Thursday, June 28, 2007
happy birthday, carrie!
My most favorite lady under the age of thirty will turn the big 2-8 tomorrow, and since we'll be out and about pretty much all day Friday I wanted to be sure mention it early.

Carrie, for this your 28th birthday I wish for you debauchery, booty shaking, tap dancing, an unexpected Sleater-Kinney reunion, and as much Red Bull, Pino Grigio and Vodka mixed with diet soda as your tummy can tolerate. And know this, should we one day find ourselves together and somehow happen upon Christian Bale, I'd let you have him. There would most likely be a minor tantrum and some foot stomping, know, it's the least I can do for my BFF on her birthday.

Love you!

(See? See how resolved I am to let you have Christian Bale? But look at how happy you are! And that's what we do for the ones we love...we make sacrifices.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
2007: midterm report: one book and one movie that, as only the best teacher's pet could do, knew exactly how i like it and delivered
I know you've all been waiting with breath properly bated, so I'm happy to admit that your agony is over. Please allow yourself to exhale because here it is - my final 2007 progress report. You're excited I know, but do try to contain it. People are staring.

Favorite 2007 Film Release Thusfar: Grindhouse

1408 was fantastically suspenseful. Knocked Up was hilarious. 300 was visually arresting. But Grindhouse...well that baby was all three, and furthermore an experience unto itself. Quentin's half was fine, but Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez's contribution) was spot-on perfect, and Freddy Rodriguez made me laugh so hard that I would have been embarrassed if I weren't so shameless. The faux movie trailers between the two full-length features were alone worth the price of admission. (My personal favorite was Edgar Wright's contribution - a bootleg copy of which can be viewed down below - but I do so have a thing for that cheeky little wanker.) I count myself lucky to have caught this in the theater because I can see how something will be lost in translation watching the DVD at home, but if this sounds like your thing (and be warned, this is a movie that's certainly not for everyone) I'd still recommend you add this sucker to your queue immediately as soon as it's released.


Favorite 2007 Literary Release Thusfar: The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig

Of all the books I've read so far this year, this is the one that hit me in the most places. (It's also the one that I wrote the most in while reading, which is usually telling.) One may be tempted to ask whether another version of Hamlet is really necessary, but while he borrows heavily from Shakespeare's tragedy, Haig brings plenty of himself to the table making his novel, although a retelling, a quite original one. A poignant black comedy that rarely stops for punctuation, Haig perfectly captures the voice of a sad, anxiety-ridden boy who is ridiculed by his peers and faces impossible expectations in language that is beautiful in its simplicity. I guess it's technically a young adult novel, but an incredibly sophisticated one at that. I don't think it's gotten much press on this side of the pond and I can see why it wouldn't be for everyone, but I for one loved this book. Someone* please read it.

*Steve - I know I lent this to you, but I don't think it's your thing. I do, however, think it might be Paul's thing, so please feel no guilt at all should you decide to pass and send it over his way. Just for the record...

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
books: 17 down, 7 to go: the road
The Road (Cormac McCarthy) - in masculine, Hemingwayesque prose that is often poetic in its fragmented simplicity - tells the story of a man and his son tenaciously clinging to survival, hope and one another set against a post-apocalyptic landscape. This book has gotten an awful lot of hype as of recent (as both a Pulitzer and a nod from Oprah will tend to do) and I'm not sure what I could say that hasn't already been said by countless others, so rather than ramble on, allow me to instead include two passages that together encapsulate everything that I found The Road to be: brutal, violent, and haunting, yet beautiful and tender all at once.

They scrabbled through the charred ruins of houses they would not have entered before. A corpse floating in the black water of a basement among the trash and rusting ductwork. He stood in a livingroom partly burned and open to the sky. The waterbuckled boards sloping away into the yard. Soggy volumes in a bookcase. He took one down and opened it and then put it back. Everything damp. Rotting. In a drawer he found a candle. No way to light it. He put it in his pocket. He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the interstate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like groundfoxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.

There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common providence in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy, I have you.

Up Next: No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July

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Monday, June 25, 2007
spiacente, no parlo italiano
As hard as it is for me to believe, I'm going to be boarding a plane bound for Italy in a mere seven days and am pretty excited about it, although not excited enough to bother to learn any Italian, apparently. Since my knowledge of the country is pretty much limited to the first thirty minutes of The Godfather II, I decided to consult my dear friend Interweb for some general suggestion as well as a preview of what to expect. I've been told that the people are friendly, stuff is relatively cheap, the men are flirtatious but mostly harmless, and that anti-American sentiments are rare.

Which is good.

But I have been warned against gypsies, roving mobs of children who will attempt to distract me whilst robbing me blind, and "dodgy loos."

Which is not so good.

So, seeing as my Italian vocabulary begins and ends with one word: ciao, I decided it might be a good idea to plug some key "worst case scenario" phrases into the little translation thingy that came with my fancy new computer. I'm sharing the results since many of my readers are coming with me on my excursion and thought they might like to print it off and laminate it to keep as a handy pocket reference. Just in case.

(And if you're not coming with me, hence have no need for Italian phrases, I'd be happy to translate the f-word into pretty much any language you'd like. Again, just in case.)

For riding the metro:

Il caro dio, che cosa è quell'odore terribile?
Dear god, what is that terrible smell?

Rimuova gentilmente la vostra mano dal mio asino, signore. Appena li conosco.
Kindly remove your hand from my ass, sir. I hardly know you.

Per favore, signore. So che sono graziosi, ma smettono di guardare i miei allievi. È creepy, sono troppo giovani, ed nelle maggiori parte dell' america almeno che significa qualcosa.
Please, sir. I know they're cute, but stop leering at my students. It's creepy, they're underage, and, at least in most parts of America, that means something.

When dining out:

Potete dire a chiaramente dalla camicia hawaiana del mio padre che siamo turisti e ritengo sospetto che potete farli pagare troppo di conseguenza. Ciò lo frustra, comunque ci è niente possa fare a questo proposito, in modo da... il.just sa penso che siate un uomo difettoso e difettoso.
You can clearly tell from my father's Hawaiian shirt that we are tourists, and I suspect you may be overcharging me as a result. This frustrates me, however there is nothing I can do about it, so....just know that I think you're a bad, bad man.

Cameriere, prego nessun vino per il mio allievo. Ciò è un viaggio della scuola. (Ma se poteste versare alcuno in una bottiglia del coke per me, quello sarebbe impressionante.)
Waiter, please no wine for my students. This is a school trip. (But if you could pour some in a coke bottle for me, that would be awesome.)

Scusilo, voi hanno altra stanza da bagno? Che il suo piccolo sporco.
Excuse me, do you have another bathroom? That loo's a bit dodgy.

And for traversing the city streets:

Aiuto! Polizia! Sto attacando da uno swarm dei bambini selvaggi e thieving! Freaking la torsione di Oliver fuori qui!
Help! Police! I'm being attacked by a swarm of feral, thieving children! It's freaking Oliver Twist out here!

Prego, Sr/Sra gypsy, venite da una storia di odio e della tragedia e per questo sono spiacente, in modo da rubi il mio sacchetto se dovete, ma almeno lasciarmi il mio passaporto. Grazie.
Please, Mr/Mrs gypsy, you come from a long history of hatred and tragedy and for this I am sorry, so steal my bag if you must, but at least leave me my passport. Thank you.

Qualcuno aiuta! Ho fatto arrabbiare la mafia, non posso funzionare in questi adorable tuttavia poco pratico talloni di Prada ed il mio marito sta inseguendo dal mio nuovo amante arrabbiato. Ha potuto essere il vino, la pasta,il gelato o il numero di stereotipi dentro questo piano d'azione ma esso è troppo. Mi sviluppo debole. Leghilo alla vostra motocicletta, passimi un altro vetro del chianti ed accendiamo - alla villa!
Someone help! I've angered the mafia, can't run in these adorable yet impractical Prada heels, and my husband is being hunted down by my very new but very jealous red-hot Latin lover. Maybe it's the pasta, perhaps the gelato, but most likely the sheer number of absurd stereotypes in this little scenario, and it's all become a bit more than I can manage. I grow faint. Strap me to your motorbike, pass me another glass of chianti and on we shall go - to the villa!

And that's all I can think of for now, but please - should any of you need anything translated - do let me know. My schedule is pretty jam-packed between catching up on my Nexflix rentals and shopping for good walking shoes, but I'm pretty sure I squeeze you in. Somewhere. Somehow. (Sigh!)

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Thursday, June 21, 2007
2007: midterm report: 10 television moments that were always eager to participate/prepared for class
I’ve got some time on my hands now, so what the heck, let’s give this thing another shot. Discussing television is a bit of a challenge for me seeing as I don’t really watch much of it as of recent (hence, several shows are getting represented more than once) and much of the space in my long-term memory seems to be taken up with song lyrics and quotes from cult movies, so I often forget the fine details of what I do watch. In short, I’m sure there’s plenty to criticize in my little list so go right on ahead, but be nice about it and remember - I’m a sensitive, delicate little flower. A delicate little flower who can break down doors with one swift hip check and could most likely hold her own in a street fight, but a flower nonetheless.

#10: The Amazing Race All Stars: "Low to the Ground, That's my Technique": Charla and Mirna lose.
I know. Choosing this moment is more about me being vindictive than it is about interesting television, but I just hate those whiny, passive-aggressive, oddly accented, a not-nice word that rhymes with witches so much. Overall, this season was only so-so, the finale was downright meh, I hardly remember which team won, and frankly I don't really care so long as Mirna and Shmirna didn't. And since lose they did, I can once again be confident that God's in heaven and all's right with the world...

#9: Survivor Fiji: "I Wanna See if I Can Make a Deal": Yau Man rivals Richard Hatch as one of the smartest competitors to play the game.
Who would have suspected that such a scrawny, old, goofy looking little dude would be such a beast! Smart, wily, likeable and with surprising athleticism Yau Man was always the little underdog who could, but this was the episode when he stole my heart. First, he spanks the big and buff Dreamz in a physical challenge to win the car he knew he was desperate for, then turns around and uses it as a bargaining tool, offering him the car in exchange for a promise of Final Four immunity. As if that wasn't enough, he then politically offers to send himself to Exile Island rather than send anyone else, and tops it all off at tribal council when he plays the hidden immunity idol at precisely the right time to save himself. So maybe he didn't win the million, but for all of this Yau Man scored himself a place on my "if the opportunity were to present itself Nate has given me permission" list, and some might consider that a prize in and of itself.

#8: Tracy Morgan is drunk on live tv and I, once again, thank God for YouTube.
I know you’ve seen this already, but just do yourself a favor and watch it again.

“I don’t have what LL got. I don’t got biscuits, I got a loaf of bread.”

#7: Heroes: “Five Years Gone”: It’s the end of the world as we know it and everyone has awesome hair.
A trip into a dystopian future reveals that the bomb went off and, consequently, shit is messed up, but Peter’s totally hot and sporting a superbadass scar, Nathan is the president and sketchy as hell, Niki finally begins to have some sort of purpose and connection to everyone else (sort of ), and future Hiro is such a super stud that he’s scary to his present-day self. It’s good stuff, I say.

#6 30 Rock: “The Source Awards”: Shooting people at the Source Awards is a tradition. Like Christmas.
If this show ever gets cancelled, you'll find me going through the classic stages of grief : fear, denial, horniness, wisdom, sleepiness, and then depression.

#5 Lost: “Through the Looking Glass”: Charlie dies a good death.
Funny thing, I spent the better part of the last two seasons wondering when they were going to kill this whiny cat off already, but when it finally happened I was a bit sad to see the little monkey go. Fortunately, his death had purpose, he not only took it like a man but essentially sacrificed himself for the common good, and even the sharpie made sense. Plus, this is the episode when Locke is resurrected (told you he’d be fine!) and Jack has a pretty intriguing flash forward leading me to hypothesize that in the future Kate’s with Sawyer and Locke is the man whose funeral no one bothered to attend. But that’s what you get for threatening to shoot your friends in an attempt to try and stop a call that would allow them to get the heck off of that crappy island, I guess!

#4 The Office: "Product Recall": Who wouldn't want their prom invitation to have a watermark of a duck giving it to a mouse?
I'm not sure what was funnier, Angela's attempts at damage control, Andy's discovery that his "girlfriend" is a high school student, Jim's impression of Dwight, Dwight's impression of Jim, or Creed, who although responsible for sending out the paper with the obscene watermark somehow manages to squirrel his way out of trouble, blames it on some poor lady at the paper mill who loses her job for his mistake, and then tosses her farewell card, pocketing the money the employees collected for her. No, you're right. Creed's funnier.

#3 The Sopranos: "Heidi and Kennedy": So long, Chrissy, and thanks for all the peyote.
There were so many great episodes in the second half of the 6th and final season and I had a really hard time choosing between them, but this one ultimately wins a nod for one reason: Christopher's death. In retrospect I can see it was bound to happen, but this scene pretty much took me entirely off guard when I saw it for the first time. The moment when Tony opts to kill his nephew rather than call 911 is intense enough, but the way he spends the rest of the episode trying to convince everyone that Christopher's death is a good thing is engaging television if I've ever seen it.

(And not to beat a dead horse, but to all the tv-o-philes over at Pajiba and TVwoP I've given the finale over a week to digest, watched it twice, don't necessarily have a problem with how it ended exactly, but I still find it to be a mediocre episode. Yet, somehow I possess the mental faculties necessary to tie my own shoes. I know, I was surprised too. Someone contact Guinness.)

#2 Lost: "The Man Behind the Curtain": And somehow, things get even weirder than any of us thought possible.
Ben and Locke, two men with serious daddy issues, travel together through the heart of darkness to meet the man behind the curtain, Jacob, who turns out to be…a specter? a disembodied voice? a talking shrimp? We can’t really be sure, but he’s definitely not just a figment of Ben’s imagination and that makes me happy. Plus, it’s revealed that Ben is one scary dude who is not only willing to shoot Locke and leave him for dead in a creepy, skeleton-filled mass grave, but has no qualms with gassing an entire hippie community. Deliciously evil, I say!

#1 30 Rock: “Fireworks”: Will Arnett is a warlock! He came to entrance me!
I think I've watched this episode over 15 times, and it never ceases to make me giggle like a silly little fool, and because I like to giggle like a silly little fool I’m awarding it top honors.

(And if that don't make you smile, than I'm all out of ideas.)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread...we're all beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're blessed by our own seed & golden hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision" (Ginsberg)

(And yes, I realize these are lilies, but I see no reason why we can't sometimes be both.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007
books: 15 down, 9 to go: the big girls
Today, I blew off my temporary job removing staples, making copies, and avoiding the "cute" little old man in the office who wouldn't leave me alone to go shoe shopping, blog and finish reading Susanna Moore's (In the Cut) latest novel and, as I'm sure is obvious from this very post, I'm happy to report that it's only 9 am and already two of those goals have been met. Who said teachers don't work hard in the summertime months? But enough already of me trying to awe and amaze you with my industriousness (and awed and amazed you are, I'm sure) - on to the book.

Set in the Sloatsburg Correctional Institution, a female prison in Upstate New York, The Big Girls describes the story of four intertwined characters: Dr. Louise Forrest, Sloatsburg's Chief Psychiatrist, Helen Nash, a schizophrenic inmate doing life for killing her infant children, Captain Henry Bradshaw, a corrections officer who starts up an affair with Dr. Forrest, and Angie Mills, a Hollywood actress and the object of Helen's obsession. The narrative moves constantly and seamlessly between these four viewpoints to reveal the harsh realities of day-to-day prison life and the effect that the oppressively grim environment has on everyone who touches it.

Thankfully, what this book is not about is redemption, and its absence kept it from becoming a neatly trite little novel. Instead, it was searing, harshly realistic and an often-times overwhelming read. Ironically, I picked up The Big Girls because I wanted a light, easy read between two pieces that I knew would be difficult for different reasons, however the novel, although slim, was definitely not light and the prose, although sparse, was definitely not easy. This was a difficult book for me, especially when it began to delve into Helen's history and the causes behind the mental illness that led her to her heinous crimes. It was darkly psychological and heartbreaking, and although I'm glad I read it, I'm not sure I want you to. I like you too much and hate to see you sad, little buddy!

Up Next: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

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Monday, June 18, 2007
Unfortunately, we were hit yesterday with the sad news that a friend of this blog, Kelly Lowe (aka, "skycap" on the above nav bar), had passed away last weekend. As tends to happen in this Internet age, he was a man who I had never met, but from our virtual interactions he always struck me as someone who I would have liked to know. Here's a recent post he wrote on the subject of politeness that I particularly liked, and although I didn't comment on it at the time, I wish now that I had because he hit the nail on the head.

Thursday, June 14, 2007
last day with kids, live-bloggin' style
Sometimes I get ridiculous notions on my drive to and fro work, like, for instance, this one. After all, who could possibly care about the minute details of my day? Certainly not you - a person with a life and hobbies and...taste. But it's a day to celebrate, so what the hey let's do it anyway - let's live blog the last day of my '07 school year.

(And by "live blogging," I mean writing things down on post-it notes as they happen and then writing it all up eight hours later. Allowances and whatnot.)

And I arrive. 10 minutes late. (Whoops.)

Continue yesterday’s English department drama in the hallway and manage to get myself all riled up again. I'm counting things off on my digits, wagging my index finger in people's faces and succeed in cursing upwards of seven times in four minutes, the most of the three of us. And the people I'm conversing with are on my side.

Boot up computer and check e-mail. Four are from parents concerned I have made an error regarding their child’s grade. One is nice, two are bordering on rude and one is downright bitchy. All are incorrect in their accusations. Commence cursing once again, but this time at our on-line gradebook and with significantly less finger wagging.

Begin to clean out my room/desk. Unexpected discoveries include:
2 Mini Care Bears
1 Furby (broken, thankfully)
1 student-given valentine card that, at the time, I thought was innocent and sweet until yesterday when the giver shouted something veeeery inappropriate at me in the hallway. I realize he really did want me to "Bee" his Valentine. Shiver. Toss it.
2 copies of the same Billie Holiday cd
1 Louis Armstrong cd
1 Music of the Renaissance cd
1 Incubus cd (for some reason)
2 mangled forks
4 confiscated hacky sacks
2 wigs, both blond
5 fake swords/guns
1 giant rope of sage given to me last year by a lovely Native American man who insisted it could either be used to clean out the negative energy in a room or to make a tea which would clean out my bowels. Since it didn't accomplish the first, perhaps I’ll use it to try the second…

Decide I MUST begin to grade papers if I ever expect to finish. Get through two before I...

...head to the English office to make coffee and stare forlornly in the mirror at the angry, self-inflicted burn on my forehead received this morning at the hands of a renegade curling iron. Realize no one is there to pity me, sigh, and leave.

Return to my room and start entering grades in an effort to avoid grading papers. Realize there is only one “A” in my entire 4th hour, and even that is an A-. I wish I could say it's because my standards are that high.

Gasp at the fact that it’s 8:45, I’ve only graded two essays and 6th hour is due any minute. Decide grading is pointless and instead (out of more curiosity than anything) put in the Music of the Renaissance cd and begin to play tetris.

6th hour enters. A 5th hour kid pops in my room and places a huge garbage bag under my desk, asking if he can store a body here. I say sure.

Realize a kid just asked if he could store a body under my desk. Peek inside. Sure enough, there’s mannequin parts inside his bag. I'm curious, however relieved that the torso is plastic rather than actual flesh.

Final commences. As I distribute the reading section I am called the following names:
(See? The vocab journal wasn’t a complete waste of time! Except, since I’m not unpleasantly moist or cold, I don’t think I can, in all fairness, be called “dank.”)
A theory (As in “You’re a theory!” That’s a new one.)
A great big giant meanie pants

Notice Odd Jon is opting out of taking his final. Instead, he chooses to spend the exam period staring at me the entire time I’m doing my textbook inventory. It's creepy, however not all that unusual, unfortunately.

Check my e-mail and see that Carrie has an interview. (Yay!) My fingers are crossed and I make a mental note to get my mom on the Catholic hotline. Consider prayer candles already lit.

This is the quietest my 6th hour has ever been. It would be nice if wasn't making me so nervous…

All finals are in, most textbooks have been returned, twelve essays have been graded, and level 9 of tetris has been conquered. Great success!

The bell rings to officially end the last exam period of the year. To celebrate, RJ, one of my specialest students, jumps up on my desk and lifts up his shirt to give a celebratory booby flash. And I, for one, say good for him. Nonetheless, here's to hoping he gets a teacher with a sense of humor next year.

Realize there's still a bag of mannequin parts under my desk.

It happens, I suppose. At least to me, anyway.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
2007: midterm report: fifteen songs that won't have to repeat my course next year
So, the rest of the posts in what was intended to be a series will most likely have to wait until next week since this week seems bound and determined to take me out to the back alley, kick my ass and leave me blind. But that's okay. I'll have more time, nothing to grade, and hopefully a whole lot less English dept. drama then. And did I mention more time? Soooo much beautiful time?! *yip!*

But here's the music one anyway, fifteen of my favorite songs of '07, and first let's start with two 2006 releases that I’d be remiss not to mention. Yes, let's...

#15: My Brightest Diamond - "Gone Away" (2006)
Like Joanna Newsom and Beirut, I'm fully aware that My Brightest Diamond is me at my most musically annoying. You don't understand how I can possibly like this. You're baffled, you roll your eyes, you secretly wonder if I might not be lying. But I'm a complicated lady who can't be defined or pigeon-holed, and, secretly, you find this irresistible. You maybe just don't realize it yet.

#14: Cold War Kids - "Saint John" (2006)
Although Robbers and Cowards was released in 2006 I never bothered to listen to it until ’07, and since this song has been in heavy, heavy rotation for the first six months of the year, I can’t in good conscious exclude it. And *whew!* doesn’t it end well - I say goddamn!

#13: Modest Mouse - "People as Places as People"
I suspect there are better songs on this album but this is the one where I hear Johnny Marr's influence the most - and just in case we haven’t met – I kinda have a red-hot thing for my Mr. Marr. Woof.

#12: The Shins - "Turn on Me"
You gotta hear this song! It’ll change your life, I swear! (And then we both find ourselves in a film homage to The Graduate that we find equal parts annoying and endearing. Or something like that.)

#11: Arcade Fire - "The Well and the Lighthouse"
You thought I’d say “Intervention” or “My Body is a Cage,” didn’t you? Well, nope, I choose this one. And I do so like to surprise.

#10: !!! - "Myth Takes"
There’s this surf-rock quality to this song that is irresistible to me. I like the album plenty but I love this track, and the fact that it, sounding nothing like rest of the album, was how these guys chose to kick it all off is kind of genius. (And yes, I realize I'm tossing that word around rather loosely.)

#9: Voxtrot - "Brothers in Conflict"
Perhaps because it's in the shadow of their eps, all of which I have a mad crush on, but Voxtrot's self-titled first full album release was a tiny bit of a disappointment to me. However, there are some solid, solid songs on it and this is one of them. Maybe more than any other, Voxtrot is one of those bands where I will go and see them as often as they come to me and I will unashamedly dance like an absolute fool the entire time, much to the embarrassement of all of those with me not named Carrie.

#8: Menomena - "Weird"
Normally, I hate a baritone saxophone - to be incredibly crass, it sounds like farts to me – but for some reason it’s the barry, along with the harpsicord effect on the keyboard, that makes “Weird” for me. And by the way, the entire album is ridiculously good so you should just do yourself a favor and listen to it already.

#7: Of Montreal - "Gronlandic Edit"
This song has long, sinewy fingers that have wrapped themselves tightly around my brain, burrowed into my grey matter and grown roots. In other words, it's absurdly infectious. I want to take it out behind the middle school and, well, you know…

#6: The National - "Slow Show"
"I wanna hurry home to you put on a slow, dumb show for you and crack you up....You know I dreamed about you for twenty-nine years before I saw you. I missed you for twenty-nine years." Beautiful.

#5: Andrew Bird - "Imitosis"
So lyrically clever. So musically catchy. So scientifically romantic. So very, very me.

#4: The Rosebuds - "Silja Line"
I freely admit that Night of the Furies is no Birds Make Good Neighbors. While one of the previous album’s strengths was its diversity of sound, seamlessly transitioning between folk to blues to synth-pop, this new one tends to focus solely on the latter. But since synth-pop is how I tend to prefer to rock it, that’s alright with me. And this song…this song, this song, this song…*sigh!*

#3: Tori Amos - "Big Wheel"
Hey, Tori. Sorry I’ve ignored you for the past, oh, eight years or so. To be honest, you pissed me off when you decided to make Alanis Morissette your BFF and released the ho-hum To Venus and Back. But to be frank, although your multiple-personality angle with this new album is a bit weird and annoying, I’ll admit that it’s a brilliant way to bleed all those die-hard Tori-philes dry. (In concert she’ll appearing as one of five alter-egos, insuring that hard-core fans will travel to see her multiple times in the hopes of seeing Clyde and Pip and Santa in concert, as dumb as that all sounds.) But, whatever. You and I both know that your eccentricities are a large part of why I love you, and this album, although bloated with 12 unnecessary songs, is still one of your best. I just fear that the absurdity of its concept will ensure that it gets ignored like your previous seven have been. Not that you care.
P.S. Nice wig.

#2: Feist - "One, Two, Three, Four"
I challenge you to name a cuter song that’s been released this year. Godspeed.

#1:Andrew Bird - "Armchairs"
I love the construction of this song. It's a tease, starting slow, pretty and unassuming while taking seemingly forever to build to this perfect, beautiful, satisfying peak. And if you haven't figured it out by now, I'm sort of a get-weak-in-the-knees kind of sucker for four things: ice cream, shoes, puppies and musical swells. Feel free to do what you will with that information...

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
i'm feeling like it's a post-a-video kinda day

And if you don't like it that way, here it is with Gorillaz instead:

Because, let's be honest, who doesn't need a little more safety dance in their day?

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Monday, June 11, 2007
Today was, in a word, rough. Between grading quizzes and final papers and final projects and holding final conferences and revising and copying exams and making a terrible discovery that one of my colleagues really IS THAT IRRESPONSIBLE and two days worth of work has been shot down the tubes and hours of last minute rushing are now necessitated to make up for her idiocy, I've been at it non-stop for about ten hours and am about to go back to it for at least another three. And saying it will be over in a matter of days, while true, feels like telling a marathon runner that he only has three more miles to go after already running twenty-seven. While it might be true, it doesn't make the present any less painful. As usually happens around this time of year, I'm sitting here wondering why I do this and how much impact I really am having on these kids and whether or not any of it is worth it... but then, at the end of the day I made a discovery.

A letter.

It was penned by a former student and left unannounced on my desk at some point during my tumultuous day. In it, she thanked me for talking her through various personal issues, responding to some of her poems, insisted that while I won't remember her in ten years (I will), she will undoubtedly remember me because I was the best teacher she ever had since I took the time to care. And now - although I'm still stressed and my eyes are still strained from reading and my hand is still numb from grading - I'm all better again, because while I maybe can't affect them all that way, I can affect one that way, and sometimes, one is enough.

And may we all get such a gift, even if only once.

Sunday, June 10, 2007
play ball!

Friday, June 08, 2007
no time! there's never any time!
Substantive posts have been pretty light around here the last few days. I know. I'm sorry. But, well, life and all. So, although I'm acknowledging that I haven't written much as of recent, I'm not going to do so now, either. I know. I'm sorry. However, I am drafting (in my head, at least) a series of 2007 "mid-term report" posts on music, televsion, etc for next week to celebrate the fact that it will be final exam week for the girl, as that makes her one excited little nerd. Sort of like this:

but with more caffeine and a sight less hair product.

I know you care.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007
So, what exactly is the proper response when a student asks you if you've been to a foam party?

And by *proper* I mean disarming and witty, yet appropriate enough to not get me fired.

Also, what's a foam party?
(A party involving foam - that much I've gathered - by why? and how? and should I be going to them?? and...why???)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007
books: 14 down, 10 to go: the raw shark texts
Life, the Universe and Everything is, in my humble opinion anyway, pretty ambitious subject matter for a novelist’s debut, but such is the focus of The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall – one of the weirdest books I’ve read in quite some time. The novel begins with a man (the Second Eric Sanderson) choking, lying on the floor and with no memory of who he is or how he got in that state. Thanks to a letter addressed to him by the First Eric Sanderson, he is led to a psychologist who informs him that he is suffering from a very rare psychological condition – a psychotropic fugue “thought to have been the result of prolonged emotional trauma stemming from the death of his girlfriend Clio Aames, who drowned in a scuba diving accident while the pair were on holiday in Greece.” While Dr. Randle proves to be only marginally helpful, it’s from her that he learns that he’s been suffering from this condition for the past two years, and in that time has had eleven recurrences, each one erasing more and more of his memories.

The puzzle of Sanderson’s condition begins to take form when he returns home and is immediately inundated with letters, strange coded messages (a video of a flickering lightbulb, for instance), and dictaphones, all addressed to him from his pre-amnesiac self. Through this odd correspondence, Sanderson comes to understand that over the past several years he’s suffered repeated attacks from a Ludovician – a highly territorial conceptual shark that feeds on memories and language. The story that follows is an odyssey, moving him back and forth through time and planes of reality, to discover how to destroy the shark and save himself.

And if all of that sounds terribly confusing and odd, than that’s because it is.

Perhaps more than anything I’ve read so far this year, this novel made me work, and I appreciate that. Reading this book was an experience that was equal parts romantic, weird, and downright confusing - maneuvering through the jargon was a chore for me at times - however after the second reading (yes, I read it twice), I found myself appreciating it and its eccentricities more and more. It’s clear to me that readers will either love or hate this book, and there’s certainly plenty to criticize - the often-times vapid dialogue, for instance - but I’m a woman who’s willing to forgive a writer many things if the story itself is a solid one. Finally, it has an ending that begs to be discussed, so Paul (and anyone else feeling so inclined) - let’s.

Up Next: The Big Girls, by Susanna Moore

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My dental hygienist just asked me when I'm going to start having kids.

This is getting ridiculous.

Monday, June 04, 2007
multiple choice question
As far as days go, today was fine....that is, until it wasn't.

Disaster struck somewhere between 1:05 and 1:07 when I was making my way back to my classroom from the computer lab and my student assistant who, so very young and naive and unschooled on the subject of rotten-to-the-core-9th-grade-boys-who-are-always-on-the-lookout-for-trouble, left a bunch of completed tests on my desk and my classroom door wide-open. Consequently, a whole class's worth of tests are missing for absolutely no good reason except it would be *funny* and terrifically inconvenient to 35 other people.

So, please take a second to close your eyes and envision yourself in my situation. Would you:

A) Excuse the test score for your entire 5th hour because it's not their fault the tests went missing.

B) Make them take the test again, but with some "I'm sorry you got screwed over" bribe, such as 5 bonus points or letting them take it home.

C) Make them take the test again with no "I'm sorry you got screwed over" bribe because life's a bitch, things get lost, shit happens, and best you all start learning that little life-lesson now.

D) Make up a bunch of grades based on what you know about your kids' abilities after teaching them for a full school year.*

E) Other.

*An actual suggestion presented to me by a veteran science teacher in my building. I hope he was kidding.

Seriously, I want to know.
Also, is it bloody-well over yet???


Sunday, June 03, 2007
i'm reasonably confident i can beat ken jennings in these jeopardy! categories
(I'm stealing from McSweeney's, but it's okay since other, better people have done it before me.)

Clue quotes

horror movies

zombies: identification, fight, flight

snarky nicknames for your neighbors

getting lost

song lyrics

shades of Behr paint

installments of The Babysitter's Club series

creative swearing

excuses for why i can't possibly cook tonight

justifications for purchasing another pair of shoes

fantasy sports team names involving Bea Arthur

saving Hyrule from certain doom

reducing babies and teenage girls to tears


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Friday, June 01, 2007
okay, i really need to head out of town already, but first and real quick...

They came today with a card signed by all of my 1st and 2nd hour students including a very sweet and sincere note, thanking me for teaching them loads of stuff, preparing them for their advanced placement test and - wait, it gets better - for grading all of their papers.

Yep, that's right, they thanked me. For grading. Their papers.

(Pigs are flying, hell is freezing, and pretty soon fat ladies will be singing. Yippee!)