Sunday, December 13, 2020

James Yerkes, Dilvo Ristoff, and Rabbit at Rest

Dilvo Ristoff

In order to nurture my love of John Updike, I used to visit The Centurian — an eclectic resource for John Updike research and study — until it suffered a server crash sometime around 2009 and lost almost all its pages. James Yerkes maintained the site and also edited a book about Updike entitled John Updike and Religion: The Sense of the Sacred and the Motions of Grace. Nowadays, the go-to Updike page is no doubt The John Updike Society.

I recently purchased a used book called John Updike’s Rabbit at Rest: Appropriating History by Dilvo Ristoff, a book which at one time was apparently owned by Mr. Yerkes. The book is autographed thus: “To James Yerkes, with Best Wishes.” I don’t know why Mr. Yerkes let such a prized possession slip from his grasp, but I am happy to be the new owner of this remarkable book, one which explains John Updike’s use of topical references and how he framed his narrative around them.

Friday, December 11, 2020

"Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

An audio recording of Robert Frost reading his famous poem.

“Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening”
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Two Cars in a Driveway

I suppose what I had in mind when I took the above shot was a photograph I saw online by William Eggleston, the famous Memphis photographer. I love the emptiness in most of his snapshots.

Two Cars in a Driveway
Untitled, 1982-1985, copyright William Eggleston

Friday, November 27, 2020


Walking around our village yesterday (Thanksgiving), I noticed that weeks after the election several yards are still flying their Biden-Harris signs. Maybe because it’s not over yet, right? The fat lady still needs to sing? Okay, I live in a super-liberal bubble of a town, and I like it that way. I’m thankful for it. Most of my life has been spent in ruby red places, and it’s nice not to hear stupid conspiracy theories coming out of the mouths of rubes. I can relax and not constantly argue with knuckle-draggers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Doing donuts in Wall Mart baby

This video captures wonderfully my late twin brother’s youthful spirit, how he always cast a wry glance toward life.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

First Birthday without Tim

This is the first birthday I’m celebrating without my twin brother, Tim, who passed away last November. I put together this little video of us playing in our backyard in 1959. Tim is wearing the red-striped shirt and is already quite the adventurer.

Tom and Tim in Our Backyard 1959 from Tom Fasano on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Home Movie No. 1

The first video I shot with my Sony HVR-Z1U, an oldschool camcorder which uses tapes.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Hart Winery

I made a short road trip to the Hart Winery in Temecula today. Seating was outdoors only, mask and social distancing required. This was the first and probably the only getaway for me this summer of Covid-19. I did enjoy sitting in the dappled shade on the patio, gazing at the expanse of vineyard. The wines were served on a tray, poured into small plastic cups so the waiter didn’t have to keep running in and out of the indoor tasting room to serve those outside.

I could’ve sat out there for hours, but the heat was kicking up and it was time to leave, but not before purchasing a case of three different red varietals.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Anne Sexton — Smith Corona Typewriter

The poet Anne Sexton was always filmed and photographed typing on a Royal Quiet DeLuxe. But I recently bought a copy of her posthumous collection, 45 Mercy Street, and the back cover displays a photo of a Smith Corona electric typewriter sitting on her desk. My assumption is that she wore out her Royal and purchased a brand-new electric. Of course this is something of interest only to people like me who have a fascination with the tools writers of the past used.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Sea Breeze

In the early evening, sea breezes blow in and spin our spinner and all the trees around, cooling everything off. The spinner was a gift from our former neighbor who moved to Idaho.

Monday, June 22, 2020

My Brother's Retirement

This is a short video my brother made of himself enjoying retirement. It’s a Saturday morning, and the world seems kind and promising. Sadly, he had only five more months to live.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

They Closed My Favorite Starbucks

This was my Starbucks of choice, the place where I got my coffee most mornings before commuting to work, where I visited every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, where I dropped by almost every day during summer vacation. Call them a victim of Covid-19 because once they closed “temporarily” at the peak of the pandemic, that was it. Starbucks decided to take down the sign and board up the place. With no drive-thru business, they probably weren’t making enough profit to justify keeping their doors open. The place was always packed when school was in session, but that was part of the problem. The college kids from the surrounding Claremont colleges would park themselves there with their laptops and not move for hours, which meant little money flowing into the store’s coffers.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Digital Graduation

It’s always an honor to be one of the teachers selected by the senior class to read their names at graduation. We held today’s digital graduation in our new gymnasium, a fantastic venue. The video will be posted to Sonora High School’s website later next week.

Monday, May 11, 2020

At the Melville Winery in Santa Barbara County

I found this video in my file of old Flip Videos. The Flip Video was great, true point-and-shoot. Just a couple of buttons, easy to use, the ideal video camera to put in your pocket and carry around.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Student Portrait Project 2020

The Student Portrait Project is now completed. For those students who requested one, I drew their portraits in Adobe Illustrator. I’ll be sending them each a copy.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Somatic Tinnitus

This video was private for several years, first posted in 2011.

My tinnitus (a ringing in my left ear) started on July 7th at the same time I got sick with flu-like symptoms. It’s a kind of metallic screech and very stressful to hear constantly. I went to my doctor, who sent me to an ENT guy, who sent me to get a thorough audiological workup. My hearing checked out fine (audiologist said I have very good hearing). The tympanogram results were also excellent. The ENT guy examined my jaw and said he suspected TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder ). He referred me to a neurologist and told me to see my dentist too.

The neurologist ordered an MRI of my brain. She suspected a brain tumor pressing on the auditory nerve. The results were negative. I had better luck with my dentist, who started me on an Invisalign treatment to correct a misalignment of my jaw. The treatment eventually relived most of the symptoms. However, recent sources of stress have brought it all back: hernia surgery, the death of my twin brother, Covid-19 and my having to teach from home.

In technical terms, what happens with somatic tinnitus is that neural fibers in the trigeminal ganglion transmit temporomandibular information to the brain. These fibers project into the auditory system, thereby enabling movement and pressue on the jaw to modulate the pitch or loudness of the tinnitus.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Moonlight Sonata

Wilhelm Kempff’s magisterial performance of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” remains my favorite.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Student Portrait Project — First Nine

These are the first nine student portraits I’ve drawn for my annual student portrait project. My process is as follows:

I do a quick drawing with a couple of favorite black markers. I then scan it into Adobe Illustrator, vectorize it, clean it up, and add color. No sooner do I finish one portrait, than I move on to the next. I plan to draw portraits of all my students since I won’t see them again this year. For those who want a copy, I’ll send them the digital file.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Tim's Video from May 10, 2009

Freaking Me Out

In this video my brother, Tim Fasano, makes a preliminary excursion to Withlacoochee State Forest. This was one of the first videos my brother made.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Student Portrait Project #1 — Paige

Painting with brush attached to bamboo stick

At the end of the school year I do portraits of my students, in a different style each year. This year I’m going for an abstract look with flat colors and thick black lines. Inspired by Matisse, I tape a paint brush to the end of a bamboo stick.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

My Cow Pasture Backyard

This is what happens to a yard when you don’t do anything to it for months. You don’t mow it. You don’t trim it. You don’t even go out and look at it. You end up with a cow pasture. We do have some nice California poppies growing wild.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

My Smith-Corona Electra 210

This typewriter is an elite machine which types 12 characters per inch. It’s a good, steady typer and I use it often.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Robert Lowell and Tom Fasano

The older I get the more I look like the poet Robert Lowell. If I could write poetry like Lowell, I’d be set.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Typing on a Smith-Corona Electra 210

This machine has a fine touch and doesn’t require the pressing and punching of the keys that manuals demand. For general typing, this is one of the best.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Smith Corona Electra 210

This was one of the first typewriters I ever acquired — before I learned that Robert Caro types all his books on an Electra 210, a fact that turned me into a devotee of this old typer. Typing on this machine is a pure joy and makes me think that something important has gone out of the writing process in the digital world. This is not my opinion, but that of a few serious thinkers.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

My Famous Typewriter

An upcoming book about the history of typewriters and keyboards used a photo of my old Woodstock No. 5 typewriter. The author said he’d been unable to find a machine that still had the decals on it, which is rare for a typewriter manufactured in 1917. Whether it was owned at one time by the infamous spy Alger Hiss is another matter. The typewriter, by the way, works beautifully. How many of our digital gadgets will still be operational 100 years from now?

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

COVID-19 Diary #2

After teaching school all day online, I got out for my afternoon walk. For the first time this year, it felt like an actual spring day, temperature in the lower 70s and a cool breeze. It was a welcomed change from being cooped up all day teaching from home.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Covid-19 Diary #1

On my daily walk I’ve been noticing these signs on the campus of Pomona College, a favorite strolling site of mine.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Tim Voting 2012

Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post

From the Washington Post: TAMPA, FL – JANUARY 31:
Tim Fasano, 55, shows off his “I Voted” sticker next to his Buccaneer patch at a voting precinct in north downtown Tampa, Florida on January 31, 2012. Fasano is Italian, has lived in Tampa the last fifteen years and said he voted for Newt Gingrich over Romney because of “Romney’s negative campaigning”. He said Romney failed to explain his Romneycare in Massachusetts. Ybor City, nearby, is home to a lot of hispanics, Italians, African Americans. Its history dates back to the day when cigars factories were steady work here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Starbucks Laptop People

I stop by Starbucks on the way home just about every day because I’ve reached that age when I need a little jolt to make it home. This place is always filled with laptops. The laptop people long ago destroyed the ambiance of American cafes, and it’s not just Starbucks. Every hole-in-the-wall coffee shop I ever visit is brimming with these wireless moochers.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Karl Shapiro

This is the only filmed interview I’ve been able to find of the great poet Karl Shapiro. It’s sourced from a 16mm film by Karl Shapiro and Arthur Hoyle, Santa Monica, CA: Pyramid Films, 1976.

Charles Lawler Sculpture

I spotted this sandstone sculpture in front of the Pomona College Art Museum. The sculptor, Charles Lawler, taught at Pomona College at Claremont from 1949-57.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Tim's Dog

Tim was a cat lover, but he did enjoy getting a kiss from a little doggie.