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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, May 30, 2007

Although We've Come To The End of The Road...

The good news is it seems another school year is finally winding down.

Now if only I could say the same for the teachers who are teaching them.

While we are t-minus 20 days away from the final day, there is A LOT of preparation that goes into those final moments. There is a slew of end of the year paperwork and potential placements to be decided for next year. Not helping matters is the fact that standardized test scores are still not back from the state and may not be before school's end. Finally there's the looming possibility that any of us could be moved anywhere in the district, any time between now and next September. Working in a school this time of year is like chess meets American Idol. No one is eliminated, but we're all still pawns in one big game.

Another bad thing is that this time of year means we have arrived at the "keeping up appearances" portion of our school calendar. This is because for all intents and purposes, we have to create the illusion that behavior and assignments still matter as much just as they did back in January. Depending on your particular batch of students some might even believe you. But students of today are no different than you and I. As soon as the weather gets warmer, their minds go on permanent vacation. I often wonder if it's any different for kids in say California. They don't have the weather switch over to indicate the end is near. Are they always spaced out due to dreams of swimming in cool water, or does a day that's 89 degrees and sunny simply get taken for granted?

One thing I have learned along the way is that no matter what kind of class you have at the beginning of the year, they are always going to get worse by the end. This is for two main reasons, they are antsy and they are older. If your class was bad in October, trust me, they'll be worse come May. If they were chatty (like mine are) in November, forget about shutting them up come June. You get the idea.

Still I manage to hold a few threats of my students heads until the very last day. Some of them are idle threats, some are not. They need not know which is which. All that's important is that you most of them still believe you are in control. For instance, I already took one student out of our third grade show for his behavior and the same student very well might lose out on field day next Friday, too. I lecture them on everyday behaviors and sometimes make things up. When I was observed (another story for another time) this year, I told the students that they were coming in to assess THEM too, as part of their "portfolio" for going in to fourth grade. A fear of authority is harder to conjure up then you might imagine. As I always remind them, the end of the year is the time that can be the most or least fun, all depending on the roads you decide to take.

But as any teacher who has been teaching for more than a year knows, the last month and a half truly is a joke. You can't accomplish anything of worth even if you wanted to between paperwork, last minute grades and assemblies galore. Plus, if they only knew the truth- by this point, teachers are probably even more tired of it all then them. No, from Memorial Day weekend and on you might as well consider yourself a glorified babysitter, nothing more, nothing less. But if you remain consistent, the kids don't know if you are bluffing or not.

Yes, the road may be nearing its end, but that doesn't mean there still aren't tolls yet to be collected along the way.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Anything You Can Do This One Thing You Can Do, I Can Do Better"

I don't know about all of you, but I often feel I spend a lot of time and energy, beating myself up for things I don't do very well. So for today's TITMT, I decided to try and accentuate the positive...

What's one thing that you are proud of that you believe (or have been told) you do pretty well?

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, May 27, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Based On A True Story"

Last week's question was the following...If they were to make a movie of your life, who do you think should play you and why? And in part two of this question, what title would you give your biopic?

Sometimes I wonder how people who have had movies made about their lives feel about the depictions. Was the real Erin Brokovich honored to be portrayed by Julia Roberts? Did Muhammad Ali feel Will Smith got him down right when he played him in Ali? Which Elvis impersonator would the real Elvis have given his stamp of approval to? I guess it just goes to show, some questions are out there, never meant to be answered.

Of course I'm not dumb. I know what Hollywood is all about. Because of this, I know I don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting a movie made about the life I'm living now. As Rockwell once said, "I'm just an average man, with an average life..." Only instead of man, you insert the word woman and presto! You have me.

No, in order to get noticed by Hollywood's standards you either have to do something extraordinary or have something extraordinary done to you. Child prodigy is out, and so that means overcoming childhood adversities are already out, too. Everything about my childhood was typical. I laughed. I cried. I was made fun of. I survived the teenage years. That experience has pretty much been summed up by every Molly Ringwald movie from 1984-1989, a footnote added in 1995 when My So-Called Life briefly ran the airwaves.

So, what does that leave me with? Well, unfortunately there's still tragedy and overcoming adversity. If I died young, and became famous posthumously a la Emily Dickinson, then I might have a fighting chance. But it's not exactly something you want to strive for. I mean, do you really think Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, James Dean or Janis Joplin would rather have die young than risk promoting Time Life CD's in their later years? I think not.

Sure, it doesn't have have to be that morbid. I could always live, but if I did, I'd have to have some horrible tragedy that I'd have to rebound from or make a huge difference and change the course of history, not unlike Hiro Nakamura. But really, does life usually hand us situations of Hiro Nakamura proportions? It's not likely.

At best, I could hope to have a Lean On Me, Dangerous Mind type movie made about my experiences teaching the inner city youth. But then again, you've seen one "inner city youth rise to the occasion movie" every ten years, you've seen 'em all. Matthew Perry just starred in The TNT original, The Ron Clark Story last summer, so I think we're good for awhile.

By this point you might think I'm avoiding answering the question but au contra ire, I do have an answer in mind. I just wanted to point out that the possibility of this movie being made is highly unlikely, almost as unlikely as the portrayer I chose playing me as well. If there was a movie made about my life, I would want Reese Witherspoon to portray me. I picked Reese because I always loved her and we both have blonde hair and honestly, that's enough for me.

As I've mentioned in the past, one time someone told me I looked like Reese and I've clung to that comparison for years now. She's also just about my age, so that makes the time line perfect. I know she did June Carter Cash justice, why not me? Nowadays booking Reese seems to be an impossible feat, but had I been a child prodigy, I might have had a fighting chance during her Man In The Moon, pre-stardom days.

Still, since I am willing to entertain the possibility that *maybe* I couldn't get her, that doesn't mean the movie couldn't still be made. The other day I was told that I looked like Leslie Bibb for the first time. I don't get many comparisons to famous people, but that's another one I'll take. So should Reese be unable to fulfill her duties portraying yours truly, have it be on the record that I approve Leslie Bibb as a suitable understudy for the job.

As a special treat, I'm gonna go that extra mile and cast my leading man, as back in the day my fiance was told he looked like a number of famous people, all compliments in my book (although he might feel differently). My chosen portrayer for him would be George Clooney for the later years (they even have a lot of the same quirks and interests) and the younger years would be played by the sorely missed, Joshua Jackson.

So now that I've gone and cast the stars, all that's left to do is to pick the title. Well that's an easy one. It would entitled The Art of Getting By, of course. When I named this blog I might as well have been naming the book I'd yet to write or the movie yet to be made as I truly do believe it sums my general experiences in life thus far perfectly.

This blog, and the contents within in it over theyears, will be the experiences on which I would draw up my rough draft. So if one day, Hollywood should ever come a knockin', I've gone and done the hard work already, right here.

Alright, Mr. Demille...I'm ready for my close-up.
Friday, May 25, 2007

I Won't Tell 'Em Your Name

Is it just me or do bands seem to be running out of good names to use?

When I was younger, I used to imagine I was going to start a band when I grew up, you know, with all the music I didn't know how to sing or instruments I didn't know how to play. Sure, you laugh now, but I'm not the only little girl who dared to dream so big. Just look how things worked out for Britney Spears.

Anyway, I still had to have a fake name to go with my fake dreams. When I was still in my, "little girl, Barbie and the Rockers phase", I thought the coolest name yet to be used had to be Crystal Clear. Remember, this was when girl bands like The Bangles and The Go Go's were all the rage. For the life of me, I just could not understand why someone hadn't snatched that sucker up by then.

As I got older and grunge rock became more of the focus, my prime band name choice became to shift, too. Suddenly one word titles oozed a certain degree of sophistication to me. That's when I settled upon Corduroy. In a space time continuum sense I still insist they both could work. I honestly don't know when it became so complicated.

Years ago, band naming, not unlike baby naming, used to be simple. Pretty much the word "The" followed by virtually any other word worked best the first time and really, every time.

There was the random objects phase. The Crystals. The Four Tops. The Five Satins. The Platters. You catch the drift or better yet, The Drifters.

The early sixties ushered in the "The" wave and rode it to the next level, tagging on pretty much any animal they could think of. The Byrds. The Yardbirds. The Monkees. Even The Beatles technically fell into this category although they really were a cross breed of animals meets play on words. You know, like The Wonders, only instead of Won-ders, it will be One-ders. Hell, even The Animals were a band once, too.

Meanwhile, the late sixties brought with it a time period of exploration and experimentation. Out of this we got some funky names like Led Zeppelin, Credence Clearwater Revival and Muddy Waters. But we also got some bland, looking around the room and calling out random things in an "I Love Lamp" like fashion seemed more appropriate. Names that come to mind here include Bread, Cream, Traffic, The Doors, The Who, Gerry and The Pacemakers and the ultimate lack of originality name of all time, The Band. Presumptuous or just plain dumb? You be the judge.

The eighties was a period of indulgence so it only makes sense that self-indulgence had its place, too. I call this the band so nice, they named it twice phase of naming. Bands like Duran Duran, Mr. Mister, or Big Country...infamous for their one "hit" single, "In...A Big Country", earned a place here. Even rhyming names like Wang Chung and Oingo Boingo are arguably, equally random and just as annoying.

The decade of the 90's gave us a foreshadowing of some lackluster names to come. Tbat's because in the nineties, it suddenly became cool to band names that has numbers included in them. These bands seemingly had arbitrary names, but the numbers included in part of their moniker seemed even more arbitrary, as if that was even possible. I'm talking about artists like Maroon 5, Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind, Blink 182, 311. All they made me want to do was take a number at the deli counter and wait for their singles to be halfway decent, or thinly sliced, whichever came first.

Which brings us to the "one word nonsense" phase of band naming we have evolved into today. Looking at the history is important as it gives us insight into how we got where we are currently. Nowadays we have gems like Skillet, Saliva and Hoobastank ruling the charts. As if the one word nonsense phase of naming wasn't annoying enough, we've gone and outdone ourselves by creating band names out of phrases, terminology that's biggest claim to fame before all of this would be possibly aspiring to the be THE winning phrase on Wheel of Fortune.

What I like to call " the long ass, taken out of context phase of band naming" includes, Plain White T's, Cute Is What We Aim For, Dashboard Confessional and The Academy Is... With these artists you could be mid conversation or you could be witnessing history in the making. There's no real way to know for certain.

I suppose you could say that Madonna only got it half right. Reinventing yourself is important, but renaming yourself is just as crucial.

Very few bands and artists have been smart enough to try to rise above it all, or ride with the tide, depending on your perspective. There's Jefferson Airplane. Or is that Jefferson Starship? Or perhaps just plain Starship. Oh, and don't forget John Cougar Mellencamp, John Cougar or John Mellencamp and finally, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy. Finally, we have Prince or is it the artist formerly known as Prince or is it the artist going through an identity crisis and fooling himself that everyone still refers to as Prince?

On second thought, maybe Hoobastank was a good idea.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Got to Be Reel"

First I want to apologize that I've been so lax in updating the blog the last few days and visiting all of you as well. My internet connection woes seemed to be rather permanent, but lo and behold my fiance fixed them (don't ask, it's weird and hard to explain)! This was a setback, on top of having my engagement party last weekend, my friend's baby shower this Wednesday and our third grade show at the end of this week. Needless to say it should get somewhat better by the end of this weekend. One can hope anyway!

I also didn't write a Write Back Weekend response this Sunday either, but that was intentional on my part. Mainly that's because there were not a whole lot of ideas pouring in about what you wanted me to write about. If I went ahead and answered the few suggestions I got, that wouldn't give me much ideas for future writings. Let's just say I write when two things occur: When I am inspired and when I have time, not necessarily in that order. When both jive, however, it's the best of both worlds.

But enough babbling...let's move on to this week's question!

If they were to make a movie of your life, who do you think should play you and why? And in part two of this question, what title would you give your biopic?

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!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Girls Just Want To Have Fun Move On

Due to my connection woes, it took me a bit longer to have the time to update today. I figured it's better late than never anyhow. This gave me time to watch the last episode of said show below. I also figured it would provide more time to get answers/contributors on this week's TITMT, asking people what they wanted me to write about. Judging by the responses I'd have to say, apparently most people don't want me to write, period!

Oh well, on the to the real post anyhow...

It always feels like the end of an era when a long running television show sings its swan song. While rumors have been circulating for awhile, it was confirmed officially on May 3rd that this was the last season of Gilmore Girls.

Apparently a number of factors figured into the ultimate demise of the show, now in its seventh season. This time last year, contract negotiations reached a standstill with the head writer and show creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino no longer on board. Still production carried on with the cast intact.

Different head writers and different agendas of both the characters and the actors that played them could have very well been factors. Rumors of clashing temperaments plagued the Gilmore Girls cast for a few years now. Although the show was still on, some argued that the initial magic was gone this season and dare I say, "Jumped the Shark" when they prematurely paired Luke and Lorelai together, only to break them up again. What ensued was an out of character experience when Lorelai, a normally strong and opinionated female lead, bounced back in forth with seeming indifference between the men in her life.

Adding insult to injury was the time line in which long time fans were informed. When Friends went off the air, fans had a whole season worth of "prep time" to get ready for the end. This allowed fans to allot for the proper ratio of grieving/savoring time. But with Gilmore Girls, that common courtesy was not extended. Perhaps this was because they still held out hope that it might return for another season. The announcement came on May 3rd which meant that in a mere two weeks the final episode of Gilmore Girls was slated to air.

Not only does this leave a lot of questions left to answer, it leaves fans irate in the manner in which they will be answered. For long time fans two weeks meant two hours of questions to wrap up. Who will Lorelai ultimately choose, Luke, Christopher or herself? And what about Rory? Does she get the job of her dreams or spend some time having to find herself? Is she meant to be with Logan or is she meant to try it on her own for awhile? And what about the quirky characters that round out Stars Hollow so well like Sookie and Jackson, Lane and Zack or Paris, Emily and Richard? Notice that I left April off that list. That was intentional. I never much took to Luke's overnight father figure transformation.

On the other hand, ending the show now seems like the right thing to do. Just look at the long running corn fest, Seventh Heaven. That show ended only to be brought back after cancellation. What the hell was up with that?! No one, including the cast of Seventh Heaven themselves was down with that decision. Even in my wildest dreams that never happens with the shows I love that are unjustifiably canceled. Never.

But on Gilmore, Rory is graduating college. It is the end of an era for the character and thus logically it's a good ending point for the show, too. Carrying the show on another season would probably only further frustrate fans who feel that the characters had been floundering about too much this season.

Then there's the actors themselves. Prior to the show, lead actress Lauren Graham was bounced around from project to project, but like a square peg fit into a round hole, the chemistry never seemed to work. With Gilmore Girls, Graham seemed to finally find her niche. Naturally she probably wants to move on and strike while the iron is hot. Yet it remains to be seen if you can take the Gilmore girl out of Stars Hollow.

And what about the much younger starlet, Alexis Bledel? As the scholarly Rory, Bledel was perfectly cast and seemed to be able to even to hold her own with Graham's fast-paced wit and charm. I don't think the show would have worked nearly as well if either lead had been cast differently. However once again I wonder, can Bledel's sweetness as Rory transcend the small screen into something more substantial? Up until now her acting world outside of Stars Hollow has been rather limited. Yet she is still young and no doubt, eager to try. Some fans are blaming her solely for the ultimate and abrupt ending of the show though. Will there be a backlash of the "biting the hand that feeds you" variety? Only time will tell.

Once the dust settles the fact remains. Gilmore Girls is another quality show that consistently delivered fresh and original dialogue and quirky characters that worked. On a network like NBC or ABC they may not have survived, but on a network like WB (and even some respects, CW) they were a crowning jewel, receiving top notch priority where they otherwise might have gotten lost in the shuffle. I'm not happy with the way it's ending, but I am happy I got to be one the girls for one hour a week, if only, in the grand scheme of things, for a little while.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Call Up The Request Line"

Given that I've had such difficulties finding the time (and the means) to publish lately, now seems like the perfect opportunity to ask the following question. Don't flinch. You knew it was coming eventually.

What, in the future, would you like to see me write about?

Depending on the kind of responses I get (and the time I have) I may begin to write about what you want to read as early as this Sunday. Maybe instead I'll write a commentary on what you want to read. Or perhaps I'll write nothing at all. You'll just have to wait and see to find out.

If you are daring to ask the same question of your readers, 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, May 13, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Unsung Heroes"

Quick update on my computer woes. The bad news is I still can't access from my computer. This, in turn, means I also cannot log in to Blogger to update this blog since it uses gmail. The good (and weird) news is that I CAN access both Google and Blogger through the other computer in the house. This means I can update, just via that computer. I've tried everything I can think of to fix it, but I don't want to make it worse than it already is and lose everything, so I gave up. It's most likely a DNS issue because that's what it's been in the past. So, if you're familiar with those, any ideas are welcome. In the meantime, I have to use the Canadian Google for my searches. See? We make do with what we have.

This week's TITMT question asked you to describe your favorite underdogs of all time. Some of you really thought outside the box on this one and came up with some pretty clever responses. After all, Merriam Webster breaks up the definition of an underdog into the following categories:

1 : a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest
2 : a victim of injustice or persecution

The problem in this definition is simple and begs the question, is it once an underdog, always an underdog? Are you only no longer an underdog if you "win"? I particuarly liked this question because I always identified with the underdog. Not that I was meant to go on achieve any particular sort of greatness, but I would defintely define myself as the quiet pining type, rather than the obvious center of attention type of gal.

I feel differently. I think some of the best underdogs don't always necessarily make all the money, get all the cars or have all the luck. They, do however, surprise us in some way, shape or form, usually through their persistance.

As a result of your creativity, I decided to break my answers up into different categories. I would have loved to devote more time to each category, but since I'm lucky I was able to update at all, we have to take what we can get.

TV Show Underdog

Friday Night Lights- Right now, my favorite underdog story on television has to be the recent renewal of Friday Night Lights for a second season. Most of the time networks give up on shows that aren't making the grade sooner rather than later. It was really refreshing to see NBC nurture Friday Night Lights this year. Maybe networks are FINALLY going to start giving shows like these the time they need to grow, who knows. If you haven't started watching yet, what are you waiting for?

TV Character Underdogs

Ross Geller on Friends- David Schwimmer's interpretation of the lovable loser that was Ross Geller was impeccable. All through adolescence, Ross was geeky and awkward, yet in love with the beautiful best friend of his, Rachel Green. Some people have a "reach school", this was Ross's "reach girl". Years later, Ross and Rachel are reunited as adults. Ross is still a bit of a geek compared to Rachel, but the older, more mature Rachel can see that there is a lot more to Ross than she ever dreamed. In this scenario, the underdog gets the girl. Not all underdogs, unfortunately, are that lucky.

Seth Cohen on The OC- During the four years that The OC was on the air it can be broken up into two distinctive halves. The first two years were awesome, the next to years were spent trying to recapture the early awesomeness. The only constant that remained true on The OC was the comedic genius and unexpected valour in our reluctant leading man, Seth Cohen (played brilliantly, by the way, by Adam Brody). For years, Seth secretly pined for girl next door, Summer Roberts, all while locking himself up in the world of comic books. It took a little coaxing but this comic book geek eventually got both of his childhood fantasies to come true.

Brian Krakow on My So-Called Life- It's been said before and it will probably be said again, My So-Called Life is itself, an underdog that unfortunately, was defeated. The show itself was the underdog, but Brian was the main underdog within the underdog. His dedication to his love from afar for Angela Chase was one of the best things about MSCL. In the series finale, Angela started to look at Brian in a different light. Whatever will have become of this underdog love story, we'll never know.

Pacey Witter on Dawson's Creek- When Dawson's Creek premiered it was all about Dawson and Joey, Joey and Dawson. Theirs was a friendship you could not touch. Joey's pining for Dawson was in turn, the cornerstone of the show. But somewhere along the way, the writers of Dawson's Creek took a leap of faith, deciding to toy with the pairing of Joey and Pacey instead. In most cases, this would be where a show like this would "jump the shark" pairing anyone up, instead of key people up. What ensued was a surprise to everyone, a great love story and a lot of on (and off) screen chemistry. Proving to be no fluke, Pacey and Joey surprised us all by riding off into the sunset together.I'm sure the actor who played Pacey, Joshua Jackson, never expected to be the "lead" either. If that's not the underdog personified, I don't know what is.

Felicity Porter on Felicity- There were so many reasons girls identified with Felicity Porter. Felicity represented the shy girl who wanted to go off to college to start fresh and shed her invisible, high school image. Only problem is Felicity was torn. She wanted to start fresh, but she also was intent on getting the boy of her dreams to notice her. During Felicity's four years in college, we watched her blossom and change from a wallflower into say, a...confident rose. Can roses be confident? Only Felicity would know.

Movie Character Underdogs

Duckie from Pretty In Pink
- When I did a (Canadian) Google search for Underdogs many sports teams came up. None of them meant anything to me. But wasn't sports related links were links to one of my favorite underdogs of all time, Duckie Dale. In Pretty In Pink, Jon Cryer plays the lovable Duckie who worships his best friend, Andie Walsh, played by Molly Ringwald. In the end, Duckie does not get the girl, but he does get respect. He also does a kickass rendition of Try A Little Tenderness, by the way.

Lucas from Lucas- Once upon a time Corey Haim was an adorable, young actor with lots of promise. One of his most endearing roles to date was the lead character in a movie called Lucas. Here he plays the bookish freshman, more interested in studying insects than meeting girls. All of that changes when he meets new girl, Maggie. When Maggie and Lucas become fast friends the summer before school starts, he feels this will be his change to shed his nerdish image. Maggie, of course, has another agenda. Lucas, determined to win the love of Maggie, decides the way to impress her is to try out for the high school football team. He doesn't manage to capture the heart of Maggie in the way he wanted, but he does manage to capture the hearts of many instead. This also provides an excuse to pay homage to one of the best movie cliches ever, The Slow Clap.

Actor Underdogs

Patrick Dempsey- The success story of Patrick Dempsey is like a slow cooker on simmer. For years, Patrick Dempsey had success in slightly nerdy, oddly self-confident underdog type roles. In fact, he has the unique distinction in my book of being an underdog both on screen and off. His most classic role to date (in my opinion) was when he played Ronald "lawn boy" Miller in Can't Buy Me Love. Here Ronald goes for like, "totally geek, to totally chic" (and back again). Art sometimes imitates life though. Dempsey the actor fell off the radar after the teen geek roles started to dwindle. Enter Grey's Anatomy some twenty years later. Suddenly Dempsey himself has gone from totally geek to totally chic, playing the popular lead of McDreamy. If only the object of Ronald's affections, Cindy Mancini, could see him now.

Ben Affleck- After Good Will Hunting was released, all anyone could talk about was the young powerhouse team of hotties that wrote and starred in the movie. Although the focus was on the winning combo of Matt and Ben, the running joke for a long time was that Ben was just along for the ride. While Matt Damon has certainly had his share of success, Ben Affleck managed to not do so shabbily either. Now you can clearly say Matt and Ben or Ben and Matt and people know what you are referring to. Ben actually went on to be part of a few "winning" combinations over the years. I guess he works best when someone is by his side.

Tony Shalhoub- Years ago I loved to watch the show Wings. It featured a great ensemble cast of actors such as Tim "I never seem to age" Daly, Steven Weber and Crystal Bernard, amongst others. There was nothing not to love about Wings. If you don't believe me, just ask Quagmire from Wings. Most of the "others" were played by little known or unknown actors at the time. One of those quirky characters, Antonio the cab driver, was played by none other than Tony Shalhoub. While Tony shined as Antonio, he also blended in nicely amongst the rest of the class. No one would have pegged him to be the breakout star from the series but in the end, that's exactly what happened. Some years later, Shalhoub has had much success as a character actor in both movies and television. He also has starred in his own tv series as the beloved Adrian Monk for several years now.

Alison Janney- Sophisticated and irreverant, Alison Janney is a different kind of leading lady. In addition, she a great underdog because her success could never have been predicted, although it is deserved. In the early nineties, I used to watch Janney steal what small scenes she had as Ginger the maid on Guiding Light. A bit player on a soap opera, Janney worked her way up the ranks of character actress roles appearing in many movie and television programs before landing a coveted lead role on The West Wing. I never watched The West Wing while it was on, but her success was most defintely not a fluke.

Musical Underdogs

Clay Aiken- I know the mere mention of Aiken's name will send out a chain reaction of groans from the peanut gallery. Still, the fact remains. Back on his season of Ameican Idol, Aiken made the cut, only to not make it to the top ten. That year though there was a wild card round where you could vote back in one or two of the contestants (I can't recall specifics). Not only did Aiken make the cut, he went all the way to the final two, having an obsessive legion of fans or "Claymates" still with him today. If it had not been for a second chance, the world might have never known what Clay Aiken was all about. It all depends on where you are standing if that is a good thing or not.

Real Life Underdogs (AKA the people behind the movies inspired by a real life story)

Cinderella Man- In the thirties, Braddock was a down and out boxer who had a string of bad luck with no hope in sight. He surprised everyone, including himself, when he went on to defeat heavyweight champ Max Baer in an upset win back in 1934, thus earing the title of Cinderella Man. His story was depicted in the movie with the same title, starring Russell Crowe.

The Pursuit of Happyness- This movie was based on the real life struggles of Chris Gardner, a single father who was self taught and determined to make a better life, both for himself and his son. In the end, Gardner proves that hardwork and persistance are worth it, all in the pursuit of happiness.

Rudy- While it's a bit out of my league, many great underdog stories also involve sports figures, overcoming the odds. Enter Daniel E. 'Rudy' Ruettiger, a small guy with average skills, intent on playing Notre Dame football.

Rudy is a great true life story, sorta like Friday Night Lights meets Lucas. And this the full circle of the underdog, at least for the time being, is complete.
Friday, May 11, 2007

We Connect

Anyone who has been around AOGB awhile knows that the writer of AOGB (that's me)sometimes has random connectivity issues at home, God knows why. So again a few days ago, Google stopped working out of the blue. I tried unplugging and resetting my connection which usually works, but it's not budging this least not yet.

As of now, I am updating from work. Unfortunately, anyone who has google comments that doesn't allow anonymous and or/other comments is also giving me a problem. So sit tight. I have visited all of you, but in some cases commenting was impossible. Visiting alone took some creativity maneuvering on my part. This also means that Write Back Weekend will most likely be posted late since I won't be able get on my computer over the weekend:(

Also I wanted to bring everyone to the attention of the Bloggers Choice Awards. MCF was kind enough to nominate me for a few different categories. Apparently I'm up for:

Best Blog About Stuff
Best Blog Design
Best Humor Blog

and drum roll please...

Best Pop Culture Blog

I know I'm not going to win all of them. Heck, I know I'm not going to win ANY of them, but I wanted to publicly thank MCF for thinking of me, especially considering I've been sorta MIA lately (not by choice, unfortunately). I don't know how to direct link to voting, so if you know, let me know. In the meantime, a quick search for my blog under should bring up a drop down menu to vote from.

Voting only takes a second of your time. I know first hand considering I've already been recruited for others a few times. If I'm reading the rules correctly you can vote all the way up to October 19th of 2007. After that there is apparently an awards ceremony in Las Vegas on November 10th, 2007. What you win, if anything, remains am mystery to me. Still, that leaves plenty of time to click and vote for me, and/or others. In fact, I plan to set some time aside to nominate a few, too!

That's all for now. I hope to "see" all of you soon once again!
Wednesday, May 09, 2007

RSV Pissed

There's no one who knows better than me just how behind you can get in things.

Back in February I lost my teacher's assistant, then I got engaged, then I got sick, among a few other random things. Let's just say I'm still playing catch up.

But even with all I've got going on these days, I haven't lost sight of proper etiquette. If you call me, I call you back. If you email me, I will send you a message. And if you invite me to something. I definitely will RSVP.

RSVP's are the kind of thing I never gave much thought to. You get an invitation, you check your calendar, you decide if you can or cannot go to something by the date given on the card (or email). More often than not I've been on the receiving end and done my job promptly. It's simple really.

But now the tables have turned and I'm the one asking people to RSVP. This is how I'm frustratingly discovering that not everyone feels the same about responding as I do. As if this wasn't bad enough, I currently have two RSVP situations in the mix.

The first one is a smallish engagement party my parents are having at my house this month. We didn't want to invite too many people because then it would feel like another wedding. We decided to do something at the house and have the food catered by the same place where I am having the reception. This way you kill two guests with one eggplant parmigiana, so to speak. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Anyway, after pulling teeth to comprise an address list, off the invites went. And we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Initially we had enough "no's" from our "A" list that we were able to go to our "B" list. Now that doesn't necessarily mean the "B" list people were less important, it just meant that inviting all of the B-listers
meant opening up a whole can of worms, invite wise. You know, the whole you can't invite "Aunt Sally's kids" without inviting "Aunt Rhoda's kids" type of stuff. For the record, neither one of us have an Aunt Sally or Aunt Rhoda, but I'd like to thank Sally and Rhoda for playing along today.

Because the B-listers got their invites a few days after the A-listers, we made their RSVP date a bit later, too. Now you know it's bad when B-listers begin to respond before the A-listers. It makes you wish you could rearrange the whole family tree in order to make B-listers, A-listers, but I digress. As of this writing, however, the dates have passed for both lists so it's now safe to say that those who didn't respond, aren't going to.

The second RSVP situation I'm currently in is at school where I'm throwing a baby shower for a friend of mine. It can't be a surprise for a few different reasons so at least I have that on my side. Still, I wanted to be able to get the word out there without her having to hear about every last detail. But considering I've never thrown a baby shower before, ever this turned out to be a huge undertaking for a first timer like me. Normally at our school such types of events are thrown on a grade level basis. Unfortunately, my friend works with all the grade levels except kindergarten. So it just became easier to get the word out to everyone, in theory.

Since we work for a huge school, I came up with a plan of action. I chose one teacher from each grade level to get the word out. I figured from there, that point person could get the word back to me. Then I could get a head count and decide just what type of shower to throw her and how much supplies we would need. Only problem was the people I chose didn't consistently work on doing the asking. I don't really know where the breakdown in communication occurred. Maybe it was the point person's fault, maybe it was the grade level's fault. Either way, it just wasn't working.

There were a few reasons the lack of communication was ironic. For one thing, as anyone who works anywhere for awhile knows, gossip spreads like wildfire. Now here I have something I want to get around, and no one is talking about it! Talk about ass backwards. The other thing that always gets me is the population you are dealing with. We are teachers. We are in the business of teaching manners, promptness and responsibility. Yet it never fails. Every time we are at a faculty meeting, teachers talk while the speaker is talking, something we reprimand children for every day. Teachers are the same way with deadlines. Children don't hand an assignment in on time and they get punished. Meanwhile many teachers are missing deadlines left and right. Pot, kettle, black.

But perhaps the worst part is this. Here are two different situations, with two different groups of people and yet there are the SAME results. When something like that happens twice, can you really call it a fluke? Apparently a degree of rudeness will permeate in a random sect of the population. To be honest, I have a hard time seeing people the same way though after seeing them in a negative light. People I otherwise attended events for and responded to in a timely manner suddenly get added to my **it list. I can't help it. Once common decency is lacking it makes me wonder about what else I don't know about. I'm sure that sounds harsh, but it's how I roll.

You know what proof that rudeness is here to stay? This is where "Save The Date" items for weddings came from. People were sick of the excuses, so instead they tell you six to eight months in advance, this way you can't possibly say you have something going on. They sent you the magnet, so essentially they got you, period. End of story. Personally I don't like them because I think they are too presumptuous. You are essentially saying that you want the invitee to make you a priority.

This also in turn ultimately effects my reaction to future events. Oh you want me to come to your son's first birthday party? I'm sorry, but I think I'm going to be washing my hair that day or out of the country. Lame ass excuses by the way are just as bad as the ones who don't respond at all. Sometimes you say more when you say nothing at all.

Needless to say both parties will get done somehow, someway. But if this is a foreshadowing of wedding woes to come, people better watch out cause I'll be coming for ya. Like Alec Baldwin I'll call you up and "straighten your ass out". So have a heart, people. RSVP or you have to deal with pissed off people, like me.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Nice Guys Finish Last"

They can be found in every state, school, office or university.

They're the Underdogs.

Unfortunately, even the best of underdogs often get lost in the shuffle, at least at first. This is where you come in...

I want to know who would make your best underdogs list of all time.

Naturally you can tell stories of underdogs we don't all know, but you run the risk of them being not be as meaningful to anyone else...but you. Unless of course you have some kick ass story to compliment it. Then, by all means, go for it.

I will probably go with the famous underdogs, but that's just cause that's how I roll.

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, May 06, 2007

Write Back Weekend "A Whole New World"

My multi-part TITMT question last week was meant to make you think. It was also meant to get you talking about what you liked about blogging, and what you didn't. As a blogger, I'm from the school of thought that you can learn a lot from other bloggers. I don't blog to compete or to make money (though that would be nice). I blog because I love to write and babble about nonsensical things. It's still amazing to me that there are a handful of people out there that choose to read AOGB of their own free will.

But enough with the introductions. Let's get down to business...

1. How do you attract new people to your blog?

I am a firm believer in the do unto others as you wish they would do unto you. Initially when I started blogging, I networked a lot. I clicked and commented, clicked and commented. I made sure I looked for bloggers who seem like they'd be like-minded, too. and ones that I'd enjoy reading in the long term. Making blog friends, in theory, is a lot easier than making real friends. I rarely walk up to a stranger and make a comment to them, even if I'm thinking say, their shirt is buttoned wrong. In blog land though, all bets are off. Still common courtesy should translate, in my opinion.

2. What do you look for in the blogs you read?

In a nutshell, fancy graphics are nice, but good writing is where it's at. Over the years, I have had a huge variety of blogs on my blog roll. The ones I most relate to though aren't afraid to tackle any topic. They aren't too silly, but they aren't too serious either. They might even write about something as simple as daily observations about life. I don't like too many memes because if you only have memes on your blog, I think your blog becomes in danger of being devoid of any real content. Of course the exception to that rule would be the blogs that call themselves memes blogs because well, duh. Basically, I like the idea of clicking on a good writer's blog and not knowing what I'm going to get, but knowing it's going to be good.

3. What excites you? (In blog land, that is:)
I get excited when I think up a really random idea for a post, out of the blue and it clicks with the reader, too. Sometimes I don't have the urge to write because nothing has inspired me to write about. Most of the time though the world just spinning creates enough drama for me to come up with something. In turn, I also like when I get excited about another blogger's post. I love when other people write about random things, like me. I guess you could say I specialize in the quirky, but realistic.

4. What turns you off?

I don't like it when bloggers fall off the face of the Earth without an explanation. Everyone disappears from time to time, and if you post a note that you're busy, that's cool. But there are so many bloggers out there that stop blogging, cold turkey, for months at a time. I don't get it. It's just not in my nature not to explain my actions, even if only five people cared about them.

I also don't like bloggers that only think of themselves. They never answer questions asked or reciprocate by visiting my blog. I almost feel the same about people whose comments don't show that they care at all. It's hard, I know, to keep up with all comments, but if you've been blogging for awhile you get a feel for who are the well intentioned bloggers and who are just in it for themselves.

Finally I don't like bloggers who are disillusioned or exhibit poor sportsmanship. There are significant amount of blogs I've come across where they write about their day to day existences in a mundane way, but wonder why people don't visit and are weary of any constructive criticism. There are other bloggers that post about how they feel sorry for themselves because they didn't win this award or that award which in the grand scheme of things, means nothing anyhow. Finally, there are the mean-spirited bloggers who seem to cause drama where ever they go. These groups of bloggers I could do without because it gives the rest of blogging a bad name.

5. How do you discover new blogs?

Sometimes I outright ask for your suggestions which I'm probably going to be doing again for TITMT so watch out! But like most of you, I tend to discover most new blogs by visiting blogs that I already know of. I honestly think this is the best way to discover new blogs. From there, I might see a comment above mine that I liked or browse through their blog roll, if I have the time that is. t's like going to Amazon and previewing an album. Up comes the message, "If you like" _________, you might also like _______." Birds of a feather flock together. The same can be said of the blogging world, too.

I find it most gratifying when a new blogger finds me and tells me how much they love AOGB. It's so cool to me to think of the "six degrees" type scenario that exists out there, even in the blog world.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Everybody Dance Now

A weekly ritual of mine has become watching the surprise hit show, Dancing With The Stars. I started watching since the beginning and I have to tell you something, assuming you didn't know it already-- it's downright addictive.

Basically, Dancing With The Stars has done for dancing what American Idol has done for singing. The funniest part is that neither show is doing anything new, they're just bringing sexy dancing (and singing) back.

See, when my parents were my age, music was actually sung and dances were like children, they had names and everyone of them had their place. The Charleston. The Cha Cha. The Waltz. These are all classic dances that people learned and they went to actual dances, not dance clubs, to meet and dance with other people who had the same moves. Somehow even the rhymthically challenged managed to overcome their two left feet and dance again, despite having guilty feet and no rhythm.

But nowadays all bets are off and I believe it started with my generation. In the seventies they still had dances like The Hustle and YMCA. They were lame and sad dances, absoultely, but they were organized dances nonetheless. I guess if you think about it from a decade by decade perspective, you can clearly outline the de-evolution, so to speak, of organized dances. All elements of good taste and grace were taken out of dances by the time the seventies wore around.

The eighties only further evidenced dance deterioration. Dance clubs were overrun by one too many horny men doing the white man's overbite. As if that wasn't bad enough, they began writing songs about dances that didn't even exist! For instance, have you ever seen someone break out into The African Ant Eater Ritual or Dirty Dancing? What about busting out The Safety Dance or watching Everybody Wang Chung tonight? I didn't think so.

I can still remember my school's feeble attempt at teaching the lost art of the organized dance to us misguided elementary students. In gym class, we learned how to square dance. In Central Jersey, the art of learning how to square dance was about as useful as cow tipping or tractor racing. After all, New Jersey ain't exactly Footloose territory. I can still remember my assigned dance partner, a bad ass boy named James Jones. He was this tall, African American kid who was as thrilled about the dance, and dancing with me, as I was about dancing with him.

My grandmother tried to instill the importance of formal dancing in my friends and I by teaching us all how to do the Chicken Dance in my basement. From there, she became briefly enchanted with The Mac arena. Still, none of these dances held the same type of magic to her as the old time dances did. My mom also threw her hat in the ring by teaching my Girl Scout troop The Stroll once upon a time.

Since my generation had historically had such pathetic offerings, I always rebelled against organized dances as a result. I had no interest in the Cha Cha slide, the Conga line or anything in between. Not only does it show no apparent talent or originality, it's also incredibly redundant. It reminds me of mice running around in a wheel for some reason.

Think about it. How many events have you been to in your lifetime where one, or all, of these dances has taken center stage? Far too many to count, I'm sure. And if you'll take note, they always feature these sorts of dances during the second half of the evening. This is because most people are drunk enough to abandon good taste. Displays of such dances are really just beer goggles for your feet.

This is precisely why I have no interest in adding any type of cheesy, organized dance to my wedding reception, either. If they want to Peabody and Polka it up, by all means. Dancing With The Stars has reminded me just how classy it is to master an old school dance, something that will most likely die when my older relatives do. If I try to do any such dance I feel like a little kid, playing dress up.

Rest assured, if I see so much as a sway in the general direction of a line dance I'm going to strike something, and believe you me, it won't be a pose.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "The Regular Crowd Shuffles In"

Thanks to all seven of you, I have a few more questions to think about for future Tell It To Me Tuesdays. If you missed that question last week and have a good idea or two, make sure you leave it in the comments here!

Today's TITMT is, in part, inspired by Pia over @ Courting Destiny although I did have a twist on this question listed in my queue. So what did I decide to do? I combined the two and BAM! I got my TITMT questions for today! Fasten your seat belts cause it's a question with a few parts!

1. How do you attract new people to your blog?
2. What do you look for in the blogs you read?
3. What excites you? (In blog land, that is:)
4. What turns you off?
5. How do you discover new blogs?

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!



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