Category Archives: Tube.

Mii, too!

As I huffed and puffed away on the eliptical machine, Rigo helpfully adjusted the intensity up or down, seemingly sheerly according to his whim. When I was in a slower cycle, he’d ask questions like, “Do you drink as much water as you should?” (probably not), “Do you drink a lot of coffee?” (yep, and then some) and when I answered, he’d respond ominously, “I could tell.” I haven’t been to church in quite a few months, but apparently I’ve found another place to make me feel guilty: the gym.

I tend to go a good job at the gym when there’s someone there to tell me what to do, whether it’s a trainer, my sister, or my dad (on my own I read the New Yorker while lazily pedaling), so when we got to the bicep machine, I did my very best, despite feeling like my arms might fall off. The real problem, which I didn’t want to admit to fit and serious Rigo, is that my arms are some kind of sore from Wii tennis. I felt Rigo wouldn’t approve of the fact that the only actual exercise I’ve been getting for a while has been from a videogame. (But man, is it fun! Grouchypants and I have been playing just about nonstop since he got it last Sunday. And the little Miis remind me, comfortingly, of the little Fisher Price toys I had growing up.)

But I’ve been freed from the shackles of work and children at least until July, when summer school starts. I’ve got a few out-of-town plans this summer – to Hawaii to visit petit, home to Pittsburgh for the wedding of a very good high school friend, hopefully a weekend at the beach – but I’m also hoping to spend a bit more time here on the interweb. I read so many interesting things on so many blogs – but I almost never comment, and my writing here has been sparse, at best. (I’d like to say I’ve been spending my time educating our future, but mostly I’ve been on the couch, although sometimes grading while drinking beer.)

*****

Ah yes, while I’m talking about the couch – did you watch the season finale of The Office? And if so did you DIE when Jim returned from New York to finally ask Pam out, having been wooed by her yogurt-lid medal and handwritten note of encouragement? Now I predict that season 4 will begin with their date being interrupted by Karen, rightegously angry, because HELLO, Jim left her in New York. I was on a date once that ended with the words, “Oh, shit, that’s my girlfriend” as we got out of the car to go inside his apartment, and let me tell you, ladies, it was not fun, just skanky and unnerving.

But here’s what’s more interesting to me about the season finale – is Jan being punished for something? What happened to her character? During Michael’s disastrous interview with corporate it’s revealed that the job he’s interviewing for is Jan’s – she’s being fired. And not for poor performance of the branches she supervises, or any other ostensibly reasonable rationale, but because under that steely, efficient exterior, she’s apparently a total nutjob, of the most lamentably stereotypical kind. For the past two years, she’s apparently been smoking in her office, taking excessive vacations, and during the time she has been spending at work, doing nothing but (this is my favorite) online shopping! Is she also stuffing chocolate down her throat and calling her mother for dating advice? Are we in a Cathy comic? I find it hard to believe that the tough, no-nonsense woman who said to Michael “please step away from me” when he attempted to “lay some ground rules” about their relationship when they were at the conference has actually been a total wacko the whole time. (Not that this picture of the real-life Melora Hardin strengthens my argument.)

But, before you aruge that her relationship with Michael a sign of underlying instability, I suggest you think about your own dating history. I think it’s perfectly reasonable, and almost a requirement, to feel lonely and date someone who’s entirely beneath you or just wrong for you. I had at least a year in college where every guy I came across fit that description. The most memorable one ended in a bar with said dude’s jaw wired shut after he’d had a particularly nasty drunken fall. And yes, we were in a bar, and he was still drinking heavily. When asked what he would do if he had to throw up, he scrawled on the notepad he was carrying, “Swallow it?” Seriously. In any event, the whole Jan’s actually a nutcase smacks of “behind every successful woman there’s a crazy bitch” thinking, and I don’t buy it. Although I think her weeping proclamation that she’ll just move in with Michael, wear stretchy pants, and await his return from work at 5.15 is fairly genius. I tried it on Grouchypants but he was having none.

*****

Okay, interweb, I end with three questions (one for each of the three of you who read this):

1) Suggestions for summer reading? I’ve got my own list going, and several books coming to me soon via the hold request at the library, but I’m looking especially for suggestions of poets and writing about poetry. I’ve just finished reading Robert Hass’ Twentieth Century Pleasures and loved it, though I found the near-total absence of woman poets immensely troubling. I also started reading The World is Flat yesterday for a class I’m taking this summer, and I’m finding myself annoyed by something in Thomas Friedman’s tone and/or vaguely chatty writing style. Also perhaps the implication that the western world just outsource all the work you don’t have to be very smart to do to India, China, etc, so those of us in America can get down to some serious innovating with our serious American brains. Do you have thoughts about the book? (And I realize I may be misinterpreting his argument, since I’ve just started the book.)

2) Have you seen any good movies lately? Grouchypants and some work friends and I had free tickets to see Knocked Up last night; I went only because it was free, but I ended up having a great time. I’ve read interesting reviews on both Salon and Slate – Slate’s Dana Stevens has some insightful words about the movie’s depiction of women, which I think are spot-on.

3) Is “live every week like it’s shark week” a far more popular search than I would have imagined, or is someone consistently finding this site that way? Almost every day someone’s searched that phrase and ended up here.

My couch is calling. See you again soon.

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I’m not really the President. I just play one on TV.

Or so seems to be the message coming out of presidential hopeful Fred Thompson’s incipient ’08 campaign.

Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp, remarked, as quoted in Slate, “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but when you play a president in a movie and you fit the part, people believe you can carry it out in real life. That’s one thing that Fred believes that no one in either party can bring.”

And this is the guy who’s on Thompson’s side! He’s offering not actual credibility, knowledge, or experience, but merely the ability to project those qualities.

I know as well as anyone – a certain amount of bravado and bluffing will get you a long way. It’s a lesson I learned on the first day of my first year of teaching, when, asked the direction to a room I’d never heard of (at rm 150 I was at the end of the hallway as I knew it and I was asked where 153 was!) I pointed bravely in the opposite direction and made a turning motion with my hand.

The right kind of swagger counts for a lot – out in the hallway, when you’re making the first impression. But when the classroom door closes and the kids realize you’ve got nothing to back up that swagger, the gig’s up. I imagine the same thing’s true of being president.

Imagine, if you will, an all-Law and Order presidency: Sam Waterston as Attorney General! Mariska Hargitay as Secretary of State! Ice-T as Secretary of Defense (and his evil TV-brother Ludacris as . . . umm, Director of the FBI?) Oh no, I could go on and on! Maybe this is the fun of fantasy football.

Just think – rather than the predictable lies and deceit, followed by sloppy cover-up, followed by indignant refusal to respond to questions /subpoenas about said cover-up, we could have the predictable dead or injured body 3 minutes in, the initial suspect whose name is cleared, followed by the suspect who was there all along if only you’d had eyes to see it, final plot twist 47 minutes in, and all of it comfortingly resolved in the end. Dick Wolf, you syndication genius, be mine.

Of course, if Jerry Orbach were running, I’d vote for him in a hearbeat.

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Things I love.

So on the list of things I love, This American Life is pretty high near the top.  Starting Thursday, the radio show is becoming a TV show, and I’ve been a bit fascinated about how the show will be adapted for TV.  Not enough, unfortunately, to be willing to cough up the extra for Showtime, but enough to follow it and eagerly anticipate its release on DVD.  In any event, a preview of the show is here.  And there’s several trailers on the TAL site (above).
What do you think?  I have mixed emotions.

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Brush with fame.

I got back from the week of tour bus-ing on Friday and spent most of the morning catching up on all the internet-reading I usually do when I’m supposed to be writing lesson plans and whatnot. When I got to slate.com to check Ask Prudence (whose advice, if you ask me, is often a bit more mean-spirited than I’m comfortable with), lo and behold, what did I see but this article, written by a man a former roommate of mine used to date (to put it delicately, as I’m sure she would). Now, I only met the man himself once, but I still felt a bit more thrilled by this almost brush with almost fame than is perhaps reasonable (although the phrase “going native” in the subtitle makes me a bit queasy).

I was also reminded that Rolf Potts once told my friend R., in a moment in which she was all panic and oh-god-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life, that he hadn’t even gotten his passport until he was something like 27 so she still had plenty of time to figure it out. None of which does much, actually, to assuage my current fears that I’m somehow squandering my youth (facing down 25, egads! which is practically 30! which is practically dead! and doing it all in Texas!) but at least it can serve as a reminder in my more rational moments.

And honestly, nothing can make you feel older or more uncool than being the khaki pant-clad teacher shepherding 14 year olds around a college campus. The undergrads look on in horror.

Two favorite moments from the trip:

We split up when we got to the Galleria in Dallas for one of our evening activities (which I came to think of as running the puppies so they would fall asleep early enough) and each chaperone ended up with 12 or so kids. I got all the card-playing, anime-reading kids I love so very much. The group was deliberating about what to do with our hour and a half or so: “First, let’s go to Starbucks, then we’ll go to the Gap, then we’ll go to a bookstore.” Swoon.

On the walking tour of UT (for which we had one tour guide, one!, for 85 students, the aptly-named Princess) we came to the main mall of campus, from which you can see the state capitol. S., a student whose little chipmunk face always puts me in mind of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore yelled out triumphantly, “Look, it’s the White House!”

* * * *

In other news, I also got caught up on this week’s Lost yesterday and oh thank heavens am I glad something is finally happening on that show again. I’m a little sick of Kate’s wounded-puppy face (this is the girl who tucked her stepfather into bed, then set the house on fire, right?) but at least it wasn’t another episode of Charlie and Hurley’s happy times riding around in the VW van. One of the reasons why I loved the first season oh so very much was that every episode seemed like a crucial link. Every episode revealed some new wierdness (polar bear! killer black cloud! French torture lady!) or established a connection between characters. This season’s begun to feel like so much fluff.

And really, Locke? Computer chess is the best thing you can find to do with yourself when Sayid’s just been shot? Oh, I’m sorry, I was too busy catching typhoid in Oregon Trail and didn’t notice John Wilkes Booth slipping in the side door.

Also, has anyone else been loving 30 Rock as much as I have? That show makes me laugh harder than just about anything else I can remember being on television. And after spending a whole week together on the tour bus I was sick enough of just about everyone on this past week’s trip that I was ready, Liz Lemon-style to fire them all. Hilarious.

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