Snarking on the Inside

One of the worst parts of being a teacher is that you can’t often say what you really want to.  Telling students what you really think of them is quick and easy way to get fired.  And I’m a good girl.  I always respond to them politely and sympathetically.  But here are a few samples of replies I’d like to make to them:

To a student who once argued with me for fifteen minutes about her grade on a paper with her only argument being, “But I always get As!”

My internal reply?  “Not this time!”

To the student who asked if I knew any psychics, saying, “But I thought since you were a folklorist, you’d probably know some here in town.”

My internal reply?  “Yes, you’re right.  Once you become a folklorist they automatically give you the numbers to all the freaky people in town.”

To the student who wrote me an email saying he couldn’t come to class or turn in his paper because he had been whitening his teeth and the white strips made his gums sore.

My reply?  This is what we call the wages of vanity.  So sorry.

To the student who called me at 7am to complain about her grade on a plagiarized assignment.

My reply?  Fuck you.  Read the email I sent you before calling.

To the girl who texts nonstop during class and thinks I can’t tell because she has her phone under the table.

My reply?  You better hope I know you’re texting.  Otherwise what do you think it looks like when you have your hands fiddling around in your crotch all through class?

To the student who couldn’t come to class because someone was knocking on the door to the room next to his at 5am.

My reply?  Yeah… that sucks, but the absence still isn’t excused.

Top 5 Reasons I Am Scared of/Hate Facebook

5)  I have never felt like I completely understood all the security settings.  They keep jacking around with the toggles and switches and when the stupid games and shit first started I was never sure what I was saying okay to.  Obviously, the fact that I tweet, and write posts like this says I’m not totally scared of having a web presence, but I am a little particular about how I control it–and until I’m 100% confident in the facebook system, I will remain scared of it.

4) It’s…busy.  There’s just so much STUFF going on when you log in.  Friend requests, friend suggestions, messages, wall posts, updates, Farm shit….where do you even start?!?!?  I log in, get overwhelmed, and wind up logging out just as  fast as I can.

3) People throw shit and poke me.  I’ve been beaned by gnomes, poked until I’m black and blue and for some reason people keep “giving” me virtual plants and animals.  WTF?  Nothing says, “we’re buddies” like assault with virtual weapons.

2) Every friggin person I love and loathe is there.  Relatives I haven’t laid eyes on since I was in kindergarten.  Classmates from my old high schools.  People from work.  Some of them it’s interesting to hear from, some of them I don’t care, and some of them I never wanted to think of again and would prefer to deny knowing.  And for a lot of them, I know they don’t want to reconnect–they want be creepy busy bodies who satisfy their voyeuristic tendencies by looking up people they used to know.

1) The number one thing I hate?  It’s expected.  There are people I literally cannot get a hold of any way BUT facebook.  This is a major piss off.  I’m stuck having to log into this crappy-ass system because their asses are too lazy to communicate via anything outside of facebook.  Would it kill your ass to write a fucking e-mail once in a while?

Pint-sized Time Vampire

It’s midsemester.  Otherwise known as the season where I start having thoughts like, “If I were in jail, no one could make me finish this paper.”  And then I start genuinely pondering what I could do to get me sent to jail, just long enough to avoid the rest of the semester.  And due to a couple other things I won’t go into, I’ve kind of been in a rotten mood.  A mood that was saved by this week’s time vampire.

I don’t have any personal beef with “mommy bloggers.”  I even know a few.  I think they’re swell.  I imagine.  I have to be honest, I’ve only sampled them.  ‘Cause for an outsider… well, their appeal is limited.  I can see where for mothers of small children it’s probably helpful to hear from other mothers of small children and get advice, know they’re not alone, etc.  But you have to wonder sometimes, how do their kids feel about being used for social networking?

Enter Bedtimes are for Suckers which one of my online friends linked last week.  This blog is run by four-year-old Lily, who’s determined to show the other side of the story.  Lily counters her mother’s mommy blog and lets us know what kids are really thinking.  For someone who’s twenty-six years away from preschool years, it’s enlightening.  Now I understand how difficult it is for children to have their parents rifle through their candy on Halloween.  And how munchkins manipulate adults.  And that there are others who lie awake at night wondering what will happen if the world runs out of cake.

Okay, okay, so the real reason I like this time vampire should be obvious by now.  Lily brings the funny.  In quantities so large the belie her small size.  And this week, I’ve really needed a laugh.  So I haven’t had a lot of time for the vampires to suck away, but I gladly let Lily suck a bit of it up.  She deserved it.

Musikalischer Mittwoch: Take This Genre And Shove It

If I could kick the asses of the little MBA assholes who push their marketing strategies down on music, I would.  The use of “genre” labeling to market music is annoying as shit to me.  It stands between me and the radio station of my dreams and it only serves the number-grubbing strategies of bean-counting little asshats.

Genre labeling sucks, particularly for those of us consuming the music.  Does anyone ever listen to only one genre of music?  Rarely.  And yet you try finding a radio station that mixes formats.  Good friggin’ luck.  The best you can hope for is some kind of public radio that dedicates certain hours to certain genres.

And try defining a genre and getting everyone to agree on it.  Fat chance.  I, for one, have strong opinions about what should be classified as “country”–or, more accurately, what shouldn’t be.  If I’m going to be held hostage by a system that forces everything into the labeled boxes, then they damn well better stop shoving pop shit into the jar labeled “country” particularly when that means squeezing out stuff that is honest-to-goodness-two-step-worthy-country.  It’s not that I don’t like pop, I just don’t appreciate having it packaged as country in some kind of frakked up attempt to bump up marketing (especially since aspring pop stars seem to be using country as their easier road to the top–but that’s a rant for another Wednesday).

Even after you “define” a genre, what do you do with the stuff that just doesn’t fit?  There so much great music out there that doesn’t get played anywhere because of the lack of big-business backing, and also because no one knows which of those ill-conceived categories to put it in.  Exhibit A, Eddie from Ohio.  They play some country, some folk, some rock, some pop, some blues, some gospel…what they don’t play is radio and that’s not because they aren’t good.

The only winners are the marketing gurus who have simplified the playing field and made it easier to control the creation of megastars.  In the meantime we get crappy radio stations that over-play sound-a-like junk and run screaming in fear of anything that might come from outside their ill defined boundaries.

Screw it.  I’ll just listen to Last.fm.

Is it too much to ask that there be a station out there that says “screw labels, let’s play music” and gives me Jonathan Coulton’s “Mandelbrot Set,” Reba’s “Fancy,” Arcade Fire’s “Intervention” and Aaron Copeland’s “Variations on Simple Gifts” in a back to back set?

Still Not a Midwesterner

Let me just say now, for any MTV, MPB readers out there who may not fully appreciate this, that whenever Cammy reads this she will be intermittently rolling her eyes at me and yelling cross country at me for my stupidity and lack of self-preservation instinct.  And when Cammy gets mad her Texas twang gets stronger, so let that amusing image warm your heart.

As previously mentioned, I’m a military brat.  I grew up a little bit of everywhere, but mostly on the east coast.  A childhood in Florida gave me a more than healthy fear of alligators and crocodiles (I know there’s a difference, but if one is close enough to me for me to care, I’m not taking the time to analyze snout shape).  I have a healthy respect for hurricanes.  But tornados?  Not really part of my world.

Yes, they happened every once in a while.  Yes, I know that they’re devastating.  No, I would never be one of those idiots on the weather channel deliberately parking my car in the path of one.  But mostly we made fun of my father (who grew up in West Texas) for going out on the porch during storms and watching the sky.  Somewhere between becoming a mother and evacuating a roller coaster in a thunderstorm my sister became afraid of tornados.  When I told her I was considering a university in Missouri she looked at me in shock and said, “But it’s in tornado alley.”  In her mind, that should have absolutely ruled out going to school there.  This has naturally resulted in my mocking my sister a bit.

I moved to southern Indiana instead of Missouri.  My current town of residence sits at the bottom or a bowl so we rarely get tornados.  Or so the old timers tell me.  And so I tell my mom.  Who bugs me constantly about buying a weather alarm.  My stance is, I live in a second floor apartment, what the heck am I going to do even if I know there’s a tornado?  (Yes, yes, Cammy, I know, hug the toilet).

If you needed further evidence about my lack of healthy fear of tornados:  I saw my first funnel cloud this summer.  I was driving home from Indianapolis when I got hit with a nasty thunderstorm.  Suddenly, I looked across a field and way over there was a funnel cloud.  It wasn’t on the ground and it wasn’t moving towards me.  Still, my reaction?  Nearly crash my car going, “Dude!  How cool is that?  It’s a funnel cloud!”  Whereas I’m reasonably sure most of my new Midwestern friends would have gone, “Oh shit!  Oh shit!  Oh shit!”

This morning I thought, “Oh shit!”  Right after discovering I was under a tornado warning.  But it wasn’t because I was afraid of dying.  It was because I was about to catch the bus because I wanted to get to campus early to finish my Middle English reading assignment.  (Margery Kempe’s autobiography.  Summary:  She talks to God.  She cries.  People are mean to her.  She cries.  She talks to God.)  I’m having a crazy semester and there is no room in my day planner for a tornado warning.  It’s not like they cancel classes for this crap, so there’s no benefit to this.  Just an annoyance.

So what it meant in the long run was I caught the 10:15 bus instead of the 9:55 bus.  (I got the all clear text message as I was locking my door).  I faked my way through the end of Margery Kempe.  And I realized that I may never be a good Midwesterner.

Coffee With Jane Austen? Happy Thought, Indeed

Cammy:  Damn skippy I’d have coffee with her.  I appreciate some snarky, people-watching sarcasm and who better to bring that to the table than Austen?  A sense of humor that speaks across centuries is a gift.  I’d also like to pick her brain about about how she let’s the “bad” (relatively speaking) guys off so easy.  I mean, she had it in her power as the author to kick Wickham’s ass, to lob off Willoughby’s nuts, and generally to dole out a lotta suffering on the male assholes.  But she doesn’t.  I’d like to get to the bottom of that one–either to find out why she’s not vengeful, or get closer to figuring out why I am.  And most importantly of all, I owe this woman the beverage and pastry/snack of her choice as a big, fat thank you for Mr. Darcy who was the first literary man I ever had a crush on (even before I saw him portrayed by Colin Firth).

Kristy:  Definitely.  Again, gotta love the snark.  And the Mr. Darcy.  (Who I also loved before seeing Colin Firth take on the role.  And even before I think we were supposed to love him in the book.)  I’m also interested in clearing up a couple of scholarly debates about her life and how much of it was reflected in her writing.  Was her mother really Mrs. Bennett like?  Was her relationship with her sister dysfunctionally codependent or just close?  Why did she accept a marriage proposal only to change her mind the next day?  Also interested to get her take on how we were supposed to view some of her characters/plots; I’ve always suspected that being American and born too late I was missing a few things no matter how much socio-historical research I do.  And I’d like her take on my “Lydia Bennett has ADHD” theory.

Damn it, Cammy.  Now I want to watch and I have no time!

A Second Hand Update: World Gymnastics Championships

It’s Sunday night.  If you’re like me, this means you’re mentally rolling your eyes at yourself and cataloguing all the things you meant to get done this weekend that you didn’t get done.  And you’re dreading tomorrow morning.  I like to believe, although I’m fairly certain it’s not true, you’re also thinking to yourself, “Aren’t the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships going on?  Why hasn’t Kristy updated us?”

Yeah, I know.  You didn’t know they were going on and you weren’t wondering.  Won’t stop me from updating you.

The first important thing you need to know is that the line up for the US women’s team wound up being exactly what I predicted in my last gymnastics post.  Sadly, this is, in part, because poor Chelsea Davis was injured again and thus became the alternate by default.  (They had traveled with seven girls without specifying which one was the alternate)

The other thing you need to know is I haven’t really gotten to watch much of anything yet.  Sadly, my profs don’t see this as a legitimate reason for not completing my work and my body doesn’t see this as a legitimate reason for not sleeping.  So this coverage is all brought to you second hand, mostly courtesy The Gymnastics Examiner, The Couch Gymnast, Gymnastike and Aunt Joyce’s Ice Cream Stand.

In the team competitions:  The Russian women won the gold medal as they were widely expected to, followed by the United States and China.  Since there were a lot of whispers that the US women wouldn’t even medal this year, they should be pleased if not satisfied.  In the men’s competition China won the gold followed by Japan and Germany.

In the all around:  Russian diva-in-training Aliya Mustafina won the gold (she was so heavily favored that if she hadn’t I think she might have considered emigrating to Ukraine), followed by Jiang Yuyuan of China and Rebecca Bross of the US (give the commentators five minutes and they’ll remind you she seems destined to win the gold in 2012).  Kohei Uchimura of Japan won the men’s gold followed by Philipp Boy of Germany (who wins for best name) and Jonathan Horton of the US (The US’s first men’s all around medal since 2003).

Rather than running through the rest of the medal count from here, I’m just going to focus on a couple of big stories:

Aunt Joyce is declaring that US diva-in-training Mattie Larson’s Olympic dream is over after she made errors which seem to be mostly mental during the team competition.  Though AJ can rattle of stats and facts better than I can, making me hesitant to challenge him, I say it’s a little early for this.  Yes, he’s correct, gymnastics can be an unforgiving sport, except when it’s not (ask Alicia Sacramone:  Marta was done with her in 2004, and begging her to come back by 2009).  Does she now have a lot to prove?  Sure.  Am I ruling her out?  Not yet.  People were starting to say similar things about Nastia Liukin in 2006 and look how that turned out.

Speaking of Queen Nastia, she announced she’s leaning towards a comeback.  My translation is that this means she’s aiming for one, but isn’t going to commit until she sees how her body holds up/adjusts.  She won’t come back publicly unless she thinks she can win.   For this reason I doubt we’ll see her come back as an all arounder.

Speaking of ASac, meet the new World Vault champion!  Kristy’s a happy, shameless fangirl.

In other grown-ups-can-do-women’s-gymnastics news, Britain’s Beth Tweddle, aged 25, won her second gold in uneven bars.

And in one of the other great feel good moments of championships, Lauren Mitchell of Australia won her country’s first gold in women’s gymnastics ever.  She’s also adorable.  I feel that needed to be said.

Jessica Lopez of Venezuela finished tenth in the all around, which I believe is the highest finish for a Venezuelan ever.

Jade Barbosa (who despite what you’d think based on her name is neither a pirate nor a stripper) came back from what was described as a career ending injury to place 15th in the all around and win the bronze in the vault final.  South America will get there yet!

And that’s it for now.  I won’t promise not to come back with a fashion update after I actually get to watch the coverage.  Which I plan to do next weekend.  I’m going to count it as “studying Russian” since it seems that most of what’s been posted online so far is the Russian coverage.

In Which Cammy and her Dad Watch The Alamo

At long last, I have finally seen all of the 2004 rendition of The Alamo.

I’m not saying it’s a bad flick.  It’s not great, but I’ve sat through much worse.  And I’m not going to say it’s the least accurate representation of a historical event I’ve ever watched–hell, it’s not even the least accurate rendition of this particular historical event that I’ve ever watched–but it’s definitely not a movie you want watch while in a room with two Texans who are familiar with said event.

I know that historical accuracy has to be sacrificed in the name of storytelling and structure, but that’s really not going to stop my Dad and I from yelling”Bullshit!” at the screen over and over and repeatedly saying, “Well, actually, I believe….” and then whipping out the laptop to Google and confirm ourselves.  We devolved into the worst form of know-it-alls who completely obliterated the movie watching experience.  It would be like watching a sci-fi flick while sitting next to Dr. Brennan from Bones (in an odd ball connection, Emily Deschanel actually shows up in this movie as Rosanna Travis, albeit a Rosanna Travis who looks kinda consumptive).

We actually held ourselves together until cannons got involved.  Then we started with the innocent musing on the utilizations of exploding projectiles (no actual assertions of wrongdoing here, but we had some questions…).  But by the time the Mexicans were coming at the walls we were definitely skewering things.  “That guy wasn’t down there!”  “They didn’t breach into those rooms until later!” “That is NOT how Almeron Dickinson died!”

The aftermath of the battle only made it worse.  I was ready to punch someone when it came to the delivery of the news to Houston (“Where the hell is Susanna?!?”)  Dad nearly jumped up out of his chair while watching the Battle of San Jacinto (to which I had to say, “Seriously?  You’re going to get pissed over the distance where they started shooting, more than over the entire Crockett ending??”).  At one point we even turned on one another (“They didn’t have a cannon at San Jacinto!”  “No, they had TWO!” “Did not!”  “Did so!  The Twin Sisters!”)

And while we both ended the experience shaking our heads at all of the little things they could have done to make it right without sacrificing the story in the process (and Mom was thanking God we were finally done)–it was strangely fun.  I honestly think the movie would have fallen a bit flat if not for Dad and I having so much to rip into.  After all, watching The Alamo is kinda like watching Titanic:  you know the ending.

Belated BSG List

Yeah, yeah, I’m late again.  Internet connection was out when I got home last night and I decided not to try to wait it out again.

What kind of house guest are they?

Adama: Not as careful as he should be with towels (he’s been a bachelor too long), but he’s very polite.  He doesn’t overstay his welcome and he helps with the dishes.

Roslin:  An absolutely lovely guest.  Brings the perfect hostess gift.  Does not overstay her welcome, makes her bed, folds towels, helpful, thoughtful, not pushy.  Offers to help with the dishes.  If she stays long enough she’ll definitely prepare at least one meal.

Billy: Brings the wrong hostess gift.  Does dishes, but breaks a small plate.  Tries so hard, but just a little bit off.

Gaius: Does not show up when he says he will.  Very charming and entertaining, but not helpful and kind of a douche.

Six: Barely noticed.  Almost a nonentity.  Not above banging for roof.

Doc Cottle: Is a slob and kind of smells.  No presents.  Not helpful.  Doesn’t stay long and is disruptive while he’s there.

Dee: Lovely.  Makes coffee in the morning.  Polite, sweet, helpful, takes the kids to the park.

Apollo: He’s a good, solid, middle of the road guest.  Would attempt to cook, but he’s not as awesome as he wants to be.  Would send a belated thank you.

Starbuck: You really don’t want her to come.  She’s unpredictable.  Doesn’t plan.  Calls from the airport and might bring an inappropriate guy with her.  On the other hand, if you go out while she’s there, she’ll totally treat you.  Months later she’ll send a gift, a nice one, with no explanation.  All this is different if she’s staying with Dad–then she’s on her best behavior.

Tyrol: Would start fixing stuff.  Everywhere.  Without being asked.  Not otherwise helpful.

Cally: Will bring a hand made gift and card.  Almost too helpful–takes things a bit too far.

Helo: Brings jerky.  Good with kids–he’s the cool uncle.  Not helpful.  Brings the dog.

Sharon: Kind of standoffish.  Quite.  Always seems uncomfortable.  Can’t engage with people.  Sends a form letter thank you.

Gaeta: Would redecorate without asking.  But he’s good at it.  He’s a good guest for the most part.

Tigh: Won’t bring a gift.  You don’t want him there if he’s with Ellen because they’ll have drunk money sex in your living room.

Ellen: Brings an ostentatious hostess gift and makes passive aggressive comments about how “humble” and “quaint” your home is.

Tori: She’s uncomfortable and you won’t see a lot of her anyway because she’ll be working the whole time.  She’s polite, but not engaging.  Will send a thank you.

Anders: He’s pleasant and fun, but he’s useless except for washing dishes and he leaves wet towels on the floor.  He would warn you of his arrival, but he might overstay by accident.

Leoben: Stays one night.  Cooks for you using exotic spices.  Leaves before you wake, leaving behind a polite note and a fresh pot of coffee.

Zarek: Tells you everything you’re doing wrong.  He’s a know-it-all and he’s pushy, but he smells good and will always make his bed.

A Very Clever Time Vampire

I have a love/hate relationship with riddles.  They’re fun, and I enjoy the blissful moment of feeling smart when I solve one.

But.

The self-esteem degrading blows and hair pulling agony of trying to figure them out is a total bitch.  And I can’t walk away from it.  It mocks me, drawing me back when there’s a house to clean for my soon-to-return bi-continental parents.

The massive, 1000 level riddle-quest at A Clever Waste of Time has been doing the mocking lately.  I’m embarrassed to say I’m a mere handful of levels into the thing and that I definitely needed some of the hints in the first 5 levels (I had no idea how to even start).  After that there’s a forum where you can seek guidance, but I’m avoiding it, though it’s a very tempting beacon….So far basic web knowledge has been the key to moving forward–I have no idea what lies ahead.