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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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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Write Back Weekend "All We Are Saying"

To offset the multitude of silly songs out there, last week's TITMT asked you to make mention of those songs with a stronger message. I realize I painted with broad strokes on this one as a meaningful message could take on many different incarnations. It's ok though, because y'all handled it like champs. Here are a few of my choices...

1. Abraham, Martin and John- Dion- Released during the anti-war era, this song is now mostly associated with love and loss. The Abraham in this song is Lincoln, Martin is Martin Luther King Jr. and John is John F. Kennedy Jr. The sentiment is all about great men who were taken from us too soon.

2. Positively 4th Street- Bob Dylan- Somehow I'm sure hardcore Dylan fans would find a song of his that was even more hard hitting than this. Then again, I've never been a real Dylan fan. I just remember hearing this song back in middle school and having a "Oh no he didn't!" moment when he says, "When you know as well as me, you'd rather see me paralyzed. Why don't you just come out once and scream it?"

It wasn't until a few years later, once the shock period, followed by the incessant laughter period died down that I understood what he was trying to say. Basically this is a song all about superficiality and saying what you mean in the moment.

3. No Such Thing- John Mayer- No Such Thing is a song about expectations and growing up....sometimes against your better judgment. Staying in the lines is what we are told to do, and what are parents were told to do. We spend years trying to fight this mentality before most of us cave and end up pushing in on the next generation who think they too, will beat the system.

My favorite line has always been, "So the good boys and girls take the so-called right track, faded white hats grabbing the credits and making transfers. They read all the books but they can't find the answers. And all of our parents, they're getting older. I wonder if they've wished for anything better. While in their memories, tiny tragedies."

Runners-up in the angst of growing up category: Dogs In The Yard- Paul McCrane and Still Fighting It- Ben Folds.

4. Mmm Bop- Hanson- Go ahead. Rub the sleepies out of your eyes. It's not a typo. So many people love to knock Hanson. Say what you will about the mop-topped trio, but these underage brothers actually accomplished the impossible. They penned a silly song to appeal to preteen girls, that really wasn't so silly after all. In fact, not only did they fool them, the probably fooled you, too.

Mmm Bop is all about how quickly things could change so appreciate what (and who) you've got when you've got it cause in an "mmm bop", they're gone.

Runners-up in this category: The Living Years- Mike & The Mechanics, Cats In The Cradle- Harry Chapin.

5. Dear Mr. President- Pink- Probably the newest song on the list, Pink deserves props for her timely message against politically related public relations. In this open letter to the president, Pink pontificates about an imaginary conversation with the president. My favorite line has already been featured on this blog as a past 'Catch of the Day' quote.

"What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away? And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay? I can only imagine what the first lady has to say. You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine."

6. Praying For Time- George Michael- When this song first came out, George Michael was the "oh my God, he can do now wrong", bomb. Some of us were still reeling that the guy who sang Wake Me Up Before You Go Go could take part in anything serious, but he did it.

In Praying For Time, George Michael talks about a sad society of haves and have nots. In a morose way, it contemplates the after life and what will happen to us all when our time is up. There was always one lyric, more than any other, that resonated with me:

"So you scream from behind your door. Say what's mine is mine and not yours. I may have too much but I'll take my chances 'cause God stopped keeping score. And you cling to the things they sold you. Did you cover your eyes when they told you. That he can't come back because he has no children to come back for."

7. In My Life- The Beatles- I always thought this song was a great way to summarize life and all of its ups and downs. It values the importance of memories and how those memories, when added up, are what make our lives unique. At it's very core, it also works as a love song.

8. Just A Girl- No Doubt- This song is a surprisingly pop take on feminism for women who really aren't feminists. Sarcastically, Gwen Stefani refers to herself over and over as "just a girl" who really doesn't (or shouldn't have any rights). In one breath, she's playng innocent, in the next, she wants more. What woman hasn't felt the push and pull of these emotions in her lifetime?

9. We Didn't Start The Fire- Billy Joel- Since this song was popular at the time (again, in middle school), I remember there being a social studies teacher who assigned students different parts of the lyrics to research. The kids were into it, if only because the song was a hit on the radio at the time. The historical events in each stanza aren't necessarily intertwined, but his onslaught style delivery reminds us that everything old is new again when history repeats itself.

10. Dear. Mr Jesus- Powersource I'd say the year I was ten or so was right around the time I started becoming aware of world events. At the time, there was a major news story about a little girl named Lisa Steinberg who had been a victim of child abuse at the hands of her "adoptive" parents, Joel Steinberg and Hedda Nussbaum. Since she was only four years younger than I, I felt a connection to the story.

Back then, the story was all over the news. Around Christmas time, I heard this song on the radio. Apparently it was dedicated to the memory of Lisa. I spent years trying to get this song, not so much because it was the greatest song ever, but because of it's anti-child abuse sentiment. It's an open letter from a little girl to Jesus, praying that abuse would stop. This one line still gives me chills.

"Dear Mr. Jesus, please tell me what to do. And please don't tell my daddy, but my mommy hits me, too."

11. A Better Son/Daughter- Rilo Kiley
Rilo Kiley is a newer band with a decent amount of songs with serious messages. A Better Son/Daughter is all about trying to live up to expectations that seem so hard to live up to. Usually these expectations are of the parental kind.

Runners-up in the parental strife category: Father and Son- Cat Stevens, Perfect- Alanis and My Father's Chair- Rick Springfield

There you have it. Those are some of the songs that move me, more than words can say.
Friday, April 28, 2006

We're Living In A Material World, And I Am A Kohl's Girl

Picture this.

The year is 1990. You need to find a new blouse to wear to match the blazer you're wearing to that interview on Friday.

Or maybe, just maybe, there's a rad party going down at the coolest boy in school's house and you need a kickass pair of jeans to make him sit up and take notice.

So you hope in your car, or your mom's car as the case may be, and you cruise for the elusive perfect outfit.

But where to go?

Most likely you end up at the mall, because it's one stop shopping and thensome. It's got smaller stores to browse through, but it has large, anchor stores too like JCPenney's, Sears, or Lord & Taylor. If those don't work you can always hit Bradlees, Kmart or Caldor on the way home.

Now fast forward fifteen years. Rinse and repeat.

Only this time, where do you go?

The answer my friends, is simple.

You go to Kohl's.

Now if present day self met past self, surely past day self would be in the cold on this one. This is because up until a few years ago, the "cult of Kohl's" had yet to make it's attack expansion across the country of America.

But present day self is older, wiser and quite frankly, better at accessorizing. And who does present day self have to thank for this newfound material bliss? Well Mr. Kohl's, of course.

It happened slowly, yet suddenly, not unlike the inexplicable success of all things Linday Lohan. All I knew was that Caldor made a quiet exit and Bradlees went out with a whimper, not a bang. In their place came the equally brilliant, Target.

In fact, the only reason Target did not top Kohl's on this list is because Kohl's has an uncanny ability to make you spend money like no other anchor store, ever.

Just journey to a Kohl's near you and you'll know what I mean. It's like going to a carnival, only at all the booths are clothing and there are no balloons or jugglers. At grand openings perhaps, just not on your average weekday.

What you DO get on your average weekday, however, is like Jem once said, truly, truly, truly outrageous. Everything, and I do mean everythng, goes on sale, somehow, someway. Hell, things that you don't even think are on sale but you decide to buy anyway usually end up being on sale once you purchase them. This is thanks to their Tourette's like approach to sale savings:

You're wearing blue today! Allow us to deduct an additional 15%!

I see your name starts with a J! You get to choose a second pair of capri's for free!

It's insane.

At Christmas I got this sweater that came with a matching scarf. So when the season died down I went back to see what was reduced. I went home with at least six new sweaters that day, each one cheaper than the next, none of which were over $6.00! Sweater deals for $6.00!? I can't even get lunch for that price anymore!!

So now I wonder. How in the hell do department stores like JC Penney's and Sears even stay in business? I mean really. Between Target and Kohl's, who needs to shop there anymore? Oh sure, they have a "deal" from time to time, but as Sinead O Connor once said, Nothing Compares 2 U. We never did know the U she was talking about. Of course that was back in 1990.

Maybe she was the girl searching for the blouse, or the jeans.

Either way, she obviously knew something we didn't.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

One Singular Sensation

So many times we hear people say there just aren't enough hours in a day. Teachers everywhere hear what you are saying and agree, tenfold.

Try as we may, there never seems to be enough time to cover everything that needs to be covered. More often than not, certain areas of academia fall by the wayside because, quite simply, there just isn't enough time.

Frankly I don't know how my teachers did it. When I was in school, not all that long ago, we had reading, writing and 'rithmetic, and we still had time left over for studying things like the states, the life cycle of a butterfly and something called "y period" which was basically an excuse for teachers to get an extra 45 minutes to chill. We also tackled wacky, downright prehistoric subjects such as spelling and sentence diagramming.

Well I'm here to tell you that all of it is gone. At a workshop we had a few weeks ago the question arose, Are children today learning more? Given the expectations on state tests, the answer seems like it would be yes, but as a few old school teachers pointed out, they aren't learning more silly, they are just being exposed to more and as we all know, sometimes less is more.

One teacher brought up the not so simple subject of geography. The majority of fourth graders in our school could not tell you the difference between Iowa and Chicago. They are all equally foreign words that, if they don't effect them, they simply don't matter.

Then there's the ongoing debate of grammar and spelling. I teach in an urban district where for most students, speaking the English language at home is not a given. So you would think that in a district like this there would be an onslaught discovery of parts of speech, punctuation and subject/verb agreements. But this just isn't the case.

Replacing old-fashioned spelling lessons is a block of time known as Working with Words. During this time you are supposed to do fancy word activities such as Guess The Covered Word (filling in what makes sense) and Making Words (applying word families). Basically they are word play games about words. Mostly though, they are activities that surround a group of prechosen, grade-appropriate words off a word wall that hangs on every classroom in the school.

While I do teach these lessons from time to time, I couldn't resist the back to basics, tried and true spelling list. Each week I give my students a list of ten words and one challenge word, chosen by me. Some of the words are word wall words, the rest are words that I find they like to butcher a lot in their writings or words that deal with subject content matter we will be working with that week. They do 3x each every Monday, ABC Order every Tuesday and sentences every Wednesday. Thursday they study, Friday is the quiz. If they spell any spelling words wrong, they have to write said word 5 times, and so on and so forth. The challenge word is always longer and is something that will hopefully help improve their subpar English language vocabulary. Just because they aren't exposed to it, doesn't mean they won't be responsible for it somewhere down the line.

But educators everywhere have an uphill battle with a capital B ahead of them. This is because for every correct reinforcement, there is a pop culture arch nemesis lurking in the shadows, waiting to destroy the ABC's of good spelling.

Our culture is latent with incorrect spellings and pluralizations of words and the Speak N' Spells of yesteryear are virtually obselete.

Take for example, toys. Bratz dolls, for instance, are huge with the girls in my class. They will never know Bratz should really be Brats because they have no frame of reference to apply to it.

Then we have movies. Right now, there's a movie in theaters children might want to see called American Dreamz. Not American Dreams mind you, Dreamz.

When did 'z' become the new 's' anyway?

Then we have kids literature. That should be safe right? Well, not always. Have you looked at your child's precocious Junie B. Jones books lately? Sure she's adorable in the way she tackles the school bully, but she talks in what I like to refer to as Junie B speak. In other words, she talks like a kid. It's cute when you're an adult reading it back, but a kid doesn't catch Junie B's mistakes. Instead, those mistakes become examples of how to talk, not how not to talk. You try telling an eight year old that a book they can easily find in their school library is teaching them the wrong thing.

And there's a number of other examples where those came from.

A few posts ago y'all attacked Gwen Stefani for her nonsensical Hollaback Girl. I'm with ya. The song makes no sense. But at the very least, with It's BANANAS! B-A-N-A-N-A-S! kids are halfway to writing that gramatically correct story about a monkey in a jungle.

I'm just saying.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Listen To What The Man Said"

My new renter this week is the lovely Ribbiticus over at Pond Perspective. Back in February, I rented from her and she wrote one of the kindest renter to rentee posts I could think of:

"Go show some love for my tenant of the week by clicking on the thumbnail under Frog-adelic Site. Janet has been a a regular read for me for more than a year because of her thought-provoking posts which oftentimes have an amusing spin. Take this one for example. Aside from having a beautiful template, her titles that play on a diner concept are wonderfully clever. No wonder she's already won several best blog awards. Am so thrilled to have this opportunity to let others know about her blog. So go on, hop over to her pad and give her a ribbit for me, eh?"

Think this is nice? She does something thought provoking like this for every renter. I hope you hop on over to her side of the pond sometime this week!

Since last week's TITMT was all about how non sensical some of the best songs can be, I figured it was only natural to make this week all about the opposite.

Which songs, although pop, have decidedly a strong message attached to them?

More about my chosen, 3 minute and 30 second nuggets of wisdom this Sunday!
Monday, April 24, 2006

Some Like It Hot

There's something that anybody who knows me, knows about me.


No, I'm not talking about that raunchy "adult" network type spice, so you can all just get your minds out of the gutters, thank you very much.

I love spicy food. In fact, the spicier the better. I'm sure there's a limit to the amount of spice I can eat, but I haven't reached it yet.

Spicy food hot has to be the best kind of hot there is. I add hot pepper flakes to my pizza. I search for blackened, anything. If it's Chinese food, I look for the dishes that come in red because as we all know, red = hot.

In fact, I've decided that Americans could learn a thing or two about spice from other parts of the world.

The Indians, for instance, know how to light a fire.

If you don't like heat, stay out of an Indian's kitchen because Indian food is some of the spiciest stuff around. While Chinese restaurants are a dime a dozen, good Indian food is often harder to come by. My theory on this is simple, most people are afraid to try Indian food. This makes me sad and quite frankly, a little hot under the collar. With most cultural food experiences I say this, try it once. If you don't like it, fine. But if you've never tried it and you say you don't like it? Well then, you suck.

My boyfriend and I often go to this one Indian buffet. It's the best way to try Indian food because eventhough I love it, I still have no idea what dishes I actually like. With an Indian buffet though, the hits heat just keeps on coming! Everytime we eat there we decide we're going to launch this worldwide campaign for Indian food awareness. We've got to get the message out there. Indian food spice, should spread like wildfire.

My love for hot things doesn't only stop at hot food in taste, I also love hot food in temperature.

Often I will begin to eat dinner, which has just been taken from the stove or oven, as the case may be, and immediately nuke it. I'm like Goldilocks. I'm a blonde who, in order to enjoy my porridge, it has to be juust right. Once there's a distinct possibility I will burn my tongue, then and only then, is it fit to eat.

But the hotness doesn't stop there. I also love hot showers. You're in hot water takes on an entirely different meaning with someone like me. I know, everyone loves hot showers, but I'm talking, borderline burn yourself it's so hot, hot showers. I come out and my skin is bright red. I know this isn't great for your skin, but I always moisturize after a shower, so I say whatever. The heat is ON.

Like anything else, too much of anything is not good for you. So I try real hard to have my heat in moderation. If one day though, a doctor were to say to me that I couldn't eat spicy foods anymore, my love for food would definitely lose its fire. Heat is half the fun.

So you can save your antics Ginger, I'm the original spice girl.
Sunday, April 23, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Say Anything"

Last Tuesday I asked you to tell me about the songs you love, even if you have no idea what they are talking about.

About ten years back, Blues Traveler recorded a great song called "Hook" that deals with this very epidemic. Here are part of the lyrics:

It doesn't matter what I say
So long as I sing with inflection
That makes you feel that I'll convey
Some inner truth of vast reflection
But I've said nothing so far
And I can keep it up for as long as it takes
And it don't matter who you are
If I'm doing my job then it's your resolve that breaks

Because the hook brings you back
I ain't tellin' you no lie
The hook brings you back
On that you can rely

As I sat down to compile my list I realized this was a tall order as it afflicts many of the songs I like, and even some I don't.

Without further adieu, here are the chosen few, likable or not. You should know there were many, many honorable mentions though.

1. "MacArthur Park" Donna Summer- Ok, this song takes the cake, no pun intended, of having one of the most non sensical lyrics of all time. Someone left the cake out in the rain? It took so long to bake it and she'll never find that recipe again? Someone get Rachael Ray, stat!

2. "Sheep Go To Heaven, Goats Go To Hell" Cake- Two songs in a row that involve cake. This is SO not intentional! In my book, Cake is one of the most fun, yet most random bands of all time. This song is just one glimpse into their madcap world. Sheep are going to heaven, goats are going to hell. Why exactly? I don't know, but the cows in purgatory aren't too happy about either.

3. "Black Horse and Cherry Tree" KT Tunstall- While we're on the topic of animals, why not segue into KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"? Ok, so there's like a cherry tree and there's a horse. This much I get. But then before I know it, the horse wants to marry the lady and she's all "No, no you're not the one for me." So apparently it was not meant to be. The horse, the lady and the cherry tree that is. I'll take George Washington to block.

4. "Birdhouse In Your Soul" They Might Be Giants- Another great band full of words that make absolutely no sense. Here they are talking about that birdhouse that dwells in your soul. So that explains all the crap, literally, so many of us have to deal with on the inside!

5. "Sussudio" Phil Collins- Ok, there are two arguments here. With this song you can say that Sussudio is some chick's name. I don't know about you, but I've never met a girl named Sussudio in my life, before or after this song so if Phil Collins was all trying to start a new trend, it didn't work. But then again, he says over and over "Just say the word...Sussudio". Maybe that's it people. He just likes saying the word. And if that's the case, back in '85 he got y'all to say it over and over, too.

6. "Down Under" Men At Work-Some would say that songs from the eighties, more than any other decade, make no sense. I would agree although as to be seen shortly, there are quite a few nineties alt-rock bands that could give them a run for their money. In this song we meet a man who meets everyone else who proceeds to ask him if he's from Down Under and if he is, he better run and take cover. More than that, the focus of this song is random rhyming. Nervous/breakfast, under/chunder/plunder/thunder, Brussels/muscles, language/sandwich, Bombay/say, me/plenty. If a third grade gave this to me I'd probably tell them it made no sense and write REDO. But God help me, I blast the song everytime it comes on.

7. "Plush" Stone Temple Pilots - The first time I heard this song I was a sophomore or junior in high school. The alternative thing was just starting to get big and I had switched bedrooms. Don't worry, it all connects in the end. So anyway, like I was saying, I had just switched bedrooms and with it, I got new, plush carpeting. So I liked to blast "Plush" while walking around on my new, plush carpeting. After the first five times of listening to it I realized it had nothing to do with plush carpeting, or, for that matter, plush anything. It was about dogs who were going to smell 'her'. Ewww. But will she smell alone? The jury's still out on that one.

8. "Steal My Sunshine" LEN- Considered by most to be a one hit wonder (though they did have the equally catchy ditty, "Feelin' Alright"), "Steal My Sunshine" is a great, fun time anthem of nonsense. Although this song makes no sense, the writers get credit for using "word a day" like tactics to fool with listeners minds. A big vocabulary they have. Comprehension? Not so much.

9. Anything by Nirvana, REM, Pearl Jam or Greenday - Here are famous bands whose body of work is, in large part, cryptic or nonsensical. At their concerts you reach for your lighter, but you should get our your decoder while you're at it, too.

10. "(Undone) The Sweater Song" Weezer- The first time I heard this song I was hanging out with a few friends, "down the shore" as we say in Jersey. We were cruising around with no particular place to go and on came a song that...also had no particular place to go. The chorus is is about a sweater that comes undone if you pull the thread and walk away. It also has one hit wonder written all over it. Some ten plus years and a gillion hits later Weezer is still rocking today. Ha. Ha. Suckers.

So there you have it. A sampling of songs where everybody's talking at me, but I can't hear a word. they. are. saying.
Friday, April 21, 2006

Kiss That Blog Goodbye And Point Me Towards Tomorrow

Being that this week is my spring break from work, I decided to do a little necessary spring cleaning.

I don't neglect this blog, but I have been known to, at times, neglect the neverending maintenance of my blogroll. My blogroll is like an untended garden, full of beautiful blooming flowers and overgrown weeds, both needing a little TLC from time to time.

So while clicking through the 150 + blogs I link to, I realized more than a few of them had changed links or stopped updating completely. Sometimes they are still there, they just stopped linking to me. I don't know why, but this process always makes me sad. Blogs are like my favorite tv shows. One day they're there, the next day they're gone, often with no explanation.

What do you do when you find some of your blogroll has bit the dust?

It's the instability of many blogs that makes blogging itself seem like a flighty format. There are still so many people out there that say blogging is a fad like acid wash or mullets. I don't know about you, but I don't like the idea of being lumped in with either of those things.

As many of you know, the updating of your own blog is hard enough without factoring in the time it takes to read other blogs. This is something I think I do a pretty good job of though. I always visit those who visit me. This isn't because I'm a blogging snob, it's because I have to draw the line somewhere.

Still, if I link, I love. Which got me to thinking. There have been a few new commenters here lately that I may or may not have already linked to. So, if you're one of those few who have sadly gone unnoticed, please let me know.

My blog garden might be big, but there's always room for one more flower.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Voices Carry

One day, years from now, the children of tomorrow will ask about what movies were like in "the old days".

They might have heard things like how Moses and Apple's mom used to be something called an actress, or how Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise used to also do this mysterious thing known as acting, instead of leading a cult.

If I'm lucky enough to be one of the people to pass on my infinite wisdom, I will tell it like it was.

Yes, I will tell the children that once upon a time, (or as my students like to write, once a pond a time), movies used to actually star people like you and I. These people were called actors and actresses. Actors and actresses were also people who eventually got their own television shows where they acted out their real lives, pretending it was real. This might sound confusing to you now, but given that everyone will also have their own reality show in the future, they'll be able to comprehend this just fine.

I will also tell the children that not every movie was a cartoon and/or digitally enhanced. Now this, this will truly amaze them. See in their world, they will know nothing of the movies you and I grew up with that starred famous faces like Eddie Murphy or Julia Roberts. No, their intimate knowledge of famous people will be via their voices they provide to cartoons and digitally animated films.

Think about it. We're already halfway there. Half of the movies that come out have big stars attached to them, but not any big stars actually IN them.

In fact, voiceover actors used to be a breed all their own. The reason they are voiceover actors and not movie stars is because they usually have what I like to call, "a face for radio". Through the magic of cartoons and commercials, these actors had a fighting chance. Now, with these plum roles being stolen, the words are being taken right out of their mouths, literally.

In some ways I guess it makes some sort of sense. I mean telecommuting to work is becoming more and more popular in many fields, why not in movies, too? Plus, Robin Williams ain't getting any younger. Now he no longer needs to jump around like a hyena, he actually has a hyena do it for him. He can sit back in his pjs or, better yet, wear nothing at all. Sorry for the unfortunate imagery.

Yes, Hollywood is proving that anything you can act, they can draw better. Facial expressions are apparently, overrated. Even the Geico gecko has something to say now. I think that's the voice of Related actor, Callum Blue. If it is indeed Callum, he's raking in the dough, but his face, many of you, will never know.

It should go without saying that Samuel L. Jackson is the exception to the rule since, in the future, that man still will star in everything. Think of him as the "i before e, except after c" of Hollywood.

That's of course, if I have anything to say about it.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "What You Talkin' About Willis?!"

Welcome new rentee, The Rock Bitch. Right now she's featuring a kickass Easter cake that would make Carvel melt with envy. Hop on over, won't you?

Everyone, everywhere has their favorite songs. A catchy ditty or two that sticks to your musical ribs.

But how many of those songs, when we really think about them, make absolutely no sense at all? They are to music what Paris Hilton is to the eyes- pretty to look at, but not much else is going on.

This week I want you to tell me all about the songs you love to listen to, even if you have no idea what they are about. It shouldn't be hard. The music industry is literally overflowing with them.

Don't forget to check out my "ear candy" choices this weekend!
Sunday, April 16, 2006

Write Back Weekend "LOL"

Happy Easter, Happy Passover or even just Happy Lazy Sunday.

I realized I had two somber posts in a row. That was unfortunate and unintentional.

What better way to make up for it then to answer this week's TITMT?!

There are so many funny movies out there. In fact, as some of you pointed out, it's almost harder to pick out entire movies as the funniest when there are so many classic lines out there, worth reciting. Is the whole movie the funniest, you've seen, ever? Maybe not. But parts of it certainly are worth mentioning.

First off let me talk for a minute to the movies everyone lists, that I just don't get. One is The Big Lebowski. Everyone and their mother talked about how funny this movie was. So I tried it. I'm still waiting for the punchline.

Then again, everyone did the same thing with Seinfeld and for the most part, I didn't find that to be all that funny either.

I'll pause for a second while you recover from your gasps of horror and dismay.

Next up is anything Monty Python. Again, classics, I know, but I tried watching Monty Python and The Holy Grail and I was just bored. To me it was predictable, corny humor. Maybe if I had seen the film when it had been first released I would feel differently.

Lastly, there is anything Jim Carrey. Here's the thing. In theory? Jim Carrey is potentially a very funny man. But most of the time, he either does one or both of the following: phones in the very same performance or overdoes the performance he phones in. If you've ever seen one of Carrey's first films, Once Bitten, you would know that Carrey has the capability of being funny without being in your face. Even when he's trying to tone it down in films like The Truman Show and The Man In The Moon there's something amiss. Jim Carrey, middle ground called. He said the invite to come visit sometime is still open.

As for my list, I am limiting it somewhat. I'm also trying to bring a few different movies to light that may have not been noticed otherwise.

1. The Jerk- You cannot make a funniest movie list without including The Jerk. Nothing tops Steve Martin's deadpan discovery at the fact that he is indeed, not a black man.

2. Airplanes- Another given. To me, if I say Airplane, it is understood that by extension, Airplane 2 is also included here. I can't even seperate the two movies when thinking about funniest parts since it's all a big ol' jet airliner of laughs to me.

3. Better Off Dead- The funniest movie, ever. From "I want my two dollars" to "Such a shame, throwing away a perfectly good white boy like that." you simply cannot go wrong with this timeless classic. If you haven't seen it yet, go now, go.

4. Student Bodies- One late night, many moons ago, I caught this movie on television. I don't know if this is one of the funniest movies ever, but it deserves a mention since it was released in 1981. It is along the lines of Scary Movie, but years before, which makes it funnier since it got there first.

5. Mother- I often wish Albert Brooks would make more movies. The man is funny in a cerebral way, which I admire immensely. My favorite scene, hands down, is when they keep running in to a woman his mother knows in the supermarket. It's such a simple scene that's so hard to recreate here, especially if you haven't seen it. It is so hysterical because it reminds me of something my own mother would do. Of course my mom didn't find it nearly as amusing. There's a lot of truth in comedy, after all.

6. National Lampoon's Vacation- Chevy Chase at his finest. What comes to mind is how he is always looking for Rusty and Rusty is almost always standing right next to him. All of the movies were good, I even wrote about Vegas Vacation being the best sequel, but this was the best one, period.

7. Best In Show- a memorable mockumentary about the seedy underbelly of dog show competitions, Best In Show is from a lot of the same people who also gave us movies such as Waiting For Guffman, A Mighty Wind and Spinal Tap. In my opinion though, Best In Show is the one that lives up to its title.

8. Office Space- This movie is great because it resonates with anyone who has ever worked in an office, much like the great show The Office does now, on a weekly basis. There's the mean-spirited boss, the awkward co-worker banter and the damn the man feeling that almost never reaches fruition.

9. Seems Like Old Times- When I was a kid, I used to watch Seems Like Old Times over and over. You know what? It never got old. It's the story of a yuppy couple played by Charles Grodin and Goldie Hawn. Their lives are turned upside down when her manchild ex husband, Chevy Chase, shows up and causes a wacky love triangle. The quick dialogue is what keeps this movie interesting, especially in the dinner scene towards the end of the movie.

10. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy- What comedic list would be complete without a little Will Ferrell action? Anchorman is one of those movies that was funny the first time I saw it, but just got funnier and funnier with each viewing. It pulls off the bizarre in a way that only Will Ferrell can. It is also full of dialogue that never gets old like:
Champ Kind: It jumped up a notch!
Ron Burgundy: It did, didn't it?
Brick Tamland: Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart!
Ron Burgundy: I saw that! Brick killed a guy! Did you throw a trident?
Brick Tamland: Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident!
Ron Burgundy: Brick, I've been meaning to talk to you about that. You should find yourself a safehouse or a relative close by. Lay low for a while, because you're probably wanted for murder.

Laughing At, Not With- Finally, I will leave with a list of movies that are also equally as funny for entirely different reasons.

Namely, they are all pieces of crap.

1. From Justin To Kelly
2. Exit To Eden
3. Cool As Ice
4. Howard the Duck
5. Nothing But Trouble
6. Any Lifetime original movie
7. Showgirls
8. Glitter
9. Little Nicky
Friday, April 14, 2006

It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp Teacher

I was going to make this Friday's post a happy go lucky, Easter free for all. But then I saw this post which attacked my post about shock treatment in schools. Naturally, I got angry. Call me crazy, but I always get angry when people write about me like they know me, especially without coming to me first. I know, it happens to every blogger from time to time. Still, I don't know if I should feel flattered or feel sick.

For starters, I open this question to you. Whether you're an educator or not, which do you think is easier to teach, special ed or regular ed? I'm making this question as open-ended as possible. I might expand upon it in the future.

I decided to additionally post my response to said blogger here, mainly because I needed to blow off some steam. The following is the rebuttal of sorts that I posted on the writer's site. Feel free to add your own two cents to either post:

I always love it when I find someone who attacks something I wrote before or without coming to me for clarification.

Yes, as my post indicates, I spent a year working as a paraprofessional in special education. This was not, however, while I waited for, as you described it, something better to come along. My undergrad degree was in another field entirely.

The decision to go into teaching was not one I took lightly. After I finally decided to persue a career in education, I wanted to do some work in the field while getting my Master's. This ended up being as a paraprofessional rather than as a sub. It was a position I sought out myself. Subbing would have been the easier route to acquire, but I thought the special ed experience would be much more rewarding and valuable. It turns out I was right. If anything, subbing would have been "parking my bus". I wanted a deeper investment.

As for "leaving" the kids, that was one of the HARDEST things I ever had to do in my life. I became incredibly attached to those children, especially one little boy in particular.In fact, perhaps this is the main reason why I grew so defensive at the sight of this post. However, the degree I had persued PRIOR to acquiring this position was for regular ed, not special ed. I had no idea going in the type of connection I would make because ALL of it was new to me.

The entire year I worked there I went back and forth, wondering if I should have gone the special ed route all along. Even now I talk about going back again, but school takes time, money and dedication, so the decision is not always so cut and dry. To assume otherwise about a complete stranger actually borders on ignorance, in my opinion.

Also, it needs to be said, that in any teacher's lifetime, regular ed, special ed or otherwise, there comes a time when the children too move on. I would not have stayed with those children the next year as many of them moved to new rooms or even new schools. I went back to visit those who remained and stayed in contact with the classroom teacher, but I DID want to make a difference. As a paraprofessional I would not have felt I was truly making my mark. This is why I wanted to lead a classroom of my own.

I will give you this. There are many regular education teachers who cringe at the idea of working with special ed students. In turn, however, I find there are a lot of special education teachers who often jump to conclusions about the intentions of regular education teachers. It's not a contest. ALL children need to be educated by people who care enough to do the job well, regardless of their classification.

In fact, if you have read any of the other posts on my site that revolve around my current position in so-called "regular" ed in an urban school district, my experience is anything but conventional. Regular ed is not a cakewalk and not all teachers are in it for long summers and tenure. Some of us care a lot more than that. This is why I am so passionate about false assumptions made about my character.

I felt I had to try and set the record straight cause quite frankly, from one educator to another, it seemed you had a lot to learn.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Here's Looking At You, Kid

When I first conceived this post, I wasn't sure which direction it was going to go in. All I knew was that was it had to be about somebody's baby (shout out to Jackson Browne) because right before my eyes, it seems like everyone was having one.

It all started almost a year ago. I know what you're thinking. It can't be almost a year ago if babies are only in the womb for 9 months, Janet. Well, duh. Even I know that! But in order to fully understand the story, I have to go back to where it all began.

One of my friends told me she was pregnant back in July. The baby boom continued right on in to September when another friend announced her pregnancy. Two days later a third friend said she was going to have a visit from the stork. For the record, none of these friends are friends with each other. Just keep on hitting me baby, one more time.

You might remember a bit about my first pregnant friend. I blogged about her here before and then again here.

What I didn't blog about was what happened a few days after that. That very same friend found out she was pregnant with their first child while her husband still was in the hospital, recovering from his stroke. She was torn about what to do, assuming that whenever she became pregnant the first person to know would naturally, be her husband. But due to the unusual circumstances, this was not to be the case. So she told a few close friends before telling him. When he found out, he was on the long, painful road to recovery, but knowing that his wife was pregnant before all of this happened to him, gave the couple hope they didn't have before.

A few months into learning she was pregnant, tragedy struck again. My friend discovered that her unborn baby girl had a hole in her heart. Apparently the hole was fixable, but she would need emergency surgery right after she was born. Again I admired the strength my friend had when she found out this news. Just when you think nothing else bad can happen to someone, God throws you another curve ball.

Her baby shower was at the end of January. She wasn't surprised. She didn't want to be surprised. Which brings me to this question. Why do showers have to be surprises anyway? I mean seriously. All you pregnant ladies and wives to be know they are coming, so you can save your "ohmygodyougotme's".

Here she is with the best onesie, ever. Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner.

Ironically, the baby showed up the next weekend, which was also a few weeks early. Now that my friends, is a real surprise.

Because the baby, aptly named Jordyn Hope, was technically born premature, they kept a close watch on her. She was only four pounds 5 ounces and they knew about the heart problem she had.

What they didn't know, however, was that her heart problem was a part of a bigger one, called Vater/Vacteral Syndrome. Of course this syndrome is extremely rare, not unlike her father's stroke at the age of 29.

V = vertebral anomalies
A = anal atresia
C = cardiac (heart) defects
T = tracheo-esophageal fistula
E = esophageal atresia
R = renal (kidney) anomalies
L = limb anomalies
S = single umbilical artery

In Jordyn's case, emergency surgery needed to performed so that her esophagus could be connected to her trachea so that she could eat. Luckily, that went ok. Then she had the first of her heart surgeries, but there are more to come. She also has some vertebrae problems and an anus that is too close to her vagina, so that too will need to be reconfigured through surgery. All of this and my friend still manages to be upbeat and say it could always be much, much worse.

A friend close to the family created a flyer that can be found here. There you can read more about Jordyn's condition, view pictures and read more about the Jordyn Hope Trust that has been created to help the new family pay their mounting medical bills and other miscellaneous costs.

The second friend has had a much more normal (knock on wood) pregnancy and she is on the verge of delivery. Her shower was also a surprise, as is the sex of her baby which she chose to keep under wraps. Bitten by the blogging bug, this friend also decided to create a blog about the process of being pregnant. You can read all about Baby D here. The "D" is for their last name, but right now it also stands for "due any day now".

By the time I got to the third baby shower, I had seen enough cute baby gifts to make me wanna say kajagoogoo. The third friend in the trifecta of pregnancies is due in May. This friend is also having a girl whom she is naming Sophia Rose. No, she's not a Golden Girls fanatic. Amazingly though, the second friend is.

Confused yet? Don't worry baby.

For me, it's a surreal feeling watch all the friends I grew up go off and become first time mothers. As I'm sure I don't have to tell most of you, being a parent is a big responsiblility. I should know. I'm an understudy parent to twenty-two children for 7 and a half hours, five days a week. In fact, after seeing some of the parenting skills I do, or lackthereof, I often wish that a license was required to procreate, just as it is to teach.

But I get to go home. I don't have to clothe, feed or save for these kids college tuitions. Ultimately, my time with these children will end. Some days this makes me grateful, other days it makes me sad.

I haven't decided yet if one day I will have kids of my own or not. I don't care what anyone says, it's a big decision. I guess I have to fully accept the idea of being an adult first. This would mean hearing terms like new kids on the block and not thinking about the long defunct boy band pop group and not wanting the last cookie all to myself.

You know, stuff like that.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Good Humor Plan"

You might remember a few months ago when I asked for your input into future Tell It To Me Tuesdays.

This TITMT idea comes from a comment left on that post, courtesy of the talented Miss Pia @ Courting Destiny.

Pia asks, "What are your favorite funny movies and why do you think they are so funny?"

I love how she included the why. It makes the teacher in me smile.:)

Consider it a belated April Fool's Day post. Be sure to check out my answers this between ceremonious Easter egg hunting, that is.
Monday, April 10, 2006

I Can't Help Falling In Love With You...and You and You

There's a new show on HBO that has gotten everyone talking.

Ok, maybe not everyone. But some people, definitely. Mostly they're the folks of the "do radio and sit behind a mic variety". I'm sure you know a few of those, too.

Big Love is a show about a polygamist Bill Henrickson played by Bill Paxton, who is married to three wives from three different generations.

The oldest wive is Barbara Dutton Henrickson played by Jeanne Tripplehorn. She's the leader of the wives and the most level headed of the three. The second wive is the selfish Nicki Grant, Chloe Sevigny who has problems with debt and always runs to daddy to bail her out of trouble. The third wive is the young Margene Heffman, Ginnifer Goodwin. At 21, Margene is the most inexperienced of the three in life and and in marriage. This, at times, makes her easy to manipulate.

So this show got me thinking. In college I had a Mormon roommate who got offended when anyone implied Mormon's still had multiple wives. Maybe for the most part this is true. But I know a few people, men especially, where the more the merrier adage doesn't seem like a half bad idea.

This is why I compiled a list of what I like to call The Perks of Polygamy:

1. Ladies, you no longer need to feel bad on the nights you have your period! Since you share your wifely duties with two other women, there's always someone around to pick up the slack. Unless of course you believe that all women who are around each other eventually get on the same cycle. That would suck.

2. You would never get sick of the other person! With a hypothetical three wives like Bill has, you only have to see that person every third day. This leaves a lot more to catch up on and a lot more of what I like to call "absence makes the heart grow fonder" moments when you do. It also breaks up awkward "how was your day?" dinner conversations.

3. You now have built in girlfriends to watch American Idol with! Face it. Watching shows like American Idol just isn't the same when you watch them alone. Make some popcorn, wrestle up the wives and make it a family affair!

4. There's not as much pressure to cook dinner every night. For many wives, the pressure of what to make for dinner can take its toll. But with the revolving door of wifery this is no longer a problem. When it's not your night, you can pop open a can of soup. You could even switch who makes dinner for everyone each night, this way you always have a home cooked meal!

5. You can't call it cheating, cause she reminds me of you. There is no need for the man to cheat in this scenario. Anytime he feels the urge to stray he simply needs to say Will you marry me? and there, problem solved!

6. Variety is the spice of life. Any polygamist, any smart polygamist know to switch it up a bit. After all, most men don't have just one type. Here's your chance to be the equal opportunity playa you always dreamed of being.

7. There's all for one, one for all comraderie.
Holidays like Christmas and Easter are always overflowing with people and gifts. Also your problems become the family's problems. No need to go it alone.

8. More potential team members for flag football and charades. A rainy day with nothing to do? Not a problem. Just get the family together and you've got ready made teams for anything from charades to Monopoly and anything in between. On sunny days, football and kickball and even hide and go seek take on a whole new league of fun!

9. Share the wealth. In a super sized family, your money is my money and my money is your money. A little short on cash that week? That's alright. Just go to the bank of sista wife and ask for a little loan. After all, what are sista wives for?

10. Never a dull moment! How many wives complain they don't get to see their husbands enough because they are away on business or there's no time between shuttling the kids from here to there? Now there's always something going on, but there's also always someone to help out. Feeling a little under the weather? That's ok. There's an understudy wive, waiting in the wings, willing to help you out. Remember, you might be very different but you all have one goal in common; to take care of your families and keep your husband happy.

Now what sane, red blooded man can argue with that logic?
Sunday, April 09, 2006

Write Back Weekend "One Fine Day"

On Tuesday, I gave you the task of compiling a list of all of the people who were born on your birthday in any given year.

I then saw that task and raised it, by asking you to generate a list of all the people who were born in your birth year.

One of you even took me up on the third leg of the mission- creating a dinner party scenario with either or both lists. That MCF is always a joiner.:)

I was born on June 18th. Other people born on this date include:

Figure skater, Kurt Browning
Sometimes pretty/sometimes ugly actress, Isabella Rosselinni
Soap actress, Robin Christopher
Comediac actress, Carol Kane
Country singer, Blake Shelton
Once movie critic, Roger Ebert
and my two favorite June 18thers...

singer Jude Cole
singer Paul McCartney

Now for the year I was born. I was born in 1977.

Misanthrope guessed that was the year I was born and he compiled a neat little factoid list that I'm cutting and pasting here, just in case you missed it.

Assuming someone was born on this day in 1977, here is a list:
50 years 10 months younger than Andy Griffith, age 79
47 years 4 months younger than Dick Clark, age 76
46 years 0 months younger than Leonard Nimoy, age 75
43 years 11 months younger than Carol Burnett, age 72
41 years 2 months younger than Alan Alda, age 70
39 years 9 months younger than Bill Cosby, age 68
34 years 5 months younger than Linda Evans, age 63
32 years 2 months younger than Tom Selleck, age 61
29 years 3 months younger than Ted Danson, age 58
26 years 11 months younger than Jay Leno, age 55
23 years 2 months younger than Oprah Winfrey, age 52
22 years 1 month younger than Kelsey Grammer, age 51
18 years 10 months younger than Drew Carey, age 47
15 years 10 months younger than Michael J. Fox, age 44
12 years 5 months younger than Calista Flockhart, age 41
8 years 2 months younger than Jennifer Aniston, age 37
4 years 4 months younger than Alyssa Milano, age 33
0 years 8 months older than Colin Hanks, age 28
6 years 4 months older than Mila Kunis, age 22
14 years 3 months older than Madylin Sweeten, age 14

and that you were:
3 years old during the first airing of Hill Street Blues
5 years old at the time the first Cheers episode was televised
9 years old when L.A. Law was first aired on TV
10 years old at the time the series Married with Children began
13 years old when Seinfeld was first televised
14 years old in the month Home Improvement began
17 years old at the time the TV series Friends began
19 years old when Everybody Loves Raymond first aired
22 years old when Who Wants To Be A Millionaire began in the US

Now on to other cool, or at least semi-famous people, who were also born in that year.

Dawson's Creek actor, James Van Der Beek
Saved By The Bell actor, Dustin Diamond
Child actor who seemingly fell off the face of the earth, Ryan Francis
American Idol contestants, Nadia Turner, Mario Vasquez, Mandisa and Bucky Covington
Movie actor, Orlando Bloom
Boy band singer, Joey Fatone of Nsync
Hip shaking singer, Shakira
Pop rock crooner, Gavin DeGraw
The Real World alum, Melissa Howard
New Mickey Mouse Club's Josh Ackerman and Jennifer McGill
Torkelson's actress (whatever happened to her, too?), Olivia Burnette
Actress, Sarah Michelle Gellar
Creepy second banana actor, Eric Balfour
WB's Superman, Tom Welling
Blossom sidekick, Jenna Von Oy
Phenom tv star, Angela Goethals
Dumb and Dumberer actor, Eric Christian Olsen
Rapper, Kanye West
Singer, Kenny Wayne Shepard
Actress/model, Liv Tyler
Annoying actor they give a zillion teen show chances too, Milo Ventimglia
Kickass Elvis impersonating actor, among other things, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
My Name Is Earl star, Jamie Pressly
Whiny Terminator 2 kid, Edward Furlong
WB's Related (and I think the voice of the Geigo gecko), Callum Blue
Unhinged alternative singer, Fiona Apple
Indie actress, Clea Duvall
Adventures In Babysitting and Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Maia Brewton
Smooth pop singer, can I have a side of..., John Mayer
Actor formerly of Roswell fame, Brendan Fehr
Smoky voiced actress, Brittany Murphy
Indie turned mainstream darling actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Olympian, Kerri Strug
Actor and son of Tom, Colin Hanks
Actress, Emmanuelle Chriqui

So there you have it. My list. I also wanted to do the third part of my proposal, but life got in the way and I didn't get the time. Maybe I'll make it another post sometime this week. I make no promises though.
Friday, April 07, 2006

Through The Years

There are some stars that no matter what they do, they never seem to age.

Sandra Bullock. Matt Dillon. Even actresses like Mare Winningham, who never looked young to begin with, still look the same blend of semi-old. And doesn't it seem like Heather Locklear has been around forever?! By my calculations, she should be at least 64, but apparently she's only 44.

Amazingly, a lot of these stars are also of the soap opera variety. On soaps, twenty years could have gone by which means 17 husbands, 22 grand children and five reincarnations. Yet these people still look the same. Coincidence? I think not.

Then there are those stars that look nothing like their former selves. These are famous people that have had so much work done that only a vague resemblance is left.

Whatever happened to growing old gracefully? Are there more options out there or is it simply because people are living longer that this seems to be a pretty popular trend?

Take for example, Kenny Rogers.

Kenny use to look like this. Now he looks like this. The other night on American Idol they said the guest star was going to be Kenny Rogers.

I don't know about those of you who watched, but I kept waiting for Kenny to show up. All that we got was the creepy brother, Kevin who tried too hard to be hip. In fact, I think they could have gotten that dude from Mad TV who does Kenny Rogers impersonations and even HE would have been more convincing. Hell, anyone on this website, called Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers would have been a more suitable substitute than Mr. Rogers himself.

And here's the other curious thing about Mr. Rogers and men like him. He pulled his face back so tight we all know now to just take two steps back, fold 'em, walk away and run.

But for all that work he did on his face, you would think the man would have invested in a bottle of hair dye as well and finish off the farce. Come on now. You already chalked up thousands. Another $6.50 isn't gonna kill you.

Then there are those like Michael Jackson, who changed his face and didn't even wait for geriatrics to dictate when or where. Excuse me, allegedly changed his face. I wouldn't want to be caught dragging Mr. Jackson's name through the mud unnecessarily. Besides, talking behind someone's back is just wrong.

Not to mention, two-faced.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Shock To The System

Come one! Come all! I am looking for educators, or those familiar with elementary education, in the South Jersey area for a semi-project I'm working on. Specifically I'm seeking out people from Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. I can't write more about it here right now, but if you think you want more details, might be able to help, or know someone who might, please contact me at

Fun fact for the day (just don't look for another one tomorrow) This Wednesday morning at 2 minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning the time will be:

01:02:03 04/05/06

This will never happen again.

Finally, I hope you will welcome new renter This Is Not The Life I Pictured by giving her a great big click and a comment. I feel bad when people rent from me lately. I don't have a click friendly brood. But who am I to say? Go ahead. Prove me wrong.:)

This concludes our special messages from the national blogcasting system.

Last week, frequent commenter Gigem asked me how I felt about this story in the news about how educators were shocking kids. I hadn't heard about it, but I found the news, not to sound cute, to be well, somewhat shocking.

Apparently, a special needs school in Massachusetts called the Judge Rotenberg Center has made the headlines for using shock therapy on their students. The students at this school range are all different ages and come from all different backgrounds. What they have in common, however, is that they all suffer from some sort of behavioral or mental disabilities.

In defense of the school, the workers were not using this treatment behind anyone's back. When parents bring their children to the Judge Rotenberg Center it seems they know what they are signing up for.

This did not stop one NY mother from suing the school, citing that she didn't realize the shocks would hurt so much. No offense lady but I gotta say one thing and one thing only. Duh.

As for the controversial treatment itself, it is illegal in NY, can't imagine why, so the woman in question voluntarily admitted her son to the program, a program which stands by the fact that this child's violent episodes had sharply decreased. To read more about the story go here.

I wish I could say that the shock treatment itself was more shocking to me, but it really isn't. Every once and awhile I'll joke with my third graders about how I wish I could shock them into sitting in their seats or not calling out. Note to speed readers, I did use the word joke. I didn't actually do it so everybody just calm down.

I even mentioned this story to my students after I heard about it. They were all for it. They even requested I do that to them. Obviously they jumped the gun a bit here. I mean who knowingly chomps at the bit to be shocked anyhow? As if it isn't bad enough when I get a shock every damn time I get out of my car in the winter. That shock hurts like a mother. Can't imagine that not doing damage to a kid who acts up every five seconds.

But then there is the special ed perspective. I don't know how much y'all know about special ed, but some of the techniques used would probably surprise, if not apall you.

See, I worked in special education for one year while I went back to get my Master's in education. It was a very eye opening experience I keep meaning to blog about here. In short, controversial procedures are utilized on special education students everyday that would probably seem downright inhumane to you.

For instance, we had a student in our class who was autistic. He frequently had fits of rage and would lash out at the other students or at the teachers. Tantrums included head butting, throwing of things and pulling of hair.

If you've ever worked with someone who is of special needs such as autism or Down' Syndrome know what I'm about to say is true. Many of these people are amazingly, freakishly strong. It's as if the body is overcompensating, overly expressing itself in one way where in other ways it cannot. A survival instinct of some sort.

This particular child was one of the most severe in the school. If we did one of the actions listed above we had a variety of approaches to "punish" and help deter him from doing it again.

One involved making him stand up and sit down repeatedly at least 20 times. As you could imagine, making anyone stand up and sit down 20 times against their will actually manages to make them angrier, not calmer. So many times, in the middle of this procedure, the child would lash out again. It got so bad that I refused to do this as a treatment. Not only did I feel it was cruel to the child, I feared for my own damn safety.

Other treatments involved sitting on a child to restrain them when they were angry or laying on a child with a beanbag in between you to create a feeling of pressure, something allegedly many autistic children crave.

Sometimes we had to force feed students foods they didn't want to eat at lunch. Imagine the food you like the least and then being told you had to eat it. In special education they often immerse you in whatever it is that causes the most fear or resentment, in order to overcome that feeling. But people like you and I might not like something, and that's ok. We have the freedom to choose whether or not to eat brussel sprouts. Many special education students actually do not.

Food itself as a reward is another red flag. I had to carry around a box full of candy for this same child. On top of the box was a timer. Every 45 seconds that timer would go off. If the child had complied during the previous 45 seconds we were to praise them with something like "nice working" or "great sitting quietly" and then reward them...with food. Chopped up Skittles. Picked apart gummy bears. Goldfish were in there too, but the child next to never wanted those. Who wants the healthy foods when they could have a sugar high? Special education kids might be slower, but they most certainly are not stupid.

The theory was this: the longer you consistently adminster the reward, the more the subject will begin to make the connection between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. As time goes on, hopefully you can up the timer intervals to 1 minute, 2 minutes and so on, with the best case scenario being a complete eventual phasing out.

With this particular child however, his timer intervals were never spaced apart. In other words, we continued to reward him with candy every 45 seconds the entire school year. He never did get the message. What he did get a set of rotting teeth and a slowly emerging weight problem.

So what is the solution? Damned if I know. But the fact of the matter is we might never know for sure what some mentally and developmentally disabled people comprehend and what they do not.

Shocking them into submission and conformity though, does not seem like the safest or even sanest of solutions.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "They Say It's Your Birthday? It's My Birthday Too!"

Happy birthday! To somebody out there, anyway.

Anyone who has been around for twenty years or so probably knows at least one person who shares their birthday with them. If they are famous, you start to feel a weird kind of kinship. You have nothing in common with them, besides being born on the same day, probably in different years. Still, that little commonality puts you in an exclusive club with a hodge podge of many different types of people.

For this week's Tell It To Me Tuesday I would like to invite you to do the following:

1. Come up with a list of all of the famous people who share your birthday. If you know one already, all you have to do is go to the Internet Movie Database and search for that person.

2. From there, you can click on the hyperlink that says the day they were born. A list will come up of all the people who share your birthday.

3. Write down all the people who you know who share your birthday.

4. Type that list in the comments box here.

For those people who want to take it one step further...

5. Find someone on IMDB who you know is born the same year as you.

6. Click on the year.

7. Write down all the people born in the same year.

Voila! You have one or two lists of people who you suddenly share something with you might have otherwise not known about.

For really advanced players...

8. Create a dinner party scenario using either or both lists.

Remember, you can link to or post about this on your site too! My answers will be posted this Sunday!
Monday, April 03, 2006

Watching The Wheels

Sometimes I'm amazed at how far we've come with technology.

Thanks to a blue screen in movies, people can now seem like they are naturally talking to an alien or battling the end of the world. It's advances like this that have made the old school, split screen Parent Trap seem obsolete.

Yet with all of the progress we've made in intricate detail, there is one amazingly simple detail Hollywood filmmakers just can't seem to get right.

The simple car ride.

Take if you will, your typical action film. The good guy has to save the world from a "you fill in the blank here". Houses explode, it looks real. The bad guy has the "thing" breathing down his neck, it looks even realer.

Then he gets into a car with the girl he just saved. They start driving.

Suddenly all the film's credibility has gone right out the window.

Why? How come I'm more likely to believe the house exploding and the monster is imploding than the fact that you are driving to Dunkin Donuts to pick up a simple cup of coffee!?

This is what I think the problem is. For starters, it's the actors themselves. If they are in a car with someone else, they do what I like to refer to as "the linger". This is when an actor spends too much time looking at something else besides the road.

Having a conversation with the passenger in the car is all fine and well, but can't you realistically glance at them occassionally, at least feigning interest in being behind the wheel?

The same thing goes if you are eating, searching for something or changing the channel on the radio. Whatever. It's such a simple concept really. I mean pretending to fight the monster that doesn't exist should be more complex than faking driving, something most people over the age of sixteen do, oh I don't know, everyday of their lives.

The second problem is the scenery. Some actors are pretty good at keeping their hands at 10 and 2 and their eyes on the road. But if you look at the road instead of the actors, what you see might surprise you. Sometimes it's the same exact footage looped again and again. Don't believe me? Just watch how many times you see the same red barn in some of your favorite movies. And when it isn't the same footage being looped, it's footage that is so obviously fake, it's ridiculous.

I once saw that The OC's backyard, sunset and pool...all of it, is fake. Not real. Make believe. The pool is more like a wading station while the sunset is like something out of The Truman Show. Amazing. I mean they fooled me. So why, oh why, can't Speilberg and company do the same thing? Put a few less bucks into the bang and a few more into that bum we see when the actor stops at the red light.

I mean it's operating a vehicle for pete's sake. Seriously.

It's enough to drive you crazy.
Sunday, April 02, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Tivo To Go"

It was interesting reading what everyone records on their tivos, vcrs, whatever, this past Tell It To Me Tuesday. I had to laugh though when a few of you listed about ten shows and then said you watch entirely too much tv.

Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet.

What I attempted to do with my tivo list is organize it into categories. I record a lot, but worship little. Since I have so much I record (not including movies or specials) I often find myself half watching some of these programs. For instance, I have the tivo on while I'm getting ready for work in the morning. I also have it on a lot when I'm blogging. I'm a multi-tasker of the media variety.

Tried and True
- These are shows that are staples. Givens. Cannot misses.
Grey's Anatomy
The Office
Americsn Idol

Tier-Two Faves It's self-explanatory really. I like these shows, just not as much as the ones listed above.
Desperate Housewives
The OC
One Tree Hill
Gilmore Girls
Family Guy
How I Met Your Mother

Where I Get My News
Showbiz Show with David Spade
Best Week Ever

Morbid Fascinations- I don't really need to watch these shows, but force of habit makes me check in every once and awhile.
The Real World
Another World repeats
Days Of Our Lives (for mockery purposes only)
Free Ride
Sons and Daughters
8th and Ocean
So NoTORIous (It hasn't premiered yet, but something tells me it will fit perfectly here)

On Hiatus- These shows might have bit the dust but I either don't want to admit it or haven't heard official word.
Arrested Development- I refuse to admit this show is gone for good. Nope. Won't do it. I have a finger in each ear and I'm saying la, la, la as I type this which of course, makes it very hard to type.
Reno 911
It's Always Sunny In Phiadelphia
Love Monkey
Number 1 Single
Skating With Celebrities
The Bachelor
Dancing With the Stars
Beauty And the Geek
RW/RR Challenge
There & Back

Other- These are mostly cable shows that my tivo won't record because it doesn't record past a certain channel (I don't know why) or shows that are on the same time as something I'm tivoing. They ultimately get bumped to the vcr.
Big Love
Amazing Race

There you have it. A whopping 40 shows in constant rotation on either on my tivo or my vcr. Just like the weather, the list is ever changing.



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