Archive for Culture

Step Your Nerd Game Up

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Step Your Nerd Game Up

June 10, 2013  |  Culture, Teaching, VIrtual Book Club  |  No Comments

Someone just asked me what I’m doing this summer.

My answer was this:

Reading Books for Adults:
  • Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang – This book is a living history of EVERYTHING that exists now. If you know anyone under 45, read this book. It puts our existence in the appropriate cultural context.
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – If you love, nurture, teach, are, or have had your life changed by a nerd of color, read this book.
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin – Vampires exist because of a government conspiracy. Farfetched? Last week we thought Obama reading your text messages was science fiction.
  • Reamde by Neal Stephenson – Video game players and midwestern farmers team up to topple terrorism in the most brilliantly stylish way you have ever imagined.
Reading Books for Kids:

What I'm doing this summer.

What I’m doing this summer.

  • No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Nelson – This book is a testament to why the pen is in fact mightier than the sword… or sexism or racism. Words matter.
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger – Star Wars. The hottest thing in 1978 is now the hottest thing out right now.
  • Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz – Blow your mind awesome adventure goodness!
  • Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1-3 by Brian Michael Bendis – Spider Man. In Brooklyn. Enough said.
Reading Books for Teaching:
  • Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation by Christopher Emdin – Science is the new black.
  • Clock Watchers: Six Steps to Motivating and Engaging Disengaged Students Across Content Areas by Stevi Quate & John McDermott – You can’t teach a kid that does not want to be there. Don’t just make them want to be there. Make them belong there.
  • Fearless Voices: Engaging a New Generation of African American Adolescent Male Writers by Alfred Tatum – As class and real-estate re-segregate education, saying, “I teach public school.” means “I teach brown kids.” This is your guide.
  • Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom by bell hooks – She affirms why we all became teachers, and gives us even more tools to be the best that we can for children.

Basically, I’m upping my nerd status. In a major way.

– Corn

Virtual Book Club: Lean In

May 19, 2013  |  Culture, Family  |  27 Comments

So, I can’t pick up a piece of print or sift through my online reader without seeing the term lean in .  Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 9.52.58 PM

The NY Times calls lean in an idiom:

“Lean in” is the idiom of the moment for headline writers, the Twitterati and New Yorker cartoonists. Inevitably it has moved beyond mere shorthand for the ideas mapped out in Ms. Sandberg’s book, which urges women to assertively pursue career ambitions, “combine niceness with insistence” and demand that their partners share equally in child care. (NY TIMES MOTOKI 5/19/13).

The first time I saw lean in, I googled it, and got lots of flubbery internet mush. That was a few months ago, and Sheryl Sandberg’s name hadn’t been so fervently tagged to the term as it is now.   Months later, after skimming the surface on the internet, my interpretation of Leaning In is the idea that woman shouldn’t limit themselves-that we should summon our ambition yet retain all the sweetness that differentiates woman from man.

But my interpretation lacks conviction, so I want to read the actual book and talk to real people whom I like and respect to hear their ideas and perspectives too.

Herein likes the Virtual Book Club! Of course, we’ll start with Sandberg’s Lean In, but I hope to also read fun novels and juicy non fiction with you all as well.  Here’s the kick off plan:

1) I’ll serve as the moderator to start out with (we can switch roles if someone feels the desire to take care of all the online widgetry, but otherwise, I’m happy to be a permanent moderator).

2) I’ll put a few guiding questions on this site ( , and post the link on facebook.  I’ll probably do this by Thursday, May 23.  Respond to the questions via blog comments, and others can comment on your posts. This can happen throughout the week.  I’m thinking we could change books every 2-3 weeks.

3) On Monday nights at 8PM EST, we can have a livestream book club virtual chat via

Let me know if these logistics work for you.  I’m thrilled to weave  people from my life from so many different places into a virtual (and real life) connection! Technology=Togetherness!!

xoxo Kass

We've Been Parents for a Year

Brooklyn Friday Night: Our crew is waaaaay more fun than your crew.

We’ve Been Parents for a Year

April 12, 2013  |  Culture, Family  |  2 Comments

I’m from the old school. The reactive, post Magic Johnson old school. Where parents, teachers, and media all told me that if I ever had sex, I was going to die. Immediately. Somehow my parents instilled in me a healthy fear of everything.

All of it was out to kill me: the drugs, the MTV, and yes, the sex…

In that world of teenage fire and parental brimstone, the only thing worse than dying immediately from sex was “getting somebody’s daughter pregnant”. (I still hear those words in my father’s judgmental baritone.)

This is how I was conditioned.

One of those "home pregnancy test dad-to-be photos"... 'Cause everybody takes their partner to a meadow to read the pregnancy test.

One of those “home pregnancy test dad-to-be photos”… ‘Cause everybody takes their partner to a meadow to read the pregnancy test. Foolishness.

Though Kass and I were planning to procreate, when the doctor finally delivered the news that we were expecting, I was not one of those “home pregnancy test commercial dads-to-be”… all like, “Oh, honey, we did it!” My conditioning would not allow it. My first reaction was, “My father is going to be PISSED!”

Kass had to remind me that I am in my mid-thirties. Not my mid-teens. (I still told my mama first. Sorry, Pop.)

Our world has been shifting since that moment. When Soleil joined our unit, she brought a universe of experiences and emotions with her. It is hard for me to believe that we have been living this reverie for a full year. Soleil is one-year-old. Kass is amazing, and I am so blessed.

Since blessings have been shining my way, I figure that I’ll use this opportunity to spread love by sharing some insight that I’ve gained on the way.

  1. Everyone has something to teach you. Learn. Since having Soleil, all my friends have had tons of advice. I might (not) have listened. I’ve been most impressed, however, by Soleil’s ability to consistently teach me new things. Listen to the kids.
  2. Read to the people you love. My favorite time of the day is story time. Reading to Soleil and Kass is blissful. I might find some more people and read to them just ’cause. You should too. Seriously. Volunteer at a school, nursing home, mosque, whatever, and read to the people you meet there. Noting builds community like words.
  3. Talk lots. Every time Soleil does something might be the first time she’s ever done it, so we have to explain everything. Explaining everything has made my other relationships positive too. Communication works. Do it.
  4. Don’t get nobody’s daughter pregnant. 🙂

– Corn