Happy Halloween

Growing up, I followed the rules, including no drinking. I can only imagine the trouble I would have gotten in had I been caught drinking. When I went to college, notorious for its boozing tendencies, I did the only appropriate thing: drank and did not tell my parents about it. I'm pretty sure that it's an unwritten rule that you let that information go unspoken.

My sibling, Alison, however, just might be a lush. Hell, even my dad says so. Not only did she go to college and drink a lot, but she broke the cardinal rule: She was open with my parents about it.

Make no mistake, Alison is still underage. She should not be ordering alcoholic beverages at a restaurant while eating with my family. But somewhere along the way, my parents decided that was okay, too.

I did not realize the extent to which my parents were enablers until this weekend, though. When my parents visited Alison recently, she requested assistance on her Halloween costume. Her and the "girlsssss" had decided to each dress up as alcoholic beverages. Rather than telling Alison to take it easy on her liver, my mom makes her a terrific costume as a bottle of Malibu rum. She flat out does most of it for Alison. Who knows what Alison was doing, she was probably passed out somewhere. Realizing the costume was missing something, my dad had my mom make a bottle cap hat as an accessory, making the transformation of my sibling into an alcoholic product a regular family affair.

It's a wonder I made it out of my household without a drinking problem.

Happy Halloween!


A Better Way to Start Your Morning Than Breakfast

I wake up this morning with randomness oozing from my head. To clarify, I do not mean pus, but thoughts. (I don't want you to be picturing grossness pouring from my head and being too creeped out to accept future social invitations.)

Let me recreate the scene: my alarm sounds, I sit up, turn around, and try to assess the room. Then, for reasons unknown to me, I say aloud: "Do I get your drift? Your drift is like a hotel breakfast: continental." It doesn't make much sense. It has no context. And yet? It might almost be clever. I suppose given the proper moment, if someone is to ask if I get eir drift, I have a very complicated, barely witty retort. Go on: I dare you to give me that prompt during our next face-to-face conversation.

A moment later, I begin singing Carly Simon. I never used to like the "You're So Vain" song, because in essence, isn't the song actually about the vain person? I now realize that's part of the irony; I also realize that I know people just like the subject of the song. Anyway, I start singing and, again, for no real reason, change the words to, "You're so vague, you probably can't tell whether this song is about you." Granted, it should really be, "I'm so vague" if it's even going to make sense, but I feel that changes too many words to be a valid song parody.

I sure can accomplish a lot of nothing in less than one minute of being conscious.


Save That Sign

My parents and ant came to visit tonight. Though it's good to see them, it can also lead to a lot of peculiar situations.

My dad is rather insistent that he use rubbing compound on my car to get the scratches out. "I also need some soap and water," he instructs me. As I'm entering the house to get that for him, he adds, "Put it in a bucket." Ah, right. The idiot that I am, I figured he wanted a glass of soap and water. It's a wonder I manage to keep myself alive without his supervision. In the three minutes it takes for me to make like Jack and Jill and fetch a pail of water, my dad proves why I cannot leave him unattended. Arriving back outdoors, I find him scrubbing my car without a shirt on. I make one of my patented horrified faces that my students seem to love and remind him that it's a residential area. No amount of hinting gets him to redress himself, so I try to avoid eye contact with the neighbors walking their dogs past my house while praying that the sun will go down faster. For fifteen minutes, my mom, ant, and I watch When my dad says he's about done with the job, Kline arrives at home just in time to see the spectacle for herself. "Oh, hey, meet my parents. My dad's just... yeah, so this is my dad."

For dinner, we make reservations at a nice steak place, only to find the restaurant so thoroughly crowded that we can't even get a parking spot. Attempting to find a new source of food, we proceed to get lost for, oh, forty five minutes, driving in all four directions at various points. Finally, we find a bar. Awkwardly, we stand at the door for a couple of minutes as people stare before it becomes obvious we need to seat ourselves. With few options, we sit at a long table, only to have the other half of the table soon filled with bizarre thirty-somethings wearing Halloween costumes. In fact, most people there were bizarre thirty-somethings in costume, meaning we were the people who stuck out the most, especially when all four of us ordered medium rare New York strip steaks.

Parting for the night, it was my mom's turn to be peculiar. We have a campaign sign in our front yard promoting the preservation of beautiful land from being turned into yet another developmental area. She had been curious about what it meant earlier in the day, but I had not realized the extent of her interest. After her final farewell, she requests that, after the election, I save the sign for her. I glance her incredulously. "Are you serious?" I ask. Apparently, she is. "What could you possibly want that for?!" I sputter, unable to hold back laughter, as cannot my dad and ant. At any rate, my mom thinks the sign "looks nice," so I will be sure to keep the oversized, vaguely attractive sign on a local campaign issue that means nothing on the other side of the country and bring it to her on a future trip to Connecticut so she can scrapbook it or something.


David Sedaris

For the second night in a row, I'm at another talk at the large auditorium located near my house. And to think, I almost gave up on scholarly talks after the Jamaica Kincaid fiasco.

Truthfully, tonight's talk wasn't as scholarly as it was hilarious. The speaker, David Sedaris, is an amazing humorous essay writer. I want to be Sedaris when I grow up. Unlike for Ralph Nader, the audience was packed and no one left until the very last sentence. And the stage was a masterpiece. The stage featured the scenery for the upcoming Dracula ballet, so Sedaris stood in front of a lovely coffin the entire time.

One of the best parts was his reading on those pee pouches that you can attach to your leg so that you can go to the bathroom in public. In theory, this is the kind of lowbrow humor that is almost too easy for someone as clever as Sedaris. Still, not many people have the adept writing skills to capture precisely what it means to wear one of these devices. He articulates events in a way very few people can.

My favorite part came when Sedaris was describing some book about a person with schizophrenia. He tried to rush through all sorts of background information, as it was not the funny part of the story, but still needed to be told. As he's speeding through, he references, as a parenthetical aside, that some woman was present at the mental hospital (on a day pass). And because that's become my sense of humor, the "(on a day pass)" became the moment I laughed the hardest at, which might be absurd, but whatever Let me try to explain: You know how when people are trying to get to the good part of the story, then in their haste they talk faster than they're thinking and they include all sorts of irrelevant details which then make the introduction that's they're attempting to skip over even longer than if they attempted to say it at a normal pace? Well, that's what Sedaris did. And that's what makes me laugh.

All in all, it was a night of hearty laughter. Though nothing made me giggle in quite the way that Nader's mahjong comment did.


Ralph Nader

Tonight I attended a talk by one of my personal heroes, Ralph Nader. I firmly believe that our country would be fortunate to have such an intelligent, with-it person as our leader. Unfortunately, the two-party system, or duopoly as Nader calls it, prevents the population from having legitimate choice in the matter.

Behind me in line, a student grumbles, "I hate Nader. He's the reason Bush is president!" Before I can turn to explain what a limited understanding of the situation that is, another student asks, "For real?"
"Gore would have won otherwise. You don't know the story of the 2000 election?"
"No," says the second student.
"Well see, because Nader ran..." the first student tries to explain.
"Actually," the second student interrupts. "I don't care."
And I thought the first student's viewpoint was ignorant. The notion that college students are the nation's intellectual elite is sure put to shame with this bunch. Plus, why come to the talk if it's something you don't care about?

I loved the talk; though I've been down on teaching lately, it re-inspired me to find varied ways to educate my students. I'm not in the classroom to teach grammar; my goal is to assist in shaping a thoughtful (by every definition of the word) future generation of people to create a better, more just world. Though I've lost focus on this insight and given into using the textbook more than I'd wish, I'd very much love to turn these almost entirely apathetic teenagers into people who care about something other than their IPods. (While that's an observation I've made myself a few weeks ago, Nader had his own funny quip on the same topic who didn't have time for politics. "Oh, you know, IPods... so many songs." He also criticized those who wouldn't take the time to research ballot initiatives and instead found time to play Mahjong, which had me rolling.)

Here are some of my favorite Nader quotations from the event:
"Question your small talk, and once in a while make big talk."
"Respect posterity."
"You're not into politics? Well then, politics will be into you."
"Freedom is participation in power."

While the speech got me excited about doing something meaningful again, 2/3 of the audience left before the talk's completion. It was absolutely pathetic. In the row behind me, two students showed up half an hour late. One fell asleep, while the other text messaged the entire time. It's really hard to get excited about making the world a better place when the people in the same room receiving the same message clearly don't give a crap.

The audience became so scarce that when Nader made a reference to being from Connecticut, I cheered loudly to correspond with the newly-formed intimate atmosphere. Nader knows I'm from Connecticut!

Another individual who identified emself as an environmentalist informed everyone that one of the world's largest environmental concerns is the issue of overpopulation. I'm totally with the question-asker at this point. But wait, shouldn't the question-asker ask a question? After ranting for about three uncomfortable minutes about how the Green party does not love the environment if it's permitting overpopulation by not enforcing our borders and allowing illegal immigration, ey finally asks Nader in a huff what he thinks about that. The solutions to our overpopulation problems to not lie in keeping people who are already born elsewhere. Surprisingly, Nader is kind even to the crazies. He is articulate and answers well without pointing out what an idiot this person is.

Nader for president!


Take Another Stab

I received an email from a parent concerned about eir child's grade in my class; the phrasing of the email suggested that English might not be the parent's first language. I gave a few suggestions about how the student could improve eir grades, including "tak[ing] another stab" at a specific assignment. Apparently, that expression didn't translate properly, because by the next day, I received a flustered response, with my principal CC-ed, inquiring about wanting to be better notified about eir child's violent behavior. Though I didn't understand where this particular concern was coming from, the student later clarified that the phrase "take another stab" led the parent to believe eir child wasn't doing well due to weapons or something.

It's funny how a silly turn-of-phrase that I wouldn't normally think twice about can lead to me having to send out multiple emails to multiple parties reassuring that no stabbing incidents have occurred in my classroom.

Reflecting back, I tried to think of other ways I could have stated the same thing. Take another swing... take another shot... indeed, so many of these English expressions are very physical, if not outright violent. And imagine if I suggested the student take another "crack" at it; ey'd probably be in drug rehab before I could get a word in edgewise.


Fat in the Head

Arriving home from work, I discover what looks to be a yard sale in my front yard. Frames, mirrors, and appliances literally litter the lawn (ooh, a-litter-ation!). Apparently, Shea has just completed a moving gig, and his client allowed him to keep all of the items ey no longer wanted, so my housemates are sorting through the treasures on the grass.

One of these treasures is a scale. I enjoy living without a scale, because having one results in extremely self-conscious people. Suddenly, two pounds one way or the other, which is often dependent on when one last went to the bathroom, becomes a big deal. I prefer my current approach of weighing myself every few months for an update rather than fixating on my current status. But when the scale is there - in plain sight - it's nearly impossible to resist.

After scolding others for freaking out over minor weight gain, I take my turn to step on the scale and immediately scream in panic. I'm expecting an increase of three pounds. Five, maybe. According to the scale, though, I've gained more than fifteen pounds. How can I put on that much weight and not notice my body change?

As I'm being that same scale-user I hate in other people, Shea points out, "Kevin, you're still holding your stuff." Being the genius that I am, it never occurred to me that holding two bags full of things, including two hefty textbooks, would throw off the scale. I drop my bags and find my weight to be exactly where I knew it to be at months ago.

I should have known there's no way I could be that heavy: I clearly don't have any brains.


Dear Twins in My Class

Dear Twins in My Class,

The truth is, I can't tell you apart. I'm currently shooting 30% when guessing your names, which is horrendous considering that I should statistically be hitting 50%, slightly greater given the use of context clues available to me. Because you act offended each time I mix you up, I've taken to acting like I knew all along, as if it were some sort of joke. Let's face it, I'm fooling no one. Why is it that I stutter excuses to defend my confusion each time? It's pathetic for me to do so and I know it. And you know it, too. And the other you, as well. Just don't make me say which is which.

But you've both got to be honest, too. You dress alike, behave alike, talk alike, heck, even whine alike. It's no wonder that I can never tell you apart. If you want to be treated like individuals, you've got to learn what it means to be an individual. You know what's freaky? When I gave you surveys on the first day of class, even though you were seated on opposite sides of the room, you gave almost entirely similar responses. Describing yourself in three words, one of you said "funny, athletic, smart" and the other said "funny, smart, athletic." To the question, what type of sense of humor do you have, you both simply wrote "a good one." And for how you would like to be remembered when you die, whichever of you said "one of the greatest athletes in history" and that other one of you said "the best professional soccer player in history." Both of you said "in history;" not "of all time," not "ever," but "in history." Learn to vary your speech and develop different goals, twins.

I don't care that you're "technically" fraternal. The amount of time I would have to stare at and study your faces for the nuances would probably result in me being sued for sexual harassment. So here's what I suggest - let's meet each other halfway. If I promise to not forget which one I'm talking to mid-conversation, then you've got to give me some kind of discernible difference to work with. One of you could grow out your hair, pierce an ear, or even wear an eye-patch. Hell, do all three and talk like a pirate while you're at it. Just be different! That poster of a giraffe in a sea of zebras daring you to be an individual is not for my amusement. Well, not just for my amusement, anyway.

Mr. [Kevin]


A Questionable Bowel Movement

Has your poop ever been confused?
Has it ever plopped down and asked you a question?

Well, mine has. It takes a true English teacher to shit punctuation marks.

To make it perfectly clear, clicking on this link will lead you to a picture of my poop shaped like a question mark. Are you brave enough?

What do you think it was asking?


How Gypsies Roll

On the way home from a spicy authentic Chinese restaurant, somehow the conversation turns to gypsies, and I run with it. For unknown reasons, Alison becomes terrified at the mere mention of gypsies, and I share this fact with my car-mates. I imitate the gypsy cackle that makes my sibling shudder. True capitalist that she is, I suspect Alison is most scared that someone might try to take her money. Dan informs me that in other countries gypsies even terrorize hospitals, pilfering anything that isn't nailed down. When I express shock that gypsies disturb even hospitals, Dan responds, "That's just how gypsies roll!" "How's that?" I ask, confused. Andrew interjects to explain, "In stolen wheelchairs!"


But No Babies!

I'm not sure exactly who first coined the phrase (perhaps someone can fill me in), but the slogan "Up the Butt: No Babies!" has been a masterpiece to me since I first heard Christina recite it.

Up the Butt: No Babies is a responsible way for sexually-active individuals to avoid unwanted pregnancy. It is the perfect alternative to abstinence-only education for those who are keen on neither abortion nor teen pregnancy.

Unfortunately, this mantra was laid to rest when it turned out a friend of Allison's engaged in anal intercourse that still unexpectedly resulted in pregnancy. Attributed to the "trickle-down effect," (Reagan would love this one), the frightening reality is that, in rare cases, Up the Butt can lead to babies.

Regardless, Up the Butt is still probably the most effective method we have to prevent pregnancy. Well, that and condoms and birth control and other things that "cost money." Hey, look, even hospitals agree:


A Crappy Essay

One of my motivationally-challenged students asked to use the restroom, and I, of course, permitted the visit. It was more than fifteen minutes before she returned, meaning she probably traveled to all sorts of place in addition to the bathroom. Before I probed her on the matter, another student began the interrogation. "Why were you gone so long?" "Oh," she said, while waving her hand in front of her nose as if something smelled. "I just took a dump." My guess is she answered in such a crass manner betting that it would lead no one to question her whereabouts further. Being the good teacher that I am, however, I decided to turn her crass comment around and embarrass her into doing some of her work. "Why don't you go take a dump on your paper?" I asked. Naturally, the student made a disturbed face, even more disturbed than the one she used to illustrate the rankness of her bowel movement. Other nearby students were floored. "Did you just tell her to take a dump on her paper?" they asked in disbelief. "At this point," I mused, "I'll take anything she's got."


Doth Tapped

I've actually been pretty excited to teach Antigone, in spite of the challenge it poses. Though the play lacks action and modern day language, it has such strong messages about morality, choices, family, honor, and sacrifice that I was eager to get the students thinking. The reason I'm a teacher is to hopefully have some kind of positive influence on making the next generation have good people. The reason I'm an English teacher specifically is to use literature as a way of addressing moral topics without having to look too preachy.

Unfortunately, this play's entire success relies on convincing the students that they can relate. I am unable to do this, however, because of the incestuous occurrences. It's pivotal for the students to know the origins of Antigone so they can follow the story, which means revealing that she is Oedipus's daughter, a birth from his marriage to his mother. Anytime I ask the kids to put themselves in Antigone's place, they spout off that her mom is her grandma and that it's gross. Just when I thought we might be getting past the incest thing, we read the scene that reveals Antigone is engaged to her cousin, Haimon. It's difficult to convey to closed-minded teens that while marrying your mom was icky, marrying your cousin was quite romantic at the time. Now they want nothing to do with Antigone, and the events that ensue are not considered nearly as tragic as they should because "she nasty."

Even the comprehension suffers at the hands of incest. When asking a student about her prediction for how they play will end, she makes reference to Creon and Antigone ending the fight and getting married. "But Creon's her uncle and she's engaged to his son!" I say. "Yeah, but they like incest," she states matter-of-factly. I suppose that's true: if it's going to be incestuous, it might as well be as incestuous as possible. "Okay, what evidence do you have to back up this prediction?" I ask. "Well they had sex." "Antigone's a virgin!" I say exasperated. "It says so in the story!" "I'll give you a billion extra credit points if you can show me where in the play it says that." Opening to a random page, she pretends to quote Creon in her best Sophocles's language, "I doth tapped that once or twice."

Sometimes, you've just got to laugh.


Small Seats

While I thought I've been having classroom furniture issues, Jessica just received a distressing email. On Friday, her school removed all of its furniture in anticipation of receiving new items over the weekend. When the weekend shipment arrived, however, it quickly became clear that an error of some sort was made, as all of the new desks were for kindergarten students. Jessica is now freaking out, because she has nowhere for her students to sit for at least the next couple of weeks. Though her concern is understandable, her nightmare would be my dream come true. I love being condescending with my students, so treating them like the kindergarteners that they are, or forcing them to cram their giant asses into an insufficient seat or sit on the floor would be the highlight of my short career. More than ever, I wish I could teach at Jessica's school.


Flavor Flavor

For her classroom, Jessica bought an oversized watch as a wall clock. Though it's the most awesome thing ever, Jessica was a bit embarrassed to bring it into her school, because she'd have to carry it on the train. Michael Michael suggested she wear it around her neck ala Flavor Flav. Though I've never known Jessica to shy away from ostentatious bling, she didn't seem to keen on the idea. On the other hand, I found the concept genius, and reminded everyone that I have a viking hat. With a bit of coaxing, Jessica modeled her Flavor Flav gear to the extreme, with Michael Michael performing as the best photographer this side of Nigel Barker.

She did a pretty good job; of course, if Flav was actually that attractive, the very concept of the Flavor of Love show wouldn't be so preposterous.

Personally, I find Flav's very existence to be an embarrassment to mankind, but I was willing to give it a go. During my first shot, I could have sworn I was making a Flav face, but clearly I was missing something.

I got better though.

And check out my post-it note grill!

Meanwhile, Kline agreed to join in on the fun. Since she was unfamiliar with Flavor Flav, I showed her the page and a half of my thesis devoted to the peculiar individual. She barely read a few sentences before deciding it was boring. If the passage about Flavor Flav is deemed boring, it doesn't bode well for the rest of my thesis. Here's her pose:

Later, even after being force fed the history of Flavor Flav, Kline would look at this photograph and claim, "I thought I was being a viking; I did not realize that I was being a Flavor Flavor." Twenty minutes after that, it occurred to her, "Why would a viking wear a big watch?"

And now for one of my new favorite pictures ever:

It looks like Flavor Flav is constipated.


In a While, Crocodile

It is with great reverence that I purchased the official Crocodile Hunter game at a thrift store several weeks ago for $3. Actually, my intention was to have a thoroughly inappropriate time celebrating our indifference to Steve Irwin's death. While $3 is a bit steep, particularly for a secondhand board game, I figured that now more than ever this item would be in high demand and I could make a profit by selling it on Ebay. Look, I'm not saying it's good to capitalize on a person's death, but when life hands you a dead crocodile hunter, make some money, damnit.

Even with a battery-powered crocodile involved, this game was seriously one of the most boring games I have ever played. The amusement of symbolically killing Irwin shortly after his own legitimate death did not make up for Milton Bradley's piss-poor design. The game lasted approximately five minutes and we had no desire to play again.

That's it, I decided. This game is going up on Ebay immediately. Alas, when I checked whether other people were selling this same item, I found dozens of listings trying to hawk the game for a couple of bucks; the only one receiving any bids was the one still in the shrink wrap.

Crap! Someone hand me a stingray. Can you see my face? I'm shedding crocodile tears.

Instead, we played an awesome game, 13 Dead End Drive, which is all about murdering your opponents. That's what I'm talking about! While the game is always awesome, this time is was particularly awesome because Kat and Shea decided to make an "unofficial" pact not to kill each other and still managed to lose both games. Alliances are totally poor form in 13 Dead End Drive, so when Amy and I both managed to be the lone competitor against the pair and still take them both out in brilliant last moves in consecutive games, it was sweet justice. How much Survivor do I have to watch with Kat before she understands that you should only hold onto an alliance as long as it benefits you personally?

In other news, Bosco jumped on Jenna, and it was awesome.

Also, Bosco is still totally the cutest dog in the world.


In Bed

Teaching is still stressing me out and interfering with my sleep. Twice now, I've semi-woken up and freaked out when I discover my classroom is not in order. The room has not only shrunk in size, but all of the desks are gone and have been replaced by a giant bed.

After panicking and trying to figure out where I'm going to have my students sit, I finally become conscious enough to realize, I am not in my classroom, I am in my bedroom - right where a bed should be.

I'm telling you, this job is hella difficult.



While grading papers next to a fellow teacher, I grew disgusted at a paper I was reading. "Read this," I said, tossing it to the fellow teacher. "What?!" the other teacher exclaimed. "He owns a gun?... He shot his cousin in the 'ass' with a gun?!" Startled, I sputtered, "Yeah, that's pretty bad." See, the truth is, that wasn't what I was fixated on. I'm ashamed to admit it, but the violent content in this supposedly humorous autobiographical narrative did not register with me in the slightest. Instead, I had freaked out about the fact that this page-long essay was composed of one run-on sentence. Sure, it's liberal with the commas, but where are the periods? Hell, there wasn't even a single period: the sentence ended without any punctuation, meaning it wasn't given a proper rest even after hundreds of words!

The funny thing is, and you can probably tell, that I'm still worked up about the run-on sentence business. Who does that?! Perhaps more importantly, who shoots his cousin in the ass and declares it funny? But I don't know how I would even try to deal with that. I prefer problems that I can fix with a red pen.


Goes Down Smoothly

A couple of weeks ago, my housemates and I decided to clean out the freezer and divide the shelves so that each person had eir own space, leading to less clutter and confusion. In spite of this deliberate isolation of frozen goods, I keep noticing odd things showing up on my shelf. It hasn't bothered me, until today when I found an unusual package on top of my food. As I tried to figure to whom the half-eaten bag of cookies belonged, I noticed that these weren't just any cookies: these were laxatives.

I figured it was some kind of prank and accused the housemates that were present at the time of putting laxative cookies on my shelf. No one claimed ownership, and no one was willing to try them.

Later, I confronted my main remaining suspect. "Shea, do you know what these are doing on my shelf?" Shea gladly claimed ownership, but didn't know how they ended up on my shelf. He then started chowing down on one, offering me one as well. "They're laxatives!" I exclaimed. "Nuh-uh," he retorted. "They're cookies. See? It says milk chocolate." I explained that while they may have milk chocolate in them, they're still laxatives. Examining the packaging closer, Shea moaned that this package sure looked like that other brand of health cookies he always buys.

To reiterate, he had already unwittingly eaten half a bag of laxative cookies! I apologize for ever griping about the hippie house. This house is so entertaining, I never intend to move out.


The Big M

A few weeks ago, Kline enters my room and asks how I am doing. I tell her "fine," or some approximation that does not matter. She follows up with, "How's the Big M?" "The Big M?" I ask. "Sure, you don't know the Big M?" she asks back. I tell her that I'm thinking Menopause. Kline seems surprised by this answer; when I ask her what she says it is, she retorts, "I would think it would be marriage." She is so insistent upon this fact that we Google "the big M" to see who is more correct, and find that while Oprah refers to menopause as the Big M, several publications use the same term for marriage. After conceding that The Big M could be marriage, I ask her why she asked me how marriage was moments before. "Oh, no, I was referring to Michael," she says. "Since when is he the Big M?" I counter. To my knowledge, no one has ever called Michael the Big M. "I can't believe you wouldn't think it was Michael," she gushes, but two minutes after arguing wholeheartedly that the Big M stands for marriage.

After believing I'd never hear about the Big M again, last night Kline randomly asks Michael Michael if he were to hear "The Big M," what he'd think it means. Floundering for a guess, Michael Michael finally asks if it has to do with his name being "Michael." Kline notes that, yes, that's ironic, but she is trying marriage. Not only is Michael Michael bewildered, I am too, given our previous conversation. I try to clarify what little I can by explaining the marriage/menstruation debate. As Kline is defending her marriage support, mid-sentence she cuts herself off and decides that, no, The Big M should stand for Masturbation. I start laughing, but not for the reasons she seems to think, because she defends her newly acquired stance with, "I would say masturbation is definitely more widespread than marriage."

That's right, folks. This week's words of wisdom are: "Masturbation is definitely more widespread than marriage."


If You Give A Mouse a "Cookie"

If you're familiar with me, you know I shop almost exclusively at thrift stores. After all, If it's not secondhand, it's not worthwhile. My excursion to a thrift store yesterday was rather eventful.

I found this superb shirt that said, "Let me get this straight. My grandchild is a cat?" It would have bought it, had it not been XXL. The only thing funnier than imagining some old person wearing that shirt is imagining a very large person wearing that shirt.

Baggy isn't my style: I prefer tight attire. Finding a pumpkin hat, I immediately knew I needed it to own it. Nevermind that the tag says it was from the Baby Gap for newborns from 7-12 pounds.

The best find, however, was an oversized rodent, sophisticatedly dressed in a pink sweater and white scarf. This disturbing critter cost $30, with most of that price deferring the cost of all of that stuffing in the crotch.


Bloody Mary

Catch Phrase (think Taboo meets Hot Potato) is another favorite game of mine, because it invariably results in tons of laughter. Several weeks ago, after passing around the disc for more than an hour and a half, Shea decided it was time we up the stakes and make all of the clues sexually explicit. His suggestion seemed difficult, given that most of the phrases aren't the least bit dirty. Still, the intoxicating atmosphere led us to give it a go. The best moments were recorded, sloppily, on a post-it for posterity as we knew it would not be remembered by the morning. They are as follows:

Kevin: If you had sex with a female clown, you'd call it a...
Michael Michael: A funny bone?

Kevin: Oh, so if you're a rich motherfucker, you'd have sex in a...
RJ: Limousine.
Kevin: No. It's the limousine of houses.
RJ: A mansion!
(From now on, all mansions are referred to as the limousine of houses.)

Shea: This is a man I would not want to have sex with.
Michael Michael: Richard Simmons?
RJ: Magic Johnson!

Kevin: If you were going to do it with an In & Out burger, what position might you use?
Michael Michael: Animal style!

Kevin: If I had sex with a famous virgin on her period, I'd call it a...
Michael Michael: Bloody Mary?!?

Obscene? Sure. Hilarious? Definitely. The best part, however, was that even though we didn't keep score or acknowledge winners, we kept starting the timer, meaning the obnoxious ticking noise kept sounding for hours for no reason whatsoever. Each time the buzzer sounded, whoever held the device immediately hit the start button again as if nothing had happened.



Today was our pep rally. I'm not really into pep; in fact, peppy people are the individuals I want to slap the most. What are you so happy about? The world sucks: Stop cheering for the JV water polo team and go fight against some injustices.

My students tried to trick me into participating in the pep rally by saying that all of the Language Arts teachers were going to be assisting the cheerleaders. I didn't buy it. "Do you know how ungrammatical cheerleaders are?" I asked them. I cited some examples, like to "be, be aggressive." Finally, I conceded that cheerleaders sure do love to spell. "Give me an A!" I mock cheered, about to spell an entire word, before interjecting on my own joke. "In all seriousness, most of you are getting B's." Only a couple of the students were able to follow my progression of jokes, the rest must be on the football team or something. "I bet you know how to spell rowdy," I said to a cheerleader (pictured at right) in the class. After I received a blank stare, I chanted, "R-O-W-D-I-E, that's the way we spell rowdy." It didn't occur to me until that point that that's not how rowdy is spelled. I pondered it aloud for a while and then concluded, "And that is why I will not be participating in the pep rally." Again, the class was completely confused, except for two students who found me hysterical. I swear, I'm the most bizarrely irritating teacher to most students, but to the few who get my dry sense of humor and everything's a big joke approach to teaching, I'm pretty sure I'll be their favorite teacher ever.

It's one of these in-the-know students that asked why I was wearing bowling shoes. That's right, I wore bowling shoes to school today. Bowling shoes were the extent of my pep, I decided. "Did you steal them?" someone asked. I got into this whole long story that once when I was bowling, I gave them my shoes, but when I went back for them, they were missing, and so I asked if I could just keep the bowling shoes instead.

That, by the way, was a lie: the truth is that I stole them.

My shoes weren't the only things the kids took notice of today. For kicks, I also chose to wear the tightest pair of pants I own, where snugness begins to border on obscene. As I teach, I sit on a high table in front of the desks, putting my crotch on display. Generally, that's not really an issue, but in these pants, it's significantly more noticeable. As I read, I caught a student staring at my crotch intently. I take a quick peek, and indeed I'm probably a bit more penis-y than kids are used to seeing in their teachers. It wasn't as though as I was, uh, happy at the moment, but these pants are pretty generous. A couple of minutes later, I noticed another student staring, as well. At that point, I realized that part of the problem was that these pants were so tight, I apparently ripped them and a hole at the underside of the crotch had emerged to display my boxers. Talk about pep!

When the pep rally actually occurred, I stayed indoors, occasionally watching from my classroom window. Rather than looking at the main event, however, I choose to watch the emo kids on the outskirts, doing their best to ignore the festivities. They'd rather cut themselves than have school spirit and, you know what?, I respect that. Because I'm a good teacher -- with stolen bowling shoes and a hole in my pants displaying my underwear.


You Mean I Didn't Invent The Bible?

While Kat and I discuss the Helen Keller paper, it suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea why she was so famous. "Do you know what she did?" I ask. We both sit puzzled. Sure she was handicapped, but blind, deaf, and retarded people are a dime a dozen. Why is she still so dear in our hearts?

We hit the Internet for the answer to our query. According to a couple of sources, Keller was both an advocate (how unexpected) and a lecturer, the latter demonstrating that, were she a little less dead, she might not be such a ridiculous selection for an assembly speaker after all. I'm pretty sure my opinion of Helen Keller has been tainted by The Miracle Worker, a film and stage depiction of her life, which portrays Keller as a stubborn, ill-behaved brat. Granted, she had a lot to overcome, but especially now that I encounter some wretched children, I'm not so easily forgiving.

When I read that Helen Keller was also an author, Shea pipes up that she was a plagiarist. At first incredulous, I soon discover that he is right, and that there was a controversy surrounding a story she wrote, "Frost King," greatly "borrowing" from Margaret Canby's "The Frost Fairies." At the time, there was some public outcry about the incident, because who wouldn't want to drag a teenaged blind, deaf, and retarded teenager through the mud?

Eventually, the controversy was diminished when her act of plagiarism was blamed on a case of cryptomnesia. For those of you who have the vocabulary of a two-year-old, cryptomnesia is what occurs when people believe they are creating something original, but are actually remembering a similar or identical work they have previously encountered. Plagiarizing from Wikipedia: according to the theory of cryptomnesia, the person is not engaging in plagiarism, but is rather experiencing a memory as if it were inspiration.

Sounds like a load of bull to me, Keller. Does she really expect us to believe that she's blind, deaf, retarded, and a cryptomnesiac? This person's gotta learn to stick to one affliction at a time if she wants us to believe her. Instead of calling her Helen Keller (mainly because each time I try to type Helen Keller I accidentally type "Hellen" with two L's), this individual will henceforth be referred to as Filthy, Retarded Plagiarist. Filthy Retarded Plagiarist should be imprisoned for her heinous act. Since she's dead, I say we dig up Filthy, Retarded Plagiarist and then put her in jail.

Speaking of digging someone up, does cryptomnesia remind anyone of necrophilia, perhaps acts of necrophilia that one has no memory of committing? Because I think I might have that, but I don't quite remember. You can believe me, though, because I'm not trying to suggest I have cerebral palsy and hypoglycemia at the same time. But no, I have never had sexual relations with the decomposed body of Filthy Retarded Plagiarist - or at least as far as I can recall.


Bringing New Meaning To "Hooking Up"

Jessica, my primary source of knowledge about all things women, explains a new product, an anti-rape female condom, that women insert in their vaginas. Evidently, the device has hooks on it that will firmly attach to the penis, causing intense pain and requiring a medical professional to remove, thus providing an easy way of locating and apprehending these criminals. Sounds great, huh?

Apparently, even major women's groups are extremely critical of this product. Firstly, they argue that it doesn't actually prevent rape, as the predator has to penetrate the victim for it to be effective. Secondly, the rapists often become so enraged after being prick-pricked that they violently beat the victim in retaliation, thus rendering it more dangerous for the women. Thirdly, it hurts their penises.

I have several concerns of my own. I mean, if the same women who are evil enough to wear a revealing enough outfit that they are "asking" for it get a hold of these things, who's to say they won't "forget" to take it out during a consensual act? And then, of course, there are the women who may legitimately forget they are wearing one; let's not forget the reasons why we refused to give women the right to vote for so long.

Kat brings up the point that if these become commonplace, it'll probably lead to a lot more cases of anal rape. Ah, what insight; that's what we keep her around for. Now I wonder: should I be wearing one of these in my anus? Will I need to remove it to poop? Will I be most vulnerable to rape when I am on the toilet?

As I imagine it, these devices work similarly to one of those strips that will puncture your tires if you're traveling the wrong way. That kind of thing scares me, because if I can't be watching it at all times, I don't know which way it's starting to poke. I inquire whether women can wear the equipment while they pee, which inspires Jessica to give me a speech about the parts of the female anatomy. No, I didn't mean it as ignorantly as she seems to think I meant it, but in that things move... stick with me here, though many of you will wish you hadn't.... do you ever have the experience where you sit on the toilet, needing to do both functions, but you aren't sure which will come out first, so you just start clenching and moving muscles until you're surprised by which one emerges from your body first? There's been times I was about to do one (or two, for that matter) and then, boom, the other decides to cut in line. For this reason, my concern is that unless you have some mighty fine muscle control, you might be repositioning things you'd rather not. There is a quick concession in regards to how crapping can propel tampons. Kat shares my perspective, too, being equally afraid of movement in that area. Imagining the horrific possibilities, she cringes, "Shift happens!" Hence, another classic unintentional pun is born.

My name is Kevin, and I do not endorse putting hooked creations in your vagina.


Hopelessly Devoted

Apples to Apples is one of my favorite games ever. For those who are unfamiliar with the game, it involves matching Noun cards to Adjective cards with hilarious results. My favorite moment ever (with a close second being when Oraine misread H.M.O.s as "homos") was a heated game in Bloomfield. For this particular round, I was the judge, meaning I had the discretion of deciding which noun matched my adjective, Hopeless, best. As everyone searched for a good match in their respective hands, Yana, who needed just one more point to win the game, began to cackle as she put down her card. I shuffled the entries and, though I vowed to be an impartial judge, did not want to choose Yana's card and terminate the game. When I started reading the options aloud, however, I knew which one hers must be. Still, in the name of all things funny, I had to choose it. After all, what Noun best embodies Hopeless? Why, Helen Keller of course.

Poor Helen Keller. That person sure can't catch a break. Even from a student of mine, who suggested in a persuasive essay that we bring Helen Keller to come speak at a school assembly. How exactly could she come to speak? Aside from being deaf, she's also thoroughly dead. Regardless, I'm sure she'd be an inspiration. As the student points out, "Helen Keller shows us even if your blind, def. and retarded, you still can succed." Let's not let "retarded" overshadow the adorable representation of Keller's deafness with the abbreviation of the word "definitely." But still, retarded? Really? I'll say it again, this person sure can't catch a break. Hopeless, indeed.



Michael Michael and I are making hot fudge sundaes. Well, technically, Michael Michael is making a cold fudge sundae, while I'm taking the time to heat up the chocolate. In one of my finer moments, I think it might be a good idea to heat it up in the microwave after it's already on the ice cream, but thankfully I reconsider before the execution. Retrieving my finished, heated chocolate, I accidentally drop the bowl because it's so hot and scream, "Oh fudge!"

Unintentional puns are the best.


Dodge 'Er

Michael Michael is celebrating the prospect of getting playoff tickets to a Mets/Dodgers game.

Amber: Oh wow, the Dodgers are in the playoffs?!
Michael Michael: Yeah, but I'm excited about the Mets!
Amber: What? Go Dodgers!
Michael Michael: (disgusted) The Dodgers? Why do you care?
Amber: Hello! L.A.!
Michael Michael: Do you even know where the Dodgers were originally from?
Amber: No.
Michael Michael: Brooklyn.
Amber: Yeah, but they've been in L.A. for a long time.
Michael Michael: 40 years.
Amber: Anything that happened more than 40 years ago doesn't matter!

So says the history teacher.