A Brief Hiatus

Owing to:

1) Travel

2) Visitors

3) End of term stuff

4) Work

Kristy and Cammy are taking a brief hiatus.  They will return shortly with content that will be much better written than anything they scribble out in the midst of real life chaos.  Consider this a public service.

Best Regards,

The Management

Old Nerdy Party!

This isn’t much of a post really.  I’ve had two glasses of wine and a gin and tonic.

I’m at Cammy’s.  And as she’s said in yesterday’s post loyal readers Mary and Teapot are here too.  Whoo hoo!  As one of my students said Thursday, “Party!”

Only as I said to him, “Party like old nerdy people.”  Translation we spend a lot of time sitting around eating snack foods.  We went to get barbeque at a Kansas City barbeque place.  And it was delicious.  Then we drove around some interesting Mormon sites.  (waves to our token Mormon reader!)

Tomorrow there may be a trip to a museum.  And shortly there will be gin and tonic sorbet.  Because yes, I bring my ice cream maker on trips.

It occurs to me that my students would find this extremely lame.  It also occurs to me that I don’t give a damn.  Because I’m having a fantastic weekend with fantastic ladies.

Also, Cammy just poured me a glass of Chocovine.

Rock on!

Huzzah for Company!

I’m delighted to say that not only has my co-blogger Kristy showed up at my door for a visit, I also have two of this blog’s readers, Teapot and Mary crashing here at Casa de Cammy.  Despite attempts of flight crews, weather and mechanical issues to thwart this little shindig, by 11:30, we were all ensconced in my vehicle, headed out of the airport.

The docket is not set in stone, but BBQ and a museum dedicated to a sunken steamboat are basically given at this point, as is much catching up, snacking and consuming alcoholic beverages. In fact, these activities have already been taking place, hence the delayed post.

Should whackiness ensue, rest assured it will be cataloged here (to the extent that it would not result in criminal penalties).

 

Did You Pay Your Time Vampire?

Everyone has their dreams for the future.  They look forward to the day when they can own a great house.  Drive a nice car.  Marry that great guy or girl.  Have their dream job.  Me?  I look forward to the day I only have to file taxes in one state.

Yes.  This week’s Time Vampire is income tax.

The last time I only earned income in one state was 2005.  There were several years when I earned income in two states plus the District of Columbia.  That was annoying, but not that bad because the two states were Maryland and Virginia and being border states they have all sorts of things worked out to make life easier.  Not so much with Virginia and Indiana.  There’s no help at all except for Virginia giving me some meager credit for the taxes I paid in Indiana.  But it creates extra complications.

To clarify how this vamp has been sucking away my time you need to know it’s been going on since February because I had to file a FAFSA and the FAFSA essentially requires you to do your federal taxes.  I suppose if I’d been smart I would have just gotten everything out of the way then, but I didn’t.  I’m not smart.  So I got my federal taxes filed online with TurboTax and went about doing the state ones.

Indiana has its own free online filing system, so that was okay.  Not the easiest service to use, but it could be worse.  I was a little vexed that they were going to add a percentage if I tried to pay with a credit card, so I wound up filing online but paying by mail.  Which seems a little strange, but is totally fine to do in Indiana.

Then Virginia.  Oh Virginia.  Rather than use one of the numerous unemployed computer programmers in the Richmond area to design their own online filing system, Virginia paid a number of other services to allow those with incomes under a certain number to file online for free.  Good news is I totally qualified for all of them.  Problem was that to use TurboTax for free I had to create a whole new ID which meant reentering all my Federal info.  Trying to resist that I decided to try out one of the others.  Only to get to the end and realize that a) it was so poorly set up I had no idea whether I had things remotely correct b) it was trying to charge me $18 to file online even though it wasn’t supposed to.

Not having any of that I broke down and decided to just go the TurboTax route.  As least their system is user friendly even though I do feel it talks down to me sometimes.  I get all my Virginia stuff all ready to go and then it tells me that I can’t file online.  In order to get credit for paying taxes in Indiana, I have to mail in my Indian return.  So I had filled everything out on two different e-filing services, only to figure out that I had to pay by mail anyway.

So this vamp sucked away my time and then broke its promises.  I’m a little annoyed about it.

Musikalisher Mittwoch: Only Works When I’m Too Angry to Think

When I hit a certain level of pissed, I go beyond the point where some laid-back Jimmy Buffett is capable of unwinding me.  I’m angry, livid, out-of-my-head seething….and I have no intention of letting that feeling go.

It is in these moments that I turn into a fan of German heavy metal, including the only such group most Americans know: Rammstein.

There are a few Rammstein songs I can jam to when I’m not in a homicidal rage, but one in particular I can really only deal with when I’m too angry to think about what it’s actually saying, and that’s “Bück Dich.”

The first time I heard the song I was in Dallas traffic that was moving, but full of total assholes who were tailgating, cutting people off, and weaving in and out at excessive speeds.  I had popped in a recently acquired Rammstein album, thinking that “Du Hast” would fit the mood.  It fit, as did some of the following songs, including “Bück Dich” until the point where traffic had thinned out and I was starting to relax.

As I morphed back to a human from being like a mental-Incredible-Hulk whose dearest wish is a top-mounted antitank weapon on the roof of my car, the part of my brain where my college German lessons are stored kicked in.

“Bück dich befehl ich dir / wende dein Antlitz ab von mir / dein Gesicht ist mir egal / bück dich nocheinmal”

Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot.

Did that say what I’m fairly certain that just said?  “Bend yourself over”?  “Your face doesn’t matter to me?”

O-M-G.

Yeah.  Therapeutic as it is to hear those creeptastic vocals (if I had to imagine the voice that would most likely make me pee myself if I heard it coming from a dark alley?  The vocalist for Rammstein would have it), and the pounding, grinding music to go with the blinding anger coursing through my veins, it’s only that level of anger-out-of-my-wits that manages to block me from thinking about what the hell the song is actually saying.  I mean, a creepy, angry German man is growling about screwing someone in a very uncomfortable place (Kevin Smith fans chorus “Like the back of a Volkswagen?”) in a very not nice way.

I can’t say I hate the song.  When I’m mad enough that the only part of me that’s tuned to music is a monkey-brain that wants to head bang and doesn’t speak German, it’s perfect.  But the moment I come back to my senses, “Bück Dich” goes back on the shelf.

Awkward Moments

Since my very first teaching gig, every time I go out somewhere there’s this little fear of running into one of my students.   As previously stated on this blog, I don’t really embarrass easily.  But I’ve run into students while I’m dressed in funny costumes and it just kind of makes things… a little awkward.

Well Friday I ran into one of my students outside the classroom.  But I’m not the one for whom things are now awkward.

Context:  My university has this spring tradition which is basically an excuse for kids to get drunk and make bad decisions.  Now I know you’re thinking, “Doesn’t every college have a tradition like that?”  Not on this scale.  At least no other college I’ve attended has.  I’ve been around my share of drunken parties in my life, but I have never seen anything that approximates the large scale public drunkenness of this event.  Think New Orleans at Mardi Gras.  Then imagine the people around you are a little younger and a lot more annoying.  And handle their liquor worse.  In perhaps the most disturbing display of how open the debauchery is one of the waxing salons I drive by was running a special on Brazilians in honor of the event.  Yeah.  Don’t think about it.

Students miss entire weeks of classes for this one.  And act shocked when professors don’t cancel classes.  Or expect assignments due.  I’ve had students use up their “free” absences early in the semester then come to me all concerned because they needed to miss class for this.  Professors tend to respond to this with one extreme or the other:  either they cancel class or they have major tests/projects due.  I didn’t do either, though there was a super easy class that nearly everyone got 100 on.

Friday I was driving across campus on my way back from a meeting and I looked beside me to see a small sedan with about eight large frat boy stereotypes crammed inside.  I was only a little surprised to notice that one of the guys in the passenger seat was one of my students.  Suddenly he and the guy on his lap both noticed me looking at them and called out, “Hey, what’s up baby?”  I smiled and looked back at the road because the light had turned green.  And that’s when I heard, “Oh fuck!  That’s my TEACHER!”  Perhaps it’s the way his voice suddenly went falsetto on the word “teacher.”  Perhaps it was picturing the expression on his face Monday morning.  But it is hands down one of my most amusing student interactions ever.

(For the record, he came in slightly late on Monday and avoided eye contact as he signed in)

Survival tip for college drunkenness:  Make sure that chick you’re catcalling is not responsible for determining your grade.

Pondering Youth and Cell Phones

My friend calls me the “texting Nazi” because I’m such a stickler about letting students use cell phones during my classes. If I see you using a cell phone in my class you get a zero for the day no matter what else you did in class that day.  In my opinion in rude, disrespectful and distracting.  My students don’t get it.  Though I’m not willing to adjust my teaching to match, I’ve come to realize that cell phones are such a constant attachment to my students’ hands that they honestly don’t realize why it’s so rude to pull it out at certain moments.  I don’t like it, I do everything possible to discourage it, but I have somewhat accepted it as reality.

But something happened this week that gave me a whole new appreciation (and horror) for these kids’ complete lack of understanding of propriety with cell phones . And perhaps indicates something even darker about one of my students.  It happened on Monday and I’m still kind of shaken by it.

Week before last one of my students emailed me that his grandfather had passed away.  He wanted to work out a way to make up a quiz he would miss and I was happy to help.  I also let him know that I could excuse the absence if he got me documentation.  Now I hate asking for documentation when it’s because of a death in the family, but the fact is that people do take advantage of that excuse and at the end of the day it’s not even my rule.  I told him I’m really lenient about what I’ll accept as documentation and suggested an obituary, bulletin from the funeral, prayer card or even a note from his mom.

On Monday he approached me at the beginning of class with his cell phone and said, “I thought I’d just take a picture.”  I glanced up, not even knowing what he was referencing, and saw a photo of his grandfather’s corpse.  Startled I just stammered, “um… okay.”  It took a few minutes for the horror of the moment to sink in.

What has me so shaken is not that I saw a photo of a dead body.  I’ve seen them before.  There’s a long cultural precedent for it.  Back in the day taking photos of the corpse was standard procedure.  What bothers me is imagining the moment in which this photo was taken.  The knowledge that there was a moment at either the funeral or wake when this kid whipped out his cell phone to take a photo.  Did the rest of the family see it?  What did they think of it?  I can tell you how that would go over with my family.

Part of me is cynical enough to wonder if it even was what he said it was.  Or if he was just mad I asked for documentation and found a photo online.  I haven’t done an image search because I have no desire to look through photos of dead bodies.  I think I just want to believe this rather than the alternative.

And I wonder if it’s just this kid, or if there are a lot of kids his age who think it’s acceptable behavior.  I’m not sure I want to know.

Kids these days…

Why MTV…MPB is breaking up with ABC

This post was originally going to be titled “When You Can’t Find the Rainbow’s End” and it was going to be a tribute/en memoriam to One Life to Live which, as was announced Thursday, will be going off the air in January.  I imagine that post will appear eventually.  But I’m not up to writing it yet.

For a while now being a OLTL fan has been a bit like having a family member or friend with a terminal illness; you know the end is coming, but you still hold out hope for a miracle.  After 43 years it seems the show is out of miracles.  I thought I would cry.  I still think I will eventually.  But I haven’t yet.  Wanna know why?

Because right now I’m too pissed off.

It’s not just because they canceled my show.  That makes me sad, but like I said, I knew it was a matter of time.  And I’m enough of a realist to know that television networks are businesses and they’re going to make their decisions based on money not emotional attachments.   What makes me mad is the way the whole thing has been handled.

Rumors of the impending cancellations have been really loud for the past several weeks (All My Children is going off the air in September).  According to what I’m hearing the decision to cancel AMC was made weeks ago while the final decision to cut OLTL was made last week.  The network knew about these decisions.  And yet, rather than responding to the rumors with the truth they threw out red herrings; AMC was getting a new, great head writer.   Roger Howarth (original Todd) would be returning to OLTL.  Granted, many fans were skeptical and saw these announcements as confirmation of the end rather than denial.  But that wasn’t how ABC tried to spin it.

Okay, fine, ABC wanted to control the story and announce when they were ready.  I think they should have done it sooner, but whatever.  I can handle their desire to issue the release in their own time.  Except they didn’t.  Instead they buried the news in a press release announcing the new shows which will be bumping the soaps out of their timeslots.  After four decades the alphabet network didn’t even think the ends of these shows deserved top billing in their own announcement.  Bastards.  Cat Hickland (former Lindsey, OLTL) tweeted that it was like your husband coming to you and saying he didn’t want to stay married, “But you’re going to love my new girlfriend.”  It’s actually more like your husband coming home one day and gushing about this new woman he’s in love with then saying, “By the way—obviously this means we’re over.”  Bastards.

And if I’m pissed about how the audience was told I’m even more pissed about how those who worked on the shows were told.  Robin Strasser who’s played Dorian on OLTL for the better part of four decades found out from a reporter; best I can tell she wasn’t at work the day the news broke so she didn’t get told with the rest of the cast.  I’ve heard the rest of the cast found out only shortly before the announcement was officially made.  I realize that the network was probably concerned that if they told the cast and crew someone would leak it before the official announcement.  What the fuck ever.  It was already being leaked all over the place; act like human beings for about twenty seconds, that’s all I ask.

But what’s really, really pissing me off is Brian Frons, head of ABC Daytime.  In the midst of talking up his new shows and how they’re exactly what the audience wants (more on those shows in a minute) he’s been cavalier.  He’s been making jokes about the cancellations.  Yes, Brian.  Hundreds of people just lost their jobs because of a decision you made.  That’s hysterical!  Imagine someone who ran any sort of manufacturing business announcing the closing of a major plant resulting in major layoffs and joking about it.  ABC needs to get this man away from the media stat.  He joked about preemptively joining the witness protection program.  Oh Brian, soap fans don’t want you dead.  They want you to live long enough to see your new shows fail and your network run into the ground by your decisions.  They want to see the day you find out from a reporter that you have lost your job.  And they want to laugh.

They may also want to saran wrap your car on a very hot day, but that’s another story.  (Please note:  It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter does not advocate vandalism of anyone’s property.  Not even the property of rat sucking asswipes like Brian Frons.)

Then there are the condescending comments from Mr. Frons.  There isn’t interest in the shows anymore.  But One Life to Live trended on Twitter worldwide all day Thursday and into the wee hours of Friday morning.  There isn’t an audience for soaps.  Coming on the heels of Univision announcing a 24 hour telenovela network, that sounds a bit idiotic.  I think the problem, Brian, is there is not an audience for your soaps.  Because you did everything possible to drive them into the ground.

Then he tells us that the new shows are exactly what his audience wants.  Let’s consider them briefly.  AMC will be replaced by The Chew.  No, I didn’t make that name up.  And strangely, the show is apparently not about tobacco, no matter what the name suggests.  It’s like The View but it’s all about food.  I love food, I even like a couple of the cast members, and I still think it’s the most idiotic idea for a knock off show since I found out Animal Planet had a Ghost Hunters knock off which was basically, “People who live in haunted houses and have pets.”  Well if that idea’s stupid (and the name downright revolting) OLTL’s replacement is downright offensive.  It will be The Revolution a show about health and lifestyle transformations by the same people who brought us The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover:  Weight loss Edition.  Translation:  It’s a weight loss show.  Each week will show one woman’s five month weight loss journey.  Translation:  they are replacing a long running show targeted at women with one that will prey on women’s insecurities and tell us everything that’s wrong with our bodies.  Gee Brian, I didn’t know you were such an advocate for eating disorders.  Why don’t you just call the show “Your friend Ana.”

You know, I think I’d be less mad if he’d just be upfront and say, “We realize these new shows won’t get great ratings, or make for good television, but they’ll be so cheap to produce we don’t care.”

And in one final asinine comment, when asked what message General Hospital fans should take from their show being the last ABC soap left, Brian said that as long as GH had good ratings it was safe.  Last week OLTL had better ratings than GH.  Translation:  GH cast should invest in current headshots.

In my day I’ve seen a lot of beloved shows canceled before their time, but I’ve never seen in handled this badly.  I have never in my life campaigned for anyone to be fired, but starting in January I will boycott all ABC shows until I hear that Brian Frons has lost his job.

It’s Raining Time Vampires

Tis the season for the midwest to get its usual series of wolloping thunderstorms.  Actually, it’s been fairly mild so far this year (knock on wood).  However, tonight we’re getting a nice dose of thunder and lightening.

One of the first lessons I ever learned about severe weather safety (even before the tornado rule about interior widowless rooms on the lowest floor…hugging a toilet if possible) was “Do not take a bath during a lightening storm.”

Trouble is, it seems that these storms always want to kick up around the time I need to get in the shower.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!  So I sit around wasting time waiting for it to clear off so I can get my shower and get to bed, OR I have to put it off until morning which introduces a whole new level of evil to the Time Vampire (and Time Vamps that results in me having to roust my lazy ass out of the bed any earlier is unacceptable.  Especially since I get up around 4:50-5ish these days).

And if it’s not the safety issue impacting my shower, it’s the impact on prime time TV.  Time set aside for Bones is spent with break ins to warn me about when to go to the basement.  I have to resort to next-day Hulu, which means more time out of my schedule.

Big plans to mow the yard?  Yeah, now you have to wait because mowing right after it’s rained is a bitch.

So, I’m off to a night of fitful sleep interrupted by the squawk of the weather radio and with the knowledge that I have to get up extra early for my shower/using the blow-dryer tomorrow.  *grumble*

Review: Just Buried

Written by: Chaz Thorne

Directed by: Chaz Thorne

 

Okay, I watched this one at my friends’ house right after we watched Ahhh!  Zombies! Once again I was not taking notes while watching, so this review might be less detailed than normal.

This movie is a dark romantic comedy about a man who inherits a funeral home in a town where no one seems to be dying, falls for the cute but kinda creepy mortician, and finds some creative solutions to their business problems (read:  they start killing people).

It’s very dark (as one would suspect judging by the subject matter) and yet strangely cute also (as one would not necessarily expect).  Rose Byrne does a particularly good job of making her character attractive despite her whole tendency to kill people.  Jay Baruchel makes his character’s evolution thought out extremely clear, which I liked.

My only minor complaint was that the last scene seemed jarring in a way that didn’t help the film over all for me.  I wouldn’t change the ending narratively, just something about the way that scene unfolds.

Rating:  four out of five jars of peanut butter