Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Aries: It's time to take some control over yourself, Aries. You really need to fight that almost overwhelming urge to wear a big furry hat. I mean, you look like fucking Genghis Khan in that thing.
Taurus: Nauseous Taureans might want to mix things up a little by blending a handful of Tums into a milkshake.
Gemini: Remember the old saying, Gemini: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Or some dude in a duck costume. Like Elton John or someone.
Cancer: It's not as sexy as you think to cover yourself in cheese and pepperoni, climb into a flat cardboard box and have yourself delivered to your lover.
Leo: You're somewhat disconcerted to discover this week that Manny Ramirez has been traded to you for your spouse and a player to be named later.
Virgo: Clumps of grass clippings glued to one's face does not actually look like a beard. Just so you're aware, Virgo.
Libra: There's a lot of poop in your immediate future. Sorry the stars aren't more specific about the source and/or location of said poop.
Scorpio: You're plagued by chronic lateness this week, Scorpio. So late, in fact, that your horoscope didn't even show up until 10:30 on Thursday. Sad.
Sagittarius: Your lover gives you an adorable pet name: "Dumb-Fuck."
Capricorn: You are absolutely correct in your feeling that anyone who can't spell "respect" is either stupid or lost their ears in a bizarre lathe accident sometime before the invention of radio.
Aquarius: Things may not be what they seem, Aquarius. Unless they seem shitty, in which case your perceptions are probably spot on.
Pisces: When recovering from a tragedy, it's important to keep in mind that talking to someone attractive while you've got a boog hanging from your nostril isn't really all that fucking tragic. A little perspective for you, Pisces.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Today's Odd Realization
Kyra Sedgwick on The Closer...
...sounds exactly like Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie.
I, personally, think the show would be a hell of a lot better if Dorothy Michaels were playing the tough cop character.
Good Class, Bad Cake
So I was googling for an image for my last post and I came across the above picture. And all I've got to say is, what the fuck sick bastard designed that? Who the hell would buy that? What kind of diseased mind would consent to eat it? Gag.
Anyway, my wife and I had our second Lamaze class last night and it was jam-packed with information. We went through relaxation exercises and breathing exercises and early signs of labor and mucous plugs and all that good stuff.
(It was actually a little disconcerting, because the horoscope on my Earthlink start page said yesterday that information would be coming at me fast and furious and I'd have to struggle to keep up. Horoscopes are almost always utter bullshit. Except the ones I write.)
Unfortunately, we still didn't come away from the class with anyone we could mock a great deal. There's one lady who's coaching for her friend who is a little annoying at times, but nothing all that bad. And a couple of the husbands were texting during the class. But that's it. There don't seem to be any huge idiots or assholes. Unless...you don't suppose we're the idiots, do you?
Shit, that would suck.
Don't I Love Me Anymore?
I do this every goddamn year. I suppose it's actually a good thing; maybe a sign that I'm not totally up my own ass.
I missed my blogiversary. It was last Wednesday, July 23. That means I've been doing this shit for four years. And I haven't gotten any better at it. Well, at least I no longer post pictures of my venereal warts and ask if readers think they look like celebrities. That was a low point.
(I don't have venereal warts. That was in jest.)
Anyway, thanks to everyone who's still bothering to read this shit. You're the cheese on my pizza. You're the croûtons on my salad. You're the ice cream on my pie.
Monday, July 28, 2008
John McCain "clarified" his position on gay adoption yesterday during an interview with George Snufflupagus. Of course, by "clarifying", I mean that he did his best to avoid getting pinned down to an actual "answer" that would "clearly" state where he "stands" on the issue. Here's what the man said, courtesy of a cut-and-paste from Andrew Sullivan:
I'm not entire sure what to make of that. But, if I'm reading it correctly, I think McCain is saying that he wants to gay adopt George Stephanopoulus. That's just so darned cute.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Item One: A couple of years back, I was forced to make a major change in my life. After twenty-three years or so of using Speed Stick Solid, I leapt on the gel deodorant bandwagon. I'd gone to help a friend move on a hot June day, only to realize that I'd left the house without applying antiperspirant. Ducking into a drugstore, I was dismayed to find no Speed Stick, so I grabbed a thing of Gillette Gel. And I liked it. I've used it ever since.
Recently, I ducked into a different store to pick up deodorant and was dismayed to find that they didn't carry Gillette. So grabbed a thing of Speed Stick Gel. It was okay. It made a weird clicking noise when you turned the dial to force the gel through the little holes on top, but it worked fine. But I bought Gillette the next time I was running low.
It's a tricky thing, though, to determine just how much gel is left in there, so sometimes you'll think you're nearly out, only to find you can use the same deodorant for another three weeks. Which is what I did. Until this morning.
This morning, I got back from a run, hopped in the shower an stepped out to apply my deodorant. But I ran out...after getting one pit done.
So I'm spending the day with one pit covered by Speed Stick and the other kept fresh by Gillette. Which pit will smell better? Which pit will sweat less? The experiment is on!
Item two: My wife is an environmental lawyer, which naturally means that she's got an interest in the environment. So when the our cable box recently puked up an entire channel devoted to programs with an environmental theme, my wife checked it out. Which meant that I checked it out, too.
And there's some really cool stuff there. There are a couple of shows about green renovations, showing how people re-do their homes to make them more environmentally friendly. We like to watch those shows and then water our plants with the envious drool that pours forth from our mouths.
Sure, the network was forced to give a show to Ed Begley, Jr.--which is just as annoying as it sounds--but on the whole, it's not bad.
One show featured a method to reduce water consumption. It's called the Navy Shower. You get under the shower-head just long enough to get yourself all wet, then you turn it off while you do the actual scrubbing. Turn it back on when it's time to rinse and you've saved yourself a whole bunch of agua.
It's actually really easy to do and then you can feel all smug about doing some small little thing to help the planet. So I've been taking nothing but Navy Showers for a month or so. And I don't smell any worse! Thanks to my deodorant.
Er Ist Ein Berliner
All I've got to say about Obama's foreign trip is, it really seems like people around the world are praying for us to elect the man so that they can go back to liking us. Let's not let them down the way we did in 2004, when we left the entire globe slack-jawed in disbelief that we could re-elect Dippy the Shitbot.
Little Old Lady
I think this is one of the coolest stories I've read in a while.
For the click-phobic among you, I'll summarize: Fifty-year-old Nancy Lieberman, WNBA Hall-of-Famer and former coach of the Detroit Shock, was signed to a seven day contract by coach Bill Laimbeer and played last night in a game against Houston. The Shock needed all the help it could get because of a fight during a game with the L.A. Sparks this week, which saw injuries and suspensions to Detroit players.
You wouldn't see this kind of thing in the NBA. The closest you get is the six or seven times that Michael Jordan unretired, which didn't seem even remotely cool or heroic, but kind of sad.
Ms. Lieberman's playing doesn't come across as sad or egotistical or bald or anything you'd associate with Jordan. It's just indescribably neat to see a fifty-year-old lady come out and make a contribution against professional athletes half her age.
Maybe this will motivate me to go see a New York Liberty game. Or even just watch one on TV. But probably not.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Aries: Thanks to all the ads for that goddamn new X-Files movie, you've got that fucking whistling song stuck in your head again. Fucking Mulder.
Taurus: Good news is headed your way this week. But you'll probably be sleeping and miss hearing it.
Gemini: There's a party in your future this week. Don't get too excited, though, you'll be spending almost the whole time stuck talking to the host's 39-year-old brother, who just got high for the first time last week and wants to tell you all about the experience. Good luck with that.
Cancer: Cancers who've always wondered how cool it would be to put on one of those inflatable sumo wrestler suits will get the chance to find out this week. And it's not really all that thrilling.
Leo: Be strong, Leo. You see, this is the week you find out the true meaning of a "hootenanny."
Virgo: Feeling like you want to expand your epicurean horizons with an adventurous gourmet meal, Virgo? Tough shit! You're going to Applebee's! Again!
Libra: So I guess the question you need to ask yourself this week is: Wig or no wig?
Scorpio: Your underwear go on before your pants, Scorpio. It'd sure be less embarrassing for your family and friends if you could learn that one.
Sagittarius: Do you know how annoying it is when you get a bit of corn stuck in your teeth, Sagittarius? Well, this week, that's going to happen to you. Except it'll be the whole ear of corn and it'll be in your ass. Long story. Don't piss off farmers.
Capricorn: Y'know, you'd think that breaking the world record for Longest Game of Boggle would be 37 hours of bliss. But, strangely, it can actually become somewhat tedious. Careful around hour 26, when you're teetering on the edge of suicide.
Aquarius: A very special person is about to enter your life, Aquarius. Her name's Dr. Lewis and she works down at the VD Clinic. You're going to want to have her number on speed dial.
Pisces: Remember, Pisces: Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you're probably still fucked because you're developing cirrhosis, you ignorant drunkard.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Deep Breaths and Unitards
My wife and I went to our first Lamaze class last night. We really liked our teacher, who seems to know what she's doing and also seems to have a good sense of humor about it.
It's odd, because I've been visualizing this class for so long and I'd always made sure to include people who my wife and I could make fun of, but everyone seemed very nice, for the most part. Of course, this was the first class. I'm sure some of them could turn out to be giant assholes over the course of the next five weeks.
I'm looking forward to this class, because I very much want to know what the fuck's going on when my wife starts on this whole "labor" thing. I don't want to be the husband running around, hyperventilating and telling her to bear down when she's not even fully dilated. I want to be the awesome husband who makes it easier for her and so avoids getting hit with heavy things thrown by a woman who's pushing something roughly the size of a roasted chicken out of her vagina.
The one thing my wife and I did get to make fun of was a poster on the wall of various upright positions to make early and/or active labor easier. It wasn't necessarily funny to picture my pained wife sitting on a giant exercise ball, but the female figures in the illustrations on the poster were wearing pink unitards. My wife pointed out that wearing a unitard might make the delivery a little more complicated. I just felt the the unitard was a little retro for the new millennium.
I guess I'd assumed the figures were dressed that way to give the poster a uniform look or something, but then I found this picture, which seems to suggest that my wife will be dressed similarly when it's her time to deliver. Who knew?
Monday, July 21, 2008
And for My Next Trick, I'll Slip on This Banana Peel
There are certain aged, crusty comedic gags that I love beyond measure. I once wrote a sketch that told the story of Hamlet entirely in spit-takes. I have, twice in my adult life, taken a pie to the face. There are some bits of shtick, however, that I've never cared for, especially when they happen in real life.
I was walking my dogs this afternoon. My older, larger dog, Ben, decided to hold off on taking a dump until he could find a parked car with someone sitting in it. For some reason, he seems to really like someone watching; maybe he's extremely proud of his feces and feels it ought to be shared with as broad an audience as possible, I don't know.
Anyway, Ben does his large, squishy business and I squat down to pick it up when I hear something rip. I wasn't sure what the hell had just happened, but I had a task at hand, so I continued bagging the leavings and then started making my way down the sidewalk toward our apartment. As I was walking, something felt...different. Breezy.
So I paused a moment and reached around to investigate my posterior. And I found that my shorts had ripped open from belt to crotch. I did a quick search of my pockets to see if maybe I'd left a knife someplace in my shorts, like they were a loaf of Subway bread. But no. My shorts had just...ripped. Spontaneously.
This is not, I should say here and now, a gag I've ever found that funny. There are always boxers or some other form of undergarment under the ripped pants, so the victim's balls never pop out and swing freely. Plus, the ripped shorts bit is often used to indicate that the character is hugely fat.
I'm not hugely fat. I'm no Kenyan runner, but neither am I the Micheline Man. So this wasn't a girth-split. I think my cheap Old Navy shorts just finally gave way. Which makes sense, as I've been wearing them about half the time this summer. They had, you see, just the right amount of pockets. Dammit.
I managed to get back home with limited embarrassment, partly because my boxers were the same basic color as my shorts. And also because so few people would bother to look at my ass. If the guy in the car outside which Ben dropped his load noticed, he was polite enough to not snigger.
But now I've got to buy a new pair of favorite shorts. Dammit.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Holy Fucking Shit, That Was Good!
Saw it. Loved it. Want to see it again. (Watchmen trailer rocked, too.)
I am a giant geek. That is all.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Hairshirt Horoscope (Special Movie Quotes Edition)
For some reason, the stars are communicating in movie quotes today. I have no idea how to interpret them, but I'm sure they'll have deep, personal meaning for you.
Aries: "What [you've] got here, is failure to communicate."
Taurus: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."
Gemini: "You rebel scum."
Cancer: "Why, in the vast configuration of things, I'd say you're nothing more than a scurvy little spider."
Leo: "Fly, you fools!"
Virgo: "It's good to be the king."
Libra: "You're not too smart, are you? I like that in a man."
Scorpio: "Coffee is for closers. You think I'm fucking with you? I am not fucking with you."
Sagittarius: "I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart."
Capricorn: "Leave that Welsh tart alone!"
Aquarius: "You resilient bastard, so you're still alive."
Pisces: "Soylent Green is people!"
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The Ivory Anniversary...Really? Ivory?
So last night, my wife and I went out to celebrate our 14th/6th anniversary. Fourteen years ago yesterday, she agreed to go see The Client with me; six years ago, I got her drunk enough to say "I do" and I've kept her chained to the wall in the living room every since.
It was an odd evening. Very nice and very sweet and a little odd. Odd only because this was the last anniversary we'll spend where it's just the two of us. I mean, yes, nineteen years from now, roughly, the kid will be moving out and we'll once again be alone on our anniversary, but the he'll still be morally obligated to call and wish us well, so last night was basically it.
We talked a bit about how nice it is that we've had fourteen years together, just the two of us. How we learned, in that time, to work together as a couple before introducing another person into the equation. We're ready for this next step, y'know? (Not "ready" in the sense of having all the baby furniture purchased or the apartment totally cleaned yet or anything, but ready in the vaguer sense.)
A vegetarian sampler platter at an Ethiopian restaurant, a dish of vanilla ice cream with peaches and a rerun of Gossip Girl. Not a bad way to spend an anniversary. (Okay, the first two, I was cool with, the third thing I put up with because I love my wife. Not that I didn't mock it.)
Monday, July 14, 2008
The Scary Bump
At some point while we were forced off the usual, safe paths in Central Park this weekend, due to the malevolent presence of Jon Bon Jovi and his evil hordes, something happened to me.
I can't be sure what it was. Medical science (at least, in the person of the doctor who saw me at the walk-in clinic) can't be sure, either. Saturday night, I had a little itchy patch on my elbow. Nothing big, just a little irritation. Thought it was maybe a bug bite.
Yesterday morning, though, it started to bubble a little bit; y'know, in that poison ivy kind of way? As the day progressed, it started to bubble in a not-quite-poison-ivy way. With poison ivy, you get a bunch of little bubbles and they itch quite a bit, right? That's been my poison ivy experience, at any rate.
But this wasn't a lot of little bubbles. It was one great big bubble of skin in the middle of a patch of red which was vaguely in the shape of a humming bird. People at the birthday party at which my wife and I were spending the afternoon seemed close to losing their cake at the sight of it. So I did what I always do when faced with medical uncertainty. I called a friend of ours who's a doctor and hit her up for a free over-the-phone consult. (About which she never complains, by the way. Hopefully, she'll one day have some kind of middle-school-related question that I can answer by way of karmic payback.)
She didn't seem overly worried by the sound of it, which jibed nicely with how I was feeling. So I rubbed some ointment of some kind on there (I didn't really pay attention to what the stuff was, exactly; I just always figure ointment's ointment.)
This morning, though, it was hurting a bit and I was plagued by visions of spontaneous auto-amputation or maybe of some hideous alien creature birthing itself from my arm-skin bubble and wreaking havoc on Manhattan. So I called in sick and jogged down to a walk-in clinic, where some young doctor jabbed a needle in there and drained it. I'd love to give a full report on the stuff that came out, but I averted my eyes so as to keep from puking granola all over the room. Then a nurse put about a gallon of ointment (again, could have been Neosporin, could have been Oil of Olay) on there and slapped a couple of bandages across the now-popped boo-boos. Bandages, I might add, which have been flopping off my arm all day because there's too much ointment on there to let them stick properly.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
On a Flatulent and Pointless Horse He Rides
I've got nothing against Jon Bon Jovi, personally. He seems like a nice enough guy, even if I've always thought his music could curdle milk. But today, he went too far.
Today, he and Major League Baseball inconvenienced thousands and thousands of people who just wanted to take advantage of a lovely day by walking in the park. I don't have to define what a park is, right? Open space? Public land?
Right, well because of Mr. Bon Jovi's little concert today on the Great Lawn to kick off All-Star Week, which definitely needed the publicity, as I'm sure nobody was paying it any attention, we were shunted here and there because Presidential-level security kicked in while we were in the middle of a stroll.
The Powers That Be apparently decided that Mr. Bon Jovi's life was in such mortal danger that they had to close the park entirely between 87th and 79th, which meant that anyone biking or running or just walking had to go out and around it and also stop periodically so that hordes of concert-goers could be ferried across the path like a line of baby ducklings.
I say, next time the city wants to do something like this, let them put Bon Jovi on a barge in the river so that nobody has to step around him. Stupid goddamn hair rockers.
See here for an explanation.
Get on the Bus
Just wanted to take a second here to praise New York City bus drivers. No, really.
I was sitting on a bus the other day and I put my book down long enough to pay some attention and I noticed how tiny a goddamn space the driver was navigating this giant fucking bus through. We’re talking a couple centimeters of clearance on the sides here.
These people steer whales through coral reefs on a daily basis and rarely do any damage. So here’s a tip of the hat to them. Thanks, folks!
Friday, July 11, 2008
I have not had good luck with dentists since I was a kid. Growing up, I had a second-cousin (or third- or something, I never remember exactly how those things work; he was my grandfather’s cousin, I think, so whatever that makes him) who had a dental practice a couple of towns over and he took care of my teeth for years. Which was nice, because we had stuff to make small-talk about and I knew what he was like drunk, which goes a long way in building confidence with one’s dental care provider.
Once I left Ohio, though, it became a little trickier to find a good dentist. Well, actually, in my twenties, it became trickier to get dental care without insurance. So there were long stretches where the only cleaning my teeth got was from Crest and elbow-grease.
I eventually found a dentist in Seattle who was okay, even though I’d never seen him drunk. Not great, but okay. Actually, if I recall correctly, he seemed a little younger than me, which was slightly unnerving.
Since we moved to New York, the situation’s gotten even worse. There’s a dental office in nearly every big building in the city and I haven’t been able to find one yet about whom I’ve felt good. The last guy I went to seemed to be trying to set the land-speed record for cleanings. I was basically in and out of the chair in about fifteen minutes. Which is nice, in a way, but also doesn’t make you think he’s taking the best care of you possible. This was confirmed when I had him do a filling and he left me with a bruise on my cheek that lasted two weeks. (Not sure how the bruise happened. He may have been leaning on me with his elbow, but I’m not certain.)
Because of that, I’ve gone without dental care for the last three years. I mean, it just seems like such a crap suit that I figured I’d rather deal with the slow and inevitable decay than the hassle of picking a dentist.
So now I have to go back to have a filling replaced, after which I’m going to try to find someone new. But how the hell do you do that? It’s like finding a decent mechanic. It’s hit or miss. I could keep my eyes open as I walk around town for a dental office that looks like it doesn’t suck. I could save up money until I can afford one of the dentists in New York Magazine’s Top Doctors issue. Word of mouth would be good, but my friends and I don’t usually sit around talking about our dentists.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
We’ve established that I’m stupid, right? Good.
It’s a fairly common phenomena, I think, when your routine is disturbed, to feel a little disoriented and, say, confuse yourself as to whether it’s Wednesday or Thursday. Sometimes, you can spend hours convinced--convinced!--that it’s a day other than what it really is.
So I did that with summer school. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. But I was somehow shortening the month of August in my head for weeks.
I’ve spent at least the last week thinking that, after today, I’ve got two weeks of summer school left and then a few days of testing for students that have to take the tests. The testing, you see, is August 4th, 5th and 6th. Again, don’t ask me how I got this so confused in my head.
So this morning, I’m talking with the two Teaching Fellows working with me this summer and I made some reference to the amount of time we’ve got left and the one guy says, “Umm…don’t we have three weeks to go?”
I was like, “What? Look, I don’t have time to deal with your stupidity. There’s two weeks left in July, now shut up and shine my shoes.” Then he pulled out a calendar and proved it. The little jerk.
What this means is that I’ve got a whole week longer than I was thinking. So this is not only like the thing where you confuse the day, it’s also like the thing where you wake up and think you’ve got another two hours to sleep, only to look at the clock and realize you’ve actually got to get up in two minutes. I feel robbed, I feel violated.
Maybe I’ll just call in that last week.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Aries: You're hit by an odd thought this week, Aries. And that thought is, "Wait a minute. Why is this penis in my hand?"
Taurus: Remember, Taurus, not everything is made better with frosting. Fresh fish, for example.
Gemini: When you're standing in line this weekend, Gemini, about to spend an assload of money for tickets to see Journey to the Center of the Earth, keep in mind that utter shit in 3-D is still utter shit. It's just that you can see it flying at your head.
Cancer: You've got a long, long summer ahead of you, Cancer, as you continue to obsess over whether or not Brett Favre will come out of retirement. Somehow, you find, your entire sense of being, the security of your place in the universe seems tied into this. If Favre doesn't play again, will you be able to keep your soul intact? I don't know. Maybe.
Leo: Great news this week, as your oldest son gets accepted at Clown College. Thank god, 'cause his safety school was Columbia. Ick.
Virgo: Your song-writing career gains incredible momentum this week, Virgo, as you come to the sudden realization that "Latin" rhymes with "flatten" and everything just sort of snowballs from there.
Libra: The eyes are the windows of the soul, Libra. And your windows are all squinty and blood-shot, so you might want to put down the bong for a few hours.
Scorpio: This is the week, Scorpio, when you will need to look deep into your soul and ask youself: Do I like pina colladas and getting caught in the rain? Am I not into health food? Do I have half a brain?
Sagittarius: Where is it you're going, Sagittarius? Are you climbing up to the top of a glorious mountain or are you headed off a cliff? You've got no idea, because you can't figure out how to work that fucking GPS dealie you spent all that money on.
Capricorn: Get outside and enjoy nature this week, Capricorn. Or sit in front of your television and watch nature on your TV.
Aquarius: Enjoy some down-time with your loved ones this week, Aquarius. And just to be clear, we're not talking about beloved bottles of bourbon.
Pisces: You've picked your nose, now where are you going to put it, Pisces? Where are you going to put it?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
You, Me & Dupree, Writ Large
So hang on...
The American people don't want to be in Iraq. The Iraqi people don't want us there, either. Bush & Friends have been saying that we're there because the Iraqi government needs our help to become stable, but now the Iraqi government is saying they would rather we told them when we're leaving.
People, if our hosts want us to tell them when we're leaving, shouldn't we tell them when we're leaving? If we don't, then we risk becoming the international version of that friend who you agree to let stay on your couch for a few days but who is somehow still there three months later. Then you and your spouse get into fights about who's idea it was to let him stay in the first place and more fights about who needs to set him straight about how much longer his presence will be tolerated.
Nobody wants to be that annoying guest. So what say we give the Iraqis what they want and come up with a plan to get our own apartment sooner rather than later. Seriously, it's just a matter of time before Nouri al-Maliki starts leaving passive-aggressive notes on the coffee table.
Do we, as a nation, truly want to become a lame take-off of an awful Owen Wilson comedy? God, I hope not.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Follow-Up to Thursday
...and I did, indeed, feel like I was doing laps in a pail full of feces.
Those crazy kids! They really know how to crush your spirit!
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Has the Wide World of Sports Gone Mad?
What?!? The Indians trade Sabathia on the same day the Swiss Mister gets his ass handed to him on the court he owns? This does not bode well for my universe.
Who knows what other madness may come to pass. I could wake up tomorrow and suddenly enjoy CSI. My principal could decide to give me all the seventh and eighth-graders in addition to the kids I've already got. My pubes could fall out, forcing me to go out and buy a merkin!
Stop the madness!
Friday, July 04, 2008
Summer Reading Project Update
Last month, I started getting a list together of what I'm gonna read this summer. Many people chimed in with suggestions. In fact, too many people chimed in with too many good suggestions for me to fit into one summer. So I picked a few and added them to my own list and here's what I ended up with:
I'm going to tackle a dense one first. I enjoyed the John Adams miniseries on HBO enough to make me really want to read David McCullough's book. I like these kinds of biographies, but they can sometimes be a bit of a slog for someone who's used to lighter fare.
Born Standing Up, the early-career-covering memoir by Steve Martin, has been on my list since I read an excerpt last fall.
I've never read any E.L. Doctorow, so I'm going to rectify that by trying Ragtime.
So many people suggested I try Cormac McCarthy's The Road that I couldn't ignore it. So that's in the mix.
I feel kind of stupid to have gone so long without reading A Confederacy of Dunces, and I've put it on my list.
Last summer, I plowed through a good half-dozen stories by Raymond Chandler and loved them. This summer, I'm switching over to Dashiell Hammett and reading a handful of his, including The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man.
Also, just because I've heard it's a good read for comic geeks, I'm going to give Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible a try.
Before I tackle all those new books, though, I'm cleansing my palate with another go at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I read just about a year ago. I'm about 300 pages into that right now, so I should be finished with it by sun-up.
I'll try to check in occasionally with my thoughts (worthless though they may be) on these and any other books I get to during the season. Here's hoping we all find lots of time to lie in the grass or sand and read our asses off.
It's Independence Day! It's time to get out there and engage in some conspicuous patriotism! Make sure nobody can accuse you of not loving this nation!
I'm going to eat a big piece of apple pie with fire crackers in it! What are you doing?
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Summer School II: The Quickening
I've said it before: I feel about teaching sort of like my father feels about golf; every great once in awhile, you have a day that keeps you at least mildly optimistic on all those other days when it sucks massively.
Today, I had one of the good ones. Not the best day of teaching possible, just a day when I felt in a groove of a kind and had things nicely under control on all fronts.
I should pause to explain the specifics of my current situation. I'm teaching summer school again. This is something I first did last year, spending the entire summer doing math intervention, meaning I'd pull out two or three kids at a time and work with them using a computer program, which is exactly what I expected to be doing this year.
But I'm not. Somehow, I got shoved into a self-contained sixth grade class position. So I've got the same group of kids from 8:30 to 12:30 without a break, teaching them Reading, Writing and Math. Let's go ahead and compare this to my regular school year gig, in which I get to teach theater to kids for an hour at a time, maximum. I was not happy when I learned this was what I'd be doing. Not at all.
The events of Tuesday, the first day of summer school, seemed to bear out my worst fears. A roomful of sixth graders who'd been giant pains in the butt when I had them last year. No break all day. Subjects I was not used to teaching and did not have a handle on. The kids were awful, my mood was foul and it was looking like a long, nightmarish summer.
Which it still might be, who knows?
Today, though, was better. One of the three demon students who've been fucking up my teacherly mojo was absent. The other two got a talking-to from the A.P. that's working this summer. I don't normally work with her, but we've always gotten along fine. I didn't realize she was going to be as effective as she was today, when she pulled the students into the hall and told them in no uncertain terms that, if they gave me any grief, they'd find themselves kicked out of summer school and explaining the reason to their families.
Things were helped further by the fact that I spent a couple of hours last night over-planning. It's a truism that, if you give a class time to do nothing, that void will be filled with pure, unadulterated evil. So I tried to make sure they were nice and busy today. It worked, for the most part. Couple of rough spots, but I was mostly feeling in that teacher groove today.
Which probably means that, Monday, I'll feel like I'm drowning in a bucket of shit. So it goes.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Aries: Weekend plans might be sidelined because of an injury. Or by genital warts.
Taurus: You realize you were horribly wrong to mock your spouse/romantic partner for knowing who Wayland Flowers and Madame were. You might be able to make it up to him/her if you really try.
Gemini: The presidential candidate hits home this week as both Barack Obama and John McCain offer to wash your car in exchange for your vote.
Cancer: Take some time this week to enjoy some of the fine arts, Cancer. And keep in mind that the first season of Charles in Charge on DVD probably doesn't count.
Leo: Celebrate love this week, Leo! But celebrate it in some other way than getting falling-down drunk.
Virgo: You deserve a little break, Virgo. So, five minutes, smoke 'em if you've got 'em and then back to work.
Libra: For some reason, Libra, the current on-going crisis in the real estate market means you're not going to get laid for another two years. Don't ask us precisely how this works.
Scorpio: This is not a time to be stingy, Scorpio. Even if you had to sell five gallons of plasma to earn your rent money, it's not a good idea to stiff a waiter on the tip.
Sagittarius: We won't go into any great detail about the exact circumstances; suffice it to say that you'll spend a portion of this week with squid ink on your junk.
Capricorn: Holy shit, Capricorn! Alex Rodriguez fucking Madonna? A-Rod's wife boffing Lenny Kravitz? Aaaigh! Aaaigh! Gossip overload! Can't...stop...screaming! Head...exploding!
Aquarius: This is a great week for Aquarians to try out a new look. Because "syphilitic whore" is really more appropriate for early Spring.
Pisces: Grow up, Aquarius. Eleven-year-olds can freely giggle at the phrase "manhole cover", but you really ought to be past that.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
In Defense of my Childhood
My wife and I had dinner tonight with a long-time friend of ours. I try to avoid saying "old friend", because that can lead to hurt feelings.
Anyway, said friend had her two-month-old with her. Great baby. Truly. He's got absolutely wonderful cheeks and a very intense-looking stare. And so very well-behaved. Good kid.
Our friend's husband was not able to be there, as he was with his family across the river, making sure their nineteen-month-old got to bed at the proper time. (This parenting thing sounds like it requires a level of precision that I'm not certain I'll be able to muster.)
The child who was unable to make it to dinner is named Waylon and my wife, our friend and I took a little time to discuss the name. The obvious pop-culture connection here is with the late Waylon Jennings, the country musician who recorded the Outlaws albums with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristoferson and narrated/sang the theme song for The Dukes of Hazzard.
I took things a step further and invoked Waylon Flowers and Madame, to utterly blank stares. "Y'know! Waylon Flowers and Madame? Gay guy and his flamboyant puppet? 70's game show panels? Hollywood Squares?" Nothing.
Revisiting the conversation later, my wife accused me of having absolutely wasted my childhood in front of the TV. Hey! I played outside. I played the fuck out of the outside. In the woods, at the lake, on the railroad tracks. I did not ignore the great outdoors.
But childhood's a long, long project. I had plenty of time to sit on the sofa, soaking in those glorious televised moments that stay with me to this day.
And isn't the world a richer place for me, now that I can reference Waylon Flowers? (Actually "Wayland"; I fucked that up a bit.) Is not my contribution to the planet made that much better because I know that Bert Convy played a jewel thief on The Love Boat? Would I be as deserving of love if I couldn't name every spin-off that Happy Days ever produced? I say thee nay.
I come not to bury 70's junk-culture television, but to praise it.