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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Write Back Weekend: "Tell Me What You Got. What You Really, Really Got"

With it being New Years Eve, another holiday season is about to come to a close.

The Christmas season has always been a bit of a bittersweet time for me. There's so much anticipation in the month or two leading up to the holidays that anything that happens or doesn't happen almost seems like a letdown. That's not to say that my Christmas wasn't nice, because it was. It's just like I'd imagine most people (present company excluded) felt about their prom. All the preparation just doesn't hold a candle to the real thing. Christmas is a lot like that, minus the corsages and awkward slow dances, depending on how you celebrate, of course.

You know the other bummer about Christmas? It's going to the stores just after all the excitement has worn off. Oh sure, you can get some pretty nifty details for next year's gifts, but shelves and displayed once wonderfully decorated and well stocked suddenly look like the aftershock of the LA riots. Witnessing this shameless downward spiral happen so quickly reminds me of the first snowfall of winter. It's all so beautiful and nice, until they take all the snow and make it a muddy mashed potatoed mess in the middle of a parking lot, that is.

All of this is my should be patented, long winded way of telling you about some of the good gifts I got this Christmas by way of last week's TITMT question.

Gifts I Gave:

1. Secret Santa At Your Service- For the past two years I've decided to join in all the reindeer games by playing the school wide secret Santa. In some places secret Santa doesn't work all that well because there are under 10 employees and process of elimination leads the cat getting out of the bag. It also adds the burden of giving good secret Santa gifts since they are bound to come back and haunt you, or be returned to you next Christmas, whatever comes first.

Of course I can't just do secret Santa, I gotta do it BIG. The past two years I have been lucky enough to have gotten someone who I'm either good friends with or who is good friends of a friend. This makes it a lot easier to get them something they'd really like rather than something they'd rather re-gift. I also should probably explain the way we do secret Santa in my school. For us, we do five days of mini presents leading up to the Christmas breakfast where the big presents are revealed. My personal touch involves writing short, two line poems that accompany the little gifts which I won't bore you with here. I have gotten quite a few compliments on my efforts which makes me feel it is all worth it. Of course the more years I work there the more likely the poem thing will be traced back to me.

2. Two Tickets to Paradise Jersey Boys- Last year at Christmas I decided to buy my parents tickets to see the show Jersey Boys on Broadway. But since my parents are picky and hard to surprise, they had to know in advance I was planning to do this. So they were happy to get the tickets but wanted me to hold off until the weather got better for them to go.

Well I should have trusted my gut instinct and just gotten them then because then the Tony Awards came around and Jersey Boys won a few which = longer waiting to get tickets for me. This year though I bit the bullet and decided to just go ahead and purchase them and get them now for May. This way there's no snow, just a great show in hopefully nice weather.

3. More Than Words Can Say-
I always enjoy getting gifts for my students in class. I know that many of them do not have much and I like having the opportunity to get them something they might not otherwise receive. I have to say though that the last two years, with my classes being so horrible, I haven't felt very much like in the gift giving mood. That's why it was so refreshing this year to have a class that I actually WANTED to buy good gifts for!

This year I also had help from my elf, otherwise known as the aide in my room. Together we completely splurged on these 21 kids. They got the usual Christmas goodie bag full of candy, pencils and erasers, but my aide also ordered picture frames for their pictures and made personalized ornaments for each child. But my favorite gift had to be the dictionary I bought each child. Some of them were really excited to get one, others probably didn't see its value but I'm hoping it's a gift that keeps on giving.

Gifts I Received:

1. Like, Totally- This year my boyfriend got me Trivial Pursuit, Totally 80's edition. As anyone who knows me well knows, I love all things 80's. That's the good news. The bad news is no one wants to play with me out of fear that I'm going to kick their ass.

2. Put Your Records On-
I've never been a typical girl, and if you knew that, or me at all, the next gift I want will be of no surprise to you. It is a Vinyl and Cassette music Ripper so that you can take hard to find music that you have on tapes or God forbid, records, and turn them into mp3 format. When I opened up this gift there was a bit of stunned silence. Once they understood what it was, they just couldn't understand why I'd want it. Leave it to a dork like me to have a lot of music I can't find anywhere else that I must convert. What can I say? Kirk Cameron converts people left behind, I convert songs.

3. Souper!- One of my oldest friends and I still exchange gifts after all these years. This year I bought a gift for her and her newborn who was celebrating her first Christmas. I list what she gave me here because I thought it was cool and different, although I haven't used it yet. She gave me different soup mixes because I'm SO soup obsessed. There was supposed to be a mini crock pot with it too to make some of the soups, but apparently that part of the gift got intermingled with someone else's so I'll have to wait to actually use the crock pot part. That doesn't really stop me from eating soup though but really, what does?

The rest of the things I got were much more of your typical fare. Things to make girls look and smell pretty pretty much covers a bulk of it. Jewelry, makeup, nail polish, body lotion and spray, a new coat, a new robe and a few other things I'm sure I'm missing. And what wasn't typical girl stuff was really technological stuff.

The older I get though the more I see the worth in giving rather than receiving. It really is rewarding when you give the right gift to someone. That's not to say I don't like getting good gifts though. What do you think? I'm crazy!

So here it is, my final "gift" is to all of you, a wish for a Happy New Year for everyone!
Friday, December 29, 2006

AOGB: A Year In Review AKA , Some Stuff I Wrote: Part Two

As if you just couldn't get enough of this yesterday, here is the second half of 2006 in review, AOGB style. Enjoy!


All Bets Are Off
Big Red Freshness
No More Teachers, No More Books
Life Is More Than Mere Survival
Private Parts
I Can't Help Myself


We Don't Need Another Hero
Ashes To Ashes, We All Fall Down
You May Be Right. I May Be Crazy.
When I'm 64
Intergalactic Planetary


Never Gonna Give You Up
Write Back Weekend: "I Want You To Want Me"
Write Back Weekend: "A Touch of Class"
This Woman's Work
Grease Is The Word


It's All Coming Back to Me Now

Take My Breath Class Away: Parts One and Two
The Devil Inside


Doctor My Eyes
Sit Down You're Rocking The Vote
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Write Back Weekend "As Seen On TV"
It Looks Like Daniels, But That Must Be The Clouds In My Eyes
We Now Bring You the Previously Scheduled Lesson, Already In Progress
Cleanin' Out Their Closets


Please Mr. Postman, Look and See
Boys Go To Jupiter, Girls Go To Mars
I Know You Are But What Am I?
Christmastime For the Jews
It's A Small World After All
Thursday, December 28, 2006

AOGB: A Year In Review AKA , Some Stuff I Wrote

Now that 2006 is officially coming to a close, I figured it was only appropriate to do a retrospective of some of AOGB's "best" posts. It just seems like the thing to do. I decided to break it up into two, nifty six month installments for your reading pleasure. If it's your second time reading time, I hope you enjoy them all over again. If it's your first time, consider this my Christmas gift to you. Part two will be posted tomorrow!


Mama Said Knock You Out
He Feels The Need, The Need For Speed
Throwing It All Away
Take It Outside
And All That Jazz
I'll Take Retention For 500, Alex


Eight-Six-Seven-Five-Three-Oh Ni ee ine
Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
There's No Business Like Snow Business
Dark Sarcasm In the Classroom: Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.


A Deer Caught In The Headlights Spotlight
Lost In Translation
Erin Go Blah's
Vacation, All I Never Wanted
Your Space, His Space, We All Scream For MySpace


Watching the Wheels
It's Hard Out There For a Pimp Teacher
Voices Carry
Some Like It Hot
One Singular Sensation
We're Living In A Material World, And I Am A Kohl's Girl


I Can't Go For That. No. No Can Do.

Tramps Like Us
Put Me In Coach
You Spin Me Round
Don't Take It Personal
Let It Bee


It's The End of the World As We Know It
Doing Time At the DMV
Last Stop, Twenty-Nine
I Wanna Rock?
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Presents On The Tree"

Did you ever notice how so many renditions of Ill Be Home For Christmas says the lyric, "presents on the tree"? What is that about? Who puts their presents ON the tree anyway?!

At any rate, Merry Christmas to all who celebrated. Now we can get to the least favorite part of the year for so many, the returns and exchanges.

So my question to you this week is short and sweet and tailor-made for those who did not get coal in their stockings.

What are the favorite gifts you got (or gave) this year 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!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Classics: Oh Come All Ye Faithful...And A Few Of You Other Guys, Too

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays...all that jazz. Here is the third and final installment in the "if you haven't read it before, it's new to you" group of posts...Christmas Classic #3: Oh Come All Ye Faithful...And A Few Of You Other Guys, Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regardless of your denomination, I hope you have (or had) a happy holiday. Just try to be good to each other, pretty please with a Communion wafer on top.
Friday, December 22, 2006

Write Back Weekend/Christmas Classics: Do You Hear What I Hear...Every F***ing Year?

I decided to use this week's Write Back Weekend/Christmas Classic to show two one of my favorite "Christmas" videos since the other was removed for copyright purposes. :( AOGB won't be updated again until Christmas day with another classic so enjoy until then. Happy Holidays to all!

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Christmas Songs I'm Not Sick Of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So there you have it, my recommendations for repeat offenders this holiday season. You can also feel free to kiss or dismiss one of my picks. I don't care. It's Santa Claus who sees you when you're sleeping and when you're awake. I just blog here.
Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's A Small World After All

In my opinion, one of the biggest perks of the holiday season doesn't come wrapped in a big package with a shiny red bow (though those can be nice sometimes, too). No, one of my favorite things about this time of year are the overabundance of opportunities to chow down on some kickass hors d'oeuvres.

Before I go into why I love this prefood, food, let me tell you a bit on where the term "hors d'oeuvres" actually came from. Upon doing a little research, I learned a "little" more about the history of the hors d'oeuvre. Apparently, hors d'oeuvres is French in origin. The "hors" part comes from snack food served outside of and the "d'oeuvres" comes from the French word for meal. In Italian this is commonly referred to as antipasto consisting of anything from cheese, to pepperoni to marinated vegetables. In my mind, you can call it anything you want. I have my own name for this scrumptious foreplay of a meal and that my friends, is downright delicious.

The serving of hors d'oeuvres started as an attempt to wet the appetite of hungry guests of all kinds whether they be at a New Years bash or a baby naming. Sometimes it's an attempt to appease the appetite when the actual hardcore eating will not take place for sometime yet to come. Either way, these mini meals are delectable and devilish all at the same time. After all, if someone were to ask you if you wanted to grab a hot dog before heading off to your sister's wedding you would think they were certifiable. But then you shimmy off to the wedding and four pigs in a blanket later you know the meaning of the term "less" is more.

The other great thing about the mini me's of the food world are that there are so many tastes to sample and not nearly a big enough plate to carry them on. Just think about it. How many times have you been sitting at a restaurant scratching your head over what you should order? With hors d'oeuvres you suddenly have the best of many, many worlds. No longer do you have to commit your palate to just one. And if you don't like the quiche you ordered (and by ordered, I mean picked up and put onto your postage stamp sized napkin) you are only one bite away from your next perfect "meal". In fact, when a good party proves good things come in small packages, the beef, chicken or fish you preordered months earlier ends up seeming pale by comparison.

Now if you go to places like Friday's or Applebee's they will try their damndest to serve you up a sweet appetizer, but don't be led astray. While many restaurant appetizers are mighty tasty, they are no substitution for the good, old-fashioned hors d'oeuvre. In the past few years a new ordering trend has emerged. More and more people are beginning to get hors d'oeuvres as their main course, sometimes even foregoing an entree altogether. These people are not fools. They know there is no need to buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free. Ok, so maybe the saying doesn't go exactly like that, but you get the idea.

Unfortunately I'm afraid the great hors d'oeuvres course is often taken for granted by many. Most people have come to expect something be given to them before the actual food itself arrives. It's just like when you go to a concert. You don't expect The Rolling Stones to just waltz out on stage and start jamming. First you have to sit throw a few opening acts. Sometimes the opening acts are so good that you're left wondering how the headliner in question could possibly top that. When a good tray of hors d'oeuvres has done its job it's just like that great opening act, appeasing the crowd and getting them psyched for the main course.

So when you're munching on your hors d'oeuvres this holiday season I hope you think of the party related public service announcement made here today.

Yes, hors d'oeuvres are proving the age old adage wrong, one bite at a time. Size really does matter, just not in the way you might've thought.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Making A List, Checking It Twice"

TITMT will stay up today instead of a new post that I didn't have the time to write. Considering it's about music, think of this as lovely Christmas sounds you can listen to while you wait instead of that horrid, muzak stuff.

With the holiday season, (no matter which holiday you celebrate) in full swing, this week's TITMT seems to one of those perfectly natural questions I've somehow managed yet to ask for any holiday themed TITMT.

What Are Your Favorite Holiday Songs Ever and Why?

Note I said holiday songs. There might be a song out there that reminds you of the holiday season, but it isn't particularly a Christmas tune. Then of course there is the Hanukkah category aka, "songs" written by Adam Sandler. You can even get all technical and say you have a favorite "Valentine's" day song since after all, it is a holiday. But then again, we'd all know you were being naughty, not nice.

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, December 17, 2006

Write Back Weekend "On The Streets of Philadelphia"

Last TITMT stepped outside the AOGB box. The scenario posed was this:

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I were on our way home from Philadelphia. On the way we spotted a man pulled over to the side of the road. Assumably his family was waiting in the car. He was flagging drivers down and my boyfriend pulled over. He told us that his car had broken down and that help was on the way, but that unfortunately he did not have all the money he needed to pay for the tow truck. So he was asking strangers, out of the kindness of their hearts, for anything up to fifteen dollars to contribute to the total cost. He also offered to pay us back if we were willing to give our address to him.

These were the questions I asked...

1. Would you have stopped in the first place? Why or why not?
2. Are there any factors that would contribute to your stopping or not stopping that would ultimately change your answer?
3. If you stopped, would you or would you not give him the money he asked for?
4. If you gave him the money, would you supply your address?
5. Does time of year or time or time of day effect your answer?

Now I'm going to tell the story with details I had left out originally.

A few months ago, probably in the late spring/early summer, my boyfriend and I were on our way home late at night from Philadelphia. On the way we spotted an African American man pulled over to the side of the road. Assumably his family was waiting in the car. There were people with them, but I could not see them. He was flagging drivers down and my boyfriend pulled over. He told us that his car had broken down and that help was on the way, but that unfortunately he did not have all the money he needed to pay for the tow truck. So he was asking strangers, out of the kindness of their hearts, for anything up to fifteen dollars to contribute to the total cost. He also offered to pay us back if we were willing to give our address to him. My boyfriend gave him some money and turned to me for the rest since he was low on cash. I would not have wanted to give the money, but since we were already pulled over and I didn't know this man's intentions, I felt pressured in the moment to go with the flow. We decided not to give the man our address, for obvious reasons, and we didn't think to take down the license plate number.

On the way home we discussed how my boyfriend pulling over on a whim probably wasn't the best move. He did it without consulting me, but he did it as a gut reaction. He willingly admits that if he was by himself he wouldn't have hesitated. In retrospect he realizes he probably shouldn't have pulled over with me in the car. The giving the man the money wasn't so much an issue for either of us. Whether it was a scam he used to buy drugs or it really went to fixing his car, it was a small enough amount of money to not make a difference in our lives.

So now to answer the questions I posed...

1. Would you have stopped in the first place? Why or why not?

Whether I was by myself or with someone else, I don't think my answer would really change. Unfortunately, as some of you have pointed out, we live in a pretty sick world. I definitely wouldn't have stopped alone, daytime, nighttime or otherwise as I am a female.

Then again, even with my boyfriend there, I still wouldn't have been inclined to pull over. Part of the reason I have to admit, is location. When you live around cities like Philadelphia and NYC you grow up guarded. So yes, while anyone pulled over may just be an unfortunate soul, in my mind, I wouldn't want to risk being a casuality. Had I been driving through my hometown my answer might have been a little different, but even then I'm not sure.

2. Are there any factors that would contribute to your stopping or not stopping that would ultimately change your answer?

As some of you also pointed out, there are alternatives nowadays to stopping. You can use your cell phone and call for help. The person who is waiting for help does not need to know if it was you or not, especially if their main goal is just help, period. You also can take the time to copy down the license plate number. For the record I could not see this man's car from where I was sitting in our car, but whether he had a family or not would not change the fact that I had a family, too. Unfortunately even married men with children can be criminals.

3. If you stopped, would you or would you not give him the money he asked for?

As a general rule, I don't give money to strangers. Luckily I am not in the situation enough for it to be an issue. The only times I have been really asked for money that I can remember have been when I was in the city. For the most part I ignore the people asking and do not make eye contact. It's not that I don't feel bad for people who are genuinely in need of some help. But I don't want to be gullible and end up regretting it later, if I'm alive to regret it, that is.

4. If you gave him the money, would you supply your address?

Even if I did give a stranger money willingly, I wouldn't give them my address to return it. I admire the fact that this man could have very well been in a desperate situation and was trying to think of a way of putting us at ease. I have to imagine that it is harder since the odds were stacked against him, too. It was late at night and he was a man of color, on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Had it been me in that situation I believe more people would stop because I am a white female. I'm not saying it's right, I just think statistically I'm more likely to be trusted, even pitied in a situation like that. On the flipside, however, I could be just as guarded if I was stuck on the side of the road in a place like that. After all, what's to stop someone who wants to "help" me from doing just the opposite, especially since the roads wouldn't be traveled nearly as heavily late at night?

5. Does time of year or time or time of day effect your answer?

A few years ago, some of you might recall I had an accident on an icy ramp during my early morning commute to work. Luckily for me the two drivers after me, both uninjured, stopped and stayed with me till help arrived. One of them was white, one was black. Their color didn't matter, but they both were males who stood out in the freezing cold with a scared female until she felt safer.

My heart goes out to people this happens to late at night in a bad location and in cold weather. Even homeless people who ultimately might waste the few bucks someone spares them on something like alcohol or drugs still has bigger issues brewing than the 20 bucks they might get from me. After all, they didn't get their overnight. Something greater contributed to their downwird spiral. Some people might wait to see what their money was actually going to be used for or take matters into their own hands.

In a perfect world, I wish, like many of you, that questions like these didn't cause such hesitation. It would be great to say that you would help someone, period in a time of need and not have to worry about the repercussions of your actions. But the fact of the matter is the world is just too scary of a place not to worry about it. It's comforting to think that those who do harm are still the exception to the rule, but that doesn't mean you should ever stop being careful.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmastime For The Jews

It's no secret that as soon as Thanksgiving ends, Christmas spirit kicks into high gear. Stores and shopping malls are the biggest offenders of them all. This is the time parking lots and aisles of Walmart both don they now their gay apparel. TV shows also join in on the fun with "very special" episodes of your favorite hits, specially equipped to give you the warm and fuzzy feeling on the inside where even the evil characters manage to put aside the coal in their stockings. Before long their back to business as usual in the month of January. In a way, I suppose, this is a lot like real life, too.

Growing up, I was always painfully aware of any lines of division drawn during the holiday season. Back then it was simply the Gentiles vs. the Jews. This was before the Kwanzaa folks came along and confused the hell out of all of us. No, the rift occured in my town because I grew up in a town full of predominantly Jewish residents.

Now in their defense I will say this, it must truly suck to be Jewish in December. I know, I know, they have their own holiday with Hanukkah, but I've always viewed it as a rather ambivalent holiday. After all, it doesn't even have a consistent spelling or even a set date. If that's not a holiday screaming for acceptance, I don't know what is. You and I both know that being Jewish in December is like putting Glenn Close in a Pauly Shore movie, it simply isn't done. You know this no matter your denomination, Christian, Jewish, Kwanzified of otherwise.

Amazingly, it's no secret that most of Hollywood is run, written and acted by Jews as well. Still even they know that watching the festival of lights simply does not hold a candle to that of Old Saint Nick. Jewish Comedian Gary Gulman does a great bit about the whole thing as well. In essence he said that the Jews came up with eight nights of Hanukkah in an effort to compete with the powerful Christmas/Christmas Eve combo pack. But then the Christians turned around and created the 12 Days Of Christmas, complete with birds and rings. Even the Jews realized they couldn't compete with that embarrassment of riches.

When I was a kid in public school December was a month of battle. It was like the potato latkes vs. the Christmas cookies in a quest to rule the world. For the most part, Christian parents in my town didn't care if the holiday season was or was not celebrated in school. So when I started coming home with homemade dreidels and colored drawings of Menorahs, my mom saw my school as an equal opportunity holiday supporter.

Only a weird thing started happening. No longer would Christmas trees or pictures of Santa be created in equal proportion. Suddenly we spent more time on making Hanukkah feel welcome that we forgot to invite Christmas in from the cold. I remember one year there being a big debate of the putting up of a Christmas tree in our school lobby. Jewish parents protested with such intensity that it was ultimately, taken down and the spirit of the season, of any denomination, crush.

Oddly enough us kids didn't feel the same way. Many of my Jewish friends were curious about Christmas as I was curious about Hanukkah, too. They would put up Hanukkah bushes in an effort to be accepted and we would be excited to try Matzoh ball soup for the very first time. They envied the whole Santa Claus thing, but then again they had eight nights, ALL of presents. Of course there was the deeper meaning to take into consideration, the meaning behind the holiday itself, but that wasn't important now.

Now the tides have turned again through where I teach. This is because I work in a town where Jews may work, but next to none reside. So when it comes time for holiday activities, I don't have to be politically correct. We write perfect Christmas recipes in a class book, we study the way Christmas is celebrated in different parts of the world and we write descpritive essays on what we want the most for Christmas, all things that never would have been allowed when I was in school. Of course I touch upon the other holidays too, but no one thinks twice about the focus being on red and green. It's all about the company you keep, I suppose.

But the luckiest kids of all were the ones who were half & half's. The only show to truly get the joy of this mix is The OC which created Christmaskah a few years ago. That's because these kids got to celebrate Christmas AND Hannukah. They would receive Christmas presents on Christmas or Christmas eve and also receive Hanukkah presents on Hanukkah too. If they played their cards right, and the charts were in their favor, that could be a straight ten day fest of present getting! To those kids I'd say Mazel Tov, and mean it.

While the Jews have eight nights, life still goes on during Hanukkah. The stores remain open and shopping is in full swing. Yet on Christmas it seems like the whole world stops with the possible exception of movie theaters and Chinese restaurants, that is. I always thought Christmas eve and Christmas must be very lonely times for the Jews. It's almost as if the whole world is part of this big Christian clique. Even the elves and reindeer are in on the act.

Last year, Saturday Night Live finally addressed what it must be like to be Jewish around Christmastime, except they addressed some of the perks, too. I've included a link to the video and the lyrics here. Consider it my "holiday" gift to you!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Philadelphia Story"

For this week's TITMT I am going to step away from music, trivia and list making requests. Instead, I'm going to ask you for your opinion on a scenario. The scenario itself is deliberately vague on details to see what you would do without too much information. On Sunday I will elaborate more and reveal what we actually did.

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I were on our way home from Philadelphia. On the way we spotted a man pulled over to the side of the road. Assumably his family was waiting in the car. He was flagging drivers down and my boyfriend pulled over. He told us that his car had broken down and that help was on the way, but that unfortunately he did not have all the money he needed to pay for the tow truck. So he was asking strangers, out of the kindness of their hearts, for anything up to fifteen dollars to contribute to the total cost. He also offered to pay us back if we were willing to give our address to him.

My questions to you this week are this:

1. Would you have stopped in the first place? Why or why not?
2. Are there any factors that would contribute to your stopping or not stopping that would ultimately change your answer?
3. If you stopped, would you or would you not give him the money he asked for?
4. If you gave him the money, would you supply your address?
5. Does time of year or time of day effect your answer?

I am going to use Mister Linky as usual, but I understand if this week doesn't get strong blogger involvement in that way. Like I said, it's an experiment. All good experiments involve a little bit of risk, right?

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, December 10, 2006

Write Back Weekend "The Top Nine Answers Are On the Board"

For ages, scholars have pondered what one unifing factor will finally bring the masses together. Well I think I found the key. The one common link between the young and old, poor and rich is the love of the game show genre.

Now when I say factor, that doesn't necessarily mean Fear Factor. In fact, I hope it doesn't. The fact remains though, it doesn't matter who you are or from what walk of life. At some point, some show you have watched could be considered to be of the game show variety.

To understand your own favorite game shows you need to understand what a game show is. First there are the traditional old-school game shows where there are three or four contestants or maybe even two teams, competing for prizes. On Let's Make A Deal it was Halloween meets Atlantic City. With The Newlywed Game you had a game within a game, drinking (or snickering) every time they said "making whoopee".

But in the past decade or show, the game show genre has evolved into something much more. Today's game shows, for the most part, are of the "reality" variety. The stakes are even higher now, too. No longer are your lovely parting gifts a poultry 500 dollars. Nowadays it's a cool million, a chance to work with Donald Trump or even a brand-new bride!

Yet if there's one thing I've noticed that all types of game shows have in common, it is an element of ridiculousness. Whether you made a fool of yourself in front of many on The Gong Show or you had a breakdown in front of millions on Survivor, generations will gather 'round in droves to see it happen. I even went through brief periods of wanting to be on a game show or two. The day I noticed they all seemed to be filmed on a sound stage out in Burbank California, that dream quickly died. But as instantly as one game show thrives, the success seems to burn out quickly. I guess Fleetwood Mac was right after all, players only love you when they're playing.

Here are, in no particular order, my list of favorite game shows through the years. And if you don't like any of my choices be kind. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Behind Door Number One...Love Connection-First of all let me start off by saying that in my day, Chuck "back in 2 and 2" Woolery was the man. If a game show premiered that had Woolery at the helm, you knew it was quality stuff. Even now he remains me favorite game show host, ever. When I think of Love Connection I think of staying home sick from school or being home in the summer. Although it was far from the first dating show of its kind, it was great the way it blended real life people dating and audience input. My favorite dates were the ones that went horribly wrong. For the next few minutes they would hurl insults back and forth. It would be a few years before a dating show would be wise enough to actually show the dates and what people were thinking without actually saying it. That came in the form of another classic, Blind Date.

Behind Door Number Two...Press Your Luck- It's funny but I wouldn't remember the premise of Press Your Luck if my life depended on it. I just remember how the contestants always wished they wouldn't get a whammy while the viewers wished for the exact opposite. Why? Because what the whammies did was always such fun. On Jess's blog a commenter linked to a guy who managed to hack Press Your Luck back in the eighties. No more Whammies? Stop!

Behind Door Number Three...Card Sharks Apparently Card Sharks was one of those great game shows that simply would not die. It premiered in the late 70's and then was reincarnated yet again in the mid eighties. Obviously, the mid eighties edition, hosted by Bob Eubanks, is the one I remember. It was essentially a card game played out in front of a studio audience. Oddly enough the "big" prize was apparently only $5,000 in its heyday. Then again, $5,000 probably went a lot further back then, right?

Behind Door Number Four...Rock & Roll Jeopardy If there was one game show that I wanted to be on more than any other it had to be VH1's Rock N' Roll Jeopardy. As some of you have commented, why they would cancel this, I'll never know. Then again, I can think of one person who was probably glad the show ended when it did, future Survivor host, Jeff Probst. Rock & Roll Jeopardy had the same format of your favorite, original Jeopardy, only without all the boring categories and needless stuffed shirts. Rock & Roll Jeopardy had categories worth caring about whose answers were things like "What is Men Without Hats". It's a shame too because I would have rocked Rock & Roll Jeopardy.

Behind Door Number Five...Big Brother I had to throw a few of the name game shows into the mix and what better way to do that then to talk about a few of my favorite reality shows. The American version of Big Brother premiered in the year 2000, but I didn't start tuning in until season five. Taken from the term, Big Brother is watching, contestants are locked in a house and cutoff from friends, family and any outside communications. Together they will live in isolation and compete in various tasks, nominating eachother for eviction until there is ultimately one reigning champ. Shows like Big Brother aren't nearly as great to me because of skillful events, as it is to watch the human relationships that form (or disintigrate) right before our eyes. Last summer it was my biggest guilty pleasure to watch the evil puppetry of the marvelous Dr. Will Kirby. I was enthralled at his ability to mastermind, and his obviously mutual attraction with blonde bombshell, Janelle.

Behind Door Number Six...American Idol What do you get when you combine The Gong Show and Star Search? American Idol! In fact, these days I don't know how you talk about the reality show genre without mentioning American Idol. In case you were living under a rock the past few years, American Idol is the show that scours the country looking for the best, unsigned singers there are there today. Then week after week they compete for the grand prize of American Idol. The winner gets a cheesy song and even cheesier record deal. The runner-up gets the good stuff. Call it what you want, but without it we wouldn't have the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood or Chris Daughty. Oh yeah, and Taylor and Ruben, too.

Behind Door Number Seven...Double Dare When I think back to the game shows I have fond memories of from my childhood, instantly Nickelodeon's Double Dare came to mind. Double Dare managed to combine everything that was great about being a kid into one, action packed half hour. On this show, teams of teens competed, answering pop culture related trivia questions. If one team couldn't answer the question, they could dare the opposing team. But if they couldn't answer the question they could double dare the first team, thus the title. That team then had to decide whether or not to answer the question or take the physical challenge. The physical challenges were, hands down, the best part of the show. They were almost always cool and they were almost always messy. The winners of the Q&A round would then proceed to every kid's dream, the obstacle course. It was good, clean fun without being exceptionally good, or even clean. Ironically ultra clean host, Marc Summers would go on to reveal he had OCD in the years to come.

Behind Door Number Eight...Liar's Club Liar's Club is an old school choice I got into when they played it in reruns during my childhood. I get nostalgic for Liar's Club because I remember watching it with my mom who remembered watching it when it was first on. Liar's Club featured a panel of "celebrity" guests who would have to pretend to speak with some authority on a random object. The catch was only one of them would have the true story of what the object really was. It was up to the regular Joe contestants to figure out who was lying and who was telling the truth. I'm not gonna lie to you now. It wasn't the best show in the world, but something about it appealed to me and has stayed with me all this time. Now that's the truth.

Behind Door Number Nine... Remote Control Before there was Rock & Roll Jeopardy, there was MTV's Remote Control. Custom-made for random trivia buffs like me, Remote Control The three contestants would select categories by "changing" the channels. The choices were always random, light and fun. Some required brief acting scenes from regular contributors such as Adam Sandler and the never funny, even back then, Colin Quinn. The hostesses also were a big mainstay of many game shows and Remote Control was no exception. Technically it also launched the careers of former hostesses, B-movie actress, Kari Wuhrer and Alicia Coppola who would go on to be one of my favorite characters on the defunct soap, Another World.

Going Home With Wonderful Parting Gifts Are: Jeopardy, Blind Date, Hollywood Squares, Wheel of Fortune, Family Fued, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (in its heyday that is), Average Joe, Bachelor/Bachelorette, The Amazing Race, Dancing With the Stars, Last Comic Standing, The Mole, RW/Road Rules Challenges and Finders Keepers.
Friday, December 08, 2006

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

Sometimes I feel bad for celebrities.

Sure, in many ways they have it better than the rest of us, although they will try to make claims they are just like you or I because they bleed, cry and put their pants on one leg at a time. But that's where the similarities end.

Because many celebs of a certain stature no longer have to worry about things like picking up their dry cleaning, supermarket shopping or even, in some cases, child rearing. When I think of what life must be like for them can't help but picture that scene from Annie when she first shows up at the mansion. Instantly she is bombarded with all of the people who are there, eager to wait on her hand and foot. She sees all of this and blurts out the obvious: "I think I'm gonna like it here." Annie's no fool. She knows the score.

But you and I both know celebrities are not regular people, despite their protests otherwise. No, celebrities are only like you or I when they choose to be. They wear regularity like most of us wear our favorite suit or dress, irregularly and only for special occasions. Regular people, for instance, can't pick and choose which things they should be held accountable for and which things they should not. If you get a speeding ticket, you appear at court, not on a reality show. If you get accused of a crime, you sit on trial and if fit, do the time, not write a coy book about if you did it, what might've happened. If you drop your child, authorities come in and take that child away from you for an uncertain amount of time. These are just a few examples, you know, completely off the top of my head.

But the bottom line is it's all a carefully orchestrated game. The rich and famous like to pretend they are like us when they really aren't because we, the public buy into the myth. We place them on unnecessary pedestals and hold them to unrealistic ideals. When they mess up we are shocked and appalled and perhaps even somewhat amused deep down, too. This is because every time a celeb messes up we are reminded that we really are all the same deep inside.

But lately it seems like celebrities are falling off of those pedestals more and more often and they aren't being pushed off, they're jumping. Last year Mel Gibson made one of the biggest, and most now infamous, mistakes of all when he got drunk and slurred racial... slurs, literally. After the fact Mel had no choice but to return, tail between his legs and take his beatings like a man. He might have not committed a crime that would go before the eyes of a traditional court, but his time is still being served in front of a jury of his peers and his public. It is still uncertain how long his sentence will be. If he makes another Lethal Weapon it might allow the public to forgive him though and he might get "out early" on good behavior. The only other way to get the public to ease up on you is to wait for the inevitable screw up of another star and the hope that they somehow screwed up more royally than you.

Enter Former Seinfeld star Michael Richards. As we now all know, he went all "Howard Dean" on African Americans during a comedy act a few weeks ago. The public was outraged. Richards was apologetic. Seinfeld was protective. And you just know Gibson was off somewhere, giving a deep sigh of relief.

But lucky for Richards, it wasn't long before another famous star went out and acted unprofessionally in the public eye. That was none other than a drunk Mr. Danny Devito who went on The View, a live show, and made fun of the president of the United States of America, complete with foul language. And although the definition of celebrity is the most questionable in the most recent offender, comedian Andy Dick came under fire this week for joking about the same exact thing that got Richards into trouble in the first place. Didn't these guys ever learn the golden rule of getting along with others? If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say slurs that You Tube can find?

But what do all of these men have in common besides some bad decisions and some bad hair? They aren't upset about what they said, they're just pissed they got caught saying it. For the record there's a very simple rule to follow. The "n" word for instance. Just don't. use. it. EVER. Don't think maybe if I______. No. Don't. Just don't. It's just easier that way, for everyone.

Which brings me to my final thought. In the case of Mel Gibson, he clearly did not plan for his drunken night, many months ago, to go down the way it did. Before that, and his manic press junket for The Passion of the Christ, the people loved Mel Gibson! If he could go back to being the fun-loving Australian with the beautiful eyes in the eyes of millions, I'm sure he'd do it faster than you can say...well, any racial slur that you're not saying.

But with Richards, Devito and Dick I'm not as sure. That's because all of these men have one big thing in common, none of them were being talked about, period before these incidents occurred. Richards just happens to get in trouble the same week a Seinfeld DVD was allegedly getting released, Devito gets in trouble while he's promoting his new movie, Deck The Halls and Andy Dick gets in trouble because he's like the overtly jealous younger brother, acting out in a desperate attempt for some kind, any kind of attention.

Bottom line is that we all need to get a grip. Sticks and stones can hurt your bones, but like we learned, a star's slurs apparently, can hurt worse than anything.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Boys Go To Jupiter, Girls Go To Mars

This week, as it came time to choose a renter, I couldn't help but keep in mind the holiday season. So when I saw a bid from a blog called A Work of Art: Raising Our Exceptional Son, I knew I had to accept it. This blog was created by the father of a child suffering from Pallister-Killian Syndrome (PKS) who now paints from home. He sells the artwork on his site, giving a portion of the proceeds to charities that support research of PKS. I had never heard of this syndrome before, so I took it upon myself to do a little research. You can read more about this syndrome here. Don't forget to go visit Ben and Bennie and say Janet sent you.

What I want to talk about today is sex education.

Now that I have your attention, you can get your minds out of the gutters. I'm actually talking about the education of the sexes. See how a quick turn of phrase can quickly make you sit up and take notice though?

I'm going to ask you to try and remember back to when you were in elementary school. For some of us this might be easier said and done than others. In all honesty, it doesn't really matter if you're 25 or 50. Whether you wore bell bottoms or acid wash, we all went through the same rites of passage.

For most of us, grades K-2 were exciting times to be in school. We still were very eager to learn new things and liked the praise we would receive for a job well done. We wanted to impress our parents and our teachers and believed them when they said only the good boys and girls got what they wanted in the end. This meant no lying, no staying up late and defintely finishing all of our homework.

And then we entered third grade. Since I teach children of this age I can tell you that third grade is quite a turning point in a young person's life. Many of the children are at a crossroads. Some of the kids still think it's cool to watch cartoons, kiss mom and dad goodbye and be the teacher's pet. Others though are already over that and have moved on to greener pastures like skipping class, talking back and crushing on the opposite sex. If these changes aren't in effect by the beginning of third there are most definitely signs of change by the end of the year.

So at a faculty meeting recently, my principal proposed a scenario for the next school year that surprised and intrigued all of us.

She's thinking about creating same sex classrooms.

Now in order to understand this option, you have to understand the makeup of our school. Our school is a K-4 elementary school. She's not thinking about doing this at all grade levels, just fourth grade, at least initially. This is because the fourth grade students are typically the moodiest, the most aloof and, most importantly, the most enchanted by members of the opposite sex.

The bad thing about third and fourth graders being interested in each other is that they are waayy too young to understand what to do about their newfound feelings. This manifests itself in grand gestures like fighting with another guy who "likes" "your" girl, or better yet, "dating" someone for a week or two before "breaking up". Note that I went wild on the quotation marks for this part of the post. This is because it's hard to talk about nine and ten year olds thinking about hooking up without even really knowing what hooking up means. It's like your dad wanting to get into golf suddenly after he retires because it seems like it would be a cool sport. Nevermind the fact that he's never played anything besides a rousing round or two of mini golf on family vacations.

So now my principal wants to try an experiment with two fourth grade classrooms. One class she would make all boys, the other all girls. The boys class would be taught be a male teacher while the girls class would be taught be a female teacher. The children that would be in each class would be chosen only after bringing up the possibility to all the fourth grade parents and it would be done strictly on a voluntary basis.

The reasons she wants to do this are simple. The older kids get, the less interested they become in school and the more interested they become in impressing members of the opposite sex. This has proven to be especially true of females. If you don't believe me, just think about the biggest flirt you ever knew in high school. Who knows? Maybe that flirt was even you. The point is that flirt always knew exactly what she was doing by dropping her books or needing extra tutoring. Most of the time the "dumb" girls are actually very smart and just playing dumb in an effort to make the big, strong jock they are trying to impress feel smarter. For many girls they reach a point where doing good in school is simply no longer a priority worth persuing.

I know what you're thinking. The days of girls playing with their hair and laughing hysterically at boys non-funny jokes are way over. While I wish that were true, it's not entirely so. Just because more girls are graduating and going to college, it doesn't mean that society still doesn't give the underlying message that a girl persuing higher education is all fine and good, but in the end, the underlying goal remains the same. While you're studying, make sure you find time to find a nice boy to date, settle down and have babies with.

And yes, before you even ask, it does start as young as eight years old, especially in a town like the one I teach in. That's because the reality is many of my students will not go to college. For many, the foundation and motivation simply is not there. For others it's a matter of money. Regardless of the reason, this abbreviated education often puts girls on the fast track to motherhood and minimum wage. Everything else ends up being accelerated as well. So in the town where I teach children are eight often going on thirteen. They have to help out with brothers and sisters and then fend for themselves because more often than not, their parents are just kids themselves.

Interestingly enough there is a slew of research out there that supports same sex groupings. Not only does it promote academic awareness, it helps with self esteem. No longer do girls have to feel embarrassed by how they look in front of that cute boy in math class. There are no distractions and more importantly, no excuses.

But what about the boys? It's no secret that for the most part, the behavior problems at least on an elementary level stem from boys, not girls. They are less mature at this age and while many of them are very smart, they simply do not apply themselves and spend too much time being preoccupied with all the wrong things. Getting them together in a room with a man teacher does nothing to seperate this element. If anything, it can only grow.

But for every positive, there is always a negative. If I can play devil's advocate for a second, part of me worries about this option and if it's going to have an even worse effect on our students. Just think about the classic "Catholic school girl" image. Good, innocent and most importantly, repressed. It is these girls that most guys find most irresistable and it is these girls who are often most eager to experiment. Case in point. There was a Phillipino family that lived in our neighborhooed while I was growing up. There were two girls and one boy, all older than me. I quickly befriended the two girls, the one like my peer, the other a few years older, most like the big sister I never had. All of the parents loved her and felt safe having her look out for their kids.

And then she became a teenager. Unfortunately these kids came from a very strict religious household. When this girl hit about 15 she busted out and went to another extreme behavior wise. This was a cycle that took many years to undo and even then, things were never the same again. Now am I saying that same sex classrooms are going to lead to sex crazed teenagers? Not necessarily. But when socialization is replaced by segregation, you do have to be very careful with your motives.

Then there is another factor that bothers me. It's called "the real world". No, not the lame show on MTV that does not represent reality nor the world. I'm talking about the actual real world. One day these kids will be in it. There will be boys. There will be girls. The will be working together, side by side. Sooner or later kids need to be exposed to that. I know it sounds crazy, but when and women think differently. If they've never worked together before they might not know how to respond to each other in a high pressure work environment. By segregating them soon we might be prolonging the inevitable, but is it really a recipe for success?

Finally there is the males teaching males vs. females teaching females factor. The fact of the matter is there is a higher ratio of female teachers on an elementary level. This is why when a guy applies to teach an elementary grade his application is treated as if someone found gold, very rare, valuable and one worthy of possession. And I do see that my students respond slightly differently to our big, scary gym teacher than little, blonde me, though not as much as you might think. But I don't think you can say unequivocaly that boys respond better to men and men to women. I think instead it works better to look at it on a case by case basis. Before you know it the lines will get blurred in terms of hiring staff, too. Suddenly we are no longer hiring the best candidate for the job, we are hiring the best male or female on an as needed basis.

As for what I truly feel about it, I haven't decided yet. Part of me wants it to work and I guess the only way to know that for sure is to continue reading the research and then trying it out and seeing if it works yourself. Of course we do realize the true irony is that if it does succeed at fourth grade, by fifth grade they go to a new school, a school that at this point has given no formal thought to segregating by sexes. So there could, in theory, be a year's worth of work undone by the following year, the years in which they need to be seperated the most.

Still, ya gotta have faith. And if faith doesn't work, a big piece of chalk to seperate your dance space from my dance space could work just fine, too.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Come On Down!"

If I didn't get to comment back on your blog yesterday chances are I couldn't. It looks like Blogger was having issues...again which interfered with me commenting on a number of blogs.:(

You know how the saying goes; It's all fun and games until someone gets poked in the eye. I don't know about you, but I never quite understood what types of games these eye pokers were playing. All I can deduce was that they must have been pretty dangerous.

Which brings me to the reason you are all here, this week's TITMT question:

What are you favorite TV game shows of all time and why? (eye poking game are optional, by the way)

If you need help here's a Wikipedia's list of American Game shows to jog your memory. The contestants bloggers with the most interesting answers just might win A BRAND NEW CAR!!! They probably won't but not I said they "might".

So what are you waiting for? Red rover, red rover, Janet calls you all over!

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.
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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Write Back Weekend "If You Want My Body And You Think I'm Sexy"

In honor of People magazine's time honored tradition, last week's TITMT asked you who you thought the famous sexiest men (or women as the case may be) were.

But in order to define who is sexy, you first have to define what is sexy. For everyone, this answer differs greatly. For instance, some people prefer brains over brawn, or in a guy's case, brains over boobs. I know it's hard to believe, but it does happen. Others like a good sense of humor. Then there are those that like their men (or women) like they like wine, aged to perfection and different depending on what and where you're eating at the time. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.

But there's something interesting that can be said about the choices we make from afar. When we pick out our sexiest celebrities we might not realize it, but we are really making a much bigger statement about our tastes in the opposite sex. Sometimes this can be mirrored in the choices we have made with our everyday mates, other times even the choices themselves rarely overlap. This is our chance to speak on what attracts us without any false expectations. This is why expressing interest in celebrities is such a safe thing to do.

While my favorite male celebrity list has changed a bit over the years, it isn't so much for loss of interest. I like to think of it as being expanded upon every time I add a new guy to the mix. The old school crushes, meanwhile usually stay pretty much intact. I've decided one thing about myself over time; I'm nothing if not loyal.

So this time I limited my list to ten guys who are sexy to me, in no particular order. You will however, notice some commonalities in what I consider sexy. For instance, I often pick out dark haired guys with brown or blue eyes. I also am a sucker for a boyish face, lanky frame and a killer sense of humor. I know there are more men to add to this list, but just like Becky stated, sometimes an actor's sexiness is like a shooting star, fleeting and seen in one movie role, never to be spoken of again. The sexiness of other stars, however, does not burn out. For the most part, those are the guys I'm hoping graced this much abbreviated list.

1. George Clooney- Yes, it's a bit redundant since he was chosen as this year's sexiest man by People magazine too, but what can I say, great minds think alike. In my defense though I will say I liked George Clooney long before the rest of the world found him to be sexy, even before I personally knew what sexy was. His contagious grin can be traced all the way back to when I watched him in his days as the lovable George the handyman on The Facts of Life. Right around the same time he started in E/R the first time around, when it was a kooky comedy, not a heavy handed drama. Clooney clowned around for years before hitting it big with the second ER, and subsequently the rest of the world. The great thing about him is that whether he is scruffy or clean shaven, chubby or lean, he still manages to look sexy. Now, at age 45, he shows no signs of slowing down, either.

2. Ethan Embry- Unfortunately I wish I could say the same kind things about Mr. Embry that I did about George Clooney. For me, Embry is like that childhood crush you simply cannot get over. Since Dutch in 1991 I have followed this man's career like white on rice. I was with him when he was Ethan Randall. I was with him through his (and my) alternative days in Empire Records and That Thing You Do. I even cheered when he finally got to be the lead in the teen comedy, Can't Hardly Wait. But like any childhood crush, it's a bit devastating to show up to the high school reunion and see your former boy toy has become a bit of a bloated and balding mess. Only with Embry the reunion was a show called Brotherhood that aired this summer and he's only 28 years young. Don't get me wrong, I'll be really happy if he finally finds mainstream success. Still, it is bittersweet at the same time considering he now has things written about him like this. Regardless of Embry's timeline, or hairline for that matter, I will always love him and his wide-eyed portrayals of lovable characters.

3. Randall Batinkoff- Where there is Ethan Embry there is always, always Randall Batinkoff. As far as I know, these two guys have never worked together, and they probably don't share anything in common besides the one time name of "Randall" and of course, someone who was obsessed with both of them simultaneously. My love for Batinkoff can be found as far back as the late 80's when he played Molly Ringwald's beau in the movie, For Keeps. I instantly fell in love with his lanky frame, great hair and boyish charm. It was a good four years before I would see something new from Batinkoff and even then it was a bit yet crucial part in School Ties. That didn't stop me from getting so excited, however, when any new projects finally rolled through. Even now, after I have begrudgingly accepted that Batinkoff will probably always be, at best, the second banana, my love for him lives on.

4. Matthew Perry- What's interesting about Matthew Perry is that while I have also known of him for years and years now, I did not like him in the beginning, or at the very least, I didn't care either way about him. I think that's because back in the eighties, he seemed to guest star on everything, but also managed to do very little at the same time. He was the spoiled tennis star on an old school 90210 and the Carol's boyfriend that tragically dies on Growing Pains.

But then I figured it out. Before Friends, none of the roles that featured Perry, really, truly featured Perry. It's weird to think that now because his personality seems to be so strong. So when Friends came around I was pleasantly surprised about how much I loved the man. And to think, I spent the eighties watching made for tv movies like Dance Till' Dawn and worshipping the likes of Chris Young. All along Perry was under my nose but I was too young to see it! For me, the first half of Friends was far superior Perry wise. Those were the years when Chandler, his character, was at its wise-cracking best. That was before they made the grave mistake of pairing him with Monica and taking the sarcasm out of his soul that is. Now Matthew Perry is on one of my new favorite shows, Studio 60. Lucky for me his character of Matt is like Chandler, only with slightly less one-liners and no Monica in tow.

5. John Krasinski- The Office's John Krasinski is a somewhat new addition to the list, but I know I'm not alone in my lusting considering I am beginning to run in to a good amount of like-minded bloggers. I didn't know of him before the show and at 27 he's (gasp) a younger man! I guess the older I get, that's bound to happen, right? Anyway, he's perfect with his subtle mix of sarcasm and sanity. If you haven't checked The Office out yet, you really should. If you still decide not to though it's ok. I hear he's in talks to star in a few projects with A-listers so chances are you'll get your taste of Krasinski sooner or later.

6. Joshua Jackson- Another old school reference. Back in the day though, Dawson's Creek was THE show not to miss. In the beginning everyone was jonesing for Dawson, including Mrs. Tom Cruise aka Katie Holmes aka Joey Potter. But it didn't take long before Joey and viewers alike started seeing the appeal of the bigger personality (and cuter smile) of Mr. Pacey Witter. I didn't watch Dawson's Creek near the end, however, I did catch the last episode for old time's sake. I still try to follow Jackson's career since I am a fan, but it's hard considering he doesn't do much. I've always seen him as a younger George Clooney in some respect. I think it's because my boyfriend has been compared to both of them and I'm just trying to keep the dream alive.

7. John Mayer- After some careful consideration I added John Mayer to the list. He's what I like to call the "thinking woman's sex symbol". Some might argue that isn't true since Mayer is obviously good looking, except I can't like the long-haired look as much on him. But Mayer's appeal is more than his looks, or even his music. If you've ever seen him interviewed or speak candidly for any length of time you'd know what I mean. He has a quick wit and a good database of pop culture references, a must in my book. I tried to link to a good picture of Mayer that showcased this, him of one holding Debbie Gibson's Out of the Blue album next to his head, but the link wouldn't work. As I like to joke a lot, I'd take a side of Mayer.

8. Heath Ledger- It's funny to look back on how my love affair with Heath Ledger evolved. The first movie I ever saw him in is now one of my all time favorites, 10 Things I Hate About You. But it was Ledger's portrayal of Patrick Verona in the updated version of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew that really got me. His character oozed sexiness, despite seeming completely unsexy at the beginning of the film. A mere hour later, however, I couldn't believe I had ever thought otherwise. His sexiness even managed to transcend his role as a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain. Now that my friends, takes a special kind of sexiness.

9. Justin Timberlake and Ryan Phillippe- Notice that I paired Timberlake and Phillippe together. The pairing was intentional because they are very similar looks wise. Choosing just one is just silly and unnecessary. They are both white boys with tremendous amounts of talent. While Timberlake has acted, his first love is music. Phillippe meanwhile is known only for acting and being Mr. Reese Witherspoon, that is. Maybe he sings, too. He does, after all, look like he could have been on the Mickey Mouse Club. Even Justin Timberlake himself, once as Wayne Brady show parody skit cooed, "Did I happen to mention, I look like that dude from Cruel Intentions?"

10. Tom Everett Scott- In college I had a definite That Thing You Do phase. My initial obsession, at the time, was with the previously mentioned Ethan Embry. I saw the movie four times in the theater alone for that simple fact. But my love for the movie actually ran much deeper than Embry. It was a great movie that is in my top five favorite movies of all time. But that's not really important now. What's important is that That Thing You Do is the movie that introduced me to Mr. Tom Everett Scott. Since then Scott has done a lot of roles in B moves. This past summer though he resurfaced as somewhat of a leading man in the TNT series, Saved. Before I only had brief acknowledgment of this man. This time around though, I'm a full fledged fan.

Some honorable mentions include...

The OC's Adam Brody, Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey, Matthew "alright, alright" McConaughey, Paul "pretty boy" Walker, Ryan "sarcasm king" Reynolds, Topher Grace and Danny Masterson (though amazingly I'm not, nor have I ever been a That 70's Show fiend) Ben "now J-Lo free" Affleck, Michael "I've never seen Alias" Vartan, Vince "you're so money" Vaughn, new love, Zach "the dude from Friday Night Lights, which you all should watch, Deann was right!" Gilford and the classic, Brad Pitt.
Friday, December 01, 2006

Please Mr. Postman, Look and See

Sometimes we all wish we could be kids again. For me, Christmas is one of those times.

It's not that I dislike Christmas, though sometimes I'll admit I do not look forward to the careful coordinating, perfect gift finding and potentially being able to bring retail outlets and radio stations everywhere up on charges of assault and battery. But before you go off and mislabel me a Scrooge, let me try and explain. See, I quite enjoy the merriment and mingling that often accompanies holidays like these. What I can do without, however, is the pressure that comes along with Christmas related characterizations.

Take for example that tried and true tradition of Christmas cards.

I always feel like such a card when it comes to Christmas card giving. That's because I have no real procedure for the card giving chain of command. For years my Christmas card giving was done for me. After all, I was part of a unit, a nuclear family. My name was signed along with my mom's and dad's and sent out to relatives far and wide.

But then I graduated high school, and college and suddenly, things changed, or at least they kind've changed. Since I still live at home (hopefully though, not for much longer!) I can still skate by on the fam's Christmas cards. So, at least for the time being, relatives and good family friends are covered.

So that just leaves everyone else. These are the friends that I have made in the past ten years or so that have nothing to do with mom or dad. These are the people I should be sending Christmas cards too, right? Or if not Christmas cards, holiday cards. I'm an equal opportunity holiday celebrater, doncha' know.

A few years back I started to do just that. But early on I ran into a few snags. For one thing, there's this nagging little trend that seems to permeate my generation. Christmas card giving is few and far between amongst my friends. My mom, meanwhile still exchanges cards with someone she once had science class with back in 11th grade but hasn't seen since. I wish I was speaking figuratively, but I'm afraid that's it's true when they say truth is really stranger than the fiction.

I suppose Christmas card giving and getting was one of those adult-like rites of passage I always took for granted. I figured it would kick in when it needed to, like when people got their own houses, or their own spouses, or their own cats, whatever. But as the years come and go and the cards simply do. not. come. I realize there may never be an official transition to adulthood, at least not of the Hallmark variety.

Taking matters into my own hands hasn't done much either. I've sent out Christmas cards, which by the way are always, always humorous and never, ever sentimental. Still I've received very few in return. Sometimes I even try and wait to see who sends me one and then just send one back to them. For the record, I think this is lamer than lame, but I can't decide which makes you a bigger loser; waiting for Christmas cards that do not come or waiting for cards before you send them.

So don't be shocked if I'm pleasantly surprised when you talk about Christmas card giving and getting. I suppose Christmas cards are a lot like Santa himself. People talk about his existence, but I've never actually seen him with my own two eyes.

And that was all she wrote.



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