Monday, April 30, 2007

Johnny Yen Asks Flannery Alden The Hard Hitting Questions

One of the smartest bloggers I know offered to interview any Tom, Dick, or Debbie in his recent post Five Questions. I quickly volunteered; I knew he would ask really thought provoking questions and I really enjoyed reading his answers to his questions.

So, here are my responses to his pointed questions, as a service to those of you with inquiring minds about me. If anyone would like to be interviewed by yours truly, please let me know in the comments section or email me.


  1. Your fascination with American Idol is apparent. If you were performing on the show, what 3 songs would you sing?

    I'm glad you asked me that, Johnny. The first one would be The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers because it is a song that means a great deal to me. I've played some form of poker since before I could read. My Grandma and Grandpa taught me the game and I've played it all my life. When I was a kid, The Gambler was one of my Grandpa's favorite songs and he'd sing it to me every now and them. I would choose to sing it on a theme week when we were dedicating songs to people who were important to us and I would dedicate it to his memory. It seems that this year's contestants struggle to connect emotionally to the lyrics of the songs they choose. I think this song's connection to my heart would help me deliver its sentiment and land in the top three.

    My second song, for country week, would be I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow, from Oh, Brother Where Art Thou. I know it would be weird, since I'm obviously a woman, but I think that would be part of its charm. It would also stand out among all the Faith Hill, Toby Keith, and Keith Urban boringness. And, again, I have a strong connection to this song. It really moves me and, let's face it, it rocks. I would imaging getting a "Yo, dawg, that's the X factor right there!" from Randy Jackson.

    And lastly, for "Rock" themed week I would sing Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N Roses. It would give me an opportunity to jump around the stage and rock the mic stand, Bice-style. Also, I could really show off my pipes and the band would have an opportunity to show off their stuff as well. I think I could blow the roof of the Kodak Theater.

  2. I loved the post about when your daughter Riley suggested needing a limo to get to school. That was right out of my son’s playbook—when he was little, he proposed a subway line directly to his grandmother’s house. What were some of the other great ideas/thoughts/notions your kids have had?

    Thanks! Everytime we get into the car, Lucy yells, "I want some Rock and Roll, Mommy!" so, I try to find something. I'll usually start with a Top 40 station and she'll say, "Not that! Rock and Roll!" When I do find something she likes, she insists I turn it up and then proceeds to play air guitar in her car seat. Meanwhile, Riley complains about how loud it is.

    Riley is always trying to invent recipes. Her favorite these days is a spread mixed of peanut butter, jelly and cinnamon sugar, microwaved to a runny mess. She likes to spread it on toast. It's actually not bad.

  3. When you emailed me to volunteer for an interview, it was the first time it had occurred to me that you’re writing your blog under a pen name, like I do. My pen name is from an Iggy Pop song. Where’s yours from? I assume that the “Flannery” is from Flannery O’Connor.

    Well, the Flannery is not from Flannery O'Connor, actually. I hadn't heard of her until about a month ago when I was browsing the literature section in Borders. I chose it through a baby namer website. I used to have a different pen name that didn't really fit me anymore and I tried to find a more suitable moniker. I'm not sure how I found it, but when it came up and I read the meaning: red courage; it just felt right so I grabbed it.

    The name Alden would have been my second child's middle name had she been a boy. I really liked it for two reasons. First of all, it is based on a family name. My paternal great grandfather, a vaudevillian and upholsterer, was named Lee Aldendurfer. Of course, back in the early 20th century, such a Teutonic title as that raised eyebrows. So, after he and my great grandmother divorced, she changed all of her children's last name to Allen, but not officially. Technically, my Grandpa (not the gambler) should have gone by Aldendurfer and passed it down to me. Instead I was stuck with Allen. Thanks, Nana.

    Secondly, the name Alden, by itself, means old friend. So, if you put Flannery Alden together, meaningwise, you have red courage old friend. It seemed a fit for what I wanted to do with this blog. I wanted to be a friend and have the red courage to say what I must.

    By the way, I do intend on reading some Flannery O'Connor in the very near future.

  4. In March, you railed angrily at Sanjaya for performing a John Mayer song. Yet, you admitted weeping when Sanjaya was booted a few days ago. What brought on the change of heart?

    Ah, looking for continuity, are you? And so you should. My opinon of Sanjaya completely transformed in the time period between when he sang that hideous John Mayer song and when he sang "You really Got Me Now" a couple of weeks later. I was relieved he wasn't voted off after singing Waiting for the World to Change; the world was spared every hearing that piece of shit unawares again. I hate the attitude in that song of sitting back and throwing your hands in the air because the powers that be don't check in with you on a regular basis. I want to yell: Honey, the powers that be will never check in with you for your opinions so you'd better get off your ass an make something happen. That song is such bullshit and I was more angry about him choosing that song because of the influence it could have over the millions of young people listening.

    By the time he sang YRGMN, which was absolutely a horrible rendition, I found my heart warming up to him. He sang that song with a certain punk panache. He just didn't give a fuck that people thought he sucked. He went out there and rocked that song. He didn't crumple like previous contestents in his position did. After that, I was in his corner. Besides, he really is a sweet kid. When he left, I was moved to tears in the same way the O.J. verdict moved me to tears: It was an overwhelmingly emotional situation for a great many people. It was not so much the outcome, but rather the impact it had on the world...well...the US.

  5. From your posts, I’ve gathered that you are some kind of education professional. Recently, I shared a couple of educator and administrator horror stories. Do you have any to share?

    You are correct, Johnny, I am in education and I do have my horror stories, but I don't like to share them here. This place is called Prone to Whimsy for a reason: I try not to get to wrapped up in things that aren't fanciful. I don't really want to complain about work here, unless it's in an oblique manner. So, I guess I don't really have any to share. But, since you're a fan of my haiku, I'll post some work related poetry:

    Haiku for a Bad Day
    Fuck it
    I can't be bothered
    to count syllables

    Standing My Ground
    I am a stone wall
    Silence my only weapon
    You can't climb over

    My Haikus are so Aggressive
    Let's meet at the line
    Of scrimmage, mate, face to face
    A battle pending.

    In the Spirit of Brautigan
    I've been a good sport and swallowed a lot of tension
    for the sake of harmony and professionalism.
    Continue to yank my chain at your peril and
    Consider yourself warned.

    And me without my slicker...
    It sucks being caught in the middle
    of a pissing contest
    with no umbrella.

    Ode on a Requisition Form
    after Keats
    Thou blank, crisp face with blanks to inscribe,
    Thou three part NCR form; pink, yellow, white.
    I tremble with anticipation and sweat with fear.
    Will I complete you correctly?
    Will you flow through
    The twists and turns of approvals and eyes?
    Will you become the purchase order I desire?

    Your fields, unscrutable, I check my codes.
    The codes, byzantine and nearly uncrackable.
    Is software an office supply?
    Or does it have its own code?
    These answers I cannot divine, only uncover
    With the help of the toughest teacher: experience
    As you sail back and forth from clerk to clerk.

    Still, a part of you stays with me, the pink part.
    You rest in my file, chronologically side by side
    With your brothers in sequential order. I protect you.
    I bring out the pale copy of the original that you leave behind
    To defend my word and work against those who stand against me
    Tyrants in a teacup, holding their rules close to the vest.

    Woe to the tyrant who questions your authenticity!
    For I have copies of quotes and prices!
    I've followed those rules I was able to uncover and
    I have written them down to pass on to those who come after me.
    Oh, yes, tyrant, your empire shall crumble!
    Your gates will fall. And work shall be done in half the time!

    But this requisition shall sustain me. I will sing your number,
    Again and again until your metamophosis is complete
    Until your items and services are delivered
    Until your invoices are paid.
    Thou shalt remain in the midst of other records
    Boxed, archived, tallied, charted, reported and closed,
    And I shall inform my replacement:"Documentation is truth, truth documentation"--that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need know.

Friday, April 27, 2007

I'm In!

Ladies and gentleman: You have just dropped in on one of the newest members of the Women of the Moose. Yes, I have joined a lodge. My Grandma has been a member of the Moose since 1975 and she told us that the lodge now held twice a month Texas Hold 'em tournaments.
Enticed by the idea of regular poker tournaments, almost all the members of my poker posse (my mom, my dad, Doc, Elizabeth) decided to join up and clean up. So Mom, Grandma, Elizabeth and I walked over to the lodge after a charity fish fry at one of the lodge's banquet halls and signed up. This was late in March, I think. But we weren't scheduled to be initiated as members until last night.
When we walked into the lodge itself that night last month, I was taken straight back to 1978. I used to go to the Moose on rare occasions with my grandparents for some special banquet or Christmas party back in the day. I'll tell you what, the lodge itself has not changed one bit. It was still paneled, it still had a sunken bar, it was still smokey, it was full of pretty much the same people, though quite a bit older.
As we sat to fill in our applications, the elderly D.J., Freddy the Frog, played the Hokey Pokey, the Chicken Dance, Barney's theme song, and I Got Stoned and I Missed It in that order. I turned to Elizabeth and said, "I'm home."
My dad and Doc got in right away and with very little ceremony. They sat in the grand poobah's office and listened to him read the rules and ask them not to sue the lodge. So, they've been enjoying cheap beer and the option to play poker every night for about a month now. I figured it would be about the same for we Women of the Moose to be.
Last night, we arrived at the lodge and were taken off to a back room where we received a packet containing our membership cards (I experienced a frisson of delight when I saw a Moose membership card and access card). The packet also included information about the student the Canton lodge "adopted" from Mooseheart, the community school that was built by the Moose for orphaned children. It's near Chicago, so some of you have probably heard of it. Vespa, the Recorder who was walking us through the information encouraged us to send a gradation card and a small amount of money as a gift. "He always writes back," she said. We also have an adopted senior from Moosehaven, the Moose retirement community, named Mitzi. Her birthday is in May and we were encouraged to send her a birthday card.
After our orientation, we were led out to the main room for the "ritual." Yes, we had a full blown, church-like session in order to be inducted into the Women of the Moose. It was amazing! I'd only seen something like this in the movies. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance together; I haven't done that in years and it felt really good. We then sang the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner. I don't think I've ever sung that song outside of a sporting event, let alone with a room full of mostly elderly women. Delightful!
There was a lot of sitting down and standing up and sitting down again. The ladies explained the three values of the Women of the Moose: Faith, Hope, and Charity. We were sworn in. We even made a tithe. At one point during the ceremony, we turned toward Mooseheart and offered our silent prayers to the children there while the Musician tolled the chime 9 times. 9:00 p.m. is bedtime for the kids at Mooseheart and they all say their prayers at that time. So, we prayed with them at a symbolic 9:00 p.m. (it was actually about 7:30 p.m.).
It was so moving, so sweet, so anachronistic. I am pleased to be a part of this sincere organization. We newbies were assigned to committees; the assignments were written on the outside of our packets. I was pleased to note that I am on the Moosehaven committee (I am totally retiring there). Underneath it was written "February 2008." Interesting, I thought. I wondered what the date meant. After the ceremony, Vespa informed us that that was the month our committee had "pie duty." I looked at Elizabeth and raised an eyebrow.
"That is the month the people on your committee are responsible for serving pie and collecting the money for it at the Friday night dinners," Vespa explained, "We ask that the Women of the Moose donate pies. We ask that you get them here by 4:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon."
"Oh, OK," we said.
"Some people bake pies, others buy them," she said.
In my mind, I decided that Thursday nights at my house will henceforth be known as "Pie Night;" it is my ambition to start baking pies. Any suggestions or recipes for the first pie?
The ladies provided a beautiful and delicious cake for us all to enjoy. There was also a certain kind of punch that I've only ever drunk in the company of other women at showers and the like. It is some kind of fruit drink combined with 7-Up and Sherbet. It's a truly strange and overly sweet concoction, but I drank it anyway. It was something I would have turned my nose up at in my youth, but last night, I savored it. Vespa presented us all with a gift bag that contained a mini Coleman lantern, a canister of chocolates, and a scented candle. Mine was Passion Punch scented, which sounded a bit menacing. Once I smelled it though, I realized the punch of passion punch was the drink not the action.
I fell in love with the Women of the Moose last night. They are sweet, thoughtful, and charitable. They are also very elderly, for the most part. Vespa's husband, who has set up the room for the WOM meetings for probably 30 years announced last night that he would no longer be doing it on account of his bad back. So we all pitched in with minimal grumbling to put the room back to the way it was.
I know it's old fashioned to join a lodge these days, but I encourage all of you to consider the idea. For the most part, the membership is aging if not elderly and dying off. They need the energy of the young as well as their strong backs. Most of them are tired of running the place. They are desperate for members, so it's relatively easy to get in. They serve cheap beer and they do good deeds. What better way to serve your community? Also, if you're a Moose, you can enter any Moose Lodge across the US, Canada, the UK and France. You would have a place to go in most cities and you would already have a built in bunch of friends.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My New Catchphrase

I was inspired by deadspot on the web to adopt a juicy morsel of a catchphrase:
"Make it snappy, Sunshine!"
Today I used it for the first time and to great effect. Judging by the reaction I got, I believe it will take off here in my workplace.

Thanks, deadspot; you rock.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

P2W Purity Watch: Imus + Girls Gone Wild

It seems to me lately that this country is taking a decided swing toward decorum and let me be the first to say I am happy as a lark. People are finally standing up against the insidious racism and misogyny that permeates pop culture. The chickens are coming home to roost for some people and it has been a long time coming.

For instance, there is Don Imus, the original "shock jock". I must confess I've never listened to his show for more than 4.5 seconds; his voice grates on my nerves and his content is painful to absorb. However, I have heard enough of what he says (mostly via the Howard Stern terrestrial radio show) to know that he is self-serving and nasty. Here is a man who bullied many in the press and in Washington to believe that they lacked credibility if they wouldn't face him as a target in his studio. This man said hateful things and accused people who spoke out against him as lacking a sense of humor.

Well, count me in the group that lacks a sense of humor. Frankly, I'm tired of the barrage of negative language toward African-Americans and women. I've witnessed racism and sexism and tried to let it pass through me. But I can't help absorbing some of it as if I were a filter feeder; hateful flecks of negativity have really built up in me against my will. I'm not going to put up with it anymore.

At first I was alarmed that Imus lost his job over something he said. I believed that it was much ado about nothing. I worried about our First Amendment Rights. I also thought the coach of the Rutgers team should have encouraged the girls to let it go and move on. Why direct any energy toward anything that man says? I discovered, after reading Newsweek, that that indeed was the coach's original advice, but the girls couldn't move past it. They kept wondering, "Why us?" Why them indeed. It was a random act of sexism and racism in the name of a quip. There was no reason to single out this team for punishment. But, when there are no consequences, there are no reasons not to pick off everyone who passess through the sights of your sniper rifle of humor, right?

And then there's the Girls Gone Wild guy, Joe Francis. I'll have you know that I felt a sense of glee when I heard he was in trouble. As a mother of two girls, I shudder at what effect this man's product would have on my daughters. There seemed to be no one crying out against him for a long time. I remember the first time I saw an ad for one of his videos. I felt my insides crumple as I saw girls who were either coaxed or who happily obliged to show their bodies off for a guy with a camera. But what can you do? These women were of age...or they seemed to be.
Now according to Yahoo!, Joe Francis has been sued for some 70 million dollars by girls who were filmed by him when they were underage. He claims they lied about their ages and threw a hissy fit when they were trying to settle matters, flinging obscenities at them. He was held in contempt and sentenced to 35 days in jail. According to the story:

"His attorney, Jan Handzlik, said being in jail had changed his client.

'He is a different man. Undoubtedly he is a different man,' he said."

Let's hope both these men are are different men as a result of the recent turn of events in their lives. Maybe, as is already underway in the Imus camp, these men will speak out against racism and mysogyny, under the "Only Nixon could go to China," school of thought. I think Imus will have a better chance of success. So far, he is the only one of the two not to act up after the tide turned against him. Also, he has influence over a large number of people who participate in backstage racism, or that kind of racism that can flourish when white people are hanging out with white people. I have hopes that Imus could be a voice for change, now that his nuts are in a ringer and he can take this opportunity to atone for his years of being nasty. The other guy? Not so much.

Only time will tell and I will keep my eyes on the matter; after all, this new wave of raving/misbehaving/apology/rehab/repentence was started by Mel Gibson and his anti-semetic rant. I told you it was all his fault.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ready For K.P. Sarge!

Riley's Got The Idea

Last Thursday afternoon, the girls and I were outside in the front yard. I saw a school bus coming around the corner and pointed it out to Riley.

"Hey, look, Riley, a school bus," I pointed, "You'll be riding one of those this fall!"

"Wow, that's beautiful!" she said.

"Yeah, I guess so," I replied.

Riley skipped around a little bit and stopped. "I'm kind of worried about it though."

"Worried about what?"

"I'm worried that the kids on the school bus will make fun of me," she replied.

"What could you possibly have to be made fun of?" I asked. "You're beautiful, smart, funny, nice, caring, brave..."

"I guess," she said, considering.

She moved to sit down next to me on the short wall that surrounds our flowerbeds a the front of our house and looked off in the distance, thoughtful.

Then she said, "Maybe it would be better if I just took a limo to school instead."

"Well, everything is better in a limo..."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Blood Of Atonement: An Anthology Of Mormon Metal!

1. The Lonliness of the Long Distance Prophecy

2. White Sabbath

3. Diary of a Bigamist

4. Yeah, More Mr. Nice Guy!

5. Judas Priest

6. I Want To Pray

7. Talk Tidy To Me

8. Quit Smoking in the Boys Room

9. Girls, Girls, Girls

10. 21:12

11. I said stop calling me DAVE!

--Executive producers: Doc & Flannery, thanks to Frank for the idea.

The Doppler Effect: Inspirations From Echo

My good pal, Echo, wrote a delightfully entertaining post: Wherein I Step Into It With A Bunch Of Fundamentalists. In the comments he announced he was dropping an album of Mormon Hip Hop called "Damn, It Feels Good To Be A Mormon." Being in a collaborative mood, I brainstormed a list of song titles. Echo insisted that they were too dope to be mere comments. He advised me not to hide my light under a bushel and create post.

So, here they are, dawg...

1. Gosh darn it! Don't call me Dave!

2. SanctimonyBack, featuring Timbaland

3. Sacrilicious, with Homer & Fergie

4. I Wanna Marry You, and You, and You

5. This Is Why I'm Holier Than Thou

6. Don't Rock Yo Hips

7. I Like 'em Young (Brigham Young)

8. Prayin'

9. Party Like an MTC Singer

10. Unglamourous

11. Amazing Grace, yo

"With The Rich And Mighty, Always A Little Patience"

The above is a quote of a quote from the movie The Philadelphia Story and it's stuck with me over the years since I first heard it. I've tried to keep it in mind because, as an egalitarian kind of gal and an only child, I have a little bit of trouble "accepting my place" in this world when it is not either as a peer to all or the center of the universe. This quote helps me deal with being subordinated.

Now, though, I have generated a new quote for handling the rich and mighty. I will share it with you here. I hope it helps you cope with the overblown, overprivelidged, overpowerful assholes in your world, like it has in mine.

When the rich and mighty turn their backs on you, kiss their asses and they will turn back around.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sanjaya Is Love

I was moved to tears at Sanjaya's ousting tonight. I'm not sad he's leaving; I kind of figured as much. When Chris started talking about Virgina, I knew that would draw attention and votes away from him.

No, I was moved by that kid's spirit. He was this season's zonk and he took it in stride. He embraced the phenomenon, even though it was at his expense. He pulled through it with a laugh, a smile, and some serious eye moves that would make Constantine proud. Well played.

Good-bye, Sanjaya. I hope you and Celine Dion can someday co-host a talk show.

Besame Mucho.

Timberlake and Timbaland...

Do you think they met in homeroom?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Therapist's Tactics Work!

Mainly, my therapist, Karen, is helping me to reduce the stress in my life, so that I don't spend a majority of my time acting like a cornered lynx. If you know me at all, you know that I'm under a great deal of pressure. All that pressure causes your girl Flannery to flip out, lash out, weep, fret, pace, pick scabs, eat poorly, snap at people and make bad decisions. I've been to therapists before and they've usually been of the type to help me try to figure out what's wrong, which was useless to me. I know what my problems are; I just didn't know how to work through or around them. Usually, when faced with an obstacle I invent a rash and risky strategy and leap before I look. Sometimes that works, but usually, it just compounds my problems.

So I was skeptical when I sat down in Karen's office for the first time. I was preparing to waste time exploring why I was depressed, not how to move on. She started out by determining that I was under a lot of pressure and that we ought to start off by finding ways to reduce some of the stress in order to alleviate some of that pressure. In fact I was so surrounded by pressure, I really was having trouble determining what she meant. She kept saying, "Let's try to reduce your stress." I'd be like, OK, but I don't see how you're going to do that. My stresses seemed huge and out of my control: my work sucked, my commute sucked, my money issues sucked.

The things she told me to do at the first session seemed minor and I doubted that they would do me any good. But in the spirit of progress, I did try a few things and they seemed to work. They worked so well, in fact, that for the second session, I brought paper and pencil and took notes. I've been game to try just about any of her suggestions, but there was one piece of advice I was very reluctant to enact. Karen suggested I read a romance novel and told me it would be a nice way to keep my mind on romance and not lose sight of all that could be torrid/turgid in my life. I have to say, I am baring my soul here, so please be gentle when mocking me in the comments section. She backed up her advice by quoting studies that said women who read romance novels were happier in general.

I smiled and nodded and mentally tossed this idea right in my mental trash bin. I've read romance novels before. I used to work the midnight shift in a print room and I'd get so bored around 3:30 a.m. that I'd root through the drawers looking for anything to read, a pack of gum, instructions for assembling said desk, anything. Fortunately the day shift girl kept a stock of Harlequin romances in the drawer. In my experience, here is the plotline for ALL romance novels.
  • Priveledged woman is succeeding in life
  • Priveledged woman meets maverick cowboy/artist/Scotsman
  • They hate each other at first and/or they fall madly in love
  • They break each other's hearts out of stupidity or miscommunication
  • They both go back to safer lovers or decide to date that guy/girl his/her mother always favored and nagged about
  • A tragedy strikes
  • They realize they can't live without each other
  • They set sail/ride/fly off into the sunset
Sometimes you could encounter a priveledged man and a maverick woman, but the plotlines rarely varied from this formula. Frankly, I'd rather read the instructions for putting a desk together.

A week or so after she gave me this new suggestion, I found myself at the library with the girls. They were playing in the children's section and I told them I was going to dash over to the audio books to find some books for my commute. This is another of Karen's suggestions: to make sure I always have some book or music to escape to while driving. She also recommended that I make sure my car is my haven. Since I've followed those instructions, my commute has become a dream; it is my time to reflect, to drive, to learn, to be entertained. I now look forward to driving to work.

Anyway, I had to pick quickly since I hate to have the girls out of my sight in a public place. But this library is small and I could hear them over by the audio books, so I wasn't too worried about them. But I did try to choose quickly. I found a Hamish Macbeth mystery, The Death of a Maid, an Agatha Christie mystery, And then there were none, some old Sherlock Holmes radio shows, and, on impulse, Impossible, by Danielle Steele.

It took me a while to get around to listening to Impossible, but eventually I did. I won't go into the plot details here because I can already tell you are too smart for this piece of shit. It was so redundant, it broke all the rules of good writing (and not in a good way), it was predictable, it was clunky, it was stupid. I did not feel more romantic about my life at all. This book pissed me off, insulted my intelligence, and stretched my willing suspension of disbelief until it snapped in two.

But it did do something for me: I now know that my novel will be, if anything, better than Impossible. And you know what? Feeling superior is an aphrodisiac, so I guess in a way, this book did rekindle the fire in my writing loins. As for my other loins, maybe I'll try to find a romance novel with Fabio on the cover.

Unless you have any suggestions?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Everybody! On Your Feet! Monday's! Can't Be Beat!

Give me an M!
Give me an O!
Give me an N!
Give me an D!
Give me an A!
Give me an Y!
What's that spell?!?! MONDAY!!! YAY MONDAY!
We've got PAPERWORK to do so lets...
Come on, Workforce, Let's GO!
Come on, Workforce, Let's GO!
File that paperwork, Let's GO!
File that paperwork, Let's GO!
Hey, Hey
You get out of our way!
Today is the day
We will file you away!
Who Rocks the House?!
They Say that Flannery Rocks the House!!
And when Flannery Rocks the House,
She Rocks it All the Way Down!
Alligator, crocodile let's get crunk for a while!
Ooh get crunk!
Ooh get crunk!
Lemon lime tootie fruity,
Come'on girls let's kick some booty!
Nope. Nothing. Still don't want to do work.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Violating Code 2.12 Of The APA Style Guide

2.12 Lingusitic Devices

Devices that attract attention to ->words, sounds, or other *embellishments* instead of to ideas are as inappropriate in scientifical scribery as a duck is in a wedding party, unless maybe you are Amish or French (Ooh la la!). Avoid heavy handed halliteration, rhyming, chiming, timing, poetic expressions spoken from the balcony of the summer home you used to go to when your children were tugging at your apron strings, and cliches like they were the plague. Use metaphors sparingly; although they can help simplify, clarify, and disentangle complicated matrices of ideas, in writing, metaphors are Sanjaya's, Anna Nicole Smith's, and bare breasts. Avoid mixed metaphors, especially when business and pleasure are inevitiable, and lock the barn door after the cows have come home. Avoid words with surplus and unintended meaning, (e.g. Dick for Richard), which may distract if not actually mislead the reader to water and try to make him or her drink. Use figurative expressions with the restraint of 10,000 monks under a vow of silence in the middle of a dry, dry desert, and colorful expressions with the care of a surgeon incising the torso of a hot guy with a six pack and thighs of steel; these expressions can sound strained or forced.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Avatque Vale, Kurt Vonnegut

I'm trying not to cry; Kurt Vonnegut is gone. Oh, shit. I am crying. This man changed my life, my perspective. He offered visions of things I'd never seen before but applied values to them that I shared. He was absurd, he was satiricle, he was obscene, he was creative, he was cranky, he was funny. The world will be a much more mundane place without him.
I discovered his writing in my first quarter of my first year in college. I was hesitant at first to read his most famous book called Slaughterhouse Five, since I am highly squeamish and overly sensitive to violence. So I started with Slapstick instead. I'd never read anything like it. I had spent most of my time in high school reading run-of-the mill fantasy books and some science fiction, but this book pushed me into an absurd world that I loved. It opened up my mind to the vast limitlessness of the imagination and the great value of the whimsical.
I read every book of his I could get my hands on. At the same time, I began reading John Irving's works with the same obsession, only to later find out that Vonnegut was Irving's graduate school advisor when they were both at University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop. I loved the stories of them hanging out together that I read in John Irving's memoirs. I would have loved to have had the chance to listen in on a conversation between those two.
Goodbye, Kurt Vonnegut. We grieve for you today. We have lost your voice of reason, your moral outrage, your sense of humor, your lovely wrinkly face, your imagination, your grasp of the ironic, your vision, your heart, and your wisdom. Thank you for all you have given us; God willing, we will preserve it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sanjaya Daydreamin'

I was just sitting here and I found myself fantasizing about what Sanjaya will do tonight. I'm not sure I even know what the theme is.
I hope that he rides in on a unicorn, wearing a Manchester United uniform with his tommy guns ablaze, singing "Yeah" by Usher.

I'll probably even vote for him.
Edited to add: I hope he wears his hair in pigtails.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Campers or Hostages?

To-may-to, to-mah-to is my opinion because if I'm camping, I'm a hostage. However not everyone feels this way; I hear-tell some people actually plan camping trips.

So, you tell this a diverse group of rugged outdoors-people or have these people been captured after straying into disputed waters?

You make the call...

I Survived!

I got almost everything on my list accomplished, though not necessarily in the order I set out. The party was a smashing success, in my opinion. The guests included:

The Early Birds

  • Elizabeth: She arrived at 12:00 p.m. and helped me finish up the preparations. She ran the sweeper for me (bless her) and blew up all the balloons. She also acted as co-hostess for the party. She rocks. Incidentally, she bought me the Black Eyed Peas Toothy Tunes toothbrush, which I have enjoyed using emensely.

  • Mom, Dad, & Grandma Jean: They arrived at about 1:20 p.m. with the salad, ice, the cake, some fruit punch, and gifts, gifts, gifts! By the time they got here, though, we were ready to go.

  • Uncle Charlie: Arrived at about 1:45 p.m. cheerful and chilled as ever.

  • Aunt Kim & Uncle Tony: Arrived at about 1:50 p.m. from Warren, Ohio. Remarked upon some idiot they saw on the way over who out mowing his lawn while the snow tumbled from the sky.

The Normal People:

  • Rachel & Bailey: Arrived at about 2:00 p.m. Rachel had the beginnings of a migrain and wore her sunglasses for most of the party. Baily, 9, helped ride herd on the children.

  • Wally, Ms. Snap, Taylor, Christopher, Zacharu, and Stone: Arrived at about 2:10 p.m. The kids took off downstairs and the fun seriously began.

  • Doc: Arrived at about 2:30 p.m. He was on his lunch break.

  • Quinn & Joe (Rachel's son and husband, respectively): Arrived at about 4:00 p.m. Quinn, 13, had ball practice and his dad, Joe, is the Assistant Coach. No, they did not play outside, nor did they play a game. They just practiced at an indoor facility.

Including Riley, Lucy, and me, the total attendance was 21 people! The adults hung out in my living room while the kids entertained themselves in the basement. They had a blast making beaded neclaces, even the boys. I bought sports-themed beads as well for them specifically.

The donkey pinata was a success. Riley dealt the death blow, knocking the head clean off the body, which left us with a paper mache donkey head hanging from the garage door opener. Plus, the candy compartment was still in tact. So, Chris and I ripped the body asunder and candy flew everywhere! The kids scrambled to pick it up and stuff their Reese's mini peanut butter cups, Dum-Dum suckers, and iridescent rubber lizards and frogs into their goody bags. The whole scene was festive and macabre.

The pizza and salad were excellent. We had cake and presents. Everyone seemed to have a great time. Most everyone had left by 5:30 p.m. and we had food left over. Elizabeth and I fell in a heap afterwards and were killing time until bedtime, when we could begin seriously to drink.

We had a great Easter and Riley used some of her birthday money to take me to see The Last Mimzy, which was fantastic! Maybe it's because I haven't gone to the movies for nearly a year, but I was blown away by the story, the effects, the sentiments and the appearance of my favorite actor of the moment, Rainn Wilson:

So, it's back to work for me. I'm glad to return to routine, frankly.

I'll leave you with some Dwisdom:

Whenever I’m about to do something, I think “would an idiot do that?” and if they would, I do not do that thing.

I love Dwight Schrute.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Party Planning Kit

Tomorrow is the big birthday party for the girls and I've got a million things to do. Fortunately, I have today off. By the way, is it wrong to have a celebration on Holy Saturday? It seems kind of blasphemous. Oh well.

It's time for a list:

  1. Make coffee

  2. Wake up Doc and Lucy

  3. Get ready

  4. Get a 32 ounce Diet Coke for me (perhaps with a splash of Go Ape energy drink)

  5. Take the kids to Grandma and Pop's

  6. Go to Target and get gifts for the girls

  7. Go to Walmart and buy chips, pop, and beads for party activity, candy for pinata (mini Reese cups), replacement ink cartridge for photo printer...also get a few groceries

  8. Order ice cream cake

  9. Have lunch

  10. Pick up the kids

  11. Send Doc off to the Chiropractor

  12. Clean kitchen

  13. Dust living room

  14. Send Doc off to work

  15. Tidy the children's room

  16. Tidy our room

  17. Clean the bathrooms

  18. Run the vaccuum

  19. Have a beer with Elizabeth

  20. Move the guest bed out of the play area in the basement

  21. Set up kids tables in the basement

  22. Bring in chairs from the deck

  23. Bring up card table and chairs from the basement

  24. Put the kids to bed

  25. Have another drink

  26. Wrap presents

  27. Try to figure out how to accommodate 25 people, where to put the food

  28. Set up activity areas for the kids

  29. Welcome Doc home

  30. Head over to the Tiki and drink some more

  31. Fall into bed

  32. Wake up at 7:30 a.m. with Riley

  33. Fix breakfast

  34. Make coffee

  35. Wake Doc & Lucy

  36. Take kids to get pictures made (therefore preserving the state of the house)

  37. Return home by 1:00 p.m.

  38. Put out plates, pop, chips

  39. Set out activities at activity stations, stuff and hang pinata out on a frost-encrusted tree

  40. Welcome guests at 2:00 (except for those early birds who will already be there)

  41. Order pizza at 2:30

  42. Eat at 3:10

  43. Cake at 3:30

  44. Presents at 3:45

  45. Goodbye's to all at 4:00

  46. Enlist the help of Mom, Grandma, and Elizabeth to do the dishes, i.e. throw the My Pretty Pony plates and cups in the trash

  47. Have a drink

  48. Play some poker

  49. Welcome Doc home at 7:30

  50. Pass out

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lost Without A Map: Thank You, Sanjaya!

You have made the readership of this blog jump to over 100 people daily! I'm power-voting for you from now on! I've highlighted my favorites search terms...
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The Things You Hear In The Parking Lot Of Walmart

It was almost 11:00 p.m. last night and I had to make a run to Walmart for various and sundry necessities, including the fixin's for nachos for Doc. I went in without a cart so that I got only what I needed, nothing more. I wandered the acres to find the diverse items on my list. I checked out with a whispy chashier named Charley who was just about to clock out. It did my heart good to hear his manager question him about whether or not he had taken all of his breaks and that he should start getting ready to go home.

"Have a nice evening," he said as he handed me my change.

"You too," I replied. I always try to look cashiers in the eye when I say this, and mean it too.

"I'm trying," he said.

"Well, it's almost over, right," I said, referring to the conversation with his boss.

"Yep, about fifteen minutes."

"Well," I said as I gathered my bags, "Have a good night."

I mused for a moment on how much working at Walmart must suck. As I walked passed the cash register corrale, I was struck by the fact that it was an odd hour to be out shopping. The late hour coupled with the jarring flourescent lighting made the experience seem down right surreal. The white-blue, thousand-watt, glow penetrated my optic nerve and made me feel unsettled and out of place, like maybe I was living in Los Angeles or Tiajuana, instead of Canton, Ohio. This feeling of transplantation has hit me many times over the year and a half since I moved back. Sometimes, I indeed feel like a stranger in a strange place; certainly, not everything is as I left it.

I tried to shake loose this feeling of being an immigrant as I walked passed the closed gates of the optomitrist, the pretzel shop, and the Subway. People were wandering around kind of like zombies. I exited the store past a security guard who was talking on his cell phone and paying attention to no one.

The fresh air and darkness came as a relief as I walked into the night. I was still feeling out of place and began to watch the many passers-by with light suspicion and wariness. A couple of young toughs dressed in black crossed my path as I made my way to my car. They slowed down and one of them lifted his shirt to show the other one his tattoos, I presumed. This is what I overheard:

"See?" Thug One asked as he held up his shirt. His small frame and flat, inked stomach glowed under the parking lights. "There it is."

"How'd that happen?" Thug Two asked.

"Well," he said with a smirk, I'm sure, "My friend had a knife out and said he was going to stab me, I told him he didn't have the balls to do it, so he stabbed me. There's the scar."

"Awww, man!" Thug Two said.

Their laughs faded away as I finally arrived at my car. It struck me that this is the kind of conversation that I had heard in almost every place I've ever lived. It left me feeling a little bit more at home. Ah home, Same assholes, different address.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Oh, Wise Shuffle...

My good buddy Dale offered up this neato meme. Here's how it works:

* Put your iTunes/Winamp/WMP/Whatever on shuffle.
* Use the song title as the answer to the question.

1. How does the world see me? Suffer Well, Depeche Mode

2. Will I have a happy life? I Will Carry You, Clay Aiken

3. What do my friends really think of me? Gone Going, Black Eyed Peas

4. Do people secretly lust after me? She Makes Me Feel So Good, Lyle Lovett

5. How can I make myself happy? I Have the Room Above Her, Mandy Patinkin

6. What should I do with my life? True Love Never Dies, Earl Scruggs w/Gary Scruggs and Travis Tritt

7. Will I ever have children? Forever Girl, National Drag

8. What is some good advice for me? E Menina (Hey Girl), Sergio Mendes

9. How will I be remembered? If I could tell you, Yanni

10. What is my signature dance song? God's Comic, Elvis Costello

11. What do I think my current theme song is? Brenda Stubbert's Reel/Metro Boys, Off Kilter

12. What does everyone else think my current theme song is? Lady, Kenny Rogers

13. What song will play at my funeral? I Know It's Over, The Smiths

14. What type of women/men do I like? Gambler, Kenny Rogers

15. What is my day going to be like? Novacane, Beck

16. Will I ever have love again? Chiquitita, Abba

17. What type of sex life do I have? It's Christmas Time All Over the World, Jackie Gleason

18. What song would be the title of my own porno movie? Ready, Cat Stevens

Why don't you give it a whirl...

Happy 5th Birthday, Riley!

I remember it well, that day five years ago. Two days before you were born, it was Easter Sunday and Grandma and Pop were coming down to see us and share an Easter meal with us and your Grandma Shaw. I woke up tired of feeling tired. So I got out of bed, got a shower, and got dressed. I put on a blouse, a skirt and even pantyhose! I drove myself to the grocery store and bought about $400 worth of groceries and a few bundles of firewood. I loaded it all into the car and headed home. I had just learned that your second cousin Olivia had been born that day. Once again, my cousin Valerie beats me to the finish line; she had also finished her college degree a few months before I did making her the first one on that side of the family to accomplish it.
We had a good day, if unremarkable. Grandma and Pop returned home and your Daddy and I talked about mundane things. He was planning on helping Matt hang drywall the next day. I was a bit disgruntled; I would have liked some company. But we went to bed that night and all was well. The next day, I moved from the bed to the sofa, where Midnight the cat and I snuggled under the quilt your Aunt Alicia made for you. I watched opening day of the baseball season. I believe the Pirates were playing someone (the Mets?) and Whoopi Goldberg was in the stands. But, I was in and out of sleep all day long, so I can't be sure.
The next morning I woke up and knew it was going to be your birthday. My water broke and amniotic fluid and relief washed over me. I was more than ready to see you. I climbed into the shower and quickly got myself dressed. I went to your Daddy and said, "I don't think you'll be helping Matt drywall today." I tried to reach your Grandma, but couldn't. I ended up catching Pop at home.
"Uh, hi Dad," I said, "My water broke and we're going to head on over to the hospital."
"Really?" he said, skeptically. I think he thought I was putting him on. I don't know where he'd get an idea like that; you'll have to check with him.
"Yeah," I said.
"OK," he agreed, finally realizing I wasn't joking. "I'm waiting for the bank to open to deposit this check and then Mom and I will come straight down." He had just sold his Acura Integra and wanted to make sure the check cleared.
Your Daddy and I gathered up some towels and a ticking, brass alarm clock with a second hand to time contractions. We were mostly bemused as we drove the few miles to the hospital, not sure what we were getting ourselves into. I was trying to track the contractions, but they were not very strong, perhaps imagined.
We parked the car and made our way to the front desk. I was embarassed because the water just kept coming and it kind of looked like I peed my pants. Your Daddy told me not to worry about it and led me on to the registration desk.
I ended up in a birthing suite and was immediately hooked up to a variety of monitors. I was a bit disappointed; this was not what I expected. From all of the preparatory videos I had seen, I was expecting to be free to walk around in order to let labor take its course. But, alas, labor was elusive and I was tied to the bed by wires and tubes.
Grandma and Pop arrived a few hours later. So did your Aunt Alicia and even Rachel and her family, who by luck had happened to be in the area on their way home from vacation. Everyone was in good spirits, except for the doctor. She was concerned that even with medication to help it along, labor was not starting. She feared that you were in distress. At 3:00 p.m. she decided an emergency caesarian section was necessary.
I had not planned on this. I was prepared to face the pain of childbirth, but not surgery. My blood ran cold as nurses shuffled everyone but your Daddy out of the room. They slapped an oxygen mask over my face and I became paralyzed with fear. Your Daddy held my hand and started singing a song to me. It was a sweet song, but too sad and I asked him to stop, the lyrics being I awoke the very next morning, and she was gone.
They wheeled me into surgery and sent your Daddy off to get prepared to come in the operating room with me. The anesthesiologist began to tell me about getting a spinal block. He had me round my back and inserted a needle into my spine. It was a strange feeling, kind of like what I imagine an alien might do to me if I were captured and put in a lab.
They laid me out on a narrow table with arm rests that went out on either side, kind of like a cross. While my body began to numb, your Daddy returned and the anesthesiologist began to explain the pain killers.
"We will be giving you morphine, you won't feel any pain, but your nose and face may start to feel itchy. If it does, let me know and we'll get you some Benedryl."
I nodded. Very soon, I began to feel the morphine. Frankly, I wanted to jump out of my skin. I felt terror. But that soon passed and I started to feel dreamy. Your Daddy sat to my left and the doctor and her team crowded around my abdomen. Fortunately, there was a surgical blue curtain blocking my view of the procedure. It hung across my chest and went up about two feet. I could see the doctor's head and that was it. I took turns alternately watching your Daddy watch the surgery over the curtain and watching the dwarf in green velvet pantaloons, stripey socks, and curled-toe shoes skipping around a maypole on the other side of the room. I also wondered why there was a young guy leaning against an incubator behind your Daddy. Maybe he was the doctor's son and he was observing the surgery before she dropped him off at soccer practice.
As the doctor and her team worked on me, I felt like there was a very large cat walking across my tummy. My face began to itch and I said so to the anesthesiologist. She started the Benedryl in my IV. The doctor joked with the nurses and with your Daddy. I watched the dwarf. Eventually, I heard, "It's a girl!" I looked up as the doctor lifted you up and your head peeked over the edge of the curtain like a puppet. She said in a high voice, "Hi Mom!" and then you disappeared, screaming. I began to cry with joy
They took you over to the doctor's son and he began to examine you. Then I realized he must be the pediatrician. Once he was satisfied, he handed you off to the nurses who cleaned you up while the doctors began to bind my wounds. Your Daddy went off with them and helped. The nurses were taking bets on what your weight was. I lost the bet as you weighed seven pounds and four ounces and I guessed seven pounds, seven ounces. I was wheeled into the recovery area and began seriously to itch.
When I was in my room, the wheeled you in on a bassinett, wrapped in a hospital blanket and wearing a pink skull cap. You were perfect, of course. You had blonde curls, blue eyes, and an outstanding voice. Your hands were curled into little fists. You were warm and smelled sweet. I couldn't believe you were here at last.
As the days passed, your Daddy and I began to realize we had no idea what we were doing and that there was no book to help us. We had to write our own manual as we went, with your help. Thank you for helping us find our way and tell our story.
You are an amazing young girl who is destined to accomplish many amazing things. I love you Riley, and happy birthday.