2006-12-31

Skiing Is Utahded

Utah is cold. Boring, too. It reminds me of Connecticut, actually. Except that, this time of year, Utah is full of tourists. No one chooses to spend their vacation in Connecticut. Everywhere you look in Utah, there are statues and monuments related to the Olympics, as if to say, "We once were relevant!" They come off as a bit sad, like someone still displaying eir high school trophies. It's over, Utah. Quit living in the past and move on. Celebrate your other assets, like the Great Decent Salt Lake and Mormons.

I went downhill skiing for the first time in several years. As I see it, skiing is a combination of gravity, balance, and frostbite. Notice, nowhere in that description does the word "fun" appear. Up the hill. Down the hill. Up the hill. Down the hill. Shiver. What's worse is that it leaves me feeling sore. My calves, knees, and neck all ache. I overheard some parent telling eir kid that the reason people like skiing is because it feels good once you get to take everything off. Though it is satisfying to remove those boots at the end of the day, anytime you do an activity with the bang-your-head-against-the-wall-because-it-feels-good-when-you-stop effect in mind, your logic is clearly flawed.

Somehow, skiing has become the sport of choice of the affluent. In an odd state of events, you have to have money in order to afford inflicting this sort of activity on yourself. Between equipment and lift ticket costs, poor people cannot afford it; avoiding this torture seems to be one of the positives of destitution. Waiting in a lift line, I heard one parent get upset when ey found out eir kid had went to sit inside after one trip down the mountain. "I paid $200 for [em] to ski today!" Indeed, I would be upset at the wasting of money, too, but it should come as no surprise that a kid would prefer to enjoy the warmth of inside rather than hurting emself going up and down a mountain. Why is anyone spending that much per person anyway?!Perhaps someday the child will understand the elitism that skiing provides (this particular resort forbids snow boarders, or as I like to call them, "impoverished riffraff") and enjoy this haughty display.

Speaking of the rich and elite, I shared the slopes with a famous individual you will never guess. Well, you'll probably guess it if you noticed the picture at top and were waiting for her to be referenced in this post. The mystery celebrity was none other than Lisa Kudrow! I was pretty obsessed with her in my youth, even successfully campaigning for her to win "Favorite Actor/Actress" in my sixth grade year book. To give credit where it is due (and mainly because she would surely comment to point this fact out if I failed to mention it), Alison pointed to a woman and said, "Is that Phoebe?" "Who?" I asked. "From Friends," she elaborated. I looked at the woman posing for a photo. Though she looked like Lisa Kudrow, it wasn't until I heard her unmistakable voice that I actually realized it was probably her. Then I saw her kiss a much older man who I recognized as her husband. I'm fairly embarrassed that I could even positively ID her husband, the unfortunate result of years of watching tabloid TV.

The real adventure did not begin until dinner time. Driving to Main Street, we passed a Pizza Hut, at which point I jokingly wished we could eat there instead. We had reservations at a fancy restaurant and were seated in the back. When the waitperson asked us for drink, there was a collective cry for water. The next question was whether we wanted bottled or tap and being the resident miser, I chimed in first that tap would be fine. Though I was excited to eat a good steak, the $36 price tag was not too appetizing. I don't care how good it is, I'm not going to $36-enjoy it. A couple of the other younger patrons in my party complained that there was nothing they wanted to eat. Our round of tap water came, but we delayed in making our food order. Since there were reservations about completing this reservation, an informal vote was taken to leave the restaurant. My dad informed the manager, explaining that two of us were "sick." Just about then, I read the fine print on the menu that explained that since precipitation was down in the area, the restaurant was offering bottled water at affordable prices (which, if true, would be the only such item on the menu) in order to conserve water. In other words, not only were we assholes who were backing out of our reservation, but we wasted the tap water at that, leaving it untouched. Rather than making the walk of shame back through the restaurant, we literally snuck out the backdoor of a classy restaurant while no one was looking.

From there, we wandered Main Street aimlessly, looking for a restaurant that could seat us. I felt like the Virgin Mary finding no room at an inn, except the pain in my stomach was hunger and not the baby Jesus. More than an hour later, we still couldn't get a seat at even the most downtrodden of eateries; we put our name in on the waiting list at one place, again sneaking out the back exit when we changed our minds. Instead, we retreated to greener pastures: Pizza Hut. We were far too overdressed for the occasion and one member of our party was disappointed to discover you could not order wine. It was clear that half of us were not too happy to have this place be our final destination. At the salad bar she was warned not to eat from, Kate overheard a mother tell her young child, "You should be good, Daddy is not happy to be here." "Why?" asked the kid. "He wanted to eat at a nicer restaurant." Ah, just like us! A piece of advice, "Daddy": Save your moaning and your money for the slopes.

2006-12-30

Airsick

Yesterday, I was back at the airport again. Waiting in line for security, I spot a new machine at the checkpoint. There are four lines, but only the one I've been assigned to has this new contraption. The machine is a booth that people enter wherein jets of air are shot at the victim. As I watched people enter the booth in turn, I couldn't help but laugh aloud. I tried to make eye contact with other passengers, but no one else seemed to think this machine was nearly as absurd as I did. It was like a wind tunnel! When it spat air at people, they all flinched, their neatly arranged hair flailed about, and their clothing lifted to sometimes reveal their underwear or back fat. I genuinely thought I was going to be on an episode of Candid Camera, which frankly excited me.

Toward the front of the line, I heard a security officer gruffly explain that the machine tested for explosives. When the diminutive elderly woman in front of me entered the booth, she was the first person to encounter any kind of negative reaction. A red light flashed and she was not permitted to exit. In fact, she had to undergo four hair-fluffing/shirt-lifting blow tests before she was finally given the go. The machine must not be entirely dumb: if there was anyone in that airport that was smuggling explosives, it was definitely this woman. I think it's like that startling statistic that states that 80% of bills contain trace amounts of cocaine: 80% of senior citizens contain trace amounts of explosives. It has something to do with natural decay.

During my turn, I performed some sort of weird dance move meant to mimic pop stars who sing next to wind machines in their music videos. Since my back was turned to my audience (the queue), I wasn't able to gauge their reactions. Still, having heard no audible laughter, I can only assume my talents and wit were wasted on this unappreciative group.

For the record, I still think this machine is bullshit. One day some classified document will be leaked that details how the wind machine accomplishes absolutely nothing besides making people think that they're safer and providing a lot of hilarious security footage for the people who work behind the scenes at the airport.

Once on the plane, my seat is next to a man of about thirty-years-old; making a snap judgment, I decided he was simple. Then he took out a book of crossword puzzles, so I figured I was too quick to judge. Shortly after takeoff, however, I took a peek at his puzzles - the cover advertised, "Just relax! There's no need for a dictionary!" Moreover, he was succeeding at filling in about four words per puzzle. Maybe a dictionary would have helped. After not too long, he took out his GameBoy instead, inconsiderately playing with the sound on. Trying to nap, I put my own headphones on to drown out the noise of video game thugs being slaughtered. It wasn't long before he had to go to the bathroom. Fine. I get up. He comes back and I get back to sleep. I'd estimate it was about half an hour later when he asked me to allow him up again. I gave my best "I'm smiling to conceal that I hate you" face and obliged. This time, he came back reeking of poop. The other passengers around me were turning and looking for the source of the stench. Even though I knew exactly where it was coming from, I pretended to search for the odor, too, not wanting them to think it was me.

After the flight's movie started, my stinky passenger friend started manhandling the screen above us. I tried to ignore it, but it appeared that he was actually attacking it at this point, so I asked what the trouble seemed to be. "I can't make the sound go on." I explained that you had to buy headphones from the flight attendants, as was described just ten minutes earlier. At this point, he told me it was his first flight.

When the flight attendant came around with drinks, my dear pal asked whether he could get whiskey. After being showed the two options, he took both, plus a Sprite to chase. Over the course of the next two hours, he would go on to have six containers of whiskey. Handing him his sixth bottle, he flight attendant asked if he was going to be driving, to which he responded, "No, ma'am, I'm flying." That was pretty awesome.

As you might guess, this guy with an already weak bladder had to use the restroom two more times before we landed. Four times on a three hour flight? Was he five? Well, I should hope not, anyway, because he was certainly drunk. He reopened his puzzle book, filled in a couple of simple answers, as his head bobbed back and forth in blissful intoxication.

And that's where things got good: our plane experienced some heavy turbulence. Personally, I enjoy turbulence, as it adds some adventure to a flight. Since I like roller coasters and other amusement park rides, I just consider a bumpy trip an extension of one of these rides. The guy next to me asked, "Does this normally happen?" For once, I felt bad for him, because he' s never flown before, so I told him, "Sure, don't worry about it." Then the guy said, "I think I'm going to be sick." There was an audible groan from the row behind me, showing that people were paying attention, which came as no surprise since people certainly were staring and whispering by the fifth bottle of whiskey. I had to stifle laughter because the situation had gotten so absurd. Mr. Whiskey moaned, holding his face and stomach for the forty minutes of turbulence that ensued.

Part of me was frustrated to be stuck in such close quarters, but part of me was excited to finally see one of those air sickness bags put to use. In spite of some close calls, he managed not to spew with the help of occasional sips of Sprite - this time not used as a chaser.

Once the plane finally landed, he told me had to get out immediately, so I stood up and got in the aisle. He followed suit, but quickly found that when you're at the back of the plane, you have to wait for nearly fifteen minutes before the people in front of you have exited. At first he was antsy, then he rested his head against the overhead storage bin, and then while standing up, no joke, he passed out. Once we were finally moving, the annoyed person behind him had to finally shake him awake; he stumbled off the plane a few paces behind me, only to disappear into the restroom yet again for what I am guessing was quite a long time.

Welcome to Utah!

2006-12-29

The 60.02 Best Songs of 2006

Kevin's 60.02 Best Songs of 2006

(It's palindromic, damn it.)

Like last year, I ask that you humor me and pretend to care that I'm putting out a list of my favorite songs of the year. If I don't do it, I suffer from a major case of blogger envy.

Where possible, I've provided a link to where you can either download or hear the song. I do not have the bandwidth available to upload these songs myself, so please give credit to the individuals hosting them. (I can not link to the files themselves as that is considered "rude" in the music blogging community, so in some cases, you may have to scroll down the page to locate the file.) Though I can assert that all of these songs were available from their linked location and the moment I posted it, I cannot promise they will still exist even two seconds from now. If you want these songs, go get them now. And you should, I feel it is well worth you obtaining each of these songs. After all, if I'm not fond of my own taste in music, who will be?

I apologize in advance for the quality of the writing. I have no knack for reviewing music, and I put so much time into just locating and encoding the links that I don't have the energy to give it my all in describing the songs.

Anyhoo, here's the list:


60.02. Wind It Up - Gwen Stefani

Why would I choose two one-hundredths of a song? Because though sampling the "Goat Herd" song from The Sound of Music is inspired, the rest of the song grows tiresome quickly. Still, every time I hear the yodel at the beginning of this song, I smile.

60. Skeleton Key - Margot and the Nuclear So and So's

A moderately low key song that makes my head bounce and feet tap.

59. Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, & Wives - Voxtrot

I'm only starting to get into Voxtrot after an introduction from Lacey. This song makes me want to hear more, though.

58. Sexy Back - Justin Timberlake

Undeniably catchy, though I somewhat hate myself for falling into the trap. I still insist that "Cry Me a River" is one of the most overrated songs of recent times.

57. Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups

Bitter vocals over a nuanced pop/rock track. If you like the fairly angry tone here, be sure to look for Silversun Pickups's 2005 song "Kissing Families."

56. New #4 - Pants Yell!

Peppy pop with droll lyrics. I frequently have the seemingly meaningless transition to no where at the end of the song stuck in my head.

55. PJ & Rooster - Outkast

A great dance beat featuring trademarked Outkast rapping. I'm surprised this one didn't blow up.

54. Treehouse - I'm from Barcelona

When I first got wind that I'm from Barcelona is a 29 person band, I knew it would be love. Admittedly, this song is fairly asinine, but it's just so damn fun.

53. Suddenly - Bishop Allen

Any number of Bishop Allen songs could go in this spot, but I'm pretty smitten with this one.

52. Lies Are Much More Fun - The Grates

From start to finish, this song has spunk.

51. Take a Chance - The Magic Numbers

I've been fans of the Magic Numbers since last year, but this year my opinion of them rose even more when I made an awesome discovery: The Magic Numbers are a FAMILY BAND! (Be still my heart.)

50. The History of Excuses - Bishop Allen

They manage some interesting things with vowels, here.

49. Granny Apple - Sono Oto

Reminiscent of the Beatles.

48. How to Save a Life - The Fray

When I say The Fray in concert, this song stood out as a winner. Unfortunately, Grey's Anatomy co-opted it and it's been overplayed in every venue possible.

47. Big Horse and the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall

When I first started hearing this on the radio, I thought it was Melissa Ethridge and couldn't figure out why it was being played so much. Later, I realized it was because it's a good song.

46. Clap! Shake! Jump! - Behavior & Andrea Revel

A purely perky song that was revived in '06 for use in an Old Navy commercial.

45. Snakes on a Plane (Bring It) - Starship Cobra

A venomous tongue-in-cheek anthem for the movie of the same title. If you loved the kitsch of the film, you'll love this.

44. Sometime Somewhere Someone Should Say Something - The Poems

I swear it's not just the alliteration that gets me, the cleverness of the title really works. The song's depressing beauty and amusing ambiguity leaves me feeling all sorts of emotions at once.

43. Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera

What a horn section! What a voice! She's come a long way since "Genie in a Bottle."

42. Here It Goes Again - OK Go

If you haven't already seen the best music video of the year, you haven't been on the internet. Then again, you might just be my Mom, so I will now offically become the last blog on the net to link to the video. The song reminds me of Billy Joel, which truthfully is neither good nor bad.

41. Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt - We Are Scientists

I've known this song way before 2006, but now that We Are Scientists have hit the big time, I get to enjoy this song all over again.

40. Fergalicious - Fergie

Apparently, I have no shame.

39. New Art for the People - The Indelicates

I'm a sucker for duets. If you can withstand the crudeness of the opening two lines, I think you'll find it worth your while.

38. Guitar Swing - The Winks

I almost dismissed this song because it sounds like many other songs I've heard before. The last thirty seconds, however, is sheer joy in my pants.

37. Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me - The Pipettes

I dare you not to swivel your hips. These ladies are all dance.

36. Set the Fire to the Third Bar - Snow Patrol

Another duet, this one is haunting and resonates with me long after I play it.

35. All Good Things - Nelly Furtado

She released the tolerable but absurd "Promiscuous" in order to obtain a #1 hit (and gee did it work!), but you'll have to turn to her album to find the tracks like this that make Nelly Furtado worth listening to.

34. Boston - Augustana

I find this song amusing because the protagonist wants to flee to Boston "where no one knows [his] name." If you'll recall, Boston is where Cheers originated and where, of course, "everybody knows your name."

33. When You Were Young - The Killers

It took me a while to "get" this song, but damn if it's not impressive for a band to take a hook as strange as "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus" and get it stuck in my head several times a day.

32. Take Control - Amerie

This track is hot. Last year, Amerie blew up with "One Thing." This year, Amerie proves it wasn't a fluke with any equally hip, danceable song.

31. Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance

This song is like Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" in that I'm far more into the unusual intro than the more typical rock portion of the song. When Shea first heard the song, he asked whether it was Christian rock. Indeed, it is rather melodramatic, but if you're going to be campy, you might as well go all the way.

30. Penny on the Train Track - Ben Kweller

What sets this song apart from the thousands of other solo male singers are its soulful and toe-tapping qualities.

29. Touch the Sky - Kanye West

Kanye West delightfully samples Curtis Mayfield in one of the greatest dance tracks of the year.

28. Take Flight - Ramona Cordova

This is the shortest song of the best 60.02; I like the muffled, unintelligible quality this song affords.

27. Hey Ya - Obadiah Parker

I have an unhealthy addiction to cover songs. It has taken a lot of restraint to limit the number of cover songs I've included on this list, but I can't help but mention this slowed down yet unique take on the Outkast classic.

26. Shout - De Novo Dahl

I'm not sure I can articulate what it is about this song. (I say that as though I've done even a decent job at doing that with the previous songs.) Well, it's fun! What more do you want?

25. Hips Don't Lie - Shakira & Wyclef Jean

Shakira's still got it. Plus, Wyclef Jean still comes off like a goofy idiot when he sings the line "third world country."

24. Dirty Harry - Gorillaz

Hip hop, danceable beat, children's voices - there's not much to hate in this song that certainly wins points for originality.

23. Me & U - Cassie

At first, I couldn't stand this song, but it sure grew on me. Plus, she's from Connecticut!

22. Hands Open - Snow Patrol

Though the band's big hit this year was "Chasing Cars," I found it to be positively predictable and boring. This tune, however, has some oomph; my favorite part is the Sufjan Stevens reference.

21. Headlock - Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap has a style all her own; I'm consistently impressed with what she offers.

20. Flight 180 - Bishop Allen

I referenced a fondness for melodrama for song #31; this song comes close to matching its intensity, though it's more subtle. Also, it takes place on a plane, so there's always the possibility of snakes randomly appearing.

19. We're from Barcelona - I'm from Barcelona

This is the song that introduced me to the band (you first met them at #54.) It's simplistic, dorky rock. Don't just download the song - you have to watch the video. Seriously, watch it for me. Watch it!

You did it watch, yes?



18. Don't Know Why You Stay - Essex Green

More upbeat, poppy fun. Unlike most songs, where the vocalists start to get whiny is where the song gets good.

17. Huddle Formation - The Go! Team

Though this song technically was released well before 2006, it's recent inclusion in a car commercial made me declare it eligible this year. Plus, if you're not onboard The Go! Team yet, it's my responsibility to convince you to join now.

16. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

Perhaps it was overplayed, but it's one of those few songs ("Hey Ya") that gets put in that position by merit.

15. Stay With You - The Goo Goo Dolls

Undoubtedly, I'll lose some credibility here, but I'm an unapologetic fan of The Goo Goo Dolls. They write songs that are fun to sing along to. This could be a future karaoke winner for me.

14. Say It Right - Nelly Furtado

This is the song! It should have been released as her second single, but unfortunately we had to wait through the unsuccessful run of the horrendous "Maneater." Oh, Nelly.

13. On the Radio - Regina Spektor

I adore Regina Spektor. This song displays both her great voice as well as her thoughtful and catchy lyrics.

12. You! Me! Dancing! - Los Campesinos

Though the song contains the longest unnecessary introduction known to humankind, once it starts, I offer a money-back guarantee that both you and me will be dancing.

11. Fuck Was I - Jenny Owen Youngs

It's fairly simple, yet heartfelt. Don't be thrown by the crass title, I think you'll enjoy it.

10. Hotel Song - Regina Spektor

Another Regina Spektor song. I hadn't even heard this one until a couple weeks ago when Lucy played it for me. Ever since, I've been playing it on repeat.

9. I Write Sings Not Tragedies - Panic! at the Disco

Here's another song I didn't quite understand the appeal of immediately. Eventually, however, the sing-along potential was too unbearable, and it became a personal favorite. Unfortunately, I can never seem to sing the lyrics correctly, 90% of the time saying "broom's gride" instead of "groom's bride."

8. Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae

Corinne is pretty adorable; this song exudes warmness. She was a surprise nominee for Record of the Year at the Grammys for this song - I'll be pulling for her.

7. Let's Talk about Spaceships - Say Hi to Your Mom

There's something comforting about the simplicity of this ditty. Plus, I'm sure we've all been in the position of the protagonist.

6. Ladyflash - The Go! Team

A rerelease of this song in the UK led me to count this as a 2006 song. Sure, I'm stretching the rules, but you need to be all about this song or I fear everyone will make fun of you. Seriously.

5. Lithium - The Polyphonic Spree

Sure, it's another cover, but a damn good one. They take one of the most angry songs of the 90's and turn it into something vaguely inspirational. Swoon.

4. Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall

I can't help loving this song. It's constantly in my head.

3. Smiley Faces - Gnarls Barkley

Even better than "Crazy," "Smiley Faces" is the feel-good track that does just what its title suggests. I heard this song before I even knew who Gnarls Barkley was, and it was love at first sound.

2. Fidelity - Regina Spektor

The song that first brought Regina to my life. It's instantly amazing. Your music collection isn't complete without it.

1. Butterfly Nets - Bishop Allen

This is my favorite song of the year. I described it as "sexy and lullabyesque" to Stacy, and she described it as such on her radio show when I requested it. Don't be the only loser on your block not playing this on repeat and falling asleep to it.


Well, there it is. Let me know what you think or just let me know that I wasted the last six hours compiling this.

2006-12-27

Pterodactyl Puppet

Since watching the infamous pterodactyl porn, I have not been able to get over how enjoyable the pterodactyl puppet is. Finding it so hysterically amazing, I've developed a hypothesis that all of life would be better if a pterodactyl puppet were to appear, fairly nonchalantly, while the rest of life proceeds as usual. I want to be browsing the cereal aisle at the grocery store and have a pterodactyl puppet emerge to greet me. I want to be raking the front yard when a pterodactyl puppet flies onto the scene for no other reason than "just because." Don't you think your life could be improved by the presence of pterodactyl puppets? In order to test this theory, Kat, RJ, and I used some rudimentary photo editing skills to better envision how life would differ.

Here are the results:







Admittedly, the last photograph does not involve the pterodactyls, but the studly porn stars themselves. RJ's getting pumped full of fossil fuels.

On a slightly embarrassing note, I keep mixing up the pronunciation of the word, pronouncing the "P" and keeping the "T" silent, like pair-odactyl. Whoops.

RJ predicts that after the demise of postmodernism (which I'm predicting will occur in retro fashion when a comet strikes the earth), the pterodactyl era will come into vogue and transform the very meaning of art. Personally, I don't see Pterodactylism (Fun Fact: originally, pterodactyls lived during the Mesozoic Era) as its own era, but rather a key component of the long foretold The Fütch. (For those unfamiliar with The Fütch, please see the Sarah Silverman and David Cross [oh, Tobias!] clip from the VH1 Big in '03 Awards. Scroll down to and click the clip titled "'Biggest, Guiltiest Pleasure' Award Presentation.")

In The Fütch (is it funny yet, Jessica?), Segways will be the primary mode of transportations, Mexicans will marry, and there will be more pterodactyl puppets than you can shake a stick at - or fuck a slutty blonde with, as the case may be. Four cheers for The Fütch!

2006-12-26

Defensive Play

Amber, intimidated, arriving at the basketball court: "Can I just be the goalie?"

2006-12-25

Fa-La-La-La-La

I recently learned a very important lesson. Christmas is not about Santa Claus. It's not about the gifts. It's not about candy canes, tinsel, and, though it pains me to admit it, not even about eggnog.

It's about Jesus.

I'm sorry, did I say Jesus? I meant carols. Christmas is about Christmas songs. Everyone loves singing a good Christmas tune. Even Jewish people. At the risk of turning this blog entirely anti-Semitic, most Jewish people I know love Christmas songs. Sure, Hanukkah has the advantage of offering a celebration for eight nights, but what's the point of extending the party when there's only one very repetitive song ("Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel")?

I would compare the love of traditional Christmas songs to a fondness for show tunes, but much less threatening. It's far less emasculating to hum a tune under the guise of "doing it for Jesus" than a passion for musical theater. Well, that is if you're willing to ignore the obvious queer subtext in "Deck the Halls" and "The Little Drummer Boy."

A few weeks ago at the last big Margarita Monday, which reached about 30 people with the temperature not much higher than that number, Andrew and I began performing our favorite holiday tunes. Dare I say, we made for some rather impressive harmonies. Bing Crosby had nothing on our rendition of "White Christmas." If he weren't already deceased, he would immediately keel over from embarrassment (or perhaps alcohol poisoning given our location) at how much better we performed his supposed classic.

To illustrate my earlier point, it's worth noting that Andrew is Jewish. Also, he is not stinky. (I'm starting to suspect that I mixed up Jewish people with "stinky homeless", which, you know, common mistake.) Together we were like Ebony and Ivory. Or Yarmulke and Santa Hat, as the case may be. Later, Allison lent her voice, making our songs all the more joyful. I'm not even sure what religion Allison subscribes to, but being a Caucasian Texan, I think it's safe to assume Kwanzaa is amongst her December activities. The point is that we had a whole group of people of different faiths all able to come together to happily sing the praises of Jesus. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that that's the vision George W. Bush has for America.

Church on Christmas Eve morning was terrific if for no other reason than all of the Christmas music. The minister even took requests! Every request was a hit, except for the one my mom asked for on behalf of my dad. No one had heard of that song before, thus making it lame. The whole time, I belted, giving each song my all. I was concerned once I realized that I was essentially singing into the ear of the person sitting in the pew in front of me, but I wasn't going to let it stop me. During the "giving thanks" time during the sermon (I thought that was a month ago), the person asked for thanks for all of the wonderful music during the service. Since I was the one ey heard most clearly, I took it as a nice compliment. (Not as nice as $250, though.)

This morning, my Jewish aunt received a Bette Midler Christmas CD in her stocking. She quickly popped it in the stereo, explaining, "It's Christmas music for you, and she's Jewish for me." Sounds pretty harmonious to me.

2006-12-24

I'll Fly Home

On Friday night, I flew back to Connecticut from California. As a holiday present, my parents arranged for a car to pick me up and transport me to the airport. The car ride itself was boring, no different than sitting in the backseat of any friend’s car (minus the crumbs, I suppose); far more exciting was the anticipation of the ride. I washed my hands in advance in case the driver wanted to kiss them. When the car arrived, Amber, Shea, and I watched it from the window for a very long time. Though I was packed and ready to go, there was something enjoyable about knowing I could make the chauffer wait for as long as I wanted. You wouldn’t believe how important I felt peering out the window while imagining how important I must seem. I contemplated having Shea carry me out to the car to further emphasize my elevated status. I figured the driver would be so impressed, ey would finally break the silence to ask, “And what do you do for a living, sir?” I would respond truthfully and say I am a teacher, and the driver would be impressed that I could afford a fancy ride in a fancy car. In reality, the driver said almost nothing to me, so I was forced to make embarrassingly unimportant calls on my cell phone.

I sort of like airport experiences. Where else can you find such a large cross-section of the population uniting under a few common goals: trying to get somewhere else, pretending to be patient in the meantime, and resisting the urge to make a joke about bombs? LAX, the Los Angeles airport, was everything I imagined the failed television show to be. One thing’s for sure: people are reproducing like crazy. I swear that more people were toting a toddler than a carry-on. We’re going to need a few more terrorist incidents if we’re going to avoid a population epidemic. Don’t worry; I didn’t make that joke at the airport, though I was prepared to when some shithead (AKA a one-year-old) kept grabbing at my ankle. (Shithead wasn’t nearly adorable as my future spouse.)

Because this flight was my first time on a plane since seeing Snakes on a Plane, I was disappointed at how lackluster and unvenemous the journey proved to be. Though there were no snakes to be found, I did have a seat next to a heavily make-upped woman with a yippy dog on her lap. I felt obligated to tell her that if a python were to emerge, we would have to feed the dog to the snake as a diversionary tactic, but I didn’t want to kill the mood.

Since the flight was a red eye (Visine?), I intended to sleep, but not before first learning what the movie would be. It turned out to be The Illusionist (What? Exactly!), meaning they might as well have looped the safety instructions for two hours. Firstly, it’s a period piece. Secondly, it’s about magic. Abracadumbra! Thirdly, it stars that one actor who appeared on the insufferably preachy 7th Heaven until she hoed it up in order to start a film career. After finding her career not so successful, she went wholesome again to return to the show. Then she was deemed hot again, so she’s back to vamping it up. I’m not sure how that worked in a period piece – perhaps her clothing “magically” disappears, or the title character isn’t the only one
”working tricks.”

As for me, I slept. Snakes, infants, yippy dogs, and illusionists be damned.

2006-12-23

The Poop Scoop

Many people don't understand the extent to which poop jokes ruled my childhood. No punch line, no matter how intelligent, was able to trump a simple utterance of "poop" on the laugh-o-meter. I tend to take it as a compliment that people give me credit for a sense of humor that is wittier than remarks about eating poop, but I swear, prior to college, that is about all I knew - or cared to know for that matter.

Having been back home in Connecticut for just a few hours now, I hope to illustrate how prevalent poop is to my life:

1) Immediately, there were jokes about the homemade Christmas gifts we've created after several grueling minutes of sitting on the toilet.

2) (Hehe, two. Get it?) Alison calls a friend on the phone. Without even saying hello first, she says, "Wanna come over? I took a dump in my pants for you."

3) When discussing another family, my sibling mentions how much she likes them. "They're really funny," she insists. "At Thanksgiving, they told stories about poop the whole time!"

By the end of the week, I bet I'll have hundreds more. TWO hundred more!

2006-12-21

HARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRk the Herald Angels Sing

On the way home from work, I stopped at Hot and Ready. Though in my unending quest to turn all phrases into acronyms and then pronounce them as words, Hot and Ready has turned simply into HAR, which is pronounced gruffly in a pirate voice: "HARRRRRRR." Nothing whets my cheap, lazy appetite like some HARRRRRR in the late afternoon. Other people must feel the same, because there was a line. The worker behind the counter wished a couple "Feliz Navidad." From the back, the manager said, "You can't say that!" The next customer ordered six pizzas and after saying "thank you," the worker replied, "Merry Christmas!" As I stepped up to the front of the line, the manager emerged to say, "You can't say 'Merry Christmas' in any language! You have to say 'Happy Holidays'!" "Oh, 'cause 'Merry Christmas' isn't PC? Whatever!" the worker retorted in a dismissive manner. After paying for my two pizzas, the worker, irritated, said, "Happy Holidays." "It's a good thing you said that," I replied. "I'm one of those stinky Jews."

I'm not Jewish. I pretended to be, however, in order to illustrate a point. I wanted to convey that it's not as ridiculous as the worker seemed to think that people might not actually be Christian.

What still bothers me about the incident is that I said "stinky Jews." As those words escaped my mouth, I was somewhat appalled. I think my on-the-spot mentality was trying to channel the persona of a self-deprecating Jewish individual, so that my veiled criticism would come across as more of an enlightening "A ha!" moment rather than a lecture. Still, the truth remains that I am not nearly Jewish enough (or at all) to be self- deprecating with the religion. When the worker laughed after my remark, I feared that ey could be simply agreeing with the fact that Jewish people are stinky rather than getting the point.

Looking back, it's interesting to note that I seemed to think I had to be Jewish in order to educate this person. Why could I not make the same point as a "Christian" (whatever that means)? It's like when my students use the N word in class: Since my opinion on the matter is usually disregarded, I often just wait for one of the African American students to speak up and chew them out. It's frustrating to think that our society needs to hear the voice of the oppressed doing the informing or it is not given credence. While I can't easily be Latino in my classroom, I used this opportunity to feign a Jewish status since no one would be the wiser.

Furthermore, why am I positively reinforcing the statement about "Holidays" in the first place? All that does is serve to reinforce the notion of an obligatory theistic society, that people must believe in some higher power. Not everyone celebrates a holiday, which is an oft forgotten right our country claims to afford.

Anyway, I'd like to clarify that I do not think Jewish people are stinky. Except, perhaps, when they fart. My statement at the HARRRRRRR was not reflective of my feelings toward Jewish people. I've known many Jewish people in my life and, on occasion, I've even acted friendly toward a few. As a sign of good will, I will leave you some deodorant in your stockings -- I mean, under those big candle thingies.

2006-12-18

The Polyphonic Spree

Ever since early September, I’ve been meaning to recount my experience at the Polyphonic Spree concert with Jenna, Michael Michael, and Alec. Though I’ve attempted to put the event into words a few times previously, I never was satisfied, incapable of capturing the essence of the concert. Today’s attempt will be no different, other than the fact that I am determined to post this before the New Year.

I’m hardly a live music aficionado. Since concerts cost money, I’m generally content to listen to MP3s at home. Furthermore, I often know only a few songs (at best) of most artists, so why would I want to stand through so much unfamiliar music? For this reason, if I’m going to see some random band live, I always hope that it’s a cover band, because then I’ll know the songs.

Though I can’t claim to know many of the Polyphonic Spree’s songs, I have heard they put on a phenomenal show live. The band is made up of twenty-something people playing a spectrum of instruments. The performers came out on stage wearing black Red Cross uniforms and looked hot. While Michael Michael and I were both fond of the guitarist, I was also taken with the trombonist. I think I got a tromboner. (And that, folks, is where the words start to fail me.)

It really has nothing to do with the band’s attractiveness and everything to do with the music. Each performer gives it eir all. The notes surged through my body and being part of that positive energy oozing from the two dozen band members as well as a crowd of hundreds reflecting that same happiness (yeah, Will Smith, happiness is spelled with an “I”.)

Admittedly, the lyrics can get pretty cheesy (“Follow the day and reach for the SUN!”), but it’s to the band’s credit that it becomes entirely believable. I’m a fairly cynical person, but I completely bought into their overwhelming message that the world contains so much goodness. From the first note to the last, the huge smile did not leave my face. Occasionally, I would slip out of my heightened elation to figuratively pinch myself and verify that this moment was really happening. It was.

Halfway through the set, they took a brief intermission to change into their trademark robes, which is how they earn a reputation for being a cult. While I can understand the comparison, if bringing people together to celebrate life and going forth to do good (take note of the usage, Michael Michael) is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Though the Polyphonic Spree was in fact hypnotizing, I took the band’s message to be one of doing what you can to make the world more euphoric, and in the meantime, rather than being disgruntled, enjoy the joy that exists.

My favorite two songs of the set were the interminably peppy “Soldier Girl” and the terrific cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium.” Leave it to the Polyphonic Spree to turn a song that represented a generation’s alienation and rage and turn it into jump-up-and-down merriment.

Coming down from the concert – which truly was more of a life milestone than a concert – was like coming off of drugs. Certainly, I will take any opportunity I have to see this band again in the future.

2006-12-16

Ding Tong, the Rat Is Dead

That damn snake still hasn't died, but it sure is trying. The thing won't eat. Perhaps I've called it ugly one too many times and it's become anorexic. In truth, most people who see it say its beautiful; however, I am not ready to call something that wants to kill me attractive. At least I don't have to worry about it biting me: that would require it moving in the slightest. Plus, you know, I'm full of calories that will go straight to its non-existent snake hips, which I suppose might be what the snake is trying to avoid. In other news about pets and eating disorders, I'd like to report that Bosco, who I was previously concerned was bulimic, is now eating everything in sight and keeping it down. Ever since lil' fatty Darby came onto the scene, those two will race to devour anything.

At any rate, I no longer have it out for the snake. Most days I forget it's here, seeing as it doesn't do anything. That's not to say we're on good enough terms that I would invite it to Christmas dinner (imagine that, Mom!); besides, it wouldn't eat anything anyway. It let some poor mouse crawl around in its cage until it, uh, awkwardly (we'll leave it at that) died uneaten; I had been hoping they would become friends. Two weeks later, the snake was offered a dead rat, which he also refused. Jessica and Michael Michael tirelessly made the dead rat dance around in the hope that appearing lifelike would make it more appetizing to no avail.

While having yet another hilarious conversation in Michael Michael's room that one night in which Kline thought a song by the Jackson 5 was performed by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, I picked up a pair of tongs and played with them. I often get finicky and start playing with objects, like a stapler for example. With the tongs, I was pinching my skin, scratching my nipples, rubbing the back of my neck. I believe I was squeezing my fingers together when the topic of the snake not eating the rat came back up. All at once, I remembered that the tongs I was playing with were the ones used to dangle the dead rat around for the snake's benefit, promptly throwing them at the floor in disgust.

"I thought you knew!" said Michael Michael. "Why didn't you tell me?!" I asked, appalled. He explained that when I first picked them up, he reminded me of where they had been, and I brushed it off with a "Yeah." Though I do not remember this occurring, it is more than plausible that I was only half paying attention and brushed it off without really giving it any thought. "I thought it was weird that you were so comfortable with that kind of stuff." Right. Because deceased animals and me are tight like that - I wish I could have just rubbed my body with the carcass itself.

So anyway, in addition to AIDS, I have a serious case of BP (That's Bubonic Plague, y'all!). It's gross. Now no one's going to want to extend social invitations to me. Don't worry, I showered... the next day, I think.

I took the opportunity to lecture Michael Michael for leaving out dirty tongs. It really was his fault. Of course someone is going to play with it: Kitchen utensils make the best toys. I showed him the turkey baster I leave by my door in my room. All the time, people walk in and say, "Why do you have a turkey baster?" I often answer the inquiry differently, but the result is always the same: the visitor starts squeezing the baster, tapping it against eir wrist, and suctioning eir nipple. (Okay, I've only seen some people do the last one.) The point is I know people are going to play with it when they see it, so I make sure to keep it clean. As a good host, I'm obliged to disinfect that baster. I certainly can promise you that it's never touched a dead rat; in fact, I've never even basted a turkey with it before. My company can rest assured they have a clean baster to amuse themselves with. I mean, you can put out your best china, but you're still a lousy host if you leave out dead-rat-infected tongs on the table.

2006-12-15

Is It Presumptuous to Pat your Pretty Posterior?

A while after recovering from the dino-smut, my housemates and I resumed our typical nerdy grammar/word usage conversations. ("Why is pants plural?) Yes, it really gets us excited. Yes, we're really that lame. Lately, I've been using the words "assume" and "presume" interchangeably, inexplicably favoring "presume" as my word of choice. Though I knew there was some sort of distinction between the terms after having looked it up in another fit of nerd-dom, I had since forgotten and was trying to remember the difference. Someone thought they were exact synonyms, but Jessica hypothesized that "presume" had to do with being rude in one's assumption, hence the reason there is a word "presumptuous" and not "assumptuous." I giggled, imagining that ass-sumptuous would probably be a synonym for bootylicious. Surprisingly, I found that Urban Dictionary confirms my conjecture; "That girl is assumptuous!" is the example sentence.

Take note: From now one when you dare to make an ass out of u and me, I will call you "assumptuous" - then stare at your butt.

2006-12-13

Today's Post is Brought to You by the Letter P and the Words Pterodactyl, Puppet, and Porn


Oops, I've been gone for a long time. I apologize, but I've been busy with schools. Yes, that's right: schools. I'm both a full time teacher and a full time graduate student, and as both those things intensify at the end of the semester, I've had a lot to get done. I've been working on all sorts of scholarly papers (of course, they're all scholarly when the topic is school), and now I'm finally done with school for nearly a month. Well, graduate school: I still have to teach for another week and a half, which totally sucks. I mean, it's very rewarding. Yeah.

Anyway, enough about me. I realize that's a funny thing to say in a personal blog where all I do is babble about myself, but that last paragraph was boring and not the type of material I usually post; who cares about the concrete details of my life - bring on the funny! I have a few stories lined up to share with you, and while debating which of them to kick off my big "I've been gone for a week" posting, hilarity happened repeatedly in my house, so I think I'd rather just share that instead.

First, Jessica was singing what sounded to be gibberish and we all were ignoring her, so she got upset and shouted/pouted, "I can sing 'Silent Night' in German and nobody cares." As I type this story, I realize her superb delivery cannot be captured in words, but the sheer truth really drove the humor home. We were ignoring her; she was singing "Silent Night" in German. I still don't care, but I care that she cares that we don't care.

Next, someone sent me a link to pterodactyl porn. I'll leave that person nameless in case they don't want their name attached to that video. Oh, by the way, make no bones (pun! Would a "fossil" be a good term for a dinosaur erection?) about it, if you click on that link, you will see some graphic material that you wish you did not. For the record, I didn't know what I was clicking on until it was too late. I immediately paused the clip - not just because I was in horror, but because I wanted to share the first time I watched pterodactyl porn with my friends. A few housemates and I watched in confusion, with one of my housemates claiming it was eir first time seeing porn of any type (Not me.) As the person who sent me this link noted, "What a way to start." In the beginning, there were dinosaurs. And they fucked hot bitches. And God said it was good. At any rate, again, I wouldn't recommend clicking the link, but I'm sure curiosity might get the best of you, in which case - whoa. I have three comments to share on the topic: 1) Who would have known that someone would fetishize dinosaurs? 2) I feel sorry for the fact that those men dressed as pterodactyls are having to endlessly flap their arms as wings and are clearly tiring; then again, I suppose they are receiving oral sex, so life can't be all bad (though perhaps utterly humiliating.) 3) My favorite part (no, I can't believe I have a favorite part in pterodactyl porn either) of the clip is halfway through when what appears to be a puppet emerges from the left side of the screen. It is awesomely hilarious that someone is manning a pterodactyl puppet off to the side, as if its presence somehow enhances the quality of the film. And I thought it couldn't get any more bizarre after the first ten seconds.

Shoot, kids, it's late. (I say kids in the generic way I call everybody kids: I seriously hope actual kids are not reading this and discovering pterodactyl porn.) Yeah, so I have to get up and teach school in six hours; for whatever reason, they refuse to pay me for just sitting here, watching trashy jurassic porn, and blogging. But I promise to finish the many wonderful things from tonight in future installments. I also promise that we move away from the subject of pterodactyl porn entirely - or porn of any sort for that matter.

For some reason, I keep thinking that the best way to end this post is with that Mr. Rogers's song. Perhaps that's blasphemous after sharing the content that I did, but what the hell, I bet some crazy kinky things went on in the Land of Make Believe. After all, there were plenty of puppets.

So yeah, I'll be back with more, better, less perverted content tomorrow.
I'll be back when the day is new
And I'll have more ideas for you
And you'll have things you want to talk about
I will too

2006-12-05

I Have Joy on the Inside

Since my coworker's two-year-old niece is being potty-trained, my coworker called to congratulate her on her progress. Shortly into the conversation, the niece announced, "I have joy on the inside!" Finding this statement to be rather profound for a two-year-old, my coworker said, "That's good, sweetie." The niece replied gruffly, "No, I have joy on the inside!" "I do, too," my coworker said. At this point, the niece started wailing, "No you don't! I have joy on the inside!" Frustrated, my coworker asked the child to put the parent on the phone. "[Your child] keeps saying she has joy on the inside, but then gets upset when I try to congratulate her." The parent started laughing and went about verifying eir theory on what was occurring. Because the niece is undergoing toilet training, she had recently received her first pair of Christmas-themed underwear, which says the word "JOY" on the butt. Accidentally, the niece had put her underwear on inside out, thus "joy was on the inside," leaving her with a limited yet oddly spiritual vocabulary to try to angrily communicate this fact.

2006-12-04

Rock On!

After a recent trip to the Family Christian store, Andrew told me about a shirt he discovered:

This is a not so subtle hint that I am expecting exciting gifts this holiday season. (Either this shirt or Heidi Klum.)

2006-12-03

College in a Sentence

An overheard snippet from a cell phone conversation on Claremont McKenna's campus:
"Oh, like... like... like... political prisoners?"

2006-12-02

Wonderland, Wonderland, Shining Stars, Jingle Bells

Just when I thought I might skip Christmas this year, Heidi Klum showed me the true meaning of the holidays. She brings all of the joy of Jesus, reindeer, and eggnog into one fantastic song.




In complete seriousness, I've watched this video no fewer than a dozen times, because it is that terrific. The video alternates between high quality special effects and crappy home movies; Heidi literally glitters, whereas "Santa Claus" is clearly some drunk guy in a backyard. Also they seem to run out of footage during the last minute and loop the video. 'tever.

Why does Heidi Klum have to read such a simple song's sheet music. Are we to believe she reads music? Or anything, for that matter? She sure is pretty, though.

I took the time to transcribe the lyrics:

Everybody's cheering up tonight
Whoa ohhh oh yeah
Childrens' eyes reflecting candlelight
Whoa oh oh
Sleigh bells ding every street
The world is waiting for Santa Claus to come
People feel that their hearts can beat as one
As one. Enjoy the...

Wonderland, wonderland, shining stars, jingle bells
This time is filled with magic
Wonderland, wonderland, shining stars, jingle bells
The holy night is coming

Everyone who's lonely in this life
Step onto the street, no don't think twice
Leave your heartache behind, light up the candle
The magic's inside of you
Let the strangers around you feel it too
Feel it too

Wonderland, wonderland, shining stars, jingle bells
This time is filled with magic
Wonderland, wonderland, shining stars, jingle bells
The holy night is coming

That chorus is the most catchy cliched Christmas crap you'll ever hear. Just wait until you find yourself tapping your feet and muttering "wonderland, wonderland, shining stars, jingle bells" under your breath during a faculty meeting.

The second verse has me a bit concerned, as the line about lonely people stepping into the street without a second thought seems kind of suicidal, but why would anyone do such a drastic thing when there are strangers to share magic with?

2006-12-01

To Tell the Tooth

Once upon a time there was a person who was warned eir tooth had died and that ey should have it removed. This person didn't want to have the dental procedure performed, instead choosing to let the tooth stay in eir mouth indefinitely. Of course, dead teeth don't just cooperatively hang out in one's mouth. Nope, at some point that tooth lets go, which is exactly what happened to this person while eating a sandwich. After taking a bite, something just felt wrong in eir mouth, and ey realized that that dead front tooth was now implanted in the bread. While ey freaked out, the individual's child came in, saw the sandwich, and, figuring ey was no longer able to eat anyway, started eating around the tooth.

Keep in mind, this story is a fairy tale. If it were real, the protagonist would ask me not to share eir toothless tale. Fortunately, however, this story is completely fictional, so I can give you the skinny.

As promised, the skinny:

2006-11-28

Code Toad


Hey! Did you know that if you give me a number between 1-26, I can instantaneously tell you what letter of the alphabet it corresponds with? I can do it the other way, too: give me a letter, and I'll tell you it's matching number.

G? 7!
14? N!
W? 23!

You'll have to trust the fact that I was able to spit these answers out quickly and without any assistance. After all, the only thing more dorky than bragging about having this nearly pointless talent would be if I were to be secretly consulting a chart and only pretending to possess this ability.

The reason I have acquired this skill is because in my younger years I loved codes. Since one of the most common codes involves a simple number to letter conversion, I had to have that down cold so that I could hastily move on to whatever came next in my spy activities.

Sometimes, this ability worked against me, however. For weeks, I was excited about the premiere of Ghostwriter, a television show about a group of racially diverse teens solving mysteries through their superb literacy abilities. During the first episode, a code was flashed on the screen, which I quickly copied down. Since I knew basic codes, I was able to decipher the secret message immediately, and had solved the mystery before the first episode was even halfway complete. Unfortunately, it took five more weeks before the Ghostwriter gang figured it out. Though I came to love those kids, they really tested my patience by putting off solving the code for so long. It would seem to me, if you have a code that could pinpoint the perpetrators of the big petty theft ring, your top priority would be to sit down and hammer out some code possibilities.

In third grade, I was so obsessed with codes, while simultaneously being so frustrated that there were no secret codes appearing in my life that required my spy skills, that I decided to force the issue. Rather than waiting for someone to slip me a code, I made some up and delivered them to Brian, Robbie, and myself. Because I didn't have the means to slip the code in each of their lockers, desks, or something equally sensical, I instead handed the sheets to them, explaining that I had been informed by the "Code Toad" to give these to them. Obviously, my excuse wasn't too solid, thus earning accusations of being the "Code Toad" all along. "But I got one, too!" I showed. Being a sloppy answer, that didn't hold for long either. An older student on the bus wanted me to prove that it wasn't me by comparing handwriting. Since the notes were, in fact, written by my hand, I wanted to avoid this, but the mob had spoken. I went about demonstrating how I wrote my letters, all of which I penned in lowercase, so as not to match the "Code Toad"'s all-uppercase letters. Fortunately, this devious plan worked - the letters did not match, and I was cleared of suspicion. With quick thinking like that, I convinced myself I would make an awesome spy. Alas, my fear of eventually being exposed so worried me that the Code Toad went into early retirement. Somedays while teaching, though, I find myself daydreaming more than my students, imagining working elsewhere and solving codes.

2006-11-27

It's "Me"

While browsing a music blog, I came across an indy band called Baby Calendar. While I can't tell you what the band sounds like, I can tell you what they look like:



I looked at the rocker in the right corner and honestly wondered if somehow that was me. Do you recognize that fashion sense?




It's like I'm famous, or, well, it's like I'm in an unknown band. Either way, one thing is for sure: I dress trendily.

2006-11-23

HAND BEASTS!

Happy Thanksgiving blah-blah-blah.

Sometimes, I wish I was a kindergarten teacher, because then I could do cool activities on the day before Thanksgiving break like make hand turkeys with my students. Alas, I teach high school; there's no way to justify doing hand turkeys with teenagers. Still, my greatest joy in teaching (well, second to actual educating, I suppose) is getting away with the most ridiculous things in my classroom. There's something sadistically fun about occasionally assigning my students absurd, fairly meaningless tasks and watch them go at it. So, I figure to hell with their ages, let's bring on the hand turkeys!

I decide to give the assignment to my honors students, because if you're going to do something for the simple minded, it's all the more fun to have the smart kids do it and watch them make it far more complicated than necessary.

Also, because I need to disguise the assignment in some sort of academic context, I decide to have it correspond with our unit on the Odyssey. Though we haven't actually started reading it yet, we did frontload (that's teacher talk for providing preview information so that students can better succeed later on) mythical characters. With this in mind, I decided that instead of hand turkeys, we'd make Hand Beasts: mythical creatures that correspond to the shape of traced hands.

The assignment was to color a Hand Beast, name it, then write a story in epic poetry style wherein the Hand Beast has an encounter with a "real" mythical character. Most importantly, I insisted that they do all drawing and coloring with their non-dominant hand in order to better achieve a kindergarten aesthetic. Naturally, I didn't explain that I was intentionally trying to make them look bad each time the students groaned, "Why?" Instead, I insisted we were doing it because "the Pilgrims suffered, too."

The results were largely amazing. Many of them took it so seriously, that I repeatedly caught them sketching with their dominant hands (cheating!) because they wanted to do well. About half of them were turkey-themed Hand Beasts, which is fine by me, considering that was my initial objective anyway. Below are some samples:


This one is called Wierdo (sic) Turkey Mouth.


One of my favorites is definitely Ignacio the Talking Utter. According to lore, Odysseus went to milk a cow, only to encounter Ignacio the Talking Utter, who impolitely told Odysseus not to milk him, suggesting instead that he "go to the darn grocery store." Consequently, the pair got in a slapping fight. As was frequently the case in BC times, Odysseus's stomach was covered in super glue, so that when Ignacio popped him in the gut, he became stuck. In an awkward predicament, the pair called a truce. Soon, Odysseus became the primary source of milk in his village.


Corinnuh looks wise and haggard.


This student couldn't trace eir own hand for eir life! I came and asked whether eir fingers were that fat... let me tell you, if looks could kill! This five-headed Hand Beast received no name, but is responsible for the changes in season.


Another favorite is Enrique. Enrique was thrown a great surprise birthday party, which, incidentally, is the real reason Thanksgiving was invented. "After the party, Enrique was furious because the [party] was over and he wasn't done dancing. He went on a rampage around the world and killed trillions of people. It was the worst attack of any kind in the history of the world. Then Zeus informed his best friend that there would be another party next week for someone else. They looked around and noticed all the dead bodies and everything was destroyed. They shared a good laugh and lived happily ever after."


Ice$ Man$ has an afro! He was the "freshest" of the mythical creatures and was known to have been "droped out of a monney cloud." Furthermore, "his mouth is always lookin like a disco ball."


Meet Hand Beast Karflogazar. One of the best parts about this activity is that I kept repeating the phrase "Hand Beast" as if it were an actual thing. By the end of the period, students were not asking to see each others' drawings, but, "Can I see your Hand Beast?" With straight faces, even! I love passing off nonsense phrases like legitimate vocabulary!


"Turkon is a regular turkey that fell in a toxic waste pit and he transformed into a turkey-dragon thing. Hence the name Turkon!" He destroyed Zeus with his toxic farts.


Volcalem is the pleasant result of two hands being traced.


Immediately, I knew there was something simple and special about Bostwick, but I didn't realize how accurate those two words would be. He is Odysseus's "special little brother." (When I asked what exactly that meant, I was told he was "born differently.") Bostwick died at the age of two, then Circes brought him back to life. Afterwards, Bostwick forms an army of dead sailors, with which he took over the universe by the age of two-and-a-half. "Then he travels into the future and conquers that too, then he went to the past and conquered all of the past. By age 3 1/2, Bostwick was ruler of all space, time, and reality."


Originally named KeVeEzY, he soon became fOb KeVeEzY, a turkey immigrant from South Korea and best friend to Apollo.


Finally, the best named creature has to be Goblrarr. Go ahead, try to pronounce it, it's fun. Not only is Goblrarr fun to say, but it has the awesome five-year-old's art quality I hoped for. Also, according to the story, Goblrarr "is the rarest type of mythical creature ever." Now that's cute!

Most of the students wanted more time to work on them, but hell if I was letting them walk out with these. I wanted them for my fridge. At the end of the period, one student asked whether "myths really happened?" which indicates to me that I better do some legitimate educating soon as well.

2006-11-22

Identity Crisis

As a teacher, I am constantly the wet blanket of the classroom party. "Laughter? We're reading a tragedy! RARRRR! (I'm a monster.)" Hearing cheerful noises, I scurry over to a collection of students laughing at a picture in a magazine. "Put that away," I instruct. "But Mr. [Kevin]," one says. "Doesn't this look like Yoshi*?" Yoshi is a loud, short, and stout child who gives me a good idea of what it would be like to teach elementary school. Yoshi is extremely proud of being Asian and makes references to it in nearly everything he says. In spite of his contrary statements, Yoshi behaves no differently than many of his peers, embodying the American teenage mentality to the extreme.

At any rate, when I see the picture, I cannot contain my smile, doing all I can to keep myself from bursting into laughter. Indeed, the photo of a chubby Asian looks very much like Yoshi, but it would not be appropriate to make a big deal about it. In the photo, the Yoshi look-alike sits with his arm around a blonde girl. The photo is captioned "Should Their Love Be Legal?" and suddenly, at the same time as my students, I discover that "Yoshi" is not a he, but a butch lesbian. Again, I shouldn't be laughing, but now it's painful to stifle it while my students openly cackle. All this time, the real Yoshi is oblivious to the photograph, probably off scribbling on the walls or something. Someone shouts out Yoshi's name and shows him the image; he admits that it looks like him. Though I need to resurrect order in the classroom, this photo is something everyone in the class needs to see, so I only occasionally mutter "stop" under my breath as the magazine is passed around, pretending I don't delight in seeing the similar delight on the students' faces. Finally, someone attaches the picture to the board with a magnet and again I turn a blind eye. Only then does Yoshi take a close enough look to notice that he is a lesbian, at which point he crumples it up and tosses it in the trash. Immediately, someone fishes it out and starts defacing it, adding facial hair and piercings, as well as offensive attempts at Japanese writing on "Yoshi's" forehead. After that starts circulating, I jump in. They took a perfectly funny replica and turn it into something that no longer looks like Yoshi. Do they not get the joke?

Yoshi crumples it up and puts it back in the trash. This time, I fish it out. "You just want to take it home to show your friends!" a student accuses me. "No," I retort. "I know that if I leave it in there, someone will take it out again." And that's a risk I don't want to take because of course I want to take it home and show my friends! And so I do, and we laugh a lot. Oh, Yoshi!

2006-11-21

Appeasing Alec

Alec has threatened to stop reading this blog if I don't mention him more frequently. A year ago, I suggested that I might start saying shit about friends to increase my readership, and it seems he wants me to follow through on this plan. Alec is so desperate to see his name in print that he okayed me inventing stories about him if need be, even those that would involve dirty sanchezes (Those of you who are unfamiliar with the term might want to think twice about educating yourself on this matter.)

Of course, there's no need to fabricate stories about Alec, when there are already plenty of good stories that exist. For example, I found this awesome article about Alec (accidental alliteration <- which bitchingly includes "accidental alliteration"):

Former boxing champion Alec is to become a male escort after agreeing to work at legendary Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss' new legalized brothel for women. Fleiss bought 60 acres of land in Nevada, and his work is scheduled to begin on Heidi's Stud Farm.
She has high hopes for Alec, once heavyweight champion of the world - despite the fact he is a convicted rapist.
She says, "I told him, 'You're going to be my big stallion.' It's every man's fear that their girlfriend will go for Alec."
Alec, 40, adds, "I don't care what any man says, it's every man's dream to please every woman - and get paid for it."

Don't forget to ask for a dirty sanchez.

2006-11-20

Happy Birthday to Whomever

Tonight gave birth to another great Margarita Monday. We were displaced from our usual tables because someone had a large birthday party. Fortunately, they abandoned their post fairly early, leaving behind a lot of cake. Call us ants, but we pillaged those left overs, bringing them back to our table and devouring it. It was the best cake I have eaten in a long time. Though I try not to use the phrase, it had "old school" frosting, the kind that used to make cake worth eating before this unfortunate trend of using whipped buttery substances as the icing of choice. 'tever!

Also left behind were some unfinished drinks and - I won't mention names (this time anyway) - but they were proudly consumed as well. Among these drinks was a half full pitcher with a neon green liquid, which we all assumed was margarita. Upon closer inspection, however, it was discovered that this pitcher smelled a bit too much like cleaning fluid to sip. Although as the night progressed, several of us kept looking over at it, deciding it might at least be worth a try. We decided if desperate enough, we'd turn to what I coined the "relief pitcher," which, at the time, I resolved was the funniest thing I've said in my entire life - at least since originating a Mexican booster seat last week.

No need to call poison control: thankfully, the relief pitcher sat on the bench all night. Nevertheless, we decided that we were so happy with the abandoned party favors that we wouldn't mind having the person come celebrate eir birthday at the restaurant every week, only to quickly realize that that's not exactly how birthdays work. At that point, Jenna groaned, "I haven't had a birthday in almost a year!" You don't say!

2006-11-19

Thisssssssssssssssssssssssssssstinks


Wouldn't you know it? Just two days after getting a new little puppy, we've inherited that hungry snake that went missing. When Shea and Amber were asked whether they wanted to adopt Darby, one of the reasons the answer was initially "no" was because there might be a snake in her our house. After the snake disappeared, however, they decided to bless our house with Darby's presence.

Apparently, the crazed father of the student who bought the snake finally found the damn thing lounging on the bathroom floor on Friday night. He called Jessica and told her to either pick it up immediately or that he would shoot it. Yes, he has a gun. Yes, Jessica drove into the ghetto after dark to retrieve a sizable snake in a shoe box from an armed man. She had to inconspicuously transport it home on a train, too, meaning just one thing: Snakes on a Train!

So now we have a snake in the house indefinitely, too. Hello, Noah's Ark! As I suspected, you cannot love a snake. It sucks. It's not friendly, it's not cuddly, and it stares at me evilly. At first I thought I was paranoid and kept this thought to myself, but then Jessica, who has been working hard to convince me that the snake's all right, asked if I noticed how the snake just stares at me intently. Yeah, I had. Yeah, I hate it.

Saturday during graduate class, Jessica and I sat at separate tables, but an arm's length away. We learned cooperative learning strategies, one of which is called Rally Robin, which involves partners taking turns writing down ideas in a given category. Slipping a note to her, I headed the note with "Rally Robin: Fun Things to Do with a Snake." For a couple of hours, we passed it back and forth. Here's what we came up with:

Fun Things to Do with a Snake
*Dress it in a suit and top hat
*Wear it as a belt
*Kill it
*Sick it on your dog!
*Teach it to line dance
*Pierce its ears
*Go to "third base" with it
*Celebrate its quincenera
*Give it a wedgie
*Take it to the gyno
*Mini golf!
*Tae-Bo
*Long slithers on the beach
*Girl talk
*Hypnotize it and make it think it's James Madison
*Take it on a date with me and Blair!
*Recite MLK Jr's "I Have a Dream Speech" in a round!
*Breast feed it! Yay!
*Keep it real
*Take it to a Britney Spears concert and unite it with its sisters + brothers
*Jenga!
*Crocodile Hunter -- the game
*Write a fictional account of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson entitled If I Did It, Here's How
*Enlist it in the army
*Practice table manners
*Play "Adam and Eve"
*Vote absentee for Green Party
*Tutor and early acquisition language learner and someone with a lisp. sssssssssss
*Compose the song parody "My Fart Will Go On"
*Put together Ikea furniture
*Form a prison literacy program
*Start a pop group with the facade that "we all grew up together" -- but we actually met after the audition
*Pairs figure skating
*Play Duckhunt - you use a gun, the snake uses... well...
*Mani/Pedis
*Anti-smoking campaign ads
*Sponge bathe comatose patients
*Russian roulette
*Rubix cube

After class, I was pretty optimistic that having a snake might be better than I gave it credit for. But I assure you - it could do none of these things - and we tried. I've had it with these motherfucking snakes in my motherfucking house.

2006-11-17

Meet Darby

As promised, I have some photos of the new puppy, Darby.



Darby is super soft, thus amazing to pet. Ey's pretty independent, which I respect, and comes in handy when you're just a little too busy to devote full attention to your cute puppy -- which isn't too often!



Darby loves to lick and doesn't know when to stop. Most dogs I know give you a quick licking, then move on, while Darby just likes to lick, lick, lick, lick, lick, lick my face for five minutes at a time. If I try to pull away, ey whines. Often, I'll walk away from a Darby love-fest with a saliva-enduced cowlick.



Like me, Darby likes to put all sorts of things in eir mouth. Above is when I caught em take my sock and run outdoors. Afterwards, jealous older sibling Bosco wanted a piece of my sock, too:



It's funny to remember that about a year ago, I realized my need for a dog; now, I'm living with two of them.



The tone of this post is sincere, yet disturbing. I never thought I'd be one of "those" people, like a crazy cat woman. I fear that my blog will slowly evolve to that of Jean Teasdale.

2006-11-16

No Can for a Bed

On the bottom of my trash can, I locate a sticker that informs me the product was "Made in Israel." I wasn't aware that Israel manufactured anything aside from religious intolerance. Also, Jesus Christ.

2006-11-14

A New Pet

You can all sleep soundly: our house is not getting a snake.

Before the snake could reach our friendly abode, it went on quite a few adventures. First, it bit the student in the face. After all this talk about how snakes are not really as scary as they're made out to be, it bit her in the face. What an asp-hole. Next, the snake crawled down the kitchen sink. Unable to rescue the snake, the family had to call a plumber, who had to break and reconstruct the pipes in order to retrieve it. Finally, after racking up hundreds of dollars in plumbing bills, the snake got loose once again and has disappeared within the walls of the house. So now these poor parents who were too terrified to keep the snake in their house but agreed to take it for two days until our house would accept the responsibility have a snake hiding permanently somewhere nearby. Unsurprisingly, the parents are now having trouble sleeping knowing the snake is somewhere.

If it weren't for the fact that this snake is terrorizing some unfortunate family, it would be funny almost. Heck, I'm laughing all the same.

Though we are not getting a snake, we are getting a new pet. As of two hours ago, Amber and Shea have officially adopted a cairn terrior (the same type of dog as Toto) from someone who can no longer care for it. I have to say, I'm way more excited for a cute puppy than a snake. I will post pictures shortly after it arrives!

2006-11-13

Margarita Monday

Margarita Mondays are my favorite. For $2, you're served the stiffest margarita known to humankind! Granted, that's hyperbole, but they're amazing. I always have a good time, but tonight is especially wonderful. Jenna, freshly arrived from Japan, tells me about hilarious Engrish things she's seen like a crunchy crunky candy bar. Our waiter, who has a week-old baby (that makes me think of a weak, old baby, the latter adjective not making sense) keeps joking that she's beautiful and clearly not his kid. Alas, he muses that it's already in his home, so he's keeping it. Awesomely, I think he wants to be the legitimate father of Kat's child, considering he brings her three free drinks. While she intends to leave after one to work on her thesis, her plans are obviously changed. That's some sweet karma for the individual who came over and got me drunk on Friday while I stayed up all night typing a draft of a chapter of my thesis. According to my professor, much to my surprise, it turned out great. The only other time I've written something academic while drinking was the Flava Flav section of my undergraduate thesis, which didn't impress Kline at any rate.

But I digress too much from Magarita Monday. I leave Nikki's sister two inappropriate voicemails after learning that she is now "terrified" of me yet still "oddly compelled." That sounds about right. I let her know that I understand she has a wedding to attend, but asked what she's going to be doing five minutes after the ceremony. I'll let you all know if I hear back. The biggest mistake I make on the phone, however, is when someone is on speaker phone with an autistic relative. I whisper into Wes's ear that said relative is "acoustic." Then, realizing my mistake, I laugh and scream "autistic!" loud enough so said relative can hear. I'm telling you, the margaritas do not aid in discretion.

Earlier in the evening, Michael Michael received his insurance package in the mail. "Now we can go out drunk driving!" he cheered. No one laughed. "Sounds like you need some humor insurance!" I tried, which after a delayed reaction, got big chuckles from Amber. But let's be honest: a joke like that just goes to show that I need similar coverage. Still, I'm not as bad as MM (Michael Michael) because at MM (Margarita Mondays), I discover that he will laugh at my joke if I say it a fourth time. In this tipsy state, I can't recall what I'm saying exactly, but after three times met by mild amusement, Michael Michael roars at the fourth attempt. On Saturday night, I muttered to myself the line from Arrested Development, "Meet my new boyfriend - the homeless guy" three times. It didn't go over well, then, but I want to test my four-and-floor (repeat a joke four times, and Michael Michael will collapse in laughter) hypothesis. "Meet my new boyfriend - the homeless guy," I say, and indeed, on this fourth occasion, Michael Michael doubles over.

At some point, someone (and for once it's not me) brought up dendrophilia, which is a sexual attraction to trees. I want to make it clear that while I do enjoy a go with a tree from time to time, being a dendrophiliac does not mean I will do it with just any tree. In fact, I find that most trees tend to just lie there.

After paying the bill, Christine realizes she's been sitting on a menu the whole time. I decide that that's what we call a Mexican booster seat.

Upon arriving home, our housemates are giddy. Six people and one cute dog dance party it up. Listening to Avril Lavigne, a lot of Polyphonic Spree, Ray Charles, and the Real McCoy, we run in circles like crazy people, jumping and thrusting for a full hour. I have not had this good of a time in ages.

Now we've sat down to watch the series finale of Six Feet Under. When I first watched it a couple of months ago, I sobbed uncontrollably, so I'm just waiting for the waterworks to start with my housemates. I'm still drunk and am ready to pass out, but this has been the best night ever. I'm not sure this is the best post ever, as I've just been happily rambling, but this is live blogging for you.