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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."
30 Rock


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Monday, October 31, 2005

Eight Great Things About I Love The 80's 3D: 1982 & 1983


1. ON VCR's "I don't remember what it cost. I just remember my dad basically said it costs more than you. Break that thing and I swear to God I'll leave you on the street corner." (Jason George)

"Before the VCR people had to go out to the theatre to watch porn, but now they could watch it at home together." (Mo Rocca)

2. "No one believes me when I said the Virgin Mary appeared on the back of my hand." (Mo Rocca on Freezy Freaky Gloves)

3. "In this case I think he chose the right Arquette because it really wouldn't work with 'Patricia! Patricia! or Oh David! Oh David!'" (Mo Rocca on Toto's song Rosanna)

4. "There were two, really cool place to go in the mall. One was Benetton. One was The Limited. Spencer Gifts I guess would have been the cool place for guys to go because you could go and look at blacklight posters of half naked chicks, riding unicorns. At the same time, you could buy fart spray." (Michael Ian Black)

5. "I wasn't really wearing the mesh top. I had enough problems in my life." (Michael Ian Black)

6. ON THE 10,000 PYRAMID "Here's the thing you could've said and you would be rich, but instead you're not and I am." (Nicole Sullivan on Dick Clark)

"Ok Dick, it's realy easy for you because you had the answer... a week ago at the staff meeting!" (Elon Gold)

7. "Who needs Europe anymore? It's right there on one street." (Elon Gold on Disney's Epcot Center)

8. ON THE CYANIDE TYLENOL SCANDAL "Can I just say they never found the dude. Maybe he and the anthrax dude are the same guy."

"I don't mean to be get all CSI, but has anyone persued this was done by the safety seal industry to try to scare people, of for that matter, by the Bayer people?" (Modern Humorist)


1. "Well I liked that you could read and that you looked at the camera and that you didn't fart or anything- 4 stars." (Michael Ian Black on supermodels on Star Search)

2. ON ST. ELSEWHERE "St. Elsewhere is like ER, but a lot less gory. It's ER with training wheels." (Modern Humorist)

"The whole show has been in a snow globe? Which is bullshit man! What is this gonna be? Like suddenly Cagney and Lacey took place inside a slider pen?!" (Wil Wheaton)

"I don't like to think that Denzel Washington is just in the mind of an autistic kid. Or Howie Mandel. Well Howie Mandell is ok, if he's just in the mind of an autistic kid, that's alright with me." (Michael Ian Black)

3. ON MICHAEL KEATON/MR. MOM "I love Michael Keaton because it's all about the eyebrows. I'ts eyebrow acting. What do you mean? What are you talking about? I'm Mr. Mom. I'm Beetlejuice. Look at my eyebrows." (Elon Gold)

"This is a real role reversal. A guy taking care of kids? The mom takes care of kids! Not the dad! Mr. Dad! Not Mr. Mom! What? Who the heck? What!? Wake me from this nightmare!"
(Michael Ian Black)

4. "Jesse Jackson in 1983 showed that America was not ready and is still not ready for a president with a mustache. It was just too much too soon." (Mo Rocca)

5. "It was the perfect 80's show because there was no skill involved. You had to answer the most banal trivia questions. Give me the name of something with 4 wheels that drives. A car! Ok! You get to press your luck!" (Michael Ian Black)

6. ON ZZ TOP "If I was going to be in ZZ Top I'd wanna be the guy with the 'stache. The 'stache didn't look great, but it looked a hell of a lot better than 4 and a half feet of growth coming from your chin." (Michael Ian Black)

"I wonder why that guy didn't grow one. I don't know why they never went, 'Hey dude, we all got the beards. You're not gonna really be a team player." (John Heffron)

"Do you think that the guy tried to grow a beard and just couldn't? 'No it's cool, you little half man. Peach Fuzz McGee. You didn't get the memo? This is ZZ f*&*ing Top. Grow the beard!" (Modern Humorist)

"I love the song Legs. It's so nice when you meet an ambulatory woman." (Mo Rocca)

"The song was actually written about one of the ZZ Top guys young daughters, but when she went from crawling to walking. It's actually touching. She got legs. She knows how to use them and soon she'll grow up and leave me. Actually it's like Cats In The Cradle." (Modern Humorist)

7. "No matter where Mr. T shows up there are always fools that need to be pitied." (Modern Humorist)

8. "Reading Rainbow taught kids that the only way to read is by watching TV because it's just not as good in book form." (Mo Rocca)
Friday, October 28, 2005

Eight Great Things About I Love The 80's 3D: 1980 & 1981


1. "I'm not gonna tell you that I became a performer because of the movie Fame because that would be gay. But I'm not gonna not tell you that." (Michael Ian Black)

2. "Back In Black is saying they turned a profit this quarter. Ok, you're out of debt. You're back in black. Congratulations. You don't have to scream about it!" (Mo Rocca on AC/DC)

3. "It's like trying to play a video game with your ipod. It's really, really hard." (Michael Ian Black on Intellivision)

4. ON MY BODYGUARD, the movie "They couldn't do this movie today because it would be like, 'Oh. You've got a bodyguard? Well I've got a gun. Say hello to my little friend!'" (Modern Humorist)

"Listen Peach. If you don't give me your lunch money there's gonna be hell to pay. I'm gonna make you watch One Night at McCool's. I'm not joking around man!" (Justin Long)

5. On CHRISTOPHER CROSS'S SAILING "I remember the first time I heard Sailing. I thought when did Kermit get his own solo album?" (Hal Sparks)

"I present the implication in Sailing that it's an easy sport. That it's a dream and the wind to carry me and soon I will be free. Not so. You've gotta trim the sail. You've gotta raise the jib. It's a very difficult sport." (Mo Rocca)

6. ON FASHION PLATES "It was for kids with no artistic talent whatsoever. Oh look! I'm drawing! No actually you're doing a charcoal. Really it's not the same thing." (Hal Sparks)

"Fashion Plates gave aspiring designers a false sense of security. I mean these models if you will, were very tame. They weren't coked up. They weren't throwing things. This isn't the fashion world."
(Mo Rocca)

7. "They should have gone with the original title which was Statutory Rape." (Jeniffer Irwin, LIttle Darlings)

8. "Ok, what's better. Pepsi or Coke? As if you're watch tv and go, I'm gonna go with what THAT guy likes!" (Ilan Gold)


1. ON CIRCUS OF THE STARS "Willie Aames would do a juggling act. Wow. he aims to please."

"You know what I'd like to see? Dana Plato walking a tight rope. Talk about foreshadowing!" (Bill Dwyer)

"You couldn't find a cheesier group of people to throw on a trampoline."
(Kathleen Madigan)

2. ON LOVERBOY'S WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND "It's ironic that Loverboy are representing the working man here. People who wear red leather pants generally work during the weekends as hustlers." (Mo Rocca)

"You know, it's a really sad commentary when that's what people in our society are working for. I would hope it would be for self fulfillment. That's what I do this for." (Michael Ian Black)

3. "Maybe if there had been actual chariots and fire in that movie it would have been interesting." (Bil Dwyer on Chariots of Fire)

4. "They were boring toys but they were excellent choking hazards- and that's fun." (Michael Ian Black on Penny Racers)

5. ON THE MANDRELL SISTERS SHOW "The sisters were like Barbara Mandrell light." (Rachael Harris)

"Arlene was, in fact, just a giant sock puppet who just looked very lifelike."
(Mo Rocca)

6. "Oh my God was she sexy! Which is odd because she speaks like a man." (Willie Carson on Kathleen Turner in Body Heat)

7. "This is good for people who want to feel really good about themselves who do crossword puzzles. Oh. I do mine in pen. I'm really smart." (Michael Ian Black on Eraser Mates)

8. "Doesn't it happen all the time? Cause all I ever see is a little fat black woman, running around, ruling white people. That's what I see." (Patrice O' Neal on Nell Carter on Gimme A Break)
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What Would Nancy Drew Do?

Sometimes, when there was nothing else on tv, I used to find myself watching shows that I normally wouldn't watch if something else was on. 48 Hours: Mystery started off as one of those shows.

But that was the days before tivoing. If I was home and there was nothing, I mean nothing else to do, I'd watch 48 Hours: Mystery and I'd be intrigued.

Without fail, everytime I watch shows like 48 Hours: Mystery, Dateline NBC, 20/20 or Primetime Live I wonder why I don't watch them more often. Then tivo came into my life and I realize I didn't have to be home, bored out of my skull to watch, I could just watch whenever I wanted to. Before I knew it, I had 48 Hours: Mysteries delivered to my doorstep. I was excited because I didn't have to remember it and I could watch it whenever I wanted to, and I do.

Yet the more 48 Hours: Mysteries the more I realize something: it is one frustrating program to watch. It's so frustrating for one reason and one reason only, it's a mystery.

See they don't call the show 48 Hours: Once A Mystery, Now A Solved Case or 48 Hours: Mysteries No More!. Instead they chose the bland, 48 Hours: Mystery when perhaps more fitting titles would have been 48 Hours: We Give Up or 48 Hours: All Roads Leading To Nowhere.

I say this because you watch the one, sometimes two hour program only to find out who did it, kinda sorta. This is because the mysteries are still that, mysteries. They almost always end with a conviction, but in a very unsettling turn of events, you don't know for sure it was the right conviction.

Did the ex-husband murder his ex-wife? Was it the jealous sister, out for revenge? Or perhaps Colonel Mustard did it with the wrench in the study? All of them are equally good guesses, but they are just that. Guesses. Hunches. Verdicts that are by no means set in stone.

Yet while the verdict is often a shaky one, and emotions have been played on both sides, you can still pretty much see through the smoke and mirrors to figure out which side 48 Hours: Mystery the program is favoring. I don't need no Angela Lansbury to follow those clues.

Which got me thinking one night as I watched another 48 Hours; the show, not the buddy flick starring Eddie Murphy. I wonder how many of these people they portray as "guilty" are in fact, actually innocent? Some of them get off, but yet their stories have been splayed on tv for all the world to see. So in reality, they can never really escape that reputation, unless of course another killer is found and convicted and then in that case these people get a glorified, "Whoops! My bad!" from local authorities.

And for those who do get off who really are guilty, I'm not quite sure a dramatization of their events sits right with me either. Let's face it, most of these people are sick or else they wouldn't have killed one or more individuals to begin with. Many times these peope outright admit they want the fame and notoriety, no matter what the cost. And what do we turn around and do? We give it to them. Where's the mystery there?

48 Hours: Mystery deals with bigger issues than a witch that eats little children. That shit is real. And it airs late at night too, which is an even worse idea. Yet I watch. And maybe you watch. And at the end of the program we are snug in our beds, while visions of killers at large dance in our heads.

I know it might sound silly but I like my mysteries to be like fairy tales; all once upon a time and happily ever after, even if they're starring Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman.

Case closed.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Those Were The Days To Remember"

The jock. The nerd. The basket case. The criminal. The prom queen. These are labels made famous by the eighties classic, The Breakfast Club. But not all of us fit into one of those categories. So here's my three part question to you:

1. What "label" was closest to you in high school? (it does not have to be one mentioned above)
2. Was that label truth or misconception?
3. Have you changed or done like the yearbook told you and "stayed the same forever"?
Monday, October 24, 2005

10 Items Or Less

I didn't realize the post about my mother and grandmother would strike a chord with so many of you, so try this one on for size.

Shopping with my mother has always been an experience. In fact, if shopping was an Olympic event, my mother would win a Gold Medal. She's got speed. She's got endurance. She's got the ability to sift through crap and find a deal faster than you can say ANBESOL.

I on the other hand, wouldn't even place in the top 10. I can find a deal and I can move fast, but I'm a "get in and get out" kinda girl. I don't really like shopping. I know as I'm writing this a hush has fallen over the male portion of the readers of this blog. It's sad but true, not all women were born with a platinum credit card hanging from their mouth.

Still although I can totally give or take the act of shopping, that doesn't mean I don't like getting nice things or spending quality time with my mom via her passion. But what I really dread is checkout time.

I hate the checkout process for one reason. My mother insists on adding up her purchases in her head or with a calculator ahead of time. Now this, to me makes sense. She's trying to make sure she knows how much it is all going to total so she's ready to pay and so she's also ready to call the manager if an item rings up as more, never less.

But once she has done the total in her head and it's for a certain amount, the checkbook comes out. Right then and there, whether we're by the turtlenecks or the Toasted Oats, mom has to start writing out her check. Meanwhile, the already long lines are getting longer and longer.

Now my thing is this: I have no problem with her getting started on something like that ahead of time. It's a time saver. It shows initative. But when you insist on standing nowhere near the line before doing it? Now that's just plain silly. If there wasn't a line I'd understand, but when there's a line, that gives you something to do so it seems the logical choice.

But don't you dare try to move mom closer to the line when she's doing this. I've tried this and she gets all flustered as if suddenly the lines will part and she will be right up front with nothing to show for it.

I've tried to explain to her on many occassions just how absurd this habit is, but it's no use. I guess the moral of the story is you can lead mom to the grocery store, but you can't make her wait in line.
Friday, October 21, 2005

Straight Up Now Tell Me

Lately I've grown obsessed with my posture. I suppose you could say I'm just terrified that one day I'll have a little old lady stance, since you know, I already have the "little" and "lady" part down, the odds are against me.

I remember as a child having exceptionally good posture to the point where I was actually complimented on it, on occassion. When I was really little I used to sit with my legs bent back. I don't know how else to describe this so hopefully you're picking up what I'm putting down. My doctor told my parents that was not a good position for me to sit in, no matter how comfortable. They didn't know how flexible I was back then or still am now. Sure it looked uncomfortable to them, but looks can be decieving. Personally, I just think he was jealous.

Regardless, slowly I worked my way away from this position into Indian style, which, at 28, is still my seated position of choice, sometimes with both legs up, other times with just one. I know very well this isn't the most ladylike of positions but then again, you're assuming I see myself as a lady instead of the eternal 16 year old that I really am. Incidentally, there's a saying a lot of teachers say to kids "Sit like an Indian, don't be one." I still have no idea what that means, but I digress.

But back to the matter at hand- my posture. Somewhere along the way, things went wrong. I attribute this first and foremost to what I like to call "middle school moving man tactics" a.k.a. "How many books can you transport around on your back?"

Now when I was in middle school there were no cool, wheelie stewardess like backpacks that the kids sport now. It was also deathly uncool to wear your backback on both shoulders. The horror! Possible disfigurement was worth risking when immediate and certain ridicule was at the forefront. So you carried around your bag of rocks eh, books on one shoulder and grinned and beared it, literally.

I remember the day my doctor told me that I was on the verge of the beginnings of scoliosis. How that is even possible to see, without having it, I still don't know. Perhaps he was just a clever, clever man who tried successfully to scare me shitless. He told me to start wearing the backpack on both arms or I'd be sorry. So I did what any self respecting thirteen year old would; I asked for a note to have an extra set of books at home and one set at school. This solved everyone's problem. I didn't have to carry them back and forth the "proper" way and I still got all my work done. Sure vanity won out but it worked for Warren Beatty, why not me?

So a heavy burden now lifted from my shoulders, it should be smooth sailing from here, right? Wrong. See what I don't think I took into account was how much time I'd be spending hunched over a computer screen. I I spent many a nights at computers writing college papers and emails, perhaps not in direct proportion, but still. And then with work, and more email, downloading and now, blogging.

I try really hard to make a concerted effort to sit up straight when I'm at the computer, but sometimes I don't always make good on this promise to myself. Sometimes I even cheat and sit back, resting on a pile of pillows thinking resting on something is better than resting on nothing.

Meanwhile, throughout the day, if I catch my back "slacking" I try really hard to pull myself upright. One of two things usually happens though when I end up doing this:

1. I get tired from holding my back in an unnatural position.
2. Friends and family members notice it is an unnatural position for me and say, why are you sitting so straight?

Suddenly returning your seat to its upright position is something unusual to look at, not the other way around. When you sit perfectly straight it looks like you are trying to sit perfectly straight, which I suppose most people are doing. Trying, that is.

The bottom line is this- I don't know how to straighten out. I'm hoping yoga will help with posture, but part of me just wishes I could go back to the days when sitting with my legs bent back was good enough. I swear I was on to something back then.

All I know is if I ever manage to straighten up and fly right, I'll let you know.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Janet And Her Series of Unfortunate Events

Some people take a few thousand bucks and spend it on lavish cruises and extravagant, but relaxing day trips.

Then there are others of us who have to use a few thousand to do things like get wisdom teeth pulled and fix a car after a fender bender.

But let me start where all stories should start; at the beginning.

I went to the oral surgeon after the twice "filled" cavity in my wisdom tooth was still causing me pain. After a highly scientific panoramic x-ray my worst fears were confirmed, the damage had most likely gone to the root, the most reasonable solution being to pull the tooth.

Now I had prepared myself for this, so I began my heavy duty round of questions:

1. Doesn't it make more sense to get all 4 pulled at once instead of just the one considering my age and that they might bother me someday anyhow?
2. Should I be concerned that my mouth barely opens large enough for general practioners when saying ahh?
3. Will my TMJ be made worse, better, or none of the above by this procedure?
4. Don't I have to get my mouth guard refitted after this considering I'd have 4 less teeth?

The questions went on from there, but I won't bore you. As far as the answers were concerned I found I got some bland, non committal, anything is possible type responses, but only one that really mattered: It might make the TMJ better, it might make it worse. It might be a temporary thing or it may be permanent.

So I did what any rationale human being who really had no other options would do; I scheduled the surgery and went home, crying.

I can deal with pain. Pain and I have been long time friends now or at least, worthy adversaries. But permanent, pain backing a bag and moving in type pain? That idea is just too scary for words, not to mention a painful recovery + the class I have now = a mental breakdown for Janet. The only saving grace being I scheduled my surgery for the week I am off from school in November. Sure, nobody likes spending their time off in a Percocet induced daze, well maybe Robert Downey Jr types but other than that, no. But it's better than instead of taking time off and still dealing with the pressure of what I missed since anyone who has ever known a teacher knows, in many ways, it is actually more worse to be out then in.

But still I didn't feel completely reassured by the oral surgeon I met. I guess it was his middle of the road attitude, no matter how accurate. That and the fact that I got to wondering just how many of these procedures he had done considering he didn't look much older than me.

After talking with my friend who just got the procedure done over the summer, she whole heartedly suggested I go back again and meet with the surgeon who started the practice because that is who she had and she felt completely at ease. I also called my dentist to confirm I was doing the right thing and the receptionist there innocently referred to the same doctor. In my book good recommendations are better than no recommendations at all. So I went ahead and booked another appointment, still over a week away, but still before my surgery.

Just when I got through the pain this procedure would do to my teeth and my pocketbook, Tuesday went and happened.

I was leaving school just like I do everyday, although sometimes I wonder why I even bother considering I'm there again before I know it. At the end of the street where my school is there is a turn. Traffic comes at you from the left and from the right. There is no light there, just a stop sign. So because it is a city, getting out of that turn has always given me the heebie jeebies. But I do it. I do it every day, successfully I might add, even when people behind me are honking their horns to just go already.

But just like with most cities, they are cluttered with people who follow their own set of rules while driving. The city where I work is no exception. I looked to the left, I looked to the right, I even looked back again.

And I went.

I made the turn and right. as. I. turned. left. I felt impact.

I still didn't see a car at this point.

So I pulled over and the car that I hit/hit me, who knows pulled over behind me. A hot headed Latina a la a young Rosie Perez got out of the car and started yelling, in English. At this point, I'm still in shock. The damage to both cars is minor, though mine is even more minor because I have the bigger car. The good news is we are both alive and neither one of us is hurt. This is probably because I couldn't have been going more than 5 miles an hour since all I did was turn.

As for her situation, my guess is this: She turned out of one of the many side streets in the town and therefore technically was going straight for like 5 seconds when the accident occurred. That or she was going straight and accelerated, not expecting me to turn and then not having enough time to slow down. Regardless one thing was clear: I wasn't getting any information out of this woman and I didn't want to fight with her. already told you. I'm a lover, not a fighter.

So finally a cop arrives on the scene. By this point she's playing the "I don't speak English too well" card which is BULL you know what considering she conversed with me just fine. The cop takes her statement, only problem is he takes it in Spanish, so I have no idea what she says.

Soon after this her boyfriend shows up but lucky for me, a teacher from my school has pulled over and waited with me by this point too. Neither one of them were witnesses to the accident, however, I do work in a town where everybody is everybody's cousin, so chances of "witnesses" popping up later on are not impossible.

My co-worker kept me calm and had been living in the town for many years up until recently so said she could make a few calls if need be. But in the heat of the moment, which is all that matters, it was my word against hers and I stuck by my word. I didn't see her and I felt impact. I didn't even care if it seemed incriminating. It was the truth and I was sticking with it.

Now any sort of accident is always upsetting on many levels, but this particular accident was very upsetting to me considering the timing and my history in the year 2005. If you recall I got my first ever speeding ticket which I paid and got no points. Then I had my first ever accident which was because of mother nature and again, there was points, just a brand new car after my old one was totaled.

Some would look at these cases and call me cursed. Other would call me lucky.

So the third time's the charm right?

The kicker is I really am an "excellent driver". If anything, I'm actually overly cautious since I was afraid to drive, period for so many years. But you probably don't believe that, and it's ok. I don't know if I would if I were you either.

But back to the loose ends of my story. Just as I feared, the cop came back and gave me a ticket. Why? Because I was turning. And that's when I lost it and cried. Not because of the little bit of damage that I'm sure won't cost that little of a bit. Not because I had ran into an angry J-Lo. Not because of embarrassment.

Because I got a ticket.

Yet I had what had to be one of the greenest or most decent cops ever because he saw me crying and I swear, I thought he was going to cry himself. He kept begging me not to cry, telling me that it's happened to him, that he's gotten tickets and had accidents and that it's all part of life. Okkk. Meanwhile my coworker was going off about the I'm Spanish! I'm English! I'm Spanish! testimonial that just took place. Neither of it was here or there. All that mattered was I got a ticket and I doubt I'll be lucky a third time.

Now this cop insisted that he would help me. He told me over and over I would get no points. He circled the number on the back of the ticket, told me to plead not guilty and that he would be there for me and luckily my coworker can attest to this. I don't know if he was just kind or realized I was a teacher and working for the town, just like him. Either way, it made me feel a little better, till I thought about it some more.

I understand that if all goes well I'll have no points, but I still have a ticket, which means I'll still have insurance points considering I got a ticket and she devil didn't. And unless they can reverse that in the courtroom, I'm screwed.

Unless of course I develop lockjaw from getting my teeth out and they just end up having pity on me. I'm always one for looking on the brightside.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Call My Name Or Walk On By"

Today's Tell It To Me Tuesday is brought to you by the letters P and Q and it was also somewhat inspired by a post I read on Dawn's blog.

Oftentimes we turn to blogging to vent to people. Likeminded people. People who get it.

But what would you think of the bloggers you "know" if you could really, truly know them? Who do you think your favorite bloggers would be in real life and what, if anything, would you do if your blogging relationship didn't live up to the hype?
Monday, October 17, 2005

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Like millions of Americans, I got roped into the ABC drama Lost when it premiered last year. I started watching the show, like many of you, because ABC told me to. They said it was THE show of the season. With a recommendation like that, who am I to resist?

But now that we are ankle deep into another season, I'm beginning to tire of the predictable unpredictability of Lost.

For those of you who don't watch, just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. It all began when The plane! The plane!, containing a myriad of kooky strangers, crashed on an equally kooky and strange island.

Almost immediately after they crash, the survivors realized they were not alone. Now how many actual survivors there are remains a mystery, but the show revolves around about 10 central characters.

But because these people are stranded on an island and making a two way radio out of coconuts will only barely take the storylines into sweeps, Lost has made use of the very powerful, very evasive "flashback" technique. The band Semisonic once said, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." The same adage applies to Lost, only where one storyline ends and another one begins is anyone's guess.

Every week the "flashback" technique is utilizied in effort's to reveal more bits and pieces of the huge Rubik Cube of a plot. Only the problem is that by revealing more of the puzzle, they are thereby confusing viewers even more. Just when you think the story is going right, it goes left. Some would call this clever storytelling, others would call this make it up as you go along.

Which brings me to the main problem I have with Lost. Cause if there's one thing Lost has succeeded in doing, it's losing me week after week. It's one of those shows that you frustratingly can't look away from, even for a second. No five minute phone calls or lingering bathroom breaks with this one. No Lost is like a toddler in diapers, demanding your full attention the entire time it's on. If you wander off, even for a minute, you'll spend at least an episode and a half trying to catch up. I know because it's already happened to me.

But here's the real kicker-- it's even more frustrating if you're actually paying attention the whole time. Watching Lost is like eating Chinese food. Sure, you feel full for like a minute, but once you digest, you realize you didn't even eat that much. Lost is the hibachi dinner of television. It throws a lot at you, but little of it is of any worth.

A little over a season into it and here's what I know:

1. There was a plane crash, maybe.
2. Some people lived. Perhaps.
3. Some people died. Sorta.
4. Some people are good.
5. Other people are bad.
6. A day can be drawn out to last episodes and episodes.
7. Terry O' Quinn always kicks ass.
8. The boy is special in a "I See Dead People" sorta way.
9. They are not alone.
10. Fat people don't lose as much weight as you might think in those first 40 days.
11. Women stranded on an island immediately stop complaining about "their time of the month".
12. Razors are never used, but the island makes you mysteriously clean shaven.
13. Matthew Fox, was, is and will always be Charlie from Party of Five.
14. Seemingly, nothing is as it seems.

All this aside, I still watch Lost , at least for now, but I can't help but thinking that when this all ends, and it will all end, eventually, that we'll all stare straight into the television, open mouthed and wide eyed screaming, "That's it?!"

Oh and all that I just wrote above? Rinse and repeat this time next year for
Friday, October 14, 2005

To Merch Or Not To Merch? That Is The Question.

I've been thinking for awhile about taking this blog to the next level. Technically, I already did that when I decided to go dotcom a few months back. But the overachiever in me says it's not enough. I want more.

So now I've been toying with the idea of adding merchandise to my site. I know that a lot of people use Cafe Press to make things like bumper stickers and t-shirts and even (gasp) thongs.

And I admit it. I think it's pretty cool to think I could be driving down the road one day and see my site advertised on the bumper of some random driver's car. A long shot, but so is seeing an eclipse and there have been plenty of people who've witnessed one of those. Besides, I'm much more likely to see a bumper sticker or a t-shirt with The Art Of Getting By on it then a pair of boxers, briefs of thongs. At least I hope so.

Which leads me to my first concern: How to decide what to put on the shirts, mugs etc. Should I hold a catchy design contest? Should I come up with a slew of catchy phrases?

This segues nicely into my next concern, just who the hell would buy one of these things anyway?! Would you? How about you? 'Cause it seems sorta silly (and rather pathetic) to create all these items only to have just yours truly wear them. I mean it's still advertising, but advertising for yourself ON yourself is about as tacky as that chick who took money to have some casino name stamped across her forehead or stomach or whatever she did a few months back. All I know is that it was so tacky, I sorta blacked it out.

So once again, I throw it back to you. Do you think I should bite the bullet and get into the lemonade stand of cyberspace with merchandising? And if you have merchandised, has it worked for you? If so, tell me stories. Make them happy stories if you can. I love feeling warm and fuzzy at the end of the day.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Chain of Fools

Hallmark's slogan used to be "When you care enough to send the very best."

Forwards, meanwhile, are for those people who "Care enough to send something, but otherwise don't really care at all."

Just like shoes, forwards come in many shapes and varieties.

First, there are the harmless, joke, random list related forwards. These are the forwards that have titles like "You know you're a red neck if..." and "Top 30 Signs You're A Child of the Eighties". In other words, they point out the obvious in long, drawn out, dare I say redundant ways. Gee, I'm a blonde if I need five people to screw in one lightbulb? I did not know that!

Then there are what I like to call the inspirational forwards. These forwards usually surface after a tragedy such as 9/11 or around holidays when people are feeling extra sentimental. They include things like walking on the beach with God and someone is carrying someone. They are not so subtle reminders that God is there for you and in some bizarre way, so is your apparent "friend" who sent the forward to you in the first place.

Next we have the All About Me forwards. These are the quizzes that you fill out that include questions ranging from "Favorite Food" to "Ever have sex on a beach (not the drink, silly!)". The best time to fill one of these out is when you're bored out of your skull with absolutely nothing better to do. The way to fill one of these things out is completely tongue in cheek. Why? Because the real answers don't matter and if the person who sent it to you was that good of a friend, chances are they know all the answers you'd give anyhow and if not, they are no worse for wear to continue not knowing.

Then we have A Picture Says 1,000 Words forwards. Like the title says, they are pictures. They might be of cute little puppies, they might be of someone's new baby. No matter what the picture is of they have one thing in common, there is little to no explanation, just the picture, no more, no less.

This brings me to Ripley's Believe It Or Not type forwards. You know the type I'm talking about. These are the forwards that are asking something of YOU. They come from some man you've never heard of in Argentina who needs YOUR money now. They tell you that all you have to do is convince 50 people to say the word "Butterfinger" while spinning around 10 times and you will get 50 bucks the following week. In short, they are hoaxes. They are the pipe dreams of forwards. Nothing good will ever come with following these yellow brick road of forwards, and yet otherwise good, decent people continue to forward them to other good and decent people.

Which leads me to the biggest forward offender of all: The Chain Letter forward. Chain letter forwards are the icing on the cake. The final piece of the forward puzzle. The glue that holds them all together. This is because the forward might be a picture, a poem about God, an urgent request for money, a quiz to tell if you come from New York, anything...the only difference is these forwards end with the dreaded words:

"Please forward this to ___ amount of people in the next ___ hours. If you don't you will _____, forever!"

Now I don't know about you, but personally I don't appreciate forwards of any shape or size with the possible exception of a conversation thread that is easier to send along to multiple parties instead of sending it individually each time. Then and ONLY then is the forward an acceptable means of communication.

There's only one thing I can think of disliking more than getting a forward; getting a forward that threatens me into continuing to forwarding it on.

Forwards are like the headhunters of emails. You know deep down that nothing bad is going to happen to you if you don't tell 10 more people Jesus loves them, but you can't help it, something in the back of your mind tells you just have to do it cause if something bad does God forbid happen, you know who and what to blame.

But really, who's to blame? Who is to blame is YOU. Yes, YOU. Any of you who continue to forward forwards. Just end the charade already! Do you know anyone who actually sits down and reads their forwards? I didn't think so. But I'll bet you all have at least one friend whose primary means of keeping in touch is by sending the occassional forward your way. Then, when you email the person in an attempt to get an actual, update on their lives, you get yet...another forward.

It has to stop somewhere people.

I say it's time to beat them at their own game! Send this post along to anyone you think might give a damn and want to join me in the cause of creating the forward for the greater good, the forward to end all forwards.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday: "What You Don't Know"

They say that ignorance is bliss. Of course most people who say that aren't really ignorant, so what do they know anyway?

So my question to you is this. Which would you rather be. Truly ignorant, but happy or all knowing, but burdened?
Monday, October 10, 2005

Risky Business

I know this is old news by now, but apparently Katie Holmes is pregnant with Tom Cruise's child. Everyone, everywhere is up in arms about this. They aren't married yet! Wasn't she waiting for marriage? He's crazy! She can barely breathe during childbirth because she's a Scientologist! get the idea.

But for me, all of these questions take a backseat to the one BIG question that's been bothering me since I heard the news:


Am I the only one who remembers that Tom Cruise was famous for not being able to have kids?! It is allegedly the reason his first marriage to the considerably older, biologically clock ticking actress Mimi Rogers fell apart. Then he married Nicole and they adopted...because he couldn't have kids. This is also, incidentally, part of what sparked the rumor that he was gay. That the not having kids thing was a smokescreen just becase he wasn't having sex...with women anyway.

Not that it is any of my business, but now Katie is pregnant and I just don't understand. Did the Scientologists work some high tech voodoo in order to make this happen? Is this another virgin birth! Is Tom Cruise really Jesus? Inquiring minds want to know!

In the meantime I suppose the message is this. If you have been told you are infertile, just think of TomKat and remember all hope is not lost.

By the way, this is also reason #666 to join the Church of Scientology.
Friday, October 07, 2005

Same As It Ever Was

Every year my district picks a few new things to be all a buzz about. Last year it was SSR, or Silent Sustained Reading. To see SSR first hand, the Assistant Superintendent of the district did a "walk through" to see gimme an S- gimme another S- give me an R what does it spell SSR in action!

This year the password is: "differentiated instruction". The walk through for the year is being conducted this week. Of course what would this post be without my take on why this doesn't work.

But in order to proceed, I realize I need to make it clear what differentiated instruction is. In a nutshell, differentiated instruction is "Creating multiple paths so that students of different abilities, interest or learning needs experience equally appropriate ways to absorb, use, develop and present concepts as a part of the daily learning process. It allows students to take greater responsibility and ownership for their own learning, and provides opportunities for peer teaching and cooperative learning."

Or in real people speak, differentiated instruction means differing what you are doing with students based on their different levels. Approaching things from different ways and giving the students an active role in their instruction. And if you're thinking there is nothing novel or different about this sort of instruction in this day and age, you would be right.

There's a few problems I have with this. For one thing, school has only been in session 20 or so days. So to sit down and start "grouping" kids by levels is a bit far fetched considering they are all novices on whatever it is they are learning. But there's yet another reason why this doesn't work in a district like mine.

Like I've lamented before, my district takes great pride in placing 3rd and 4th graders with higher standardized test scores in G&T, or Gifted and Talented programs. Only in my district, this placement is a crap shoot. There is no large gap between the "smart" students and the rest of the kids. In fact, some students are just lumped into G&T for what I believe is the real label, they're Good & Tame.

But, as I'm sure state funding ties into this somehow, someway my principal will hang on to this program no matter what. In the meantime, when you pull the smartest of the average kids out of the classroom, what you have left is the kids who are all about the same or at least differing shades of struggling. Asking students who are having trouble to teach each other a concept is like asking Helen Keller to teach you how to drive. It just isn't done.

Adding insult to injury is the help that is provided. In many ways my school goes above and beyond in terms of helping struggling students. We have before school programs. We have after school programs. Some kids even get pulled for small group during the day. And like other districts we also have teacher's assistants or paraprofessionals. These people do a variety of duties depending on the room they are in. Some actually help teach struggling learners, where others are better suited for making copies and creating kickass bulletin boards. Whatever their purpose, it's an extra set of hands in the classroom, which is always a help.

Only in my district these individuals rarely, if ever, go to the classrooms that need them. Instead they are placed with...the gifted & talented classrooms.

For differentiating purposes, here's the problem from a different perspective:

There are 18 capable students plus 1, 2 or 3 adults in classroom A. There are 21 struggling students with one adult and no additional instruction in classroom B. Which one will succeed and why? Be sure to explain your answer.

And contrary to popular belief, these kids aren't stupid. They know the score. They see that some classrooms have a lot of extra help and they know they need extra help they aren't getting. Consequently, they begin to see what the school really thinks of them. You try explaining a system that you don't agree with either to a curious eight year old.

But back to my original differentation rant. Have you ever tried to do with group work with 21 students, 14 or so of which would most definitely be classified in some capacity if they were in a different district? If you have you would know it's next to impossible. If you haven't you should still figure it's next to impossible. Just go with me on this.

So now the Assistant Superintendent is doing her announced walk through on differentiation, which in itself, is a laugh. She will be in each classroom for an allotted 3 minutes, no more, no less. We are told the time she is coming in to ensure we ARE doing differentiated instruction when she comes. But doesn't this defeat the purpose? I mean if you tell me five days in advance that you'd like me to be making cotton candy I'm also sure that could be arranged, but does witnessing something for a scheduled 3 minutes guarantee it's being utilizied on a daily basis? I think not.

And finally, the piece de resistance. When my principal was running around, scheduling times, she asked me if anybody was in the room with me at that time. She's still under the impression I have more help than I do. Occassionally another teacher comes in during that time, my writing block, to "assist" but really, it's just because the principal told her she had to. She has a class of her own, so she's not about to go above and beyond for me. So I told her that sometimes this teacher is int the room, sometimes not. She told me to make sure she was there that day.


Because you can't really differentiate without more than one adult and the Assistant Superintendent can't really know the horrible truth about how these kids are not getting help now can they? Cause that would be telling the truth and as we all know, telling the truth is wrong.

Wait, that can't be right.
Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bump and Grind

First things first. Get your minds out of the gutters. This is not that kind of post cause I'm not that kind of girl. Duh.

This post is an addendum of sorts to this post, all about my teeth related woes.

Back in July I had problems with my one tooth. Naturally, I went to the dentist and found out I had a cavity. The cavity was filled. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Days after the cavity was filled the tooth hurt. Now some soreness is to be expected after they excavate your tooth like it was a mine in Egypt. But persistent pain is another matter all together.

Eventually the pain subsided and I resumed normal everyday activites like not wincing while eating hot soup. Then one fateful night in September, the pain woke me up in the middle of the night.

That same darn tooth...again.

At this point, I blamed my dentist. I was only there a little over a month ago and already I have pain in that same tooth. But I was stuck on what to do. I could go to a different dentist and risk having to withstand the pain while waiting to get an appointment or get in right away with the dentist I've been going to. I opted for door number two.

When I went back this time they first tried to take an x-ray of the tooth that was in pain. Did I mention that this tooth is also one of my wisdom teeth? (Of which I still have all of them) They failed in successfully getting a good x-ray though because they had a hard time getting me to open my mouth wide enough. So my dentist went with the sophisticated plan B; plow around in my mouth, hitting teeth until I yelled "Ow!"

When he finally hit paydirt we realized the pain seemed to be coming from the same tooth. I asked him how that could be considering the tooth had just been filled. He said he didn't know, maybe some part of the cavity was missed since it's in a hard to reach region. Then I asked what seemed like a no brainer to me-- should the tooth simply be taken out? Now this isn't to say that I'm doing backflips over the idea of oral surgery, but even I know when a tooth is down for the count. He still said he didn't think that was necessary.

So after sufficiently numbing me he went back in, cursing and sighing his way through the whole procedure. Finally he said he saw the problem, part of the cavity had come out or something like that. It's hard to recall exact details when your dentist is literally lying on your head with a drill in one hand. Once again he filled the tooth. Once he was done, I felt no pain, mainly because I was novacained up and I said, "Well, I hope not to see you soon!"

Now there are some people who think I shouldn't have to pay to get the tooth filled this second time around since it's so close to the first time it was filled. Those some people include me. But getting a cavity filled is not like purchasing a pair of jeans from Kohl's. There's no 90 day, money back guarantee when it comes to teeth, so my guess is I'll be billed, again.

But it gets better. It's been over a week since the tooth has been worked on and STILL I have pain. I know I suffer from TMJ and I know I grind, but I've been faithfully wearing my mouth guard every night since my last scare. Meanwhile during the day I'm under a lot of stress at work. I can't imagine why.

Now I'm caught between a tooth and a hard place. I can wait it out and hope for the best or go back and complain again. Or I could go somewhere else, like an oral surgeon, and get his opinion on whether or not the tooth should simply be taken out. You can understand, I'm sure, my reservations no matter which option I choose. I'm not a wimp about pain, but the idea of going through oral surgery just to be wrong is mind-numbing enough, not to mention the fact they say that the older you get, the more complicated a procedure it becomes.

In the meantime, an Advil a day keeps the tooth related pain at bay.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Don't Call Us, We'll Kinda Call You

My mother and grandmother have had this silly tradition going for years now. I call it a tradition for a lack of a better term for it because what it is really is just plain weird.

When I was growing up my parents used to go to my grandparents house all the time. Inevitably after dinner and dessert it became time to go home and since my grandmother lives about 45 minutes away, she likes to know we got home safe.

Now up until this point I'm sure you're all with me. All of us have called a loved one to let them know we've arrived at our destination in one piece. We've also all being on the receiving end of said phone calls. No surprise here. But how many of us call our loved one only to hang up before they actually answer the phone?

This is the "ingenious" plan my mother and grandmother cooked up so many years ago. I don't know where or when it started, all is it's an idea that's been around a lot longer than me. I've tried to discover it's origin before but it's always in vain.

Imagine, if you will, the family arriving home safely after a nice Christmas dinner. My mom walks in and says "Oh, I have to call grandma." Seems normal enough, right? Only my mom picks up the phone and dials, letting it ring twice... then hanging up.

As the years have gone by I've had differing feelings on this system. When I was really little I didn't question it. Then as I got a little older I found it downright hysterical. Then I got even older than that and found it all a bit silly, but not in a laughing out loud sorta way. Now I'm somewhere between slightly amused and somewhat perturbed.

I realize this system "works" for them, but I can't help it. I always try and picture my grandmother on the receiving end of this phone call. The phone rings. So naturally she gets up. Only as she gets closer to the phone, it stops ringing. She chuckles to herself, "Ah, I guess they got home ok." If we were in a war where Morse code phone calling was a necessity, I'd understand but we're not.

Add to this the time factor. Did I mention my grandmother's age? Well, she's 89 years old. A highly active 89, but 89 nonetheless. So now we're having the women get up and get over to the phone only to not to have to get up at all. Now if these people had cell phones or Caller ID I'd understand because you can look nowadays and see just exactly who is calling you. But neither one of them have either one of these things so instead they go the old-fashioned route; premedicated pranking.

The best part is if if my mom calls my grandmother and actually lets her pick up, say if she forgot to tell her something. My grandmother always says, "What's wrong?!", all in a panic. Because apparently letting the phone ring is code for all is cool, while having to actually talk to the person is grounds for serious fatality.

Silly me has thrown caution to the wind and broken this tradition down completely. I will call my mom when I've gotten somewhere but I will actually talk to her and tell her this information myself. I mean after all, letting it ring two times already means my grandmother is home and we all know knocking three times on the ceiling means you want me and twice on the pipes means the answer is no. Adding anything else to the mix would just be too much to keep straight.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday: "Say, Say, Say"

The last two weeks of Tell It To Me Tuesday have been a theme within in a theme. So why not continue the fun? Let's do the same deal. Favorite quote only this time, make it a lyric from a song. The song can be well known or obscure. If you figure out where the quote is from, include the answer in your comment.

Go ahead. Get quoting!
Monday, October 03, 2005

Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back

Ahh, it's good to be back. Not that I really ever went anywhere, technically. In fact, I probably could have blogged even more had I not gotten so many kickass guests. Some of you even volunteered to write more than one post and at first I was thrilled. Then I realized that if I posted multiple posts from everyone I would never get to post for myself and then, what fun would that be? (For me anyway). That being said there still might be a few guest posts from time to time as there were a few that RSVP'ed but have yet to show up at the party.

While I've been "gone" school has been a whirlwind of activity. To be honest, I can't believe it's October already. Then again the first few months always fly by because they are "the holiday months". Everytime Bonnie Tyler turns around she falls apart. Everytime I turn around it feels like it's another holiday.

Now that I am in my second year I can compare and contrast. In some ways this year has been easier. But in other ways this year has been harder. It's easier because I'm organized and I know, for the most part, what to expect. At the very least I know to expect the unexpected.

By this time last year the revovling classroom door had swung around so many times even I didn't know who was in my class anymore. So far this year the entrances and exits have been few. Two kids showed up a few days late and there were a few that were on my list that never came and a few that weren't on my list that did come. Until I hear more about the kids possibly coming over from Hurricane Katrina, things remain calm in that department.

This year I also thought that my group might be somewhat smarter that than last year's bunch. Ironically everyone, including the principal, was saying the exact opposite. Apparently last year's third graders (now fourth graders) were only 60-something percent proficient in Language Arts while this year's bunch is only
40-something proficient. Our principal likes to refer to it as a 3 year glitch that will end after this year. That in itself is a huge revelation since she wouldn't admit that, no way, no how this time last year. In the meantime, we have to get through this year and hope for the best. It is very possible that this year's bunch, on the whole is lower than last year's but then again, maybe I just had the lowest of that 60 something % last year. Then again, when you work in a district where Gifted & Talented classes weed out the kids with almost any academic promise, you can't really be surprised.

Last year I knew from the very beginning that I had a difficult bunch. Back then I found it so infuriating when teachers would come up to me and point out the obvious problem children. This year it's more of the same only what they were pointing out I just wasn't first. At this rate, if I get blessed by one more colleague I just might be able to perform a miracle. I mean I'm not kidding myself here. They aren't angels. Well, except for the kid who actually is named Angel, but I digress.

The weirdest part for me is seeing last year's students shuffling about in the hall. I know you shouldn't compare your classes, but what the hell, I'm going to anyway. I never thought I'd say it but I miss my old class and sometimes even want them back. For as much of a handful some of them were, they were all good kids. I could also trust almost everyone in that bunch. And for every difficult child I had, I had another really, really good one to balance it out. I'm also a creature of habit. It never fails. Even when I was a student the first two months I spent wishing I could go back to the year before. Some things, I guess, never change.

This year's class is also lacking something last year's class had- personality. I have a very vanilla bunch this year. No one shines as particularly helpful. However there are a few that stick out for the exact opposite. I have what I like to call the "ailment crew" this year. I have one student who is depressed and throws up every. single. day. There's nothing we can do for him though because the doctors and nurses believe it is all in his head. I have a few others that have what I like to call the copycat effect. They see this one kid gets sick and so they turn around and do the same thing.

Then there are the anger management kids who have serious issues with self hatred and in some cases, hatred of others. Oh and yes, I still teach third grade. At least I think I do. Some days I feel like I entered the Twillight Zone and they swapped my third graders with senior citizens a la Freaky Friday.

Finally there's my last bundle of joy who falls under all of these categories, and thensome. She's actually a very helpful student when she wants to be, but she needs constant attention and becomes very argumentative at times. She's eight but already has a history of seizures and depression. One day she downright refused to come down the stairs because she knew I had to talk to her mother. Of course she came from a different school in district that wrote her an individual behavior plan that they (shocker) didn't honor. So now our school is trying to "honor" it without classifying her. But just like last year, they are picking and choosing exactly what they will and won't honor. For instance, her plan says she needs one to one assistance or small group instruction. The school says that's just a "suggestion". I say it's a load of crap.

All of this is just the long winded way of saying it looks like we're in for a long year.

However, on a brighter note, there should be plenty to blog about.



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