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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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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cleanin' Out Their Closets

The past few weeks you may have noticed there have been a rash of celebrities, forcibly proclaiming their sexuality. Of course when I say that they are announcing their sexuality, I don't mean that someone like Haley Joel Osment is shouting from a rooftop somewhere about losing his virginity. No, what I'm talking about are the actors out there who are of the same sex persuasion.

I always feel bad for celebrities when something like this happens. Honestly, it's none of our business who is sleeping with who and why. But we're voyeuristic creatures by nature, so somehow we make it our business to mind the business of others. Still, years ago it didn't seem to be that way. Maybe it's because the work of the paparazzi was just not as prevalent. After all, if there's anything time has taught us, it's that homosexuality might seem more in the public eye these days, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't going on back in the day.

While I do not work for the paparazzi and make no claim on any incriminating photos, I have been told a time or two that I have quite good "gaydar" for someone who is straight. I don't know what it is, maybe it's a generational thing, but I feel like I can sense when someone is gay, even if they cannot yet, sense it themselves. For instance, one of my best friend's in high school was a guy. At the time I had a strong sense that he was going to "end up" being gay, but we never discussed it much at length. Looking back on it, there were specific signs in his case. The biggest sign was that he had dozens of friends who were girls, but never had a girlfriend. Back then my parents always not so secretly wished I'd date a good boy like him. Fast forward a few years later when he came out to me. Suddenly they understood why that never happened.

Before I go any further let me make something else clear. Just because I have a good sense of someone's sexuality, that doesn't mean I think any different of them either way. At the risk of entering a much bigger debate, it is my opinion that homosexuality is not a choice, but a genetic predisposition. The idea that most individuals would choose to color outside the lines on something as huge as partnering is too big to ignore for me. Think of it what you will, like I said, that's just my opinion.

Still, when you take someone as pop culture oriented as myself and mix in a dash of intuition, the results are bound to be nearly scientific. So, what follows is a partial list of outed observations I have made over the years.

No Shock Department The following individuals have officially come out or pretty much have come out. Their reveals were of no surprise to me. You might notice there are quite a few former child stars on this list. What this means I don't know, I'm just putting it out there, no pun intended.

Neil Patrick Harris- The most recently outed celeb was none other than Doogie Howser M.D. For years I have been saying that Neil was gay, and this was to lukewarm reception. Some people would laugh when I said this, but some remained skeptical. When Neil finally came out I found out through an email sent by a friend of mine. The friend emailed me because she wanted to know how I knew. Elementary my dear Watson. Elementary.

Chad Allen- Chad Allen became famous in the eighties during a stint on the melodramatic Our House. Back then, he was most definitely riding the cute, blonde Rick Schroder Express gravy train. He also, incidentally, had a twin sister Chastity, who eerily looked like him. But that's not important now. Years ago, long after anyone cared, Chad came out of the closet.

Danny Pintauro- Who's The Boss? star Danny Pintauro had what was probably the most monumental outing in my eyes. That's because he is the first person I can clearly recall knowing was gay, even way back then when he was just a little boy. I woulda said I told you so, if someone was listening, that is.

Jim J. Bullock- Jim J. was like the Charles Nelson Reilly of the twenty-something set. I always found it downright hysterical that Too Close For Comfort had Jim J. Bullock's character crushing on one of Ted Knight's tv daughters. Yeah, riight that might happen.

Malcolm Gets- Along the same lines as Jim J., I never quite got why out of all the actors in the world, Caroline In The City creators chose Malcolm Gets to be the ultimate object of Lea Thompson's affections. Even more curious is the fact that I bought into this storyline, hook, line and stinker.

Sara Gilbert- I had always suspected Roseanne's Sara Gilbert was homosexual, probably for obvious reasons. But then I felt bad. Maybe I was misjudging her based on the character she played on Roseanne, albeit though it was a straight one. Then I saw her again recently on How I Met Your Mother and realized nope, that ain't no character, that's just Sara.

George Michael- Rounding out the "Duh" of domestic partnerships is George Michael. I'll never forget when it "came out" that George Michael was indeed, a homosexual man. As if the sight of him jumping around in neon short shorts for a song entitled Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go wasn't indication enough. Somewhere along the way though Michael managed to reinvent himself and fool the public for a good few years that he was some leather wearing, straight sex craving stud. Even funnier, however, was the exclusive interview I'll never forget that MTV was granted. John Norris was the correspondent they chose to deliver the hard-hitting questions to the newly outed George. I didn't give any thought going in to the interview that Norris was gay, but on my way out, I was singing a different tune, along the lines of I Can See Clearly Now.

You Don't Say Squad This list of celebrities are those I found about recently, most of which as a result of writing this post. If you take issue with any of the names mentioned below don't blame me, blame Wikipedia.

T.R. Knight- Grey's Anatomy actor T.R. Knight's sexuality was revealed in much of the same manner as Neil Patrick Harris, with force and awkward admittance. Only thing is, and I know some of you will call me crazy for this, I totally didn't see this coming. George is my favorite character on Grey's too. He's a wimpier guy, but I just took him for what I thought he was, a straight man, but a lovable loser. Well that's what his character George is anyway. T.R. on the other hand, plays for a different team entirely.

Sarah Paulson- Finding out that Studio 60's Sarah Paulson was indeed a lesbian intrigued me in more ways than one. For one thing, I had no idea that she was, not that I've given much thought to the matter. But for anyone who follows Studio 60, the fact that she is gay in real life is very interesting, given her religious character is supposed to be somewhat of a homophobe. Perhaps this is what intrigued her about taking the part. After all, they don't call it acting for nothing.

Scott Coffey- Here's where obscure Janet like references kick in to high gear. Scott Coffey has been in very few notable projects in the shambles he refers to as his career. Still, one of my favorite movies ever is the chick flick, Shag. The sweet crush he develops on Annabeth Gish's character is downright adorable. It just goes to figure he'd be too good to be true.

Samantha Fox- Sultry singer Samantha Fox hit it big in the eighties with provocative songs like Touch Me and Naughty Girls Need Love Too. In fact, it was hard getting a clean picture to link to here. Although I was just a preteen at the time, I still loved to sing along with a Samantha, although I knew her rep was less than squeaky clean, even way back then. But to hear that Samantha is a sometimes lesbian really surprised me. I guess I just figured her the "part of a harem of Hugh Hefner's" type. I guess I was wrong.

Lesley Gore- A few years ago I blogged about singer Lesley Gore's appearance in town. Never was there question of her sexuality and really, why would there be. Now I know better and suddenly, Lesley's singing a different tune along the lines of, "It's my party and I'll come out if I want to."

Say, Say, Say What You Want- Finally we have my favorite group, the carefully collected crew of speculation. These are the actors that over the years I would swear are gay, however let me just say for clarification's sake for those folks who might have wandered in off the blogging, search engine streets: I have no official proof on the matter. I know there are many, many individuals who could grace this list that I have absent-mindedly left off. It's ok though, this list is already too long anyhow.

Justin Kirk- The first time I saw Justin Kirk was not when he debuted on his hit cable show, Weeds. It wasn't even when he did that other Mary Louise Parker project where he played a homosexual man. No, the first time I saw Justin Kirk was when he played a lovable loser who lusted after Jamie Pressly on Jack and Jill. The show, while it was great, was cancelled before its time. I just as well wrongfully assumed I'd never see Kirk again, but lo and behold, I was wrong about that, too. Now I'm not so sure what team he plays on but it doesn't really matter. He's fun to watch when he plays straight, or gay.

Pauly Shore- I know that Pauly Shore is some sort of self-proclaimed sex addict. I know this because I watched that reality show he had a few years back and he said that. But if you ask me, it's really all for show. I mean honestly. Have you ever seen a straight dude come off that much like Richard Simmons?!

Jude Law- There was a time when it seemed that I could not escape anything Jude Law. When I first heard of him I thought for sure that he was too pretty to be straight, so he had to be gay. But then he got this reputation as a philandering boyfriend who stepped out on his longtime love, actress Sienna Miller. Interestingly enough he also played nearly that same exact role in the remake of Alfie. Perhaps he considered it research. Regardless I still can't decide. Is he in to boys or just too British?

Robert Downey Jr.- I don't think there has been a bigger screw up that America loved to root for. There's just something about Robert Downey Jr. that makes him like that bad ex-boyfriend of yours. No matter how many times he messes up, we always take him back. Now Downey has been clean for sometime now (knock on wood) and his lip synched version of Elton John's I Want Love still brings tears to my eyes. But there's just something about Downey that always made me second guess whether he was in to guys or girls. I know he's married now, but I'm not convinced his most definite "experimental phase" was just a phase, if you catch my drift.

Robbie Williams-Singer Robbie Williams is like Jude Law meets Robert Downey Jr. He's British and adorable, but he's also a bit of a wild child. No doubt his days of exploration had let him to a male friend or two, but if it has, Williams still maintains his lothario of a reputation with the ladies. If I was on the jury, I'd site the verdict as otherwise.

Elijah Wood- Back in the day it was Elijah vs. Macaulay Culkin in the big battle for child mogul extraordinaire. Amazingly for years, Culkin beat him by leaps and bounds, however I never understood why. To me, Elijah was always the cuter and more talented actor of the two. Fast forward some years and I believe it's still true. Only now Elijah is not all that much taller than he was back then. Still, there's no denying that Elijah is definitely in touch with his feminine side.

Peter Sarsgaard- You might know him best as a creepy character actor with a disturbing smile and a weird lisp in movies like Kinsey, Boys Don't Cry and Flightplan. If you had asked me six months ago what I thought about his sexuality I would have given him a green, not for go, but for gay. But then he had to go and mess it all up by knocking up well known indie actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. So Sarsgaard is safe, for the time being, but have no fear. I'm keeping my eye on him.

Ricky Martin- People have come right out and asked Ricky Martin about his sexuality and of course, he carefully evades the question each time. I have always felt though that if you aren't gay, wouldn't you come right out and say it? Why hide it either way? Sometimes in my mind, no answer, is an answer in itself.

Clay Aiken- Rinse and repeat what is written directly above.

Kevin Spacey- No one has been able to confirm either way whether Kevin Spacey is indeed gay or not. He plays all of his roles convincingly enough, although there is something a bit awkward about imagining him as a romantic leading man. If I was a betting man girl I'd go with yes, but your guess is as good as mine.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers- Jonathan Rhys Meyers is this year's Jude Law. He's just as pretty only he's Irish, not British. He's also a bit gayish. Reading up on Meyers only goes to prove this point. Although he played a killer Elvis, otherwise he comes off as rather androgynous most of the time.

Tom Cruise- Finally we've reached the piece de resistance, Mr. Tom Cruise. Say what you want about Cruise, I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that Cruise is not a big fan of the ladies. Does that indeed make him a homosexual man? I don't know about that. Sometimes I think he's asexual. Lately I've beginning to see him as a possible robot, poised to take over the world, one crappy blockbuster at a time. I know he got married last weekend and miraculously, without explanation, can suddenly have biological kids of his own, but that's not the point. Just put aside for a minute the fact that you thought Cruise was dreamy when you were in high school. Think about his career as a romantic leading man. I mean really think about it and you will come to the inevitable conclusion I have, I never really bought it.

So there you have it, not that you asked for it. Is there anyone who pops in your mind that I might have left "out" in the cold?
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt"

I was a bad host last week, never getting the chance to plug my new renter. It's ok though because they never swung by either so there, we're even! But this week I'm trying to get my "A" game back, so please spare a moment and go visit Scooter McGavin. I know Scooter has bid here before, but I don't think I have been able to accept up until now. At least that's what my records show. But then again, Blogger Beta seems to go hand in hand with the words "mistakes happen", so anything is possible. What are you waiting for? Go now!

A few weeks ago People magazine revealed their annual sexiest men list. For the most part, the results weren't that surprising. In a way, I've always found them to be a bit silly. After all, the contest is held each year. You might add a few, but I'm not so sure about the take away. Unless someone in Hollywood dies or gains an unsightly amount of weight, the results should pretty much remain the same, no?

Still, that doesn't mean I can't take this opportunity to have you weigh in on your thoughts. So today's TITMT is...

Who are your sexiest famous or semi-famous men and why?

And, if you are a guy playing along have no fear, I'm an equal opportunity TITMT'er...

Who are your sexiest famous or semi-famous women and why?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Thank You. Thank You Very Much"

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This week's Tell It To Me Tuesday is being answered on a Friday. Since it's a holiday weekend I figured a holiday edition of TITMT could be posted now rather than waiting for Sunday. I make the rules after all. Plus Friday is technically part of the weekend, so there.

Since we're all in a thanking mood, I'd like to start off by publicly thanking The Academy Ajooja who was kind enough to nominate AOGB as Best Blog for the 2006 Weblog Awards. I have promoted the awards a few times in recent weeks on this blog. I hope Aooja, or anyone else for that matter, did not feel "blog pressured" into nominating this very site. I plugged the awards with the hopes you could show your thanks to any and all bloggers you loved. Nominations end today so there still might be a small window of opportunity if you have not "gotten your thanks on" yet.

For me, it's hard to give thanks in a post without coming across as cheesy, sappy or even redundant. Most of us who have been taught good manners say thank you numerous times during any given day. It's something we do automatically without thinking. It's also something I try very hard to instill in my students each year. For the most part, the kids are grateful, but you shouldn't have to assume someone is grateful since there are many simple ways to show gratitude more than just saying the words themselves.

For instance, each month I give out prizes from the prize box. I keep tabs on who says thank you after receiving their prize. I then make an example of those students and give them something a little extra, merely for having good manners. Because I work in an urban area, a lot of these kids are on the poor side, but don't know it yet. As a result, they receive a lot of gifts from the school, especially around holiday season. This ends up having a backlash effect. Suddenly the underprivileged act like the spoiled ones. It's weird, but it's true. Nothing gets my goat more then when a child complains about a gift they received for free. I always try to tell the children that there are people out there who will not receive new notebooks, pencils or gifts from their teachers or parents. To complain about the size, shape or color makes my blood boil.

But this post isn't really about my views on how or why to thank others, it's meant to be an introspective approach to who (or what) I give thanks to on behalf of myself. If I'm being honest there are literally SO MANY things to be thankful for, both big and small. And while the little things are little, they definitely add up. If you read between the lines, you will see this is why I cleverly cheat a bit to get around the top five rule. So here, in no particular order, are what I am thankful for this year.

1. My Family- Cliche as it seems, it's impossible for me to make a list of what I am thankful for and not include my family. In many ways, they have made me what I am today. In my mind, family is a lot more than just the people who you are related to by blood. Maybe it's because I'm an only child, but to me family comes in different forms. I consider my friends and my boyfriend my family of choice. I also consider my blogging friends part of an extended family of sorts. Put it this way; if we all were sitting together at Thanksgiving dinner, my immediate family would be at the head of the table and I'd be surrounded by close, personal friends. My blogging friends would definitely be on the guest list though. They'd be on the fringe, almost like a glorified kiddy table of sorts.

2. Electronic Gadgetry- Sometimes I think about how different it was to live even 25 years ago. Take my computer for instance. Just as long as you don't actually take it because I don't know what I'd do without it! I can't imagine my world without email, blogging, gossip reading, online Googling, My Space reconnecting, etc.

But my computer is just one facet of the electronics that rock my world. There's my tv and vcr, of course. And just think, a few years ago all I knew was a life without Tivo. Go back a few years before than and I did not know the wonderful world of downloading. Now I no longer have to be at the mercy of the DJ on the radio, thanks to my handy, dandy mp3 player. Ahh, electronics. God only knows what I'd be without you.

3. My Job- Every year (especially around the summertime) I'm reminded how lucky I am to have found a good job in both the field of education AND in a day and age where good jobs are harder to come by. This occurs to me more in the summer because that is when all of the fresh faced graduates go pounding the pavement, trying to find that first big break. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that time and do it all over, but at the same time, I don't envy the road most of them have ahead of them. I'm also very thankful and proud to have the chance to have a positive impact on the lives of others. Sometimes I still can't believe I'm the "grown-up" in charge of twenty something people each day. If only they knew this girl still watches shows like Laguna Beach in her spare time.

4. Freedom- Most days I am proud to be an American, but you'd never know it if you judged solely by Saturday Night Live, "State of the Union" type mockery standards. There are many, many things fundamentally wrong with the great ol' USA, but still Americans are extremely fortunate individuals who for the most part, do not realize how good they have it, present company included. Being an American means we can speak without fear of being prosecuted against. Well, unless you're Mel Gibson or Michael Richards, that is. In some ways, some might argue we are spoiled with all the freedoms we have and in a way, that is true. But that doesn't mean we can't give thanks for the right to exercise our freedoms that we do have and cherish how precious they really are.

5. Sense of Humor- The older I get, the more I realize that having a sense of humor is essentially connected to so many other things in life. Humor contributes to health, peace of mind, sanity and even an ability to play well with others. There are many, many people who seem to walk through everyday life without the ability to laugh at themselves, or more importantly, laugh at everyone else. I couldn't imagine my life without wit, sarcasm and the opportunity to occasionally roll it all out in the written word here. So I guess in a way that also makes me thankful for you, too. Yes, YOU. Those of you who come back and see me time and time again without really knowing me that is. Talk about being just plain silly.

I know there are probably many great things to give thanks for that I have missed in writing this post and I apologize in advance for gross oversights that are really just unavoidable certainties.

In my defense, I blame it all on tryptophan.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We Now Bring You The Previously Scheduled Lesson, Already In Progress

By now, everyone knows that the holiday season has the potential of being a rather stressful time. With numerous get togethers, gift giving and card sending it's a wonder any of us manage to accomplish anything else between the months of October and January.

Well I'm here to tell you the same applies in the world of education. The first four months of schools are ruled by milestone holidays. Everything from your writing assignments to your math activities have a Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas slant. The only problem with this is while the holidays keep on coming, so do the assessments. State mandated tests, I'm afraid, don't break for Santa Claus.

As a child, I relished any interruptions from my mundane, everyday school routine. Any chance to have an assembly that might prolong taking that test or getting less homework that night and I was all for it. It's only now as a teacher, however, that I know better.

In my district the entire month of November in particular is pretty much a joke. In order to better understand this, let me go through this November's activities with you.

November 1st-3rd ran like any other beginning of the month. But then the week after that we had "fall break". Some schools only have off the last two days of the week for the teacher's conferences in Atlantic City that very few teachers actually go to. Instead they're taking long weekends to beds and breakfasts or trying to get a leg up on holiday shopping. Best case scenario they are taking this time to come up with wishful thinking lessons they won't get to share with their class for weeks to come anyway. I hate to shatter the illusion, but it's true.

So finally, you return to school after a week of being lazy. Mind you this is a mere two months into school, period, so at this time the children were just getting over the lazy summer blues. Then November comes and you have to start all over again. So they return, sluggish and unsure of concepts they knew pretty well before they had the break. You want to proceed, full speed ahead, and then something happens.

The week after being off proved to be just as much of a joke this year. I was back on Monday and then off again on Tuesday for a professional workshop. Of course school was still in session, so then I had to come up with review/busy work for a substitute to do. What we'd be "reviewing" considering we'd only been back a day, beats me, so you end up giving them more practice on what they worked on their week off. You might think this is redundant but trust me, every little bit helps where I teach.

So Wednesday should resume as normal right? Wrong. That's because last Wednesday was class picture day! Not only was it class picture day, there was also Benchmark testing in the computer lab, something the kids have to do every nine weeks admist trick or treating and stuffing stockings. Constantly you're see sawing back and forth between having fun and assessing, you wonder how they know which mode to be in.

Now having class pictures and a test on the same day aren't that bad, but then they went and added another event to the same day. Apparently Wednesday also just had to be Take Your Parent To School Day. Not only was it Take Your Parent To School Day, there was NO LIMIT on how long the parent could attend and they could come and go as they pleased throughout the day.

Call me crazy, but when planning an event like this you might want to pick a month where things were slightly less insane, like May. May is good. School is almost over and the pressure is therefore, off. There are no big holidays looming and the kids are pretty much on automatic pilot anyway. But noooo. We schedule an event like this in the midst of the craziness. Normally I'd love to cater to the parents and have them do a fun, out of the box activity with their child. But time is of essence and craft making is just not high on the priority list of things to do. So you press on, hoping the parents who do attend understand.

I was worried about all of these things occuring at the same time, and with good reason. I had two parents in my room during Calendar math. It was the period before we were going for the computer test and I told them both that while under normal circumstances I'd love to have them, they really can't follow them to the lab as they might serve as a distraction. Both parents seemed to understand. It was the kids, however, who sometimes do not.

Right before we went to the computer lab we had this awkward amount of time. So I decided to go over another benchmark test the kids had taken, a pen and paper one. These are the kids of tests we have to give, but the parents never really have to see. Still I thought it might be interesting for them to see a different way their children were assessed. But after the parents left and the children went to the lab, one of the girls whose mom had gone started hysterically crying. This was because she didn't do so great on one part of the last benchmark test and she was afraid her mom was mad at her. I had to spend 10 minutes trying to calm her down, not only about the last test, but for the new test that sat before her. Naturally, since she was upset, she bombed it.

And this my friends concludes the tale of why we shouldn't have these events scheduled on the same day.

By the time Thursday rolled around I actually welcomed them throwing extra activities at me. This was because the rest of the week was a wash anyhow, so we might as well go 0-5. So Thursday morning, when they said we were having a Fire Safety Presentation in the cul-de-sac I got that hysterical, high-pitched insane laughter that kicks in when I'm under stress. Nevermind that fire safety month was October and that these kids know how to stop, drop and roll with the best of them. No, for some reason we had to have this event in the middle of November, too. It's like being on The Amazing Race and thinking you're done with this leg of the race and then Phil throws in another roadblock for you.

Of course, no week would be complete without Friday. On Friday we had the guidance counselor come in and teach. She was making up for another day she had missed as she felt the crunch, too. We also had something called RIF which stands for Reading Is Fundamental. A middle school student comes in and reads a story to the class. The kids also get free books through the program. The whole thing only lasts about 20 minutes, but when it's right in the middle of a day in the middle of a week where you haven't been able to accomplish much of anything, it wouldn't matter if it were 20 minutes or two hours. Numerous interruptions, no matter how big or small, or still interruptions, plain and simple.

So now we are headed into this week of school. Of course you can't really call it a week considering we will only be there two and a half days before it was Thanksgiving. And on Monday the "pilgrims land" landed our shores, Tuesday we had the 4th Grade Show and today is only a half day.

Have no fear. When we return after Thanksgiving we have a solid week of school! Oh, did I mention this is also the same week we have parent/teacher conferences and report card distribution? You know, to give out all the grades for the assignments the kids haven't gotten to do?!

I'm dead serious about the May suggestion. May's like the awkward kid out in field, just waiting for you to pass him the ball. Put him in coach. He's ready to play.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Thanks A Lot"

I went back and forth over this week's TITMT question. It seemed wrong to let Thanksgiving pass though and not go the traditional route. So that is exactly what I did, minus the cranberries and stuffing, that is.

This week, in honor of Tom Turkey, I want to know.

What are five people, places or things you are thankful for?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

I limited the number so that you can tell us why you are thankful for them instead of just generating a list. You know what they say, less IS more. Remember, the more people who participate, the more fun the TITMT becomes! And on behalf of me (and The Golden Girls) I thank YOU in advance for being a friend.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Write Back Weekend "It's All Been Done Before"

On Tuesday I asked you for some of your favorite musical remakes as in play that for me one more time.

Around seven or so years ago, I started becoming obsessed with the idea of reheated classics. I attribute it to around this time period because that's when I started getting into (shh) downloading. In the downloading world you can often run across hard to find B-sides or songs redone by some of your favorite artists at an impromptu, live performance. Sometimes you even run into them on purpose. Gone are the days when you have to scour mom and pop record stores to unearth that hard to find '45. In a way this makes me a big sigh of relief, but sometimes it also serves to make me feel sad, too.

But just like anything else, there is something to be said for too much of a good thing. Sometimes, some artists remake other songs needlessly. This bothered me so much a few years ago that I even wrote a post about it called The Rules of the Remake. The same can be said for movies. A lot of times the reason behind this, no matter the form of expression, is the same-- artists resort to remakes when they can't think of anything new to say.

Think about it. How many movies today are just leftovers of cancelled tv shows or comic book concepts? Sure they might have to write a new script, but the framework, characters and all, is built in and for the taking. Call me crazy, but that's not all that much different from the world of musical remakes, or sampling for that matter (another TITMT for another time, perhaps).

My favorite though (note my sarcasm here) has to be the "fall from grace" type of artist. You know what I'm talking about. Once they were on top for having original hits of their own. But then they got older and they mellowed out which also usually means SELLING out. A perfect example of this is Rod Stewart. How the same guy cycled from Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, Young Turks, Forever Young and finally, a remake of Young At Heart baffles me. In my mind, these kinds of remakes place one foot in the grave of the former popular artist. The last nail in the coffin is placed after the release of the dreaded "Greatest Hits" album.

A moment of silence, please.

What you see before you however is a list of artists that I believe managed to get it right in one way or another. Interestingly enough in almost every case I actually like the remake better than the original itself, which is why I chose to add it to the list. I've included video/audio links whereever possible although it wasn't for lack of trying. I guess you can say I made a list of songs that someone checked twice.

1. Overkill-Lazlo Bane In the early eighties, the late, great Australian band, Men At Work recorded this tune. The lead singer, Colin Hay, has gotten a bad rap over the years for having a crazy look in his eye, which I think is really just lazy, not crazy. They had a few major hits before more or less falling off the face of the Earth. Enter Lazlo Bane, an unknown band. They not only made this song sound better than the original, they managed to score Colin on a guest vocal, too.

2. What A Fool Believes- Self I stumbled upon this remake by accident. It's fun and refreshing. Self is a band that's a lot like Weezer's playful demeanor, only without the massive fan base. To further illustrate this point, their first LP was recorded entirely with toy instruments. If only I could find a sample of the cover itself online, but I can't.

3. No More Lonely Nights- Merrymakers The Merrymakers are another fun pop band. They contributed a cover of Paul McCartney's No More Lonely Nights to tribute album entitled, Listen To What The Man Said: Popular Artists Tribute to Paul McCartney. They are one of many bands to try to emulate the sounds of Paul McCartney and The Beatles, but in my experience, they are one of very few who actually managed to get it right.

4. Boys Don't Cry- Oleander Boys Don't Cry was a song originally done by the brooding, black clothing wearing group, The Cure. In 1999 an alternative rock band named Oleander whose biggest "hit" was probably a song called I Walk Alone covered the tune, turning it into a hard rocking song that would be perfect for many cover band bar rockers, both far and wide.

5. Hit Me Baby One More Time- Fountains of Wayne Every once and awhile a song comes along that seems like it should be fluff, but if you listen to the lyrics, there really is a strong pop sensibility. Hit Me Baby One More Time is one of those songs. A good tune in its own right, it has a lifetime of unfortunate association with Britney Spears. But a few years back, the pop rock band Fountains of Wayne took the song and slowed it down, emphasizing the heartbreak edge giving it dare I say, a sarcastic undertone. Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa also did a rendition that wasn't half bad, but that one sounded like it was much more a mockery. Fountains of Wayne meanwhile, turned it in to something brand new.

6. Last Kiss- Pearl Jam Most people don't know that Pearl Jam's cover of Last Kiss is actually a cover of a cover. The first version was done by Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders according to Wikipedia. Unfortunately I never heard that version, but I do know the original hit of the tune, as done by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers. Something about this version, although a hit, never sat right with me. I think it's because the tone and delivery of the song didn't match the song itself. The lyrics are from the point of view of a man who is retelling the story of a horrible car crash that took his "baby". In J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers version they are actually rather...caviler in their take. Pearl Jam, meanwhile, took this song and sang it in a haunting way, emphasizing the ache of the loss and ultimately, making it one of the most unlikely, hit best covers of all time.

7. I Will Survive- Cake Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive seemed like the type of song that would forever be destined to live on in a disco one hit wonder vault somewhere. But then in the nineties, along came sarcastic rockers Cake who decided to slow the song down and give it a male point of view. The results surprisingly, worked.

8. Wild Horses- The Sundays The first time I ever heard The Sundays version of Wild Horses was when I saw the movie Fear. It was played in the somewhat infamous rollercoaster scene. It wasn't until sometime later that I found out it was actually a remake of a Rolling Stones hit. I've never been a huge fan of The Stones anyhow, but even if I were, The Sundays eerie take on the tune gave it a romantic appeal that has stayed with me for years.

9. A Different Drum- The Lemonheads First things first. No matter who sings A Different Drum, it remains one of my favorite songs to sing, period. It's just so much fun. It was originally recorded by The Stone Poneys in 1967, featuring Linda Rondstadt on lead vocals. The song, however, was actually written by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. In the nineties, The Lemonheads, featuring then long-haired pretty boy, Evan Dando, had a more rocking rendition. As a result, the songs sounded completely different, but were equally entertaining. We don't hear much from Linda or Evan these days, but sing to the beat of their own drums at one time they did.

10. Wrong Way- Richard Cheese If Weird Al didn't change the lyrics and went Vegas instead, the result would be Richard Cheese. He's the fun of The Rat Pack and the Laugh Shack rolled into one. A comedian/performer, Richard Cheese, also known as Mark Jonathan Davis, formed the band Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, covering a slew of popular tunes with an unexpected "love ya baby" feel to them. There's just something about their take of Sublime's Wrong Way though that feels the most right.

11. Across the Universe- Fiona Apple Everyone knows The Beatles had a ton of great songs, so it only makes sense that a least one cover would make it to my best of list. In the late nineties Fiona Apple took this song and made it her own as part of the soundtrack for the movie Pleasantville. She managed to keep the great song intact will also giving it her signature stamp of melacholy and medley.

12. Baker Street- Foo Fighters When I was a child, I was inexplicably fearful of the song Baker Street. As I got older though I began to hear the song for what I believe it really was; an ingenious blend of jazz and pop. Why more people haven't had more mainstream success with the infusion baffles me. Maybe that's why it intrigues me so. I always thought Baker Street was a great one hit wonder by Gerry Rafferty and technically, I guess it is. What I didn't know though was that Gerry Rafferty was the singer for the band Stealers Wheel who had another great singular hit of the seventies, Stuck In the Middle With You. But back to Baker Street. When the Foo Fighters decided to record this classic, they added another musical element, rock, making it the song that is like a fine wine, just getting better with age.

13. Lean On Me- Club Nouveau I know that the original Lean On Me a sung by Bill Withers is a classic. It's the type of classic that in the eyes of many, should not or cannot be done better than the original. But I was a child in the eighties. And back then, Lean on Me by Club Nouveau was all over the radio. I picked this song as a great remake for the memories attached as much as the cover itself. The beat was infectious and in a way, with a song like this, it almost seemed inevitable.

14. Over the Rainbow- Sam Harris Another thing I have memories of from when I was a child is watching Star Search. Before kids had American Idol, Star Search was the show to watch. That show managed to both intrigue and repel me. How they always seemed to be on the semi-finals for instance, was so frustrating. While there weren't any breakout stars at the time, quite a few celebrities have flashback moments from Star Searches gone by. Back then, I do remember there being quite a buzz about the short singer with coattails, high tops and spunk named Sam Harris. I can still see our family around the television set amazed at his enthusiastic rendition of the Judy Garland classic, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. To this day just thinking about it gives me chills. Harris never had mainstream pop success (although he did record an album or two, which I own, of course). He did, however, find success on Broadway and more recently as a very flamboyant "straight" man on The Class.

15. Fields of Gold- Eva Cassidy The first time I remember hearing Eva Cassidy's rendition of Fields of Gold was while watching ice skating. I don't recall who was skating, but I remember thinking it was the perfect song for a subdued, solitaire skate. Since then I've heard this version many times over. For me, it resonates far more than the original Sting recorded. Incidentally, Eva also does Over The Rainbow beautifully as well.

16. Hey Ya- Matt Weddle of Obadiah Parker Finally we have an unlikely cover of Outkast's Hey Ya. If you know the original Hey Ya you know it's a feel good, upbeat song that comes across as rather nonsensical. A few years ago though my boyfriend starting playing it stripped down a bit on the guitar. So when a few years later this version started floating around You Tube, it seemed perfectly natural to me. I love how they took a straight up R&B song and turned it into a folk throwback.

They say imitation is the best form of flattery. In the case of all the artists above, I hope the covered artists were halfway as impressed as I was. They might be rehashed, but at least they weren't half assed.
Friday, November 17, 2006

It Looks Like Daniels, But That Must Be The Clouds In My Eyes

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, have you shown a blogger how much you love them? If not, what are you waiting for?

The other day my dad and I were driving in the car when an amusing commercial came on the radio. If I wasn't in the car with my dad I probably would never have heard it considering I normally don't listen to commercials, or even the radio for that matter.

The advertisement was announcing the appearance of Jeff Daniels in concert at a local university. For a moment I thought to myself, "Huh. That's odd. I know there's a musician named Charlie Daniels, but I only know one Jeff Daniels and surely they can't mean him."

As if talking to me through the stereo the next line was something to the effect of, "You know him from movies like Terms of Endearment and The Purple Rose of Cairo, but the multi-talented Daniels is also a singer, writer performer of over 30 years."

Yes friends, the song man Jeff Daniels and the acting Jeff Daniels are indeed the same person.

As if to further illustrate the point, literally, I include a picture of Jeff Daniels holding a musical instrument. The picture taunts me as if to say, "See, I must be a musician. Look at me nonchalantly holding this guitar!"

I know multi-talented performers are no strangers to the industry. Some sing, dance and act like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and J-Lo. Others of them even manage to do all three relatively well. I like to call them "triple threats". The more well versed they are in more than one area of the arts, the less likely they are to end up on The Surreal Life one day.

Granted, this is not the first time Mr. Daniels has fooled me with his wide array of talents. For years he had a career as a straight shooter, low-key lead/character actor. Then in 1994 he surprised everyone and made Dumb & Dumber. To date, this remains one of his most successful roles. In fact when he dies one day, I'm willing to bet money that the obituary will include a reference to that film, a film that otherwise goes against every fiber of Daniels and his acting being.

Given all of this, I suppose news of Jeff Daniels versatility should not surprise me all that much. I suppose what really gets me is the whole "for over 30 years" part. How could this have gone unnoticed for so long? Even Kevin Spacey, best known as a sinister character actor turned sinister leading man couldn't keep his comedic and musical talents a secret. I mean really. If you can juggle while riding around on a unicycle, why not show it off for the entire world to see?!

Yet, as for what type of music Jeff Daniels writes and performs, that remained a mystery. You would think a commercial that was trying to coerce new people into coming to see Daniels might feature a bar or two but noooo. Instead the excerpt they chose to use was one of Jeff Daniels talking about how nobody knows he is a singer as you hear canned laughter filtering in from the audience. I don't know if this tactic is used in order to entice you to come see for yourself or to con you in to forking over 35 bucks, money that once you see Jeff Daniels sing, you would gladly pay not to see ever again.

Investigation into the elusive Mr. Daniels gave way to musical insight and witty titles including, but not limited to:

If I Weren't So Stupid
You Can Drink A Ugly Girl Pretty
Dirty Harry Blues

and much, much more!

In fact, if you click this link you can found the pot o' gold, pie in the sky, actual, live footage of Jeff Daniels SINGING!

Interestingly enough, in my continued research while writing this post I came across many, fun music-related, Jeff Daniels tidbits. Apparently the title to one of Jeff Daniels many songs is "If William Shatner Can, I Can Too".

As reviewed in an article by The Star Ledger..."This song, which he wrote himself, pokes fun at actor-musicians, with lines like "Despite people across the country screaming 'Don't do it!'/We've got another CD from Jennifer Love Hewitt" and "It's safe to say no one wins/When you listen to the Olsen Twins."

Debonair. Ditties. Dumber.
Anyway you slice it, it's all Daniels.
Thursday, November 16, 2006

Guest Post:: First Blog Ever--Ode to Janet

As some of you may or may not have noticed, there was no guest post last Thursday. As much as I begged and pleaded, no one stepped up to the plate. As a punishment I had to keep the controversial "rake me over hot coals" political post up an extra day. I hope you all are happy.

But it's a new week and a new week brings a new blogger. Please welcome, my old friend Charlie. Last week, Charlie started a blog called Mindful Mercurial Musings. When he directed me to his new blog, little did I know his first post was going to be about yours truly. I asked him if he wanted more people to read his blog and he cautiously said in so many words, "Bring it on". That's when I thought how perfect it would be if you all got to meet Charlie through a guest post Thursday!

I won't get in to how I know Charlie. I'll just let the guest post speak for itself. All I ask is that when you're done reading, please leave Charlie a comment here and swing by his blog and introduce yourself. I've talked up my readers and how friendly they are quite a bit. You wouldn't want to let me down, would you?

Okay, so I'm going to blog. Give the credit (or blame) to Janet. She believed I ought to blog because of the letters I used to write her while I was marooned in the U.S. Navy for four years. She thought they contained some amount of wit and depth apparently. We became penpals due to the most random of circumstances. Her college sent out letters to we poor lonely sailors deployed out in the middle of Extreme Boredom Tedious Sea and hers fell into my hands. Those letters brought a little hope of hooking up with a young, fresh-faced college girl to our grizzled, sea-weary crew. Of course I considered the purpose of my letters to her to be much more high-minded and intellectual than pursuing such a coarse and common goal, but underneath it all was the vain hope we would one day meet and live happily ever after, or failing that, to at least hook up a couple of times.

Alas, it was a misguided hope.

A couple of times I called Janet and although our letters were full of wit and playful banter, our real conversations turned out to be tortured episodes of awkward silence. I guess we just worked better on paper. After one such unproductive hour, I placed the pay phone on the receiver, mourning the lost minutes of the ten dollar calling card I had purchased, and noted that my arm-pits were soaked with copious amounts of sweat as a result of the experience. I had been in such a state of anxiety that my hands were shaky. Truthfully, I would have driven the however many hour trip from Norfolk, Virginia to Rowan College, New Jersey with the slightest word of permission from her. Thankfully she never gave it. It probably would have been a grand debacle of some sort.

I never quite fit in in the Navy for whatever reason. I like to think it was because my life ambitions consisted of more than where I could find the closest bar like many of my shipmates and also I eschewed endless games of cards to stick my nose into countless books and thus missed out on many bonding opporunties. But those are probably inaccurate reasons born of misplaced snobbery. In any case, to me, the Navy was bondage and slavery. My enlistment gloriously ended in July, 1998 and I headed back to civilization. I have been in a considerably happier state of mind since then. I continued to write Janet for some time after I went home, but no longer felt the desperate drive to communicate with her as I did during my Navy years. It was like the second I became a civilian again, a yoke of almost clinical depression came off my back entirely. Her letters were beacons of light on the deep, dark sea during that time and I still have all of them in a shoebox pushed to the back of my closet. To me, they represent fond memories of a lonely time.

I read her blog now as part of my morning routine. They always crack me up but she's really thoughtful about a lot of topics too. I think she's a born columnist. I always think it's kind of cool to meet a person in such a completely random way and then stay in touch with them in a quasi-way throughout most of your life. Pretty cool how things work like that.

So this ends my first blog entry. This was completely from the hip and I wonder if I can really do this regularly. I'll probably branch out into many topics and we'll see what happens.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where Have All The Bloggers Gone?

Given the nature of this post (that you haven't read yet) it's funny that today of all days I should come across information on The 2006 Weblog Awards. If you click the link you will see that some categories are old-fashioned while others are eclectic. Nominations are open until Friday, November 24th. So if you have one, two or ten blogs in mind, don't forget to nominate them and plug the awards on your own site, too!

Now on to the actual post....

Do you hear that? That? That sound!

It's the sound of bloggers not typing.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, the blogging world is very tumultuous. It's like the internet's version of Hollywood. One week you're on top, the next you're nothing more a dead URL, never to be heard from again. If you don't believe me, just ask Joey Lawrence.

I don't know about you, but when someone falls off the face of the (blogging) earth, it irks me. I know I don't "know" any of you, but I like to think I invite you into my life a little bit more with each post I write and you do the same for me.

The other day, in the midst of fall blog cleaning (I know the saying is spring, just go with it) I discovered that I had to let go of fifteen links. FIFTEEN! Now some of you might look at my evergrowing blogroll and not see that as any skin off my back, but I don't consider that a deletion of links, it's a deletion of one-time connections.

The way I see it, there are variety of reasons why links end up in the Blogging Graveyard:

1. The site is no longer.

If a site I used to read cannot be found I save the link in a notepad file and check on it from time to time. Sometimes servers go down or bloggers just need to take a break. It is always a welcome surprise when a blogger you assumed to be long gone returns once again.

2. The site hasn't been updated in ages.

This type of leave of absence is even scarier to me. This is because there's no way of knowing why they are MIA. It could be because they got very busy and realized that blogging had to take a backseat, or it could be something more serious. I know it's morbid to think about, but do you ever wonder if when you kid around and ask a missing blogger if they are still alive if they are in fact, still alive?! I appreciate a blogger who takes a second or two out of their busy lives to say "Hey, I'm still here, I'm just taking a break." In ten words or less, you've conveyed the message that you're busy but that you care enough to tell your blogging friends.

3. You get the blogging equivalent of the silent treatment.

This one is the most perplexing of them all and if this has happened to you, please tell me. I won't feel nearly as paranoid about my sudden banishment. Occassionally you have a relationship with a blogger that tapers off. Sometimes it is no one's fault, it's just the way the cookie crumbles. You can handle this in one of two ways. One, you can continue to keep them on your blogroll, bloglines, whatever and just visit less often, or you could delete them permanently with no explanation.

What would you chooose?

Personally I pretty much always keep the links I have unless of course the blogger has done something to me personally which, let me think, nope...has never happened.

It's a huge blogging pet peeve of mine when someone I've made a connection with deletes me with no explanation. I know that speaks volumes about my ego, but I can't help it, it does. So usually I go to the source to try to figure out if it's paranoia or something more. If I don't hear back from the person I have to assume something has given them a blogging change of heart. Then, and only then, do I delete them. Note, this is not a tactic I use when the blog has been abandoned. I only do this when I know the blogger is indeed alive, unless of course, their blog has been hijacked and someone else is posting as them.

This is why I'm always on the lookout for like-minded friendly bloggers. These are bloggers that are probably a lot like YOU. They aren't looking to recipro-link for the sake of linking. They are looking to make blogging friends. For me, I see blogging as an unexpected extension of the way I view friendship. And even if you don't consider all the people who read your blog, "blogging friends" I still believe everyone deserves respect. After all, they did take two minutes out of their day to read you.

So if you are one of the people who visits here often and has not been added to my Side Dishes, please let me know. Also, as I'm always on the lookout for new comrades, so if you could point me towards a few good bloggers, my door is always open.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Do Over"

Every once and awhile a song comes along that is just so nice, somebody decides to do it twice.
Every once and awhile a song comes along that is just so nice, somebody decides to do it twice.


So today's TITMT is simple enough. "Repeat" after me...

What are some of your favorite remakes?

Remember, the originals need not be your favorite songs. You may like the original so much you were happy someone did another rendition, or you may actually like the remake better than the original song itself. After all, music is in the eye of the beholder... or something like that.

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Write Back Weekend "As Seen On TV"

Yesterday, in a sleepyheaded stupor, I accidentally signed in to Blogger Beta versus regular ol' Blogger. Already I see headaches because of the move. For instance, I kept getting an unable to process request error, although magically, it is publishing. I know the font is different too and I can't seem to fix that right now either. At least it's legible and not in Chinese or anything like that. I also had a problem when adding images to this post. It kept wanting to put the images at the top and I didn't know how to move them. If you know how to work around any of this, let me know.

In the midst of all of this I let a few Rent My Blog bids expire. This is something that has never happened to me. If anything, I mock those who are too busy to remember to pick a renter. I am swinging by to apologize to the potential rentees, but in the meantime, I want you to welcome the last bid standing- Observing Hermann. I just discovered Hermann myself, but from I can tell he writes about everything from German nurses to endangered techno music. Please click to learn more about what is in "Hermann's head".

As much as I loved last week's TITMT question, I quickly realized just how hard it was to answer. For those of you took the challenge and answered on your own blog, I commend you. You clearly do not shy away from daunting blogging tasks.

To review the question was this...

What fictional character on television, past or present, do you (or did you) most relate to and why?

I particularly enjoyed MCF and Tim's approaches. MCF decided to create a list of rich characters, each one different from the next. If you know MCF at all, you can see the commonality in them all. Meanwhile Tim said tv characters aren't real and thus there is no one character that he felt most like. They are "characectures" of real, live human beings. Instead he chose to pick characters that he wanted to be.

I like to think my answers compliment both of these approaches. Like Tim, I never felt like I completely identified with one character on television, although there were moments that I related to a decision they made, an action they took or an emotion they felt. If I'm being honest, I think I spent much more time probably wishing I was someone on television than actually being like them. This is why I also relate to MCF. There are many characters that seem very different from each other, but when you get down to it, you can see how they are actually alike. It's like one big Venn Diagram of television characters. I think it would be cool if in some parallel universe, we could have an eclectic dinner party of all of our "alter egos" to see if they would indeed get along with each other or spontaneously combust.

Without further adieu, here is the list I managed to put together:

1 .Liz Lemon of 30 Rock- If I'm being honest, I always related to Tina Fey the person. Her character on 30 Rock, a talented yet insecure Liz Lemon, is probably not all that far off from what she is really like in real life. I admire the fact that she is smart AND funny. A lot of times you find one or the other in Hollywood, but rarely do the funny women get featured, much less earn a position of power. Of course part of me envies this, too.

2. Jim and Pam of The Office- This is the first in what I consider my "hybrid" choices. I love The Office and Jim and Pam's painful pining has been a major part of why. But this isn't the reason why I chose them. I chose both of them because they remind me of the short-lived experiences I had while working in an office (another post, for another time). I love how they are both clearly sane while everyone around them is not and how they manage to cope with this by coming up with their own inside jokes to make the office more bearable. They also sort've remind me of when my boyfriend and I first met, in an office of all places.

3. Mr. Kotter of Welcome Back Kotter- I threw Mr. Kotter in here because I felt I needed to include at least one teacher from television and after him, the cast of Boston Public and Howard Hessman, my mind was drawing a blank. I picked Mr. Ka-ter because he got involved in his students lives outside of school. Granted he worked in high school and I teach third grade, but he saw them as people, not just numbers, and I like to think I see my students that way, too.

4. Adrian Monk of Monk- While Adrian Monk is far more eccentric than me, I sometimes feel he is an exaggerated version of myself. I have quirks and oddities about me that make me unique. I am not OCD, but some of the things that Monk is bothered by I can predict even before he says them. Sometimes it's because I know the show so well, other times it's because they bother me as well. Either way, Tony Shaloub somehow manages to make the irritating seem endearing.

5. Brian Krakow of My-So Called Life- At first when I thought about My-So Called Life the character that naturally came to mind was Angela Chase. But then I thought about it some more and realized that I wasn't really anything like Angela. She spent so much time trying to fit in, even ditching her old friends in the process. I did relate to many of her voice-over, Angelaisms though. No, the real person I probably most identified with was Brian. I chose Brian because I remember being in high school and watching some former friends change before my eyes, while I felt like I was staying the same, not trying to be anybody but myself.

6. Becca Thacher of Life Goes On- Growing up I loved the character of Becca on Life Goes On. I love how within four short years she went from nerdy wallflower to the popular, smart girl. In high school, she is what I aspired to be. She wanted to be cool, but she also enjoyed hanging out with her family, something often dubbed "not cool" by high school standards. She had her core group of friends, but she was open to new experiences. She seemed wise beyond her years, something I heard at the time a lot which was both a blessing, and a curse.

7. Jo Polniaczek of Facts of Life- Here's the interesting thing about choosing Jo. I can't really put my finger on what it is about her that made me identify with her so much. I wasn't a tomboy. I wasn't tough. And yet, I felt more like her than anyone else on that show. Weird, right? Facts of Life was one of my favorite shows growing up. I suppose there were moments when I related to all of them in different ways, but for me Jo was always the voice of reason. The other girls had a lot more identity crisis issues. Jo was always good ol' reliable...Jo.

8. Felicity Porter of Felicity- If we could have followed Becca Thacher to college I think she might've been a lot like Felicity Porter. On the surface, Felicity was a very smart and well-balanced girl. But every once and awhile she would make monumental mistakes that reminded us that she was only human. I think I related to Felicity for three main reasons. She crushed on a boy she didn't know from afar for no apparent reason other than what she made up in her head. Of course even I would have drawn the line at following him to college. The other reason is because throughout the entire time Felicity was on the air she remained torn between being the "good girl" and being the rebel. As most good girls will tell you, even when they manage to rebel, true rebels see them as posers. It's really quite frustrating. Finally I relate to Felicity because her college experiences paralleled mine in time. I loved coming home to the dorm and watching Felicity go through many of the same trials and tribulations either myself or my friends were going through simultaneously.

9. Lorelai and Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls- When I first sat down to write this list, Lorelai Gilmore was the very first name that came to mind. Then I thought about it some more and realized that I'm not completely Lorelai, but I'm also not completely Rory. In many ways, Lorelai is a bit over the top that sometimes even I think I would be annoyed by the way she comes across. On the other hand, Rory is sometimes too complacent. This is why I see myself best as a healthy mix of the two. This is mainly because I completely get 99% of their obscure references and I love how they have a slew of inside jokes that they can pull out of their hats on a moments notice. They have a short-hand with each other that I still have with a friend of mine from college. Whenever I hear someone say The Gilmore Girls are annoying I tell them then they probably wouldn't like me much.

10. Dorothy Zbornak of Golden Girls- Once upon a time I loved watching The Golden Girls. Only if you had asked me back then why I loved the show so much I would have told you it was because I loved Rose. I loved how much of a lovable dimwit they made her out to be, and the St. Olaf stories still get me to this day. After Rose my second favorite was probably Sophia. As a kid I probably would have never chosen Dorothy because I hadn't really acknowledged how much I appreciated her yet. I think back then I would have seen her as the funny, yet manly one. Now I am more mature and can objectively say I still love Rose, but I am most like Dorothy. I love her deadpan, saracastic reactions to everything around her. Sometimes she said so much without saying anything at all. I like to think I have a little Dorothy in me, too.

11. Chandler Bing of Friends- Before there was The Gilmore Girls there was Friends. Thus before there was Lorelai Gilmore, there was Chandler Bing. In theory, I think Lorelai Gilmore and Chandler Bing would have made the perfect couple as they both are the female/male counterpart for the other. I feel the same way about the actors who played them, both of whom are still single. Ellen Degeneres felt the same way and begged Lauren Graham to try to work things out with Matthew Perry. Graham said they did try dating, but it just didn't work. I guess there is such a thing as being too much alike. At any rate, before there was a female who I most identified with on television, the person I felt was the most me was Chandler Bing, hands down. He always had something to say to fill awkward silences and managed to go for the laugh even when it wasn't always necessary. I was never the class clown, but amongst the people I know well, I'm very Chandler-fied.

So there you have it. I enjoyed answering this question because it required a certain amount of honesty. You really have to analyze how you see yourself. In a related question, I think I'd like to ask other people what characters from television they see me like. I would only show them my answers after they have come up with their own. It would be interesting to see how much they did or didn't overlap.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Do you remember the good ol' days of going steady? You were so excited to be wearing his pin and you'd go to places like the hop and the drive-in?

Yeah, I don't either.

I was too young to have learned about love in such a simple fashion. For instance, my parents met at a Polish dance. Never mind neither one of them were neither Polish nor dancers. Discuss. Frankly, back then it didn't matter. Hanging out at high school and church dances was the thing to do. I hear it was "the" key way to meet people, if you didn't count cruising and James Dean like drag racing, that is. What do I know? My frame of reference are things Rush, Rush and scenes from The Heavenly Kid and Grease.

Like it or not, things were definitely different back then. Some people haven't let the mentality go, though times themselves have changed drastically. I can still recall a classic conversation I had with my parents back when I started college about ten (gulp) years ago. I really was never into the crazy partying scene. Going to a frat party seemed like a college rite of passage so I went, but I wasn't all that impressed, even back then.

When I told my parents in the first few weeks that I worried about how I was going to fit it they tried to understand, but they couldn't. They didn't get why I was so uptight about partying. When I tried to explain to them some of the insane things that went down at frat parties, they assumed I was exaggerating. In the midst of a conversation my dad blurted out, "Janet, go to a frat party, and just hold a glass of wine."

It was in that moment that I realize just how big the generation gap actually was.

All of this is a long-winded intro to an exciting article my boyfriend sent me a link to.

To paraphrase, the gist of the article is this. Hand holding is good for couples and stress. It is a simple token of one's affection that has amazingly not died over the years admist all the Sexy Backing, Knocking of Da Boots and London Bridging.

Holding hands says "I care" in its purest form. Yes, nothing says lovin like hand holding. And once upon a time, hand holding was enough. Now it's so much more than that. You want something to hold? Why don't you just hold your horses there cowboy!

That's not to say that people didn't fool around back then, but stories of freakiness remained behind closed doors. I'm sure it happened but we didn't need to know about, much less sing along to it. And now it seems hand holding is coming back with a vengance. Sexual revolution be damned, Hands Across America played you, big time.

Maybe it's a girl thing, but hand holding was always a very symbolic gesture amongst me and my friends. Sure by the time I got to high school pinning had been phased out, but pure and simple pining had not. In true Joe Jackson fashion we'd wonder, Is She Really Going Out With Him? We always got our answer though when we'd see the happy couple walk hand in hand through the hall. Then, and only then, did everyone know they were together. I'll never forget how monumental this was, even on television when Jordan Catalano first grabbed Angela Chase's hand while walking down the hall in the late, great, My So-Called Life. At the time a collective contented sigh could be heard from teenage girls everywhere.

So that does it, right? If so much hand holding is proven to be good for you, everyone should be doing more of it. I'm not only talking about couples, I'm talking about adults with children as well. Only time has tainted good old-fashioned hand holding in adult/child relationships, especially in and educational setting. In fact any contact whatsoever is becoming downright taboo, which is just plain depressing.

A few years ago, I worked as an assistant in a special education classroom. It's something I always planned to write more about here, but never really did. One of the students in my class was an adorable little girl who had Down Syndrome. She was cute as a button, but extremely headstrong. She was seven years old, but she looked about three because of her size. Due to her openness, she saw nothing wrong with going up to everyone she saw, introducing herself, and giving them a hug.

Towards the end of the year it was decided that we had to try and break her of this habit. She was going to be getting older, even if she wasn't getting much taller, and it was becoming less and less appropriate for her to go around hugging strangers. So whenever she tried to hug us, we were instructed to give her a hearty high five instead. As soon as we tried this she always responded with excitement to the high five, but quickly followed up the gesture with a big bear hug.

The reason I told this story is simple. Explaining to children why things as innocent as hand holding and hugging are wrong to do just doesn't sit right with me for the same reasons they shouldn't be exposed to sick behaviors to begin with, they don't comprehend what is wrong about it. Trying to explain something that isn't on their radar only introduces paranoia. It's a fine line to walk. Teaching your children not to talk to strangers is a must, but telling them to separate themselves from those they know is a bit puzzling.

The district I currently work in never took issue much with the hand holding or hugging thing. But recently it came up at a faculty meeting. Why? Because one corrupt faculty member in the district decided to have relations with a teenage student. Now because there's one bad apple, the whole bunch has been spoiled. You might think it's different than the first time around when I worked with the little girl with Down Syndrome, but it's really not. If anything though, it is a bit harder. That's because to the first little girl, her ignorance is bliss. We couldn't explain why she shouldn't do something and she would never think to ask. But the kids I work with now come from broken homes and for the most part, are very needy. This group in particular is a very "huggy" bunch. Imagining rejecting their hugs in favor of a healthy handshake seems harsh.

The fact of the matter is there is very little innocence left in the world. I might have never gone to the hop or gone steady, but I know what a good, old-fashioned hand holding session or hug can do for the soul. I also know how to "hug it out" as best as the rest of them.

It might seem trivial, but it's symbolic and important. And that, above everything else, is something worth holding on to.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sit Down You're Rocking The Vote

Unless you were living under a rock and/or do not own a television or phone, you know that yesterday was election day.

Now I have an important confession to make.

I didn't vote.

Well now that's not entirely true. I did finally vote for Joey and Edyta on Dancing With the Stars last night.

I know, I know, I'm a horrible example of a teacher who should be condemned to hell for all eternity. In my defense though I do vote in the presidential elections, the "Big Mac" of voting, if you will. It's only the small fries elections that really keep me sidelined.

Despite how it may seem, exercising the right to vote is a right I am grateful for. When I am passionate about an issue I am happy to have the option to protect it. But the truth of the matter is I don't really know much about local or state elections. I should, but I don't. Watching television commercials and reading political blogs does not help matters either as there is entirely too much mudslinging and not nearly enough objective focus on the real issues. It's really no different than watching the Jerry Springer show only there aren't any baby's mommas or needless makeovers and without them, what fun is that?

I also feel you can only educate yourself so much when walking in to any election. This is because of the candidates themselves. Gather 'round because this is important. A lot of candidates lie. I know, it's shocking to believe, but it's true. Nobody says they are going to raise taxes. Nobody supports keeping the working man down, at least not outright. No, the best you can hope for in any political race is a blooper of John Kerry or Howard Dean proportions. If nothing else, it breaks up the monotony.

But it is because I am a teacher that the political bandwagon swoops down on me like birds to bread. I suppose they have my name because I am a dues paying member of the union. That's the only explanation I can come up with considering no non teacher knows the hounding I've seen.

It's really out of hand. Some will call and leave you messages. Others will call and hang up if they don't get a real, live voice. Then there are my recordings that start playing as soon as they hear a ring. By the time your actual machine picks up, they're halfway through their song and dance. You would think they would have perfected this system but ya know, history is doomed to repeat itself and all that jazz.

Aggressive vote getting always gets to me, but not in the way the campaign runners would hope. I just don't see the point. If a candidate calls me house this does not sway my vote. It's not like we're playing a game. Red Rover, Red Rover, Robert Menendez calls Janet over! If anything I'm probably more likely to vote for you if you take the high road and do not call me during dinner, my favorite show or even a peaceful sleep. I'm a rebel that way. The more you bother me to do something, the less likely I am to do it, just on principle. The same goes for you, Jehovah's witness recruiters and college donation recruiters.

For instance, voting is going on for The Hoagies at Heather Anne until 11:59 tonight. I could vist all of your blogs and beg you to vote for me, but I won't. Besides, I'm up for cleverest commenter. That's not exactly the sort of thing you can win something over with in 24 hours or less. Either you've liked what I had to say in the past or you haven't. No amount of bribery or campaign canoodling is going to change that.

In closing, if election day results don't turn out the way you would hope, go ahead and blame someone like me, just at least have the decency to do it during a repeat. And if you're up to it, vote for something much more fun and full of far less red tape.

My name is Janet and I approve this message.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "If I Could Be Like Mike"

Remember The Hoagies I mentioned this time last week? Well the nominations are up. I'm stoked because I get to check out some new blogs I haven't yet, and I'm also excited because some of my friends are nominated. I don't know what I'm going to do in the Hilarious-est blog category. They've pitted good blogger against good blogger. Oh and I managed to be nominated for Cleverest Commenter. Thanks to those who nominated me out there, whomever you are! Go vote for some great blogs now!

What seems like many moons ago now, Jess @ Apropos of Something posed an interesting question. I liked it so much I asked if I could offer it up as a TITMT here. I'm paraphrasing a bit, but it goes a little something like this:

What fictional character on television, past or present, do you (or did you) most relate to and why?

You can pick more than one, but the more you pick the reasons you chose them is going to grow to be even more important. I suppose you could even branch out and go into film too if you are so inclined. The TITMT question historically is nothing, if not flexible.

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Write Back Weekend "I See Dead People"

So I never much pay attention to my Bloglines or Bloglet subscriber buttons on the lefthand sidebar, but the other day I noticed it said I had no subscribers via Bloglines. I know there have been less readers lately, but imagining that I'm not on at least one person's Bloglines list is a bit depressing. As for Bloglet, I'm not even sure if it ever worked. If you subscribe to AOGB via either one of these services, can you let me know via email if they are working for you? Thanks!

My new renter is World of Chad. I'd like it if those of you who still visit here would pay a visit to him too, but the truth of the matter is I'm not gonna play you Chad. Rent might be cheap, but one little click has been a hard sell most days. Let's be optimistic and prove me wrong guys, k?

In honor of Halloween, last week's TITMT asked you the layered question, Do you believe in ghosts? I didn't expect to get very easy answers from those who participated, and in turn, my response is not clearcut either.

When one talks about things such as ghosts, God and even Santa Claus a key word pops out at me: B-E-L-I-E-F. The fact of the matter is (and I'm sure I'll get some sort of argument on this) there are certain things we believe in throughout the course of our lives blindly, without having any proof of their existence. Ghosts and the supernatural are those sorts of things.

But then if that is true, what about the saying, seeing is believing? Well in a way, that is true also. This is where belief and evidence go hand in hand. If you believe you have evidence of something's existence, than you are more likely to feel it is true. As a result, I think it's the people who have had experiences that they can't quite explain that are more open to believing.

When I was a kid, I had a few encounters that made me question the presence of Casper and company. The most prolific occurred after my favorite aunt died when I was nine. It was the first big loss that happened to me at an age where I was old enough to comprehend but still feel confused at the same time, not that loss in general really gets any easier with age.

Shortly after her death I remember coming down from upstairs, turning the corner in my house and for a split second, swearing I saw my aunt sitting on the couch in the family room that we always used to sit on together. Of course I blinked in disbelief and when I opened my eyes again, the image was gone. Even then it was easy to rationalize why I saw what I saw. I was sad at the loss of someone close to me and had her on my mind. But is that what ghosts want to us to believe? Are they really showing themselves to us when we are at our most vulnerable so that we will continue to question their existence and they will keep their "elusive" credibility?

Before you discredit my theory consider this, most of the time when people swear to seeing things that just don't sit right with them, it's when they have gone through a hard loss. Another time when this is common is when you are feeling tired. When I was in my early teens, I hated going to bed. So often I would sit up in my room, in the dark, thinking to myself. One night while I was doing this I looked over to my right and I swore I saw something sitting on the right side of my bed. It's hard to explain what it was since it wasn't someone or something I clearly knew, but it was something. Sufficiently creeped out, I quickly crawled under the covers and tried to go to sleep, pushing the image out of my mind. In that moment, I could justify being tired as the excuse the image was there in the first place, but was that really the truth?

Besides being distraught and dead tired, there's yet one more prime time to question the unknown. This comes in the time we are at our most vulnerable, and most unable to express ourselves and what we see. This is when we are babies.

Think about it. Have you ever watched a baby just talk to or stare off into what seems like thin air? Maybe they are really just are looking at nothing, but maybe they a privy to something they can't explain, precisely because they can't explain it. The same goes for animals when you think about it. Sometimes it seems like animals will freak out at nothing. We yell at them to calm down, but what if they know what we do not know? What if we all as babies had that sixth sense but just like when we are tired or stressed out, do not retain what we saw into adulthood?

When you think about it, there are people who seem to truly retain and holdfast to strong imagery. And what do we do with these people? We commit them to insane asylums and psychiatric hospitals. We feel sorry for them and try to get them help, but what if, and this is a big if, their warped sense of reality is actually right and we're wrong? Just think about how many psychological thrillers have been made where the bad guy is trying to frame the good guy and almost succeeds. What if being in touch with the afterworld as an adult pushes you over the so-called edge? It would be ironic if that were the case and that in order to truly know what you believe in, you have to give up others believe in YOU.

Most of all, when I think about ghosts, I wonder if they get to pick and choose their destination. For instance, if you do believe in ghosts or an afterlife, do you think the ghosts that surroud you are necessarily people that once knew you? In a way I find this comforting and I hope that the people who did know me, are proud of what I've become and what they see. But on another level it creeps me out. Nobody's perfect. Think about every little thing you do in your life. Do you really want your life to be essentially VHS'ed for your deceased grandfather to pause and repeat? I don't think so!

Of course if you do decide to believe in ghosts, what do you believe in? Do you believe there are good and bad ghosts, just as there are good and bad people living on Earth? If we believe in mysterious forces helping us out, couldn't there be just as many forces working against us? After I had a car accident a few years back that I blogged about here, I truly believed I had a guardian angel with me that day. Did I really? I don't know. But I take comfort in the fact that believing there is something or someone out there looking out for me.

Even if I'm wrong, I believe there are worse things to being duped in than believing itself.
Friday, November 03, 2006

Reese's Pieces

Some things just go well together.

Peanut butter and jelly. Bread and butter. Ebony and ivory.

Then there are the famous duos of previous generations.

Lennon & McCartney. Sonny & Cher. Captain & Tenille.

Which brings us to the semi recently famous, but even more recently defunct, pairing of Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Philippe.

Thankfully, I first heard about the split while online, checking the daily news. FYI...this is not the sort of thing I should find out about unless I'm sitting down. At least I was in the comforts of my own home and was able to mourn the loss properly.

Rumors are of course, swirling as to what exactly broke up the couple. Reports have surfaced that Ryan was romancing one of his younger co-stars from an upcoming project but nothing has been confirmed, just speculated. The other, more deeply rooted reason for the demise seems much more plausible. To understand this theory you need to know what I have since dubbed "The Chad Lowe Syndrome".

It's quite simple. When Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe got married they were both B actors trying to catch their big breaks. But suddenly, Hilary's star zoomed past Chad, as witnessed at the infamous acceptance speech where Swank inadvertently thanked everyone except her husband. This was a telltale sign that things were amiss. In the end, the breakup was attributed to Chad having a problem, but it really didn't matter what they said the reason was. As we all know, money changes everything.

Now we have Ryan and Reese. When they got married they were both young stars on the rise. But after the success of movies like Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama, Reese's star soared to new heights, making her one of the highest paid working actresses in Hollywood. Maybe men like Chad and Ryan truly are well adjusted and content with not being the breadwinners in the family. After all, it worked for Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom. But even the most secure of men might take issue with playing second fiddle. Even in the healthiest of relationships, the pressures that are placed on couples in Hollywood has to be overwhelming at times.

Still, everything about Ryan and Reese just screamed, "You complete me". As if looking alike wasn't enough, even their names sounded good together.
Reese and Ryan. Ryan and Reese.

For two seemingly perfect people their love story was equally sickening and sweet. As the story goes, Ryan and Reese met at her 21st birthday party. A drunken Reese allegedly slurred the words, "I think you're my birthday present." And the rest, as they say, was history.

They married in 1999 shortly after Reese announced her oops of a pregnancy. I can still remember the day she came on The View and talked about it. It was obvious that the pregnancy wasn't planned, but Ryan, standing in the wings, said some of the sweetest things about his not so "cruel intentions" towards their future together. Reese got teary eyed and the two got hitched. Granted they were young when they married, but I really, truly believed these two crazy kids might just make it.

And so the perfection continued in the form of good breeding. Their daughter, Ava, was born on September 9th, 1999 while son Deacon came into the world on October 23rd, 2003. With one boy and one girl, they continued to their unintentional quest to be the best looking family on the planet. If you don't believe me, just check out pictures of the matching set happy family.

It might sound like I am making fun of what Ryan and Reese had but to the contrary, I envied what they had. Ever since I was a teenager who watched a young Reese Witherspoon star in her first feature, Man In The Moon I have not so secretly wished I could be her. Once, once I was told I resembled her. I have clung to that comparison for about seven years now.

Ryan and Reese always seemed like a couple I'd know. Granted, they would have been the homecoming queen and king and probably I never would have conversed with them, but still. They had something special going for them, making them seem like they might rise above the typical pitfalls of Hollywood. Now I'm saddened thinking that with the breakup they seem a little less perfect, and a little more like everyone else.

In a few years most of us will probably look back and remember Ryan and Reese as another, all too common and unfortunate Hollywood casuality. But I will remember differently. I will remember the good times and the good genes.

After all, there's nothing like a little R&R to put things into perspective.
Thursday, November 02, 2006

Guest Post: The Art of Getting Read

Attention AOGB shoppers! This is currently the last guest post slated for guest post Thursdays. If you like this feature and want it to continue, please consider donating a new or old post of your own. I can't offer you a beautiful tote bag, but I can offer you my appreciation.

Today's guest post comes to us courtesy of Swan Shadow. I love Swan Shadow's blog because he always has something interesting and refreshing to say. I just don't understand why more of you aren't reading. He also, incidentally, writes obituary tributes that are to die for.

Like most bloggers, I enjoy reading other people's blogs. Let me clarify that: I enjoy reading some other people's blogs. The vast majority of blogs do not interest me, particularly, which is a good thing - otherwise, I'd blow more precious hours reading the doggoned things than I already do.

That I enjoy The Art of Getting By should be obvious, given that I'm guest-posting here. Janet's blog occupies that lofty position in my space-time continuum where my daily must-read blogs reside. It's an exclusive club - tough to get into, and with scant few members.

Now, you be already be asking yourself:"
How could I entice the SwanShadow guy into perusing my blog every day, as he does Janet's? I'm a fun, witty, and charming blogger too, dangit!"
I, being an accommodating sort, am delighted to share the keys to the Magic Kingdom (or at least, the keys to my criminally brief attention span) with you.

First and foremost, you really should not care whether I frequent your blog. Or whether anyone else does, for that matter, unless your specific purpose in blogging is to keep in touch with family members, loved ones, and/or friends - in which case, you should only care whether those specific people frequent your blog. If, however, you are not targeting your blog for a select audience, whose members presumably are already interested in you and therefore will visit your blog regardless of its content, you should blog for your own amusement / entertainment/catharsis /whatever, and to blue blazes with what anyone else thinks about it. Get some self-esteem about you, friend.

That said, here's a five-point strategy to get SwanShadow to read, and perhaps even enjoy, your blog every day, or at least for more than half a minute.

1. Learn how to write, and use the skills you learn. Maybe it's because I use words for a living, maybe it's because language and the verbal arts are one of my highest passions, or maybe it's just because I'm an anal-retentive, persnickety nitpicker. Whatever the reason, if your blog reads like an illiterate third-grader composed it, I'm out of there.

Run your posts through spell-check, at the bare minimum. Write in complete sentences unless there's a clear stylistic reason to the contrary. Don't pretend you're e.e. cummings - capitalize the letters that require capitalization, and don't capitalize the ones that don't. Learn where the punctuation goes, and put it there. Learn when to use, and not use, apostrophes, especially in the words "its" and "it's" (which, contrary to increasingly popular usage, are not interchangeable). Divide complete thoughts into paragraphs. In other words, pretend I'm your high school English teacher, and my grade will either get your blog into Stanford, or condemn it to community college.

2. In the words of sports talk host Jim Rome, "Have a take, and do not suck." Far be it from me to tell you what to blog about. Blog about what pleases you — I'm interested in many things, and even if I'm not especially interested in your topic of choice when I arrive at your blog, I may very well hang around if you have something original and intriguing to say about whatever it is.

So tell me something I don't know. Put a novel spin on something I do know. Form an opinion, and express it cogently and with flair. I'll be all ears. By the way, you don't get points just by posting links to other people's content. Link away, but add something fresh. Share a thought. Have a take. Grow some funk of your own.

3. Don't hate. If you really don't like something, say so, but say so in a respectful way. You can make all the snide japes you want about "the other side" and whoever happens to occupy it - I'll laugh if you're funny, even if I'm on "the other side." But I'll weary of a constant barrage of bashing, even if I staunchly oppose whatever the bashees represent. They may be evil incarnate, but I'm more interested in your alternative perspective than in unadulterated vitriol.

The quickest way to lose my interest is to convince me that you're elevating your own impoverished self-worth by standing on the heads of people you detest, or with whom you disagree. Bigotry of any variety arises from an inferiority complex. Display your shattered ego outside my field of vision.

4. Go easy on the profanity, will ya? I'm not a prude -okay, maybe I'm a bit of a prude - but I've heard all the four-, seven- and twelve-letter words you can muster. Trust me, you don't know any curse words I've never encountered. Seriously. I've heard people insult each other on three continents. Your constant use of vulgarisms, however, will soon persuade me that you can't communicate any other way.

Invest in a thesaurus. Clip and save the vocabulary quizzes in Reader's Digest. Find new ways to express yourself that don't make you look like you're wading in the shallow end of the genetic pool.

5. Use a decent template. That doesn't mean mind-blowingly artistic - it means legible. I really don't care how fancy your blog is. I just want to be able to read what you've written. If it hurts my eyes to look at your neon green, calligraphy script body text against your fluorescent pink Barbie-and-Skipper background, you could be the second coming of F. Scott Fitzgerald and I'll never know. I'm off to find my Visine. And for pity's sake, lay off the cutesy flashing animated graphics. We're all adults here.

That's it. Do the above, and I'll be glad to check you out. If I find something worthy of comment, I'll drop you a note. Convince me you'll be interesting more than once, and I might even add you to my blogroll. You'll be the envy of all your blogging friends.

Oh, one more thing. Mommy bloggers (some of you dads are guilty of this too), if I have to scroll through fifty photos of your adorable little moppet(s), please tell me something unique about little Mitzi or Perseus that I can't discern from the pictures. I have a daughter myself, so I know a cute kid when I see one. But tell me why yours is/are special.

Otherwise, color me not caring.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Doctor My Eyes

Blogger would not publish this morning, so this is a little late!:(

One of the inevitable setbacks about getting older is that things no longer work the way they used to. This isn't only true of people, it's also true of things. A new car only keeps its "new car smell" for so long and that favorite new sweatshirt you wore so much eventually gets worn out and faded.

But sometimes things go down hill before their time. As a kid, I had my fair share of hearing problems. I suppose you could say that made my ears the "lemon" part of my body. At the age of three I got tubes in my ears for the first time to help with the drainage. A few years later I ended up needing tubes in my ears again. Ultimately, I hated getting sick because I knew what was coming next. I can still remember how my dad would put me in one room and sit in another to test how well I was hearing. I hated this because I couldn't cheat. On those stupid tests they'd give you where you had to raise your hands for the beeps? Those I somehow could beat, but deciphering what my dad was saying one door down proved much harder to fake.

At the time my ear/nose and throat specialist said my life could go one of two ways. I could continue to have problems with my ears my whole life, or I could grow, my ear canal would change and the problems would fix themselves. Neither one of those things entirely came true. While I haven't needed tubes in about twenty years or so, I still have traces of ear problems when I get a cold since my ears don't easily clear up by themselves. It's the price you pay for having a stunted sense. Overall though I can't complain about my hearing. I can now what you're saying at least three doors down. As for how long that's going to last, I guess you could say I'll have to play it by ear.

But as an aging rite of passage I have started to feel the slight pinch of father time. This has come in the form of my vision. Growing up I was convinced that the five senses had sort of a sixth sense. This "sixth sense" compensates, filling in for the other sense that is lacking. So while I had all of these ear problems as a child, my eyes on the other hand were a "vision" of perfect health. I remember having better than 20/20 vision, at one point being able to read marquis signs that were streets away.

Yet as my ears started shaping up, my eyes I noticed started to slowly ship out. It's like they somehow realized they didn't have to be the ring leader of the senses anymore. About ten years ago is when I first noticed my eyes were not the same as they used to be. I fought it for a few years but then I started feeling like I needed glasses for driving.

So about five years ago I purchased my very first pair of glasses. While I felt a difference, I had one of the weakest prescriptions you could get. To me though succumbing to purchasing glasses also meant acknowledging a weakness. No longer was I the girl who could read signs from far away. Now I had senses that were more on equal footing, making me just like everybody else.

Recently I noticed that the glasses I purchased some years ago just weren't doing it for me anymore. I would put them on and test myself by going in to school and trying to read the fine print on posters from far away. This is when I realized I couldn't do it, even with the glasses on. And while I was driving I didn't really feel a difference, unless of course I was driving to someplace new and had to be more dependent on being able to read those pesky little street signs. So begrudingly I went back to the eye doctor, with my eyes open to the fact I might have to start wearing my glasses more often.

Lucky for me I work in education which is one of the few fields left that offers excellent health coverage. That means I have vision. Incidentally, I never understood why vision was a seperate category all unto itself. I mean why is vision often not covered? Is it somehow the bastard son of the senses? If I have an earache I can see a regular physician or even a specialist, no problem, but problems with your eyes? That's gonna cost you extra. It's enough to make you see double.

I went to the eye doctor and was able to see how my "old" prescription stacked up to the new one I needed. I anticipated it being much worse than it was when she compared old to new. I noticed the doctor having to click at least four times to get to where my eyes worked best. With every click I cringed all the more. But in the end, I breathed a sigh of relief. When I asked the doctor if I had to start wearing my glasses all the time now she said no, that in fact, I shouldn't be since my prescription is still very light and thus why I only need them for distance.

So I purchased my new glasses, content in wearing them every once and awhile. If I had known what not a big deal getting glasses would have been I probably would have sucked it up and gone a lot earlier. But admitting any shortcomings, especially age related ones, is often easier said than done.

Then again, hindsight, like they say is 20/20.



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