Friday, June 29, 2007

Top Five Movies

Frank Sirmarco tagged me and said I had to list my top five movies. Being a total movie freak, this could take me a long time to determine. But being whimsical by nature, I'm going to list the top five movies that pop into my head when I think "favorite movies." It's kind of like party shuffle on the iTunes, only we're using my brain as a randomizer. Here we go:

I love this movie. Here are a couple of girls who were misfits in high school but have turned things around for themselves somewhat since. When they learn their high school reunion is imminent, they go on a quest for a life makeover, which ends up causing a rift between them. But, as with most comedies, they turn everything around for the better by the end. This movie has everything my little girl heart wants in a movie: redemption, vindication, and a happy ending. Also, these two lovely girls, while not being super geniuses, have a lot of smarts and use what they have to their advantage. I quote them often, especially when someone compliments me. I usually tilt my head, open my eyes in wonder and respond, "I know!"

No one will argue with me that this is a great movie. Some may argue with my rational, however. I believe what makes this movie is not the love story, not the struggle for freedom, not the patriotic themes, but rather Captain Renault. I want to be him. If I can't be him, I want to go shopping with him. This is a diplomatic man who appears to have an interest in no one but himself. Of course, he grudgingly does the right thing when pressed. What I like most about him is his detached wit and lack of shame. If you haven't seen this movie (and shame on you), see it if only to hear some of his quips, such as...
Captain Renault: Rick, there are many exit visas sold in this café, but we know that you've never sold one. That is the reason we permit you to remain open.
Rick: Oh? I thought it was because I let you win at roulette.
Captain Renault: That is another reason.

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much. [aloud]
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

If you're one for enjoying verbal banter and sparring, then this is your movie. This is a chick flick with balls. This movie is filled with wonderful dialogue and the atmosphere crackles with the sexual tension between the four main characters. Besides, who couldn't love a movie with the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart in it? It's sweet, and smart, and saucy. I highly recommend it.

In this third movie in the Harry Potter series, the producers went with an unlikely and unique director: Alfonso Cuaron. This man brought an edge to the Harry Potter films as the children became adolescents. He made this movie darker and full of black humor and physicality. But while it was creepy, it was also very sympathetic to Harry's character. In this film, we get to witness Harry having a very rare moment of joy as he rides Buckbeak, the hippogriff, over the grounds of Hogwarts, exhilarated. Also, he seems to be getting closer to having a circle of people in his life he can love and trust such as Professor Lupin and Serius Black. Harry seems much less alone in this episode and it feels good to watch him soak it up. Also, there's time travel, which almost always pushes a movie up in my list of favorites.

This movie is sort of an Alice falling through the looking glass movie. Only this time it's Roberta and she is falling into the New York City club scene as opposed to Wonderland. Also, Aiden Quinn is in this movie at his hottest, I would say. I love the grittiness of Susan's life and the way Roberta falls into it. It was filmed when Madonna was not only still American, but also still a person, and a charming one at that. The cast is great, the story well done, the soundtrack was wonderful. What's not to love?
I'd love to hear what your top five are and I specifically tag, Pezda, Evil Genius, Big Orange, and Dirty.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Saving The Planet One Sock At A Time

There is a basket in my closet. It's full of socks, single socks, divorced from their mates, soiled, tattered and woebegone. And it has begun seriously to lurk. Doc keeps begging me to reunite the lonesome and forlorn dress socks with dress socks, athletic socks with athletic socks, Dora socks with Dora socks. I keep promising him I'll do it. But there that basket sits, a wasteland of single socks, too depressing to contemplate. Months have gone by and we are still locked in a silent showdown of inaction, a cold feet war.

Last night, however, we reached a detente. We decided that we would gather up those lonely soles and give them a new purpose, one which does not necessarily require their reunion with their twins. The basket will be swooped up and carried to each and every sock drawer in the house. We will gather up the rest of the socks in the house, paired or not, and put them the basket. Then we will pour them all in a nice laundry bag and label it with a Sharpie: Sock Puppets To Be. After we have found a place to store the bag, we will skip off to Target, barefooted in our sandals, and buy two dozen new pairs of socks for each of us.

Doc wants two dozen identical pairs of socks so that he won't have to ever worry about mating them again. I'm not sure that will work for me. I dream of new trouser socks in a variety of colors that maybe have some embossed patterns on them, and, of course, argyle socks. For the girls we will procure bobby socks and maybe some argyles for them too.

While I'm at Target, I will also get some googly eyes, pom poms and other doo-dads, along with glue and fabric markers to complete our sock puppet kit. Now, whenever the kids are bored, we can sit down, think of a story, create some characters and have a puppet show. I'll be able to entertain the neighborhood kids and maybe they will take some sock puppets home with them and get years of joy. Or not. But at least I will feel better knowing we put them to some use, rather than pitching them outright, which was my first impulse.

This solution is so sweet for me; I am a huge fan of puppets. I'm also seriously unmotivated to mate socks. Thank God I got my raise and backpay! Now we can afford to retire a bunch of socks, that have served us well but are no longer fit for duty, and replace them with new foot soldiers, while reducing just that much more of the stress in my life and the trash in this world. Darn, it feels good.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Fashion Plate In Her Early Days

Dorthy Hamill Haircut, Mork & Mindy T-Shirt, Lego's...Now that's style!

I'm On The Brink Of Giving Up On Lindsay Lohan

I recently acquired a copy of Lindsay Lohan's second album: A Little More Personal (RAW). No, I didn't buy it; I got it from the library, mainly because she covers "I Want You To Want Me" by Cheap Trick.

I've been a fan of hers since The Parent Trap and I've staunchly defended her through what I was thinking was her "wild phase"; hoping against hope she'd pull a Drew Barrymore and start using her brain towards something more worthwhile than duking it out with the likes of Paris Hilton.

But she lost me with the first track, which is so self-indulgent, I wanted to spit up. Long gone is the bright-eyed spunky young actress. In her place is a vain, selfish vamp who is giving her own personal tragedies way too much gravitas. Behold just a small sample of the lyrics...

Confessions Of A Broken Heart (Daughter To Father)

Daughter to father, daughter to father
I am broken but I am hoping
Daughter to father, daughter to father
I am crying, a part of me is dying and
These are, these are
The confessions of a broken heart

And I wear all your old clothes, your polo sweater
I dream of another you
The one who would never (never)
Leave me alone to pick up the pieces
A daddy to hold me, that's what I needed

Oh, lord. That girl is one part of an abusive relationship waiting to happen. I hope that doesn't happen to her, but Jesus, she's advertising the fact that she has "daddy issues," which tends to invite huge, dominating, asswipes into one's life.

Ah, well. It's no longer my concern. I will continue to hope that she turns things around. In the meantime, I will no longer defend her.

By the way the cover of I Want You To Want Me is good, but suffers next to the above track, making her neediness even more cloying. I think someday, LL will be embarassed by this album. Hopefully.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

“Religions die when they are proved to be true. Science is the record of dead religions.” Oscar Wilde

"Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, may I have my wish tonight," I recited to Riley as she admired Venus in the twilight.

She closed her eyes and clasped her hands under her chin. "I wish Aunt Gail were here," she said and then threw her hands up to the sky.

I walked over and fell to my knees in front of her, holding her shoulders.

"Me too, baby," I said and kissed her while tears welled up.

"That's where Aunt Gail is, right?" she wondered, looking up again.

"Yeah," I sniffled, "She's watching over us."

"That's nice," she said.

"Yes," I said, straightening and taking her hand, "It is."

We walked to the house and I wondered to myself about the fib. Venus isn't a star, of course. Hell, it might not even have been Venus. Should I have been truthful and taken that moment to explain, no, sorry Honey, that's a planet not a star? No, I decided; she can discover the science of it later, when she's a little less raw from the loss. I don't think it will do her any harm to believe this. I remember wishing on that bright light myself as a child. I still do, truth be told.

Was the fib that Gail is watching over us? I have no proof of that, though I feel in my bones that she is. In my mind and heart, she's very nearby. There are moments when I can see her in the passenger seat of my uncle's Land Rover. I can hear her opening the door to my Grandma's house and calling out "Hello." I can sense her laughter around the fringes of us. But that's not proof, not scientific. But it is the truth to me.

Comforted by my reasoning, I spoke no further words on the subject. I felt no duty to strip away whatever illusion Riley and I were sharing and reveal the "truth." So what, we wished on planets rather than stars? So what, we believe our ancestors are watching over us from the beyond? Believing in the illogical or impossible helps to take the sting out of life's great pains. This faith that wishes can come true and that there is benevolence in the world makes the intolerable tolerable.

Logically, I don't have a reason for why I believe in God, in guiding spirits, in miracles. And I don't have to have a logical reason, formed in syllogism either. My heart gives me proof enough, formed from its own mysterious logic, which doesn't adhere to scientific method. My heart tells me that God exists when I sing to Him, when I listen to Mozart's Requiem, when my child says something profound, when I see my friends taking care of each other. I feel my heart reverberate when He is nearby.

I don't want to be a party to the scraping away the wonderful in this world like so much flaked paint; not for Riley, nor for anyone else. I plan on keeping my eyes peeled for incidences of goodness and love, which are evidence enough for my heart that there is a God. My way of checking that He's still around, if hidden. I also plan on keeping in check the incidences of chaos and evil, when it is in my power to do so, and not aiding those forces with my own hand. I will adhere to Rule number one in my house: To do no harm.

Hopefully, my choice to extend Riley's innocence and encourage her faith won't come back to bite me later. I hope she won't be angry with me. If she does complain, I will understand but not apologize.

I Know My Husband Loves Me

Last night, he ordered me a t-shirt with this on it:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Need To Know

As you may have noticed, I've been struggling with inspiration lately. But always know you are never far from my thoughts. Also never far from my thoughts? This song...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Leadership Lessons From Amanda: How To End Up Smelling Like A Rose

In another installment of Leadership Lessons from Amanda, we learn how to cover all our bases in order to squeeze out the competition. Let's watch...

Key leadership lessons within:

  • Speak with confidence, yet maintain your temper when dealing with a full-frontal attack by a professional competitor.
  • When your character or behavior is called into question, always point to your successful track record for achieving the organization's goals.
  • Bring in a medical advisor or other expert to lend your position gravitas and to outnumber the enemy. Make sure this person is credible, yet totally in your pocket.
  • No matter how hard it is, never take the bait. If someone is calling you names and impuning your character, you look much better if you ignore it and rise above it.
  • It's always better to let the enemy self-distruct without submarining them yourself. You keep your hands clean that way.
  • No matter what: Keep your cool.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Killing Two Birds With One Stone

My buddy and fellow rock star deadspot wanted to know what the dumbest question anyone ever asked me was and Dirty wanted to know how to answer the dumbest question anyone could ever ask me. So, in a blogging double-play, I'll try to satisfy both of them with one post.

The dumbest question anyone ever asked me is "What are your weaknesses," because, obviously, I don't have any. However, I do have what I like to call "performance quirks," which could be seen as weaknesses by some. So, in a job interview situation, if asked the dumbest question anyone ever asked me, I tell them the truth. I don't try to trump myself up with things like, "I work to hard," or "I tend to take on too much responsibility." Instead, I say any or all of the following:

  • Sometimes, time management is a problem for me. I have a difficult time estimating how long it will take me to complete a task, due to unforseen problems that may arise. This is a good answer because it's true, I often come in under the wire on projects or they are just plain late. Sometimes the unforseen circumstances are from other people, but often it's my fault. But the way I pose the weakness puts responsibility in the hands of fate and chaos, two very handy scapegoats. I also think that this raises a point for the interviewers, who, I'm sure, have had outside forces mess with them on occaision.
  • I have difficulty saying "no" to projects, because I like to be helpful. But, in the past, this has caused me to overbook myself. This alerts the interviewers to the fact that I'm enthusiastic and that they will have to help me monitor my workload, so that I won't bite off more than I can chew.
  • Bureaucracy frustrates me and I often become impatient and frustrated when bogged down with red tape. I don't like it when the system gets in the way of serving the customer. This irritation and impatience sometimes surfaces in my communications with others in the organization. This statement lets them know that the customer comes first with me and I'm willing to knock some heads together for their sake.
  • Sometimes I overthink situations and get bogged down before implementing solutions. This lets the interviewers know that I have a brain and I'm not afraid to use it.

I hope these are helpful, Dirty. And deadspot, I hope this satisfies your request too. Though, I did toy with this question as the dumbest question anyone ever asked me:

"Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"

It's a dumb question to ask me because it takes all the patience of Job for me to restrain myself from punching the question-poser in the throat. First of all, it's none of their business. Secondly, I know it's a come-on from those born again who are trying to add notches their halos by saving another poor soul, and therefore, completely self-interested. Do you know, one asshole actually asked me this at my Granpda's funeral? He's lucky he's not breathing through a tube.

Writing Project

Brittney Spears has been the butt of many jokes recently, as you all know. And now, attention from the media has essentially dried up for her. So, the big brains at BS Marketing Division have come up with another desparate stunt to keep her relevant:

I'm thinking that if we put our heads together, we could come up with an album title for her that could steer her career in the right direction. Afterall, I have no real reason to delight in her downfall, unlike other celebrities. Why not try to come up with something that would give her a credibilty boost and allow her to really become the new Madonna. I believe a good album title will guide its content someplace great. It will give Britney a direction. Let's inspire her, because, if she is making an album, which she is, we are going to have to hear it one way or another. Why not make it something meaningful instead of a shameful pile of embarassing crap.
But in order to suggest what I'm sure will be the best album title ever, we have to pony up 25 bucks to become a member of the official fan club. I'm so excited about this venture and so convinced that our combined talents could change the fate of one fallen star, that I would be willing to post the fee if we come up with something great. And, my friends, let's try to think about what title would be best for Britney. She is a single mom with two little kids, after all. She has no one with any brains or wisdom looking out for her. She needs our help.
Here are some to get started with:
  • Shake Loose The Redneck
  • Supernova Black Hole
  • Hoisted On My Own Spears
  • Let It Be
  • Irrelevant
  • Let's Talk About Darfur Instead
  • I Meant To Do That
  • Return To The Zone

What do you think?

I'm Just Sitting Here Staring At The Flowers

I can't think of a thing to write about. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Drunk With Power

I have just been consulted by one of the professors in my masters degree program. She wanted to know how I wanted the course to run. And I told her.

Muah ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

Leadership Lessons From Amanda: How To Assert Your Authority

As a leader, sometimes it's important to show everyone who is boss. In order to do this, you must assert your authority appropriately. Let's watch the master...

Here are the key lessons we can take away from this demonstration:

  • Fire people publically to assert your dominance
  • Occaisionally, it is necessary to name-call in order to put people in their place
  • In a one-on-one situation, physically dominating and cornering someone sends that person a message that you are in charge and mean business
  • If you need to blow your stack, especially over a personal matter, make sure only to do it in front of one person, that way you can deny it ever happened later. Allison made the mistake of getting personal publically; that's why she is no longer in charge.
  • Once you've had your say, bring everyone back to task; after all, you never want to keep clients waiting.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Response To The Question: Should There Be A Separate Code Of Ethics For School Principals?

Instead of an ethical code, why not seek to hire the ethically fit from the start? As Waldo stated in his essay on Public Administration and Ethics: A Prologue to a Preface, we are
living in a morally complex age. I believe we must insist that individuals who become administrators, whether in a school or other organizations, must also be individuals who have "tolerance for ambiguity." Applying a set of ethics specific to school administrators only layers on another set of rules in a situation silly with rules already.

I believe that there are far too many rules and regulations being implemented in education these days in order to ensure that schools radically transform themselves. It's true that the way we educate our children is out of step with the needs of society in an information age, but will forcing educators to change through ethics and laws really get the results we need? I think we should rather instill a sense of urgency in educators to motivate them to review their own practice, best practices, and research and trust them to do the work necessary to implement school reform.

For the most part, people who become educators have the right heart for the job and want to do what's best for children; that is the price of admission, so to speak, to the education workforce. Do we really need to write that down and insist people adhere to it? They already do. So, if educators already have the "right" frame of mind and motivations for making sure students are successful, I think that we only need to point them in the right direction. Dictating down the line what educators must do, think, and believe in order to be successful removes the professional discretion of educators from the equation; we are asking them to not think for themselves, when that is the essential skill of a knowledge-based economy. Do we really want automatons teaching our children how to think for themselves? It just doesn't make any sense.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Leadership Lessons From Amanda: How To Get To The Top

In order to crush a female colleague's career and take her job, you need motivation. If you don't have motivation, other than a lust for power, why not generate it by dangling your hunky soccer-playing boyfriend in front of her until she succumbs to his boyish charms and his empty eyes. Then set her up for the fall. Let's watch the master in action...

Here are some tips to walk away with:

  • Always take responsibility for failure and success
  • Never air your personal business in front of clients
  • Always be prepared to go in for the kill
  • Err on the side of professionalism
  • Always wear a power color, like, say red
  • In order to instill confidence in clients and board members, speak in a clipped and concise manner
  • Figure out how best to look like the injured party in order to garner sympathy

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I've Got Needs Too, According To Google...

  • Flannery Needs a Bone Marrow Transplant

  • Flannery needs her own computer

  • Flannery needs all of the Basic Eight, because high school can get so stressful, you just want to kill someone.

  • Flannery needs to stop sending puck outs into the clouds

  • Flannery needs to get some room before turning the presses back on.

  • Flannery needs to come to terms with the fact that not all Americans agree with [her] logic

  • Whoever voted for flannery needs to be shot

  • Flannery needs no more evidence than the number of people who've found themselves out of jobs as a result.

Tom Bergeron: He's A Hunk In My Book

I can't explain it.

This "A" Has Gone Straight To My Head

From How Good People Make Tough Choices, by Rushworth M. Kidder

The impulse to condemn the ethical present...has always been there, as has the longing for the return to whatever will give us goodness. That perpetual impulse however, should not blind us to the quantitative and qualititative differences between our past and present technologies. Was there a system in Wordsworth's age that, if you could have turned it over to two engineers like those at Reactor Number Four and said, "Do the most unconscionable thing you can imagine," would have produced a Chernobyl? Where in the nineteenth century (to change the example) could you have found a ship large enough to load with some toxic substance, put a drunken captain in charge, and run it aground in Prince William Sound in Alaska to have done the damage caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill on March 24, 1989?

...What's new, then, is not simply our knowledge. It's the sheer scale and power of our systems--scientific, technological, financial, governmental, educational, and so forth. ...Like megaphones, they amplify small whispers of wrongdoing into vast bellows of amorality. In that megaphone effect, a single moral lapse--a single ethical Chernobyl--can now affect millions for centuries. ...[This power] now lies in the hands of more-or-les well-meaning experts--whose only failings, perhaps, are a fuzziness at the moral core and a consequent limiting of the vision. The danger increasingly lies in the hands of otherwise ordinary people--people you and I know and like. They are not willfully setting out to create the next Chernobyl. Yet they may be operating in a systemic and personal ethical vacuum that, in the end, leaves them unable to tell right from wrong...the are walking straight into a world-class moral temptation.

In my opinion, this is why getting education right is crucial and a moral imparative. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Some Summer Reading

Sample quote: "The neglect of urban education – a capital moral offense in its own right – is but a symptom of what is happening in America. We are retreating from our social compact all down the line." Bill Moyers
What do you think?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Things are moving along...

  • I got an A on my first ethics homework assignment!

  • I've posted chapter three (it may only be the first half of chapter three) of my novel

Monday, June 04, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

Get Your Phil...

Of God, politics, food, art. See my interview with God's Neighbor HERE.

A Conversation With Lucy

Lucy: I farted!
Me: Nice.
Lucy: I farted, Momma!
Me: Good job, honey.
Lucy: I farted!!!
Me: Did it stink?
Lucy: Yes!
Me: Congratulations!
Lucy: Thank you!