Thursday, May 29, 2008

Seniors Go Bye-Bye

Graduation's over! Goodbye to the Class of '08. They were a decent class--definitely a step up from last year, given their accomplishments and their overall behavior--but we were ready to watch them walk. Seniors during the last week of school are absolutely NUTS. This group was no different. 

Tomorrow night, I spend my last night with them at Project Graduation. This should be interesting! Let's hope I can catch up on my sleep this weekend.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ten Favorite Time Wasters

As an Olympic-caliber time waster, I can certainly do this. Here are favorite ways to let the time pass me by.
  1. Infosnacking. Netsurfing. Whatever you call it. If it's on the web, I can find it.
  2. Bookstore browsing. Time just flies by.
  3. Palm games. Crazy Daisy and Bejeweled, usually, with occasional forays into Bookworm.
  4. Reading organizational books. So much more satisfying than actual organizing, since you can create the Plato's cave version of your lovely home without all that messy work.
  5. Reading. Anything. I will reread books I've read multiple times instead of something I ought to be doing, like cleaning.
  6. Microcleaning. Not the big stuff, like Mt. Washmore or the shower, but that little niggling area of the desk that annoys only me. Plus, I make a bigger mess while doing it than originally existed.
  7. Cuddling. Actually, this is time well spent. But sprawling on the sofa draped with a kid prevents you from doing so much more.
  8. Movies. We have many, many DVDs. Amazing how many of them I can practically recite from memory, but watch again anyhow.
  9. Blogging. See, I should be grading papers right now, but...
  10. Leaving things unfinishe...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Musings: Shirley Valentine

I can't remember which female friend advised--nay, DEMANDED--that I watch Shirley Valentine, but apparently it made enough of an impression that I at least added it to the Netflix queue. Shirley arrived this week, and since we're off from school today, I popped it in.

Well, anonymous friend was right. This was a treat. The film is based on a play of the same name by Willy Russell. Pauline Collins, who plays Shirley, won a Tony for the stage version and was nominated for an Oscar for the film.

If you're not familiar with the film, Shirley is a fortysomething Liverpool housewife whose life is so strictured she cooks the same thing for tea every day (chips and egg on Tuesdays, steak on Thursdays, etc.) and hasn't thought of anything beyond housework and drudgery for a while. When her divorced friend Jane wins a two-week holiday in Greece and invites Shirley to come, she refuses--until her boring life and equally lifeless husband prod her into going.

On Mykonos, Shirley remembers what is was like to be her younger self: Shirley Valentine, who took risks, rolled her school skirts up, and laughed. She's been trapped so long in the roles of "wife" and "mother" that the Shirley inside has practically entered the Witness Protection Plan. She drinks wine by the beach. She sunbathes. She meets a charming Greek man named Costas probably ought to rent it yourself. Needless to say, she becomes a very different woman than the one who leaves Liverpool's pouring rain behind and embraces warm Greek sands and depthless seas.

Willy Russell, like American playwright Robert Harling (Steel Magnolias) has certainly been listening to women. It's amazing how true-to-life the dialogue is, along with the not-uncommon observation that women in their forties have so subsumed themselves into roles, they forget their essential selves. The book I wrote for last year's NaNoWriMo, Life After Little League, actually explores some of these themes, but not in the same way. Makes me want to go back to the book, actually, and see what I can do myself.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gutsy Broad: Tina Fey


Well, she's technically not a broad yet, but she's no chick. What she is is incredibly clever and smart. Geeky, even. (Work those glasses, girl!) This is the brain behind SNL's revived Weekend Update, the Emmy-winning 30 Rock, and Mean Girls. She's beautiful but not obnoxious about it, and she seems to be having a ball. We should all have it so good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ten Movies You're Excited to See

Summer blockbuster season is upon us! Here are my top ten choices--one's I'd be willing to spend full price to see...although given the fact that teachers don't get paid between June and early September, I'll be spending plenty of time at the dollar movie theater instead...
  1. Iron Man. Saw it already. Worth the ticket. A must-buy on DVD when it comes out. This is how to do a superhero movie right, people!
  2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I've figured out at least one major plot point already, but there's something about the hat and the whip, even if Indy is getting creaky in the joints. Plus, Karen Allen! She's worth the cost of the ticket alone. We loves us some Marion Ravenwood.
  3. Kung Fu Panda. Jack Black is hilarious. Obnoxious, but hilarious.
  4. The Happening. I know, I know. M. Night Shyamalan is a one-twist pony, but his movies kind of burrow in there after repeated viewings (this from the woman who has watched Signs about fifty times. And you have Marky Mark as the hero. Looks fun.
  5. Get Smart. I LOVED this TV show when I was a kid. The idea of Steve Carell as Agent 86 alone is just about perfect. Even if it bombs, I'll bet it's fun. Now if they would just invent a real Cone of Silence I could use on my first period class...
  6. WALL•E. Even if this is a little like "Johnny Five cleans up the world and falls in love," I have faith the Pixar folks will work their usual magic.
  7. Hellboy II: The Golden Army. DH has become a comic book geek in his semi-old age, so we're all about the comic book adaptations. Guillermo del Toro's behind the camera, plus Ron Perlman as our hero-from-hell (that's a good thing!). Should be fun.
  8. The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger as the Joker, Christian Bale as the man in the bat suit. One plus one equals blockbuster.
  9. Mamma Mia! As someone who wore out the tape of "ABBA's Greatest Hits" she got from the Columbia Record and Tape Club O, these many moons ago, I kind of have to go. Plus, Meryl Streep lets loose in a comic role, and three good looking potential fathers to drool over. My, my. How can I resist you?
  10. Swing Vote. Political geek, I admit. What would happen if an unemployed single dad (Kevin Costner) who preferred fishing and beer to responsibility were the one person to decide a close presidential election--between Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper, of all people? Makes you wonder how out of it we all are. Could be good fun.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Bed List/The Dinner List

I haven't done one of these in a while, but I got inspired (you'll see why). Click on the "Men" link at the end of the post to see previous choices.


He always played the sleaze or the troubled bad boy (not that it was a stretch) in all those 80s movies. But Robert Downey, Jr. has grown up in the "damn, he got hot!" mode previously employed by men like George Clooney and Patrick Dempsey. We took the whole fam to see Iron Man, and whoa. Bad boy is still bad, but he's grown up. And out. He's buff, he's charming, he's naughty. That's pretty much a bedroom trifecta.


Speaking of reformed bad boys...Craig Ferguson's fought and won his addiction battles, too. Plus, he's funny as hell and Scottish, to boot. Maybe I have him on the wrong list...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

End of the Dawn Patrol

Last night, our local school board--in a cost-saving measure--voted to switch the school start times for middle and high schools. So instead of reporting at 7:10 am, we high school folks will now start at 9:30. This also means that Mr. Tuba, my soon-to-be middle schooler, will be waiting for a bus to deliver him to school at 7:30. Yep, in the dark part of the year.

I don't know which is worse, worrying whether he'll get on the bus on time in the morning if I'm not in the house, or worrying what to do with him in the afternoon after school's out. Yikes. At any rate, I'll be doing some heavy duty adjusting. I like getting up early. I like finishing my day earlier and being able to go to yoga class in the afternoon to de-stress. This will really be a switch.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Swoop home for a quick dinner, then it's off to the middle school for Bandapalooza! We listen to the middle school band, one high school's jazz ensemble, and the other high school's marching band, then the kids get to try all the instruments. Too fun. I ask DS what he thinks he likes. Saxophone and trombone, he tells me. He tries everything. Turns out he likes (and is surprisingly good at) this:

The instrument's as big as he is! He doesn't care. He says it felt good. Only eleven, and he's already not your average bear. That's my boy, all right.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Yoga Meltdown

Threw a fit in yoga class today. Quietly, of course, not to disturb the others in the class, but a fit nonetheless. I sneak in and set up, and the first position off the bat is one that's impossible for me to do. Virasana--hero's pose.

Bending the knees is no problem. It's the thighs and calves. All those years of Highland dancing gave me calves like baseballs. They do not play well in that position. Plus, I'm short. I'd have to fold up a blanket the size of a milk crate to get my butt (and there's quite a bit of that) high enough off the ground to make this pose even remotely comfortable. But I'm a tough gal. I teach in the 'hood. I figure I can put up with it for long enough to move out of position, but noooooooooo. Apparently, we're going to do all kinds of arm and shoulder stretching, all while in virasana. So my thighs are screaming, I'm pissed, I rearrange myself into half-lotus until they move. They don't. Now my head's full of screaming and self-loathing and lots of other words that really don't belong while you're in a yoga class. And they are not going away. So I did. Took my asana right out of there.

Then I sat by the pool, watched my gorgeous daughter swim, and cried.
Maybe I'm PMSing. I hope I'm PMSing. If not...well, let's not think about that too hard.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Musings: Twilight

Okay. So I finally get around to reading the one book that everyone in the world (at least, every female in the world) has read except me: Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. Students of mine have raved, friends of mine have raved. I've resisted. I did the same with poor Harry Potter. I ignored the siren's song until Goblet of Fire, then cracked the cover of Sorcerer's Stone--and got hooked. Damn books are like crack. Given all the hype, I expected to feel the same about Twilight. I cracked the cover and...


Okay. I have to give Meyer her props. The world-building she's done is damned good, especially the way she works in plausible explanations for all the vampire conventions we've come to know and love, thanks to Bram Stoker and Hollywood's affinity for beautiful women and bloodsucking men. The bat thing. The sleep-in-a-coffin thing. The can't-be-out-in-daylight thing. Well done. But Bella, our heroine? Frankly, she's bordering on romance's dreaded TSTL line. Too Stupid to Live.

I know, I know. She's a teenager. She's obsessive. She's got a thing for doomed love (favorite Shakespeare play: Romeo and Juliet, according to the preview chapter of New Moon bundled in the back of the Twilight paperback I was reading). But still...I love you, I want to be with you forever, bite me? This from the same girl who loves her mother enough to face death to help her? I can hear the conversation now: "Mom, I love Edward. I want him to bite me so I can be his eternal bride." "What?" "I know you want what makes me happy, so, later!" Maybe that's the problem. She's such a teenager. I want to slap some sense into, not pine alongside her.

Will I read the other books? Maybe. I'm curious to see what Meyer does with her vampire universe. But it'll be awhile. My teen whinemeter has pegged for the time being.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

You Ain't No 'Lectric Elephant

My grandmother, Mama's mother, was a one-woman force of nature. She was up every day at about 5:30. It seemed like half of those days, she had a pound cake baked and cooling on the counter by the time the rest of the house resurrected itself in time for breakfast. She ran the family farm from the business end, negotiating prices, handling cash, balancing the books. She kept my grandfather's business records--he was a salesman for Lipton Tea--and even designed a tracking sheet for him that became the in-house standard. She kept an immaculate house, played bridge, and made homemade candy. A seventh-generation Florida native, she knew the vital importance of a fresh bath at 5 pm, and every time I smell Estée Lauder's Private Collection, I think of her.

When she lived in Atlanta, during the busiest of the salesman years, she had a maid named Alice. Alice, another one-woman force of nature, understood more about balance than my wide and busy grandmother. After watching her work herself into a frenzy one day, Alice calmly fixed one of her looks on her and pronounced, "Now, slow down, Miz Bero. You know you ain't no 'lectric elephant."

I could use an Alice. Not for the housekeeping help (although I wouldn't turn it down!), but for the advice. I could use a voice of sanity telling me, "Now, slow down, mimi. You know you ain't no 'lectric elephant." What with the teaching and the mothering and the cleaning and the dog-walking and the cooking and cleaning and God knows what else isn't getting done, I can run myself flat on my back. And then I realize I haven't gotten to the fun stuff, like writing. Or taking a nap. Or planting some flowers in my front bed.

Slow down. Pull the plug. Steady as she goes. No need to be anyone's elephant, 'lectric or otherwise.

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