Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Time is Tissue" ("Snakes on Crack")

I'm not above watching a good campy movie every now and then.

With less than stellar acting, pointlessly gruesome violence, obvious dialog, and a plot so easy to figure out you can do it in the first two seconds of the movie, Snakes On A Plane is one of the best no-minders I've seen in quite awhile.

Here are some dime-piece quotes:

"You're here for a reason. To save my baby."

"Enough is enough. I've had it with these mother fucking snakes on this mother fucking plane. Everybody strap in. I'm about to open the fucking windows."

"This shit is bananas!" (You thought Gwen Stafani coined that phrase. Well, think again!)

"Whose house is this?!"

"How do you like flying in first class?"

"Damn you, snakes, damn you!"

Snakes On A Plane is re-dic-u-lous! That is re-dic-u-lously awesome!

I can't even give it a Hello Kitty rating. That's what a magnificent train-wreck it is.

Don't let the snakes scare you!

(picture from

Response to Response by Juliana Spahr

Response gets four and a half Hello Kittys.

What follows is a transcript of my handwritten annotations. I usually take notes in the margin while I'm reading a book, but after seeing on Amazon and Abebooks that a first edition paper back is going for between $75-$150, I though twice. Dan got my first edition paperback copy at John K. King Books in Detroit for $5. Clearly, the kind folks at John K. King Books had no idea what a gem this book is. I was thinking if I should keep my copy clean, just in case it ever becomes worth the cost of a pair of Chrome Hearts sunglasses...Psyche! I would never trade in poetry for designer shades...OK, maybe I would...
Page 15 -- "an unreal world called real because it is so heavily metaphoric" -- Association: an O'Keefe quote: "Nothing is less real than realism" from the book Two Lives: A Conversation in Paintings and Photographs.

Page 14 -- "we know [name of major historical figure] calls, authentically, / for more total, more radical war than we can even / dream in the language of avant-garde // we know a commercial promises to reduce plaque more / effectively in this same tone" -- Written in 1995, I assume she processing the Bosnian War, but my context is in now and these lines can apply to now too, the Iraq War.
Page 18 -- "while overwhelmed by an opera [name of major historical / figure] plans genocide" -- Art doesn't stop violence...What is the function of art? To tell history? To retell history? To evoke response? A good or bad response?
Page 20 -- "[it is impossible to speak about something // it is only possible to speak beside it" -- Wish I had wrote this.
Page 22 -- "rewritten, the goal of the artist is to prevent reality in a true and / concrete manner" -- Yes, this is what Spahr seems to be doing. Reality is complex like this--different perspectives are represented by the generalities in the brackets, so anyone in the world could plug in words from his/her culture.
Page 23 -- "[generic human figure] claims I can get more information at / home than by going to the war scene" -- Keep thinking of the war in Iraq.
Response to world culture and a call to respond to world culture...?
Page 28 -- "my zero-level writing / my zero-level writing" -- Association = Ground Zero. But also, we can only respond to what has come before us. From a writer standpoint, my poetry responds to writers who have affected me in person or on the page. And their writing responds to writing that has affected them. Spahr is attempting to do something new. But is any art really new? Can zero-level exist in art?
Page 26 -- "Symbols and / numbers best convey our ideas" -- numbers & symbols = language = art
Page 31 -- "we know we are all constructed // when it comes down to it we don't believe it // the social always holds us back // while the ways that we encounter relation are various // we remain // searching [searching // we question, respond // [deny we [move forward" -- I wish I wrote this.
The poem "thrashing seems crazy" reminds me of KLA's poetry -- smart, concise, exposing the underbelly of fucked-up-ness. Spahr gives context, "This poem draws from an Oprah episode on the case of Ruth Finely, a woman who, because of 'dissociative personality disorder,' was stalked by a male persona of herself."
Page 37 -- "as disbelief is easy / belief is difficult, supported by constraint" -- True dat.
A spider landed on my book. Freaked. FD killed him. Line/Web went from book to house, about 4 ft. (I was tanning and reading outside this morning.) Then read these lines, "killing is an ordinary act the two men, the neighbor, the / numerous clips from new programs assure" (46) -- My small noticing for today.
Page 46 -- "[at] [a] [loss] [for] [words,]" -- [ ] is not the word within but some other word/expression there isn't language for.
First I thought the words in brackets were just a plug-in or substitute. The brackets change in each section?
Page 60 -- "the vocabulary of comfort" -- I wish I had written this.
The poem "testimony" connects back to the quote about lies on page 8: "somewhere between the truth and the lie is the truth"
Page 69 -- How do we respond to testimonies of alien abductions? -- "my point here is not the laugh / nor the truth / nor to merely explore truth's turns, information's conspiracies // it is: // what do we do? // trust no one? // trust no I? // as we try to look with eyes better than what we've had before"
Page 72 -- "as there is possibility that beings might have hired a P R firm / which created My Favorite Martian, ALF, Star Trek, Star / Wars, AlienNation, ET, and other shows post the 1950s / all media become evidence or proof / or part of the conspiracy to expose beings" -- With anything, does media expose evidence or conspire?
The end of "testimony" is very accessible. Even though Spahr's work is experimental her purpose and what she's trying to accomplish are quite clear.
"witness" is my favorite poem, but I'm not sure how to articulate why. I guess it accurately communicates the various roles we play in our lives and how sometimes those roles are binary opposites.
Reading "witness" again.
It's a response to the change in reaction to the HIV/AIDS epidemic...But more than that too...That we all have the ability to witness, to believe, to act--to remember, then act.
Page 90 -- "the anger is to draw attention to the way anger is a just re- / sponse / to how they will be angry until just witness is begun" -- Yes, that's anger. She pinned it down.
Pages 94-97 -- There couldn't be a better end. It's perfect poetically, but it shows the imperfection of humanity....

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Seriously the Best Thing Since Truffles

Two Poet Truffles

It would be totally rad to get into this journal. But even better to have a copy of it!

Lately, I've been thinking about religion...

Even before I started reading Lately by Sara Pritchard, I've been thinking about religion. Raised Catholic but not practicing, I can't help but to feel like I'm in Limbo. Don't get me wrong, I say my rosary every day and am mindful--do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I just have been feeling a little push to do a little something more with my spiritual life. I'm just thinking about what that little something is. I don't necessarily agree with the Catholic Church on several issues. (I don't have time to get into right now.) And I've always been told that if you want to be part of a club you have to follow the club's rules. Hence, I am no longer a practicing member of the Catholic Club. At the same time, I don't think any other form of Christianity is as hip to the Virgin Mary as Catholicism and me. See how I have already arrived at Limbo...I digress...

Lately, to put it in Amanda terms, is the biggity bomb! I don't say this because I went to graduate school with Sara Pritchard or because she's a totally rad human being. I say this as a dedicated, skeptical reader. The beauty of theses linked stories (not exactly a novel and not exactly separate short stories--the setting/location overlaps in each story and some characters appear in more than one story) is its unique and well-developed characters. These are people you feel you know only after two pages of reading. You trust their voices and actions. You'd think they are real, and Pritchard is just relaying the facts. Most times, at least one of the characters in each story reminds me of Stokes--he or she is a truly wacky, lovable peep with a very unique perspective on life.

Seriously, there's so much I love about this book, but I don't have the time right now to get into it fully. Here are some highlights: Of course, I was attracted to the themes of religion/spirituality. It almost seemed cosmic that I was reading it during this time of my own spiritual reflection. I LOVE the things in Pritchard's stories. She always includes object that resonate on multiple levels for me--things I have owned, have desired from a distance, or associate with people close to me. Examples: ESPRIT (yes, the 80s label we all loved) boots, Chinese character tattoos, Lucky Strike cigs, Martha Stewart, Bob Dylan (pop icons can count as objects to a certain degree...). Also, I LOVE her writing style, how she weaves several stories together at one time but she always comes back to the main story at hand--this is EXACTLY how my brain works!

My favorites in this collection: "The Honor of Your Presence," "The Pink Motel," "Reading Raymond Carver, Waiting for Bob Dylan," and "Here on Earth." My favorite scene involves the Virgin Mary taking the wheel (No, Carrie Underwood, not Jesus, but Mary) in "La Vecchietta in Siena."

I highly recommend this book. It's a fun and a smart read. I give it four and a half Hello Kittys.

Hereeeeeeee's Stokey!

Stokley’s back, back again! Good morning everybody. D keeps tagging me; however, as of yet I have no place to put my tags so I am forcing her to let me do another guest post. Away we go!

Random stuff about Stokes.

1. I talk to myself – a lot. It is more of a thinking out loud kind of thing. I never answer myself, really, but I talk to myself nonetheless. People here at work already think I am insane considering I wear rain galoshes and have a Dwight bobblehead on my desk. I am guessing this little habit of mine is not helping to dispel the rumors about my sanity.

2. I name everything. I think naming objects gives them personality. My friends all know what I am talking about when I refer to Penny, Betsy, Henry, Milo and Jeeves.

3. There are 3 things that will make me lose it, and by lose it I mean go absolutely b-a-n-a-n-a-s. 1. Shushing me, I am not a child, do not shush me. 2. Do not point your finger at me, unless you are pointing me out to an attractive, strapping young buck. 3. Do not use my name when scolding me, eg. “Now, Stokes, did you really think it was a good idea to run over that huge thing in the middle of the road that led to tearing out Henry’s steering column?”

4. I do not think girls should be sideline reporters for professional male sports. Clearly a feminist I am not. I just do not think they can understand the inter-workings of the game or the physicality of it all. I do not think boys should be gynos either though because they do not have a cookie and how can they really know what is going on when they do not have one.

5. I truly believe I was born in the wrong decade; I should have been born in 1945. To grow up in an era of housecoats, sock hops, soda jerks, courting and parlors would have been the bee’s knees!! Perhaps this is why I conform to traditional gender roles without hesitation.

6. I talk about Fletcher James like he is a person and not a dog. For example, when I purchased FJ a tartan plaid collar I told people that he began walking around with his nose in the air and that he asked for penny loafers, a shirt with a collar he could pop and a girlfriend named Buffy. Now, clearly I know he didn’t actually say or do any of that stuff, but it makes for a funny story. Some people find it odd and inquire on whether or not my dog really talks to me. Um, no, he does not.

7. I am completely obsessive about the lamest thing like Felicity, The Bachelor and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. I mean seriously obsessive, so much so I do not want to discuss it and scare people.

8. I feel bad for stuffed animals. I think they may be real inside and do get sad when their owners become adults and leave them. I think this stems from my love of the Corduroy, Velveteen Rabbit and Giving Tree books. When I remember to, I still say good night to my childhood bear Dee-O before bed so he knows I still think about him.

And those are the random and kinda freaky and insane things about me. Enjoy, and I swear I have no human heads in my fridge.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I Chose To Be IT!

As I was faithfully reading Katherine's blog, I saw that she tagged anyone who wanted to be it.

I LOVE blogging tags, but I'm not a fan so much of being "it" during real tag.

Here are my random facts:

1.) I'm not a fan so much of being "it" during real tag.

2.) I was once told I should quit writing and go into acting. Sometimes I seriously consider this. I do have wonderful facial expressions that would be fabulous on any screen. Though many people mistake my thinking-face as a frustrated-face.

3.) I've secretly always wanted to be an actress.

4.) I've secretly always wanted to be a writer for The Young and The Restless.

5.) If I was an actress, I would definitely buy my Chrome Hearts sunglasses that I'm still obsessing over.

6.) I want to get a Hello Kitty tattoo, but I have no idea where I want it. The tat would be her face (I think joyful--eyes squinted with her little eye lashes showing) in a bold back outline. No color, except maybe for her red bow.

7.) My favorite times of day are the little moments that I notice something small and feel thankful I saw it. An example: The butterfly that landed for a few seconds on my towel while I was tanning and reading today and its quick flutter to somewhere else on the other side of the house.

8.) My other favorite time of the day is when FD and I talk at night before going to sleep. I like it most when he makes me laugh.

9.) I wish I was somehow related to Jane Austen. Or Beatrix Potter.

10.) In my wallet I carry a guardian angel coin Hons gave me. So far I have never mistaken it as a quarter.

11.) One of my all-time favorite Christmas presents is the pink Kitchen Aid stand mixer my in-laws got for me a couple of years ago.

I tag Stokes, Gary, and Abs.

Ooooppps! I just read the rules and there's only supposed to be 8 random facts. If you combine all my actress numbers that equals 8, right?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Leaps and Bounds: A Barefooted Race

FD racing our nephew and niece. He won. I was actually kinda surprised...

I took this photo with my new digital camera with its massive storage card that I got for my birthday from my whole in-law family. Needless to say, I LOVE my new digital camera, memory card and HK goodies!

I See A Jane Theme Here. It Was Not Planned.

Jane: A Murder is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time.

It's a multi-genre text that works through the murder of the narrator's aunt. The author includes poems, newspaper clippings, journal entries and letters to tell, process, and piece together Jane's story. I thoroughly enjoy multi-genre texts because they accurately replicate "real life." We don't just get our info from one source, right? We usually read the local paper, watch CNN, read the national paper, read online news forums as well as listen to eye witness accounts or second-hand info. Multi-genre texts work in the same way. They use various forms of media to piece together a story--in this case the story of Jane who was the third victim in a series of brutal rape-murders near U of M in the 1960s.

Though I didn't find the poems all that skillfully crafted, I did think they worked well at telling the narrative and they were VERY accessible to all readers. The poems in the last two sections did become more engaging in their craft, but not enough so to completely win me over (I'm a hard critic). I plan to read the Maggie Nelson's poetry to get a stronger sense of her poetic style. I think it would be wrong of me to judge her poems based on the ones in Jane. The poems in this book mostly serve the function of furthering along the story in a new and interesting way.

Which makes me wonder, should poems in multi-genre texts with a clear narrative be so straight-forward? I've been working on my own multi-genre project that includes poems, reports, essays, letters, and notes and I wonder if I tamed my poems down more if the text would be more accessible. Probably so...

I really enjoyed reading Jane. It was powerful, engaging, and very intriguing. It made me think quite a bit about my own multi-genre projects as well as how to write about tragedy without losing control of the story or overwriting it. Nelson's images in the poems are really clear and visceral. I give it four and a half Hello Kittys. And I'd like to thank KA for giving it to be for Christmas; it was a perfect gift!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sometimes I Do Think About Having Kids

Yesterday I went with FD and my in-laws to our niece's gymnastics recital. It was there that I had those flashes of wanting kids.

Seeing five-year-old E swinging from the bars, dipping on the beam, and tumbling made me SO proud of her! Clearly, she was one of the most athletic girls there who truly loved gymnastics. She was smiling and waving at her mom (and us sometimes) and focusing on doing just right on her routine. She was so fabulous I thought to myself, "FD and I could make a great kid like this! I know we would love our kid and support him/her and be really proud parents." T was smiling even more than E; clearly, being a parent is totally cool and very joyful.

I just still know I'm not ready yet. I want to spend more alone with FD. I have a few "things" I want to accomplish before I devote my time and energy to a family. I am a fantastic multi-tasker but not that great of one! I just wonder if being an artist and mom right now is something I could handle. I feel selfish over it, but when I think about the responsibility of a child sometimes and I feel a tightening in the chest. That feeling alone tells me I'm not ready yet. And maybe I'll never be ready, but I have a feeling at some time I'll be more ready that I am right now. I know I do have a motherly instinct. Right now, I just really like being a cool aunt. It's good stuff. It means I can play and go to recitals and cheer on my nieces and nephews at their games, but I can come home and watch TV in complete silence and only have M&Ms for dinner, if I so choose.

Such as, last night. S and I watched AI while the guys were still fishing. We both nodded off during the dull parts of the ONE HOUR AND FIFTY EIGHT MINUTES of boredom. Then we had a hearty celebration over Jordin's winning! It was good times! I still don't understand where all the cool celebs who could be there for Idol Gives Back were. The celebs in the audience were nobodies! And the Beatles tribute was too much. Rubuen singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"!--he looked like he was on LSD! It was silliness! Green Day sucked. Since when did they sell out enough to be on AI?! I know they sold out long ago, but c'mon! I remember listening to them back in the day when they sang songs about masterbation. Geeez! And the whole time I kept wondering, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON ON LOST??????" Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled my in-laws are hip enough to watch AI and vote! Seriously, that is totally rad! But we know what a LOST freak I am. And I didn't hide it last night. After AI I wanted to watch the last hour of LOST. FD, back from fishing, said, "NO! It's a disservice to come in an hour late. The whole show will be ruined! We have Tivo. Chill. Will watch when we get home." He's so practical and calm. I wish I was. You have no idea how badly I'm holding myself back from checking the LOST wiki RIGHT NOW and seeing what happened.

I was emailing Stokes about my LOST frustration and when I realized something and said it to her: I'm having a sincerly wonderful time here at my in-laws. Isn't it sick that a TV program can make me so crazy?!? It's just TV. Even if Tina the Tivo didn't get the whole episode, we can watch it on ABC's website, we can buy it from iTunes, we can watch the re-run, we can buy the season when it comes out. TV should not run our lives! I really need help! Is there a TV AA?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Stokey Makes A Guest Appearance

While Ms. Stokey Speedman (my BFF for those who don't know her) is working on getting her own blog up and running (I seriously can't wait!), she is guest appearing on my blog to post her Top 5 Fav songs (from a tag a couple posts ago). Take it away, Stokey...


For those of you who don't know me (I am sorry - your loss) a hearty hello and to those of you who do know me (your life is better off), hello, my babies!

Please note I write like I talk and that is like a 14 year old girl, oh and I have NO idea where a comma is supposed to go as you will see evidenced in the musing below.

D has been pestering me to restart my old blog for some time now; however, the motivation to do so has been hiding. If I had to take a guess, I think it is hanging out with my motivation to work and get up in the mornings - both of which have been MIA for months. Anyway, I told her that if she posted my Top 5 songs as a courtsey post, I would get back on the old blogging bandwagon. So here are my Top 5 songs and the reason they are currently residing in said Top 5.

1. Could We by Ms. Kit Kat Power - this song makes me gleeful (is that a word?), I love the "brandt, brandt, neer" parts and this is also Fletcher James favorite Cat song so I thought I would give props to him seeing as I thought he was on his deathbed a mere 3 days ago.

2. Question by Old 97's - they used it in Scrubs - enough said! For those of you who "don't get Scrubs" you are not worthy of my time. That is like saying "I don't get Arrested Development or The Office" stop watching tv dummy and go eat dirt. [Amanda (D) interjects: "This song was also on a Dawson's Creek episode! And I've put it on several mix CDs that Stokes should be listening to..."]

3. Rally by Phoenix - I became obsessed with this tune a few weeks ago when it was in an episode of the extremely underrated Veronica Mars and am currently still obsessed. Hopefully, Phoenix will be around longer than Ronnie, RIP Ms. Mars! Boo hoo :(. Oh, and the lyrics stink, but I think it is a great little jam.

4. I Hear the Bells by Mike Doughty - again this is courtsey of Veronica Mars. It is a great little ditty by a chap with an amazing voice. It popped up on Penny (my iPod) while I was in hell (mowing the lawn) last week and has been in heavy rotation since.

5. That's Alright by Elvis - this is my favorite Elvis song ever! It is zippy and finger snapping fun. It was also in Man on the Moon which introduced me to one of the London Brother's (Jeremy or Jason not sure) back in the 90's before Party of 5 and I was a smitten kitten.

So that's it folks, thanks for allowing me to post my Top 5 here instead of there. Hope you enjoy!

P.S. I would like to give an honorable mention to Maroon 5 for their song Won't Go Home Without You (I think that it what it is called, 2nd song they played on SNL this past weekend). Yes Maroon 5, it is a great pop song and I am not ashamed to LOVE IT. Ok, well maybe a little. But not a lot.


Stokely Speedman


I've always loved guest appearances! They're so 60s. So Ed Sullivan!

A Very Agreeable Evening

I just finished The Jane Austen Book Club. So good. I'm craving Jane Austen now. I just want to go through each novel in order. I just might. I can't decide. I am a quite reliable multi-tasker...

If you love Jane Austen, I think you will really appreciate the book. Even if you don't love Jane Austen, I think you will appreciate the book and maybe come to appreciate Jane Austen more.

It was really good. Four Hello Kittys.

My favorite Jane Austen book is Pride and Prejudice. I heart Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I'm dying to hear what any one else's favorite Austen is. She's such a master with characters and keen observer of relationships. I love her.

One of my favorite classes I took in grad school was on Jane Austen. Besides my poetry classes, it's probably the one class I remember quite vividly and am most fond of. I wrote a great paper on Jane Austen paper dolls.

I finished Fowler's novel this evening by our outdoor fireplace. FD got a really perfect fire going; he used some of our applewood we bought last fall from a local orchard. We smell woodsy and wholesome and happy. Very simply happy.

When the fire got low, our neighbor boy Joe, crept between the pines in our backyards, apologized for interrupting my reading and asked if he and his brother could get me more wood. It was really sweet. I thanked him and told him it was sweet, but we were letting it burn out. He crept back between the trees and continued playing. It was such a small act, but it really made my night.

Tonight has been on those nights where everything feels good and perfect and calm. Everything feels full of love and goodness. We had a hearty meal, a glowing fire, fine reading, quiet conversations, good neighbors. It was one of those precious nights that if you don't record it becomes lost in all the hum-drum of the quick days that slide by. It was an evening worthy to share.

Review of Sky Blue Sky

How much do I love Wilco? So much I have driven to and from Chicago in the same day to see them play. (Remember those days G and PL?)

How much do I love the new album Sky Blue Sky?

Watch this promo for the new album and read on.

With any new album I have to listen to it quite a bit before I make any judgment calls. A lot of times I find myself changing my mind after a few more listens. Such was the case with this album.

At first I thought the album got off to too slow of a start. I'm accustomed to the Wilco slow start, but usually they build up to some kind of jam at the end of the first song, such as "At Least That's What You Said" on A Ghost Is Born and "I'm Trying To Break Your Heart" on Yankee. The beginning of Sky Blue Sky is mellow, calm, and reminiscent of the older alt-country albums like Being There.

In other words, this album is much different from the experimental-ness of the previous two studio albums, which has its pros and cons.

Pros: The slow start works really well. It accumulates energy and builds up to something really meaningful at the end, which makes perfect sense. In a sense, the album is more like a book than a album. It's a story of "real" relationships, not the "I'm Always In Love" kind. Essentially, this album as a lot more maturity and an accurate portrayal of adulthood melllow-ness than earlier albums.

Also, Sky Blue Sky has beautiful music composition and instrumentation. The arrangement of the songs have the same complexity as the experimental albums, but they are way less noisy. These songs are poppy, jazzy, and tight. One example is the jam at the end of "Impossible Germany," which is artistically controlled and very skilled. "Side With The Seeds" has a really nice jazzy vibe. And the playing is solid. You can hear it in the turns and building melodies and layers. Great stuff.

Con: THE LYRICS. I think of Wilco and I think AWESOME lyrics. This album is not so lyrical. I wonder if publishing a poetry book (Adult Head) exhausted Tweedy's talent with words. Sure, there are the fab songs with fab lyrics like "Hate It Here" and "Either Way," but even then they're a bit shallow compared to the philosophical A Ghost Is Born. I want a Wilco album that has lyrics that make me think and rethink each time I hear it; I want to get something new out of the lyrics each time I hear them. Sky Blue Sky has pretty lyrics, but nothing I'd call exceptional. The more I listen to the album, the more I find myself getting the most from the music, not the lyrics. "Please Be Patient with Me" is a lovely little song, but it's no "Say You Miss Me."

As I mentioned earlier, I may have a whole new perspective on the album in six months. But for now, right here in this moment, I'd have to give it three and a half Hello Kittys.

I'm glad Wilco's applying what they learned from their more experimental albums to their old school alt-country-ness. However, I think this is a transition album for one that more beautifully weds music and lyrics. The pacing of the album is right on and definitely fits this album's relationship theme, but I kind of wish there were a few more rockers, a little more humor and wit, and a bit more angst like on "Walken." It's a great album, I'm just not blown away--yet. Of course, it took me six months to realize what a genius Sufjan Stevens is...

My fav song: "Hate It Here." C'mon, cleaning references and nice electric guitar solos--so me!

Watch the video for their song "What Light," see what you think and let me know.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Theme song: "Let me tell you about my best friend!"

Stokes introduced me to the TV show Rob and Big a couple of months ago. And this weekend I introduced them to FD. We TiVo'ed the marathon on MTV and have been laughing our tushies off ever since. It's a fab show! Check it out! And their dog Meaty makes it even more worthwhile.


Speaking of WORK, I've been hard at it on my online class. I've got the schedule and work all loaded. All that I have left to do is revise typos and record my videos and podcasts. I created a blog dedicated to discussing the creation of the online class and when it's up and running, I'll reflect on its execution. If you'd like to read more about it, please visit this site.


This weekend we also discovered that Tina the TiVo has games! Our favorite: Wordsmith. It's like Scrabble meets Solitaire. Good stuff.


I started reading The Jane Austen Book Club. I with I would have read all of Miss Austen's novels before beginning it.


I got my pink RAZR phone this weekend. It rocks. I wanted the iPhone, but much like my Chrome Heart sunglasses, it's out of our price range. A Pink phone suits me perfectly, though.


OK, enough babbling. More serious reflections coming soon.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Put Aside the Ranger...

I'm on another one of my Lord of the Rings kicks.

Melinda went home on AI; she'll have a better career for it. Blake and Jordin still on. My pick to win might make it. I called Jordin and I'm sticking with her. If she wins, I might start gambling on TV in Vegas. Then we could buy a house AND I could buy my $1100 Chrome Heart sunglasses. Blake, my sweet angel, might give me a run for the money, though. Oh, the suspense of AI, as refreshing as a cool spring breeze!

Sayid, how much do I love you?!?! Basically, you told Jack to "Put Aside the Ranger and Become the King." You rock! I'm so sick of Jack like I am Locke! Put the smack down and take charge, Sayid. If only we could get rid of that ho-traitor-beast Juliet too. Then all would be a little bit merrier on the island. Speaking of Merry, if Charlie dies, I might die. He was Merry the Hobbit, as we all know; he could die off and still be very wealthy. The island would just be an even sadder place without him.

And even weirder regarding TV news, I can't wait for the season to be over with. I know, I'm surprised I said it too. I just have so much I want to do, and TV is holding me back, keeping me down, not letting me get stuff done. Yeah, we do have Tina the TiVo; thanks for reminding me. However, I feel I must find out LIVE who leaves AI. Lost lasts longer when you watch it LIVE. In other words, I can't wait to the next day or several days, I need to know what happens NOW, so come morning I can chat it up with everyone about what happened on TV last night.

This summer TV break will be good for me. The online class development is taking a little longer than I thought it would. I'm through one essay cycle, but I still have four essay cycles to go, intro videos for each essay to make (I KNOW MY DREAM COME TRUE! ME ON THE BIG SCREEN! AN OUTFIT UPDATE IS COMING SOON!) and podcasts of my lectures to record (ANOTHER DREAM COME TRUE, MY CLASS WILL BE ON iTUNES!!!! Much thanks to Terence who is my online class consultant! Without his help my dreams of stardom might not come true!) We all know I'm thorough and very anal retentive. The job of creating an online class is perfect for me; it's all about details, anal retentive details, and making sure everything is perfect. It's just an exhausting job. I want to do it right, so I'm spending a lot of time doing it right. TV is holding me back. As well as hot days when I must tan and read. It is summer for crying out loud! I'm really proud of what I've done so far; I just want to keep it going strong, so I can finish by June and focus on tutoring for Student Athletics part-time. I don't want to be juggling too many balls; I do need a somewhat of break.

Some of you probably think teaching and tutoring and having summers off is the easy life. Let me assure you, teaching and grading 2 drafts for every one of the 5 essays written by 88 students each two 15-week semesters of a academic year is exhausting. And as you can see I'm working this summer tutoring and creating an online class and working on projects you don't know about--it is exhausting. Even for me, the worker bee. I'm not complaining; I'm just letting you know I don't really have a summer off where I sit around and do nothing--that life doesn't exist for me and most other teachers I know! But it is my first summer off in a long time so I must try to work and relax. I'm trying to put aside my own ranger-ness and become the tanner I've always wanted to be. (It didn't work so well that time...)

It's a cold day (60 degrees) here.
I have to get working so I can tan tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In Adulthood You Don't Get What You Want, You Get What's Do-able

Or as the Rolling Stones say, "You Can't Always Get What You Want, You Get What You Need."

This past weekend I went with FD and Hons to one of my favorite stores, Europtical, in Rocky River. This happens to be one of Hons' favorite stores too, so it all worked out for our Mother's Day celebration with her.

Why did we go there? FD needed prescription sunglasses badly. (We're both glasses wearers; the thought of contacts freaks out both of us.) We went to our local malls near BG, but none of the mall eyeglass places had sunglasses that FD liked that could be made with his prescription. (We're both blind without glasses.) I told him we should go to Europtical. I knew we would definitely find something that he liked and that could work with his prescription. Europtical is a little on the pricey side, but they're frames are unique and we wear glasses every day so the cost is completely justifiable--really, it's not like we buy the most expense frames there. I know FD will have these sunglasses for a long time, and he can just change the lenses when he needs to.

As you guessed, he found a great pair and it was fun and Hons had a great time talking it up with the owners (they know our family there) and all was going great. Then I asked my favorite sales/LDO guy if they had any funky sunglasses for me. It was then all hell broke loose.

Freeze: You should know that I just bought a new pair of Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses last year. I got them at Lens Crafters. (I know, I know, why didn't I go to Europtical? You'll see why in a minute.) They're nothing special. Pops likes to call them my Ray Charles sunglasses. They're hip, but not the sunglasses I wanted. They're do-able. They were relatively cost effective. Whatever.

Action: I tell Dragos, the sales/LDO guy that I like "crazy" sunglasses with "celebrity flare." He totally understands me. The first pair he shows me are the most beautiful celebrity sunglasses I have ever seen. Even better than ones at Saks or Nordstrom. He shows me my first pair of Chrome Hearts. I fall in love.

The glasses are black with wide sides and wide lenses that totally cover your eyes. They totally look like glasses Jack Nicholson would wear. I say that aloud. Dragos shows me a picture of Jack Nicholson wearing not that exact same pair but another pair like them by Chrome Hearts.

Before he lets me try them on he shows FD the writing on the side and asks him to "not be upset." FD gives me a puzzled look. What do say "Chrome Hearts"? Designer sunglasses: we expect to see Dior or Prada or Gucci or D&G in gold or diamonds on the side, right?

This pair had etched on each side "Fucker." I wanted to sing and dance around the store. I wanted to put them on and pretend I was in a musical and that I, of course, was the star, who only knew I was the star once I put on my "Fucker" sunglasses.

But these glasses were so rock'n'roll celeb I had to be chill when I put them on.

They felt like pillows covering my eyes, like air. Like a dream I could live in forever.

Immediately, I started scheming ways to pay for them. The frames alone were $750. With prescription lenses and taxes, it total would have been about $1100. The family discount is 20%. Even still the total would have been around $900.

We are composition teachers. We make enough to make ends meet and a little more. We're saving to buy a house. We are not celebrities.

I know all this; however, once the label whore in me surfaces, she teams up with the suppressed compulsive shopper, and all my core self control is gone.

I ask Hons for help. Together we try to come up with a plan to get them. (I refuse to give up the deets of that plan right now.)

And then FD, my hero, intercedes. He says he's not feeling well. That we need to leave immediately. He's finished ordering the sunglasses he needs and it's time for us to go. I take off the sunglasses. I feel like Frodo grabbing Sam's hand in Return of the King, looking down into that lava pit, actually thinking about dying for a material object.
Yes, these sunglasses are just like the ring--my precious...

We get in the car. I'm shaking. I'm still plotting as I drive into the sun, wearing my D&Gs.

(You can see why I don't shop anymore. You can see why I avoid malls and Target. I have a serious problem. I would be bankrupt if I still worked at Off Fifth.)

The realization of only getting what's do-able doesn't set in for over 24 hours. And it only sets in after looking at houses and realizing we still don't have enough saved to afford mortgage payments for a relatively "cheap" house in BG that need a lot of work. Only when I see the long term goal of a house can I see the senselessness of $1100 sunglasses.

Guess who's growing up?

And guess who's going to wait outside of Europtical when FD picks up his sunglasses?

(For more info on Chrome Hearts according to Urban Dictionary, click here. And view some of these beautiful sunglasses, but not my precious at Europtical--that pair is no where on the internet--I tried eBay and other auctions--the precious is too good for the internet--click here.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Top 5 Songs For Today -- This list changes every 5 minutes

In no order:

Hem ~ Half Acre (I loved this song way before it was in a Liberty Mutual Commercial.)

Sufjan Stevens ~ Casimir Pulaski Day (Nothing needs to be said other than Sufjan is a precious angel.)

Cat Power ~ The Greatest (I was thrilled to find this ACL version; it reminds me of the time Stokes came and we watched this episode together. I totally heart what a loveable freakshow Cat is. Watch her dancing!)

Aimee Mann ~ Save Me (Probably her most popular song. I heard it yesterday on my bro's cell phone and it's been in my head ever since. Lost in Space is her best album, in my humble opinion.)

Beck ~ Hollywood Freaks (This is the song in my head every time I check my Fafa points.)

I tag Katherine and Car as well as Stokes (A Top 5 list would be a great new first entry) and Kristin (I know your stance on blogs, but I thought it would be cool if you left your top 5 in the comments).

Thanks for the tag SK!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Catch All

Several Quick Things and Definitely More Tomorrow:

Renewed Faith in Summer TV: Thank God for Bravo! Hey, Paula may become my new fav & Top Chef Miami will be fun! Now all I need is Tim Gunn on a new Project Runway, and I'll be completely set.

I'm working hard on my online class, and this week I'm going to hit it even harder! It will be awesome and time consuming. Very cool deets on it to come.

Been reading poetry in the place of my fiction book listed (don't worry, I'm getting to The Jane Austen Book Club): Order, Or Disorder by Amy Newman (more to come on that book and her others soon, but a teaser: a must read) and the poetry chapbook Through Which Footsteps by Kate Northrop---totally awesome and really this world-other worldly, a must read.

How much do I LOVE the new Mac "Genius" commercial???

We're looking at houses in BG. Please keep your fingers crossed, say a rosary or prayer for us, and/or send us your good energy. More on this soon too.

And last, but definitely not least, SK tagged me! My first tag! I'm so excited! I have to sleep on it and then respond tomorrow. I can't wait! I LOVE TOP 5 LISTS! And Top 10 and 20 lists too.

(Now, imagine I said all this to you in about a minute flat. You can imagine it. Totally.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Because Summer Means Bad TV

After a hard day of work yesterday (creating the frame for my online class--props to Terence for all his help!--and making a stellar eggplant parm), I decided a TV night was in order.

FD and I realized we had a new episode of Deadliest Catch on Tina the Tivo! Seriously, Deadliest Catch is some of the best reality TV out there! Pots, Crabs, The Bering Sea, Crazy Fishermen, and SHITLOADS of money! Who could ask for anything more exciting? I love the Time Bandit and I have the Maverick. Watch the show and you'll see why.

Then American Idol...I made a few calls while FD read, so Tina the Tivo had plenty of time accrued for us to get through the commericals, Ryan Seacrest blabbing, the lame-o group performances, more Ryan Seacrest blabbing, Pink's OK performance with a not-so-great backing band, the relentless plugs for Idol Gives Back, the first round of who's safe, more commericals,

the second round of who's safe, Barry Gibb's awful performance, Ryan's blabbing, final comments from the judges, more suspense of the bottom two--who is going home???--more commericals,

The results are in...

We cut through all this BS and got straight to LaKisha being kicked off and sweet Blake staying on for one more week. Long live the peeps who invented Tivo!

I call Jordin as AI's winner. Who's your vote?

Then Lost...For the record, I just want to say I'm a Ben fan now. I'm sick of Locke and I like Benny Boy's skepticism of Locke. And I like even more that Ben shot Locke. (That sounds cold, but it's the truth.) It was a riveting, nail biting episode last night. Literally, my nails are down to the quick. They kinda hurt. What am I going to do for the last episodes?

And do you, dear readers, find yourself looking into the pixel faces of familiar actors and actresses wondering, "Where do I know him (or her) from?" Well, let me assure Roger, Benny Boy's dad, is Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite! (FD caught that one, so I can't take full credit, but I can share.)

I know my TV log here pales in comparison to my book review, but keep in mind, once summer hits there will be no TV to talk about other than Big Brother. I must purge myself now of all worthwhile TV news.

Thank goodness we'll still have Paris and Lindsay to entertain us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

On Housekeeping

You thought I was going to rant about housekeeping, the activity, not the book.

This is a reflection on the book, not of the activity. Though, Thursday we are cleaning house and I might have some more OCD tips for you.

Time Magazine named Housekeeping one of the 100 All Time Novels.

I wouldn't go so far.

Please don't misunderstand me, it's a quite lovely novel about two sisters coming of age and negotiating their roles in society--what is proper and what isn't. Additionally, the themes of family, dream vs memory, material vs natural worlds, and death are dealt with in a quite meaningful, intelligent manner. The book is grand gesture, a long curtsy at the end of a pretty dance, maybe...It just wasn't my cup of tea, which if you know me, you know that words like "pretty" and "lovely" mean "just ay-right."

The novel builds slowly. Slowly is the key word. I wasn't hooked in a I-can't-put-this-book-down way until page 126 when Lucille, the more materialist sister became bitchy: "'Let me see that,' Lucille said. She took the book by each end of its spine and shook it. Scores of flowers and petals fell and drifted between the pages. Lucille kept shaking until nothing more came, and then she handed the dictionary back to me. 'Pinking shears,' she said" (126). I loved this scene when Lucille asks Ruthie to help her sew a suit, and Ruthie finds nature in the dictionary when all Lucille wants to know are what are pinking shears. It captured, with accuracy, that temper of girl adolescence and the dire need to fall in with the crowd, especially when you feel like you come from a family of loons.

Until the end I was taken with novel and appreciated much of the writing:
"It is better to have nothing, for at last even our bones will fall. It is better to have nothing" (159).

"What is thought, after all, what is dreaming, but swim and flow, and the images they seem to animate?"...and the rest of this passage (162-163).

"I hated waiting. If I had one particular complaint, it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation. I expected--an arrival, an explanation, an apology. There had never been one, a fact that I accepted, were it not true that, just when I had got used to the limits and dimensions of one moment, I was expelled into the next and made to wonder again if any shapes hid in its shadows" (166).

"Anyone that leans to look in a pool is a woman in the pool, anyone who looks into our eyes is the image in our eyes, and these things are true without argument, and so our thoughts reflect what passes before them. But there are difficulties" (166).

"Sylvie only kept them, I think, because she considered accumulation to be the essence of housekeeping, and because she considered the hoarding of worthless things to be proof of a particularly scrupulous thrift" (180).

"Perhaps memory is the seat not only of prophecy but of miracle as well" (196).

"It is absurd to think that things were held in place, are held in place, by a web of words" (200). My favorite passage!

Right, these passages are all quite beautiful, and, in my opinion, well written. What lacks for me, most of the time, is plot. The end feels the most unreal to me. I won't tell you what happens, in case you haven't read it and want to, but I found it a bit unbelievable and far fetched. Perhaps it is my skepticism that is a product of these present times and the ending could have happened in the past in the 50s, 60s, or 70s. I don't know. I just found it too ideal, too perfect in a way. This novel was built around the complications and difficulties in life, real or imagined, so I just don't feel like it delivered that complication effectively at its end.

I'd give it 3 out of 5 hello kittys.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A Little Disgusted with Myself and, of course, Paris Hilton

Paris is going to jail.

I laughed when I found out. Then checked my Fafa points and went to bed satisfied in the fact I might actually win a league for the first time.

This morning I am disgusted. Let me explain.

For Fafa, a player receives points for the various things various celebrities do: hook-up, break-up, go to rehab, beat the paparazzi's car with an umbrella, wear a random girl's bathing suit, defend a friend who has locked up his wife, go on Oprah acting crazy, flip the bird at the wrong (or right) time, and, worst of all, die.

Americans, including myself, are obsessed with celebrities, so why not create a fantasy league based around them. As we all see it, they're plastic, soul-less idiots who want all the attention they can get by acting like lawless barbarians, so give them what they deserve--Fafa.

And so I play and pray for my draft picks to do something stupid so I can rack up the points and beat my co-players. I'm not above friendly competition.

What I feel badly about, though, is that these are real people's lives. They just don't act or look like real people in their Juicy long johns, but I like to think there is some kind of humanity in each person. Just think of Celine Dion crying on Larry King Live for all of the Katrina victims. They have feelings. And perhaps their feelings only seem fake because we think celebrities are fake.

And Paris, I think, is fake to a degree, but she really does look unhappy strutting down the court steps. And I feel kinda sorry for her. Really, an orange jumpsuit really won't becoming on her. She did do wrong and she, like the rest of us, needs to atone for her wrongdoing legally, but should we be happy about it? What it is is what it is. I'm not happy for the poor average joe fool putsing around town with party plates. And I certainly wouldn't want a bunch of people to be happy if I f'ed up legally somehow. Maybe this will be a lesson for Paris; maybe she'll come back to us 45 days after June 5 and be a changed socialite. Maybe she'll act like Mandy Moore or Natalie Portman. Maybe she'll go to Harvard and write an intelligent novel. I've always believed she's acted dumb for the cameras. Really, doesn't the world love a dumb blonde? Isn't that what we want?

I think all these things and feel badly I'm playing fantasy leagues with actual people's lives.

And then I think again and hope I win my league. And wonder what my Fafa points are. And feel the itch to check them. Now. Immediately. Like right now...Yep, I've already hit my max on Fafa points for Paris today and it's only 11:13 a.m. Damn.

And so the cycle of disgust begins all over again.

Friday, May 4, 2007

My First Day of Summer

Some of you are jealous.

The same some of you think I'm an overachiever. Or more so OCD.

I think I'm crazy. I get bored and anxious so quickly. Hence, this blog.

On my first day of summer, you would expect me to: sleep in, not shower, catch up on marathons such as Work Out or Shear Genius, maybe take a nap outside in the sun.

I have done none of these things.

Instead, I got up at 7 a.m., did Pilates, emailed, reorganized my closet (washed and stored winter clothes, made a donate pile, & made a consignment pile), started our regular laundry, cleaned stained coffee mugs (put 2 T. of baking soda in each mug, boil water, pour water in mugs and let stand for an hour, wash by hand & stains will be gone), called our CPA about tax write-offs, called State Farm about life insurance, cleaned outside furniture, grocery shopped, and searched for favorite poets who might have web sites/blogs (only found Matthea Harvey's web site, but wanted to find web sites/blogs for Eula Biss, Daisy Fried, Alice Fulton, Barbara Maloutas, Amy Newman, Harriette Mullen, Laura Mullen, Kate Northrop, Claudia Rankine, Carol Snow, and Dean Young--I'd be happy to create a kick ass web site for any of these fine poets, just let me know!).

See, I'm crazy, but you loved my cleaning tips! Admit it...

Seriously, how can a writer be bored? I'm bored because I'm procrastinating. Because I don't feel like writing. And then I feel guilty because every writer should want to write, right? So then I start working and cleaning. (You can totally see now why Mrs. Meyers is under my favorite things. And I like the whole uniform smell thing. Lavendar is the best scent. I'm OCD. I know, I know.) Then my problem is I work too quickly and multi-task too well that by 3 p.m. I was bored again. (Believe me, I HATE 8-5 jobs. I could do all the work is 2 hours. Teaching is way better for me.)

I pray summer isn't like this...bored, OCD, bored, OCD again. I'll drive myself and hubby mad!

I know if I start reading, I'll start feeling like writing. I'm just nervous. It's been awhile. And I'm interested in writing non-fiction, which I haven't done before, so I'm even more anxious, which makes me OCD. What's my problem?

[I'm writing this more for me than you. Is that OK?]

I'll make more to-do lists, I think. I have to make my summer home improvement list and my summer reading list. Of course, I'm going to refer to the Common Reading Experience blog for fiction and non-fiction suggestions as well as recommendations from friends and mentors.

I'm grateful I'm creating an online class this summer. That will keep me busy. A whole lot of busy. And I have trips planned...

My problem is I have no idea how to relax.

I inherited that from my father.

Thank you, Pops.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sharing is Caring

Oh, Ira Glass, you almost killed me today.

I about fell off the treadmill laughing so hard, and all the senior citizens at the rec center were staring at me like I was nutso, which I don't deny.

The BEST episode of This American Life I've heard in a long time is 328: What I Learned From Television. As a television junkie, quoting Tracy Morgan 's character Tracy Jordan in 30 Rock, all I can say is "I liked it so much I wanted to take it behind the middle school and get it [prego]." (I changed pregnant to prego; it just sounds better!)

Seriously, download this and listen to it during your lunch break or when you're bored. It will cheer you up. It cheered me up!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

And So the Skeptic Begins Her Work

I've been very skeptical of starting a blog, but here I am. Nervous but here.

My bff used to have a blog, but she quit writing on it after it "disappeared." I made a bet with her that I would start a blog if she started a blog.

I'm good to my word.

I just don't want to be one of those bloggers who is self-absorbed. So I vow to you, readers, and myself that I will keep vanity out of these text boxes. Jane Austen says, "Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us." In other words, I'll be proud but not vain. And I'll try to bring you something new with each post, each reflection on a variety of topics.

I have ideas; you're just going to have to trust me.

Do you trust me?