Sunday, September 30, 2007

Twit: new blog

Hey! Come join us over at Twit: Where Big Minds Take on the Small Screen. So far there have been a flurry of posts, as is typical with the new blog (yeah!). So much shinier and more fun than the old blog (boo!).
If you want to be invited, just drop me a line. I tried to invite everyone I thought would want to post/be involved. But you have to post. And it doesn't necessarily have to reflect the "big minds" (i.e. intellectual) but if you are involved, that means you have a big mind (because you're so smart to want to blog with us). And it does have to be about the small screen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Flight of the Conchords

These are the funniest things I've seen in a long time. I may be the last person in the world to hear about the Conchords, but if not, I had to pass it on. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Joys of Parenthood

One of the great (anticipated, but no less enjoyable for being so) joys of being a parent is listening to Son read. I know I have mentioned this before, but I love LOVE it when he reads Frog and Toad to me. Is it the froggy- and toady-ness of the characters? The subtle philosophical questions it evokes? Just as an example, last night Son asked, "Why is Frog called Frog, why isn't he called Toad?"
I know part of it is the familiar rhythm of simple sentences and declarative statements, such as "One morning Toad sat in bed."
Maybe my favorite part is the meta-narrative element. For example, in "Dragons and Giants," Frog and Toad decide to figure out if they are brave after they read a book about brave people. They go out for an adventure and get scared by a snake, an avalanche, and a hawk, and then run home and hide in the closet, but not before Frog and Toad assure each other that "I am happy to know a brave person like you."
They have very simple conversations like: "The people in this book are brave," said Toad. "I wonder if we are brave," said Frog.
Having Son read to me is the best thing ever. It makes me want to write in simple sentences and return to that time when I was just discovering the amazing world of reading. I love it when Son reads and laughs as he's reading, because he understands not only what's being said, but that it's funny. He loves the irony of Frog and Toad running away from the hawk screaming, "We are not afraid!"
I look forward to listening to him read to me at night for a long time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Name That TV Blog

What shall we call our new TV blog? We are going to create one, and we will invite you if, IF, you agree to blog once a week. Maybe we'll give you time off for grading. Maybe.
My idea is: Twit (but the W is made up of two vees, one for T "v", get it?) but we're not twits. It's for TV wit. We are witty, right?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

For HighTouch: Why the American Version of "The Office" is so much better than the British

First of all, to get this out of the way, let me just admit that I am a huge fan of the British series "The Office." In fact, I resisted watching the American version because I just didn't think it could live up to the British.
It is a well known fact in my household and in other parts of the United States that the Brits are just funnier than Americans. In general, this is true. I think it is caused by their flavorless cuisine and their far superior beer, but it could also be attributed to the sogginess of their environs, which leads to wet socks, and everyone knows that causes one to make dry and acerbic comments. I'm sure there are Brits who are not funny, but I don't know what rock they are hiding under. Let me also say that one of my favorite office moments is when Tim puts Gareth's stapler in gelatin (since it's England it's not Jello, or maybe it is).
That said, the American version has far surpassed the British version, in my heart if not in reality. Partly this may be a function of the length of the series. The American version is beginning its fourth season, and the British version was only two, plus the bonus special. The additional seasons have allowed for more character development.
In the British version, the minor characters remained minor characters, colorful, funny, but never wholly human. In the American version, as the seasons have progressed, minor characters have come to the front, so that "The Office" is not just the story of Michael, Dwight, Pam and Jim, but also the story of Toby, Phyllis, Angela, Kevin, Kelly, Ryan, Creed, Oscar, and Roy (etc. I know I'm leaving some out). And this, I contend, is what makes the American "Office" a superior television product. If a series is to survive, it can't simply be funny. It must be funny, yes, but it has to be funny with heart. I know veteran readers of this blog will balk at my use of this word, but I mean it. "The Office" has been engaging my emotions, and not just on the Pam and Jim front. (I will admit here that I was obsessed, in every sense of the word, with Pam and Jim when I finished watching Season 2 and was waiting for Season 3 to come out on DVD. I googled the actors and found out all I could. I looked for pictures online. What was I going to do????)
The greatest surprise, and reward, of Season 3 has been the emergence of my favorite sub-character: Toby. And the fact that Roy becomes more than just the "bad boyfriend." And the episode when Michael shows up at Pam's art show and buys her watercolor of the office building for the office is truly touching. And this is what elevates Michael Carrell's character above his British equivalent. Even though David Brent is witty, and, we guess, ultimately a nice guy, we get to see that Michael is a nice guy; in spite of his being an ass in many situations, ultimately he does care about his employees. And I think the decision to humanize Roy was a good one. He moves beyond the stereotype of the boyfriend who only cares about sports to become a person.
And Toby! My favorite scene is when he must accompany Michael to New York for the salary negotiation. Ryan and Kelly are fighting in the cubicle next to his and Michael tells him he has to go with him. When Toby asks why, Michael says, "I'm going to hit you in the head with a hammer." Toby listens to the fighting for a minute, then picks up his bag and follows Michael.
I notice that I have not yet mentioned the cringe factor, which adds to the appeal of "The Office" but I fear I have overstayed my welcome. I'll leave that for another post.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Like This One

I like this little quiz, and was thinking about it earlier, so I decided to do it. Plus, HighTouch and I were talking about the general lack of blogging, so I thought I'd contribute something for you to read, and it goes a little something like this:

What’s your ringtone?
What's a ringtone? Oh, you mean for the cellphone I don't have? Oh. My ringtone is "MMBop," if that exists as a ringtone. If not, it's probably "My Humps" because I think that's hilarious for a flat-ish chested woman with no butt.

What’s the most incongruous song on your MP3 player?
It's a pair really, "Home" by Michael Buble (when I played it for him MB said, "You like that song?") and "History of My Future" by 7 Year Bitch. Please. I'm at least a 10 Year Bitch.

What is the one genre of music you cannot stand?
That new kind of country that sounds like Pop. I like the old country (Willie, Johnny, etc.). I also dislike that rap stuff.

What’s your desert island disc? Right now it's Neko Case, "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood." She rocks.

What’s your musical weakness? Pop that is ridiculous, I know it's ridiculous, but I can't help myself, I like it. (see: Shakira, Justin Timberlake, Hansen)

Do you play a music instrument? In a past life, I played the flute. I was forced to be in the marching band and I never played, I just marched and faked it.

Best make out song ever? What's making out? (Umm, Peaches and Herb? Captain and Tenille? Barry Manilow? Bread? Styx? The only time I remember making out it was to "Monty Python." Or it was quiet. Or was it the soundtrack to "St. Elmo's Fire"?)

Best driving song?
Anything by the B-52s. "Private Idaho" works, especially if you are driving in Idaho.

One song that you think everyone should read the lyrics of?
"Sunday, Bloody Sunday" by U2

Is downloading music for free a sin?
No, it's an effect of the whole corporate music scam. But I think the artists deserve your money, so it is a quandry isn't it?

Do you karaoke? Do I karaoke? Right now I'm singing "Love Shack." But I'm pretending I'm Hightouchmegastore.

One musician you would happily whore yourself to?
Rufus Wainwright, but that probably wouldn't work. Bruce Springsteen. I don't care if he's old, he's sexy. And David Byrne.

First album you ever bought? I don't really remember, but I remember most vividly receiving Billy Joel's "Glass Houses" as a gift. Oh, it was probably Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

Most recent album you bought? Pink Martini, "Hey Eugene!"

Favorite Beatles song?
No question, "Norwegian Wood."

One song that represents your teenage years?
Def Leppard, "Pyromania."

One song that represents your 20s?
Tori Amos, "Crucify."

One song that represents where you are right now?
Neko Case, "Margaret vs. Pauline" (which, if you haven't heard it, begins "Everything is so easy for Pauline.")

One song that represents your blog?
"I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" by Wilco

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm Not Gone, Physically

Though I have been absent, I am here. Wednesdays just kill me man!
It all begins way too f*ing early at 6 when I get up, drive to the park, and, today, did "speed work" with my running partner Scorpion's Tail. Then I dash home, shower, eat breakfast and make lunches, pick-up another kid and co-op at son's school.
If anything makes me love college teaching, it's spending three hours with 20 first and second graders. Things I've learned so far:
  1. Second grade boys are an entirely different animal than first grade boys.
  2. Boys without front teeth are cute.
  3. Some kids will. not. focus.
  4. Saying "don't do that" really isn't effective either with first and second graders or with students in English 1010. Saying it repeatedly really doesn't help either.
  5. If you give the kids tools, they will use them for any other thing except for what they were intended. Example, tape is for making and covering a cardboard wallet, NOT for affixing pictures to the walls. Chips are not for counting, but for playing tiddly winks.
  6. There is nothing cuter than a four-year old boy with glasses.
These are the life lessons for now. I'm sure I'll be learning more about pedagogy from the six and seven year olds as the semester continues.
Oh, the other thing I learned: a combination of first/second graders and English 1010 is a sure recipe for needing a cocktail by 4 p.m. This is a well established Truth. Trust me. I know.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I'm Awesome!

As if this is news.
But I just invented, based on other things I've made, a Peach Salsa to accompany some grilled salmon I made for dinner. I served it with grilled Portabello mushrooms, grilled potatoes and garlic, and a plate of fresh veggies (heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, carrots). Delicious.
Sorry, this is all I can blog about right now. I'm busy thinking of a delicious but not too difficult dessert or side dish to take to the Department Party this weekend.
Also, what outfit do I need to wear to convey Julie, the Cruise Director? (Cue the theme song for "The Love Boat")

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Pretending I'm Not Old

I went out last night with some, shall we say, younger people. Not only did they drink me under the table (they were under the table, metaphorically, while I was upright, sipping my ice water), they reminded me why I am usually home, asleep, after 11 p.m.

  1. Music at clubs is loud. And mostly incomprehensible. Witness Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. I couldn't bear to listen to the music at their website, but I'm guessing it's just as incomprehensible as it was last night at 12:42 a.m.
  2. You can't talk to anyone. (see number one)
  3. Young people are weird. Maybe it's just that people are weird, but there were lots of people with face piercings and abundant tattoos. But perhaps even more strange was that, mixed in with those people, were some girls who clearly were trying to dress like/be Paris Hilton.
  4. I'd rather listen to music in my living room while I drink beer or wine or whatever. I can control the volume and, what's better, turn it off if I feel like it.
On the plus side, I did like the opening band, whose lyrics were more comprehensible. One of my companions compared their music to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! The only lyrics I could hear were "I like shiny things." The lead singer then proceeded to name all the people in the band and say, for example, "Lewis likes shiny things." Apparently the front man/song writer for this group grew up in Orem. Enuf said. I think they are called Perbats, but as it was so loud in the club, that is only a guess.

The Sleepytime Monkey people were scary, in a screaming, speed metal way. AND the lead dude looked like a satyr. He should have been playing a pan flute.
On the plus side, I ran in to old friend Brian K, who was a sight for sore eyes. And whose eyes aren't sore when one is standing in a smoky bar past midnight?
One of my companions showed up after 11, was surprised to find me still there. I bought him a big (huge!) beer in honor of his 25th (that's right!) birthday. I made everyone promise me that they were walking home before I left. Ever the mother.
I also had to promise to show them pictures of myself with a shaved head. But that's a different story.