only 300 miles across and whiter than a Bing Crosby Christmas, reflecting virtually all the sunlight that hits it, which should make it colder and deader than Scrooge's heart."
Here's the link to the entire story: Saturn's moon

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oklahoma's Poet Laureate, and a byline

Opening pages in story about Ben Myers
The power of a byline. I hurried up to the bookstore this morning to buy the new issue of the state's magazine, Oklahoma Today
I'd waited eagerly to see what the talented editors and staff of the magazine had done with my interviews earlier this year with Ben Myers, Oklahoma's poet laureate.  
After all these years, ah, such a pleasure to open the pages, and still enjoy the rush that  comes from seeing your name in print.
Of course the pleasure mainly includes making a new friend, and sharing his influence and art with others. Meeting and interviewing the good people of Oklahoma is constantly a discovery. Composing, writing, editing and rewriting is hard, sometimes agonizing,  work. But the people and the publication are thus all the more rewarding.
I'd met Ben before, and reviewed his books, "Lapse Americana," and "Elegy for Trains," on this blog. Traveling to his historic home in Chandler was an additional treat. You can learn more about him from Oklahoma Baptist University where he is a professor  at OBU.
The four-page story and photos includes a brief introduction, and is then in question and answer form. Go buy Oklahoma Today and enjoy it--along with lots of other great stories and photos.
Here's one of Ben's poems, that he says describes him well, and it's reprinted in the magazine:

Deep Fork
After reading David Young's Du Fu

This flat river gives the red back
to the sky above it,

both carrying dust and flakes
of clipped grass.

I walk with a slight limp
into the middle of my life,

watch turtles raise
 their heads in dead water,

in my pockets two crumpled rejection
notes from magazines on the coast.

A tree frog near my ear
begins its whine,

and I plan to cease my argument
with God about my little life.

I've been blessed with two
plots near the edge of town

and the opportunity to live
on the face of the southern plains.

I'm going to start wearing overalls
and riding an old tractor down Main.

I'll spend my days with these two
crows, see what it is they know.

--from Lapse Americana

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

*9 o'clock sharp"--To blog or not to blog

"I'll be there at 9 o'clock sharp," she e-mailed me yesterday.
She, a UCO student I didn't know, had asked to interview me on a news story about ten reasons to blog, for the student newspaper, The Vista.
I told her my office hours were from 9 to noon today, and that was her reply--which got my attention.
A student who wants an "early" appointment? A student who says "sharp"?
And at 8:59.30 this morning, she comes down the hall.
After shaking hands, firmly, and as she puts down her backpack and takes out a notebook, I begin my usual barrage of questions: "What's your major?" "What do you want to do for a career?" "Where are you from?" "Do you blog?" and so on. 
(She's a sophomore from Edmond, likes to write, and radio, but doesn't want to be in front of a camera, and still doesn't know exactly what she wants to do.)
Then in response to her question about ten reasons to blog, I tell her,
"I've never had that question before." She smiles. 
"I don't know," I say, and the smile wavers.
"But you got me to thinking, and here is a list of reasons to blog and not to blog," and I hand her the list below.
In the next 20 minutes she keeps taking notes as we talk about my blogging class, twitter, journalism and more. Her questions are quick, specific and direct, sometimes asking me why I answered a certain way.
At the end she asks if she can contact me if she has more questions, and the answer is "Of course."
She gathers her backpack, we shake hands as she smiles, and she's on her way.
"Nine o'clock sharp," and she was.
Kateleigh Mills made my day. 
Thanks to her, here's the list of Clark's reasons to blog or not to blog:
“Content is king—technology is the servant”—Terry M. Clark

  • Six reasons to blog--

  1. You need a quality digital “footprint” to get a start on a career in the highly competitive communication field. A blog can be part of that—I have former students whose blogs helped get them jobs.
  2. You have a passion and something original you want to say that can be sustained over time.
  3. You can write grammatically correct sentences,  enjoy writing and can organize your thinking.
  4. You are willing to work at it because quality blogging takes a lot of preparation and time.
  5. You enjoy learning and change because blogging is always changing.
  6. You have an eye for effective design and readability.

  • Six reasons not to blog--

  1. You can’t write a grammatically correct sentence punctuated correctly.
  2. You only want to rant, gripe or whine about a specific subject.
  3. You have no passion or nothing to say.
  4. You are just blogging because you think you should.
  5. You’re lazy and don’t want to put in the time.
  6. You don’t really want a career in communication.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making Oklahoma great again (3)--Too many colleges

Oklahoma has too many public universities and colleges. 
We are insuring mediocrity, wasting millions of dollars, and preventing Oklahoma from becoming great again.
By eliminating K-12 public education for all, and revamping that curriculum, only select students in math, science and football will be attending college. 
Just as not everyone needs public school, certainly there are too many college students.
Close all but two universities
That means closing all but two of the universities in the state.
All the other wasteful universities will be recycled into prisons, providing jobs as prison guards and staff for all the recycled professors and education administrators eliminated by the closing. They already have related experience in dealing with students and tenured faculty anyway.
All that will be required is installing high-voltage fences around the closed campuses, which already have dorms, food facilities and exercise areas. The libraries, once all negative and liberal books are removed, will be central in helping make our prisons part of making Oklahoma Great Again.

To make Oklahoma Great Again, the two remaining universities will be smaller and more concentrated on teaching only math and science and producing national championship football teams. 
As with the "public" school curriculum, all humanities, arts, foreign languages, political science,  and other wasteful degree programs will be eliminated. Those faculty  and administrators whose jobs are eliminated may apply to be traffic police, undertakers or other essential jobs building the Great Wall of Oklahoma Greatness around the entire state.
Great Oklahoma Language and Digital Police
Among those will be campus language police, making sure that all students and faculty adhere to the positive vocabulary of Making Oklahoma Great Again, as nobly advocated by a current presidential candidate.  This will not require much training because some universities already have syllabus police (hiring people just to make sure all syllabi meet all guidelines), seat-time police (hiring people to make sure students are in their seats long enough to get a course credit), foreign study tour police (hiring people to make sure all guidelines are followed, like making sure the brochures are tri-fold), and more.
All students admitted to our two universities will take a loyalty oath to always contribute to Oklahoma's Greatness. One police force will be essential, recycled and upgraded from a current university's Digital Measures police--a program where all faculty have to submit all their activity to a database. 
The Great Oklahoma Digital Police will monitor the digital locator microchips embedded in every student's wrist to make sure that once they receive their educations they will remain in Oklahoma, contributing to our greatness.  The chips will be equipped with a terminator  device to electrically warn straying graduates to return to Great Oklahoma within 24 hours (sort of like a tweet, but with a mild electric shock). Those who fail to return will  then receive a 500 volt termination.
Faculty who do not wish to be recycled will be deported because they obviously hinder Oklahoma Greatness by their negativity.
Actually, there will no longer be any foreign study tours because those do not contribute the Making Oklahoma Great Again---foreign thoughts prevent that.
American is the only language allowed on campus
American will be the only language allowed on campus.
Obvious  exemptions will be those CEOS and other Oklahoma contributors of Oklahoma Greatness who can afford to send their children to private universities in and out of the state. Private universities in the state must be licensed to teach Oklahoma greatness, but those students may leave the state afterward, on the condition they can never return. Students attending out-of-state private schools may not return, but their parents must reimburse Oklahoma for all the state resources invested in educating them before them. This will help Make Oklahoma Great Again by preventing inferior foreign thoughts from interfering with Oklahoma Greatness.
This will not be much of a problem because there will be few students who would ever want to abandon the opportunities of Oklahoma Greatness.
Next, Making Oklahoma Great again requires that all people attend a Christian church every Sunday, and the resulting moral revival will eliminate gangs, obesity, teen pregnancy, "mental" health problems and more. 

Satire, with appreciation to Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Mary Fallin, UCO, and Aldous Huxley

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Russian bear awakens from hibernation

The bear has awakened from hibernation and is hungry.

Grizz is my totem, ursa horriblis, the dominant carnivore in the northern hemisphere. I think it is no accident that the bear is the symbol of Russia.

Recent actions by Russia, in the Ukraine, and now in Syria, and who knows where else, make us Americans uncomfortable. We may be the world's only "superpower," but we don't like, and fear, competition. 

I grew up in the Cold War, afraid of Russian ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) coming over the north pole. We even had evacuation plans, extra food ready to load,  and took part in exercises from Albuquerque...figuring we had 45 minutes before being hit to reach the Sandia Mountains. In high school speech class, my memorized oration was about "detente" and the fear of nuclear war. We feared the bear.
We feared the bear
I'm wondering why more people from Russia have clicked on this blog in the past few days than those from other countries, including America. 

Bears are confident, territorial, proud, and survivors. A mere eagle is not a  match, really more of a scavenger. What have we been able to do in the face of Russian "aggression" in Ukraine and Syria? Nothing, and that has nothing to do with politics. Short of war, sending American soldiers to die, we're powerless.

Any country that can lose 10 million people in a war, and still be a world power, has to be reckoned with, or at least respected. The crack "Red Army" defeated Hitler, and fell into decay. No longer. Grizz's claws are long. You can't outrun it. 

Americans forgot that when we "won" the Cold War. But the bear has only been hibernating.

Making Oklahoma Great Again (2) --school is not for everybody

Not all Oklahoma children should have a K-12 education.

To make Oklahoma great again, by building a wall around us to keep out undesirable people and ideas, the first step must be the  elimination of the current education system, K-12.

The current system is largely a failure because it's based on the false philosophy that all children should go to school, that everyone has a right to education.

Public education is a wasteful socialist plot that drains Oklahoma of greatness and insures mediocrity.

A recent headline in The Oklahoman newspaper proved this point when it showed Oklahoma is falling behind because it doesn't have enough skilled workers. It's obvious from that article's facts that there is only one reason for education in Oklahoma--providing skilled workers.
Public education is a wasteful socialist plot 
To accomplish that goal to insure Oklahoma Greatness, all "public" schooling will cease at grade four. Every child must be taught how to read and write, and basic math. That can easily be accomplished in four years of eight-hour schools days lasting 12 months  a year, instead of the wasteful nine-month system now. Those students incapable of this training will be deported, along with their parents, as hindrances to Oklahoma Greatness.

At that stage, all children will be tested for aptitude in various work skills, plus science and math and playing football. Most average and lower intelligent children will then be housed in work-skill specific boarding schools to learn those basic lower level work skills necessary to make Oklahoma Great Again. They'll thus be prepared for other needed skills--such as clerks, painters, farm and ranch hands, oil field workers, receptionists, call-center workers, computer  repair, cops, firemen, plumbers, prison guards, teacher aides and nurses.

This can be easily accomplished in just four more years of school, by going 12 months a year. Thus by the eighth grade, they'll be active producers in Making Oklahoma Great Again, instead of essentially living off taxpayer-financed welfare as users instead of producers.

Those worthy of math, science and football, will continue with a highly restricted curriculum in preparation for going to college.
 Getting rid of the wasteful "liberal" education
Oklahoma's Greatness also requires a revolution in curriculum eliminating wasteful useless courses, obviously called a "liberal" education.
  • All foreign languages will never be taught again. All people need to speak American only.  Language police will enforce this requirement strictly, because American language is essential for greatness.
  • All arts and music will be eliminated. These add nothing to building skilled workers.
  • No more humanities will be taught for the same reason, and they teach "critical" thinking, since there is nothing in Great Oklahoma to be critical of and  we don't need people who think, but only who have essential job skills.
  • History classes will only cover those subjects that show how Great Oklahoma is, to foster pride and commitment to Making Oklahoma Great Again. For instance, students will learn  about the "Trail of Opportunities," that our Indian citizens undertook to prepare this state for us later immigrants who chose this Oklahoma as a God-given right.
  • Science will also concentrate only on petroleum geology and related engineering and math fields. Fictional false science theories such as evolution and climate change are excluded. This will be basic preparation for doctors, lawyers, CEOs, petroleum scientists and other essential Oklahoma Greatness producing careers.
Students will all have digital locator microchips inserted in their wrists at the end of grade four, or at birth, to insure that they remain in Oklahoma after completion of the state's investment int heir educations. Students will also start each day with the pledge of allegiance to the flag, reciting the Ten Commandments and singing "Oklahoma."

Obvious exemptions will be the children of the actual producers of Great Oklahoma, those who have earned the resources to send their children to private schools. To encourage this, they will also be given tax breaks so they can be better producers, offsetting those who are only users.
Two thirds of teachers will not be necessary
With the reduced curriculum, at least two thirds of the teachers will not be necessary. There will also be no need for teacher training for the next 30 years at least, as all teachers over 30 will be recycled into language police, prison guards, wall gate guards, Walmart greeters and others at a savings of thousands of tax dollars. Other articles in The Oklahoman reported Gov. Mary Fallin discussing a crisis in the shortage of math and science teachers. This will be easily solved by eliminating all those other wasteful courses and teachers and by reducing the number of students who advance beyond fourth grade.

Those students who advance into the restricted curriculum, the Boosting Success program, also referred to as "BS," will specialize in science, math, or producing national chamtionship football teams.

This program of making Oklahoma Great Again and advanced technology for remote education also means millions of savings in closing at a vast majority of the current wasteful system of 500 school districts by allowing one district per county, as well as eliminating most educational administrators' positions. Most administrators will be recycled as minimum wage curriculum builders, because of their experience in making to-do lists for others.

All teachers and administrators who are to be "recycled" may apply to teach other essential classes, or be retrained for basic skills. If they refuse, they will be deported outside the Making Oklahoma Great Wall as hindrances to Making Oklahoma Great Again.


Next in  Making Oklahoma Great Again will be the recycling and restricting of the public university curriculum and system to concentrate on necessary math, science and football. This will require turning all the other wasteful public colleges and universities into prisons, proving more jobs for the recycled education administrators.

(Satire, with appreciation to The Oklahoman, Gov. Mary Fallin and Aldous Huxley.)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Making Oklahoma great again--time to build a wall

It’s time to build a wall around Oklahoma.

The rapid moral decline of the United States and influx of foreigners and people from other states is infecting our state, threatening the “Oklahoma standard,” and endangering our safety.

It's time to make Oklahoma great again.

Building the wall is the key objective of  important steps in restoring our conservative, God-fearing values, cutting taxes and rewarding those who improve the economy as we stop coddling those who don’t contribute to the Greatness of Oklahoma.  We must do away with expensive socialist public education for all children while we make sure the curriculum helps promote Oklahoma values through the Great Oklahoma Education Act, severely limit those who can go to college and reduce the degree programs and cut the number of colleges to one, make sure all people go to right-thinking churches every week, and eliminate our wasteful so-called two-party political system.

Building a wall that is ten feet tall and topped with high voltage razor wire will prohibit unwanted persons from entering Oklahoma. Only people who are citizens of Oklahoma will be allowed to live here, with the exception of personnel at the military bases, who will be granted temporary visas to enjoy the Greatness of Oklahoma. 

The wall will have only six gates, at the six Interstate  entrances to the state.  To beautify the inside of the wall and enhance the education and morality of all residents, the Ten Commandments will be printed in large type every 50 feet, helping insure the Greatness of Oklahoma.

Armed guards will only admit those necessary trucks and trains bringing food supplies and other necessities. Each vehicle will be issued a temporary visa, and pay a hefty fee for the privilege of entering. These fees will make all corporate taxes and income taxes on higher incomes unnecessary, since those are the keys to the Greatness of Oklahoma. Unfortunate non-Oklahomans who wish to visit friends and family here will  be granted temporary visas also after background checks  show their beliefs comply with the "Oklahoma standard."

Building the wall, and providing trained gate guards, will be financed by the millions of dollars saved by the Great Oklahoma Education Act, which will eliminate most teachers, educational administrators,  professors, high schools and  colleges. The unnecessary "educators" will be given first choice as gate guards since they have related experience, and the minimum wage jobs will provide more tax savings for the Greatness of Oklahoma.

In additional savings, the Oklahoma Panhandle is a security risk because of its remoteness and questionable economic value to the Greatness of Oklahoma. Instead of building a wall around it, the Panhandle will be de-annexed. Residents there don’t much like the rest of Oklahoma anyway, so they’ll be free to go their way independently or associate with the decadent adjoining states.

The wall will be the key in protecting Oklahoma from dangerous  ideas, science,  and people. The Great Oklahoma Education Reform Act will make all of this possible and insure we make Oklahoma great again.

Next, "Public" school isn't for everyone.

  (Satire, with appreciation  to Aldous Huxley and Donald Trump)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Autumn office with pinon

When the TV's blaring--it always does--and the cats want to climb on you or fight at your feet, and you need to write....
and why are you  stuck inside on a beautiful, brisk fall day anyway? 
Trying to write a monthly column, with tech difficulties to boot, then it's time to get outside, light a fire in the chiminea, smell the pinon smoke, get a cup of coffee, and at least trade the outdoor sounds--barking dogs, some bird song, and very distant traffic--for being cooped up. 
Seeking inspiration and answers for an article, pinon helps to be thinking  of New Mexico. Peace.