Mariachi Sundays

Last night's Margarita Monday lived up to the hype, as Debbie did not disappoint. For once, we ordered a lot of food, so the bartender was so happy he gifted us several free drinks, including some thing that was strong and definitely not a margarita, but a lovely addition to my tummy all the same. The night also marked our youngest attendee ever, Jessica's cousin, age six. Or at least I think. I called him six, then his mother protested that he was seven. I apologized, and she explained he would turn seven in two months. So he was six, and I wasn't wrong, but it's hard to fault anyone for math at Margarita Mondays when you can't even count your own drinks. While the six-year-old built forts with chairs and collected deflated balloons, our typical bawdy conversations ensued regardlessly. Typically when you have someone's mother around friends, the mother will tell embarrassing stories about her child. Jessica did an excellent job of turning the tables, however, directing the conversation towards embarrassing tales about her mother, all of which were greatly amusing. Debbie took it like a champ, and drank like one, too. That's Debbie Downer, actually, the nickname having nothing to do with her attitude and everything to do with her ability to down margaritas.

We went home to keep the party bumping with rum -- we have a ridiculous amount of rum in the house right now. Michael Michael was dressing as a pirate, so Allison and I followed suit, figuring it was in celebration of rum. For Allison and I, dressing like pirates, by the way, meant wearing ties around our heads. Authentic, aaRRRRRRR. What we soon discovered was that Michael Michael was dressing this way for some sort of work-related activity the following day, not in celebration of rum. Though Allison and I felt a little stupid upon this revelation, we continued wearing the ties around our head anyway. Because it made us feel less stupid or something.

For a year now, the only thing I've had on my wall is this:

I bought it at a thrift store. Upon seeing it, Jessica's aunt was concerned for two reasons: my walls are almost entirely bare (blasphemous!) and "But Brandon's not your name!" I was well aware, particularly of the latter. It's not that I wouldn't have bought a Kevin decoration had i seen one for sale, but thrift stores never guarantee to have everything in stock, so I had to take what I can get. Plus, that's what makes it funny, I thought.

Unbeknownst to me, at one point at Margarita Mondays when Debbie excused herself to the bathroom, she helped herself to a large sign, folding it up and sneaking it out under her shirt. Also, she might have been caught while doing it, but her account on that matter is uncertain. As a gift, when I wasn't in my room (probably off swashbuckling with Allison), Debbie proudly taped to the sign to my bare wall, crooked no less.

Debbie Downer was excited to give me a souvenir that said Margarita Mondays on it. I see the words "Sunday" and "Mariachis" which, I suppose, might have read like "Monday" and "Margaritas" in a certain state of mind. Debbie proceeded to autograph the sign.

I had to have the message translated for me. Apparently, it says, "Stolen by Debra for Kevin's bad ass!" It looks a bit closer to "bare ass" to me, which might have to do with the fact I mooned her at the restaurant earlier.

Her sister also signed it as well.

"Brandon, it was nice to meet you." I assume it was a joke, but I'm honestly not sure whether she remembered my name was actually Kevin or not. After all, her son is seven. Or six.

So I have a new decorative keepsake. If it weren't vandalized, I would return it, because I like maintaining good relations with my friends at, ahem, Mariachi Sundays. I'll tip them nicely next week.

AARRRR, thanks for the booty, Debbie Downer.
X - Kevin's bad ass


Familial Facebook

It's Monday, so basically I'm counting down the minutes until it is an appropriate time to head over to Margarita Monday. Jessica's mom, Debbie, is in town, so she'll be in attendance, too. This event could prove exciting considering how things played out this past November. After hyping Margarita Mondays the whole weekend, we brought Debbie, only to find that no one else was showing up. Since it was just after Thanksgiving and before finals loomed, the usual crowd was unable to attend. Michael Michael and I looked a bit foolish, because we promised dozens of people and ridiculous antics, and it started out so lackluster. Never underestimate the power of margaritas, however. We drank until we saw double, therefore (sort of)increasing the attendance, or at least increasing the fun.

It's been a while, so I don't remember exactly what happened amongst the five of us at the restaurant aside from a laughter. What I do remember is what happened when we got home. Somehow, someone ended up on Facebook. For those out of the loop, Facebook is an Internet social network similar to MySpace except that it is designed for college students rather than pedophiles, (well, aside from this amazing instance). A while back, in an effort to make more money and monopolize, Facebook opened access to anyone with an email. Theoretically, even your mom could join Facebook. Bear in mind, you'd never actually want your mom to join Facebook, because that would be weird, with a capital e, r, and d. You know, wEiRD, which is far weirder than capitalizing all of the letters, don't you think?

So Michael Michael and I were looking at Facebook and Debbie became intrigued by it. Jessica was annoying all of us because she was trying to speak to her student's parent in Spanish about literacy or something rather than hanging out with us. So while Jessica was chatting, in our collectively cloudy states, we took the opportunity to sign up Debbie for Facebook. Call it a drunken indiscretion, but it seemed like a good idea at the time, something we probably never would have gotten away with had Jessica been present and entertaining us like she should have been.

Let me make it clear, Facebooking Debbie was not a mistake. She's been a dear Internet pal of my since that fateful night. Perhaps in another state I would have "thought better" of it, but where does thinking better of things get you? A lonelier net-based social life, that's where.

Still, it's tremendously funny that, without Jessica's knowledge, I got her mom drunk and registered her for Facebook. Haha, I Facebooked Your Mom!


The Shittiest Play I've Seen

Last weekend at a quaint picnic in the park, I met Kat's friend from junior high Sasha. At first Sasha was quiet, but I came to appreciate eir sense of humor from the way ey ruthlessly teased Kat (I respect that) and took photos of strangers having a threesome on their nearby blanket (pictured at right). When Kat brought up the play Sasha had seen the previous night in Hollywood, however, Sasha immediately ranted about how it was the worst thing ey had ever seen, describing it as "Andy Dick meets Multiplicity meets the toilet from Trainspotting meets the Holocaust." Sasha and friend Chris went to see the play to support Chris's friend. They found the play so grotesque and unbearable that they snuck out when the friend wasn't on stage, knowing they would be unable to pay even the slightest of compliments to the actor. You can read Sasha's full account of the night at eir blog, This Was the Worst Fucking Idea. Coincidentally, that's how Sasha felt about the play, as well.

The play, by the way, is named Ubu the Shit, a modern adaption of Ubu Roi an influential play from the late 1800s somewhat based on Macbeth. From what I'd researched, it's absurdist theater with poop jokes thrown in for good measure. Naturally, with a description like that, I was intrigued. I love poop, not to mention Andy Dick and the Holocaust. Although Sasha warned us vehemently not to go, it got the best of Kat and me, so we made plans to attend. How can you resist the opportunity to see the world's worst play?

Kat also convinced Cecilia and Oscar to come. Though no one is sure how to account for the discrepancy, Cecilia thought Kat described Ubu the Shit as a "mustache and cigar" play, so Cecilia agreed to go. This miscommunication is confusing for two reasons: first, the play has nothing to do with mustaches or cigars, so Kat definitely said nothing of the sort, and second, it makes no sense why Cecilia would be excited to attend a play with a "mustache and cigar" theme, unless ey's really into Groucho or something. In the meantime, Cecilia had invited two more friends, who knew even less about the play, to tag along as well.

We got to the play and accidentally began interacting with the fresh-out-of-college director who was really intrigued that we would show up. Evidently, without it being explicitly stated, it was rare for a non-friend or family member to attend. Diplomatically, Kat explained we learned about Ubu from word-of-mouth, hearing it was an experience not to be missed; even when pressed, Kat truthfully would not commit to hearing it was "good," though I think the word "traumatic" was used, which was pretty gutsy. Even more gutsily, Kat asked the director if ey would like "feedback" after the show. I violently shook my head no as Kat made this offer -- how could you possibly volunteer to speak constructively about something hyped as "the worst ever" to the person responsible for its creation? Of course, the director said ey would love to hear what we had to say at the play's conclusion.

Before the play started, they sold wine. "How much for the Two Buck Chuck?" Kat asked. "It's strictly donations," we were told. "Between $3-5." So for $3 a piece, we each got a glass of horrible and cheap wine for more than the entire bottle cost. 'tever, if the play was as bad as we heard, we were going to have to imbibe. We wanted to play a drinking game, per Sasha's suggestion, and take a sip each time a racial slur was made.

Before I get into my own description of the play, I'm going to borrow from Sasha for a moment:

i honestly don't even know where to start with this thing. oh wait, how about here: the main character has a giant penis dangling between his legs the entire show. is that a good starting point? it was about a foot long, green, and bumpy. he strokes it, fucks his dinner with it, rapes people with it (who are puking in the toilet at the same time), slaps his wife with it, and puts it in various mouths. and i believe this all happened in the first three scenes. how many scenes were there? oh, just twenty. WTFWTFWTF.

Yeah, it was pretty gross like that. The actors took turns playing the main characters, wearing distinguishing masks to differentiate between the characters. Unfortunately, their voices were often muffled behind the masks, so it was difficult to follow the dialogue. That's not to say the voices were soft, however. Hell, people two blocks away could probably hear enough to not assume such a thing. The actors were shouting each and every line with all of their might, sometimes, confusingly, in unison, which certainly didn't add to the comprehension. But the shouting, gosh darn that shouting, gave me a headache by the second scene. I don't understand how in their fourth show of the weekend, the actors still had the vocal cords to irritate my eardrums so greatly. I suppose it would be unfair of me to portray the actors as entirely untalented, bearing in mind this gift.

Shortly into the play, Kat quipped, "There aren't enough racial slurs." That's not a complaint you'd typically hear, but we certainly weren't drinking our marked-up wine quickly enough, so we switched to sipping every time a curse was uttered, which consequently emptied our cups in no time. By the time the racial slurs came fast and furiously at the end, we were unfortunately out, though still not remotely tipsy enough to enjoy ourselves.

There was a lot of "humor" involving pooping, raping, and queeny homosexuals. Another running gag was that every time characters delivered a line that mirrored a song lyric, they would break into that song. That got old, oh, almost immediately. If there was some sort of commentary being made, it was about how power corrupts, though the play offered nothing new on the subject - at least not coherently. And although it spoofed Macbeth, it failed to reference the most famous part where Lady Macbeth tries to wash the blood from her hands. As Cecilia pointed out, that was pretty lazy since there was an easy connection of having to wash

The audience was a peculiarity in itself. Whenever there are just as many actors on stage as people in the audience, there's going to be a strange dynamic. From Sasha's account, the audience behaved as awkwardly as a play of this type would warrent. For our showing, however, friends of the actors sat behind Kat and me and laughed hysterically pretty much the entire show. It was so frequent and so loud (perhaps to match the loud dialogue) it seemed disingenuous. I suppose they also could have been really, really, really dumb with simple senses of humor, perhaps the type of people who like Jay Leno. I'm glad the play fronted as a comedy, because that gave me license to laugh loudly when the play was at its worst. More often, however, I laughed at Cecilia and friends seated in front of us in the front row. Remember, these were the people who came to the play simply to see theater, unaware it was the "worst.show.ever." Occasionally, I would check for their facial expressions and seeing how not amused and confused they were, I couldn't help but snort and chuckle. At one point, an actor rolled off the stage and onto Claire's legs. At another, a plant flew and hit eir friend. It was awkward and you could tell they weren't sure how they ended up attending such crap in the first place.

At the end of the show, I couldn't even stand up. Between the shouting, the overzealous crowd behind us, and trying to figure out what the hell was going on, it left me worn out. It wasn't quite as abysmal as Sasha had described, but it was pretty fucking awful. I learned nothing, gained nothing, except a splitting headache.

We tried to exit the theater with little fanfare, but the director stopped us for that feedback Kat promised. Expertly, Kat again gave meaningless praise about being glad to have seen it to believe it. Kat then destroyed this delicate approach by inquiring, and I (Ubu the) shit you not, "Did you pay the rest of the audience to be here?" Clearly, this question was taken offensively, so Kat backtracked after being told no, saying it seemed like an important element of the show, which might have been a decent save were it remotely believable. When the director looked to me for my opinion, I only shrugged and said "I'm still thinking about it." I know that's pretty rude, but so is a depiction of raping and killing a baby. I'm not necessarily offended by it, but there should be some point to it. Granted, there are times when being gross for gross' sake is fine, but for nearly two hours of that material, you're going to have to give us either some good acting, witty dialogue, understandable dialogue, or fucking anything else to make it worth the while. The truth of the matter is that I'm not "still thinking about it": there's nothing to think about.

My favorite part of the night came shortly before we left for our cars, the timing of which was probably not coincidental. When the director asked what Cecilia thought of the show, Cecilia said, "It made me think a lot about beards. I love beards." "Oh, so you liked the judges scene?" the director inquired. "No." Cecilia said matter-of-factly. "But it did make me want to buy a fake beard." Awkward silence ensued, which Cecilia broke a few seconds later to add, "A really long one." Since this parenthetical remark was another transparent attempt to say something besides how worthless the play was, the director finally stopped pushing us for compliments that clearly were never going to surface. Kat agreed to email the director any additional thoughts that might come after digesting it further. If ey ever does actually do that, I hope Kat CCs me, because I'd be mighty curious to see what the hell more could possibly be said.

Ubu the Shit is open for just one more weekend, so be sure not to miss your opportunity to hate life and recall why you rarely patron the arts.


The Graduate - For Real This Time

As of a few hours ago, I am officially no longer a student. I just attended my last class, handed in my last paper, and delivered my last presentation. For as long as I can remember, I have been a student with no more than a summer as a break. School perpetually dangled in front of me, though not in an overbearing sense. I like being a student; I've enjoyed my 20+ years of learning. There's still so much I have to learn, how can this period be over? Frankly, the more I advanced, the more interesting it became - I'm not ready to quit. I don't like the prospect of not being a student. Being a teacher seems to imply I know it all, while "student/teacher" connotes a sort of give-and-take that is ideal. I do, however, intend to use my student ID for discounts for as long as I can reasonable claim to look like I do in the photo. Additionally, as an alumnus, I'm still permitted to audit classes at my old college for free. Considering my proximity to the school, I'm sure I'll take advantage of that opportunity in order to get my student-fix.

That said, I am glad to be done with this current graduate school program. It's been ridiculously grueling, even pointlessly so at times. Plus, I'm not sure I care enough about learning pedagogues and the like, it just doesn't interest me. I've had my fill of learning about the inequalities in public education and not being given practical solutions on how to remedy them. I get it, your statistics and my firsthand experience have sufficiently angered me. But now what do we do about it? I suppose if there were easy answers, these inequities would be addressed by now, but I wish there was more time spent at least trying to determine how to either topple or repair the system from within.

If I could learn about some other discipline, however, I'd be all for that. I'd start tomorrow even.

On Wednesday, the graduating teachers had our officially unofficial ceremony/celebration. At 9:30 in the morning during the second-to-last class of my foreseeable formal education, we did shots of whiskey during peers presentations. By the time the ceremony rolled around, we developed a drinking game to play, anticipating the numerous cliches sure to come up during the proceedings. Our sip-on-it words included honor, social justice, equity, excellence, integrity, change the world, and inspirational. As it turned out, that was more than enough to do us in.

Kat and Christine came to support us, and I love them for doing so in what I'm sure was a boring ceremony aside from the barely concealed alcohol. I did my best to disguise my increasing intoxication, but continually, uncontrollably, and perhaps rudely belched loudly, something I almost never do. When I won the award for thesis writing, I ran down the aisle, slapping strangers five and made a spectacle of myself. 'tever, I clearly didn't care. I thought I was doing okay until I accidentally interrupted someone being recognized for excellent work. A graduate was labeled an "overachiever" by eir advisor, so I appropriately, or so I thought, booed at the word "overachiever." You know, because it would be funny for teachers to dislike one another for performing well. Except that it wasn't taken as such. I saw Kat slap a hand on eir face and slump into eir seat out of embarrassment, because my "joke" did not translate and everyone sitting nearby found me rude. Realizing I made a mistake, I loudly exclaimed, "Just kidding, I like her," but I think the damage was already done.

When I lined up with some classmates to receive our individual recognition, I confided that I was "very drunk." Apparently, this was an unnecessary comment; as one person said, "I can tell. I can smell it." They could see it, as well, probably, as just prior to standing up, I spilled on myself, and had to go on stage with wet pants. Again, I didn't care. After being recognized, on a dare from Christine, I patted my advisor's butt while hugging eir. Still. Didn't. Care. At the reception, I was greeted by a university employee who told me that ey appreciated my "enthusiasm" while receiving my award earlier. I wanted to say, "Yeah, it comes in a bottle now," but that seemed too blatant. Shortly thereafter, I won what they called a "big raffle." They lied: it was a jar of mints. What should have turned into a long, party-hard kind of night wound down quickly. I was sober by 8, and didn't really want to go through the whole cycle of drunkenness again, instead opting for bed.

Oh, and yeah, I have my Masters degree now. Woooooo or something. It just occurred to me that I haven't mentioned that yet. It probably would have been appropriate to start with that rather than bemoaning the conclusion of my student status, but I suppose the order of reference is telling in itself. Upon walking out of my last class, I celebrated the occasion by going directly to the college liberry. I'm adamant about taking advantage of this awesome resource for the remaining month before my access expires. I finally have time to free read, so I got a scholarly book on Six Feet Under, a collection of essays by Monique Wittig, and a book of suggestions for teachers on incorporating themes of social justice into student writing. That's right, just minutes after finishing a year and some months of reading about teaching, I'm determined to read some helpful books about teaching. I also put about four other books with similar themes on hold, since I plan to spend the remainder of my summer finding ways of actually adding progressive issues into my lesson plans. Like Mark Twain says, "I never let my schooling interfere with my education."


Found Photos

It's been more than a year since I posted any of the photographs that I found (well, technically bought) in San Francisco a while back. (If you don't remember the others, try here, here, and here.) I found the collection of photos again while cleaning and can't resist sharing another gem: (click image for larger view)

I'm not sure there are adequate words to describe this photo. I've been to some parties in my day, but never one quite like this one. Should my sibling ever be embarrassed by my wardrobe again, I'm just going to direct eir to this photo and remind eir of the alternatives. I've never considered the leather suspender/glove look before, but it looks rather stunning. I just wonder if I'd have to pierce my nipples to pull off the whole image.

Of course, the most exciting part is the person in the background wearing assless chaps. With jeans underneath! Why didn't I ever think of that?

On the back of the photo, the following is written, adding a bit of insight to the scene, but actually adds a whole lot more questions:
my going away
(20 lbs heavier)
175 lbs

Ah, a going away party. Nothing says farewell like bondage attire. If this were indicative of my social scene, I would probably move elsewhere, too. And if you're super self-conscious about your weight, maybe you should cover up a bit more. Let's just hope his clothing still fits after dropping all those pounds.



Throughout grad school, I've met a lot of interesting characters; as I've discovered, there are many different types of people that become teachers. One of my favorites is Jennifer. I didn't know her well at first and my perception was that she was a responsible, hardworking goody-two-shoes. While this turned out to be fairly accurate, I didn't initially give her credit for the depth that came along with it. She's also friendly, helpful, and has dynamic relationships with her students that I could only wish for. Because she's more conservative socially, she does disproportionally becomes the butt of jokes. Sexual connotations and the like redden her face more than anyone, so it's hard to resist.

Though she's begun to frequent Margarita Mondays, Jennifer always declines margaritas, as though our conversation is intriguing enough sober. (I'm not in a position to know, but to each eir own.) Squeezing lime into eir drink, Jessica accidentally sprays Jennifer in the face with lime juice, which Jennifer protests. I try to point out the bright side: "At least you'll be attractive to pirates and seamen." "Semen?!" Jennifer spits back, offended and confused. I spell out s-e-a-m-e-n, but she doesn't see the point of it. "What does that have to do with getting sprayed by a lime?" Jessica cuts in to explain the scurvy connection, that sailors, or seamen if you will, eat limes to prevent scurvy." Emphasizing the point to Jennifer, the biology teacher, Jessica adds, "Hello, it's biology!" Jennifer deadpans, "Yeah, so is semen." Touche.

The following morning in class, a peer gives a presentation which references "Navy officers and seamen." Sitting on both sides of Jennifer, Jessica and I look right at her at the mention of the word "seamen," prompting giggling on all of our parts. To the other side of me, John inquires what is so funny. I whisper a quick explanation of Jennifer's perverted confusion the previous night. He rationalizes her confusion. "She's a single girl, it makes sense. She probably always has semen on her mind." Not missing a beat, I add, "Or in her mouth." That's pretty much the end of discreetly not paying attention to the presentation, as our heads slammed against the table in an attempt to stifle laughter. It's occasions like this one that lead me to fear that my transcript will label me as a "C"man.


Reunited and It Feels So Good

Last night, I accidentally went to my college reunion. I hadn't intended to attend, but I had some friends who talked me into showing up for part of a concert that was being held at the event. I hoped to show up and just listen to the music without having to be recognized as an alum; alas, I was required to officially register, wear a name tag, the whole nine yards. The night cost $35 (one of many reasons I thought "hell no") but if I agreed not to eat or drink, I could get in for $10. What a deal, especially considering I ate and drank anyway. (Don't judge, it was encouraged as there was loads of leftovers as it was.)

As far as reunions go, I did very little reuniting. With the exception of Caitlin who was abroad last semester (and, shhhhh, not really an alumnus), I didn't speak to anyone I hadn't seen within the past two months. We spent a good portion of the night hanging out in the area designated for the women of the 60s and 70s - presumably all people who actually fit this demographic turned in early. 'Tever, I think we represented them well.

The reason we were there was to see the Mountain Goats, a band popular in the indie music scene. It's a good thing we showed up because by the time the band's set rolled around, the last one of the night, it was pretty deserted. While that was probably upsetting for singer John Darnielle, it was a treat for the twenty of us present to receive a private concert, an experience for which people I know would pay at least $100. It was a great set, perhaps in part because of the intimacy. John sang a lot about divorce - something for the nonexistent older crowd. Ey also threw in one about doing meth, which was more up my alley. As an alumnus, John explained how many of eir songs occurred on or around campus, which is cool to know the places that inspired em well and that we both divorced/did meth in similar locations. Because there were so few of us so close to the stage, each reasonably quiet "woo" or "yeah" from the audience was heard and reacted to by John. Darnielle seems to share a weird disorder with John Mayer in that eir face contorts and looks frightening while singing. I won't hold it against the Mountain Goats, however, as I'm sure I don't want to see the faces I make while I teach.

After the concert, we all proceeded to an after party located in my old dorm, which was where all the other alumni were hiding. The party offered an endless supply of beer and old people. I kept company with Popov, notoriously cheap vodka, just like I did in my real college days and, who am I kidding, still today. My friends and I didn't mingle too much, but instead instituted a game where you'd get points by hooking up with an alumnus, with more value for people of older graduation years. There were also potential bonus points if they were married, had kids, had kids older than yourself, etc. Alas, in spite of the wealth of alcohol, no one made a move, well, in our group anyway. There were some people in their 30s gratuitously making out for the world to see. I'm guessing they were old flames, since married people don't act like that. Kurosh came the close to earning some points when ey was approached seductively by someone much older, but nothing developed. Sigh.

Aside from the amorous middle-aged folks, the funniest part was the woman who sent her spouse and kids back to the hotel so that she could find some younger grads to smoke pot with her for the first time. Nothing like making up for lost opportunities at your reunion. Before I knew it, my friends and I were the last ones standing, and we were asked to leave. Proof positive that '05-'07 rocks it harder than those '82 losers!


That's What Heather Said

For those of you unfamiliar with "That's what she said" jokes, the quip serves as the punch line that follows an unintentionally sexually suggestive comment. For example, if someone were to ask how my paper turned out, I might say, "It ended up being longer than I thought it would be." From there, a friend might retort, "That's what she said," to indicate that my statement could be construed sexually (think penis -- as if you weren't already). The "That's what she said" phenomenon has existed in my life since high school when certain friends used it regularly. As perverted as I could be at times, I almost ashamedly admit that I didn't get it the first dozen or so times I heard it until someone explained it to me.

I've never been a big fan of the joke. Maybe if it were gender neutral (though I admit - "that's what ey said" doesn't pack the same punch), I'd get on board. One of the issues is that when someone is partial to the joke, ey tend to overuse it. Like Heather, for example: Heather likes to do it all the time. (That's what she said.) While the joke can be clever in moderation, after getting it multiple times in an hour, it no longer comes out so strongly. (Again, that's what she said.)

In an attempt to add a new layer of humor, I decided to twist the joke and use the punch line "That's what she said" exclusively after intentionally sexual comments. If someone comments, "I want to bone her," that's when I jump in with a chipper "That's what she said!" That's usually followed by no one laughing and the person explaining, "Well, duh, I meant it sexually," which makes things awkward. Since I have an awkward sense of humor, I get to laugh anyway. And really, I only care about my own satisfaction. (Say it with me now - That's what she said.)

Heather was in town last weekend. (By the way, Heather is the true identity of Reba and wants everyone to know it.) Heather didn't seem to much like my twist on eir favorite joke. Nevertheless, it didn't perturb her from making the joke many times. At first, I rolled my eyes at each desperate grab. After discussing the inner-workings of the joke at length and imbibing further, ey set to prove me wrong. Though I can no longer remember them all, there are two that stick out. (That's what he said?) When we were serving each other Cheez-Its by tossing it toward one another's mouths, after a poorly aimed toss on Heather's part, I said, "You got it in my boxers instead of my mouth." Heather jumped in with a hearty "That's what she said!" and I couldn't help but laugh. (I don't remember why I wasn't wearing pants at this point, these things just have a way of happening.) Later, when I banged into the refrigerator, something fell off the top and thumped me painfully on the head. I was about to show Heather the bump, but then realized it hadn't really swelled up yet, stating, "You can't feel it yet. Let's wait." Without hesitation, Heather shouted, "That's what she said!" I liked the fact that this time it was more so about sexual prudery and laughed again. I finally had to admit that, when done right, it was actually quite enjoyable. (Yeah, yeah... that's what she said.)

Still, it wasn't until the following night when I was fully converted. We had just ordered pizza. Impressed by each slice's size, Andrew said, "This is a whole lot of a pizza." "Don't eat it all in one place," I joked, at which Heather quickly sputtered, "That's what she said." I fake chuckled, finding a simple eating comment to be too simple of a target. Upon a few more seconds of reflection, however, I thought about how nuanced the joke was in this case, and genuinely laughed. I gave Heather the credit due, adding, "It has a really good tip, too!" After the words left my mouth, I begrudgingly felt no choice but to finish my own accidental joke as Heather mouthed the words along with me: "That's what she said."


The Dangerous Drive-Thru

Laki's in town, which is real treat since ey possesses a lot of wisdom and a mean game of basketball to boot. Last night, I fetched Laki from the airport, after which we entered the world's longest drive-thru lane for In-n-Out where we waited and swapped stories. When we were finally just a few cars from reaching our food, we watched as an In-n-Out employee left the building to speak to someone in the car in front of us. The body language and facial expressions led us to believe this interaction was hardly positive. I joked that what would transpire was the employee would grab a tub of fry grease and throw it through the customer's window, scalding eir face. We had this conversation with my window rolled down, but figured the worker couldn't hear us. We prepared our witness testimony for when we were inevitably interviewed by the news about the grease assailant.

I got sidetracked at the mention of "the news," giddily relaying my favorite story of the moment. On the Fourth of July, on a television in a liquor store, I watched a local news station do a story on the annual international hot dog eating competition. To bring in some local interest, the station also staged a backyard three person hot dog eating contest, too. Initially, the reporter seemed fairly professional about the event. When a winner was declared, the reporter asked how it felt to win. The winner smiled, "It feels great. I'm sure my parents are thinking how proud they are of me now." The reporter snipped, "I bet my parents would say the same thing: I went to journalism school and now I'm judging a hot dog eating contest." The thinly-veiled passive aggression was both awkward and hysterical. I only wish I could have seen the conversation that occurred after the segment concluded. Why isn't this clip on YouTube?

As this story wrapped up, out of the corner of my eye, I spied the employee re-exit the kitchen with a vat of fry grease. Ey strode past the car ey spoke to before and approached mine instead. "Oh my gosh, Laki! [Ey]'s coming this way!" I said frightened before screaming. Similarly, Laki was instantly terrified, shuddering and cowering at the sight. As it turned out, the worker was just dumping the grease on the median of lawn (that can't be good for the grass) next to our car. The worker, hearing the scream and seeing our panic-striken faces, peered at us with confusion. Quickly, our terror subsided and we instead broke into laughter at our own ridiculousness. We managed to work ourselves into a frenzy over a scenario we fabricated. It's like I'm an adolescent who made up a ghost story to scare my friends, then believed it myself to the point where I couldn't sleep at night.


The Claremont Grammarians Return

As longtime readers might recall, last year I celebrated Independence Day in the local parade as part of a phony organization called the Claremont Grammarians. This year we weren't only reaccepted, but we were invited back. The most exciting piece of mail I've received in recent history is when the post officer delivered an envelope addressed to "The Claremont Grammarians." Heeee!

Though excitement to recreate this stellar parade experience brewed for more than a month, yet again we didn't even make an attempt to prepare anything until the day of the event. That morning, I awoke with an idea for a new slogan to shout to the crowd: "Double negatives are for pessimists." That was the motivation I needed to get trucking on this project.

We also had some last minute drama finding a bullhorn to more loudly spread our grammatical messages. Fortunately, two of the Grammarians' father is a physical education teacher and was able to provide us with not one, but five megaphones. With noise on our side, we were going to be as obnoxiously righteous as a teacher's red ink.

Once we had the signs taped up, Michael Michael led everyone in a beer chugging session so that we could string beer cans and drag them behind the trailer. Let no one say that the Grammarians are not a class act. After that, we proceeded to our spot in the line up. Sitting in the trailer, we had an amazing trip en route to the parade route. With our megaphones in hand, we chanted to passersby. Jessica hastily made a sign that urged fellow commuters to "Honk if you love grammar." Damn right we had the crowd honking.

Once we lined up, we were adjacent to a truckload of elementary school-aged cheerleaders. I don't recall which group spoke to the other first, but a long-lasting dialogue took place between the tiny cheerleaders and the Grammarians. The girls had literally two cheers, so we requested they do one about grammar, to which they obliged. We were so pleased that we performed one back for them. The cheerleaders liked this response, then gave us their same cheer back. And again. And again. The cheerleaders clearly just wanted attention and approval, which was cute, but at some point, much like a run-on sentence, you just want to cut it off.

At the last minute, our position in the line was altered. Behind us were those same damn humorless junior high cheerleaders from last year. The younger cheerleaders might have been repetitive and annoying, but at least they were cute and didn't openly loathe us. There was one bright spot amongst the junior high cheerleading troop - a lone girl, notably the one who looked least stereotypically like a cheerleader given her short, dark hair and glasses. She approached us just before we went into motion and cutely told us, "I just have to tell you guys, when I was in third grade, I was a grammar super hero for Halloween. My name was Comma Momma." Immediately, we erupted in cheers. When Comma Momma returned to her crew, they gathered around her, asking what she possibly had to say to us, clearly irritated.

Later in the route, Jessica led us in challenging the cheerleaders, who were trying to out yell us throughout the parade. Collectively, we screamed "We love grammar, yes we do, we love grammar, how 'bout you?!" The cheerleaders stared, but remained silent. We tried our chant again. Rather than responding to our cry, they returned to their hackneyed cheer as if we had said nothing. Naturally, we booed mercilessly. Sounds like they don't know how to cheer for anything without rehearsing it first. Occasionally, we would cheer wildly for Comma Momma, interrupting them mid-cheer, just to show who we loved. In hindsight, we might have been setting up this poor girl to be ostracized by her teammates by singling her out in such a way, but it's no big loss as she's probably too good to be friends with them anyway. (Of course, I am in a position to make that decision for her.) Anyway, those cheerleaders disliked us yet again, as evidenced by their exaggerated pouting. It excites me to no end that these preteens are going to go home and write in their diaries about those "annoying grammar assholes."

Everyone was so funny and engaging. New Grammarian Ben was a particular winner. The off-the-cuff remark that made me actually halt in its sheer hilarity was, "Don't forget to get a grammogram to help prevent semi-colon cancer."

Of course, the crowd's general reaction was still the best part. The crowd was composed of three main groups of people: those who understood it was a farce and laughed with us, those who respected grammar legitimately and applauded our efforts, and those who were just perplexed by our presence altogether. Fortunately, all three groups were equally fun to cater to, so it was a blast.

We did receive some mild heckling, usually from the 10-and-under crowd. Some kid told us we sucked, and Jessica shot him down with the "I can't understand you, you're using such bad grammar" retort. Another kid said we were "boring," so I wished her good luck getting into college with that attitude. My favorite shut down, however, was probably when a kid used his fingers to form the letter L on his forehead to indicate that the Grammarians were losers. "L is for learned! L is for learned!" I mocked until he scowled.

At one point, an elderly woman, a parade official, stopped us to inquire about the beer cans trailing our float. "Who drank those?" I panicked, fearing we would be ejected from the parade for public intoxication. "Someone... at... my... house..." I stuttered, trying to pass the buck. "Why would you drink those?" the official asked. "No, not us," I lied. "Okay, but why those?" the official repeated. It took a couple more back-and-forths before I realized that she was not upset at us having beer cans, but that it was that particular brand of beer, questioning our taste in Budweiser. Jocelyn explained it was because of the cans' red, white, and blue color scheme, which the official accepted and allowed us to proceed.

In addition to "Double negatives are for pessimists!", we added a few new slogans to our arsenal. "You should NEVER generalize!" "Would you rather use a comma or be in a coma?" "Punctuate or perish!" "All nouns are proper!"

This year, we made our float more interactive, with far more audience participation.
"What's your favorite part of speech?" I'd scream. Though most people would freeze up or just laugh, someone would feel bold enough to say something like "Adverb." The grammarians would then cheer and chant "Adverb! Adverb!" and then we'd offer up a friendly tip, "Remember, adverbs often end with -ly." One person responded to our query with "subject." I clarified that that's a part of a sentence, but cheered eir on anyway, asking a follow-up question, "What always follows the subject?" After a long pause where we received a sea of puzzled expressions, I finally helped, "Did I hear predicate?" I didn't hear predicate, but moving at a thrilling pace of about a mile per hour, we had to wrap it up somehow. At another point on the route, we inquire about a favorite part of speech and an older man firmly shouts, "Verb." I follow up with "Action or linking?" "Action!" comes a response, equally as firm. "Action," I affirm, excited. "We know what this guy's into!" That was the point I probably saw the most sour faces and stifled laughter, having regrettably made an off-color implication.

Another terrific grammatical call-and-respond was to ask the crowd "Who has a favorite grammar rule?" The first answer from the parade-goers was "I before E except after C." In unison, the dozen of us on the trailer screamed this rule several times. "I before E except after C! I before E except after C! I before E except after C! I before E except after C! I before E except after C! I before E except after C!" This interaction was a big hit, because the suggester would generally get really excited that the Claremont Grammarians deemed their rule worthy of being hammered to the entire audience. It would always make me smile, as well, since it demonstrated that there were some actual grammatical smarties in the crowd. I've never been so excited to shout with my friends instructions about dangling modifiers or "DON'T SPLIT INFINITIVES! DON'T SPLIT INFINITIVES! DON'T SPLIT INFINITIVES! DON'T SPLIT INFINITIVES!" When one person responded to our request for grammar rules, ey said, "No unidentified antecedents." Now, I vaguely remembered that this rule existed, but I couldn't explain it if asked. I took a deep breath before leading the Grammarians in this chant, afraid that some of the less grammatical astute might not know what we were saying. (That's not a judgment, but there's no test required to be part of the group - in fact, we had someone jump on and join us part way through the parade.) We did it though, screaming, "NO UNIDENTIFIED ANTECEDENTS! NO UNIDENTIFIED ANTECEDENTS!" Afterwards, some Grammarians shook their heads and whispered, "What does that one mean?" At least we screamed it confidently.

We also got people to flash gang grammar signs. "If you think punctuation is patriotic, throw up a comma!" We'd toss up our arms and cup our hands to form a comma and watch as various people in the crowd performed the motion back for us. Nothing is cuter than senior citizens earnestly creating commas with their wrinkled hands as a sign of solidarity.

We also had fun using our bodies to create punctuation marks. It was pretty easy to do a backslash. An exclamation point required just straightening yourself, while a question mark involved curving your arms over your head. "Ampersand!" someone called out, leaving us contorting ourselves into an awkward mess.

On the float, Allison had a long, firm stick which she frequently banged against the rail to emphasize our grammar cries adding to the hilarity. When she swung what she called her "grammar stick" (different than a grammar wand), she looked maniacal. Several times on our magical journey, I would address our adoring fans with the despicably ungrammatical "y'all," which prompted Allison to beat me with her grammar stick. I don't blame her though, y'all, because I deserved it.

At any rate, we had another successful, grammatically correct spin around town, yet again being one of the highlights of my year. Heck, this year, we even made the local paper, The Daily Bulletin:

CLAREMONT'S JULY Fourth parade is always a lot of fun, especially those entries that really let their freak flag fly.

In Wednesday's parade, the Friends of the Field Station, who support an ever-controversial patch of earth in Claremont stocked with native plants - the place being a hardy perennial of Claremont causes - walked with protest-style signs bearing such mottos as "Wild Cucumber," "Native Bees" and "Toyon."

The Friends led onlookers in a chant: "Two-four-six-eight, what do we appreciate? Field Station!"

The Sirens of Shimmy consisted of two lightly clad belly dancers, who shook enticingly as they made their way down Indian Hill Boulevard behind a man in an Egyptian headdress.

The Claremont Grammarians rode by in a flatbed truck. I couldn't make out what the spokesgrammarian was shouting through his bullhorn, but I liked the signs on the truck's sides with such tongue-in-cheek admonishments as "Fragments Fragment Families," "Don't Use Contractions" and "Comparisons Are as Bad as Terrorists."

One of the parade's best laughs was, I'm afraid, unintentional. One float bore a sign explaining that riders were "Saluting Claermont's Centennial!"

Better let the Grammarians proofread next year's floats.

Please note that the cheerleaders weren't mentioned. (Though I am embarrassed that the shimmying sirens snagged a mention before us.) Just between you and me, having read the paper before, I think the Grammarians need to proofread The Daily Bulletin as well. All the same, we love the shout out. We love you, too, Claremont. Just watch those dangling modifiers, you hear?


I'm a Monster

Whenever I return to the east coast, people ask me questions about the Los Angeles lifestyle as though I frequently gallivant and enjoy the nightlife. Truthfully, I've never spent much time in the heart of the city. For me, the Hollywood lifestyle is one to skewer, not to adopt. Perhaps one day I will eat these words, but concentrated environments of wealth and style put me at unease.

On Friday, I attended a friend's birthday party at a club/restaurant on Sunset Blvd. The location is so exclusive there is no sign to indicate that it even exists, instead you must be in the know. This particular friend has notable Hollywood connections and carries a SAG card, so I imagine that’s far more in the know than me, for example. Because we were had the private room reserved, we were given VIP access, whisked through a back entrance past velvet ropes. Inside, people in their late twenties and early thirties, dressed sharply with gelled hair, dropped down $20 for a single drink and mingled, full of self-importance. I knew enough to have dressed up (khakis/white button shirt) for the event, but I still felt out of my element. Maybe I should have popped my collar. Nearby, a swanky DJ played techno tracks so loudly I could barely hear the person next to me. No wonder looking good is so crucial in this environment – when conversations cannot occur, you’re not exactly picking mates based on substance.

To clarify: I had fun. It was great celebrating my friend’s birthday and hanging out with other pals, and I even enjoy, on some awkward level, feeling like a fish out of water at these types of things to see firsthand how the socialites live. Having class the next morning, I opted out of heading with the others to the club that Lindsay Lohan frequents (well, when not in rehab.) It is probably for the best since even though the birthday friend and eir LA-native posse had no trouble getting into the bar, my non-LA friends were turned away multiple times for unspecified reasons. Oh, elitism.

On the way home, I quipped, “We should come to LA every night,” earning a laugh. What I hadn’t realized was that the very next night I would be coming back. Jocelyn had a housewarming event for her new apartment. As Andrew gave me directions to first reach Kat and RJ’s apartment, a place I have been to a few times before, the streets started becoming familiar. While it seems like most people have some sort of understanding or the street layout in LA, I never put it together until visiting it on consecutive nights. Kat’s apartment was just a few blocks away from where I was the night before, but I never would have realized that. As it turned out, Jocelyn’s place wasn’t that much further. As I walked to her door, I had the realization that I might be increasingly pulled into this elusive LA lifestyle now that more and more of my friends are moving to the area.

If I had to describe Jocelyn’s apartment in one word, I’d say “sexy,” which is strange, because I don’t think I’ve ever called an architectural structure “sexy” before – that’s a word reserved for people, or perhaps the occasional animal – don’t judge. The party was fairly low key, hence right up my alley. We watched Arrested Development, ate food off of plates that looked like cartoon animals, drank alcohol from a handle that cost the same amount as a single shot at an exclusive bar, and even played Boggle. I’m not sure if this night was also typical of the LA lifestyle, but I sure hope it is, because that is essentially what I want to do all the time.

I didn’t realize I was getting drunk until I was pretty intoxicated. I suppose that’s what happens when you can afford to drink. Unbeknownst to me, on a Boggle sheet, Andrew sketched me sitting in a chair, holding a drink.

I laughed a lot after he gave it to me, enjoying the Arrested Development “I’M A MONSTER!” reference. When I inquired about it, though, Andrew admitted that he was not familiar with that quote. “So it’s just a coincidence? Does that mean I actually look like a monster, then?” I inquire. “I guess so,” he said. Yup, definitely drunk. I'm a monster?


Taking a Dive

I'm trying to write a paper right now. I've been trying all day, even. I lack inspiration. I worry that I am freezing up because it's finally an assignment that allows for real thought rather than your typical reflect-on-teaching-for-twenty-pages that has numbed my mind to the point that I feel unprepared to face a real challenge. I often tell people that I feel dumber now that I've attended grad school. I don't mean that as a joke or as the-more-I-learn-the-more-I-realize-how-much-I-don't-know crap, but that I actually feel like my abilities to perform academically have regressed. They're probably not going to quote me in the school's brochure; I'll get over it.

At the least, today I have procrastinated successfully. Last night, Jocelyn reminded me of my favorite internet video that we found before internet videos were even trendy. I am not lying when I say that I have watched this clip hundreds of times during my life, chuckling every time. It is not uncommon for me to watch it ten times in succession. Though I'm generally not amused by others' injuries, there is a classic quality about this clip that makes it irresistible.

I'm tempted to email a link to this clip to my professor as a justification for not turning in the paper. I believe it sums everything up.

It's nice to know that foreign countries have their own version of Bog Saget employing exaggerated voices to "add humor" to slapstick home videos.

My favorite part, an observation I probably didn't make until after watching it several dozen times, is that he makes one last desperate attempt to put his hand in the water, as if to claim, "See? I technically made it."

Let's hope I can at least muster that exclamation by the time I turn in this paper.



Someone recently complained that this blog has turned too political. I’m sorry (I’m not), I disagree (it’s not political enough), stop reading (I might even be proud enough to mean that). When I discuss what may be termed a “political” issue, it is because it is a matter that bothers me, that clutters my mind in such a way that it supersedes humor. I’m not sure whether others also feel like I’ve pulled a bait and switch, that I lure you with entertaining personal anecdotes then hammer you with “radical” perspectives on identity, but that’s my reality – that’s what’s in my head and what I have to babble about, if you will. I exist in a world of both amusement and contemplation, and I’m not about to abandon either. Perhaps what is problematic about the blog format is that these topics often lend themselves to more of a discussion than an edict, so if you take issue with what I say, feel free to comment.

Naturally, this preface exists before what some might deem a political post. Not politics in the strictest sense, mind you, but political in the way that it’s a topic that upsets some and can lead to somewhat hostile conversation.

As referenced previously, I'm taking a course that deals primarily with race, with some educational theory tossed in for good measure. This professor's reputation precedes him: previous students have raved about the professor to the extent that half the class enrolled because of recommendations. The professor has some pretty progressive ideas on race, which is exciting. What's disappointing, however, is that this enlightened individual holds some pretty old fashioned views on gender and how people should act based upon this distinction.

A peer of mine offered an apt criticism to the professor that he kept trying to discuss racial identity as if it existed in a vacuum, wherein one's life experiences could be traced to a single attribute. In other words, eir point was that Mexican-Americans cannot simply speak to the Mexican-American experience, since they are simultaneously a gender, sexuality, weight, height, etc, which of course means that their experience differs from the Mexican-Americans who fit into other categories. I had one of those head nodding moments that I try to reserve for the best of the best. If you're not considering all facets, you're not grasping the entire picture.

In that same class, we spent an hour and a half discussing racial stereotypes, systematically discrediting them. I appreciated that the professor highlighted the idea that a stereotype is a stereotype, and you can't just choose to believe those that you like. It's very common for the same student who is understandably irritated at the notion that all black people are drug addicts to later assert as a fact that all black people naturally have good rhythm. There's no, "But that one's true." You either have to accept both the good and the bad or dismiss them all. At any rate, I tried a similar activity in my own classroom last year to varying success, so I'm glad to have new ideas on how to tweak my approach.

Not ten minutes after this activity concluded, I'm not sure what train of thought the professor got off on exactly, but then he makes the following statement: "There's no such thing as a nice male. It's not possible. You'll find women who will go out of there way to be nice, but if a man is being nice, he wants something." Upsettingly, probably half the class either laughed or nodded knowingly. I couldn't believe it. How can you preach about not making blanket statements about groups of people based on race then shortly thereafter throw in a sweeping generalization about one's sex? It makes me mad not only because I know genuinely nice males, but it's this mentality that lets men off the hook when they feel like being assholes, which is socialization at its worst. You couldn't get away with it if you said members of a specific racial group "couldn't possibly be nice," so why is it acceptable to do that with gender?

I should have said something. I tend to get pretty timid about questioning instructors as, presumably, they have thought about these issues even more than I have before leading the discussions. I've sat on it, however, and now it sits on me. True education flows in all directions and, for progress' sake, I will have to speak up. Y'all just get to hear it first.


A Change in Change

I went to the post office yesterday to buy a book of stamps: it was the most boring read I've endured in a long time. Since the book cost far less than the twenty dollars I deposited into the machine, I pushed the button to receive change. Instantaneously, a clamor of clinks and clanks sang a sweet song to me, reminiscent of a slot machine victory. At first I smiled at what I hoped was a technology-error windfall, then watched my face in the machine's reflection turn sour as it occurred to me that it might be giving me my $12 in quarters. I bent down and scooped up about a dozen of these coins:

Staring at the unfamiliar object, I questioned whether these were tokens rather than legitimate currency. Is the government really trying to push us on the dollar coin again? Hasn't the Sacagawea movement proved fairly unsuccessful? I suppose there's something to be said of the fact that people might think it's real money now that it has white men on it.

Cramming these coins into the change portion of my wallet was a hassle: the thing could barely velcro shut anymore. When I put the wallet in my pocket, it looked like I had a tumor growing from my hip.

Today, I went to the 99 Cent store for parade supplies. Taking out my wallet, I realized this opportunity was perfect to unload this money that was so burdensome, I'd almost prefer to be in debt. I paid with exact change, as I always try to do, but for the first time ever, only with change. I suspect these coins are meant to stimulate the economy. It certainly didn't feel like I was spending much money after only dipping into my change pocket. This mentality could become dangerous.

As I picked up my bags, the person behind me purchased a can of soda. Ey handed eir money of the paper variety, but declined the coins owed back to em, insisting that the cashier "keep the change." I find this "kind gesture" ridiculous since it's not like the cashier gets to keep that money, it just adds to the corporation's profits.

While I head toward my car, the soda buyer approaches me. "Brother, do you have any extra change? Brother? I just need some change. Brother!" I refuse to acknowledge him, though. I'm sorry, but what kind of person acts like ey's too good to take change back when it's owed to em, then, less than a minute later, begs for money? It's ridiculous logic and likely indicative of why ey's hard up for cash in the first place. Irritated, however, I chose to keep my two cents to myself, both literally and figuratively.