Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Friday, March 31, 2006
I'm currently reading a book my wife recommended to me called Animals in Translation. It's by a woman named Temple Grandin, an expert in animal behavior who suffers from autism. Ms. Grandin looks at the behavior of domestic animals and how it's influenced by the hardwiring of their brains as predator animals or prey animals. It's really fascinating. She also compares animal brains to both normal-functioning human brains and the brains of people with autism, which she says shares a number of characteristics with animal brains.
It's amazing how often, when I'm reading this, I'll stumble on something that gives me insight into my own behaviors. Based on what I've read, I'm fairly certain that my brain is structurally similar to that of a deer tick.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Hopping Down the Sugar Trail
Y'know what I hate about the Easter season? The Christ.
No, I'm kidding. What I hate about Easter is the candy. Which is odd, since, when I was a kid, I lived for it. Seriously, Easter candy alone put the holiday in the number two spot on my kid's top ten holiday list. (I think Arbor Day was down at the bottom.) My folks always put together an awesome Easter basket for my sister and me, and we gorged ourselves for weeks on the contents. From a grown-up perspective, though, I'm finding the full spectrum of Easter candy lacking.
Chocolate Bunnies: My parents usually got us the solid bunnies, which I liked because you could gnaw on it for a half an hour or so (literally gnawing, mind you) and then wrap it up and come back to it when next you had the time to put in. The thought of scraping off bits of chocolate with my molars over the course of two weeks is now fairly repugnant to my adult brain, so solid chocolate bunnies are no longer for me. And hollow chocolate bunnies are invariably made with inferior chocolate, so those won't do the trick either.
Peeps: My dad's method for eating peeps is somewhat reminiscent of creating fine wines or cheeses. He opens a pack, puts them on top of the refrigerator for a good week or so and then eats them only when they have reached the proper degree of staleness. This impressed me so much when I was a kid that I always did likewise. I was still eating almost pure sugar, but it had a gourmet-ness to it. Over the last decade or so, though, I've lost the taste for it. I tried eating them fresh out of the pack, to see if maybe I could recapture some of the thrill, but they're really just kind of rancid any way you slice 'em.
Cadbury Creme Eggs: Without a doubt, some of the best commercials of my childhood. ("Thanks Eas'er Bunny!" "Bawk bawk!") But have you ever actually eaten one of these things? As I said in response to a post on CL's Sometimes I Just Talk recently, it's basically like someone hollowed out a Hershey's kiss and hawked a big loogie into it. Thanks, but no thanks.
Robins' Eggs: These are just malted milk balls with a candy coating around them, and I've been known to scarf a handful now and then when they're lying around. My problem with them is that the malted milk filling always scrapes the crap out of the roof of my mouth, so I steer clear of them when I can.
Peanut Butter Eggs: This is basically just a Reese's Cup, so it should be delicious, right? But no. Here's my theory as to why: I think they have ten gallon drums of peanut butter that they use in the Reese's factory. Every spring, they gather up the nearly empty drums and they have the janitorial staff squeegee the last scrapings of PB out of these mothers. These nearly-rancid leavings are then shipped over to the PB Eggs factory so the company can turn a higher profit on these seasonal confections. (Just a theory. The other might be that workers are pissed about having to work overtime and whiz into the mixture.)
Jelly Beans: I have very mixed emotions about jelly beans. When I was a kid, my parents would occasionally buy the "spice" jelly beans by mistake, which I hated. Spice jelly beans appeal to the same people who really look forward to enemas. Not my crowd. Fruit jelly beans I love, and still enjoy. However, as I proved not an hour ago, it's easy to eat too many of the little buggers. You do this and they sit like a multi-hued rock in your stomach, causing you to want to puke up a rainbow of beautiful vomit, which is what I feel like doing right now.
I no longer eat ham. I never liked hot cross buns. I guess this means I'll be feasting this Easter on nothing but eggs. And I'm okay with that.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Don't know when I'll have a chance to do this in the morning, so I'm gonna go ahead and jump the gun by forty-five minutes or so. I've joined a group of bloggers trying something new. It's called Roundtable. It's like the Algonquin Roundtable, but with no hotel and we're not drunk. At least I'm not. Hey, wait, was I supposed to get booze with this?
Anyway, I'm sending you somewhere else for the day.
Over at Everything in Moderation, Donny B. discusses rockin' chicks, or the complete and total lack thereof. (Personally, I think Celine Dion is rockin' enough for all the rest of them, but that's just my completely ironic and not in any way meant to be taken seriously opinion.)
Aries: You feel incredibly excited this week upon finding out that Jack Abramoff is being sent to same prison as you. Start saving your cigarettes now if you want to make him your bitch.
Taurus: It's great that you're really excited about the upcoming Easter holiday and nobody's saying you shouldn't find new ways to celebrate the Passion, but before you have yourself nailed to a cross to better empathize with the suffering of your Lord Jesus Christ, maybe you could reconsider maybe just dying eggs different colors this year.
Gemini: The new first person shooter game you've designed, Rampage at Denny's, might be a bit more legally dicey than you'd anticipated.
Cancer: Your excitement at the release of Basic Instinct 2 is truly boundless. I won't bother you with the question of why Sharon Stone's cooter still holds that kind of mystique for you.
Leo: Getting the theme from The Jeffersons out of one's head can truly be a task. Because fish don't fry in the kitchen. Neither do beans burn on the grill. So good luck with that.
Virgo: Today's total eclipse of the sun, coming as it does on the heels of the birth of a two-headed chicken on your farm, has you fearing the imminent return of Satan. Which is why you're so understandably terrified to hear that Dick Cheney is visiting your state this week.
Libra: There comes a time in one's life when one should no longer proudly display one's hickeys. So let's break out the neckerchiefs, there, ho-bag.
Scorpio: You've got some rage issues. You might want to consider getting cute puppies tattooed on the inside of your eyelids. It could help keep you more relaxed.
Sagittarius: People are going to notice the white-out on your NCAA bracket.
Capricorn: Your fiancee is not happy with your contributions to the plans for your wedding reception, especially your "Do It Yourself Tuna Salad Bar" idea.
Aquarius: Boy, you really do love to polka, don't you?
Pisces: You've been slowly coming to the realization that working in a halibut processing plant is just not as glamorous a career as you'd hoped it might be.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Just read an article in the Washington Post, which describes a recent poll which found that Americans are hearing--and using--more curse words than every before. I was all set to do a hilarious commentary on swearing until I came across this paragraph on the second page of the article, which just took the wind right out of my sails:
Younger people admit to using bad language more often than older people; they also encounter it more and are less bothered by it. The AP-Ipsos poll showed that 62 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds acknowledged swearing in conversation at least a few times a week, compared to 39 percent of those 35 and older.
Now, I've been aware since last October that I could really no longer consider myself to be in my early thirties. I accept that. I've been at peace with being in my mid-thirties. This, however, now officially removes me from the ranks of the "younger". Which means I am now "older". That's just fucked up.
I met up with a bunch of folks with whom I went to college last night. I looked around the group and thought, "Well, we're all still looking pretty youthful. No real cause here to stock up on DentuCreme." Less than twenty-four hours later, I'm told that I'm "older".
Well the AP and its twenty-something writers can just lick my fucking ass! How's that for profanity, you smug fucks?
Monday, March 27, 2006
Sea of Love Was a Long Time Ago
I don't know about you, but I loved Ocean's Eleven. Not the original, which I never saw, 'cause I get enough Sinatra in my life by osmosis, without having to seek him out. I'm talking about the George Clooney/Steven Soderburgh romp from a few years back. It was just so fucking fun. All these big names and they seemed to be having such a good time up there. It wasn't great film-making by any stretch of the imagination, but it was jazzy and slick and very enjoyable. Plus, you've got to love anyone who throws some work Eliot Gould's way, don't you?
So I was, naturally, excited when they put out a sequel.
(Insert shudder take here)
It's been adequately documented elsewhere how very just how much rancid gravy this movie sucked. It was a steaming turd of a movie and it made me a little resentful toward all involved. "Is it so hard," I reasoned, "to enjoy the hell out of yourselves at your fabulous European locations and still put together a movie that doesn't make me want to hang myself with my Red Vines?" You wouldn't think so. And yet...
Now I see today that they're cranking out another one. Ocean's Thirteen, they're calling it. It apparently won't have Julia Roberts or Catherine Zeta-Jones, so that's good at least. Reading the article to which I've linked, I noticed that they're bringing in Ellen Barkin, which is great, because she's an excellent actress whose work I've enjoyed for a long time. Reading further, I noticed that she's playing Matt Damon's love interest.
Ellen Barkin and Matt Damon? Who the fuck thought that one up? Now, lest I stir up the wrath of women who are nauseated by the constant screen pairing of nubile young actresses with male co-stars thrice their age, let me say that I'm against that, too. I find it incredibly creepy when we're meant to believe that Tea Leoni would go anywhere near Woody Allen's dick. And an Ellen Barkin/Matt Damon romance is nowhere near in the league of, say, Helen Hunt falling for Jack Nicholson when the only contact she should have with him is changing his colostomy bag.
It's not that I think that Ellen Barkin is too old for Matt Damon. He's just too young for her.
So here's a solution: fire Matt Damon and give his part to Dennis Quaid. They've got chemistry, we know that. And Quaid could out-act Damon with his motivation tied behind his back, so it'd make for a better flick. I know that Steven Soderburgh is a fan of mine and will, of course, take my advice. So now it's just a matter of time.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
We're All Gonna Be Tanner. Yay!
This morning, This Week with George Steffiblahblahlus had a feature on global warming, just one place among many I've been hearing about this issue lately. Apparently, a bunch of liberal elite scientists have come up with conclusive proof that we're quickly reaching the point of no return beyond which we'll have done irrevocable damage to ice shelves on both poles.
Y'know, I got three words for these scientists: Boo Fucking Hoo.
"Oh no! All coastal areas in the U.S. are going to be underwater in a couple hundred years!" Like that's supposed to scare me? Au contraire, mon frer. Think of how cool Scranton, PA will be when it's a beach community. I see exciting new real estate opportunities all over the place here. It's like Lex Luthor's scheme to sink California into the Pacific in Superman: The Movie, only for real and without Ned Beatty. And come on, are we really going to miss Florida?
And another thing: these whiny scientists who are pissing and moaning about the damage we're doing to the eco-systems that sustain countless arctic species all believe in evolution, right? They're the ones that want to tell us that Intelligent Design is "retarded"? Well if they're such huge fucking fans of Darwin, why aren't they excited about the spontaneous mutation that's going to happen so that polar bears and penguins can live in this fantastic new global Cabo that's being created? Maybe this'll finally force those waddly little fucks to get some muscle tone in their wings so they can fly someplace they can survive.
I mean, what they hell do these guys want, anyway? They want me to give up my three cars? Fuck that. And what am I supposed to tell my students, who all dream of someday driving around in a shiny H3? "I'm sorry, Bobby, you can't ever live your dream, because the scientists care more about fucking seals than about your chances of getting laid." I don't ever want to have to say that to a kid.
And half these guys are telling us that it's already too late. The governor of Montana (some fat tool in a bolo tie, fer Christ's sake) was talking with Stephanhoobastank this morning and saying that it'd take a decade at least to get alternative fuel companies up and running. A decade? Hey, wouldn't the Statue of Liberty already be wading up to her boobs by then? So, if it's too late, why don't these assholes shut up and build a fucking ark?
The thing is, folks, George W. Bush cares more about the environment than any president we've had in recent history. You don't think he's all over this like a frat boy on a passed-out chick? Dubya is large and in charge, my friends. You heard him say we're addicted to oil, right? They man knows about being addicted to shit and he would not make that reference lightly. The man has a plan. We're just not ready, as a country, to handle that plan yet. When the Bushmaster feels that we can maintain, he'll whip that plan out tell us how we're going to keep the planet occupiable while not doing untoward damage to the great oil companies that have made this country the great place that it is.
Let's face it, the Kyoto Protocol was for suckers. Clinton was probably getting blown when he signed it and didn't even realize what he was putting his name on. But George realized that going along with the entire rest of the world is just not what a real leader does. A real leader goes by his own path. And, yeah, sometimes that path wanders around through the woods and runs into huge piles of bear feces, but it's still our path. I personally don't want to be one of those who say, "Well, I guess we'd better join in. After all, the Netherlands is doing it." Y'know what? Fuck the Dutch.
So if global warming is happening (that's right, I said, "IF"), all I have to say is: Good. 'Cause I fucking hate snowshoeing.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
A Trip Down Crappy Memory Lane
I was watching the LSU/Texas game a little while ago and my wife noted that one of the LSU players, a freshman, she thought, was married. Apparently, CBS had shown his wife during a previous game. My wife was of the opinion that he seemed awfully young to be married already. I remarked that my first roommate at college had gotten married before our freshman year was up.
At least I think he did. Truth be told, he moved out after the first semester and the only contact we had with each other after that was his slightly angry attempts to collect my portion of our phone bill. I believe he married his girlfriend sometime that year after they got pregnant. They were still together a couple of years later, I know, because there was an article in the college paper about him. (He'd gotten involved in student government.)
Anyway, this all got me wondering just whatever happened to the guy. Not in a "I'd like to call him up and get together for beers" kind of way. Just curiosity. We didn't really like each other. He was a black guy from the Bronx and I was a cracker from rural Ohio. A cracker with a perm. It wasn't pretty.
I think, in the first couple of weeks on campus, we ate together a few times in the cafeteria. I remember him inviting me to go out a couple of times, but I was a little overwhelmed by things the first month or so at school and I declined. I'm sure he came to the conclusion that I was a racist. I don't like to think I was, but I suppose there could have been some of that on some level. Mostly, though, I was just shy. I didn't go out much at all when I was first there. I ended up spending a lot of time by myself in the library. Which is good, because I got a lot of reading done.
But then I eventually found a group of friends in my department and he found a group of friends and joined a frat and we just never had much use for one another. And when you're not friends with someone, the typical roommate bullshit just becomes that much more aggravating. I walked in on him with girls a few times because he forgot to write our codeword ("fun") on the notepad on our door. Other times, I was shut out of the room until much later than I wanted because he'd remembered to put the codeword on our door. I suppose my unreliability to pay the phone bill probably annoyed him, as did the fact that I could usually be counted on to be sleeping when he wanted to bring friends over and hang out late.
One late night during finals week, he got some friends together and put on a kind of lame radio play over the phone and outside our door in an attempt, I guess, to freak me out. I was meant to think that a guy named "Big Lou" was coming over to collect money my roommate owed him and that anybody found in the room was toast. I think I bought it for a little while, but as it dragged on, it just got annoying. And I had a final in the morning, so I eventually unplugged the phone and went back to sleep.
And then he moved out and I got stuck with a redneck idiot from Twinsburg who hung out in the room with his girlfriend, talking babytalk. It took me three semesters before I landed a roommate who I actually liked enough to hang out with.
When I think about my first roommate, it's with a lot of regret. I'm sorry if I made a black guy from New York that much more uncomfortable in small-town Ohio by not being friendlier. I wish I could've been a more outgoing person instead of the guy who's sleeping when you bring friends to the room. I wish, also that I could've kept him waiting in the hall while I had a lot of sex, but that's neither here nor there, I suppose. Mostly, I just think the problem was that we were too different.
I teach in the Bronx now and, although it's a large place and I don't even know where in the borough my roommate was actually from, I every once in awhile wonder if I might bump into him, maybe while he's back in town visiting his family or something. Not likely.
I googled him, but came up snake eyes no matter how I tried to narrow the search. Kent State has an alumni-locator service called "Find-a-Flash". (Have I mentioned that my alma mater has the single lamest nickname in collegiate history: "The Golden Flashes"? Well they do.) The problem with that is that you have to sign up for the alumni association and I've made it this long without being inundated with requests for money. I'd hate to blow that now in a moment of weakness by telling them how to reach me.
Besides, what the hell would I do if I located the guy? Call him up and say, "Hey, you remember that guy you yelled at because you thought his Dr. Scholl's Foot Powder was causing your alarm clock to malfunction? Well that's me! Hiya!"? Probably not a great idea.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Mea Robert Culpa
I've got something hanging over my brain pan here and I just want to get it out there. I realize that this will affect almost nobody who reads this, but it's one of those things that you just kind of need to put out into the world regardless of if it will do any good or not. Sort of like writing a letter to your senator calling them a huge pussy for not backing Russ Feingold's censure move. Which I did.
Anyway, I think I mentioned some time ago that my phone vibrated itself into the kitchen sink one evening while I left it charging. I didn't actually realize this until the next morning, and by then some water had pooled around it after running off of a couple of plates from which I'd been rinsing the maple syrup after our Saturday morning pancakes. Consequently, my phone was fucked up. Is. It is fucked up.
Specifically, the screen works--I guess the best term is--intermittently. It's gotten a little better in the month or so since this happened, and I'm optimistic of a full screen recovery. All this means, really, is that I can't always tell immediately who I'm talking to when I answer the phone and that I have to sometimes punch random buttons for a minute or so before the screen kicks on and I can look at a text message.
Another unfortunate symptom of the phone-wetting is that my battery has turned into something of a piece of shit. It holds a charge like Tara Reid holds her liquor. I have to leave it plugged in practically all the time and it's then drained by a ten minute conversation.
As a result of this, I'm frequently telling people, "Hey, my battery is low and I'm probably going to cut out on you soon, but keep talking." This happened to me this evening as I was chatting with a good friend of mine. And I realized, "Say... This probably sounds like bullshit. This probably sounds like I'm trying to get out of a conversation because Two and-a-half Men is on and I want to go watch." I've had this happen often recently when I've been talking to my parents, too. They're probably changing the will as I write this.
So I just felt like I had to clarify this to anyone who may have been on the receiving end of my conversation-ending info-blip: I really do have a fucked-up phone battery. I'd be more than happy to talk at length with you if I hadn't have been so fucking moronic as to leave my phone on vibrate right next to the sink when I knew I was going to be rinsing maple syrup off of plates the following morning. Please don't hate me.
Why Am I Paying for This?
So, the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly just arrived and I've thumbed through it and it's left me wondering: why the fuck do I still subscribe to this?
The big cover article this week? The 84 Best TV Shows. That's some hard-hitting journalism. Truly. American Idol and Without a Trace? Wow! Thanks for pointing me to shows outside the mainstream.
I've been a subscriber for about thirteen years now and I imagine that there's got to be something about the magazine that's kept me hooked for that long, but I'm beginning to think that whatever it was has worn off and I'm left with only the weekly habit.
What is in this magazine, anyway? Well, they do lists. They do a whole fucking lot of lists. Top 25 this, 101 most powerful that. I think they've truly done every single list that could possibly be compiled. Maybe they'll do a Top 1000 EW Lists list. That'd be great. They do profiles on entertainers about whom I do not care. The "Monitor" section tells me which celebrities are ailing, giving birth or having legal troubles and other shit that I just don't have any real need to know.
I like the movie reviews. I've always liked them. I'm one of those putzes who lets critics influence whether or not he goes to see a film, and I've always found Lisa Schwarzbaum and Owen Gleiberman to be fairly reliable barometers of movie watchability. But I can get movie reviews anyplace. Are movie reviews enough to justify my shelling out fifty-four bucks a year for this?
I think these days, I skip probably a good 2/5 of the magazine. I never read the music or book reviews unless I'm stuck on the toilet with nothing else to read. I find that a lot of the articles are basically puff press releases with nice pictures. They've got a section on theater that would be nice if they printed it more than four times a year.
I forgot to send in a check for my renewal for awhile last year. I'm bad about that shit. If it requires me to get out my checkbook and track down some stamps and actually walk something to the mailbox, chances are I'm going to forget to do it. Consequently, they shut down my subscription for about a month. I have to say, I don't think my overall quality of life suffered much at all.
I'm thinking the next time I get that extra card-stock cover on an issue that tells me this is my Last Chance to Renew!!! I might just not take advantage of this incredible opportunity.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Aries: This week, you give serious thought to change your last name to something more Russian-sounding, like maybe something ending in "-shenko".
Taurus: Expect to come into contact with turnips this week, perhaps in a meal or perhaps as an interior design motif.
Gemini: There comes a point, Gemini, when the garment is really more hole than sock. Getting one's money from clothing is admirable, but it's time to spring for another 8-pack at Target.
Cancer: If it seems to you like your friends are avoiding you this week, it may be because your "organic hemp deodorant" is not doing its job.
Leo: You make the mistake this week of confiding to your lover that you've always had a sexual attraction to Mr. Peanut.
Virgo: The stress is really getting to you and you're just not sure if you can deal with another week of not knowing whether Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are married or not. Your co-workers are now taking up a collection to buy you a life.
Libra: There is travel on your horizon. It's just a trip to 7-11 for Fritos and condoms, but, hey, at least it gets you out of the house.
Scorpio: You should wear hats more often. Or just a bag over your head.
Sagittarius: Nobody is going to want to see your all-nude production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Capricorn: An e-mail from a long-lost friend reminds you that you'd really enjoy longer, more powerful erections.
Aquarius: Your significant other is waiting for you to open up and show them your vulnerable side. Mostly so they can then dump you and crush your spirit.
Pisces: You should not try to whittle yourself an artificial leg.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The President Babbles in front of Microphones
President Bush gave another speech today, one in a series that he hopes will shore up the nation's confidence in the administration's policies in Iraq. As tonight was Parent-Teacher Conference night and I'm tired, I'm just going to put up a partial transcript of the speech. Enjoy.
Yesterday, I delivered the second in a series of speeches on the situation in Iraq. I spoke about the violence that the Iraqi people had faced since last month's bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. Now, there are good types of violence and there are bad. Like, when it's Rush Week and you've got a pledge bent over a chair with his butt exposed and you just lightly graze him with a branding iron, that's not real violence. See, the press want you to think that Iraq is full of the bad kind of violence, but really, it's just kind of like the Iraqi people are going through a big Rush Week before they're all accepted into a democratic fraternity of brotherhood.
I also said that for every act of violence, there is encouraging progress in Iraq that's hard to capture on the evening news. For every car bomb that goes off and shreds a civilian's intestines, there are any number of people whose intestines are in perfect working order. But you can't shove a camera up somebody's butt and take a picture of their intestines. So the American people never get to see all the hundreds of miles of unshredded intestines that are in Iraq right now.
Yesterday, I spoke about an important example of the gains we and the Iraqis have made, and that is in the northern city of Tal Afar. Now, from the name, you might think that the city is not close. But that's not the case. The city was once under al-Qaida control. And thanks to coalition and Iraqi forces, the terrorists have now been driven out of that city. I don't mean that we drove them someplace, 'cause we're not chauffeurs or anything. I don't even really know how to drive.
Iraqi security forces are maintaining law and order, and we see the outlines of a free and secure Iraq that we and the Iraqi people have been fighting for. There are people who are gonna tell you that outlines don't count if they're really, really vague and you can't really see them. But I'm the kinda person who believes in outlines, even if it's only 'cause someone tells me they're there.
As we mark the third anniversary of the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the success we're seeing in Tal Afar gives me confidence in the future of Iraq. To go back to my previous analogogy, if we're currently seeing that little bit of hazing that goes on during any good Rush Week, we can look forward in the coming months to the Iraqi people working together to create a really awesome Homecoming float. I don't know if they have flowers over there, but they could always do it with little bits of paper, too. You just wrap the paper on a pencil, then put some glue on it and then stick it on the float. Also a good way to make pinatas.
The terrorists haven't given up. They're tough-minded. In other words, there minds are tough. They like to kill. They like it more than I like nachos. There's going to be more tough fighting ahead. I remember one time in college, I entered our house into the intra-frat Olympiad. I thought we'd kick ass at the Tug of War, 'cause we had this one real fat guy from Iowa...
(At this point, Mr. Bush launched into a fifteen minute account of his frat's victory over the Pi Delts, and so we'll end the transcript here.)
Monday, March 20, 2006
As I Lay Watching Crap-o-Vision
I'm home sick today, and I've consequently become the victim of that most horrific of oppressors, daytime television.
There are several questions that come to mind when pondering this force of evil, the first of which would have to be, are there really that goddamn many people in the country who are doubtful about the paternity of their children? Every single fucking episode of Maury that I've seen has been on this topic. Does he even bother to do anything else anymore, or is that it? Another question: How the fuck does he manage to go from day to day without sticking a shotgun in his mouth and pulling the trigger? Didn't he used to be a journalist or something?
Even worse than Maury, though, was the president's speech in front of what I can only assume must have been a meeting of Future Douchebags of America in Cleveland. Who exactly is this halfwit trying to impress by bragging that he's thinking about our security every day? Ev-ery. Day. I think about getting rich every day. Ain't happened yet, has it, Cappy? Do you think maybe Ronald Reagan's Alzheimer's was contagious and Bush got a bad case of it? 'Cause he certainly doesn't seem to remember his efforts to tie Iraq to September 11th. In answer to a question on that topic from the audience, Bushie defended himself by saying, "I was very careful to never say that Sadaam Hussein ordered the attacks on September 11th." Which is true, I guess. He never said it. He did, however, pantomime it, mouth the words and use a magic marker to draw it on chart paper ala Win, Lose or Draw.
Actually, you know what I'd like? I'd like Bush to appear on Maury. Yeah, lets' get him up there in a half-shirt and a spandex thong for an episode titled, "My President Dresses Too Sexy and He Doesn't Care What I Think." He's already got the not caring part down cold.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
No, Seriously, Tom Cruise Is Absolutely Fucking Crazy
I was out with some friends last night and the subject of Matt Stone and Trey Parker's troubles with the Church of Scientology came up. In case you haven't heard, Isaac Hayes quit the show this week in incredibly delayed response to one of the funniest South Park episodes ever, which mocked the living shit out of the "church", Tom Cruise, John Travolta and R. Kelly. Hayes announced his departure from the show, saying he could no longer work on a show which was so insensitive of religious beliefs. Parker and Stone issued a statement which essentially said, "Whatever." The Scientology episode was set to re-run this week, but Comedy Central instead ran two episode which featured Hayes' character Chef, saying they felt it was an appropriate way to say goodbye to the character. Stories have run saying that the network actually bowed to pressure from Cruise, who allegedly told parent company Viacom that he would not promote his upcoming crapfest Mission Impossible III if they reran the episode. Spokesmen for Cruise vehemently deny this.
(Wow, that may be the longest paragraph I've ever written without a joke.)
I've got to say, I've reached a point where I believe every single fucking thing anyone says about Tom Cruise. At this point, the guy seems freakier to me than Michael Jackson and at least as out of touch with reality as George W. Bush. There's nothing, really, that I could hear about this guy that wouldn't sound at least a little bit credible.
I believe he pressured Comedy Central to kill the episode. I believe he's mentally unstable. I believe he's gay. I believe he offered Katie Holmes a lucrative contract to play his wife and become pregnant. (I'm assuming the father is either a turkey-baster or some Scientologist who submitted the winning "Why I Should Be Allowed to Impregnate Mrs. Cruise" essay.) I believe he helped shut down Radar magazine after they ran a story savaging his religion.
But that's all just the basics. I believe a lot more.
I believe Tom Cruise is behind the cover-up of the real story of the Dick Cheney hunting accident. I believe he's sabotaging the Space Shuttle program to keep us from becoming a space-faring people who would more easily come under the sway of Lord Xenu. I believe he poisoned Slobodan Milosevic. I believe he arranged Northwestern State's upset win over Iowa in the NCAA tourney. I believe he kidnapped Phillip Seymour Hoffman's family and threatened to kill them if Hoffman didn't agree to appear in MI:3. I believe he traveled back in time and killed my guinea pig in 1981.
The bottom line is: Tom Cruise must be stopped.
So I'm putting out the call right here and now. Let's get an angry mob together, I'll bring the pitchforks, you bring the torches. Let's hunt this fucker down right now before he takes over the world. I'm not suggesting, mind you, that we kill him. I just think maybe we should send him up in a satellite and keep him in orbit around the planet without any way of communicating with his minions. We'll send up plenty of food with him and copies of all of his movies on DVD, so he'll have to suffer through them like we have.
If we don't do anything about this guy now, we are, I tells ya, doomed.
Friday, March 17, 2006
I'm Toffifay's Bitch
So after bitching about how much candy my students eat yesterday, I found myself making a 7th period run to the drugstore for something to drink this afternoon when I was forced by powers stronger than me to make an absolute hypocrite of myself. I'd just meant to get a bottle of water, but I was walking by the candy shelf and I saw that they had Toffifay.
I've loved Toffifay since I was a kid and they had those ads that taunted you with the snide, "Toffifay, it's too good for kids! Toffifay is for grown-ups!" I took one look at that ad and ran out and bought five packs. I was thinking, "Fuck you! You're not too good for me now, are you, motherfucker?" as I downed all of them.
So today, instead of picking up a healthy snack--or even just a pack of nuts, fer Christ's sake--I wolfed down a bunch of chocolate-topped, hazel nut-filled caramel cups. Damn you Toffifay. Damn your siren song.
In other "news", I read a whole bunch of stories last night about how Catholic bishops around the nation were suspending the "no meat on Fridays" rule so that Irish Catholics could eat a bunch of corned-beef. Now, I think it's just awesome that these guys have official sanction from God to clog their arteries, but does it really deserve this much fucking coverage? Probably not. Happy St. Patrick's Day, you drunken beef-eaters.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Sugar High Noon
This morning, I was sitting in a colleague's classroom right before homeroom, writing up some crap on chart paper so that I could put up some chart-papered crap while I stood before the slobbering hordes today and I made a disturbing discovery.
All right, I shouldn't say that it was a "discovery", because I've heard other teachers talking about this from time to time and I was vaguely aware that this was a problem, but this was the first time it was really driven home to me.
I've been dealing with junior high school kids for two years now and I've found a number of things about them to be generally true:
As I sat there, and these kids came in and chatted and put their coats in the closet and went to their seats, I watched almost every single one of them shoveling candy into their mouths. Lots of it. Hershey's Kisses, gummi worms, Sourpatch Kids, Nerds, you name it. All of it washed down by brightly-colored vaguely-fruitish "punch" that you know is 40% water and 60% sugar. This was breakfast.
Now look, I'm not expecting that a bunch of 12-year-olds are going to care enough about their health to eat whole-grain oatmeal and a fucking protein shake or anything, but Jesus! Couldn't they at least be given a fucking Pop Tart or something? Something that at least pretends to have some kind of nutritional value?
These kids don't eat at home. They swing by the bodega before they get to school and they load up on enough sugar to kill a ward full of diabetics. Then they chug this shit and come to my class wired like Robin Williams circa 1982 and vibrate in their seats instead of paying attention. It's fucking frustrating.
This afternoon, I watched a girl who's been Courtney Loving it in my small-group-instruction math class (and I won't even try to explain why it is that a theater teacher is teaching small-group-instruction math) dumping candy into her mouth that was actually just blue sugar. This is why she's been giggling like a fucking hyena at hilarious things like isosceles triangles.
At least when we were kids, the Pixie Stix people were honest enough to make the things look like coke straws. And besides, I don't think I ever subsisted on this shit. My school's cafeteria might not have had the greatest food ever plopped down on a plastic tray, but I ate it any goddamn way.
I've got a plan, though. I'm going to buy a couple hundred turkeys. I'm going to make soup stock out of them, then really boil it down so it's good and concentrated. I'm going to dump some orange food coloring in there, tell the kids it's orange drink and give them all enough tryptophan to counteract the sugar they've consumed. Then maybe I can teach them all about the joys of Bertolt Brecht.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Aries: Looking to score with a gal on the first date? Try telling her how much you "like [her] boobies." Works every time.
Taurus: Yes, The Sopranos is back on, but that doesn't mean we need to start seeing your Uncle Junior impression again.
Gemini: This week, your heart starts to beat faster at the thought of a new love. Oh, wait, no. Actually, that's just a heart murmur.
Cancer: For the record, "No Fat Chicks" is not a philosophy.
Leo: A book is an appropriate gift for your new boyfriend. A drawing of all of his ex-girlfriends being eaten by wild animals is not.
Virgo: Roses are red. Violets are blue. You may have contracted herpes from that guy you banged last month in Vegas. I just thought that was a prettier way to break the news.
Libra: You are not the only person to be deeply saddened by the news that Mike Wallace is retiring from 60 Minutes. You may, however, be the only one who's carving his name in their chest with a broken Cuervo bottle in protest.
Scorpio: You're shocked to learn this week that the image you put out there is not, as you thought, "wild party girl", but rather, "uptight bible-thumper who thinks she's cool because she owns an Avril Lavigne CD".
Sagittarius: The food fight you begin this week will be a lot less fun than you'd anticipated and a lot more painful thanks to the scalding hot soup you didn't know was being served in the cafeteria.
Capricorn: There are many effective ways to let that special someone know how you feel. Crying until you vomit is not among them.
Aquarius: This week, you find you've made one too many "leper" jokes when you're sued by the Leprosy Rights Guild, a relatively new, but powerful, lobby group. They sue you for an arm and a leg.
Pisces: Furnishing your new apartment on a limited budget? Try sculpting kicky new furniture out of modeling clay!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
To Sleep, Perchance to Binge
The New York Times reported this morning that a number of people who take the sleep aid Ambien have been experiencing a strange side-effect. They have been cooking and eating massive amounts of food while they sleep.
The story describes people waking up completely bewildered with peanut butter in their mouths and cookie crumbs littering their sheets. One woman mentioned in the article who was wearing a full body cast at the time was found in the kitchen at 3 AM frying up bacon and eggs when she hadn't even been able to get herself out of bed to go to the bathroom while awake.
I'll be quite honest, I don't have a joke for this. I just think the notion of people eating five quarts of Ben & Jerry's while deep within the REM cycle fucking hilarious.
And the thing is, many of the people in the article were on Ambien because they requested it from their doctor after seeing ads for it on TV or in magazines. Sleepwalking through life, sleepeating all the way to the Big and Tall store.
What happens, I wonder, if there's no food in the house? Do these sleep-eaters go after their pets or children? Would it really be considered cannibalism if the person doing the chewing was dreaming of a bucket of KFC? Perhaps these people are missing a lucrative second career. If they're cooking while they sleep, they could get a full night's rest while working the graveyard shift at Denny's.
All I know is, I'm getting me a prescription of Ambien and going to sleep at night with big bowl of egg salad on my nightstand.
Monday, March 13, 2006
This being Monday, I had, this morning, my once-a-week fiesta with my worst special ed class. To sketch this situation in with some small degree of detail, allow to say that this is a special ed/bilingual class; all boys except for one incredibly sweet little girl; it's the group which contains the lovely little urchin who actually stuck an empty cookie container in my face; it's the one special ed class in which I never have a second adult, because the para-profession assigned to the class has things she'd rather be doing. I have yet to really teach these kids anything because they much prefer running around the room, getting in my face and telling me to fuck off. Ah, the joys of fifth grade.
Anyway, today, one of the little darlings (actually, it might have been two, as they tend to collaborate on their best work) took it in his head to kick things up a notch and go racial on me. He proceeded to spend the rest of the class calling me "Mr. White-out".
Now, I love being mocked for my skin color as much as the next man, but I was a little disappointed that this was the best he could come up with. So I thought I'd type up a quick list of new epithets to try to help him out for next time. Here's what I have so far:
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Zippidy Fucking Doo Dah
It is simply amazing to me how something as random as warmer weather after months of cold can lift one's spirits. Yesterday, we had a record high here in New York. It hit the mid-seventies. And suddenly the life-crushing despair I'd been feeling since Arrested Development got canceled just flew out the window and I began skipping down the street like Gene Kelly.
New York is such a fantastic place in the Spring. All of a sudden, you remember how awesome it is to walk in the park. Museums, which have been open all winter anyway, sing a louder siren song. Even the crackheads on our block seem to have a spring in their step.
I walked my dogs this morning under a bright, sunny sky and I felt energized. My wife and I just went for a run in the park and I feel like I've got rainbows coming out my ass. I started singing the theme from Fame for absolutely no reason. I have an urge to sit down and crank out the screenplay I've been neglecting for the past two weeks. I want to adopt homeless orphans and teach them to play the violin. I want to give George Bush a big hug.
Okay, I don't really want to do that. That's just the caffeine talking. But still.
I guess the deep and profound point I want to make here is that Spring is good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go heal some lepers.
Friday, March 10, 2006
The Woman That Ate the Lorax
So the good news is that Gale Norton is resigning after five years as Secretary of the Interior, during which time she presided over a department that did more damage to the environment than all the cans of hairspray used during the entirety of the 80s.
The bad news is that she's pissed off about it and she's saying that, if she goes, she's taking every pine tree in North America with her.
Look at her.
I personally do not think this is an empty threat.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Prima Donna Pretty Boys Smackdown
So the American team playing in the World Baseball Classic, a 16-game tournament meant to foster a love of baseball and Yankee hats in countries around the world, got their asses kicked by the Canadian team. The American team is loaded with such marquee names as Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens, Jason Varitek and Derek "Mr. Fancy-Pants" Jeter. With that kind of talent--and given the fact that we invented the fucking game--many people assumed that the Americans could win with their bloated salaries tied behind their backs.
So what happened? How could such a sure thing go so horribly awry? The theories abound:
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Aries: Getting really high at 10AM was really cool when you were in college. Now that you're Pope, it's maybe time you cut back a bit.
Taurus: Yes, your "I'm with stupid" tattoo is hilarious. We get it. Now put your underwear back on.
Gemini: You've always identified with Linus from Peanuts. You see yourself as the lone intellectual in the crowd, who is constantly misunderstood. Actually, you're a lot more like Shermy, the bland character who Charles Schulz realized was extraneous and jettisoned after a few years.
Cancer: There's bad breath and then there's breath that could actually be classified as a bioweapon. Yours is kind of edging into the latter category.
Leo: Those few remaining bags of Valentine chocolate that are still sitting in your drug store's discount bin are now no longer a bargain when you factor in the hospital bills you're going to rack up if you eat that shit.
Virgo: As the old Chinese proverb states, "Public masturbation is really not a good idea."
Libra: The phrase "use it or lose it" gains new meaning for you this week when you discover that your genitalia has actually disappeared.
Scorpio: A gown that looks great on Michelle Williams when she's walking the red carpet just might not look as nice on a 54-year-old man when he's walking through Red Lobster.
Sagittarius: Looking for a hilarious joke to pull? Try burning down a bunch of churches!
Capricorn: You're no longer watching The Ghost Whisperer ironically. You actually really dig it.
Aquarius: You make medical history this week as the first identified case of Dog Hair Lung. Maybe you could try brushing him occasionally?
Pisces: An argument with a co-worker devolves into a pissing match. Literally.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
So, after listening to a discussion on my local NPR station from this morning, in which journalists discussed the recently announced U.S.-India nuclear deal, an idea struck home.
International politics are exactly the same as the machinations of junior high school girls.
It's a little bit eerie, in fact. Try this: I'm going to jot down a few statements that I've heard recently. See if you can tell which ones come from international diplomats and which from 12- and 13-year-old girls.
"Oh my gawd. Did you see what she was wearing? She's, like, totally a slut."
"Okay, so I made a list of who can join our group and who can't? And I think since Pakistan says they're cool with India, then they should both get in."
"I am so pissed. I thought China was my friend, but then England told me that China was totally, like, hanging out with Iran. China is soooo lame."
"So, we all, like, talked about it, and we decided that we're going to vote on it, but you don't get to vote. You can say how you feel about it, but your vote doesn't count."
"Oh my gawd! So my mom drove us to the beach, and India had on this swimsuit and I totally checked out their economy. Mmmm. I want to get some of that."
"I know we were all, like, friends last year, but I was talking with everyone else, and I decided that I can't be friends with you anymore. Bye."
And here's the thing: these were all statements made by international diplomats. Didn't see that one coming, did ya?
Monday, March 06, 2006
I Feel Like Singing an Oscar-Nominated Song!
For awhile there last night, I was worried. We'd gone through almost an hour and a half of the Oscars and there'd been nothing--nothing!--that had been mind-numbingly, jaw-droppingly awful. Then Salma Hayek (or some other actress who I think is hot) came out and introduced whichever crappy singer they got to perform the nominated song from Crash.
They raised the curtain and there, on the stage, was a burning car.
Okay, Crash has a burning car in it, I'm guessing? Awesome. Great. And we need to see this burning car on stage while she sings because...? Okay, well, never mind. There's a burning car. And she's singing a crappy song. So, that's the reality of my now and I'll deal with it. And now there are people and they're...Wait, what the hell are they doing? Is that woman in the white dress getting felt up in slow motion? Why are all these people looking so sad as they writhe around the burning car in slow motion? Good Christ! What in the name of Cheney's rage-aholism is going on?
I was so puzzled/horrified/delighted by this dance number scraped from the armpit of Bob Fosse's corpse that I couldn't stop myself from laughing. For about five minutes.
The mind-numbingly, jaw-droppingly awful moment had come. Blessed be.
Other than that, the show wasn't much to speak of. The awards were spread around quite nicely, so we were spared the repetition of one film's theme music over and over and over. Jon Stewart rebounded from his flop-sweat-covered opening monologue and did what I would call a very nice job of hosting. (A writer on Salon wrote today about how completely awful she thought he was, but I think she might have some brain damage.) I guess the only other truly horrendous thing was the fifteen-minute-long cutesy-thon between Lilly Tomlin and Meryl Streep when presenting Robert Altman's life-time achievement dealie. I get that it was meant to be a tribute to the Altman Style, but it got old after the first "realistic" moment and then it went on long enough for me to go to the store for taco fixin's, make the tacos, serve them, digest them and then go back to the store for Tums.
I will take a quick moment to say that I kicked ass in our Oscar poll. I nailed 14 of the winners. I did this because I'm a huge fucking geek and I know which films won which awards in the months leading up to Oscar night. (Also because I'm the only one who realized that they used the French title for March of the Penguins.)
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I'm listening to a podcast of a show on the New York NPR station from this week. Michael Ratner, one of the guys who was part of the discussion that I wrote about yesterday is laying out his arguments for impeachment. And--I really hate to say this--I'm torn.
I shouldn't be, I don't think. I mean, I think Bush and his cronies are doing their damnedest to erode our civil liberties and line the pockets of the men who put them in power. I think he's making it easier for corporations to ruin our environment. I think he's making policy decisions in the "war on terror" that will leave him and others in his administration guilty of war crimes. I think he's the worst president we have ever had. Ever. And every day that he's in office, he's making things worse.
I'll go a step further and say that I agree with Ratner that a lot of what Bush has done is impeachable. However, I don't know if I agree that he should be impeached.
See, for years now, ever since Clinton took office and the Democrats lost control of congress, the only real thing that either party has done has been attempting to fuck the other side. They have spent so much time, so much effort, so much of our money trying to stick it to each other, that they've done a piss poor job of running the country. Let me illustrate things with a metaphor:
Let's say a set of conjoined twins need to walk down the street. But, instead of concentrating on working together to move themselves forward, they're using their energy to kick and hit one another. They're not getting done what they need to get done. Plus, everyone else on the street is looking at them and saying, "Wow. Those guys are assholes." Now, if we alter the metaphor to say that the conjoined twins are also retarded, we've pretty much summed up our government.
I think that most people on the left will agree that the Republican-led impeachment of Clinton was a fucking farce. They fished and fished for something to go after him for and they were so fucking desperate that they ended up going with "lying about a blowjob". This time, the Democrats really don't have to fish. They are essentially sitting in the middle of Red Lobster with a wait staff that could serve them up twenty-three different swordfish dishes.
But this just perpetuates the "fuck you, no fuck you" sort of mentality that's been screwing us up so badly. We impeach Bush and then they impeach whoever we put in, then we impeach whoever they put in. What the Democrats need to do is to get a crowbar, remove their heads from their asses and start putting some thought into smart policy to serve as a viable alternative to what the GOP is selling. Don't win over public opinion by ripping up the other guy. Do it by coming up with ideas so good that people will want to elect you.
And again, don't get me wrong: I would love nothing more than to see W. out of office and in front of a war crimes tribunal for all the fucked-up shit that he's done. I don't want him in office one more day. But we need to change the mindset in our nation. We need to move forward instead of kicking each other in the ass.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Waking Up Is Bad
I love weekends. They're great. They give you a chance to recover when you've had crappy work weeks. But I've got a problem with weekends, too.
The problem is this: I've got two dogs. The weekend means nothing to them. So when 6AM rolls around, they figure it's time for them to go outside. My older dog, in particular, is difficult to dissuade from this notion. (The younger guy is actually pretty content to just lay on the bed with us, having snuck up after we fell asleep.) The upshot of this is that I end up getting up earlier than I'd like. I can usually put them off until 7 or 8, but that's about it.
My wife, meanwhile, gets to sleep on in blissful comfort. I could, of course, just walk the dogs and hop back into bed with her. But I've got this thing that stops me. I just have a really hard time going back to sleep once I'm up. There's a part of me that's repulsed by the notion that I'm going to waste precious time. I'm up, ergo I need to be productive. Or at least engaged in an activity more worthwhile than dreaming that I'm caught up in a '70s-era sci-fi TV show called Space Ark, a long and complicated dream I had last night with which I will not bore you.
So I end up wide awake at 7 on a Saturday, doing dishes or getting my internet browsing out of the way. Which is what I've been doing for two and a half hours this morning. I spent a bunch of time at Google News and Salon and came away greatly disturbed (or perturbed or some kind of -urbed) at what I read.
Apparently, there was a forum in town on Thursday called "Is There a Case for Impeachment?" A bunch of folks got together at Town Hall and discussed the dire situation of our country's political landscape. Some of the speakers, the article says, talked about the recent revelations of the administration's wire-tapping, their use of torture, their bungling of the aftermath of Katrina and sundry other fuck-ups have created an opportunity for Democrats to gain momentum, seize control of congress and make an attempt to impeach Bush, holding him responsible for his many, many mistakes.
The author of the article, Michelle Goldberg, says:
Polls show more Americans favoring Democratic control of Congress than Republican, but that does not mean they can make it so. Redistricting along partisan lines means that most House seats are safe for one party or another; as the Center for Voting and Democracy found in a 2005 report, "The past two House elections were the least competitive in American history by most standards. In each of the four national elections since 1996, more than 98 percent of incumbents have won, and more than 90 percent of all races have been won by non-competitive margins of more than 10 percent."
Electoral maps that pack liberal, urban voters together have put Democrats at a structural disadvantage that is unlikely to be overcome by either exhortations about people power or disenchantment with Republican rule. As Steven Hill, author of "Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics," wrote in Mother Jones last year, "Even when the Democrats win more votes, they don't necessarily win more seats. That's true in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, and the Electoral College." In the House, he wrote, "When the two sides are tied nationally, the Republicans end up winning about 50 more House districts than the Democrats."
With enough of a groundswell, of course, the Democrats' disadvantage could be surmounted. But it seems almost willfully naive to talk about mustering a congressional majority for impeachment without grappling with the deformation of our democracy that must be overcome first.
The democratic process is fucked. Between the tight-fisted control huge corporations have over who gets enough money to have even a distant shot at getting elected to any federal office and the efficient maneuvering the politicians have done to protect their status quo, there is no real power left in being a voting American citizen. A fact for which I'm sure Bush gives hearty thanks in his evening prayers.
I continue to be aghast at how willfully ignorant people are about the direction this bastard is taking us. Aghast is, perhaps, the wrong word, as it implies some surprise. Appalled, maybe. Really, it appears that he's going to have to rape a retarded, geriatric nun on the floor of Congress before people think of him as anything other than a genial good ol' boy.
This is so friggin' depressing. I wish to hell I could be dreaming about cheesy 70s sci-fi instead.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Why the Hell Didn't I Go to Clown College?
So my school has been a little...what's the word? Oh yeah, "fucking nuts". My school has been a little fucking nuts lately. I can't pinpoint the exact cause and I don't really wish to, but suffice it to say that the kids have just been fucking monstrous.
There have been fights. There's been much cursing at teachers. There have been teachers quitting. Staff morale is lower than a worm's balls in a pothole. Not a fun place. It's a K-8 school in the Bronx and the kids in the junior high portion (where I work) have decided that they can act in pretty much any way they wish. We're all worn out, which sucks especially considering that we just had a week off.
I had two incredibly disheartening experiences this week:
New York, as you know if you ever watched Fame, has performing arts high schools. Laguardia is the big one (the one in the movie) but they have them in all five boroughs. Part of my job, as a theater teacher, is to encourage kids who have talent and interest to look into admission to these high schools and to help them with the application/audition process.
The city puts on a summer program for kids in eighth through twelfth grades who are interested in the arts. This program is especially helpful for junior high school kids who want a leg up going into the performing arts school auditions.
I have a student who's been something of a problem for me since I had him last year in sixth grade. He's not a bad kid at all. He's just very popular and feels that he has to maintain a certain level of smart-ass-ity to keep up his poll numbers. This year, he's taken more of an interest in music and theater and seems very interested in going to an arts high school after next year. He seemed like a perfect candidate for the summer program, as he's had minimal exposure to theater and no real training outside my class.
I got him all the application stuff and wrote a nice little letter of recommendation and offered to take him to the audition. But the summer program is held in a high school in Manhattan and his mom, to whom I spoke yesterday, doesn't think he can handle taking the train down from the Bronx on his own. I can completely understand her concern. And I realize that this is absolutely her decision to make. But I'm so disappointed for the kid, who I think would've really gotten something out of this.
The second disheartening thing is a bit worse. One of my sixth grade classes yesterday was feelin' its oats. I had them the last period of the day, which is always iffy. On top of that, there were rumors flying around that our extended-day program (a complete clusterfuck, by the by) was going to be canceled due to heavy snow. On top of that, their homeroom teacher had been out all week and the sub, who's a nice guy, just did not have a great handle on them, which meant they were that much worse for all of their regular teachers.
So the class was unfocused and I had a hard time getting them to buckle down and rehearse the scenes they're supposed to perform next week for grades. One student in particular was running all over the place and just being a pain. When I called him on it and told him to get to work, he was just nastily disrespectful. So, after giving him a couple of warnings, I took him out in the hall and called his mom.
I don't like calling kids' parents. I never think it does all that much good. Sometimes, I tell them, "Your child has been a problem in my class" and they respond with something along the lines of, "Yeah, he does that here, too." This kid's mother seemed very nice and was disappointed to hear he'd gotten in trouble. The kid was right there when I was speaking to her and was not happy about it. He slammed the door in my face as we walked back in the room, which pissed me off. I yelled a bit then.
Last night, the mother called me. I didn't get to it in time, but I called back and she told me she hadn't actually been calling to talk to me, my number was just in her phone and she was calling around because the kid was at a friend's house and she was trying to find him.
This morning, I find out that he didn't come home last night.
The assistant principal for the middle grades was helping the parents out by speaking with other sixth grade kids and finding out if any of them have any knowledge of his whereabouts. One girl said that she had seen him this morning in the school right outside of his classroom, but she seems to have been the only one.
I know--on a rational level--that this is not, when you get down to it, my fault. Teachers call home all the time; communication with families is part of our job. But I have so many levels that aren't rational. I keep thinking that this kid could be lying in a gutter somewhere just because he pissed me off, y'know? He's got his issues in my class, but he's hardly the worst student I've ever had. I hope to whatever powers exist in the universe that he turns up okay.
This just really sucks.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
The Good Samaritan
My apologies for not writing yesterday. I left work with the intention of coming straight home and writing the horoscopes I know so many thousands of you depend on to guide your every step through this life, but then something happened.
I saw a woman walking around with a smudge of some sort on her forehead. Now, I know that most people, when confronted with something as socially awkard as this, would simply ignore it and try not to stare. But I'm not most people. So, as politely as I could, I walked up beside her and I whispered, "Ma'am, you have something on your face," and I used my trusty pocket handkerchief. (No "kleenex" for this fella.) When I'd finished, she looked a little confused and couldn't seem to find the words to express her gratitude. I smiled and doffed my hat to her and continued on down the street.
Now, I realize it may sound like I'm making this next part up, but I swear on my mint-condition copy of Brave and the Bold #14 that it's true. I saw another person with a smudge similar to the one I'd just removed from the nice lady's face. I didn't know what to make of that. What are the odds of two people with the same dirt not two blocks apart?
So I took my handkerchief out and--using the other side, so as not to be unhygenic--I wiped the soot (or what have you) from his face. He, too, seemed too grateful to express in words. He just sort of gaped at me.
As I headed further down the street--I think I may have been near St. Paul's when this part happened--I began to see person after person with similar smudges. Some practical joking bastard had gone around putting his "mark" on people. I was outraged.
At first, I just did what came instinctually: I licked my thumb and removed the grime from these poor unaware bastards one at a time. Eventually, my thumb began to taste too horrid to lick, so I ducked into a Duane Reade and grabbed a packet of baby wipes. I dashed back outside and just began cleaning every stranger I saw in need. There were hundreds of these victims. I didn't have time to explain to them, I just cleaned them and moved immediately on to the next one.
Because I was so rushed, some of them were confused by what I was doing and I had a few people take swings at me. (My right eye is swollen shut, actually, from the three-hundred-pounder who really connected.) But, no matter the personal risk, I felt I had to help these poor sods.
I mean, think about it: all these strangers, in need of someone to take the time to help. I just thought to myself, "What would Jesus do?"