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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Friday, December 31, 2004

Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams

I'm not going to be cliche and ask what you're doing New Years Eve. I do, however, know what all of us will NOT be doing. That is watching legendary Dick Clark. How ever will we survive? A New Years without DC is like winter in NJ without snow or Jessica Simpson without Nick Lachey- it's just plain WRONG.

But before I say so long and farewell, I have to leave you with something to hold you over. You know, since we won't be talking till next year and all.

Stuff I Learned In 2004 (In Random Order):

1. I need to take more pictures.
2. I need to do more things that are worthy of taking pictures of.
3. I must learn conversational Spanish.
4. I wasted time learning conversational French.
5. I should join a gym instead of antisocially exercising in the comforts of my own home.
6. Writing on a chalkboard is harder than it looks.
7. Saturday Night Live is actually Saturday Night-Sometimes Live.
8. 51% or so of Americans can so be wrong.
9. God called Oprah. Apparently he wants his job back.
10. With a name like Bennifer, it has to be good.
11. TV shows with otherwise sad words in their titles like "desperate" and "lost" are reinventing the wheel. (See the period in time when the word "bad" suddenly became slang for "good".)
12. Howard Dean went from the great white hope to Willy Wonka in under 60 seconds.
13. The Swan: Being thin and beautiful DOES make you better than everyone else. Who knew?
14. Write more succinct posts since most blog surfers have the attention span of
15. If you've got nothing good to say, don't say anything at all. Instead, go home and blog about it.

BE commenters - thanks to all who've dropped me a line via the site. It's a bit of a pain in the ass, but your sentiments do not go unappreciated.

Michele sent me-er's- Well, I feel so unprepared. Had I known you were coming, I would have baked a cake or something. I am a teacher so I'm afraid I have to give you homework. Don't worry it won't be hard, if you were paying attention. I need you to find something, anything new you learned from my little corner of the world. Be creative. Then I want you to go back to Michele and say, "Today Janet taught me how to _________." Yes, it might require a little extra reading. It's ok though, you'll survive.

Now go, get started. You don't want to get half credit, do you?

Until next year!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner

How sad is it that actor Jerry Orbach has passed away? Of course what else would this be but sad, as death is rarely, if ever, a happy occasion. Perhaps in the movies. Or in video games. But surely not in real life.

Jerry Orbach was amazing because so many people knew him, yet so few people KNEW they knew him... if you know what I mean. The man, remarkably, was only 69. That means when he made Dirty Dancing he was probably only 50 or so. This segues into another great "talent" of Orbach's; the ability to look the same age for nearly his entire life.

One look at his credits on IMDB will tell you the man got around, but in a good way. Most people know him for his most recent, and frequent role on Law & Order. Not as many people know he had a long standing career on Broadway. But no matter what, I will forever remember him as Jake "I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong" Houseman from Dirty Dancing.

Farewell, Mr. Orbach. You will be missed.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Everybody's Doing It: The Year In Review

Blog Explosion readers! Faithful visitors! Random people who somehow got here by searching for Gillian Vigman!...Come, lend me your ear!

While I haven't been at this blogging thing for quite a year yet, I still find that it's been a great little time capsule of thoughts. Some of you have been with me since the very beginning. Some I met right smack dab in the middle. And then there are even others that are examples of recent additions that have already grown on me.

They say that blogging is easy. That anyone can do it.

They are only half right.

Sure, if you give any half brained idiot a computer and a dream they can type till the cows come home. But the same can be said about reproduction or driver's licenses. Any idiot can reproduce or make right turns, but not everyone can do it well. Especially, not at the same time.

So, with that being said, I'd like to salute my side bar posse for a job well done. I enjoy reading into each and everyone of your lives, especially since I only really know one of you. With the rest of you, I only feel like a voyeur half the time. The other half I'm totally entertained. Really.

In summation, I think my thoughts can best be expressed by all things 2004. And who better to express my feelings on the subject than...myself.

So, kick back, relax and take a load off. If you've been around the joint for awhile, don't consider this one of those lame ass flashback episodes pawned off as a new episode that eighties sitcoms like The Golden Girls and Growing Pains, were so found of making. Instead, look at is a greatest hits of the past year. The Kenny Rogers classics of AOGB if you will.

And if you're brand spanking new, or just kinda sorta new, here's your second chance to get a first impression. Browse a bit. If you like, you buy.

So, without further adieu, I bring you The Best of AOGB 2004: A Retrospective

The Rules of the Remake
Different Strokes
Wedding Gate 2004
Why You Scare Me: Denise Austin Edition
I Went to AC And All I Got Was This Stupid Blog Entry
I Left My Heart In San Diego
The Song Remains The Same
Open Letter to a School Superintendent: Rough Draft
You Would Mention It Too If It Happened To You
Top 10 Signs You're Addicted to Blogging
I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter
School of Hard Knocks
Come And Knock On Our Door
10 More Good Reasons To Move To Canada
Uno, Dos, Tres...Catorce?
Do You Hear What I Hear...Every F**king Year?
Oh Come All Ye Faithful...And A Few Of You Other Guys Too
Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Bridge Over Troubled Water

The title of this post is apropos. It also goes to show how most days, my head usually up there in the pop culture clouds.

They say no news is good news. Although a cliche, I find this is often true. The nightly news is, in large part, written around sensationalism and cliffhangers. Things like deaths, murders, kidnappings and natural disasters. Sweet headlines are made of these. A nice old man turning 100, a small town's outpouring of affection towards a sick child, monetary means raised for a charity...these are the tidbits they save for the closing credits or, even worse, the awkward "filler" moments, sandwiched somewhere between a five alarm fire and an advertisement for the latest Kohl's sale.

So, although this isn't an excuse, this is the number one reason why I don't tune into the nightly news on a routine basis. The names and faces may change, but the downward spiral projection of the human race does not.

In fact, my feelings on the matter are often mirrored on this blog. In case you haven't noticed, I tend to stay away from a lot of hard hitting issues, careful not to hit anyone over the head with heavy handed news and views. In my opinion, there's a time and place for all of that. There are even very good blogs devoted to such matters. Instead, I try to walk the fine line somewhere down the middle. So while this blog ain't exactly Disneyland, it's not CNN either.

But then I hear about this and I feel two emotions.

1. Embarrassed- This event transpired probably only 24 hours before I found out about it. In fact, I was walking through the living room, headed for the kitchen when my mom brought the event to my attention. Still, given the circumstances, that's a long period of time. In fact, had I not been in the room at that moment, it might have been even longer till I found out. I could use the excuse that I was out of the loop because it was a holiday weekend, but it would be just that, an excuse.

2. Helpless- There are plenty of places to donate to and then all that's left to do is cross your fingers and hope your donation gets in in the right hands. Other than that, it's business as usual. Back home people blog about Christmas presents and Neilsen ratings, present company included. It's a shallow existence, but one many of us succumb to, although we're not proud of it.

Long story short, I'm not a dweller. I will return to my old blogging self in no time, if not to maintain some degree of normalcy, but to get my mind (and maybe others) off the sad reality. Because, in my mind, dwelling would be wrong, but to forget, or to somehow not acknowledge, would be even worse.

And so in the spirt of the season, and every day here after, let's pray for each other and, at the risk of sounding corny, count our "blog-gone" blessings.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Solitaire's The Only Game In Town

I'm gonna hit you baby one more time with another "Merry Christmas"! I hope it was a good one for you and yours. Mine went swimmingly, thank you very much. No big gifts or surprises to speak of this year. Instead, the biggest "gift" I've gotten this Christmas season is something I didn't have to unwrap. This the beloved game of solitaire. I think my feelings on this discovery can be best summed up by a lyric from a Survivor eighties power ballad: "The search is over, you were with me all the while".

I know what you're thinking. How can you have JUST discovered the game of solitaire? I don't know, and frankly, I've been asking myself that very same question the past few days. I mean it's not like I've never heard of solitaire before. I've seen other people play it. I've heard the likes of Laura Branigan, Neil Sedaka and Clay Aiken sing about it (though not directly). And as an only child who was often forced to find her own solo, reindeer games, I'm as shocked and appalled by this as the next guy.

I guess it's true when they say there are two roads to take when traveling in life. I took the one that was less traveled, and now I'm a solitaire apprentice. Thanks bunches, Robert Frost.

First I just played a few games of solitaire out of curiosity. You know, the way many teenagers take a drag off a cigarette. But just like those kids who play around with cancer sticks, I was hooked before too long. In the last few days I've played solitaire numerous times. I even played it looking over the shoulder of another person, which defeats the purpose of the game SOLITAIRE completely, but I digress.

At first I was playing it on a Palm Pilot because let's be honest, everything old seems new again when you get use a new toy. But the great thing being is that solitaire was really indeed new to me. And it's everywhere. Got a deck of cards? Bam! Have a computer? Voila! And now, there's simply no going back to the way things were before. I can't go for that.

Oh no, no can do.

So instead of being extra productive I've found yet another escape that can take away from the little time that I have. This can be found in the encyclopedia of life, filed under "stress relievers and procrastination tools" see: BLOGGING.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Oh Come All Ye Faithful...And A Few Of You Other Guys Too

Growing up Roman Catholic, I used to attend church nearly every Sunday. I made my penance, my communion and my confirmation. I sat through sermon upon sermon. My parents, however, were split right down the middle. Both mom and dad were also raised Roman Catholic, but the tradition of faithfully attending mass only stuck with mom. Dad was a special occasions attendee. Back then I wanted to be like dad, for reasons that I'm sure are obvious. This upset mom. As I grew older and went off to college, I ultimately did end up like dad. And mom? Well, she too stopped going. I guess all those Sunday's were really just spent trying to instill some faith in me. Funny how it backfired like that.

When she gets frustrated now that I don't go, I tell her that when you point the finger, there are always three more pointing right back at you. Well, in theory I tell her that. Actually I just send her more of a "look and sigh combo" that I've perfected over the years. I see that for her, shopping most Sunday mornings has replaced the morning mass ritual. There's the pot calling the kettle black. No, two wrongs don't make a right. You can feel free to fill in your favorite random idiom here.

For a few years I didn't even attend mass on Christmas. There were too many places to go, too many people to see. But this year, everything fell into place and lo and behold my family, with grandma in tow, all decided to venture out to the local church. With the wedding I did a reading in being just last week that makes a whopping two week in a row record for my church attendance. I just might be on to something. Nah, probably not.

Some things stay the same with your average, Roman Catholic parishoner. I live in a town that is predominantly Jewish, but on holidays such as Christmas, the RC's come out of the woodwork like you wouldn't believe. This particular mass was no exception. It was standing room only as the priest and deacons prepared to preach to a packed house. Not only did we not have a seat, we were standing in the dreaded back room. The one that is always too cold or too hot. The one where they have bingo nights. The one that is always only half full of chairs on nights such as these when EVERY YEAR they obviously need more. I'm no financial advisor, but taking some of the donations and investing in another 50-100 folding chairs might be a good idea. Or if we could only use call ahead. I mean it works so well for The Outback.

So as we stood in the too warm, crowded room of well intentioned, but already halfway out the door parishoners, I found myself resorting to the old standby's I used from many a Christmases past. When I was a kid, there were other kids that got to bring things to do like dolls to play with or books to read. I was not one of those children. At that time, I merely looked at those kids with envy. So instead, I zoned in on other people. If all goes well and you play cards right, you can sit (or stand as the case may be) near a cute baby or child. If you are lucky enough to have this location, you're golden. Cute children, whether they're precocious or obnoxious, help pass the time like nobody's business. And if you are really lucky, you have a few different kids to choose from. This particular mass I found a few children to focus my attention on, although it was far from being a banner year. There was the cute little blonde hair child who loved to hit her mom. Then there was the little boy in front of me who had a passing the time activity of his own as he played the original, "watch me try to balance on one foot for as long as I can" game of boredom. The other thing I notice about the little ones is that they too have their ways of getting through mass. Us Roman Catholics start early. Also, do you think it's really a coincidence some kids don't start ranting and raving at the top of their lungs until it is completely silent? I didn't think so.

I noticed the first reader at this particular mass sounded a lot like an extra from The Sopranos. I didn't know who the priest was either, but he too sounded like an actor I couldn't place. I'd like to tell you what these men looked like, but I couldn't see him from the nosebleed seats, or "stands" as it were. We actually used to have a priest who sounded exactly like Tom Hanks if you closed your eyes. All of these men make feeble attempts at humor before diving into the serious business, which in short, no matter how you slice it, is always "Jesus is the reason for the season".

As the priest thanked us for coming and subtley reminded us to be good Roman Catholics not just tonight but, all year round, people started filing out of the church. Most of them got what they came for. They put in their time and paid their dues, some of the literally. They scampered off to the cars, most of them to surface again during Lent or Easter. And it was in the moment that we walked out into the cold, night air and tried to cross the parking lot to get to our car as cars kept on whizzing by that I noticed the irony of it all. Jesus might be what got us there, but apparently one little sermon is not going to change the fact, unfortunately, most of these people still think they're more important than you.

I also realize as I type this that most of the people who will actually read this on Christmas will probably be Jewish bloggers and some of this might be boring to them, but that's ok.

Regardless of your denomination, I hope you have (or had) a happy holiday. Just try to be good to each other, pretty please with a Communion wafer on top.

Friday, December 24, 2004

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

On a day like Christmas Eve, most people are doing things like last minute Christms shopping or spending time with family. Then there are the "abnormal" folks like myself that are here, blogging away to near complete strangers in cyberspace. But before you go setting an extra place for me at your table, let me explain. My shopping is done, the presents are wrapped (as of this morning) and the quality time with family, well, that will come later.

It also needs to be said that I hate buying presents. This is not because I am a shallow person who only likes receiving them. This is because I usually have no idea what to get the people in my life. My parents are next to impossible. Neither one of them has any hobbies, unless you count shopping itself as a hobby. Every year it's another sweater, more cologne or a gift certificate to do what they love to do most, eat. I can't shop for my boyfriend because he likes to pick out his own gifts. I tried being creative and picking out something on my own for him one year. I learned the hard way to never make that mistake twice.

So I found this year that I poured all my Christmas spirit and creative energies into all things third grade. Since this was my first year with a classroom of my own, I dreamed big. Between books, the internet and fellow teachers, on holidays like this one, my cup runneth over.

The week before Christmas should be, in theory, easier to teach. The tests and assessments are put aside for a bit and its place are "cotton ball bearded Santa projects" and "what Christmas means to me" journal entries. But believe it or not, doing a lot of "nothing" actually takes a lot of planning, and time.

In Social Studies, I gave my class a project called Christmas Around The World. No mystery here, the name is exactly as it sounds. Everyone had a partner. I gave them information on a country. They had to find out three new facts about their country, along with where it fell on a map, and present their facts to the class. The cherry on top was they had to tell the class why their country was or was not different from America's way of celebrating Christmas. Amazingly enough, this went pretty well.

In Reading, I read the story "The Polar Express". I made the class sit on the carpet as if they were on a train, handing them boarding passes as they "got on". I also made hot cocoa for them to drink as they listened like they drink in the story. Finally, for those who don't know at the end of the story we learn that only people who can hear the bell believe in Santa. So I made everyone in my class bell necklaces although wouldn't you know it, I had one student who doesn't believe. It's ok though, the one rotten ornament did not shake down the whole tree, so to speak.

At Centers, I had the students email Santa Claus. I printed out all of their oh so individualistic form letter replies and put them in their mailboxes. Wouldn't you know one of my students got a letter that said..."I hear you've been a good girl this year". Only problem being the student who received it was in fact, a boy. Another student's letter had the line, "I'll be coming down your chimney this year...". The boy doesn't have a chimney. In defense of Santa, it's really the kids fault. They didn't read all the questions carefully before entering their list, namely "Are you a boy or a girl?" and "Do you have a chimney?" Leave it to the little rugrats to finally proofread when you don't want them to. So a few students were inadvertently mad at Santa Claus. I told them that they weren't being fair. Santa's a busy man. Maybe the elves had to help out answering the letters. Santa's also entitled to make mistakes. I was grasping at straws. Oh well, it was a cute idea in theory.

Finally, for the piece de resistance, in writing, I had my students write their perfect Christmas recipes. These aren't recipes like the, "show-me-somebody-who actually-makes-this, figgy-pudding" or the "bite-down-hard-and-you'll-lose-a-tooth, recipe for grandma's fruitcake". Oh no, these were abstract recipes containing all of the ingredients that make a perfect Christmas. For instance, you might have 1 pint of family, 2 cups of friends, a pinch of cheer and a dash of laughter. Then they had to explain how to put it all together and I had them copy their recipes into an actual blank book. I'm proud to say it is the best project we've done all year. Needless to say (although here I go anyway, so really, what a stupid expression) that's a project that will be predominantly placed for many months to come.

I even sent out my Christmas cards early this year. Unfortunately, everytime I talk or even think about sending Christmas cards I hear that annoying Paul Lind-like voice from the "12 Pains Of Christmas" squealing, "SENDING CHRISTMAS CARDS!" You know the one I'm talking about. Even if you don't think you know, you know. Trust me. I realized after my last post that I should have included that on my "stab yourself in the eye" list. My bad. I have found though that the whole Christmas card tradition doesn't seem to be catching on with my generation. Most of my friends don't send cards. Unless of course, it's merely the circles I travel in. I don't know. You tell me.

Finally, today is the last chance, if you haven't done so already to nominate a fellow blogger via the Best of Blog Awards. Thanks to Jennie (at least I think it was you), for giving me a shout out. Apparently they will be reviewing candidates over the next week or so to select finalists in all categories. I guess that means we should all be on our best blogging behavior over the next few days.

And to think, all this time we thought it was only Santa who would see us when we were sleeping and when we were awake.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Do You Hear What I Hear...Every F***ing Year?

When I was a kid, I couldn't get enough of Christmas music. My parents would play Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" as we decorated the tree. I thought Elmo and Patsy's "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" was a HEE-sterical. Amy Grant's "Grown-Up Christmas List" was one of the most prolific songs I'd heard...ever.

But as the years have passed and I have grown older, my interests in all things Christmas have waned. In fact, lately I find myself groaning at the lack of originality that comes along with Christmas. This is not to say that I have a "Bah Humbug bravado", but I mean really, how many ways can you say joy to the world, goodwill towards men or even Feliz Navidad?

Beyond the lack of original phrasing, the fruit cake is all the more nutty since no one seems to have anything new to say about the season, period. Case in point, Band-Aid 20's remake of the classic "Do They Know It's Christmas?" I can sum up this remake in one word: UNNECESSARY. Sure, they all 2004'ed it up by adding Robbie Williams AND a rap, but other than that, I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The only good thing about this rehash is that I suppose the money goes to charity. That's a plus. Otherwise it's only purpose in my mind is to irritate and remind me of the startling and disturbing fact that it has, indeed, been TWENTY FREAKIN' YEARS since the original. Good lord.

All that being said, in the spirit of the season, I have compiled a list that breaks down my feelings on the ghosts of Christmas music past:

Top 10 Christmas Songs I'm Not Sick Of

1. "Must Have Been Ol' Santa Claus"- Harry Connick Jr.-
This my friends, is a classic waiting in the wings. Not only is this a great, original song, but Harry is also an equal opportunity holiday greeter, wishing warm Happy Hanukah from Harry Connick-ah wishes to all.

2. "Do They Know It's Christmas?"-Band-Aid
The only way to go is with the original no name crew, minus the famous a million times over, Bono.

3. "All Alone On Christmas"-Darlene Love
Cheesy? Yes. Classic. Hell yeah.

4. "All I Want For Christmas Is You"-Mariah Carey
see above

5. "Christmas Wrapping"-The Waitresses
One year, many opened presents ago, I made it my mission to memorize all the lyrics to this song. ("You mean you forgot cranberries too?") I am proud to say I still have it all up in the ol' noggin, just waiting for A Rock N' Roll Jeopardy-like duel.

6. "Last Christmas"-Wham
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the last Christmas song that I can recall that actually had something slightly new to say about the holiday. Not to mention that to this day, it still remains Andrew Ridgeley's biggest claim to fame. Darren Hayes of Savage Garden redid this one a few years back. He's currently Ridgeleying it up somewhere along with John "Jingle Bell Rock" Oates.

7. "Same Old Ayne Syne"- Dan Fogelberg
I like to refer to this gem as my obscure Christmas favorite, but let's call a spade a spade here, most of my interests are nothing if not obscure. Believe it or not, this is actually one of my favorite songs...ever. It's not a traditional Christmas carol, but they usually pull it out and dust it off every year around this time. If you're a sadistic martyr like me and want a little drama with your egg nog, this one's for you!

8. "Reggae Christmas"-Bryan Adams
No, I most certainly will not apologize. This is a fun song. Christmas is meant to be fun. Now go away.

9. "Dominick The Donkey"-Lou Monte
Speaking of fun...when you take fun and add Christmas what do you get? Why Lou "Dominick The Donkey" Monte, of course! This song reminds me of my half, but who am I kidding, more like a 100% Italian heritage. "A dress for Josephine!" That line kills me everytime. Incidentally, if you like this song by Lou you would most certainly like his others considering they are

10."So This Is Christmas"- John Lennon
This one is the biggest "oldie" on my list that I still love. There are others that are good, but nothing that captures the season as well. It succeeds every year in making me reflect upon another year gone by with the opening line. "And so this is Christmas. And what have you done?..." It's in that second I both love and hate Lennon; both for his rhetorical question and his uncanny ability to make me feel inadequate about another 365 days, all at the same time. Thanks, John. You've given a gift that keeps on giving.

On the other hand, I hate, loathe, despise, detest, dislike, deplore, spit upon, shudder at the thought of, dread with the heat of a thousands suns....Paul McCartney's "Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time". No Christmas song before or since has made me want to stab myself repeatedly in the eye. How this can come from the same man who gave us classics such as "Hey Jude", I have no idea. It's like McCartney's musical skeleton that should have never gotten out of the closet.

So there you have it, my recommendations for repeat offenders this holiday season. Feel free to share one of your own. You can also feel free to kiss or dismiss one of my picks. I don't care. It's Santa Claus who sees you when you're sleeping and when you're awake. I just blog here.
Monday, December 20, 2004

Wedding Weekend: The Aftermath

Although there were some naysayers out there, rest assured I did the "right" thing and attended the rehearsal dinner on Friday. For those of you who are just dying to know if we actually rehearsed or not the answer is yes...and no.

See, I was given my reading that night, on the spot. I went up to the podium, read a line and sat back down. There was no actual run through. And as for all three readers? One got stuck in traffic so he never quite made it to the rehearsal, although he had the best of intentions. It's ok though because he was reading the Prayer of the Faithful, which the bride and groom still hadn't written yet.

See? I knew who I was dealing with.

On a good note, the rehearsal dinner was excellent. In fact, in the words of the bride, it was probably better than the wedding dinner. This was also due to the fact that the groom used to work at the restaurant back in the day and thus, was hooked up. The wedding itself also went well. There was no Rick Astley, although oddly enough, that would have pleased someone like me. They did play Human League's "Don't You Want Me?" though which for novelty alone, probably only excited yours truly. It was a live band. The couple took dance lessons and waltzed to Norah Jones's "Run Away With Me". There was no "Electric Slide". There was no "YMCA". There wasn't even a garter toss. Finally, one of my friends got it right.

There were, however, a lot of glitches. The bride's bouquet started falling the limo...on the way to the wedding. The photographer got zero, zilch pictures of the bride with her parents at the house. The photographers also demanded a hot meal instead of a vendor meal. There was supposed to be a limo bus but instead a stretch limo showed up. So they improvised. Five-year-old and eight-year-old ring bearers are ok sitting on the floor anyhow.

Back at work on Monday, I hear that the work Christmas party, you know, where I was supposed to be Friday night, was also a hit. In a perfect world I would have done both, but as the Rolling Stones once said you can't always get what you want.

I realize that for me, this is a ridiculously boring post. I just felt the need to tie up some loose ends. Have no fear. A winter break is looming on the horizon and with it, more time to write about making sensical of all that is nonsensical. Oh yeah, and reading other blogs too. That might be nice.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004

3 Weddings And A Wake

For those of you who have been reading this blog for some time now, you know I had three, count em, three weddings to attend this year. Now to most people, that might not sound like a lot. But I'm talking three weddings in the same, immediate family. The first in the trifecta was back in April and since I'm on the topic, she's already pregnant. The second wedding I was in and that was back in July. You might recall my wedding related tirades or wish to refresh your memory here or here or even here.

Now we are on the eve of the third and final wedding of the trio. Luckily, I am not a bridesmaid in this wedding although I was asked awhile back to be a reader. I don't know if you've ever been asked to be in a wedding before, but if you are, even if you are "only a reader", you like to know the where's and when's ahead of time. What you're reading, for example would also come in handy. Ok, at least to me.

So you can imagine my surprise when the wedding was around the corner and there was no more word about my doing a reading. With a little over 2 weeks to the wedding to go, I decided to put in money towards the school Christmas party and chalk it up as she must have found somebody else. After all, everybody knows the job of the reader goes to the red-headed stepchild of friends. The fringe friend. The "Chad Lowe", twice removed, if you will.

But then, 2 weeks to the date of the wedding, I get an invitation for the rehearsal dinner in the mail.

I was pissed. I thought I wasn't involved anymore. I mean, can't I just not be involved anymore? I know what you're thinking. I know it sounds bad. But there's also the matter of my school. I had already paid for the Christmas party. If I backed out now, would they think I was an anti-social flake or something even more bizarre, like I only celebrated Kwanzaa?

So, I left it up to the Gods. If I was able to get my money back, I will take this as a sign I should attend the rehearsal although part of me wanted not to go, just on principle. The bride-to-be insisted I be there because she said her deacon was quite "anal" (no pun intended) and made a point of saying the readers needed to be there to rehearse.

Now I don't know about you, but I have never been to a wedding rehearsal where the readers rehearse, so I can't wait to see what song and dance number they have choreographed for Saturday. I'm picturing lots of doves and even perhaps a cameo by Olivia Newton-John who also, coincidentally, is a vision in white.

Then the funeral came in. Ok not a funeral, a wake. There will be a funeral, I just won't be attending. The person who died is one of those folks you pay your proper respects to, but they don't run in your immediate circle. I just cheated with the name of this post because well, I was *this* close.

Of course, sans Hugh Grant.

In closing, I've noticed an irony that transpires at these events, so it's kismet they are a crossing paths now. Funerals, although a somber occassion, are often sprinkled with lots of laughter and reunions. Weddings on the other hand, are often filled with hungry people who hate their lukewarm food and their tablemates, along with the fact that they really don't want to catch the bouquet or the garter and God forbid, here the 5,698th version of "We Are Family", "Shout" or "Hot, Hot, Hot".

With that being said, one guess as to which event is actually more bearable.

Don't be a hater. You know deep down you're thinking it too.
Monday, December 13, 2004

Love Child, Never Meant To Be

Out of the many conspiracy theories I have, this has got to be one of my personal favorites. These guys they're not related. I say they're lying.

Robert Sean Leonard!

Come down these stairs this instant!

I might not have his career...

but I certainly have his genes.

Yeah! Yeah!

The only two men who can still make the top hat look cool.

Don't be shy. Do you have as few of your own?
Sunday, December 12, 2004

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

P.S.-Another perk of Blog Explosion is getting sudden and unexpected praise. Jeremy over at Sporadic Ink created the Blog of Coolness award. No, I don't win cash, prizes or even a book deal. It's the cute little icon you see in the lower right hand side of this blog.

And to think, people told me writing about nothing would get me nowhere.:)

In the spirit of giving, there's a cool little site I found today that holds nominations for best blogs. BOB. There is a deadline however.

So, if you like what you see here, or any place else for that matter, don't wait till tomorrow. Be sure to let that blogger know you love them today.

Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus

One of the hardest things about teaching third graders this time of year is the the unavoidable big question.

"Miss Branagan, is there really a Santa Claus?"

I was surprised no one had asked me, until a student of mine blindsided me the other day. So I did what any authority figure for eight year olds would do in my situation.

I lied.

Now I know we tell children it is never OK to lie. But isn't that in esssence, itself a lie? I figure this is one lie that God will forgive in the grand scheme of things. In fact, this is one of those rare situations in life where telling the true is actually the opposite of the right thing to do.

Third grade is a weird age because you're not quite a little kid anymore, but you're not quite into the "rolling your eyes, God this is embarrasing" preteen stage yet either. You still believe what adults tell you. You still get excited when a teacher swears something will be "fun" (often another lie). Empty threats still scare the hell out of you. Action figures are still cool. All of these things and more still apply to the average third grader.

Of course, there is always one kid who figures out the truth before everyone else. Whether he examines the plausiblity of a real life bunny hopping down the street or he just hears it early on from an obnoxious older brother, regardless the truth is out, the magic gone. Often this child finds it his or her duty to share what he knows what the rest of his duped comrades.

In fact, I think that child was me.

This is not to say that I ran around purposely ruining the wonders of Christmas for other children. Children "in the know" don't see it that way. Instead they see it as their obligation to open the eyes of their peers to the truths that surround them. Incidentally, these are also often the same kids that grow up to be very good conspiracy theorists, but that's another post for another time.

So no, I was not the type of child who ran around telling everyone I knew, nor was I the mean-spirited child who laughed at those who still believed. But I know I was the bearer of bad news to at least two little girls; my best friends.

God love those little girls, they sure held their ground. They said the information I had simply could not be true because they saw Santa leave their house one night. They had proof. I wouldn't leave well enough alone. I told them their dad probably dressed up. I think they were still on the fence. Talk about idealistic.

Now so many years later, I can't recall when I stopped believing or how I knew the truth. That part of the story remains blurry to me. But the way kids, especially my class, grow up so quickly these days, I was really surprised to see so many of them still believe at this age.

This is why I am humming a different tune this time around and decidedly perpetuating the myth. Now I know better. Children that know early on are not smarter. If anything, they often grow more cynical about the life around them at an earlier age. And really- what hurry is there to be cynical? As wise old woman once spoke a truthful adage in the lyric: "If I could turn back time, I'd take back those words that hurt you..." I know what you're thinking. The song sounds like it's about a relationship gone bad. Just trust me on this one. You simply gotta read between the lines.

Next week I plan on reading the story of The Polar Express to my class since the dream of getting any hardcore work done in the remaining days before Christmas is a laugh. I read the story this weekend for the first time myself. Really it's premise is about the magic of believing. Now I have to be prepared for the hard-hitting questions and the "but how do you explain's?" that are sure to come at me. It's ok though. I figure I'm ready. I'm ready to lie through my teeth. For now I understand the importance of believing, even if it is for just a little bit longer.
Friday, December 10, 2004

The One Where I Blog About Blogging

Recently, I followed the herd and joined the unofficial "Blogger Support Group" otherwise known as Blog Explosion. Blog Explosion, or BE as I like to call it, is simply the latest in a long line of blog related bonuses created in the hopes of wooing some attention-starved folks like myself (and perhaps even yourself) into the its shallow fold of followers.

For those of you who don't know anything about it, here's the 411. BE is a blog search engine of sorts, only it is built on the premise that your site will get more visitors- guaranteed. It would, if it could, be called a money back guarantee. But it can't because no money changes hands since it's free.

It works like this. You log on to BE and you surf member blogs. The more member blogs you surf, the more people there will be surfing yours. So now I guess that means it's all's fair in love, war and the land of blogging. The trick is you have to stay at one site for a whole 30 seconds before you get a credit for being there. Once in a blue moon you also get the chance to win mystery credits. I've heard of some people winning up to 100 credits. I'm not one of these people.

So far I have only found a few personal glitches with the system:

1. It's every blogger for himself.
Like I stated earlier, you have to stay at a site for 30 seconds before earning your credit and moving on. But once that 30 seconds is up, you can go on your merry way. When you think about it, 30 seconds is nothing. Within 5 minutes, if you're a faithful surfer, you could have easily visited 10 new blogs and have gotten 10 hits to your blog in return. And this is precisely what most bloggers do. The system is set up so that you can introduce your blog, but not without visiting others first. So people "visit" but rarely stay around long. It's a get in, get out, wham-bam-thank you-mamn-kinda-situation. If you are a member of BE don't lie, you know you've done it, so don't be a hater, k? The reason why this happens is simple and also happens to segue perfectly into reason #2.

2. Not all blogs were created equally.
I've decided blogs are a lot like children; none are as so great as your own. That being said, a lot of people have a hard time being impartial and as a result, think their blog is the bomb. Even those people that don't think this don't care because quite frankly, they're still craving attention and feedback. It's the pick me! syndrome from gym class all over again, only in this scenario gym class is actually the wonderful world wide web.

3. A Comment On Comments
Many BE users comment via BE's site and not the person's actual blog. I find this to be annoying. A fair, impartial review is one thing. A generic comment is also acceptable. But the problem herein lies when you want to visit or even blogroll another members blog, you can't because the link comes up as Blog Explosion. In fact, unless that person comments on your blog, you might as well kiss the publicity factor goodbye. Unless of course, you know something I don't know, which of course, is always possible.

4. Where Have All The Bloggers Gone?
I realize that every single day the blogging community grows. So then I wonder, why do I often run into the same blogs on BE time and time again. Are there really not that many blogs to sift through or do these people merely surf too damn much themselves? Inquiring minds want to know.

5. Assigning Credits
I think I got this one down, but I'm still not sure. As far as I can tell you can assign credits to other blogs. I guess this works if you personally have more than one blog. I can't think of another scenario where this would work though. So I don't really understand why you have to change the settings to assign credits. I might not be living up to my BE potential and just not know it.

And As A Bonus For Getting This Far...
You can also get extra credit points if someone joins BE and mentions you referred them. So if you got this far in my post and haven't joined BE yet, forget everything negative I said. Just go join and be sure to say Janet made you do it.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Night The Lights Went Out In Jersey

It was meant to be a night to end all nights. I was right at the end of my exercise routine. I still had a few papers to grade. There would even be some time left over to blog! Yes, the Gods were surely smiling down on me.

And then it happened. The power went out.

At first, the lights just flickered, taunting me with a foreshadowing of what was to come. A second later everything went out, including the phone. Well, everything except for my trusty laptop, powered by the almighty backup battery. This came in surprisingly handy when trying to guide my way around what would have been an otherwise pitch black room.

By the light of my laptop screen I was able to find a small flashlight. I stumbled down the stairs. It was then we noticed a lot of houses were out. Not even a glimmer of a menorah or Christmas tree's lights shone in the distance. So I did what any self-serving person with nothing else to do in a blackout would do. I broke out a piece of pecan pie.

Something told me this could take awhile.

Before long, we were all bitching about the power being out. But then again, does anyone really ever admit to there being a good time for these sort of inconveniences? If it happens in the summer, we complain it's too hot. Winter? It's too cold. 8pm? Too early to go to bed and I can't watch TV. 3am? Now my alarm is gone and I won't know when to wake up! Yet, all in all I can objectively say there could definitely be worse times.

Still, I found myself begrudingly heading off to bed at 9:30 pm with a lack of nothing better to do but sleep. I don't know what my problem was. It's not like I'd be up that much later anyhow.

Lo and behold, after about ten minutes in bed, the power came back on. I sat straight up with glee. Yeah! I can watch the Real World/Road Rules Challenge after all! My world was bright again, and in more ways than one. It was at that very moment I realized two very important things; just how pathetic and electricity-ically co-dependent I was.

Then I decided whatever, just let there be light.
Sunday, December 05, 2004

Forgive Me Father For I Have Sinned

While watching Desperate Housewives last week, something occurred to me. In case you're one of the few who do not watch, one of the main characters is having an affair with her pool boy, key word here being boy. Lately the boy has has had a change of heart and wants out. To relieve himself of some of the guilt he is experiencing due to the affair, among on things, the boy went to confession. He also suggested his former mistress absolve herself and do the same.

Now I was raised Catholic, so I'm a bit surprised this never occurred to me before. Anyone can tell anything to a priest and the priest will essentially, keep it on the down low. That is the oath he has taken and thus, is obligated to do so. Under no circumstances is he to reveal any secrets.

Or is he?

Here's my question. Are there any circumstances were a priest's oath is overruled by the law? For instance, let's say hypothetically there is a serial killer on the loose. This serial killer confesses his sins to one person and one person only; his priest. Now under normal circumstances a priest would be sworn to secrecy, but doesn't murdering numerous people trump being faithful to God? And if not, what is God thinking anyway?

Cause see in MY mind, there are instances were a priest can and should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Little Timmy broke a vase? 2 Hail Mary's and an Our Father. Big Timmy cheated on his wife? 10 Hail Mary's, 5 Our Father's and a few dozen sessions of therapy. Big and bad Timmy killed a few guys? Hail Mary's till his death, Our Father's till he has laryngitis and a prison cell where they lock him up and throw away the key.

There's just a hierarchy that goes along with these things. Basically the punishment should fit the crime.

I know that lawyers defend guilty people all the time. But that's why there are so many jokes about so many lawyers being the scum of the Earth. You don't hear that being said about priests. Well, unless you count the corrupt priests who dig little boys, but that's another matter entirely. I'm talking about good, honest priests. A lawyer has to defend a man even if he is guilty if said man is his client...and he wants to do things like eat and pay his rent. But a priest doesn't have any material obligations to anyone. Instead he's just a man who would have all of these sins weighing on his conscience. He could be the key to solving a big crime and because of a ridiculously worded oath, unable to say anything.

Ironically, the only person the priest could go to would be...another priest.

So really, if you thinkg about it, the missing link in the undying quest for peace and justice might be priests with a high hit counter to their confessionals.
Thursday, December 02, 2004

Anchor's Away

How sad am I that last night was Tom Brokaw's final time hosting the nightly news...ever? Sure, he'll be around in other capacities. Writing books I never read and hosting specials I never get to watch. In fact, if truth be told, I didn't even watch Brokaw all that much. I just always liked knowing he was there, waiting for me when I got home. Of course it almost goes without saying that if there ever was a serious story that I needed to brush up on, Brokaw was always the man I went to for my news. He is a straight shooter.

But most of all I loved the moments when he was reporting a story and he got that little smirk on his face when you knew he knew something about it was ridiculous or even better yet, just plain bullshit. If only we could get Brokaw to substitute the way former SNLer's get to do. You know, when they can't find anything else to do.

So, in short, Brokaw, if you're reading this (wink, wink) you're "the man" and you will be missed.



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