Monday, April 30, 2007
but the sun still shines
Thanks to a half-baked decision to spend my Saturday redecorating my den and a hurried last-minute trip to Columbus on Sunday, a weekend that was supposed to be boring and restful turned out to be anything but, and although I’m feeling thoroughly exhausted and more than a little blue there are still several things that I can find to be thankful for. To list:
  • the designers of the Motorola Razr for creating a cell phone that proves impervious to an accidental submersion in a full tray of paint. (A hue that’s quite pretty so says I, although it looks a sight better on my walls than on my phone.)
  • my neighbor who randomly gave us a free air conditioner despite the fact that I occasionally have noisy houseguests who keep her up all night.
  • one gorgeous day after another, even if enjoying that pretty sunshine meant that my lily white skin has turned rose petal pink. I pull it off of course, but it’s a bit owie.
  • The Rosebuds for making Night of the Furies, whose dark, synth-pop sound that is so very me helped make 6+ hours in a car on Sunday a bit more enjoyable.
  • the opportunity to eat, laugh and reminisce under a big blue sky with family who I don’t get to see often enough.
  • Hospice.
  • and most of all, the chance to say goodbye to a woman who I love, respect and will miss tremendously.

The week ahead will be none too easy, but yesterday I realized that I am from a stock of women who are some of the most stubborn, funniest, and strongest alive. I take both pride and comfort in this, and pledge to be all those things too, even on those days that aren’t so sunny.

Friday, April 27, 2007
here comes the sun
Isn't my cousin Lily absolutely adorable? It's hard to believe that when she was born, several months premature and weighing just barely over one pound, that today she's be so happy and healthy and perfect and looking so very very cool in those polka dotted shades.

Yay sunshine! Yay feisty redheads! Yay Lily!

Thursday, April 26, 2007
I noticed today that this would be my 300th post. Imagine sirens and flashing lights and confetti falling from the sky. Yep, it's pretty exciting stuff.

You'd think I would have written something better to mark the event, but nope. Not with this post, anyway. This post is terrible. Don't you think?

Not that the other 299 were this awful. Some were actually quite alright, if I do say so myself. This one wasn't so bad. Neither was this one. This one got the most comments so far, so someone must have liked it. And I've always been particularly fond of this one.

But this particular one?

Horrible. Truly awful. I really should be ashamed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
some things, lots of stuff, and a few transitions when i could make them
(For both our sakes, I've divided one enormous beastie of a post into six separate, yet sort of connected ones. That's what happens when I skip day of blogging, I guess. Things get a bit backed up...)

So, I heard at the gym today that Rosie O'Donnell has quit The View. Apparently lots of people care about this. As it so happens, I am not one of them.

Speaking of things that I don't care about despite the fact that lots of other people do,
I accidentally caught the last five minutes of American Idol last night and it reminded me of this article that I read in Time Magazine last month distilling what it is about the show that is so appealing to mass America. To quote,

America is a country caught between meritocracy and morality. We are raised on fairy tales and movies that tell us nice guys finish first. Then we grow up and go into a job market that tells us it is not just O.K. but also necessary to richly reward the best and cut the laggards, however kind or hardworking they are...Idol indulges the idea that the nicest people are the most talented...

Despite my general disinterest in AI, I find this aspect of the show (and its reflection of American values) interesting. In theory, one shouldn't have to be nice or have an interesting back story for one's talents to lauded. Furthermore, despite what most of "today's youth" thinks, precious precious few of us are extraordinary. Most of us are perfectly average and that should be perfectly fine, but for some reason it's not. Try giving a hard-working, perfectly nice, perfectly average-skilled student a "C" on an essay and watch the reaction from both him and his parents if you don't believe me.

Since we're on the subject of the cult of instant celebrity,
I read another interesting essay (also from Time), the thesis of which is that it's not bullying, media violence or our gun-happy culture that is to blame for creating serial killers and mass murderers, but extreme narcissism.

Only a narcissist could decide that his alienation should be underlined in the blood of strangers. All infants are narcissists...but as we grow, we ought to learn that other people have lives independent of our own. It's not their job to please us, applaud for us or even notice us--let alone die because we're unhappy. A generation ago, the social critic Christopher Lasch diagnosed narcissism as the signal disorder of contemporary American culture. The cult of celebrity,
(and) the marketing of instant gratification were signs of a society regressing toward the infant stage.

I don't know about you, but this makes a whole lot of sense to me. Lots of us felt isolated and were picked on in our youth, yet the vast majority of us don't grow up with a lust for vengeance and a raging Christ complex. Mental illness is a huge factor in these acts of terrific violence but, and unfortunately, so many of our budget-strapped schools are making the decision to eliminate those school psychologists who can identify the violent narcissists, proving that lessons aren't being learned. I find this to be quite scary indeed.

As for the subject of scary things,
it's come to my attention that some of my readers were concerned with what I posted last Thursday. No one has approached me directly exactly, but to the best of my understanding people think it may have been professionally dangerous for me to be so publicly critical of my administration. I've been back and forth on whether or not to address this, but it's been nagging at me for nearly a week so let's just do it.

Flat out - that was the scariest day I've ever had in my six years of teaching, and the scariest thing of all was what it taught me about my personal safety and the safety of the students in my charge. Furthermore, I felt a certain sort of responsibility in the sense that I was one of the first people to be alerted to two different potential situations. Unfortunately, we are all aware of how easy it is to toss blame around after events go down and I felt nervous, not only because of what I knew, but also because I knew what wasn't being done about it.

I had been advised by several parties to go to various higher ups, but I know from experience that, sadly, that would be the professionally dangerous thing to do. So, I did the only thing I knew to do - recorded it. My blog is "public," dated, and time-stamped, so I wrote a cursory post before going to work the next day (which, just for fun, also happened to be the anniversary of Columbine as well as Hitler's birthday) and then held my breath for seven hours.

I often have a big mouth and, because I've been blessed with a fairly large sense of humor, I frequently crack jokes about my job, however it's one of the most important things in the world to me. I take both it and my professionalism very seriously and would never be intentionally careless with either one, hence my anonymity. But, if you were one of the concerned please know that I am sincerely flattered. Sincerely.

And while we're discussing unorthodox uses for your blog,
I've recently taken to using mine as a day-planner of sorts. I have several never-to-be-published posts that I've written for the sole purpose of reminding myself to do various menial tasks. However, since I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning the other day, I still haven't made that optometrist appointment and the energy bill is going to be late this month I wouldn't recommend that you follow my lead on this one.

speaking of my anonymity, did you realize that if you perform a Google "image search" of my full name the first picture to hit is this one:

Damn, I'm hot! Like so very very.

Monday, April 23, 2007
behold - for you i have written a poem
Well, sort of. It is a combination of lines from last Sunday's episode of "The Sopranos," phrases people have Googled recently that led to my blog, and responses I got today when I asked my kids what they knew about the Renaissance (and as it turns out, their knowledge of that particular subject is limited solely to the Renaissance Faire).

Why? Because, baby, I'm ridiculous.

"Stories of Castration"

Ohio redneck pothead
(heavy with paintball artillery)
says I should get my buttons back.
Listen, mister -
I don't mind paying for the tailpipe,
but a recent nipple sighting
and giant turkey legs
make me salivate.

I'd complain,
but who'd listen?

Everybody hurts, emo children.
Relax, your cousin's on the job,
peeing in inappropriate places,
taking my medication,
and telling stories of castration.

You can even get nachos there.

High rollers only.
Keep walking girlie drink drunk,
because the black knight always wins.
And dragons were quite common,
with fire that burns your scalp
and a monkey that threw its poop at me.

Shakespeare was bisexual!?
(and very good with spelling, too)
But when my time comes, tell me -
will I stand up?
Because I got lost at the Renaissance faire -

but only once.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007
here. take some of this:

and while we're at it, have some of this too:

because it seems that the ending of tonight's episode of The Amazing Race has left me in such an emotionally tumultuous state that Twin Peaks and surreal stop-motion animation are the only tools available to me for self-expression.

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Friday, April 20, 2007
this is how the week ends...
...not with a bang, but a whimper.

And it's a good thing for that because there were essentially no extra precautions taken today despite yesterday's events. Well, I guess that's not exactly true. I did notice that our police liaison was in the halls during passing time a few times today, and since he usually remains holed up in his office during passing time I guess we can call this progress.

But this crap has ruined my last 36 hours, and I absolutely refuse to let it ruin my next 48, so if you don't mind I'm going to put it aside for a bit and move on to something funny. Damn it.

For reasons I can't fully understand my Honors kids have a unshakable love of and a fierce loyalty to wikipedia. Since they've been collecting research all week for their research papers it's been a five-day long battle to get some of them to understand that wikipedia is not a valid research source, that I will not tolerate seeing it listed on their works cited page, and that just because someone puts something on the Internet does not make it credible or accurate. And for this, they think I'm a hopelessly out of touch loser who's just being mean.

So it goes.

But the little nerds are nothing if not perceptive and, sensing that I needed a laugh, they declared a temporary cease-fire in our wiki-battle today and lightened up about themselves long enough to call me over and show me this - a "content free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." (And pardon me if uncyclopedia is old news to you, but I've never been all that hip to new Internet trends so it was new to me.)

I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but I spent a good 20 minutes with a small group of my favorite wizard-fearing students reading up on Sputnik ("a silver grapefruit that the Soviet Union catapulted into outer space.... the United States was very afraid of silver grapefruit proliferation in space, so they hired Hollywood to land on the moon."), Bea Arthur ("born as a Viking father and Amazonian giantess mother/dyke, both whom lived on the Greek island of Lesbos in the Mediterranean Sea, which they had captured from the Spartans a few years earlier."), and George Bush ("[who] stole the Puritan Party nomination in the 2000 imperial election through extortion and various sexual favors and was appointed Emperor amid much controversy.").

Oh the laughs we had. It was like something straight out of Welcome Back Cotter. Or something. Whatever. It was funny, and if you're out of ways to waste your time, I'd recommend wasting some there.

And have I mentioned recently how much I love my frequently weird, occasionally annoying, usually whiny and often a bit stinky kids? Because I do. Like, a bunch.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
overheard in my classroom
Picture this. My kids are in the computer lab. They have spent the last several weeks reading Elie Wiesel's Night, researching other past genocides, and reading up on current and potential genocides such as those occurring in Zimbabwe and Darfur.

Needless to say, it's been a fairly serious couple of weeks.

But now, in an effort to show them that they can actually do something about injustice rather than just talk about it, they're forming action plans and writing persuasive letters to their congressperson. Overall, it's going better than expected, however I'm shocked at the number of kids who a) don't know how to write a "real letter," b) don't know how to address an envelope, and c) don't know their own zip code. So - and not for the first time today - I'm leaning over the shoulder of a freshman boy, helping him figure out not only his own zip code but also how to spell the name of the street he lives on (it's "Sycamore"), when I overhear this little gem:

RJ: (staring at his computer screen, voice low and lecherous, muttering to himself) Ooooh! Why hellooooo Debbie Stabenow! Aren't you a foxy one....oh yeah. I hope Mrs. W doesn't read my letter because I'm going to write soooo many inappropriate things to you...

Taylor: (glances at RJ's screen) What!? Man, that's gross!

RJ: What's gross about it? She's a hot one. Hotter than your mom, even.

Taylor: (volume rising, pitch raised) Shut up! My mom is TOTALLY hotter than that lady! (pointing to the screen) Are you serious?! Look at her!!! Ga! She's....she's....SHE'S A DORMANT VOLCANO!!!

RJ: (after a slight pause) Perhaps. But she's a SEXY dormant volcano. (almost whispering) And she will be mine....
And for the record:

Yes, Ms. Stabenow still looks like this:No, I have no idea what calling someone a "dormant volcano" is supposed to mean.

And yes, I will be reading these letters veeery carefully before mailing them off.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007
books: 10 down, 14 to go: heart-shaped box
Heart-Shaped Box (Joe Hill) tells the story of Jude Coyne, an aging rocker (think Ozzy Osbourne without the DTs) who buys a haunted suit off an Internet auction site. Although he doesn't initially believe the spectral claims, Coyne soon discovers that the suit is, in fact, haunted by an extraordinarily determined ghost who is hell-bent of revenge. Since I really, really hate spoilers I won't say much more plot-wise, however, do trust that twist and turns abound.

So now to the review:

Let me start by saying that I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a horror writer who is also the son of Stephen King. To write from under the shadow of that giant must be absurd, and that would undoubtedly explain why he chose to keep his family tree a secret for the first eight years of his literary career. Nonetheless, now that Hill's identity has been "outed," it seems to be impossible to not make comparisons to his famous father, which I hardly think is fair since this is only his first novel.

But you know I'm going to do it anyway.

Because I'm terribly out of the loop of the publishing world, I had no idea of Hill's true identity until I was thirty or so pages into Heart-Shaped Box, yet I sensed it immediately. King has this "nerdy guy writing about cool guys" thing that I've always noticed yet found to be endearing, and Hill's writing has that same vibe. A few chapters in, I ran to the Internet to research my suspicions, and - low and behold - I discovered that I am the literary equivalent of Sherlock Holmes. It read like a Stephen King novel since it sort of was - a "son of the Stephen King novel" if you will. And that would be my biggest criticism of the novel - Hill hasn't completely found his own, unique voice yet.

Nonetheless, Heart-Shaped Box was a great read. A tautly-written, creepy little piece that was fun to read and terrifically difficult to put down. And if you're nice, I'll even let you borrow it.

Up Next: Finn, by Jon Clinch

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Monday, April 16, 2007
on schools, safety and the american way
Today I was going to post on something totally unrelated, but as an educator and a life-long student who is sitting here under the shadow of "the deadliest campus violence ever in this country," it seems that I just don't have it in me to write about anything else.

Not that I have anything much to say, seeing as this event has left me speechless. Nonetheless, I'll try.

Call me a nerd, but I've always loved school. I love the act of learning, the structure, the occasional epiphany, and - of course - the social aspect. My family moved around a little bit while I was growing up, so school was where I could get acclimated to my new environment, meet new friends, and figure out where I fit in inside my new surroundings. Schools have always been a second home to me, I saw my teachers - even the mean ones - as protective maternal and paternal figures, and I've been lucky enough that no matter where we moved to and what new school I had to adjust to I never felt that school was a place where I felt unsafe. Furthermore, I never understood those people who were dying to get out, cramming in and testing out of classes to graduate early so they could hurry up and get out into the "real world." As for me, if I could be a student for the rest of my life I would, "real world" be damned.

Unfortunately, as an educator schools are no longer the safe havens that they were to me as a student. And it's not just stories like Columbine and, more recently, this morning's incident at Virginia Tech that have dispelled my naivety. As an adult, I now see that my social circles as a student kept me largely isolated from the violence and dangers that were present around me all along. But as a teacher, no such luck. Now I have to be the protective maternal figure, which means that I have to see and hear things that I'd rather pretend weren't happening but no longer have the luxury to ignore.

Perhaps it sounds a bit sinister, but I see now that no school is truly safe. Not in the cities, not in the country, and not in the suburbs. We are a nation of cowboys who protect our right to carry guns more vehemently than we protect our right to a safe education, and we seem to have a terribly hard time settling our differences with our wit rather than our fists. But hopefully there will come a day when we will all understand that an education can be a greater form of protection as well as a fiercer weapon than a gun, and that our right to obtain it in a safe environment is infinitely more valuable.

Sunday, April 15, 2007
sunday morning at my house (which could be a series, but probably shouldn't)
Nate: (from a reclined position on the sofa, screaming at the television) Go, little people! Go! Go! Go, little people! The camel is catching up to you!!

Me: (entering the living room, sweaty and stinky from the gym, yet still ravishing as always) What are you watching?

Nate: Midgets racing a camel.

Me: Huh? (careening my head towards the television screen to see that, indeed, he really is watching a relay race where four little people are competing, and losing, against a camel.)

Nate: (changing the subject) Oh, and you missed it.

Me: Missed what?

Nate: While you were at the gym, Chloe put on a one-act play.

Me: Our dog, Chloe? (dryly) Really.

Nate: Yeah. It was fantastic. (a slight pause) Well, there was this one song and dance number that she didn't quite pull off, but overall is was really quite touching.

Me: (humoring him) Do you think she'll do it again so I can see it?

Nate: No, I don't think so. She said it was just for me.

Me: I see...well that's a shame.

Nate: Oh, and I moved Mr. Smirby.

Me: He's out of the fridge?

Nate: Yeah. Now he's up there. (pointing) In the jungle reeds.

Me: Yes, I see that. Very well then. (turning to leave) I'm going to take a shower now.

Nate: You know, this is why you married me. All the dumb stuff I say? You like it.

Me: (turning back, eyebrows arched) I do? And here I was under the impression that I was unaware of this side effect until it was too late.

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Friday, April 13, 2007
spring break! u.s.a.!
Okay, so it really hasn't been all that exciting and I've been thoroughly unproductive. And that's the worst part - I don't have much of anything to show for my week off. I didn't collect a single jewel, write a single book, mail a single suspicious package to Nigeria, and wouldn't you know that I never even meet a Dominican man, much less get seduced by him.

It's all been a bit dull around here, really.

Of course, there are things I could do. I could still grade those 50 modernism essays that have been in my car all week. I could cook something. I could clean up the disaster that is my backyard. I could change out of my pajama pants and into something a bit more...respectable.

But I don't think I will. Instead, I think I'll just take a cue from Dave Foley and spend the last weekend of my spring break getting good and girly drink drunk (which is like getting regular drunk but with ice cream and tiny paper umbrellas).

And here is where I would have liked to upload that Kids in the Hall sketch which would help explain my weekend plans for those who are a little less familiar with Canadian sketch comedy, however since YouTube has gone all corporate they've taken it down. So instead, here's the Buddy Cole "gay marriage" sketch which got missed somehow. It's not what I wanted, but it's the next best thing, seeing as a) he's girly, b) he's drunk and c) I do love a good symbol. It's the only instrument that I can play.

spring break! u.s.a.!

Thursday, April 12, 2007
good-bye kurt
I was incredibly saddened to wake up this morning, take my first sip of coffee, click over to and read that Kurt Vonnegut, a writer who I not only loved more than most but who I always secretly hoped would be my adopted grandfather, had died. Second only to JD Salinger, Vonnegut is the writer who made my teenage years a little more bearable. Like Salinger, no teacher ever made me "study" him, so Vonnegut was one of those fantastic writers who not only spoke to me, but who I could discover and make my own meaning of without the annoying encumbrance of being "educated" on the subject of him.

I remember sneaking copies of Welcome to the Monkeyhouse and Breakfast of Champions inside more than one textbook that I pretended to read in class, nearly getting fired from my summer job as a day camp counselor because I was reading Cat's Cradle instead of paying attention to my young charges while they were swimming, and always being delighted to meet someone else who loved him like I did.

To this day, I refuse to "teach" Vonnegut. Instead, I make sure that my classroom library is well-stocked with him and his books are by far the most popular titles that my students borrow from me. I've caught more than one "sneaking Vonnegut" in my class, but because it's Kurt they're reading, I always ignore it when it's happening. As he was for me, let him be their little nerdy act of rebellion too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
a fair and balanced review of four relatively recent dvd releases
In the interest of writing balanced reviews I have asked Sister Marie (who taught me religion, art and literature from 6th through 8th grade) and RJ (the somewhat pervy kid from my 6th hour who suffers from a surplus of self-esteem) to assist me by throwing in their two cents. So, in no particular order, we'll begin with:

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints: A gritty, coming-of-age story of a boy growing up in New York City.
Me: It was okay. The story line was interesting enough it was very well acted and it certainly didn't lack for intensity, however it just felt like it was trying too hard.
Sister Marie: Oh my! I have to say, I was thoroughly appalled by this. Such language! Those kids in that movie all needed a few raps on the knuckle with a ruler if you ask me. And you should know that the title is completely misleading. There isn't a single saint in this entire movie. Not one. Hmpf.
RJ: Laaaaaaame. I got all excited because there were boobs in the first 15 minutes, but after that one scene - no more boobs. And those guys all thought they were so tough, but I could take every single one of them, easy. Have you seen my muscles??

Volver: A mother returns from the dead to help her daughters and resolve messes she left behind.
Me: This was such an elegant movie. Beautifully shot, wonderfully written, fantastically acted. So nice I watched it twice.
Sister Marie: That one daughter - Sole- seemed like a good Catholic girl, but I counted and this movie displayed three of the Deadly Sins committed without any remorse. And that Penelope Cruz is such a little Mary Magdalene! Disgusting.
: Man, this movie had subtitles. So lame. Do you really expect me to read a movie? But Penelope Cruz is hot and her boobs are freakin' huge, so I half watched it on mute while listening to Ludacris and punishing my pecs, which are awesome by the way. Wanna see 'em?

Infamous: Yet another Truman Capote biopic.
Me: Even though Toby Jones's Capote was probably more true to life than Philip Seymour Hoffman's and the film itself was solid in all respects, this movie couldn't get out Capote's shadow for me. Worth watching, but not passionately endorsed.
Sister Marie: I really don't understand why people are so interested in that little sodomite. Filth. Absolute filth.
RJ: Oh my God! That guy was soooooooo gay!!! Did you see him kiss that one dude! Gross. I had to start a fight with some random dude just to take back some of my man cred.

Children of Men: A dystopian film set in 2027 describing a global epidemic of infertility, leaving the fate of humanity hanging in the balance.
Me: This movie was fantastic on every single level. How it didn't get a Best Picture nomination escapes me.
Sister Marie: Watch this movie closely. This is exactly the sort of future we have to look forward to if we continue to keep abortion legal, start to condone gay marriage, use Ouija boards to channel spirits and keep MTV on the air. Do you really think God doesn't mind these things? Read your Revelations, children - famine and pestilence aren't too far behind!
RJ: Huh? Sorry. Are we still doing this? So... you're kinda hot. Want to see my muscles?

(In retrospect, I'm not sure that this was such a great idea after all. Let's never speak of this again, shall we?)

Post-Script: About mid-way through writing this it occurred to me that this post is a blatant rip-off of Steve's recent review of the new Kings of Leon album. Oh well. You know what they say about imitation and flattery. And how God smites all plagiarists.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007
but we wouldn't want them to not be able to listen to my chemical romance in history class
I seemed to miss this story when it first appeared in the local news this past weekend, and good thing because it very well may have ruined, or at least put a damper on, my Easter holiday.

So let me get this straight - in a state that is facing an almost a $4 billion deficit, when individual school districts across the state are facing million dollar deficits, when the state Legislature is threatening to cut school funding (again) next year, when I have to go to countless staff meetings led by all levels of administrators who are telling us that our particular district will be cutting staff (again), cutting programs (again), and increasing class sizes (again), when I spend the better part of my day telling kids to take the damn ear buds out of their ears so they can hear every single one of my pearls of wisdom, you're going to tell me that the Michigan House is proposing to spend God only knows how much money to...

(ahem) an i-pod for every public school student??? Are you freaking serious?!

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.




um, it's like being overly emotional, but involving music...and sometimes eyeliner. i guess.
Thanks to a t-shirt I was wearing touting the line "Shakespeare Hates Your Emo Poems," I found myself in the unenviable position last weekend of trying to explain to my father-in-law what "emo" means. Turns out that the word emo, much like existentialism, free verse poetry, satire and obscenity, is a word that I have a nearly impossible time defining without resorting to examples. So naturally I chuckled a bit when, while still pajama-clad, homebound and reading PopCandy at 10:30 am (spring break!), I found a link to this flipbook, containing excerpts from a book due to come out later this month titled Everybody Hurts: A Essential Guide to Emo Culture. Not only does it explain the word but it also describes all sorts of varieties of emo culture, ranging from the traditional "indie emo" to other manifestations such as the "alt-country emo" and the "christian emo."

So Tom, in case you're truly interested in what emo is (and I suspect you're not), you can check out the link for a much more comprehensive definition than the lame one I gave you.

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Monday, April 09, 2007
three new albums i've been listening to a whole lot recently, and i would recommend with varying degrees of enthusiasm
"We Were Dead Before this Ship Even Sank" - Modest Mouse
Enthusiasm Level:
I've never been a terribly enthusiastic Modest Mouse fan, and while everyone else seemed to fall wildly in love with "Good News for People Who Hate Bad News" I only liked it in spots, so I'm not really sure why I got so hyped for the release of "We Were Dead..." Okay, that's not entirely true. I know exactly why: Johnny Marr. I think a small part of me was hoping that Isaac Brock would lay off the Tom Waits impersonations, take more than a page from Marr's book and release another Smiths album. Several weeks and listens later, I now realize now that this was not only unrealistic but unfair. The album is far from perfect, but there are plenty of really solid moments, especially on the back half. And honestly, I think I like this new one significantly more than "Good News...," for whatever it's worth.

"Myth Takes" - !!!
Enthusiasm Level:
Before this new release I'd have to say that I only moderately liked !!!, but when I heard the opening track on "Myth Takes" in all of its moody funkiness I was immediately sold. It's much more consistent and polished than anything I've heard from them previously, and has recently been pivotal in getting me to both clean my house and get my lazy bum back to the gym.

"Armchair Apocrypha" - Andrew Bird
Enthusiasm Level:
I feel like I've spent the better half of 2007 getting terrifically excited for new releases which, upon their arrival, have fallen short in my eyes. Thankfully, this wasn't the case with "Armchair Apocrypha." Although I don't think this new one is quite as consistent as "A Mysterious Production of Eggs," it still encapsulates so much of what I love in good music for its elegance, musicality, and lyricism. My favorite moments - aside from "Imitosis" which is damn close to my idea of a perfect song - are in tracks like "Armchair" when Bird seems to take forever to build to this incredible peak that, upon being reached, is so very worth the wait.

And with that, I'm now off to decide whether or not Grindhouse is a film that I absolutely refuse to see because of the way it glorifies violence and objectifies both women and machine guns, or if it is something I am terrifically excited to see for all the very same reasons.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Chloe, tell me honest, tell me true, who's dreamier - Robert Smith or Morrissey?

Okay, Nathan. I've been humoring this woman for the last several hours, but all this New Wave, Post-Punk nonsense that she's been playing has grown a bit, well, old...and I swear to God, if she plays that scary Dresden Dolls song one more time I just know I'm going to lose it. So, if you can't rein her in, can I at least hide behind you until we get home? A pup can only take so much melancholy...


Thursday, April 05, 2007
questions provided by me. answers provided by a magic eight ball.
This spring break:

Q: Will I live like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe – Paris, Venice, Rome – collect jewels, chiefly rubies, hunt big game, paint a little, things for myself only, and try to forget something very sad that happened to me long ago before the war?

A: It is decidedly so.

Will I spend an inordinate amount of time on Internet chat rooms where I will meet a man who romances me with his gushing complements and poetic wit, using his charm to talk me into mailing large, mysterious packages for him to Nigeria, and then only when the feds come a knockin’ will I be crushed to discover that I had become an unwitting participant in his identity theft ring?

A: Ask again later.

Will I finally sit down to write the Great American Novel, which will not only be terribly funny and poignant, but will also clear up the questions swirling around the global warming debate, end the war in Iraq and create stability in the Middle East, lower gas prices, cure acne, and be pivotal in convincing gang members to replace their guns with poetry?

A: Outlook not so good.

Q: Will I hop a cruise ship bound for South America where I will spend far too much time in discos taking full advantage of the complimentary bar, meet a devastatingly handsome Dominican man with a taste for auburn-haired white girls who later has a terribly easy time seducing me in my inebriated state, kidnaps me and then sells me into white slavery?

A: Yes. Definitely.

Q: Finally, will I spend the week at home doing some much needed spring cleaning, reading, watching movies, writing more self-indulgent posts for the blog, redecorating a room that was never in need of redecorating in the first place, buying shoes, and getting reacquainted with my kitchen?

A: Without a doubt.

Alrighty! Good to know. Looks like I’ll be pretty busy then...

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007
books: 9 down, 15 to go: the dead fathers club
The Dead Fathers Club (Matt Haig of The Guardian) is a retelling of Hamlet, where the protagonist is a 11-year-old boy named Philip Noble whose recently deceased father appears to him as a ghost, claims that Philip's Uncle Alan killed him to usurp his position of "king of the CASTLE," and demands that Philip kill his uncle so that his death is avenged, he can avoid "The Terrors," and move on to the afterlife. The novel is macabre, funny, poignant, and (to me, anyway) unputdownable. At times, it reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as well as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which are two other books that I also enjoyed more than a little bit. But please don't think that all the comparisons mean that Haig's writing style is unoriginal. I didn't feel that way at all. I loved this book both for its highly engaging story as well as the fact that Haig has a simple, beautiful way with words that would often give me pause. I highly recommend it, and although I suppose it's technically a young adult book I see how it really would appeal to most anyone. Unless, that is, you are a person who is terribly sensitive to correct punctuation usage since Haig, like my freshmen, simply cannot be bothered most of the time.

To conclude, here is a passage from The Dead Fathers Club that I was particularly found of. Enjoy.

I woke up and it was still dark. There was sound of a train far away and it was like the world was doing a sigh. Sometimes when you wake up you are in a different time like you have gone in a time machine and the time I was in was before Dad died.

Everything was normal and Dad was in bed with Mum in the next room sleeping with his arm flopped over her and I was thinking about going to see Derby with him on Saturday. It was going to be good and my thinking was getting faster and less sleepy and pushing me through time until I was in this morning.

Then I knew Dad wasnt in the next room and he was not taking me to the Football and when I remembered a heavy feeling came into my brain.

In the future there will probably be scales that can weigh how heavy memories are and it will be like when Mum and Renuka went to Weightwatchers. People or special doctors and Brainwatchers will say This memory is very heavy you need to lose weight in your brain.

Then they will tell you to exercise your brain in the right way to make it lighter.

My brain was so heavy this morning I didn't think I would be able to get it off the pillow without shaking out some of the pictures in my head of Dad. Like the picture of him when he flicked water on me and Mum when he was in the swimming book in Rhodes and we were dry on the sunbeds...or the heaviest picture of all which was when we went to Sconce Hills in the snow and his face was red and cold but his hands were warm in his woolly pattern gloves and I was still little enough not to be scared of holding his hand and he was dragging the sledge.

He was looking down at me and his words made clouds in the air and snowflakes turned into rain on his nose and his words said Come on Ill race you to the top... And then when we were at the top we both crunched onto the snow on our backs and laughed clouds up to the sky and I sat on my elbows and looked at him lying in the snow and felt the most happy ever but then I cant remember anything else because the picture is snow and melts in my brain.

Up Next: Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007
the most interesting thing left on my classroom floor at the end of the day

How nice to see the "homonyms are dumb and should be eradicated" rule is still firmly in effect amongst my students.

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Monday, April 02, 2007
I can't help but find this intriguing. A book about the Holocaust, which The Observer claims "is likely to be the funniest book published this year?" Hmm...


how that interview would have gone if a) i had been honest and b) knew that science would soon figure out how to use black holes for time travel
It seems like every year, sometimes even twice I year, I get interviewed for the same “teacher feature” in our school’s newspaper. It also seems as if every time I am interviewed for the same blasted article they ask me the same blasted questions, one of which is nearly always something to the effect of, “What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?” I always answer this question one of two ways, “A writer” or “Huh? Posh! I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!,” but both of these answers would be lies.

I often claim writer as a possible dream profession because I imagine that’s the response English majors are supposed to give. But if I were honest with myself, I’d have to admit that I lack too many things to be a professional writer (talent, financial backing, and a drug/alcohol addiction, to name a few), so I guess that’s not in the cards. Nor is it true that I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than teaching, although I think that is what we’re supposed to say when pressed else we appear to lack passion for the profession. Nope, I could actually envision myself doing several things other than edumacating fragile young minds. Namely:

Lounge Singer (Circa 1940) – Because I love to dress in evening gowns and heels, have the requisite husky tenor, and firmly believe that life affords me with precious few opportunities to wear red, red lipstick and sing the blues.

Egyptologist (Circa 1920) – I imagine that most days would be very hot, dirty and boring, but imagine the days when you uncover the sphinx, or Tutankhamen’s tomb. How sweet would those days be?!. Of course, there’s always the occasional pharaoh’s curse to contend with I suppose. Dang. Blast.

Cake Decorator (Circa whenever) – In comparison to the previous two, I suppose this sounds a bit dull and since I rarely cook and never bake I guess it’s laughable too, but I’ve always fancied myself as having a hidden talent for sugar sculpture and am totally jealous of those bakers who are able to use fondant and frosting to construct confectionary versions of Ferraris and The Empire State building and Notre Dame.

Pirate (Circa 1700) – I don’t really have to explain this one, do I? And according to this, my pirate name is Mad Morgan Bonney and I am both unpredictable and “more than a little bit” crazy.

So for the record, that would be my real answer to the same old question, not that I’ll be any more honest the next time I get interviewed because, as you can see, the truth is absolutely absurd. But truth be told, teaching’s fine too. However, let it be known that you wouldn’t have to twist my arm too far to convince me to throw a swanky cocktail party financed with stolen booty where I could bake a sphinx-shaped cake and don an evening gown and some red, red lipstick. Nope, not too far at all.

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