Friday, June 30, 2006
favorite albums: june edition
So, I'm breaking some rules this month because none of my favorite albums were released in the month of June. In fact, one wasn't even released this year. However, it's my blog and I make the rules darn it, so stop whining and eat your vegetables already.

Right then, so here's what I listened to ad nauseum this June:

1. Apologies to the Queen Mary - Wolf Parade
Admittedly, I'm coming to this band a bit late seeing as Apologies to the Queen Mary was released last fall, but this is the closest thing to a perfect rock album that I've heard in quite some time and it deserves my belated praise. It's just one flawless song after another on this album and it has pretty much held dominion over my iPod for the past month or so. If you don't have this one already, you best be getting your hands on it already. (And if you're really nice, I might burn you a copy. Unless you're a cop. Or a record executive. Or Tipper Gore. )
Favorite Track: "Fancy Claps"

2. Say I am You- The Weepies
Thanks goes out to JMW of A Special Way of Being Afraid for turning me on to this band. I hesitate to call it sweet, but there is it. It's a very sweet album. Pretty, pretty, pretty and well worth spending some of your e-music downloads on this one.
Favorite Track: "The World Spins Madly On"

3. Drowaton - Starlight Mints
I can't say I love Drowaton exactly, and there are certainly some moments that are a bit discordant and odd, but even though it gets a bit theatrical in a Halloween-ish sort of way it's strong moments outweigh its tendency to overexperimental and I like it all the same.
Favorite Track: "Inside of Me"

So, there it is. Oh, and if you live in NYC and aren't currently planning on going to Brooklyn's Prospect Park tonight to see Voxtrot perform then you need to start changing your plans, post haste.

That is all.

Thursday, June 29, 2006
happy birthday carrie!
I hope your day rocks wicked hard!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
three things i'd prefer to not have to wake up to (although they occasionally still happen, nonetheless):
1. Someone jiggling my front door handle.
Thanks to my childhood obsession with horror movies, I have a hard enough time sleeping in empty houses without convincing myself that someone is lurking in the shadows waiting to inflict any number of horrors upon me. The sights and sounds that I imagine sensing are bad enough, but when the sounds of a real, live person skulking around my front porch wafts through the little window between said porch and my bedroom I go on high alert. Usually it is just someone going door-to-door throughout the neighborhood tying advertisements to door handles. What's frightening is that on Monday when I awoke to such unpleasantness I later checked my front porch. No advertisement on the door handle. No phone book or unexpected package on the porch. Just the lingering presence of some dirty-bird who was jiggling my front door handle for no good reason. Creep.

2. My dog sitting on my chest, starring at me a la Cat's Eye.
My 28-year-old self knows that she just has to go outside and pee and that lying on my chest is a good way to get my attention. My 7-year-old self fears that she's really an evil troll who is attempting to steal my breath while I sleep.

3. Billy-Ray Cyrus singing "Achy Breaky Heart" via my alarm clock radio.

I'd have to imagine this has a tendency to put even the most good-natured person in a pissy mood for most of the morning.

In the past two weeks, all three of these things have happened to me at least once, although (thankfully) on separate days. Someday the perfect storm of all three of these things occurring at once will happen. I live in perpetual dread of that day.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
happy birthday, tom!
Today is my father-in-law's birthday. I wanted to post an adorable picture of him and my mother-in-law dancing at our wedding, but we can't seem to figure out our scanner. Nuts. So, he's a picture of another guy named Tom dancing instead:

(I'm sorry, Tom W. You are a much, much better dancer than that Tom Cruise idiot.)

Happy birthday, and get ready to dust off your dancing shoes for your retirement!

Monday, June 26, 2006
hitler cats
Oh my, but this blog is funny. I must admit that my laughter is a bit guilt-laced, since Hitler is decidedly NOT funny. But cats that look like Hitler? Quite funny indeed. See?:

And since we're on the subject of Hitler, I scored a 12 out of 14 on the "Hitler vs. Ann Coulter" quiz. Turns out, I'm a gal who knows her Hitler quotations. Although, I don't think that's really something that one should really be proud of, is it?

(via Bad Movie Club and Words in Edgewise, respectively)

Sunday, June 25, 2006
field trip #2: belle isle
I am ashamed to admit it, but in the fourteen years that I have called Detroit home I have never been to Belle Isle, our equivalent of New York's Central Park. After all the drama surrounding the city's recent decision to close the island's aquarium it seemed more and more important to go and see it before future cuts force more and more of our landmarks to become unavailable to me.
A visit to Belle Isle became even more appealing to me after I learned that it was designed by Frederick Olmsted, the same man who designed the landscape of Central Park and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. It just so happens that I'm currently reading (and very much enjoying) The Devil in the White City, which chronicles the story of the Chicago World's Fair by telling the stories of two of the most famous men connected to the fair: Daniel Burnham the head architect, and H.H. Holmes, America's first serial killer. Olmsted is a key figure in this novel which has, inexplicably, made landscape architecture sound interesting to me. From what I've read of Olmsted I can be certain that he wouldn't approve of the unkempt state of much of the park, but it was nevertheless lovely despite the general need for some upkeep.

Of course I took a ton of pictures and I've posted some of my favorites below. The rest are in the flickr photostream if you are interested.

If you look close, there is a bride and groom embracing on the fountain. What a lovely place for a wedding!

This shot is unabashedly plagiarised from dETROITfUNK, who captured it better than I could. Nonetheless, I love the ivy growing over Poseidon's face. What a shame that the aquarium he keeps watch over is now yet another abandoned structure in the city of Detroit.

I don't care what anyone says, Detroit can be a very pretty city. (Of course, most places are pretty when you look at them from far away.)

Friday, June 23, 2006
friendship, obligation and childish resistance
I've spent the last several days in somewhat of a moral dilemma. I made the mistake of checking my work e-mail on Monday, and intermixed with the messages from various school secretaries telling me that some teacher who I don't know's great-aunt died and from various students who would give Frued a field day, I found the e-mail that put me in my current crisis. Perhaps crisis is a bit too strong a word, but I've been rolling this around in my mind for five days now so I think the amount of time my mind has been consumed with this issue warrants me allowing myself some melodrama. (How metacognitive of me, huh?)

Okay, yes, I'm getting to the point already. The e-mail was from the student teacher who I had last semester, a woman who is nice enough and, although I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, a woman who I really can't stand. Perhaps my dislike for her can be attributed to the fact that we spent so much time sharing such a small space, but I think it's more than that. I think we were just two very different people at two different points in our lives (she's a former lawyer who is twice my age). Again, she's a nice enough woman, but I don't ever need to see her again and I certainly don't want to spark up some sort of friendship with her. In fact, when her tenure was up I breathed a giant sigh of relief and felt quite thankful that her chapter in my life had closed.

And then I checked my e-mail.

It's no big deal I guess. She just wants to meet me for coffee so we can "chat." Call me petty, but this is something that I absolutely do not want to do. It's not that we had some big, dramatic scene or anything, but there were certainly some tense moments between the two of us and I like to run and hide from situations that cause me tension; I do not want to sit down and chat with them over coffee.

I didn't know what so do about the invitation so I did what any coward would do - I ignored it. Yesterday I asked my husband if he thought I was obligated to meet her and he basically told me that to a) politely turn her down, or b) ignore the e-mail entirely would be what a "bad person" would do. I suspect he's right (on moral issues he usually is), but the more I think about it the more it frustrates me. Why is it that we have to be friends with people who we don't like, simply because he or she wants our friendship? That's not how we handle interested lovers, so why do we have to handle interested friends this way? For instance, say I was a single woman and the e-mail had been from a man who wanted to go on a date. I am not interested in dating this man, so no one would call me a "bad person" for politely turning him down. Why can't I politely turn down friendship with someone who I know I am incompatible with without being branded a bad person?

Perhaps I am making too much of this, and perhaps I should just be an adult already and give in to society's expectations by doing what a "nice woman" would do and suffer through. But I can't help but feel a bit like rebelling on principle. I'm very interested in what others think on this issue, so feedback is appreciated. Either way, I think it's about time I return the poor woman's e-mail already.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
four reasons i'm happy to be alive
1. I almost never buy candy at the check out lane of the grocery store, but yesterday I say something that I could not resist: limited edition ice cream flavored Skittles. Thankfully I only bought one bag and they are only out for a limited time, because they are crazy delicious.

2. Ikea has come to Detroit. When I first heard news of this a year ago I was insane with excitement. When opening day came and I saw people camping out for days waiting to get in, my excitement turns more into a "really, what's the big deal people?" sort of attitude. And then yesterday, I finally went. And it is a big deal. A 89-cents-a square-foot-for-laminate-flooring big deal. (Good bye positive balance in my bank account. You were nice.)

3. Monday - 1st day of summer vacation - I received my first e-mail from one of next year's AP students. She wanted to know if the letter I asked her to write to me as a means of introduction needed to be double-spaced and MLA formatted. Dear God, I'm so happy that I get a summer reprieve from anal retention! (Yet, I must admit that I do feel a bit bad because I certainly have done my part in creating these crazy grammar and formatting and rubric obsessed balls of stress. But I don't have to deal with them for a few months, so, woohoo!)

4. Wolf Parade is playing The Magic Stick in Detroit on August 8th. I do love me my Wolf Parade! So, who's coming with me?

Monday, June 19, 2006
live islam!
Summer vacation has finally arrived and I am once again a woman of leisure. To celebrate, I laid down a decree that Nathan and I would use our weekends to go on weekly field trips. Last weekend was the first of such trips so on Saturday we headed to Dearborn, Michigan (which has the largest Arabic population outside of the Middle East, for those who may not know) to attend the 11th annual Arab International Festival because, well, why not?

While there, I got an awesome henna tattoo,:

Nathan made a promise to Live Islam (I hope Allah won't hold it to him, though),:

and we got to be a part of the world's largest dabke circle:

This was my first experience at attempting to break a world record, and although there's been no offical word as of yet on whether or not we were able to break the world record for the largest dance circle (the Guinness people were actually there!), after dabke-ing for over 45 minutes I can now consider myself somewhat of an expert on traditional Arabic folk dances. I bet there aren't many Irish Catholic gals who can say that with a straight face.

Oh my, but aren't we ridiculous?

Sunday, June 18, 2006
happy birthday, mom!
They say that you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. Well, I have to say that although I may not have chosen her, I'm very happy with the mother fate handed me, and here's eight reasons why:

1. When I was seventeen years old I borrowed my mom's brand-new car (the first new car she ever had) and promptly wrecked it. Thankfully no one was hurt and the car wasn't totaled, but I certainly did quite a number on it. Although the accident was totally my fault and she had every right to be furious with me, she only yelled a little bit which is a true testiment to her strength of character.

2. Standing at only 5 foot and 1 inch tall, you might assume that my mom is not a very intimidating woman, however you would be wrong. I once watched my mom hold her own very well when a very big and very scary looking woman picked a fight with her in Yankee's Stadium. (Whether or not my mom antagonized the woman is still a matter of debate in my family.) After witnessing that, I certainly hope that my mom is standing by my side should anyone ever try to start something with my cowardly self.

3. Although she's since overcome her gaming addiction, my mom used to be quite skilled at the video games. Used to be that little brother and I would have to whine and whine to get her to turn over the NES controller so we could play Super Mario Brothers already. Fortunately, she taught us all of the secret codes and stuff, so we never really held it against her.

4. Time and time again, my mom has proven herself to be a very tolearant woman. For instance, she tolerated the fact that my father treated her to a meal at White Castle after their senior prom and took her to Canton, Ohio to tour the Football Hall of Fame for their honeymoon. (And who said my dad wasn't a hopeless romantic?)

5. My mom is a very dependable woman. For instance, I can depend on her to call me at least two times every day, once to tell me that she can't remember why she called, and a second time to tell me what it was that she had originally forgotten.

6. My mom has put in countless hours either in church or praying the rosary in her car, which can only lead me to believe that she must be very good with God. Let's face it, when your time comes it's nice to have someone like that pulling for you. (Assuming, of course, that God is Catholic. If not, well then I guess I'm screwed.)

7. Although my mom has always valued keeping a clean house, she has never, ever, spanked me with a wire hanger or made me scrub the bathroom floor on my hands and knees until it sparkled, and for that I am eternally grateful.

and finally,

8. In all seriousness, despite her small stature my mom has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She is one of those rare people who really would rather give than recieve and always thinks of others before herself, which makes her a pretty awesome mom.

I love you mom and hope you have a great day!

Thursday, June 15, 2006
This is the dumbest thing I've heard this week. And I've heard a looooooooot of dumb things this week. Apparently iPod has now come out with something called iCarta, which is basically a stereo for your iPod that, in addition to dispensing music, also dispenses toilet paper. It's moisture resistant too, and I don't even want to go where my mind is trying to take me with that.

Really? Have we, the iPod generation, actually taken our Mp3 addiction to a level where we can't even sit on the toilet for five freakin' minutes in silence? Or, at least just go with our earphones in like normal people? True, I enjoy my Gnarls Barkley as much as the next gal, but I really don't need him around when I'm doin' my bizness. (Which, for the record, always smells like wildflowers and I never poo because I'm a girl. So there.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
a 16-year-old tries his hand at literary analysis
Although I find it hard to believe, tomorrow will be my last day of the school year and I didn't think I'd feel this way, but I'm sorta sad to see the little boogers go, mostly because they make me laugh when they say things like this:

I heard we have to analyze poems on the final exam and that the best way to do it was to just bubble in "abbacaddabba." Man, I hate poetry. That shit never makes sense to me. It's all like, "A blue dragon beckons and a man is left alone, eating peanut butter." And he was eating peanut butter on a Tuesday. In a bathrobe. So that has to mean something, right? But do I have any idea what that mean? No.

Don't get me wrong I'm crazy in love with summer vacation, but it 's a bit bittersweet is all 's I'm sayin'.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
it has begun

This will be the third summer that I've spent in my house, which is located in very blue collar, family oriented, under-educated but relatively friendly street. Since most of the houses on the street are like mine - pretty small and too old for central air conditioning - there is a considerable amount of outside activity throughout most of the summer months, most of which is enough to make my eyes roll and my facial muscles twitch. Technically it's still spring, but summer has officially begun, at least on my street, and here's how I know:

1. Ren and Stimpy come out to play.
Like the first spring crocuses signal the end of winter, the emergence of the two women who live in the yellow house across the street, affectionately nicknamed "Ren and Stimpy", emerge from their home to take up near-permanent residence on their front porch. Ren, in her eighties, and Stimpy, her middle aged, spinsterly, and possibly mentally challenged daughter, reign during the summer months over our street, proudly wearing their mumus as they silently monitor all events occurring during daylight hours. I know it's going to be a good day when Ren grabs her bowl, places it over Stimpy's head and starts cutting her hair in perfect 90 degree angles.

2. Fireworks house lights 'em up.
Across the street and two doors down lies a house with a seemingly endless supply of fireworks and a complete lack of common curtsey. Long before and after the 4th of July, regardless of day or hour, fireworks ignite like, er, fireworks interminably across the street. Fireworks are fun when they are big, colorful and put on by professionals, but I've never understood the appeal of the small fireworks that are basically just loud, sound-making annoyances. Understandably, Chloe goes nuts whenever the fireworks start a lightin', which is a large reason why I'm unashamed to admit that I live in secret hopes that someday there will be a small (i.e. no permanent damage) "accident" at Fireworks House and I can enjoy my summer months in peace.

3. Redneck house throws a three-month long fight/pool party.
Two doors down lies Redneck House, which houses four generations of people who don't know how to communicate with other human beings without screaming and a generous sprinkling of profanities. Redneck House is tiny, yet apparently no one has ever moved out since I've counted at least 10 permanent to semi-permanent residents. Since there are so many occupants, it makes sense why they spend so much time outside, although I wish they didn't enjoy blaring the country music radio stations in their backyard while they soak the summer months away in their above-ground, backyard pool so much. I know it's going to be a bad day with Redneck mom chases Redneck daughter out of the house, calling her a pot-head and threatening to call the cops so they will take her children away from her. (Well, that's not exactly true. I usually pretend I have some "gardening" to do on those days so I can watch the drama unfold.) I hate to say it, but Redneck mother might be on to something, since Redneck kids (of which there are many) appear nearly feral to me. God, I hate Redneck House.

Seriously, who needs television when you have a picture window overlooking Alexander Street?

Monday, June 12, 2006
touche, christopher walken, touche
So, is it just me, or does anyone else's skin start to crawl, teeth start to grit and hand start moving towards some heavy object that very nearly gets thrown across the room and into your television set whenever a preview comes on for this god-awful, intelligence hating, piece of crap movie?

Or is it just me?

Friday, June 09, 2006
5 more days...
The end of the school year is at long last upon me, and although the last week of classes is usually a rough one, what with all the final exam stress, final essays and projects to grade and burnt-out students to manage, this year's final week of classes has proven to be particularly heinous for some reason. It's been a never ending barrage of questions - some thoughtful but most trivial - and I am utterly exhausted trying to fend them all. To make matters worse, in a fit of insanity I assigned a final essay that I'll be collecting on Monday, giving me approximately 48 hours to grade all 55 of them. I complain, but no one forced me to assign that damn paper so I guess I should either a) seek help because it appears that I'm unconsciously trying to kill myself with paper work and/or b) quit whining about my lot already because I have no one else to bloody-well blame but my own sorry self.

I post this not to get sympathy (although it's always welcome) but as a note to self. Self, please read this post next June and learn from your past mistakes, since there are far better ways to go than suicide by grading.

On the bright side, I'll be going to a friend's wedding tomorrow and there will likely be an open bar. And I'll be hitting it. Hard.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006
thank goodness for tenure moment of the week
Excerpt from a class discussion on suicide, responsibility and religion after completing Romeo and Juliet.:

Kid A: Jews don't believe in hell, right? Does that mean that everyone goes to heaven?

Me: I suppose so, but Romeo and Juliet are Catholic, not Jewish.

Kid B: So, does that mean that they're both going to hell since they killed themselves?

Me: That's the belief, yes. Catholics, and most Christians for that matter, believe that suicide is a unforgivable sin.

Kid A: But if they were Jewish, they'd be free and clear?

Me: Again, they aren't Jewish, so your point is a bit mute, but - yes- they would be free and clear since Jews don't believe in hell. Hell was created by Christians.

Whole Class: (a mix of uncomfortable laughter, confused stares and some shaking heads of Christian disapproval)

Me: Or, rather, Christians discovered it...or popularized it...or...oh hell, you know what I mean.

Monday, June 05, 2006
an open letter to the creators of the sopranos

First, you made me wait two years for the final season of The Sopranos. It was difficult, but I've forgiven you for your distance. I admit that I attempted to fill the void you left by turning to other shows, Deadwood and Entourage for instance, but you and I both know that nothing else could replace you, so I was willing to wait until you figured things out.

Then you tell me that the final season is going to be cut in half and I'm going to have to wait another six months to watch the show's eight final episodes. Fine. I'm not happy about it, but what can I do? Obviously you still have shit to work out and you need some more time (you had TWO YEARS to figure shit out, but whatever, I guess you need more).

And it's not like I haven't enjoyed your return. You made me wonder if a lead character might die like only an HBO show can do and my love for the "Spatafore twist" is well documented, so pardon me if I didn't get my hopes a bit high for the mid-season's season finale.

So I watch.
And wait.
And you give me this?

Anthony Jr. is dating a Latino chick with a baby, Christopher is dating Tony's real estate agent and Carmela's spec house is back up and running and, pardon me, but....WHO CARES???!!!! Absolutely nothing happened and that's what you give me to tide me over until 2007!!!

Fine. Okay. Whatever.

Stupid, stupid, awesome show

Sunday, June 04, 2006
chloe's life aquatic
Nathan, Chloe and I headed to Muskegon this weekend to visit my triumphantly soon to be retired in-laws. While there, Chloe experienced two firsts: playing on the beach and riding on a boat. Dear God, it was cute.


Chloe was a bit embarrassed at first about walking around in her new, bright yellow life jacket, but she soon got over it when we were out on the boat and she could feel the wind rushing through her hair as we sped through Lake Michigan.

See that tiny ball of fur barrelling down the sand dune? That's Chloe who, only moments before, had just finished conquering the massive dune and is now racing back down. In a matter of seconds her triumphant moment will be felled as she is attacked by a roving pack of bully beach dogs who, after swarming her will leave a quaking puddle of red fur in their wake. So terrified did this encounter leave her of the other dogs on the beach that she cowered when a group of puppies walked past her, but - at least for this one, brief moment - she was reigned as queen of the dog beach.