Thursday, August 31, 2006
music: august: apology time
I have a few things to apologize for this month, but the most important amends needs to be made to the two school custodians who I enraged earlier today. Seeing as the custodian is the absolute LAST person you want to piss off in the building, I'm pretty sure I'm doomed to a school year full of overflowing garbage cans and a permanent dust storm around my chalkboard. I guess there's really nothing I can do about it now seeing as I'm pretty sure they don't read my blog, but just in case they do...Hi! I'm very sorry I walked through your newly waxed floor. Twice.

Err, anyway I do have some other apologies to make of the musical kind, and they go a little something like this:

To: Irving
Re: My mistreatment of your band when I saw you open for Voxtrot
Oh dear, this one's hard. Irving, you rock so hard. I absolutely love Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers. Your sound is sorta pop-y, sultry and goth-y, and that's pretty much how I like to rock it. If I had known how sweet you were back in January when I saw you play at the Lager House I might have gone into the other room to actually listen to you. I think I may have even said some disparaging things that I fear you may have heard after you had finished your set and started playing pool next to my table. I'm sorry. You rock. I suck. Go Irving!

To: Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
Re: My sluggish response to Rabbit Fur Coat
Ms. Lewis, I think I owe you some overdue credit. I listened to Rabbit Fur Coat back in January, but it just didn't resonate with me for some reason so I shelved it. For whatever reason I started listening to your album again this month and now I get it. I'm pretty much listening to you all the time now and, although you make me happy, I can't help but feel a twinge of guilt over my earlier slight. I'm sorry. It's me, not you. Perhaps I was just jealous. Or was suffering from a mild concussion. Whatever.

To: Bridges and Powerlines
Re: ???
Um, I don't really have anything to apologize to you for. I guess I'm just sorry that e-music only let me download half of your album and I really, really want the other half. So fork it up, already punks!

And with that public confession, I'm off to atone for my sins. Ten Hail Marys should do the trick, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
welcome back
It's been a lovely two and a half months, but now I'm back to the daily drudgery for bread. I guess I don't really mind so much seeing as I've run out of money to spend on home improvements and I think sitting around for most of the day has made my apple bottom bigger than it's ever been, but no matter how good/fun/fulfilling your job is work is work, and not working is always better.

In an attempt to get my mind right for the up-coming school year I created a list of commandments that I thought I might attempt to follow. They go a little something like this:

1. Stay positive. Even though everyone else is bitching and you looooove bitching it's boring and rude and generally unattractive to bitch, bitch, bitch all the live-long day.

2. Speaking of which, watch your mouth. Even though your students all have potty mouths YOU probably shouldn't. (Well, unless it's around that certain co-worker who gets her panties all in a bunch whenever anyone swears. In that case, fucking hell -swear it up, damn it.)

And finally,

3. Maintain your patience. Your kids are only 14-16 years old and, consequently, they're rather stupid about the world. So, when they say ignorant things like "AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality" and "the government shouldn't bother to help rebuild New Orleans because 'those people' will just trash it up again" you must remember to HOLD YOUR BREATH AND COUNT TO TEN before you politely explain to them why their personal beliefs/religion/parents are wrong.
And it's with these three simple commandments that I entered into my first district-wide teacher in-service day today. Usually, the first day is a bit of a 'ra-ra' day. Typically, a keynote speaker is hired who, through the use of music or humor or heart-warming stories or a combination of all three, infuses everyone with the sense that THIS YEAR will be AWESOME.

I should have known right away that this year would be different when instead of a keynote speaker, we were treated by a series of presentations given by various administrators. Each presentation was more defeating than the one preceding it, and in sum I heard:

We can't allow kids to fail. Studies show that 75% of kids who fail at school grow up to be criminals, so the kids you fail will have no choice but to grow up to be the people who rob from/rape/kill you and none of us want any more of THAT KIND, so it is essential that every student who passes through your room regardless of home life or history or health or genetics emerge inspired and good at Algebra.

Collaboration is essential to a successful school. Remember, we're all in this together - except for the majority of your day when you're all alone.

Thanks to No Child Left Behind's ridiculous standards, you are now an employee of a failing school. Oh, and English Department - your standardized test scores are down 22% from the previous year, so while we all suck, your department sucks the most.
So, before I've even seen one single student my simple commandments have all been blown to hell. I feel like crying. Or drinking. Maybe both.

Welcome back!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
in case you didn't bother to follow the lost experience over the summer either
You don't scare me, Dharma Initiative!

(well, maybe a little...)

Friday, August 25, 2006
rush limbaugh is an equal opportunity playa hata
Wanna hear Rush Limbaugh embarrass himself while he weighs in on Survivor's new race angle? Sure you do!

Rush Limbaugh on Hispanics:
There "are many characteristics ... that you would think would give [the African-American tribe] the lead, and the heads up in terms of skill and athleticism and so forth." He also stated that "our early money" is on "the Hispanic tribe" -- which he said could include "a Cuban," "a Nicaraguan," or "a Mexican or two" -- provided they don't "start fighting for supremacy amongst themselves." Hispanics have "probably shown the most survival tactics," that they "have shown a remarkable ability to cross borders" and that they can "do it without water for a long time, they don't get apprehended, and they will do things other people won't do."
On Asians/Native Americans:
"The Asian-American tribe" -- whom he called "the brainiacs of the bunch" -- "probably will outsmart everybody," but while "intelligence is one thing ... raw, native understanding of the land -- this is probably why the Native Americans were excluded, because they were at one with the land and they would probably have an unfair advantage."
On Whites:
"The white tribe," "if it behaves as it historically has," will "bring along vials of diseases" and "will wind up oppressing" the other tribes by "deny[ing] them benefits" and "property," but will later "try to put [the other tribes] on some kind of benefit program." He further asserted that if CBS "allows ... cheating" and "oppression," "then of course the white tribe is going to win."

Read more of Rush sticking his foot in his mouth, including his explanation on why the swimming competitions will be especially unfair to the African American team, here.

one more thing the great state of ohio can take pride in...
See Forbes' list of America's Drunkest cities here. Milwaukee's #1 (no surprise there), and 5 cities of the top 10 are located in the Midwest. My home state of Ohio did particularly well, with my birth city of Columbus (C-bus represent!) taking the #3 spot, Cleveland slurring its speech at #7 and Cincinnati crying in its barstool at #17. No Michigan cities made the top 20 (Detroit's #28), so I guess that means that although Michigan is more dangerous, moving away from Ohio has made alcoholism less likely in my future.

(drunkest cities link via A Special Way of Being Afraid)

Thursday, August 24, 2006
stereotypically yours
Boy oh boy I'm a tired pup. This is my last full week of summery freedom and like a silly monkey I chose to spend it by installing a laminate floor in my bedroom and holding a garage sale (because I guess I'm 45-year-old or something) and I'm all tuckered out. But despite my lethargy, I'm never too tired to talk about one of my favorite things: Survivor.

As a loyal Survivor fan from day one I'm super psyched about the return of my favorite reality show. My feelings wavered a bit, however, when I found out that the plan for the newest season, Survivor: Cook Island, is to separate castaways by race. Not that segregation is anything new for the show; they've organized teams by gender and age already, but organizing teams based on race seems a bit...touchy. I'm pretty sure that grouping people by race in this day and age is probably a very tacky and inappropriate approach for a show to take, but it's that very potential for being a train wreck that makes me more excited to watch than ever.

My husband and I were discussing the impact that dividing along racial lines may have on the show, and in the spirit of tackiness and inappropriateness here are some of our (and my our, I mean mostly his) stereotypical speculations:

1. The Asians are going to kill at the puzzle challenges.

2. The whites are going to have the most awesomely awkward victory dance.

3. The black team will rule at the land-based race challenges and fail miserably at the water-based race challenges.

4. The nickname given to the white team by the other teams will be "the man."

and last but not least,

5. At the first challenge, the someone from the Latino team will pull out a hand-made shiv and ask Probts, "You challenging me, esay?"

(We came up with much more, but I fear you may already hate me so it's probably best to stop here. Please don't send me hate comments!)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
website recommendation:
I've linked to this website in a previous post, but just in case you don't investigate all the links I give you (for shame!) I'm going to mention it again. Pandora is a pretty sweet way to find new music and waste some time. Amazingly, a bunch of music folks got together and created the "music genome project," categorizing musicians and songs by their sound so music can be cross referenced. On Pandora, which is free btw, you can type in most any artist, obscure or popular, and they will play a "radio station" for you based on the sounds of that artist. For instance, I typed in Belle and Sebastian, and it played songs by those you'd expect (Sufjan Stevens), some you wouldn't (Tom Petty, Billy Joel), and some you'd never heard of but now kind of like (The Thrills). Pretty cool, huh? You should check it out.

Or not. It's your life.

Thursday, August 17, 2006
YoUDee? Are you kidding me?
I'm willing to bet that you didn't know that there is a Mascot Hall of Fame. Well there is. So who would you put in this Hall of Fame? There are many viable options, but in the collegiate category I would say there is a clear front runner. Sparty. Here is Sparty's video application for 2006 induction:

Shoe-in, right? Wrong. Not only was Sparty not one of this year's inductees but he got beat by this clown, YoUDee:

According to the Mascot HOF "YoUDee is the Fightin' Chicken that rallies Blue Hen fans into battle across the University of Delaware." Are you kidding me? Sparty got beat by a blue chicken? I did a Google image search of YoUDee and was presented with 462 results. An image search for Sparty will hand you 11,400 results. A classic Hall of Fame indicator is your stats, and with the numbers that Sparty puts up he was definitely snubbed. This greatly tarnishes the storied history of the Mascot Hall of Fame.

Of course, the rumors of possible steroid abuse are not helping the cause.

I now return this blog to its rightful owner.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
how to waste time when you should be creating a syllabus for the fast-approaching school year
  1. Watch an endless stream of home improvement shows on HGTV until bum goes numb.
  2. Let home improvement shows inspire one to take on any number of unnecessary home improvement projects such as: repaint closet interiors, install laminate flooring, install crown molding, and create new curtains. NOTE: Do not actually DO any of the projects. Simply waste as much time as possible making lists and doing internet searches for projects which will never actually get done.
  3. Organize bookshelves and media cabinet in a Dewey Decimal-type system.
  4. Organize clothes in closet by color.
  5. Brainstorm a name for your fantasy football team. (The Popped Collar Brigade? The Foot Fairies? My Team is Poop?)
  6. Wonder why you agreed to join a fantasy football league when the only football terminology you know is "quarterback" and "fumble."
  7. Head on over to your trusty friend, interweb, where you can create music stations inspired by bands you like, play with falling sand, and continue to rule at puzzle bobble.
  8. Rinse.
  9. Repeat.

Monday, August 14, 2006
field trip #4: detroit caribbean festival
Due to about a month's worth of out-of-town parties, family reunions, wedding receptions and the like, field trips have gotten a bit sparse around these parts. Yesterday, however, Nathan and I found ourselves with (gasp!) a free day so we decided to head down to Hart Plaza to check out the annual Caribbean International Festival.

Unfortunately, we missed Saturday's parade, but we were able to fulfill a lifetime's worth of shea butter, jerk chicken, incense, Bob Marley paraphernalia and African mask needs.

The highlight of the day was watching a drum and dance performance put on by a local high school. They were amazing, although my shaky and blurry video doesn't really do them justice, but the best part comes about a minute in when the camera pans down to let you watch the cutest little girl in the world shake her thang. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Hidden Valley Ranch Chicken Rings at White Castle. Add some Honey Mustard and you'll experience heaven.

I now return this blog to its rightful owner.

Friday, August 11, 2006
of superheroes, damsels in distress, and the delusions that bind
As a child I was only mildly interested in the concept of superheroes. I remember liking Superman and if no good cartoons were on I was known to catch an episode here and there of The Hulk, but I was never particularly interested in watching, talking about or trying to emulate superheroes. Perhaps this lack of heroic interest is a result of being female, but I always identified more with the damsel in distress than the hero. (I guess I wasn't much of a feminist when I was seven.) The problem is that acting the part of the damsel usually ended in pain.

Like most children I had a pretty vivid fantasy life. My favorite games usually included some form of playacting, and since I was a very bossy little girl (no surprise there) and would usually take charge of the casting and direction of the little plays I would stage with my friends, I would often cast myself as the beautiful maiden in need of help. One memory that springs to mind is playing Dukes of Hazzard at the babysitter's house. I had just finished watching an installment when Daisy had somehow managed to get herself in an automobile accident, but just in the nick of time Luke appears to save her. With muscles flexing and hair glittering in the sun he lifted her out of the soon-to-explode car and carried the short-short clad hotty to safety.

It was fantastic.

After the show I managed to rope some unsuspecting boy to try and reenact that particular scene with me. Everything was going to plan until he lifted me out of the burning "car" and, too weak to manage my weight, promptly dropped me on a Tonka truck. It didn't hurt much, but my six-year-old self ran crying to narc him out to the babysitter nonetheless (painting the whole scene as being his idea, of course).

Not that I needed other people to hurt myself. I remember being quite young (three maybe?) when I was standing in the checkout lane of the grocery store with my mom and spotted the cover of a romance novel propped amongst the sundries. A Fabio-ish man wearing a shirt open to his navel and long, blonde hair waving in the wind was running from some unseen terror. Running behind him was a beautiful woman, also with long, blonde hair waving in the wind, who was struggling to keep up. Her hand was clasped in his and her head was turned to face the evils behind her that she and her hero were narrowly escaping. With this image burned in my memory, I decided to reenact the scene weeks later when my mom and I were running late for a wedding. My mom parked the car, grabbed my tiny wrist and began briskly walking with me to the ceremony. Recalling the romance novel, I began playing the role of the damsel. I began to run, imagining demons chomping at my heels, feeling the sun illuminate my face and imagining how marvelously pathetic I must look. It was an awesome couple of seconds before my patent leather shoes tripped over the broken sidewalk, sending me sprawling over the concrete and scraping my entire face. Bruised and bleeding, I endured the ceremonies in tears as I clutched a Kleenex to my injured face.

Perhaps I would have been better off being the hero, because damn it if being the damsel wasn't painful.

So what prompted the trip down injury lane? Last night I watched one of the oddest, corniest and strangely engrossing shows I've seen in some time - Who Wants to be a Superhero? From what I gathered after watching one episode, it's a reality show (I'm applying the term loosely here) where perfectly human adults have created cartoon personas and are competing to see who makes the best superhero. The prize? A staring role in a Sci-Fi channel movie and Stan Lee will create a comic-book using the winner's character. Not bad, I guess.

Obviously some of the contestants are aspiring actors who just want a chance to make a movie, but some of them appear to really think they are superheroes, practicing their super-moves in their bedrooms and shouting unscripted interjections like, "What is this treachery!" when they discover a new twist in the show. It's this total commitment to delusion that makes the show absolutely hilarious. That, and the show's quotability. Example:
(Major Victory): "I'm so screwed! I just gave up my true identity! I have a new name - Major Dumbass."

(Stan Lee): "Fat Mama, please get the trashcan and place it next to Monkeygirl."

(Feedback): "I guess the Dark Enforcer's already succeeding. We're already turning on one another. (pause for effect) And that just doesn't feel right."

(Major Victory): "It makes perfect sense now. Stan Lee was right. I should have never laughed at Trivecuous' costume. Superheroes need to support one another."
And that's all from just one episode.

So, despite the injuries I guess my childhood desire to be a beautiful damsel in distress isn't so bad. After all, it could be a lot worse. I could be a twenty-something year old woman who pretends her alter-ego is a monkey, wears gadgets disguised as bananas on her utility belt and is vulnerable to calliope organs.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
  • As embarrassed as it makes me to admit it, I went through a brief period of time in college when I was obsessed with Days of Our Lives. I even scheduled my classes around it one semester. (eyes lowered in shame) Thankfully, I kicked my soap habit, but after going nearly ten years without watching the show I've been catching a few episodes here and there at the gym. Amazingly, very little has changed - Sami and Lucas are still plotting against Austin and Carrie, Hope and Beau just can't seem to get it together and John and Marlena haven't appeared to have aged a day, despite the fact that they must be at least in their 60s by now - and I find all of this strangely comforting.
  • Modest Mouse, one of my favorite bands, has just announced that Johnny Marr, one of my favorite guitarists, has become an official member of the band and will be touring with their new album. I'm still secretly hoping that The Smiths will reunite, but this will do while I wait for hell to freeze over.
  • My project for the week has been to tear down and rebuild the railing around our deck. While tackling this feat I've learned two very important lessons: 1. despite the nasty things I said about it as a high school freshman, geometry actually has a practical purpose in my life, and 2. only stupid cows do demolishion work in flip flops.
  • I don't do it often, but if you want to see me cry a sure-fire way to accomplish it would be to do one of these three things: 1. make me re-read Where the Red Fern Grows, 2. force me to watch The Elephant Man or, 3. drop a hammer on my toe.
  • Although I don't really agree, turns out I'm kinda evil.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
save michael myers from the zombie
Crikey, I'm cranky today.

It began when I accidentally turned my alarm clock off instead of hitting snooze (again). I haven't been sleeping well recently due to a rather frightening late-night encounter a few days ago and consequently I can't seem to sleep soundly until the sun has come up, signaling that the bogeymen have gone. (There's a story there, but I'm waiting until the nerves settle a bit before I tell it.)

It escalated when I was walking to my "Butts and Guts" class at the gym and a total stranger called out to me, "Smile. It's not so bad!" I hate when complete strangers order me to smile when there is no reason to. Perfectly sane people do not walk around with absurd, clown-like smiles pasted on their faces every blasted minute of every day.

And my crank reached its peak when I read that Rob Zombie will be releasing a remake of Halloween.

BOO! This is NOT OKAY WITH ME! Now, if you know me, you know that I'm a bit of a horror movie connoisseur. I watch pretty much everything that comes out, and rather it be something legitimately scary (The Exorcist), something that tries to be scary but ends up just being gory (2006's The Hills of Eyes), or something that's unabashedly hokey (Basketcase), I'll eventually get around to seeing it. (And thanks to NetFlix I no longer have to worry about wasting $8 at the theater on such crap as the remake of House of Wax and The Ring 2.) Now, it's not that I have a problem with what Rob Zombie does. There is certainly a place for over-the-top, psychedelic gross-out films such as House of 1000 Corpses. However, the original Halloween was a stroke of genius and SHOULD NOT BE MESSED WITH! John Carpenter made one of the most brilliant horror films ever with Halloween because he understood something that depressingly few horror directors get nowadays - how to establish atmosphere.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a psychopath for the first half of a film is scary. Listening to simple, repetitive piano notes echoed over and over and over again is scary. A nondescript, white Halloween mask hiding a mysterious and never-seen face IS SCARY. Watching someone get disemboweled by a unrealistically grotesque-looking monster while heavy metal music plays in the background and strobe lights flash IS NOT. Rob Zombie remaking Halloween would be like Paris Hilton singing a cover of "Ave Maria" or drunken hobos fingerpainting The Mona Lisa. It's a travesty and it makes me very, very angry! Gaa!!!

I need a nap. (With the lights on, and all windows firmly closed and locked.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006
muscular musings
Apparently, the sun acknowledged my ire and turned down the heat a bit today. Who said angry threats never solved anything?

I wasn't exaggerating when I said that the only real time I've spent outside of my oven of a house recently has been to go to the gym. As usual, this summer started with the best of intentions but it's August and I have nothing except a consistent work-out routine to show for it. And as far as that goes, I'm fairly certain that I've gained weight since working out rather than losing it. Grrr.

So, my mind wandered a bit while I was sweating it out of the treadmill today, and I'm thinking about writing a story for the blog using people I've encountered at the gym for inspiration. It would be rather ambitious, but I'm considering writing the story in weekly or bi-weekly installments. Here are some characters I've created who may or may not find their way in the story that I may or may not write:

Oldie McSkeezy: Oldie McSkeezy is a man in his late 50's/early 60's with a big old beer gut who spends most of his time wandering around and checking out the bums of teenage girls. In my head, Mr. McSkeezy spends most of his non-gym time at the local bar talking about his many (and largely fictitious) female conquests over cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon with his equally skeezy friends. He is married to a very depressed woman and has two 20-something daughters who refuse to return his phone calls.

Miss Melanoma: Miss Melanoma is in her late teens, has skin the color of a Hershey bar, platinum blonde hair that is always perfectly styled and is super skinny. I'm fairly certain she has obsessive compulsive disorder and hasn't bothered to learn to read because she's banking on marrying well.

Ghostface Kanye: Ghostface Kanye is one of my favorites because he seems to be so happy. He is always rapping along with his i-pod and dancing in front of the mirrors while he rests between sets. He's usually wearing a backpack and always wears a ball cap. I'm fairly certain he spends most of his time in his mom's basement where he smokes a lot of weed, plays a lot of video games and perfects his flow.

Prissy McFidget: Prissy has lovely, thick brown hair that she never stops fidgeting with and restyling while she's going about 1 mile an hour on the elliptical machine so she doesn't break a sweat. I imagine she was the bossiest girl on the playground, takes pride in correcting everyone and is currently majoring in political science (top of her class, of course).

Missing Link: Missing Link has the biggest lambchops I've ever seen and grunts like a gorilla while he is lifting. While not at the gym, I'm pretty sure he enjoys grilling up some opossum that he hit while driving around in his Ford f150.

Nemesis Chad: Nemesis Chad is the gym bully. He's a senior in high school and never wears sleeves so he can show off his guns, but his head looks a bit like one of those Fisher Price "Little People" toys (perfectly round - you know?). He is always surrounded by an entourage of minions, and spends more time mocking their poor form and how weak they are than actually working out.

Sergeant Suspenders: Sergeant Suspenders is my hero. He has to be in his late 70s/early 80s, is perpetually clad in khaki pants with suspenders and rocks on the LifeCycle.

So, if this story thing actually happens, I'm thinking it will have to be a love story wrapped in a Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. I also considered adding a "choose your own adventure" element to end each installment - you know, for audience participation. But I don't know, maybe I'll just spend the rest of my summer vacation watching reruns of America's Next Top Model instead.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
haiku of the week (or, the apocalyse is upon us)
It's stupid hot out. I've tried several times to write a coherent post these last few days, but the heat seems to have given me a rather severe case of ADD. With every degree the temps go up I can actually feel my IQ go down. It's so hot that I've taken to wearing sunscreen indoors because I'm fairly certain that the sun's UVA and UVB rays are so fierce that they are penetrating my roof. So where does this woman without air conditioning go for the few hours a day when she leaves her house? Why, the gym of course, where I sweat and sweat and sweat. Brilliant. Even more genius - this is the week that I choose to redo my entire deck. I got about as far as restaining it before I lost about 10 pounds worth of water weight and had to quit. Painting and sawing wood will have to be postponed indefinitely.

I'm pretty sure that the crazy high temperatures, the mildness of last winter and the devastation of last fall's hurricane season are no coincidence - the Earth is pissed off. We've finally gone too far with our SUVs and deforestation and Mother Earth has just turned into Mommie Dearest Earth; she's drunk, abusive and leaving us out of her will. Well, you know what Earth? This is America and we don't negotiate with terrorists here, so you best just back off if you know what's good for you. Here's a haiku that clearly spells out my disapproval with your recent behavior:

Planet, I hate you
and your bitchy rebellion
against pollution.

So take that, Earth.

(Dear readers, I'm so sorry. I'm pretty sure this post has made no sense whatsoever. Clearly, my brain has been turned to scrambled eggs. I guess it's time to put my head back in the freezer.)