Monday, January 29, 2007

"Unwanted Guest Brings Lysol"

As I was dashing around town this morning, a local radio show was inviting callers to summarize their weekend in exactly four words. At first I didn't think I was up to the challenge, but then Inspiration, or possibly, Carbon Monoxide and Sleep Deprivation, deposited the title of this post into my brain.

I immediately arrived at my destination, so I was unable to wow Candy and Potter with my verbal dexterity, or find out if they actually asked people to elaborate on their summaries (or did the break simply go:
"Hi! You're on Candy and Potter!"
"More Monkeys Than Wise."
"Thank you! Hi! You're on Candy and Potter!"
"Hoping The Glue Holds."
"Fantastic! Hi! You're on Candy and Potter!"
"That's How You Were Concieved."
"Oops! Sorry, that's five words. Hi! You're on...")

But anyway, "Unwanted Guest Brings Lysol" is my summary and if I was Candy (or, perchance, Potter) I'd demand elaboration, so here goes:

Thursday morning, Buddy got up, announced he was sick, and then appeared to spit a giant loogey on my carpet.

Unimpressed, I made lunches, brushed teeth, and clothed children. At last ready to race out the door, I was saying goodbye to the Jeans Guy when Buddy walked up and... gave a much more convincing performance. Again, all over my carpet.

So I left him in his father's capable hands, took Bear to daycare, and then went on to the office. I had the second half of a Big Deal Workshop that afternoon, which I've been totally geeked to present since October, and which had already suffered Lameness and Curtailment during it's first installment on Tuesday due to 1) lack of preparation due to an all-weekend ear-infection-a-thon, hosted by Bear and 2) the fact that I had to duck out an hour early if I was going to make it to the Chili Pepper's concert on time.

Anyway, I was somewhat concerned, because I really needed to nail this presentation and now I was going to have to run home and fetch Buddy and have him sit in the corner and play Gameboy, because his dad had to go to work at four.

[At this point some readers are beginning to see the appeal of the Four Word Weekend Summary.] Short story long: get home, Buddy, who had looked fine at 8:30, now looked like unholy death, and was still spewing copiously every half hour. There was no way I could drag this pathetic being back across town to do this workshop. So, at the risk of never redeeming Tuesday's pathetic performance, I cancelled and stayed home.

When we went to the babysitter's to retrieve the Bear, another of her charges got off the school bus right in front of us, and barfed all over her driveway.

Buddy was finally fine, but by 11:00 p.m., the Bear was in business. I washed his sheets, I kid you not, three times before I succumbed myself around 3:30 a.m.

So then it was Friday, and I was obliged to take yet another sick day (two and a half in one week!) and lie on the couch and moan while the kids, who were, of course, now fine, cavorted around me and the husband offered his best sympathy: "Oh great, now I'm gonna get it."

I wasn't sick again, but I hurt, and I wanted to sleep. And stare at Scrubs reruns. Then I staggered out of the bedroom after nap #3 and found my brother-in-law (BIL) installed on my couch.

That was fucking annoying enough, because if he's on my couch, then I'm not on my couch and he's playing XBox360 and I'm not watching Scrubs reruns and there was absolutely nothing in that scenario that fitted into my plans.

But what made it worse was that he, apparently pre-warned by my ever-considerate life partner, came armed with a can of Lysol.

Can you imagine that conversation?

"Hey man, Galaga tournament still on tonight?"

"Sure thing, but I gotta warn ya, everybody in the house has had the pukes since yesterday. The wife hasn't so much as fixed me a sandwich all day, she's been unconscious so much. Plus the baby was up all night and the other one puked all day yesterday."

"Wow, sounds pretty bad."

"Yeah, man."

"I'd better bring some Lysol then. I wouldn't want to catch that."

And this counts as my weekend summary because I got up around midnight last night to deal with Bear and a spectacular new diaper rash and he was still there.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

That Concert was Red Hot

Dispatch from the fourth row, slightly to the left of center stage, fully in sight of Flea's own personal nostril hairs:

When I was 12 I saw Whitney Houston from the balcony of the Erwin Center. She had a cold and could barely sing, and her skirt was so small and tight, she couldn't walk up the steps, but rather had to be lifted onto the stage by two burly roadies. Kenny G. opened. I was struck by how incredibly tall he was. I kind of liked Kenny G., but frankly would have preferred to be at Barbie on Ice.

When I was 17 I saw the Pixies and U2 from even higher up in the same balcony. I learned that I may be fine outdoors, but I get wonderful vertigo in enclosed spaces, and that Bono's radius of animal magnetism can encompass a small city. He may have been just a distant dot, but he was a sexy dot.

I've seen Dave Matthews, or a tiny bouncing figure purporting to be Dave Matthews, from the lawn at the Blockbuster (or whoever it pimps for now) Pavilion twice. I saw They Might Be Giants at the Tremont, and Hole at a similar small venue in France. I don't remember the They Might Be Giants (I might have been stoned) and Hole was godawful. It was two days after the anniversary of Cobain's death, and Courtney was clearly off the wagon. And her rocker.

But I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who I can honestly say I've loved since high school, last night from the fourth row. I had to get a little juiced to recapture that adolescent willingness to get swept away by the music, but juiced I got and swept away I was.

Periodically my 32 year old self would swim to the surface and remind myself that I probably ought to have a few Doan's and a few Tylenol before hitting the sack, as it had been a long time since I last pogoed or headbanged, and periodically that self would wonder what a mother of two toddlers was doing there, but then I remembered that Flea has kids about the same age, so it's all good. We're all just getting old together.

Gnarls Barkley opened, and, if the sound had been better mixed, they would have been pretty darn awesome, too.

He Who Looks Hot in Jeans kept analyzing Frusciante's technique and insisting he'd seen better drummers and trying to get me to rate the show on a ten point scale. "Dude," said I, "It's the best show I've ever seen, I don't care which parts weren't perfect."

"Yeah, well, that Flea guy's a pretty good bass player. But I saw better lights at Pat Methany."

"Dude, shut up!!"

We had to go to a backup babysitter, because the one we actually like wasn't allowed to stay out that late on a Tuesday. Which is just as well as we came home even later than expected. Upon arrival in the driveway, we realized we spent all our cash on t-shirts and beer and didn't have enough left for the poor girl, so I'm going to have to slope over there later today with a 20.

Got to bed by 1am, then Bear woke up at 3am and flat out REFUSED to go back to sleep. I sat up with him for two hours, glaring white-hot half-drunk glares of impotent rage as he burbled around, happier than a pig in shit to have the living room and Mommy to himself and to be on the back end of an ear infection. I passed out on the couch and woke up at 6 to find him in a similar prone stupor in front of the television, the frenetic colored light cast by Boohbah bathing his features. I chucked his butt in bed and slept till 8. Both children and self were astoundingly late.

My feet hurt, I sleptwalked through my entire morning, and I need a nap (which I won't get). We easily parted with $700 for the total evening and I could care less. I'm definitely not too old for this.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gettin' my dork on...

This was discovered via Nobody-Knows-Anything (the first blog I ever read!), and I have no idea who this guy is or how bad his OCD is, but it's Helm's Deep in Candy and it's fucking genius.

Yanno, Hot-in-Jeans and I are big (and perhaps the only) fans of Dexter, but the minute this gets the green light, I'm paying ANY amount of money for the HBO and Showtime can take a running jump: HBO Options Ice & Fire

And this item, from Drudge? Not dorky, just very, very disturbing: Documentary on beastiality premiers at Sundance Film Festival. This excerpt is the part that really has me worried:
"Zoo," premiering before a rapt audience Saturday night at Sundance, manages to be a poetic film about a forbidden subject, a perfect marriage between a cool and contemplative director (the little-seen "Police Beat") and potentially incendiary subject matter: sex between men and animals. Not graphic in the least, this strange and strangely beautiful film combines audio interviews (two of the three men involved did not want to appear on camera) with elegiac visual re-creations intended to conjure up the mood and spirit of situations. The director himself puts it best: "I aestheticized the sleaze right out of it."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I always suspected...

Excerpt from Escaping From the Backyard Gang: My Private Hell as One of Barney's "Friends"

We slept in a large dormitory, in white-enameled iron bedsteads. The girls against the east wall and the boys against the west. After lights out Matron would sit in a chair by the door, her knitting needles click-click-clicking away, to make sure we didn't try to whisper or get up.

There was hardly any need. You learned soon enough not to get too close to anyone, because chances are they'd be gone within the week. I made the mistake of becoming fond of a boy named Andy, only to see him dragged away after forgetting to smile during dress rehearsal.

Besides, we were always exhausted by lights-out. We were awoken at 4:00, expected at Morning Chants by 4:15, then Calisthenics, a breakfast of Ovaltine and gruel at 5:30, dance and singing practice in the dojo until 11:00, a thirty minute break for lunch, generally some sort of stew, then rehearsal or filming for however long it took. None of the children recieved dinner until the Director was pleased with the performance or wrapped the take. One night I remember singing and dancing to "Skip to My Lou" for eleven hours straight and finally being allowed our bread-and-butter and fish sticks at nearly midnight. Most of us were too exhausted to sway properly the next morning and were beaten in the dojo.

They'd beat us for practically any reason: standing still, not smiling, dropping our eyebrows, not skipping high enough. Of course, it was also imperative to never muss one's costume, allow one's socks to droop or let a single hair go astray. When we werent needed on the set, we wore gray smocks and slippers and kept our hair under shower caps lined with mayonnaise, to maintain its shine.

Whenever Barney entered the room with his head on, we were expected to exult gleefully, whether or not cameras were rolling. However, if he entered the room without his head on, we were forbidden to even acknowledge his presence.

Years later I asked my Mother why she had abandoned me to these evil people. She gave me that indulgent smile she always offered when I tried to suggest that perhaps this had not been the best way to pass my childhood, and said, "Well honey, you were on television. You were gonna be a star!"

I don't know of a single one of us who has become a "star." I once heard that a younger girl named Samantha had landed a Public Service Announcement about airbag safety, but even that never elevated beyond rumor.

All I know now is that if I hear fife music, I go catatonic. And I can never stop swaying and smiling: in the checkout line at the grocery store, throughout endless strings of unsuccessful job interviews, during eye exams (an excellent way to get an otherwise mild-mannered opthalmalogist to yell at you). If I ever lay eyes on that purple bastard again, I swear I'll strangle him with his own tail.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What I'm Listening To

An open letter to Mr. Bill Bryson:


I am a devoted re-reader of your books, travel and linguistic alike, and was gifted for Christmas with several of your audiobooks. I am currently enjoying, for the first time, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

I must admit to being a bit thrown by some of the more visceral moments in the memoir. The description of a bully's pendulous loogie was particularly awe-inspiring, as was your discussion of masticated food spraying from your Uncle Dee's trach hole, and your consequent dislike of cottage cheese.

But the topper, for me (to date, I'm only on Disc Three), was your evocation of the detritus left in your water-glass by the old man on the next stool at a diner counter.

I was in rush-hour traffic, and the instant you started in I knew what was coming, having gotten a good case of the gags from the Budder kid and Uncle Dee. I rushed my finger to the fast-forward button, but I was transfixed. I could not press it. I got the gags, and still my finger would not hit that button. The gags grew progressively more convulsive, and still I could not stop listening to this ghastly recital. I even threw up in my mouth, just a little bit. In the middle lane of Independence Boulevard.

The point of my mentioning this (oh, please God, let there be a point) is that, when the whole ordeal was over and I was madly chewing Altoids and reflecting, I had to admit: it's a powerful piece of prose that can make you barf in traffic and yet be unable to stop listening.

My hat is off to you sir.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This wouldn't happen if I stuck to biographies...

Anybody who managed to stay awake in high school English should remember that Dickens got paid by the word. Ah, we clever sophomores would say to ourselves, that might explain why there's so many of the damn things in his books. And we would be right.

It occurs to me as I slog through book eleven of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series that authors of popular fantasy series get paid by the book. That might explain why there's so many of the damn things in a series.

Especially in a series like Jordan's which establishes in the first book that the hero is moving toward a Culminating Event in which Wrong will be righted and Right shall prevail. Or whatever. But you sit back and say, "Okee-doke, we just have to get ol' Rand to Tarmon Gaidon [say it out loud, it sounds like 'Armageddon.' Betcha never caught that!] and all will be well and I can go re-read Harry Potter like I really want to."

But now, as the cast mounts into the hundreds, and the plots of each book inch imperceptibly toward the final goal while throwing up endless meaningless obstacles before the intrepid hero, I'm beginning to wonder if, somewhere around book seven, Jordan lost the love.

And can I take a moment here to marvel at the fact that every time a character (of which, I may have mentioned there are hundreds, and not one of them bestowed with a pronounceable name) enters a scene or changes clothes, Jordan assiduously describes the outfit. And every time a character changes mood, Jordan (or, I suspect, his army of sub-authors) not only describes the mood, but explains how the focal character knows that this is the character's mood.

It's positively distracting. Not that there's much to be distracted from. I'm on page 525 of this thing (with 312 pages to go) and the only significant events are three character movements and somebody getting married (and then moving). Tiny clues are added to intrigues, but, since it's been over a year since I read the last book (and swore never to invest in another Jordan hardcover again) I can't keep straight what the intrigues were pointing to or which hundredth character with which ungodly name was involved. I can't even remember which characters have revealed themselves as bad guys -- and I'm not about to re-read the other ten books to get it straight.

And the evil! What's wrong with developing a little believable evil? A little evil with motive? The big bad guys are so viciously nasty there is no reason in the world why anyone in their right mind would want to hang with them. They have nothing to offer people but immortality in a universe of utter nastiness.

To maintain and perpetuate the obstacles to resolution, Jordan has been obligated to develop some of the most stubborn, self-involved protagonist characters in the history of fiction. If they were one whit less pigheaded, they might actually solve the little mysteries that plague them or realize that they're running around with enemy empresses or whatever. But that would end the series about five books ago, and we can't be having that, now can we? Still, doesn't make them the most sympathetic folks to root for.

And the reason I won't buy another hardcover is: Tor (God bless 'em) is in such a hurry to make a gazillion dollars off the next installment that the copy editing is appalling and possibly even more distracting than the red-slashed silks with brocaded panels or what the fuck ever.

I will say that at least Wheel of Time is not as godawful as the degeneration of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. In the last bricklike tome I shoveled through in that series nothing at all happened -- so not kidding! Not a damn thing until, like the last page, and if that one thing hadn't'of happened, I would have been morally compelled to set the book on fire.

The trick, it seems, is to limit yourself from the beginning (the Harry Potter series, or the highly overlooked and underrated trilogy Deed of Paksenarrion, by Elizabeth Moon) or to be a little more realistic about who the good and bad guys are (everybody, a little bit) like in George R.R. Martin's phenomenal Song of Ice and Fire series so that, even though there's a Culminating Event somewhere up ahead, you're far more interested in what everybody's up to right now, becuase frankly they're just interesting people to whom interesting things keep happening.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What the first one didn't prepare us for: Part I

I walk into the living room, and am hit in the face with a massive waft of POO STENCH. I glare accusingly at the dogs, who have been doing their best of late to get me a new carpet, and they glare back: I swear to God, Mom, it's not ALWAYS us.

And I have to concede that a visual sweep of the floor yields no... nuggets... as it were.

Right at my feet the Bear is cavorting and chortling in his Bearish way. The POO STENCH seems concentrated right in his zone, but I know the stench of my baby's poo, and it is not this unholy.

I lean down to perform the traditional Baby Butt Sniff, and saw the...

... oh, God, it's just to awful to tell.

Yesterday I came home from the store and caught He Who Looks Hot in Jeans frantically scrubbing Bear's face and looking desperately guilty. At first he wouldn't tell me what happened, but when I started to lean on my brother-in-law, who was beginning to look decidedly uncomfortable, they both broke and confessed that Bear had been in the catbox.

Clearly I needed to do a better job of believing this.

Hopefully, after all of the gagging and scrubbing inside and out with Ivory and the hollering of "Bad baby! God that's NASTY!! Bad baby!!" he won't try it again. (I'd like to know what the appeal was that he tried it a second time.)

Also, perhaps, the hiding of the catbox.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When dinosaurs roamed the Earth...

Remember dial tones? Remember knowing when a call was over or a connection was broken because suddenly you were hearing a humming sound?

Remember answering the phone while not knowing who was calling? Remember having to tell the person you were calling who you were? Remember *69?

Remember thinking carefully about making long-distance calls because they cost a lot of money? Remember getting out of talking to your mom so damn much for the same reason?

Remember when phones were phones and cameras were cameras? Those sepia-toned days when it would never occur to you have a conversation along the lines of: "I wish I could get a picture of this!" "No problem! I've got my phone!"

Someday I'm going to tell Buddy and Bear about twisted coiled cords, staying at home in anticipation of an important call, busy signals, ring tones that were, of all things, and actual bell inside the phone actually ringing, and a better time when nobody knew the importance of being able to type with your thumbs.

They won't believe a word of it.

The Geneva Conventions never said anything about metaphors...

Man, oh man, you get out of the habit of airing your dirty laundry on a daily basis, then come back and make the rash promise that not only will all future laundry aired be clean but also and sans holes and color coordinated and then everything that goes down after that is either white cotton tube socks or that Alice in Chains tee-shirt with a rip exactly where your nipple's supposed to go and the cat's gone and pissed all over it...

Meanwhile the network guys keep calling and saying if my Neilsens don't start showing a 30% market share and I can't get something done about the dropoff after the second commercial break, they're going to have to consider going all Herman's Head on my ass...

Something blogworthy did in fact happen today, but I don't wish to elaborate on it, because that would be whingeing, but I do kind of like how I put it to a colleague after I'd ransacked her Kleenex:

I was like Captain Ahab, and I was gunning for Moby Dick, but now I'm Jonah and they're telling me I have to go into the belly of the whale.

Which is not only how much It sucks, but just the aptest description ever of what It is.

Oh, and? I was saying "The cowboy fell down" in Welsh. Not that YOU care.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

For those of you who DON'T read Neil Gaiman...

... and I can't imagine why you wouldn't. In fact, I can't imagine why you're here instead of there, he leads and infinitely more interesting life than I.

Anyway, I got this link via his blog, and was immediately wowed. Nearly as wowed as I was by this guy, when the husband stumbled across him a few months back.

Perhaps I will run away from home and turn up in a faraway place doing similar...

Saturday, January 6, 2007

A Post-Christmas Ditty

Christmas is over,
the goose has done been et.
Please will you stop asking me
what else you’re gonna get.
And also stop demanding
where I’ve gone and put the tree
and inquiring on the hour
how long Santa’s gonna be.

Christmas is over,
and while I’m sure it will return,
the concept of months and years
is the next thing you should learn.
Right after the Christ story
and a homily on greed
and how to use your Gameboy
and understanding those in need.

Christmas is over,
I’m glad you were impressed.
Perhaps in twenty years from now
You’ll also know you’re blessed.
As for now the bus is here
get on ere I explode.
January’s biggest challenge
is the stubborn four-year-old.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Fun with Rosetta Stone...

Mae'r cowboi wedi cwympo.

I'll link the first genius who knows what I just said.

I learned that playing with a demo model of Rosetta Stone at work. Man, if you're a linguistics geek, there's nothing on this planet more amusing than Rosetta Stone. We're pretty pleased with it and are getting the software for many of the district's ESL sites. The company's trying to sell us on the notion that we should buy a license for every kid and teacher, then offer continuing education credits to teachers for learning a second language. I'm already half-sold on the notion.

Anyway, they sell the software to mere mortals too. If you're looking for a language tutorial, I don't think you'll find much better.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

... and I thought Chicken Little was stupid, too

At Buddy's insistence, we rented Monster House last week, which means that it has been in constant rotation here for days.

Um? I have a few questions?

  1. Did it take anybody else six viewings to finally understand why Nebbercracker was always scaring kids off his lawn?
  2. Why did Nebbercracker come back from the hospital in an ambulance?
  3. I know the movie is supposed to be scary (and it did successfully scare the crap out of Bear) but do they realize it's really just disturbing?
  4. Is anyone else bothered by the whole Constance-the-Fat-Freak backstory?
  5. Does Pixar keep all the good CGI script writers locked up in a cage somewhere, so no other animation company can use them?
I dunno, it just seemed that the bits that were neither contrived nor convoluted were still just creepy. But it looks like Steve Buscemi has a whole new career ahead of him in voice work.

I did like the video-game-champion-pizza-guy voiced by John Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) -- Do you like the steel of my blade? It's so cooold! But I don't think that's enough to make me forget to return this one to Blockbuster.

Back and, if possible, better than ever...

I saw how the blogosphere was suffering from my absence and decided to take pity on you all and return.

To explain, briefly, I shut down Mean Teacher in deference to the fact that my husband finally, in the midst of great marital stress, decided to read it and did not care for being referred to as "Useless" and having stories told about him that made him look like an ass.

That these stories are both true and highly amusing is entirely beside the point and, in an effort to be more positive and constructive, I am resolving, both in my online life and my real life to work on that.

Y'all keep me honest, yo.

I was fine for awhile with maintaining ether silence, but fun stuff keeps popping up, accompanied by a little voice whispering Oh, I have got to blog this! and so the little voice will have her way, I suppose. But with some changes:

  • I'm calling the blog Ordinary World because that's what I wanted to call it the first time. I had some valid reason for not doing so, but I don't remember it and nobody seems to be stopping me now (try it! I dares ya!) and part of the Work I Am Doing On Myself is trying to do what I want. I so very rarely even know what I want that when the opportunity arises, I'd best jump on it, no?
  • I am renaming everybody: the oldest boy (nearly 5) is now Buddy, the younger (just turned 1, can you believe it?) is Bear, the dogs are BooBoo (the husky) and Boo (the great Dane) and if the cats come into the story, I'll name them as needed. This way is easier because it's what I actually call them.
  • I won't call the husband "Useless." I'll think of something nice to call him and let you know -- perhaps "He Who Looks Hot in Jeans, I Just Wish He'd Wear Them More Often" or something, I'll let you know. And I'll keep my mean ugly thoughts to myself. This marriage ain't gonna improve by my dwelling on the icky bits.
  • I'll be more positive in general. Last year was a very dark year and I'm so over all the darkness.
I attempted to delete Mean Teacher when the Issue arose, but the advent of Blogger Beta fixed it so that I could only delete stuff that came after my switching to Beta. This means that much of Mean Teacher still remains and, it would seem is very popular in Pennsylvania and, as always, Milton Keynes. I cannot, however, update it or resurrect the missing posts (of course I saved them, in a supersecret file somewhere, but re-posting them would be an enormous pain). Someday I expect it will simply blow away, and I'm fine with that. There's some good writing and some valuable memories there, but bygones are best gone by.

I gotta go now and notify my blogobuddies of the resurrection and try to talk Chad into making me a new, awesome template. Happy New Year everyone! I'm looking forward to it, myself.