Monday, April 30, 2007

Well, shit

It's Audience Participation Monday again, and I had the idea that we could work more on our story, seeing as how we haven't actually finished one yet, but it seems that Tammy has taken care of that one for us.

Because I had only about a half hour to come up with a plan, and Monday is a 12 hour day for me, and there are nachos and Guitar Hero waiting for me, today's game is simple.

Put on your PJs and fuzzy slippers 'cause this is a whole hellava lot like a slumber party game. No, we're not going to wait until someone falls asleep, freeze her underwear, and try to make her pee by putting one hand in warm water and one in cold. This game is called


and it is, like, the easiest APM yet. What have you done in the last 10 or so years that, in retrospect, may not have been the wisest decision you have made, even though it really, really seemed like an okay thing to do? If in the next few hours I (with your help, even) come up with some variation on it, I'll let you know. In the meantime, take it away, participants!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Another Web-Thingie

And to think I could have paid a professional several hundred dollars to tell me this exact same thing...

You May Be a Bit Dependent...
You're more than a little preoccupied with being abandoned.
You need a lot of support in your life, at all times.
It's difficult for you to survive on your own
...And you don't reallly think you ever could.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I was hoping someone would notice!

You Are Bad Girl Sexy

Girl, you are nothing but trouble. And that's hot.
You've got the classic bad girl sexiness mojo going on.
And your badass attitude makes men fear you - and crave you.
Don't give into people who say to tone it down. You're perfect as is.
I can't believe I answered "Buffy" to the question about what DVD to watch with the boyfriend and still wound up with this one. I think I'm about as far from "classic bad girl sexiness mojo" as you can get.
If you want, you can check in on the comments section and remind me what a badass I am--I do, after all, ride a motorcycle. And I had my nose pierced, until Tyson made some stupid offhand remark about the dumb girls at work and their nose rings. It's not very badass if you take out your nose ring because your man says something, now, is it?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Same song, different verse...

...a little bit louder and a whole lot worse.

This week's Audience Participation Monday is a twist on last week's. Because I'm a little curious about what's on the other side of that door, we'll be continuing our APM Noir, except now it's gone from a film noir to an Ed Wood film. Fans of cheesy sci-fi, get yer ray guns up!

Babs, our tough-talking Brooklyner (Brooklynite? Brooklynese? Brooklyneer?) has been unceremoniously ousted from the offices of one Lazlo Kovaks. Let's leave Kovaks for later and focus on Babs. What multi-headed alien monsters await her behind the mysterious office door? What is in store for her?

So what's the catch? It seems like some people (and you know who you are) have been, for lack of a better word, hogging the yarn-spinning a bit, sometimes sending the narrative off in directions the rest of us are mildly confused by. Others of you are feeling intimidated when some among us shine a little too brightly (I'll be expecting a contribution from you this week, Brannon.). And some people just write weird shit.

It's time to level the playing field a bit. This week, you can only add to the story exactly seven words at a time. Not six, not eight, SEVEN. Articles count as a word. For strings of hyphenated words, count each word. I'll be happy to field any further clarification you may need as to the rules. After you have added your seven words, you have to wait to post again until at least one other person goes. In other words, you can't post twice in a row.

Are your warp drives ready? Your fazer-guns set to "stunning"?

It's time for the

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What I'm afraid of

Some of you (ahem, Tyson) have asked me why I don't do more on my blog, or why I don't do "that writing thing" very much. These people (Tyson) give the same couple of reasons every time they mention this: sometimes I say clever things, I know and use lots of words, I like writing, etc, etc. But when it comes to what somebody once called the "ass in the chair" principle, whereby a writer parks his or her ass in a chair and actually produces written material, well, that's where the whole paradigm sort of breaks down for me.


There was a time when writing seemed very important to me. For three semesters in a row I enrolled in creative writing workshops in college (two semesters were with Penn-Faulkner Award-winning professors, one helpful, one pompous). I faithfully kept a journal for about six years, not just the standard, unimaginative, sparse "dear diary, today was a regular day" kind of stuff, but lengthy diatribes, descriptions, conversations, poems, and so on.

You know what I think it is? My first semester in college, I fell in love with a man 10 years my senior and had an immediate, intense need to feel like an adult, like a fully developed real person, not a person-in-progress. Curling up on my bedroom floor with my spiral notebook, a handful of cigarettes, and Bob Dylan on the stereo just seemed so--adolescent. Coming up with theories about how the material world exists only as a manifestation of our thoughts, feelings, and memories about objects now just seemed dumb. Then I took a philosophy class where basically what I learned was that no matter how great your idea sounds on paper, and no matter how many years you devoted your career to refining it, somebody somewhere (or a roomful of somebodys) can tear it to shreds with barely a flex of their mental muscles, and if your logic has a hole in it anywhere, then, by default, it must be wrong.

I do want to make clear at this point that T in no way made me feel like this; he did not belittle, was not condescending in any way (except maybe once about Bob Dylan. And those of you who know Tyson will say that he is fairy adept at poking holes in theories, whether he does it maliciously or not.). My internal critic, always by far the loudest voice in my head, just kicked it into high gear.

The other thing I'm afraid of goes back to way before this: I am sometimes embarrassed to call attention to myself in the brains department. Maybe it is partly left over from college, too, but I hate that guy who raises his hand every five minutes and delivers well-reasoned answers at length. (Maybe that's why I prefer the short-n-pithy approach, you know, so it's like, not a big deal or anything. Very non-threatening.) To this day, I don't like playing Scattergories with most people because I hate feeling like the giant, overeducated nerd who has to explain answers because people don't know what they are.

What that means for me now is that, as a writer, I find myself all but crippled by insecurity. My poetry is, at best, sophomoric, my ideas are pedestrian, and there is nothing I can say that the next person couldn't say better. I figure, if it's not "good," then there's no point in my doing it. I hate bad poetry; that's why I don't write it. I get bored almost instantly reading most small-time comics, so I all but refuse to finish my own comics. I hate reading the same old trite "this is what I did today" schtick online, so I wait and wait and wait to update my blog. Then I just sit around in smug self-satisfaction until somebody else posits what I was kind of thinking, so all I have to do is agree with them and pretend I "just didn't have time" to come up with something like that. (I also think that ties into my penchant for self-sabotage, but that's something I'll take up later. Maybe.)

Secretly, I know that for me, "hate" and "am jealous of" are sometimes interchangeable, as in, "Man, I hate all these skinny rich people you always hear about that get to jet-set all around the world kayaking and rock-climbing all day long. These people will be the downfall of Western Civilization, I tell you what."

Anyway, I hope this clears up some things for you, and for me.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Audience Participation Monday

For APM, I seriously considered letting everyone make a list of times Tyson said what was true rather than what we would rather hear, but I figure you can do that in the comments over at his blog.

Today's activity is the most difficult one to date: we will craft another "story in the round" with an extra rule: you will not use any word containing a certain proscribed letter of the alphabet. As per Tyson's request, I will set two levels of difficulty, and we shall see on whose shoulders the laurels come to rest.

Our story recalls the classic 40s and 50s Film Noir style, starring a detective and a dame in distress. Think "Guy Noir" on Prairie Home Companion or that one episode of X-Files.

Our hero, Lazlo Kovacs, sits at his desk in a murky office, lit dimly by slits of light from the streetlamps, cutting the smoke-filled room. What happens next is your call. Remaining true to the genre, a blonde in a gabardine coat arrives, shows some thigh, and lights a cigarette, but that, readers, I leave in your capable hands.

Here are your letters:
E (if you're feeling up to it)
M (if you need training wheels first)

Thursday, April 12, 2007


In one of those moments that, after the fact, seems inevitable, I landed the job at X High School, a job I have wanted since I first subbed there three years ago!!! Seriously, this school is so whitebread--70% Caucasian, 95% meets/exceeds standards in writing, 74% graduation rate (compared to 60% district-wide!)--it's like Warren-Walker with more public-school hoops to jump through, but a better benefits package to make up the difference. Plus it's a four-minute drive or about a 10-minute bike ride, so I can leave the house at the same time as I do now, about 6 a.m., but I'll be home by about 2:30, even staying late to grade/plan. (For some reason CCSD continues to ignore research about adolescents' sleeping patterns and makes them go to school from 7 to 1:15, but that's how I prefer it, anyway.) While I don't know the exact breakdown of the classes I'll be teaching, the official title is Honors American Literature, so I'm guessing I'll have at least two of those.

Anyway, it was SO EXCITING, and it's already becoming difficult to concentrate on the rest of this year. I even got a move-in date, just like a new house. I can't wait to see what great stuff comes in my room.

So everybody stop in at the comments section and congratulate me and tell me how great I am, natch, and then go back to the animal rhymes or what ever else ya'll have going on.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In which "Audience Participation Monday" happens on a Tuesday (again)

In honor of the poetry going on at Tyson's blog today, Audience Participation Monday is an activity I like to call


It is probably the simplest one of these that we've done. You just make a sentence using some kind of animal name and some other word that rhymes with it. An even easier way to explain would be to give some examples.

"There are APES in the DRAPES!"
The frog lived in the peat bog.

...and so on. Mine are pretty tame, although it gives me a giggle to imagine someone's fine velvet curtains infested with primates. Let's see what else we can come up with!

In which I may just have aced an interview

I just got in from an interview with a principal at a high school down the street--a job I have been coveting since I saw the listing last Monday--that would be teaching American Lit to juniors at one of four "high-achieving" high schools in Clark County. ("High-achieving," according to NCLB, just means that they do a certain amount better than their mandated AYP. Go ask your child's teacher. They'll explain what all the acronyms mean. They'll probably find a few choice epithets to share with you, too.)

Anyway, my interview lasted about an hour, and a couple of times I thought we were about to wrap it up, but then we kept talking about more stuff. So I should know by Friday whether or not I got the job; maybe sooner than that if I get put on the top of the list. After my interview I went to the gym and now have my brain is all mushy from the interview adrenaline and the exercise endorphins and the the not having had dinner yet. (If you were wondering why my prose did not seem as tight as usual, that should help explain some things. Haven't you ever re-read that college essay you wrote at 3 a.m. the day it was due, hopped up on a pot and a half of coffee and a semester of worrying about it? And after you got it back and re-read it, you were either amazed at your genius or startled by the way your ideas went in a hundred different directions at once, like water spilling across a kitchen table? Apparently job anxiety and weightlifting do pretty much the same thing.)

Besides that, today is just a Tuesday. I got an email today saying that my sister will be coming out next week, so there is something to look forward to. That and the Decemberists (which none of you except for her really cares about, anyway, and she will be here for it.)

I should probably go eat something now.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Elaine, I think I may have changed my mind...

Having read Stephen Pressman's engaging Gates of Fire, I watched 300 and couldn't help but make unfavorable comparisons (although I have no doubt the pictures in the original graphic novel are pretty). However, PZ may have changed my mind on this issue.

Apparently, what I saw as mindless, over-hyped doggerel, was actually a complex parody of the creation/evolution debate. I actually get a little thrill picturing PZ in tight spandexy underwear and a cape hidden beneath his white lab coat. Tammy and Elaine, maybe we can find some pictures like that and put them on our blogs.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

In which I am not, obviously, "stuck in Paradise"

...unless you are referring to the township of Paradise, where it is about 50 degrees warmer than when we left Summit County two days ago.

Thanks to Ed's friend Terry, who did exactly the ghetto-style yank-and-bend job on the front of our van that I kept telling Tyson was all we would need to get back on the road, we made it to Keystone on Monday. We kicked around some, took in a couple of movies--300 (crappy, with apologies to Elaine) and Shooter (Marky Mark makes such a great reluctant badass ["oh, man, I totally didn't want to blow up your compound in the woods with an assortment of homemade explosive devices, then take out an entire helicopter by shooting up a propane tank, but the imported Libyan commandos kind of made me do it"])--and generally behaved like ski bums for half a week. I can now make it down a green run in wide S-shaped traverses, repeating "fall line, fall line, bigtoelittletoebigtoelittletoe" to carve a pretty good string of parallel turns. It snowed on us on Thursday while we were attempting to crash a barbecue lunch at Nico's office, so that was both fun and interesting. I can't say I get too excited about snow once it's on the ground, but I can't resist the light, feathery feeling of snowflakes on my face. (No, Tyson, this does not give you permission to wing a snowball at my head. That is so not what I meant.)

But now we are back, with all the realities of home now crushing down upon us--grocery lists, lesson plans, endless piles of laundry, a bathroom inexplicably full of muddy cat prints. At least Tyson had the grace to clean the house on his half-day of early vacation on Friday.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Stranded in Paradise
The Kindness of Strangers

So it's Spring Break (finally). We spent all day and all night Friday frantically cleaning the house so it would be under control when we got back, then yesterday we threw skis, climbing gear, and a suitcase into the van and left for Utah.

The plan was this: lunch at Irmita's in St. George, then camping just outside Escalante and getting up early to hike and fish on the way to Calf Creek Falls. We stopped in St. George to catch a movie (Blades of Glory--good mindless fun surrounded by mindless Mormon teeny-boppers), then headed east through Zion and towards Bryce Canyon. I crawled back to the bed a little after 9, then was awakened by T yelling "fuck!" then being thrown forward off the bed and onto the floor.

T had come up over a hill and met up with a huge buck, just standing in the road like a moron. When he told me what had happened, I, of course, was picturing the bloody, mangled corpse of a deer jammed up into the front of the car, perhaps dangling in chunks from the grille, and it took a few moments before I was brave enough to go survey the damage.

One headlight was out. The grille had been shattered, and something, car part or deer part, was stuck in the fan, resulting in a loud thwapthwapthwapthwap from the engine.

A white van pulled over to help within about three minutes of the accident. The driver, an older woman who had been on the road since 3a.m., offered to drive or escort us to town. While she was offering her assistance, her husband stumbled out of the passenger door and threw up onto the side of the road. They, apparently, were having some of their own problems.

We made it to Mt. Caramel Junction, less of an actual town than an assortment of 2 gas stations and a hotel, at top speeds of 20 mph, that thwapthwapthwapthwapthwap sound drumming in our ears. Naturally, everything was closed except the hotel lobby. The night guy gave us the name of a guy with a garage in the next town who might or might not work on Sundays, as well as directions to his house.

This morning, we decided to forgo the cold cereal breakfast we'd bought earlier and do a real meal at the hotel. T had his computer out and was searching for mechanics in and around the area, or, at the very least, a tow company to get us back to St. George or Cedar City, when a guy named Ed from the golf shop showed up. He offered to call a couple of people he knew and see what he could find. He made us mochas from the espresso cart and, in the end, called his own mechanic to come down and take a look at the van. "While you're waiting," he said, "there's a black Samurai in the lot with the keys still in it. Take it down the road a ways until you see a cave. While my guy is working on your car, at least you'll have something to do." He even offered to run our credit cards at the hotel so we could pay the guy, since all the cash we have is probably not enough.

All in all, it is probably the nicest thing that has ever happened to me. If we ever make it out of Mt. Caramel Junction, we'll have Ed to thank for it.