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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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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "If You Believe They Put A Man On The Moon"

Merriam Webster defines an anniversary as "the annual recurrence of a date marking a notable event". So many times though we forget the notable event is not always something you celebrate.

January 27th marked the twenty year anniversary of the crash of The Challenger.

For this week's TITMT I want to know if you remember where you were when The Challenger crashed. If you don't remember, you can chime in with anything you vaguely recall and why you think it still sticks with you after all this time. My answer will be posted sometime this weekend.
Monday, January 30, 2006

I'll Take Retention For 500, Alex

It's a new week which also means there's a new tenant in the house! Please go and knock on Whatchu Tawkin Bout's door. She's been waiting for YOU.

Disclaimer: This post contains circumstantial insights of one third grade teacher's experiences. This by no means represents you, your state, your views or your third grader. It is however, a rather depressing look into the future of America. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Sometimes when I tell stories about my students I'm told I sound like a skit on Saturday Night Live. No, not lame ass Saturday Night Live skits featuring Chris Kattan or Horatio Sanz as the stars, but ones that were you know, actually funny.

In particular, my stories constantly get compared to SNL's Jeopardy spoofs featuring "still sorely missed, but good for you and your success" featured player, Will Ferrell. You've probably seen them one time or another. Will plays the stuffy host, masquerading as a smart guy, Alex Trebek, to perfection. Every skit featured three other players posing as celebrities who are depicted as being dumber than rocks. Ones that come to mind include Ben Stiller's Tom Cruise, David Duchovny as Jeff Goldblum and of course, Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery.

The skits featured amazingly simple categories and even simpler questions. The best moments always culminated in the final jeopardy questions.

One of my favorite Celebrity Jeopardy exchanges went something like this:

Alex Trebek: And it's time for Final Jeopardy. The Final Jeopardy category is just answer the question ---Where are you right now? Just right down where you are right now. It could be California, or a game show, or earth, or the word "here." Ok, let's get this over with. Tom Cruise, you wrote down: "Go." And you wagered: "For it." Go for it. You certainly did.

Tom Cruise: [ Laughs ]

Alex Trebek: Moving on. All right, Adam Sandler, you wrote down: "Abbie Doobie."

Adam Sandler:
Abbie Doobie...[ Gibberish ]

Alex Trebek: I feel like I want to punch you. Mr. Connery, where are you right now? You wrote: Good, Lord, you wrote "indoors"! That's phenomenal! Are we recording this?! Ok, let's look at your wager. "I heart boobs." That's beautiful. That's it for Celebrity Jeopardy. I'm going home and putting a gun in my mouth. Good day.

Amazingly, my day to day exchanges with my third grade students are really not all that different. I know I have a particularly low group, but that doesn't change the fact that this is the future of America and, I God help me, have been hired to try and teach them. Therefore, keep in mind I laugh only to keep from crying.

Examples of my Jeopardy like existence are occurring all the time. This might not even be the BEST example, but it's an example nonetheless.

The other day I gave a Social Studies test. The test was simple and required very little studying. Instead it meant to be more of a on the spot means of testing comprehension. Remember that the children can come up and ask me questions about the test at ANY TIME and that these were not new concepts to any of the students who were tested.

There was a multiple choice section with vocabulary words we had been working on like religion, heritage and opportunity. The second section involved the students reading a product map of Georgia and then answering questions about the map that tested their understanding of how to use a compass and how to read a map key. The third and final section involved reading a table, a skill we have been working with, off and on, since September.

Instead of just telling you about the test, I figured I'd print some of the questions and ACTUAL ANSWERS I received here. Remember, like Whitney once said, the children are our future and the future, is downright scary.

Question: In how many places in Georgia is cotton grown?
There are 8 cotton
2 places can't grow
It is Alabama
7 cottons

Question: In how many places in Georgia are peanuts grown?
4 peanuts
Savannah (got this answer twice)
4 peanuts grown
The cotton growth is in Augusta

Question: In what part of Georgia are wood products made?
In North Carolina wood products are made
Tennesse and North Carolina

Question: What product is found only off the Southeast coast of Georgia?
Alabama and Florida
Nothing is found in the Southeast
animals and fruit
In North Carolina on the Southeast coast
O products on the Southeast coast
Savannah (the ever popular answer for everything, apparently)
An indephirable symbol
Atlantic Ocean

Question: What animals are raised along the Northwestern border of Georgia?
(here comes) Savannah (again!), Augusta, Atlanta
There are four animals raised in the Northwestern
8 in the border of Georgia
4 animals
South Carolina

Question: What country had the most immigrants going to Washington DC?
802 immigrants

Question: How many immigrants from India went to Washington DC?
1,465 India went to Washington DC

Which city had more immigrants from Mexico?
They had 34,973

Question: Which city had more immigrants from China?
They had 473 immigrants.

Question: How many immigrants from India went to Washington DC?

In how many places in Georgia are peanuts grown?

8 peanuts

When all was said and done I had ONE student receive what constituted as an A. About half the class passed, half the class failed. Out of the ones who passed though, it still wasn't pretty.

I went back and forth over how to address this. At first I thought I'd have to break the test down for them. In the beginning of the year I did a lot of this, hoping how they approach taking tests, with some guidance, would improve.

But now it's January, and quite frankly, we're reaching the mid year mark. You can't spoonfeed them forever. The fact of the matter is 90% of my class falls into one of two categories: the don't get its and the don't cares. Either way, it doesn't look good.

In my classroom, any test a child fails goes home to be signed. Sometimes I let the students retake a test for extra points, but since the answers to the majority of this test were right under their nose, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

This time I did not let the children retake the test for extra points, but I did make the children retake the test. I didn't give them back their old grade and instead I generalized mistakes I saw on all of the tests. I noticed one very important thing, the answers were a lot better when they had to verbalize them.

I mean my students are low, but they know what an animal is. They know what directions are. They even know Savannah is not now, nor has it ever been, a number.

No what the majority of my students are is L-A-Z-Y. The rest of them can read a passage to you, but they can't comprehend their way out of a paper bag, especially once that says "open here".

This is a BIG problem. So we talked about it. They gave me answers that made sense, in theory. I told them that I didn't even care if they were right anymore. So you don't know the number of places where cotton grows in Georgia. Big deal. You can at least give me a number though, right? It's amazing the things we'll settle for when we're feeling desperate.

I started to grade the retake tests this weekend and believe it or not, some of the kids, the same kids who sat through my pep talk about reading carefully, some of whom even LAUGHED at the ridiculous responses made some of the very. same. mistakes.

So now I've gone through all five stages of the grieving process:

In September, I was in DENIAL that this particular group of students, as I was warned, wouldn't want to learn.
I was ANGRY when I saw they weren't trying to learn.
I BARGAINED with them trying to bribe them into learning. (more on this in another post)
I was DEPRESSED because I pour my heart and soul into trying to make them learn.

So now, the only stage left is ACCEPTANCE.

I must have the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the foresight into realizing, no matter what happens, there are only five months left.
Sunday, January 29, 2006

Write Back Weekend: "I Did Not Know That!"

Only three weeks in and I found the WBW to
this week's
TITMT to be particularly tough. Seriously. What was I thinking asking you guys to stump me with tidbits of random knowledge? Why didn't I remember my pledge to participate in these things?!


At any rate, here comes my hodge podge of answers, categorized for your reading pleasure. It's fitting that the list itself is so random, considering it IS a list of random facts.

Brushes With Fame

I went to high school with former "Average Joe", Adam Mesh. I didn't know him. He graduated a year or two before me and something tells me I didn't miss out on much. Average pretty much says it all.

I also went to high school with America's Top Model contestant, Xiomara. I didn't know her either, though she was in my grade. She was one of those girls that was just there, though looking back on it, she was always pretty, in a freaky younger sister of Grace Jones kinda way.

Finally I went to middle school with Harold and Kumar's Kal Penn. The post puberty years were kind to Kal although back in junior high, things were much, MUCH shakier. I had his yearbook picture scanned on here awhile ago. I don't know where it went. Suffice it to say it had the words "chess club" not "breakthrough Indian movie star" written all over it. In fact, I blogged about this once before but it was a long time ago, so this is somewhat of a born again revelation. Watch all of his teeny bopper fans flock to AOGB again. However, in the beginning, they were 50% of the traffic I had so I shouldn't knock them.

My grandparents were old friends of movie director Joseph Sargeant's mother. Once we even went to a party for his grandmother--- thrown by him. I vaguely remember this, only because he had a huge screen "happy birthday" tribute featuring clips of all these stars wishing her well. The only star I remember though, oddly enough is Rita Moreno. He still invites my grandmother to premiere screenings of his movies. You might know some of his work. I call them, "watching the grass grow" pictures.

Speaking of my grandparents, years ago they used to be Frank Sinatra fans, mainly because everyone from New Jersey has a weird allegiance with everyone else from New Jersey. They thought of Sinatra as one of "them" who made it big. One day they met him. My grandfather went up to him, and Sinatra snubbed him. Needless to say they were Sinatra fans no longer.

Random Tidbits

My hair used to be so thick that periodically I had to get it thinned out. I still do, just not as much, maybe once every two years, if that. Well I used to do it at least twice a year. A few years ago I had a warped pleasure in getting my hair thinned and then returning with the bag o'hair to college. I then would ask my friends what they thought was in the bag. I loved their reaction when they found out what it actually was. I've got an odd sense of humor sometimes.

Lemon juice is a particularly effective method in reducing or eliminating acne.

I went to school with a kid named Rocky Rhodes. I work with a woman who knew kids named: Nosmo King (No Smoking) and twins named Annette and.... Not Annette.

And finally, one more note on names...The Chinese wait 100 days before naming a new cub. I guess this is because there's a good chance the cub won't live until then. I don't think it matters all that much. It's not like you can call them for dinner or anything.

Deborah Winger did the voice of E.T.

George Clooney was on two shows named E.R.

Eric Stoltz was originally cast as the lead role in Back to the Future.

The Ones Where I Cheated

I couldn't resist. So I Googled "random trivia facts". These aren't mine, so technically it's come full circle. We're all learning something together!

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."
Barbie's measurements if she were life size: 39-23-33.
No words in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
Cat's urine glows under a blacklight.
Almonds are members of the peach family.
The dot over the letter 'i' is called a tittle.
Charlie Brown's father was a barber.
Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.
The most common name in the world is Mohammed.
There are only four words in the English language which end in "-dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural.
The longest place-name still in use is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipu-
kakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a New Zealand hill.
There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs six times: Indivisibility.
The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "Its A Wonderful Life".
Ketchup was once sold as a medicine.
Each year, the average person walks the distance from NY to Miami.

I am going to cut the list short here proving there's one thing I DO know--when to say when.
Friday, January 27, 2006

Crunching The Numbers

Since I've been at this blogging thing for almost two years now, I figured I had it down. I mean I'm a sophomore. I know what a blogroll is and how to use it. I actively use my site meter as a delurking "come out, come out wherever you are!" like tool. I added Haloscan to my blogspot blog that has since been somewhat deblogspotted. Ok, so maybe I had help. That's not important now.

Then I was having an innocent conversation with Tommy a few weeks ago about blog status. This is when I came to the harsh realization that I still had so much more to learn.

If you must know, the conversation was inspired by the do's and dont's of blogging nominations specifically related to the BOB's. He was "campaigning" for a particular blog to make it to the top 10 even though he admitted he never really read it. His plea was on principle since he was told that said blog was not eligible, basically because it had too many hits.

So I started to defend this rationale. But anyone who knows Tommy knows it is sometimes hard to differentiate when he is being serious and when he is being seriously silly. So when he started talking about ecosystems, rodents and whatnot I just assumed he was being cute in the way only Tommy can.

Then I realized he was actually referring to something. Something I somehow knew nothing about... until now.

The something, or more specifically somethings are rating systems such as Technorati and Truth Laid Bear. Now most of you are probably thinking how can she NOT know about this? This is when I tell you that not knowing about it is only half true.

I mean I've seen the words Technorati and Truth Laid Bear on blogs before. But to be honest, I didn't think anything of it. I see lots of things on blogs I don't question. If I questioned everything on every blog I see I would have plenty of time to blog because I'd also be something we like to call U-N-E-M-P-L-O-Y-E-D.

What I did next is exactly what I tell my third grade students not to do all the time.

I copied.

I copied other bloggers and signed up for Technorati and Truth Laid Bear because everyone else was doing it. Yes, when it comes to blogging, I am a "if he jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge I would, too" kinda gal.

Then again, the best way to learn about something is to learn by example. So now I'm listed in Technorati, not to be confused with a Maserati, although the system does go pretty fast. I'm also in Truth Laid Bear. Both of these systems do a bang up job of keeping you abreast of the who's, what's and where's of people who are linking to and reading you...or not reading and linking to the case may be.

According to Truth Laid Bear I am currently an "adorable little rodent". The system, however, is not without imperfections (i.e. I think it only tracks blogrolling links or at least it doesn't track all links) I mean I knew I was adorable and little but a rodent? Come on now. That's not nice.

Which makes me wonder, now that I wrote about such tracking sites, this post would come up under the tracking systems searches themselves, right? Neat.

Of course, I still can't wrap my head around trackback--- though people have tried to explain this to me before. All I know is that it apparently has nothing to do with eight tracks.
Thursday, January 26, 2006

You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth

Hey you, mister!

Did you know that it was no name calling week?!

It's ok if you didn't know about it. It's only in its second year, so it's a bit of a fledling program. Wait, can I call it that or is that too much of a label?

During morning announcments on Monday our principal reminded us all of the "holiday". She mentioned how this week we should all pay extra attention the words we use about one another.

Folks, this is a serious message. It is important that children know to be nice to each other, but it's extra important to tell them when and where, right?

Kids, for a limited one week offer you and your friends should be nice to me and my friends. But lucky for you it also comes with a money back guarantee.

Yes, at the end of the seven day period if you are not completely satasfied with your good naturedness, you may once again resume your normal activities like mocking, heckling and ganging up on the chubby girl.

Finally, before I leave you, I give you a no name calling week challenge...The Hoff. In the spirit, of sugar and spice everything nice, if you have nothing nice to say, I dare you not to say anything at all.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ghetto Superstar. That Is What You Are.

I've noticed a reoccurring trend in reality television featuring celebrities. That of course, is the absence of any real celebrities.

There are many examples of this, VH1 alone cornering the market on such gems as But Can They Sing?, Celebrity Fit Club and The Surreal Life. But for this post I am going to focus my energies on the reality du jour: There and Back, Dancing With the Stars, and Skating With Celebrities.

In There and Back we are reintroduced to Ashley Parker Angel, former O-Town boyband member who is now about to be a dad and a husband. He also is trying desperately to renew his five and a half minutes of fame.

There's a recipe to appreciating shows like There and Back. First you have to find people who even remember O-Town and no, I don't count because I remember everything. This is important because this is the "there" in the equation. Without the "there" you can't possibly comprehend the "back". No one knows what you are trying to get back to. All they see is a mediocre singer who hopes you pity the fool.

Then, once you find the people who remember, you have to add another important ingredient, people who actually care. Watch as Ashley struggles to gain respect in the music business, make meaningful music for his unborn child and manage to pay the mortgage...all at the same time! Hey, this sounds familiar. Oh that's right. It is familiar...because it is the story of like 75% of the American population, except, perhaps, the music part. Mix well, and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with a slice of Meet The Barkers.

Hot on its heels you have Dancing With The Stars, a show that surprisingly took America by storm in its afterthought of a time slot last season. This year DWTS is back with more drama, more spray on tans oh yeah, and more dancing.

The good thing about Dancing With The Stars is that it actually is entertainment. But the reason it is entertaining is not because of the stars they chose, but because the people they chose...are dancing. Everyone loves to cut loose and lose their blues every now and again. Just ask Kevin Bacon.

Last season they had "stars" like Trista Rehn, Rachel Hunter, Evander Holyfield, and the ohmy Godwasherobbed contestant, Joey Mcintyre. In the end, it all came down to Kelly Monaco of General Hospital fame and J. Peterman, sometimes known as actor John O' Hurley.

This season the kicks have gotten higher and the number of teams have increased, but the caliber of stars? Not so much. There's Lisa Rinna, George Hamilton, Giselle Fernandez, Kenny Mayne, Tia Carrere, Tatum O'Neal, Jerry Rice, Stacy Keibler, Drew Lachey, and Master P.

Gone already are Kenny, Tatum and Giselle, while Master P is still there, representing for the hood. If you think they had voting problems at The Best of Blogs, think again.

Finally we have Skating With Celebrities. When I first heard about this one I wondered how they were actually going to pull it off. I mean, how many celebrities can skate well enough to perform a routine? Then I remembered you need not be a real celebrity, just a real, live person.

On Skating With Celebrities the teams are Jillian Barberie and John Zimmerman, Kurt Browning and Deborah Gibson, Jenni Meno and Todd Bridges, Tai Babilonia and Bruce Jenner, Kristy Swanson and Lloyd Eisler and Nancy Kerrigan and Dave Coulier.

With Skating With Celebrities I know that we have gone on C List celebrity overload. Why? Well, for one thing, you know it's bad when certain celebrities i.e. Dave Coulier can be cross referenced on these types of shows, now having been on both The Surreal Life and Skating With Celebrities.

The other key is when there are enough reality shows around that both you AND your dad made the cut...but on different programs. This is the case with Bruce Jenner, now on SWC and his biological sons who reeked havoc on David Foster's house in the gone too soon, The Princes of Malibu.

And while we're on the subject of Bruce Jenner, let's talk for a minute about the skating itself. He and his partner, Tai Babilonia skated their first skate to "Lift Us Up Where We Belong". The irony here? There were NO LIFTS. I mean how can you forget? It's the name of the song!

Then there's poor Todd Bridges who could have been Will Smith before Will Smith was Will Smith...had he played his cards right. As if living with this knowledge isn't hardship enough, he comes out with his partner, Jenni Meno and a Will Smith song. Ouch.

No offense to Todd Bridges or any of the other contestants on any of these shows, but I would really like to sink my teeth into an actual celebrity out there on the dance floor, the ice skating rink or the race car...a theme I'm sure they'll think up next week.

Yes, instead of Todd Bridges, how about Jeff Bridges? In place of Dave Coulier let's see the Olsen Twins. And although Drew Lachey is nice, have you had your fill of Nick Lachey today?

In short, what these shows are doing, no matter how entertaining it is, is putting the horse before the cart, or even the chicken before the egg (or is it the egg before the chicken?) All of the contestants can be broken down into one of two camps: those who kinda, sorta used to be stars and those whose biggest claims to fame are being on shows like these. They really aren't celebrities going in, but they are quasi celebs going out. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

So fear not, celebrity show hopefuls. You too can make it onto a reality show someday, even if you can't dance, sing or haven't been seen in over fifteen years.

All you need to know is how to do "the hustle".
Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Tell Me Something I Don't Know"

For this week's TITMT I want to know something. I want that something to be something you think I don't know.

I also want that something to be something interesting. Cause you know, everybody's got their something. Remember, I am blonde, so it shouldn't be hard.

It can be something that you've learned in life or something about yourself, just something. I'm expecting you to break a sweat on this one...God knows I'm already dreading what I'll write in this weekend's response, so I need some good ideas to get the juices flowing.

And none of this "Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?" crap, please. It's all been done before.

Oh and why we're on the subject of telling, don't forget to say hi to my tenant Monty and give a gander to where I'm renting space, The Pink Pen Papers.

Tell them "Janet made me do it".
Monday, January 23, 2006

Mmm, Mmm Good!

Did you know that January is National Soup Month?!

Well it is.

As soon as I heard this I knew I simply could not let the entire month go by without giving soup the proper credit it deserves.

To not acknowledge soup would be like the time Hilary Swank didn't thank Chad Lowe for his support after winning that Oscar and well, we all know what happened to them.

I wasn't sure how to give soup its kudos, or croutons as the case may be, so in the end, I decided to write the object of my affection a love poem.

Ode To Soup

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,
My love for soup, 'tis not a phase.

It started years ago with the classic chicken noodle,
Now I'm about the whole kit n' kaboodle.

Bisques are divine, spicy soups have a pop,
While cream based soups are indeed the "cream" of the crop.

There are rice soups and vegetable soups, gumbos and barley,
And french onion soup is particulary gnarly.

No, I can't marry soup but that doesn't mean it's not worth getting,
You can even tempt me with a soup called "wedding".

Soup can be eaten anytime, day or night,
Before a meal or as the main course,
It fits just right.

Sometimes soup has a companion or two,
Like a salad or a sandwich, anything will do.

Because soup is so delicious, slurping solo or duet,
A skyline of crackers served over the alphabet.

So grab yourself a spoon, a bowl and a pot,
Soup is best served warm, so get it while it's hot!

Yes, soup, glorious soup, you know it's true,
I am completely-- bowled over--for YOU.
Sunday, January 22, 2006

Write Back Weekend: "Stay The Night"

If you would kindly take a gander to the left you will notice I have a new tenant. It's all part of Blog Explosion's Rent My Blog program. Lucky for me my first time is with my blogging buddy, Monty. So stop by and bring her a cake or something, won't you?

So this week's TITMT revolved around a rather indecent proposal. I wanted to know with which celebrity(ies) would you choose to use your "get out of jail free" cards, so to speak. Some of you interpreted it differently and included people you'd like to "hang with" and that's ok too. After all, I wasn't completely clear on this.

First I must say how surprised I was at some of the responses. Here I am, thinking I'm all pop culture savvy, and some of you manage to stump yes, even me. Amy Acker? Molly Ivins? Anne Lamott? Marat Safin? Melanie Lynskey? Robin Roberts? This tells me I have an eclectic group of readers if there ever was one. That's cool. I like that.

Now for my answer, I've included a brief timeline.

In my early years I had a huge crush on Andrew McCarthy, wide eyed "I love her man!" innocence and all. But since I also had my soap phase, I was equally enamored with the likes of Ricky Paull Goldin and Matthew Ashford. You'll also notice most of my crushes were far beyond me in years. I guess you could say I tended to have sophisticated tastes.

But I did have a teeny bopper side that swooned over the likes of Joey Mcintyre, Chris Young, Sean Astin and eighties crush king, Kirk Cameron. And speaking of Growing Pains there was Brad Pitt, but I'm talking before he was BRAD PITT and just another scrub on GP.

In high school college I went through brief "love affairs" with, in no particular order, Dan Futterman, George Newbern, Danny Masterson, Matthew Perry, Stephan Jenkins, Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Lance Guest, Joshua Jackson and George Clooney.

Understand that this is a brief, abbreviated list. Also understand that I am a very loyal crusher. Although I have moved past seeing many of these guys as my "main squeeze" that does not mean I would kick them out of bed anytime soon either.

Unfortunately, in the past few years my crushes have remained stagnate. Not many new loves have entered the horizon. But no crush compilation would be complete without featuring my two biggest devotions: Ethan Embry and Randall Batinkoff.You might have seen Ethan in movies such as That Thing You Do, Sweet Home Alabama, Empire Records or Vegas Vacation. Then again, you might have not.

You probably didn't see Randall in productions such as For Keeps, School Ties, Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Movie, Hefner: Unauthorized, and the late great ABC series, Relativity.

I consider these guys "crushes supreme" since I have hung on to some semblance of feeling for them--even long after the hope of either of them ever making it big has waned.

Now that's what I call devotion.
Friday, January 20, 2006

Where Have All The Cusacks Gone?

Growing up, I used to love to watch movies. Dramas. Comedies. Dramadies. You name it, I loved it.

But as I have gotten older, I have found less and less movies bring me joy. Rarely do I feel compelled to actually go to the movies to see anything. When I finally do see new movies I find I have less and less favorites each year. It's a mutual fallout. Both parties are to blame. The split has been amicable.

So the other day, while at Blockbuster, I naturally felt drawn to one film and one film only. That movie was Must Love Dogs starring the man, the myth, the legend...John Cusack.

In the eighties Cusack films were in a league of their own. There were comedies and then there were Cusack comedies. There were dramas and then there were Cusack dramas. Whether he was the kooky sidekick or the boxer who wanted to keep the girl, or he was the kooky high school skiier who didn't keep the girl, in my eyes, the man could simply do no wrong.

Now I know what you're thinking. Cusack has been making films for years so he didn't really "go" anywhere. Of course, you'd have a point. But my question to you is not whether Cusack is making films, but rather, is Cusack making the right films? Face it. Ashton Kutcher times infinity has nothing on JC.

In the eighties Cusack made cinema magic back to back. Class. Sixteen Candles. The Sure Thing. Stand By Me. One Crazy Summer. Say Anything. He was like Emeril "bamming" us all over the place.

But then the nineties rolled around and it seemed Cusack wanted to have a little character. He wanted to be taken seriously as an adult. He wanted to branch out. So he made films like The Grifters, True Colors, Bob Roberts, Bullets Over Broadway and the horrible, horrible, The Road To Wellville.

While I admire Cusack's charisma, these movies were like going to your favorite restaurant and ordering the special, but getting a really crappy meal. On the way home you're kicking yourself that you just didn't order your usual hamburger. Well, Cusack is the hamburger who's been venturing into "special of the day" territory for far too long now.

That's not to say all that is special about Cusack has disappeared. We have seen glimpses over it over the years. He made movies like Grosse Pointe Blank, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity, America's Sweethearts and Serendipity. But I'm here to say that a little bit is just not enough.

Before you know it, the absence of Cusack from films like these had a ripple effect. They stopped making movies like this, period because once Cusack wasn't making 'em, and Hugh Grant all but retired from Hollywood, there was nobody left to fill those shoes.

Then Must Love Dogs came along.

Is this movie cinema perfection? No. Is it even Cusack's best movie ever? Hardly. It is instead a wonderful reminder of what Cusack and the viewing public once shared.

Watch as Cusack does his classic rambling! Marvel as Cusack delivers smart ass comments and still manages to look cute! It's all the Cusack you knew and loved, minus the requisite Joan Cusack appearance that is.

Now I'd love to be able to tell you that Must Love Dogs marks the return of Cusack to his rightful place as the king or romantic dramady. That the dry spell is over. The Berlin Wall of crappy script writing has fallen. But one look at IMDB and I know this is just not the case. There are no known romantic comedies starring Cusack waiting in the wings. There's not even a Must Love Dogs 2: Can I Get A Woof? Woof? in the works. Sad I know, but true.

So while I wait for the "suits" to wake up to the hard cold facts, I will savor the crumbs of Cusack Hollywood throws at me.

And just as he gave us his heart, I give you this post.
Thursday, January 19, 2006

Planting The Seed

I've never seen it. I know nothing about it. But there's one movie I hear about, constantly.

That movie is-- The Constant Gardener.

Perhaps it just seems I hear about this movie a lot because, in theory, the concept intrigues me. Then again, maybe I'm just intrigued because I'm from the Garden State.

Then there's another part of me that doesn't want to know what the movie is really about. I mean let's face it, a movie dubbed The Constant Gardener is not your run of the mill, "garden variety" title.

Still, just in case I ever get the chance, I've thought up a few questions I'd love to ask those involved with the project:

1. Is it a secret garden?
2. Does every rose have its thorn?
3. Who plays the "ho"? Or would that be "hoe"?
4. What does he do during the water shortage months of summer?
5. Will Xavier Roberts of Cabbage Patch Kids fame finally get his day in the sun?
6. Does he help weed out the bad guy?
7. Does he get to sow the seeds of love?
8. Is it really not easy being green?
9. We know about the necessary landscaping, but how about the manscaping?

and finally, on a more personal note...

10.How come Carole & Paula never saw me on The Magic Garden?!

Whatever he is, he's not messing around. It's all gardening, all the time. I imagine he's like The Energizer Bunny of gardening. He keeps going and going... and going. He's part Edward Scissorhands, part Lawn Doctor, green thumb optional.

So mock him if you must. The Constant Gardnener doesn't care. He can't please everyone, so he's got to please himself.

And if the stuffed shirts over at the Hollywood Foreign Press are not happy with his work? He should turn, smile and simply say I beg your pardon, but I never promised you a rose garden.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

And All That Jazz

If there's one thing I've always loved, it's music. Favorite songs are like the children I don't have; I love all of them equally and all for different reasons.

I've also always prided myself on being an equal opportunity listener. I'll give anything a chance once before dismissing it completely. Yes, I even once had a musical "first date" with the likes of Wayne Newton and Michael Bolton. We were singing different tunes though, so we things ended a bad note and went our separate ways.

But I'm not gonna lie, there is one genre that no matter how hard I try, I'm most likely not gonna like it. That genre is jazz.

Forcing myself to get psyched up about jazz is like forcing myself to get psyched about the latest Jackie Chan movie. I enter the theater like an abused lover, hoping that this time maybe things will be different. This time things will be better. But you and I both know they never are.

I can admit, however, that many jazz musicians have chops. Most of the time people who don't like something can't do this. I call this the Celine Dion Scenario. Face it. People either love or hate Celine. My point is this, even if you hate the woman and hearing her music makes you want to stab yourself repeatedly in the eye with a fork, you have to admit one thing and one thing only: The woman can sing. I'm not saying you should like her or even tolerate her, but Dion does represent and throw down.

There's just something about jazz music though that makes it really hard for me to enjoy it. I think it has something to do with the erratic or unpredictable notes. I know technically speaking that much of the tangents jazz musicians go off on are more complex than an Oliver Stone screenplay, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable for me to listen to them.

They're over here, then they're over there. They're up, they're down. They're slow, they're fast. If every genre of music could have a psychological diagnosis, jazz would surely be classified as bipolar.

Ironically, many people find jazz music to be quite relaxing. Just look at Kenny G. He takes relaxing to a whole new level, his loyal listeners just one notch above being comatose.

But when jazz music is playing in the background when I'm at a restaurant, or when it's playing as the undercurrent of an important scene in a movie, I find it to be the complete opposite. It's like trying to carry on an adult conversation with a screaming child in the background, it just ain't gonna happen.

The other thing about jazz is that to me, so much of it sounds the same. Interestingly enough, the sameness of the structure is that it will be unpredictable. Ever listen to a jazz station on the radio? They've got two jazz, or hot jazz. There is no in between.

Yes, pure jazz is just razzmatazz to a girl like me, but music that has jazz influences? Now that's a different story. I'm all for that. A sax solo can be sexy. A jazz interlude can create a wonderful diversion. But what makes it work is it is a dancer in a troupe, not a featured player left to flail around on the stage all by itself. Just take Saturday Night Live's Will Forte. He had some funny moments, but you wouldn't be scrambling to see The Will Forte Hour anytime soon now would ya?

As if the music itself wasn't overrated enough, it even has it's own expression!

jazz-verb to enliven-- usually used with up.

Damn. You know what this means, right? They've succeeded in getting me all jazzed... in writing about jazz.

Now that-- that's juzz crazy.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "One Night With You"

A few months ago I saw the movie My Date With Drew. It's about an aspiring filmmaker who makes a documentary all about the quest to meet the girl of his dreams. Only problem is the girl of his dreams is actress Drew Barrymore.

So this got me to thinking. What celebrity, if given the chance, would you want one night with and why?
Monday, January 16, 2006

Take It Outside

No ifs, ands or butts about it...smoking has apparently banned from bars in New Jersey.

Like Smokey Robinson once said, I second that emotion. Heh, Smokey. That was so. not. even. planned.

This might come as a bit of a surprise, but I'm all for patrons not being allowed to smoke in public places. I mean come on. It's 2006 people! If you don't know that smoking is bad for you by now you may never, ever, ever know it. Ooh, ooh ooh.

I was just at a bar this weekend. I was barely breathing. I could not find the air. Not only that, it got all embedded in my hair. So even though I'm not a smoker, some days I feel I might as well play one on TV.

Listen up. Not only is smoking bad for you, it's even worse for me. And by me I mean all of us non-smokers out there. Despite what smokers may tell you, smoking is not a solo activity. They are not only doing harm to themselves. If you're in a room with a smoker you might as well be smoking a cigarette, too. And no, despite what the smokers say, the non-smoking sections in restaurants are not fooling anybody. A partition does not a wall make and all I need, quite frankly, is the air that I breathe.

So aside from its overuse of incorrect grammar and aerosol, New Jersey has allegedly smartened up and cut out the menthol, once and for all. Gone are the days where guidos who are embarrassingly close to those Night At The Roxbury Guys can carry their Zima in one hand and a Marlboro cigarette in the other. In fact, I can just imagine all the amazingly insecure New Jerseyans everywhere who are currently wondering what the hell they are going to do with that free hand now.

No matter how uncool smoking really is, it's a highly addictive habit that is very, very hard to quit, or so all them smokers tell me. What hasn't helped matters any stems from the fact that there have been many hypocritical messages over the years.

We tell kids not to smoke, and then they watch a million movies where the a smoker. We tell kids to stay away and then we market candy cigarettes, made both with and without smoke, thank you very much. And as we all know, where there's smoke, there's fire.

Yes, with smoking banned from bars in New Jersey, it's one small step for the non-smoking man, but there still remains the one giant leap for the Bon Jovi minded kind.

This is because smoking will still be allowed in New Jersey casinos. Despite what movies like Jersey Girl may tell you, New Jerseyans are not all stupid people who wish they were New Yorkers (again). Like "me" and Mrs. Jones, they know they've got a good thing going on. And if there's one thing New Jersey smokers love more than bumping and grinding at an outdated techno club, it's playing the slots and enjoying a cig. What a drag. What are the casinos good for anyway? It's all smoke and mirrors if you ask me.

We've won the battle, but not the war. No doubt the diehards will still get their cigarettes cause where there's a will, there's a way. But when it gets cold outside and you've got nobody to love, you'll understand what I mean when I say there's no way we'll ever give up. Eventually the more people who go out with you who just gotta have their cigarette will make it harder, and harder to breathe.
Sunday, January 15, 2006

Write Back Weekend: "Say What?!"

Welcome to the first ever Write Back Weekend! Aren't you glad your here? Just think, one day you can say you witnessed the inaugural WBW! You might have not been there when the first man walked on the moon. You may have missed Woodstock. But somehow, someway I'm convinced this will make up for all of that.

Your mission, if you chose to accept it, involved sharing a line from a song or a movie that has caused head scratching in the past.

There were many good lyics in last week's TITMT, including (believe it or not) a few that I planned to share as well. And speaking of sharing, why don't I just get on with it already?

Some of My Favorite Misheard Lyrics

1. "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight"- England Dan and John Ford Coley

What they are actually saying is:

"I'm not talking 'bout moving in,
And I don't want to change your life.
But there's a warm wind blowing,
The stars are out, and I'd really love to see you tonight."

But it sounds like they are saying...

"I'm not talking 'bout the linen, And I don't want to change your life..."

You may even remember this misheard lyric being referenced in the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight. Forgetful movie. Noteworthy line.

2. "Blinded By The Light"- Manfred Mann

What they are actually saying is:

"And she was blinded by the light
revved up like a deuce another runner in the night."

But it sounds like they are saying...

"And she was blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night..."

Only after listening to the song a few times do you realize the lyric simply cannot be about feminine products, can it? While I'm on the subject though, here's a chance to plug the snarky blog that's part of the side orders with the same name, Wrapped Up Like A Douche.

3. "Waterfalls"- TLC

What they are actually saying is:

"Don't go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to."

But it sounds like they are saying...

"Don't go Jason, water falls."

Does inserting the name Jason make sense here? Not particularly. Are there boys named Jason who thought this song was speaking to them? Most definitely.

4. "Invisible Touch"- Genesis

It's interesting that Mandy would suggest this song too, but what makes this even more interesting is that our misheard interpretations are totally different.

What they are actually saying is:

"She seems to have an invisible touch yeah. She reaches in, and grabs right hold of your heart. She seems to have an invisible touch yeah. It takes control and slowly tears you apart."

Mandy's friend heard:

"She seems to have an invisible talk show..."

I heard:

"She seems to have a physical attraction. She reaches in, and grabs right hold of your heart. She seems to have a physical attraction. It takes control and slowly tears you apart."

I was 9. Sue me.

5. "You Outta Know"- Alanis Morissette

What they are actually saying is:

"It's not fair to deny me, of the cross I'd bear that you gave to me you, you, you outta know."

What my roommate in college heard was:

"It's not fair to deprive me, of the crossed-eyed bear that you gave to me...."

Say what you will about our relationship but leave my crosseyed bear out of it?!

6. "Saving All My Love For You"- Whitney Houston

What they are actually saying is:

"You used to tell me we'd run away together, love gives you the right to be free. You said be patient, just wait a little longer, but that's just an old fantasy."

What I heard:

"You used to tell me we'd run away together, love gives you the right to be free. You said be patient, just wait a little longer, but that's just an open top scene."

Open top scene. I guess I had a little too much Skinamax on the television as a child.

7. "Runaround Sue"- Dion

I'm ending with this one because it's an ongoing battle that still exists in my family today. It's also different than the lyrics above.

In the background of the song are they saying "hey, hey", "hep, hep" or "hurt, hurt"?

I say it's a plain ol "hey, hey", while my mom thinks it's the more prolific "hurt,hurt". Sadly, we may never know.

Finally, if you simply cannot get over the wax in people's ears, head on over to Am I whose tagline is "making fun of music, one song at a time."
Friday, January 13, 2006

Looks Like We Made It

So as some of you may already know, I managed to pull the rabbit out of my hat and make the top 10 finalists for Best Overall Blog over at the BOB's. You can just refer to AOGB from here on out as the little blog that could.

Once you make the top 10 of anything the pressure is on. In fact, I'm well aware that in this whole "best of blogging" scenario things can go one of two ways for me. I could become the next Kelly Clarkson, or I could become the next Justin Guarini. All I'm saying is, it's anyone's game. It might be a toss up for the swimsuit competition, but the essay portion I think we'd all ace. Duh.

If you don't believe me, just check out the finalists. All of them are great bloggers in their own right, or should I say own write? What I'm trying to say is that while I'm honored and flattered that I've made it this far, that doesn't make me any more worthy of being "best blogger" than the other nine nominees, or even those new friends who somehow, someway amazingly didn't make the cut.

And these awards are tough. Pitting friend against friend. Novice against mentor. Placing a thorn in the side of new budding blogging relationships and introducing me to new bloggers a la ABC's The Bachelor. Hey, it's nice to meet you, but we both know only one of us will get the final rose.

Knowing that there is a panel of judges watching my every move is also a bit daunting. Then again, I'm up for best blog of 2005, right? So technically nothing I've done from January 1st on has any merit whatsoever. At least not for best blog of 2005. So really I can...




Just kidding! Had you there for a second, didn't I?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. If you are new to the blog because of the BOB's I just want to say this. Welcome! This is The Art of Getting By. My name is Janet and I will be your cruise director for the duration of your stay.

The other group I want to give a shout out to are "real lifers" who are, for the most part, just finding this blog. I don't know about all of you, but blogging has allowed me to create this quasi alter ego. My real life is my real life and my blogging life is my blogging life...and never the two shall meet...with very few exceptions, until now.

Being nominated, as corny as it may sound, has given me some sort of sense of validation. I must be good enough. I must be smart enough. Cause gosh darn it, people like me! So to my real life friends here for the first time, it's a coming out of sorts. Now I finally have an idea of what it must be like to be Neil Patrick Harris.

And to both groups above, I know it must seem like you're entering a TV show halfway through the season. So hopefully this Cliff Notes version of AOGB's best 2005 posts will help you catch up a bit.

The final group I want to acknowledge are the people who got me here. I'm talking about those who were generous enough to nominate me and the judges who were up late trying to get it right. You really don't know what an impression it has made. Really. I'm not lying when I say this little blogger smiled all the way home.

Without people mistaking my self deprecation for begging for votes, I must say I truly don't think I'll go any further than this and if that's the case that's OK.

That doesn't mean though that I won't ask all of you who have ever liked AOGB, or even those who are here for the first time, to go and vote. Operators are standing by with a wonderful tote bag.

And as those wacky Bartles & Jaymes guys used to say, "thank you for your support".
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Throwing It All Away

In a weird way I've always admired school janitors. I decided this might be for one of two reasons.

The first reason is because of my name, Janet. I can't even begin to tell you how many times in my life I thought someone was calling me and they were calling for the janitor or how many times I thought someone was calling for the janitor and they were calling for me. In this way, we are like kindred spirits. Never thought about it before, did you? Well, that's because your name isn't Janet. Just trust Janet Jackson and me on this one, k?

The second reason is because I saw The Breakfast Club and as anybody who ever saw The Breakfast Club will tell you, the janitors are the "eyes and ears of the institution". People underestimate that the guy (or girl as the case may be) who comes in and sweeps the floors. They think he/she doesn't have much interest in school gossip. But whether or not they are interested really isn't the point. The point is they are privy to information about everyone and everything. How many times have you said you wish you could be a fly on the wall? Well just think, that fly really exists and my friends, that fly is the janitor.

Recently we have had a power struggle amongst our janitorial staff at school. Ok, maybe that's not entirely true, but we have had a lot of restructure, so to speak. Last year we had a young janitor who was very nice and social. But one day he was there, the next day he was gone. The rumor was that he had apparently been a little "too nice" to a 4th grader who was wandering the halls. This also apparently wasn't the first time this had happened. I never did get the full story on this. Ironically the person who would know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth would be...the janitor.

So this year that janitor was replaced by a man I will refer to for simplicity's sake as Janitor #2. This janitor was a good janitor. He cleaned thoroughly and took his job seriously. Only problem was he actually took his job a bit, too seriously.

For example, in our school ID badges are highly enforced. We are to wear them at all times and we also need our keys to unlock the bathroom and classroom doors. I like security. Being safe good! But janitor #2 took safety to a whole other extreme.

My classroom is right next to the bathroom, but that never stopped janitor #2 from locking my door each and every time I left the room while he was on duty. Now this wouldn't be so bad if I never left the room, but as anyone who has ever been a teacher or around a teacher knows, you're in and out a lot. You use the bathroom. You make copies. You consult with other teachers. You know how some people are all OCD when they leave the house, returning and rechecking to make sure they locked all the doors? Well this is OCD one step removed, considering you've got an OCD stand doing your worrying for you. It's all the worry in half the time.

Before we knew it, janitor #2 seemed to disappear faster than you can say "Disinfectant". He lasted about 4 months but like janitor #1, he was here today and gone tomorrow. It reminded me of when they would replace my favorite soap characters when I was little. One day the character is blonde, the next she's brunette. Only in this case one day one man is holding a mop, the next day it's another man holding a broom.

So enter janitor #3. My floor was ecstatic to get janitor #3. That's because when janitor #1 left last year, janitor #3 briefly stepped in for him. He is a cute older man who is like the Goldilocks of the janitorialy community. He's not too shady (like janitor #1) and he's not too serious (like janitor #2). No, janitor #3 is juuuust right.

Or so I thought.

A few weeks ago, after returning from winter break was when I first noticed it. Papers were falling off the walls and they were missing. Now papers falling off the walls are par for the course in my school. Chances are if I hung it up on Friday, I will have to hang it up again on Monday, and so on and so forth. It's a pain in the ass and double, sometimes even triple the work, but I'm used to it.

Only this time was different. This time papers were falling down and disappearing. My poor, nice, clean papers, giving a whole new meaning to the term, "white trash". At first I thought it was just my imagination, but then I started noticing gaping holes were student work used to be. So I asked another teacher in the school if this had happened to her too and she confirmed that it had. This brought me to the horrifying and heartbreaking conclusion: Janitor #3 is throwing things away.

I know what you are thinking, why would the janitor want to throw things away? Well remember what I said a few lines earlier? The papers are constantly falling down in and outside my classroom, and that's just in my classroom. Every night this man is probably bending down and picking up the same falling papers from the same walls. Something inside of him probably just snapped. Either that or he's breathing in entirely too many fumes from cleaning supplies.

I didn't want to assume anything but I was still miffed. The crust of the things that were getting thrown away were student work, ungraded student work. Not only is it theirs to keep, but also in many cases, it is a grade I have to give them. I didn't want janitor #3 to get mad. I mean he's the guy who picks up the papers and the trash, but yakety yak, can't talk back.

So I decided to approach the situation delicately. I asked him if anyone else came on duty after him. I figured if I came at the problem from this angle I'd find out one of two things: 1. If there was still a glimmer of hope that he wasn't Oscar the Grouch and that 2. I'd find out his honest answer before he knew what I was honestly asking.

When he told me that he was the only night janitor for our hallway, my heart sunk. I told him my concerns and he quickly tried to come up with excuses, but in that very moment we both knew the other person knew the truth.

It turned colder, and that's where it ends. So I told him we'd still be friends. Then he promised he'd watch my stash. I thanked him and walked away.

After all, I'm not one to talk trash.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy"

So last week I asked all of you for your input on future Tell It To Me Tuesdays. I have made note of all of your suggestions and plan to start adding them once the tank gets closer to empty, probably sometime in February.

In the meantime, I've taken one particular comment left by MCF to heart. He said "...TiTMTs should be subjects you answer as well. What do you want to learn of your audience that you're willing to share about yourself with them?"

Touche my dear friend. Touche.

Therefore, I'd like to announce that from here on out, I am going to attempt to give back as far as Tell It To Me Tuesdays are concerned. The way it will work is this: On Tuesday I will pose a question, just like I always do. Only difference is I will also post my answer to the question that weekend. I will call it Write Back Weekends. I almost did Write Back Wednesdays, but I was wincing just thinking I'd have to guarantee that quick of a turnaround. Suffice it to say I was glad for other fitting words that started with the letter 'w'.

Right now I don't really blog on the weekends. This is primarily for two reasons. One, I'm lazy and two, many of you don't seem to read AOGB on the weekends anyhow.

So here's your chance to prove me wrong.

The first Write Back Weekend will be posted sometime...this weekend.

In the meantime, here's your TITMT question for today:

How many times have you listened to a song or a line of dialogue from a movie and drew a blank? This week's Tell It To Me Tuesday is an ode to those lines.

It can be well known or, if you don't mind public ridicule, you can cop to a personal misheard lyric that you can look back on and laugh about.
Monday, January 09, 2006

Coming Out of the Dark

So it's the eve of the Best of Blog announcements. Bloggers everywhere are snuggled in their beds while visions of top ten nominations dance in their heads.

And the Best of Blog Awards aren't the only star on the horizon. Oh no. As soon as the BOB nominations are revealed, the Bloggies will be hot on their heels. Picture the Golden Globes being quickly followed by the Oscars of the blogging set; awkward presenter banter sold separately.

I wasn't going to blog about the Bloggies out of fear of overkill, but then I got an email this weekend that changed my mind. I was told by this kind soul that they had nominated me for a few different Bloggies. Imagine my surprise. Me. Never really nominated for anything has been nominated in two, count 'em, two different award ceremonies!

So tell me, what have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?

The only time I even came close to something even remotely like this was when I almost made the cut for Class Shyest in high school. But I never understood an award like that, even back then. If the person who won really was the shyest, would you really know of them? Would you call their name or walk on by?

Anyway, this secret someone wishes to remain anonymous and no, it isn't my mom. But since this individual was kind enough to nominate me, I am linking to the awards here. Making it to the finals in the Bloggies is like dreaming the impossible dream considering it goes by popular vote. But if you want to throw a dog a bone, you'll know where to go. Any nominations you make for anyone have to be in though before 10pm Eastern Standard Time tomorrow.

And while I'm on the topic of revealing, let me also remind you that this week officially marks the kickoff of De-Lurking Day started by Sheryl over at Paper Napkin. God knows I'm not a lurker, but if this applies to you, don't be shy, this is the week to stand up and say Hi, my name is ________ and I'm a blogaholic, too.
Friday, January 06, 2006

He Feels The Need. The Need For Speed.

As many of you already know, I am a bit of a pop culture conspiracy theorist. In other words, I come up with explanations for things that nobody really needs to explain. I even posted all about a bunch of them once. Five or so of you even cared.

One of my theories that I amazingly never wrote about before revolves around the mythical creature formerly known as actor Tom Cruise. My theory is a simple one. I believe that he likes to run or do some other activity at high speeds. Not only does he like this, I feel he makes it a requirement in every single project he is in.

I have presented this theory at parties. I have shown this theory to friends. I don't have charts or graphs on the subject, but if you give me some time I could whip them up, too. Most people first...until they realize that what I am saying is absolutely true.

So imagine how happily surprised I was when I stumbled upon this site a few weeks ago. It's called, are you ready for this, TOM CRUISE RUNNING!

Now if you are anything like me, you get gleefully happy over mundane things you have in common with other people. "You like Family Guy!? Get out! I love Family Guy, too!!!" I've decided this need to relate to others, in some small ways carries over with us from childhood. If you ask a child why they are friends with someone their answers are often simple and pure. "They're nice to me." "We both have blonde hair." My reasons for camraderie are not much more evolved. All it takes is someone else having the same warped view of the world as me, someone who gets "it" and I'm a happy camper.

As much as I love Tom Cruise Running, there is one teensy, weeny thing I'd change...the name of the site itself. I decided that we can do better than just "Tom Cruise Running". I hope the author of the site won't get offended, it's just that I had a few ideas running around in my head. Heh. Running around in my head. Get it?

Possible Alternate Names For Tom Cruise Running (double entendres encouraged!)

1. The Running Man
2. The Running Joke
3. Do You Know Where You're Going To?
4. He Ran. He Ran So Far Away.
5. Something In The Way He Moves
6. Keep Away From A Runaround Cruise
7. Far and Away
8. Take the Money and Run
9. Cruise Control
10. He Likes to Move It, Move It
11. He Do Run, Run, Run. He Do Run Run.

Really the possibilities are endless. You might even have a few of your own. I'm running out of ideas right now though. Not really, but I am running this joke into the ground. Ok. I'll stop now. I know when enough is enough. Besides, I've really got to run.

In short, regardless, of its name, run, don't walk, to the site NOW.
Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mama Said Knock You Out

If there's one thing I've never really understood, besides America's fascination with Kelly "Look At Me!" Ripa, it is the world's love affair with sports. One sport in particular comes to mind. That sport is boxing. I know you thought for sure I'd say curling. I don't get that one either, but that's more of a "seven wonders of the world" kinda clueless, so I'm not about to tackle it now.

Recently I watched the movie Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe. It was the (mostly) true story of a down on his luck boxer named James J. Braddock. Braddock boxed during the Great Depression in order to feed and clothe his family. Most people assumed he was washed up. But just like most great stories, Braddock beat the odds and went on to win the World Championship title, defeating a man who was known for killing not one, but two men in the ring.

Despite my feelings towards boxing, I found the movie to be entertaining enough. The kids were cute. The story was compelling. The music swelled in all the right places. But perhaps most importantly, I got to play let's find Clint Howard, a standard procedure now for all Ron Howard productions.

But back to my original point about how I never cared much for sports. I'll be the first to admit; I'm a lover, not a fighter. I'm not overly competitive and as a great man once said, "He who dies with the most toys, still dies." Ok, so it wasn't exactly a great man since I got it from a No Fear t-shirt. Sue me.

Although I don't get the obsession people have with most sports, I somewhat get the enjoyment. For instance, the goal in any sport, be it a solo event or one where you play well with others, is simple: YOU WANT TO WIN. Football, two teams, make a lot of goals, win. Soccer, two teams, make a lot of goals, win. Bowling, one guy, hit a lot of strikes, win...see the pattern?

Only in boxing it's not like that. Sure in sports like football, soccer and baseball you've got injuries that occur, but with boxing the injuries are NECESSARY in order for one man to win. Seriously. The whole point of this sport is right there in the cards Benatar laid down on the table. Hit me with your best shot. Fire away. And if that wasn't convincing enough I've got two words for you: Muhammad Ali.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for learning how to fight to defend oneself. But this, unlike the hokey pokey, isn't what boxing is all about. Boxing is about beating the shit out of someone. In fact, the more beaten the better. Your goal is not to get an innocent little ball in between two posts or a puck into a net. No. Your goal is to rearrange the other guy (or as the case may be, girl's face). Of course, as we all know, hockey has attempted in recent years to combine both sports, but that's not important now.

Weighing in at this corner is the target audience for boxing, young to middle aged males. The same goes for another paradox of the sporting world, wrestling. Two peas in a pod they are. So somebody then please tell me why so many men enjoy watching two men go at it like that? I mean there's the jab. The hook. The upper cut. I know the lingo. I know the score. But in between all these fancy words I just threw out that I really know nothing about, they do this weird hug/dance type deal. I don't know what the hell that is. I guess it's supposed to be an effort to tackle the other fighter, but all it really looks like is they are resting or they are going Jagger/Bowie right before our eyes, if you catch my drift.

No. I'm convinced the real reason most men are so obsessed with boxing is because it's all smoke and mirrors. They are not so much interested in the knock outs going on between the two guys as they are in the "knock outs" that prance around the ring, announcing it's the beginning of a new round. Yes my friends, they are the real draw for most warm blooded males. Ladies, don't let them tell you otherwise. It's also the main reason they get so pissed when a fight ends early. It's about time the gloves come off on this one.

Now I'm no dunce. Boxing has about as much of a chance of going away tomorrow as the real Russell Crowe does of staying out of trouble with the law. But that doesn't mean the whole idea of beating someone to a pulp shouldn't be down for the count.All I'm saying is if more women would just wear silk boxer shorts to the bedroom at night, I have a hunch the intrigue would dwindle. I'm not even pulling any punches.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Show Me The Way

Unlike many of you I am fortunate in having had the rare opportunity to see a guidance counselor's job from both a student's and a teacher's perspective. This is why, in my extremely limited, yet telling experiences, I can conclude this: guidance counselors do not do a hell of a lot of guiding.

For the first part of my argument, let's take a walk down memory lane. As a child, I don't really remember my guidance counselor all that well. I suppose this is a good thing because when you're in elementary school and already need guidance that can be a very good foreshadowing of psychotherapy bills for years to come.

But when I went to high school, I distinctly remember my guidance counselor. It was like the CIA of guidance counseling, which, incidentally I believe is the next spinoff in the popular CSI series. This is because at this level your connection to the guidance counselor is supposed to become more interactive. They allegedly take an active role in guiding and shaping your future while you should feel comfortable in the knowledge of them doing so.

Since I went to a fairly large high school there were a team of crack counselors. The way you were assigned to a counselor was simple and orderly: it all went by the first letter of your last name. God knows how many people each guidance counselor actually saw. Basically the system was not all the different from waiting in line for your cold cuts at the deli. You simply waited for your number to be called and asked kindly that your college recommendations be thinly sliced.

In a way I suppose this indirectly prepared you for the college experience considering in a college of thousands if not hundred thousands you are bound to just be a number to admissions. There's no two ways around it. Eventually everyone becomes a statistic.

Which brings me to my limited experience with said counselor. To give this experience richness I have to tell the backstory of the day I first took the PSAT's. I distinctly remember sitting in that classroom, that Saturday morning. I remember hearing the sounds of laughter from the kids were done and released early. I also remember having some hysterical laughter of my own as I attempted to answer questions on math I had no business being near.

So when my results came back and the guidance counselor called me in, she was concerned. Not for me, per se, but for the numbers the number known as me had generated. Apparently I had an extremely skewed test with results somewhere in the 700's, nearly all of it in verbal portion.

Now these results were not surprising to me. They told me what I already knew; I sucked at high school math. But since my guidance counselor didn't know me, she just figured I was sleepwalking through half of the test. Turns out she was only half right. I mean it wasn't without giving it the old college try, no pun intended.

The breakdown in communication was simple. The tests told her what she needed to know. But the thing was, I already knew. So cutting out the middle man would have worked great in this scenario. But taking the PSAT's and eventually the SAT's were a high school rite of passage, regardless of it's inaccurate measure of success that I won't elaborate upon here.

Long story short, eventually I did make it in to college, a four year college thank you very much, despite my guidance counselor's guiding me to do otherwise. She even conveniently "lost" a few of my applications because she saw me as a two year transfer, nothing more, nothing less. It didn't matter that my grades were solid and that my recommendations were consistent. One piece of paper said otherwise and that my friends, is the downfall of the guidance system.

Fast forward ten years later and now I have the "privilege" of working alongside actual guidance counselors. I can call them colleagues. They can call me Al. In my school there are two guidance counselors and one social worker. Just like Meatloaf once said, 2 out of 3 of them ain't bad. Guess which one I'm stuck working with?

Yes, the guidance counselor assigned to the third and fourth grades is, how do I put this delicately...a complete imbecile. And unfortunately, unlike when I was a child, in this particular elementary school, good guidance is desperately needed. Many of these children come from broken homes or homes where the parents themselves could benefit from a bit of guidance. Calls to Deyfuss for rumored abuse or neglect are par for the course and as a result, the guidance department in my school is almost desensitizied to doing anything about it.

But elementary school kids, God bless 'em, still are naive enough to believe that the system is working with them, not against them. So whenever they are having a problem at home or a problem with a bully in school they ask to go to guidance because after all, that is what a child in crisis should be able to do.

As if that wasn't enough, guidance also comes to us once a month. Think of it as the hot dog cart of helping. This past month the guidance counselor did a lesson on emotions and tolerance. She talked a bit and then put on an old school eighties video on the same topic. Only the message was decidedly lost on these children. I know this because ironically there was fighting going on while the guidance counselor was in the room. Guidance counselors, by the way, have to had some amount of teaching experience before "crossing over". You'd like to believe the most effective teachers go into guidance, but the evidence says otherwise. This woman had no idea how to manage the conflicts that were going on and instead the classroom turned into Jerry Springer for the elementary set.

Seeing is believing so unfortunately, I remain skeptical, yet open minded about the effectiveness of the educational guidiance department.

So, if there's anyone out there who can lead me in the right direction, you know where to find me.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "I'll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours"

It was just about a year ago that I started Tell It To Me Tuesday's here at AOGB. Back then I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. Most of you don't know me, but if you did you'd know that at times I can be very indecisive about something I've otherwise decisively decided to do.

So I decided to throw it back to you, the readers (some of which who may now be dubbed the readers of yesterday). I asked what YOU wanted to read and you responded. It worked then and therefore, I'm going to do it again now.

That being said, what would you like to see in future Tell It To Me Tuesdays? And since no Tell It To Me Tuesday is complete without me telling you something, I'm telling ya to tell others about Tell It To Me Tuesday because the more people who know, the more fun Tell It To Me Tuesday is.

Ok, maybe I'm not telling you. I'm just asking you really, really nicely. Better?
Monday, January 02, 2006

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot, Blogs Are There to Remind You

Happy new year! Feel any different? Yeah, me neither. I don't know about you, but for me, things just haven't been the same since Prince was wrong about the party being over in '99.

Last year at this time I was a good little blogger and made a list of all the things I learned in the previous 365 days. It was slightly different than everyone's list of things to before they die in '05. See, I was smart. I didn't really commit to anything, which by the way, is a downfall of having a blog. All things you promise come back to bite you in the ass big time.

Stuff I Said 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.

We won't talk about what I actually accomplished in '05.

I decided I needed some cheering up. And what better way than cheer up than to compare yourself to others who have it worse off than you? So I also Googled "New Years Resolutions" and came up with the top 10 most common empty promises. The first link that came up was from I perked up right away:

1) Spend More Time with Family & Friends
2) Fit in Fitness
3) Tame the Bulge
4) Quit Smoking
5) Enjoy Life More
6) Quit Drinking
7) Get Out of Debt
8) Learn Something New
9) Help Others
10)Get Organized

Hey! I have no debt! I never smoked! I faithfully work out! I help others everyday... I teach third grade! Duh.

Wow, I do a lot more right than I ever realized!

But nobody's perfect, right?

So now for my new list...I call it Six in '06:

1. Get paid for writing something, somehow, someway. Blogging is fun y'all but money is even funner.
2. Be more positive. Oh who am I kidding? I'll never be able to do that.
3. Read more books that inspire movies than see movies that inspire books.
4. Try not to be so sensitive about what others think about me. I think that's a good one. What do you think?
5. Travel to somewhere exotic...even if it's the international section of the supermarket.
6. Ride on a unicorn. What? I had to put something truly attainable on there. It offsets the other five nicely, making them look much more feasible, no?

But enough about...what are the things you kinda sorta plan to tackle in the new year?



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