Monday, January 30, 2006


Do You Remember Dennis The Menace?

Here's an interesting experiment to try: read captions from old Dennis the Menace comics (not the art, just the captions), and see if you can picture what the art looked like. Visit Bill at So Quoted and see if you remember.

Maybe I'll put up my own guesses in a bit.

Journey Of The Lost Children

School begins in late August for many kids. Class, however, does not always begin at the end of August.

School districts make hiring decisions based on enrollment projections. If you're in a district like mine, these projections are rarely accurate, and the error is almost always on the side of less children projected than actually show up. The result is not enough teachers, and overcrowded classrooms when school begins. The district then scrambles to find teachers, who have naturally all taken jobs elsewhere, before school started. When classes are overcrowded, teachers can get paid more. While the district may have its own reasons for creating this situation every year, allow me to speculate.

I believe the district looks at saving money and lowballs the enrollment figures, hoping things can be stretched with as few new hires as possible. After a week or two, they finally accept that the extra students aren't ghosts in the computer and look for new teachers.

When we get the word that a new teacher is coming, we try to make adjustments as quickly as possible. To do this, a sub is hired until a new teacher can be found. The thinking is that moving kids, let's say at week two, into a class run by a sub is better than keeping them in their old classes until perhaps week five or six, when the new teacher can be hired.

Schedules are run through the computer again. Two or three kids are taken from each crowded English 1-2 class, and put into a new class that goes to the sub. This process is done with any number of English classes, trying to get the other classes under the extra pay limit. The sub attempts to get things started with these new classes so they'll be ready to go when the new teacher arrives. Annoying? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. A waste of time? Yes. Did we get that new teacher hired? No.

And the Journey of the Lost Children begins. More to come . . .

Thursday, January 26, 2006


More Catnip

Some overdue additions on the sidebar, in many cases long, long overdue. And if you're into Lost, then be sure to visit So Quoted, for good coverage of the series, and the podcasts too!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Close Encounter Of The Seinfeld Kind

Jerry and George are in a cab, on their way to lunch.

George: So where are we going?

Jerry: It's a new place. A friend recommended it.

George: What kind of a place is it?

Jerry: What difference does it make? It was recommended to me and we're going to try it out.

George: I just like to know what I'm going to be eating. I'm uncomfortable when I don't know what I'll be having.

Jerry: You mean you're not comfortable going to a restaurant unless you know you can get chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy?

George: Not the actual dish, Jerry. The cuisine. Is it Thai? Russian? French? That sort of thing. (Turns away with derisive look on his face, mutters) Chicken fried steak . . . (chuckle and snort)

Jerry, half amazed, half disturbed at the revelation of yet another George quirk: You know, we're really never going to get to the bottom of you, are we?

George: You actually thought you would? (Mock sadness) You really don't know me at all, do you? So, what kind of place is it?

Jerry: Don't worry, I'm sure they'll have something you'll like. It's a smorgasbord.

George: A what?

Jerry: A smorgasbord. They have a lot of different dishes, and you pick the things you want.

George: You're taking me to a Sizzler?

Jerry: No. Sizzler isn't a smorgasbord. It's a buffet.

Geroge: A lot of different dishes, and you pick the things you want is the definition of a buffet! So why isn't Sizzler a smorgasborg?

Jerry: It's not a smorgasbord because it's a buffet. They say it right in the commercials. Jerry does commercial announcer voice: All you can eat buffet at Sizzler.

George: So it could be a smorgasborg, they just don't happen to call it that?

Jerry: Did you just say smorgasborg?

George senses the potential for ridicule: Smorgas- what, why, what do you- ?

Jerry: I thought I heard you say it a minute ago but I know I just heard it now. You said smorgasborg.

George knows he's caught: It's not smorgasborg?

Jerry: No, it's smorgasbord, smorgasbord, with a "d" at the end.

George bluffs: Actually Jerry, it's you who is mistaken. It is smorgasborg, with a "g" at the end.

Jerry: George! It's smorgasbord. It's Swedish. It means sandwich table. What do you think? You go for the mashed potatoes and they tell you you're going to be assimilated?

George: I just didn't know, that's all. Is that ok?

Jerry changes course, deadpan: So what happened at Sizzler?

George: I took my parents there . . .

Jerry understands now: Ohhhhh . . .

George: Where'd you learn all that about the sandwich table and everything?

Jerry: Well there's this Swedish flight attendant . . .

George understands now: Ohhhhh . . .

They both reflect for a moment. The cab stops, Jerry pays and gets out first.

George, sliding over to follow Jerry out of the cab: So, do they have chicken fried steak at this place . . . ?

Was that from an actual episode? Did it come to me in a fit of rather lame creativity? Did I dream it? If so, why am I dreaming about two men? Which bothers me more than you, because you don't know what they did later that night.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I Saw A Boy's Ass Tonight

I never thought I'd say something like that, but there it is. It was at ye olde school play. In this production, it was convenient that jeans worked as part of the costume. Many of the kids were wearing them. One boy, as part of the play, gets knocked out by a punch. And he has a comical knockout twirl not unlike that of Bald Bull in that old boxing arcade game. Mid 80's? Kid Quick and Glass Joe were some of the other opponents. It totally humiliates me that I cannot remember the name of that game. I suck. But I digress.

Billy on stage there does his knockout twirl, and his baggy jeans, well, did their own twirl as he fell to the floor. There was his ass hanging out, I mean completely out, and facing, or mooning, as it were, the audience. And you could tell he debated whether to pull his pants up, or leave his cheeky contribution to the arts on display to maintain the realism of him being knocked out. I suppose if it happened to me, my first and only instinct would be to get the pants pulled up fast. He didn't do anything fast. He didn't move for maybe three seconds, and then he reaches down and pulls them up.

Before you ask, I'll just say that he wore boxers, and when the jeans went, so did they.

Aside from that one mistake, the play was awful. Brutal. Brutally awful. The worst play by far that I have seen at school. Which isn't exactly fair. They are students, after all. Maybe I should just look at it like a teaching hospital. Still, if this play is a teaching hospital, you don't want to get sick.

It's still important to go, especially when they start inviting you. They put a lot of time and effort into it. This is their chance to shine. They should be praised for making a commitment like this and following through. Going there and supporting them gives them important validation.

Writing that, and even feeling and believing it as I typed it, makes me sad. Most of the kids were mediocre in a mediocre play. We're supposed to be heaping praise on mediocrity now? Shall I send them congratulations for being within shouting distance of less than adequate? It just makes me think of all the other ways our kids are fed false praise and blown sunshine. By the time they get to us, those who are on that sort of diet are almost inevitably academically DOA.

Maybe I should stop before I start getting too grim. We had testing this week; blame it on that.

So am I pushing it with that headline?

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Not Exactly Team Magnum

Has it been that long? Dang.

Here's the thing. Miss Lola has come a long way. At one point, she was asking Miss Tori relationship stuff. Typical girly things, I suppose. How do you know if he likes you? When are you officially considered boyfriend-girlfriend? Stuff like that. Until Miss Lola met Big D. And three months later, she's moved in with him.

I mean, what the hell? Talk about out of the blue. Not only that, Big D is someone a few friends have been trying to set Miss Lola up with for a while now. Are they super genuises? Only time will tell.

I like Big D. I can't hold a conversation to save my life, so it's not like he and I are regular pals or anything, but he's a cool guy. Miss Lola seems pretty happy. I hope it works out for them.

Did I mention that Miss Lola was someone Princess Wolfie suggested I ask out? Or that Princess Wolfie has some sort of guy friend. Woo woo! Then you're all caught up.

The problem is that now, Miss Lola, instead of looking for advice, has sort of passed us up. Miss Tori and I aren't even living together yet. Miss Lola is making me look bad. They've even had some discussions of dates! I believe Spring 2007 might be a possibility. One of these days, Mitt Tori is going to be asking me when we're moving in together. And if she starts mentioning Miss Lola's wedding plans all the time, I'll know I'm screwed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Did I Mention The Nazi Architects?

(Bear with the reprint, my little angels, as we indulge in a social experiment)

Ok I have to admit that when I first saw this, I figured it was some kind of joke. Someone with all kinds of skills was having some fun. I went and did the whole Google Earth thing, just to see if I could indeed find it at the listed coordinates. After a little bit of zooming here and there, sure enough, there it was, in San Diego, Ca. I can't make all those little symbols by the numbers, but here's the coordinates I got: 32d 40m 33.84s North, by 117d 9m 27.69s West. I took drafting in 9th grade, and I learned two things. First, according to this girl Adrianna, I was rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. If I met her again today, I could not promise you that her opinion would be different. And second, buildings come from blueprints. You cannot tell me that there was not in existence some set of plans, somewhere, that someone saw, that made it obvious what the end result would be. I don't think I could ever be convinced that this was just some wacky coincidence that no one saw coming.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Bill O'Reilly Wakes Up Just Before Climax Of Wet Dream

or "Bomb Defused at a San Francisco Starbucks."

Somehow I don't think my headline would make it into the Mercury News. Here's the gist of their story:
Police received a call reporting a suspicious package at the coffee house, located at 1401 Van Ness Ave., at 1:15 p.m. The police explosives ordinance unit diffused an improvised explosive device, or IED, around 2 p.m., Sgt. Neville Gittens said.

You're asking what this has to do with O'Reilly? Cast your memory back to this little gem, his reaction to San Franciscans voting to ban handguns and keep military recruiters out of schools:
You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds," O'Reilly said Tuesday on his radio show as San Franciscans were approving the two measures.

"Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead," O'Reilly went on. "And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

So close. So close, and yet so far.

Just to be on the safe side, he wasn't wishing that bombs would go off in San Francisco.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Funniest Movie Of The Year?? Grandma's Boy??

I wanted to go see Hostel, but I knew Miss Tori wouldn't go for it. I wanted to see it for the lamest of all reasons. I saw an ad warning me that paramedics have been called to test screenings, apparently to assist traumatized audience members. And I'm falling for it. I want to see this movie just so I can prove that that ad was total BS.

Miss Tori is not a fan of these sorts of movies. Give her nightmares. Of course, it's rated R. I don't usually notice the rationale included with the rating, but this time I did:
R for brutal scenes of torture and violence, strong sexual content, language and drug use.

I'll have to see it myself soon. In the meantime, we went to see another R-rated movie. The rationale for this one:
R for drug use, strong language throughout, strong crude and sexual humor, and nudity.

That sort of rating she can deal with. It was the only other movie at that theater I thought I wouldn't hate. I could not recall a single TV ad about this movie.* Guy living with grandma was as much as I could summon up. And I knew it was associated with Adam Sandler somehow, toward whom I am not negatively predisposed. Why not? Could have a couple of laughs. We saw Grandma's Boy.

Grandma's Boy is what I would call a pure comedy. A comedy in which laughs are paramount. Romantic comedies are all well and good, and seem to be the most common type of comedy movie, but they're too often heavy on the sweetness and light on the comedy. Just because a movie has a couple of laughs doesn't make it a comedy. That doesn't make it a bad movie, it just means that it isn't a comedy. A comedy devotes the vast majority of its efforts to making you laugh as much and as often as possible. A good comedy pulls it off. Grandma's Boy is a good comedy.

Every January, there's a moment when I pause and wonder to myself which new movie will be declared the _________-est movie of the year, and how soon it will happen. Because I often ask myself where the arrogance comes from that allows someone to claim that a movie is the funniest or scareist movie of the year any time before . . . well, let's say September, at the earliest. You see my dilemma. Can I really call this the funniest movie of the year?

Last summer, Miss Tori and I went to see The Wedding Crashers. I laughed a lot during that movie. We both did. I couldn't remember the last time I had laughed so hard in a theater. Now I have another touchstone against which I can measure other comedies. "Yeah, but did I laugh this much when I saw Grandma's Boy?"

It was almost hysterical. My skills are not sufficient to explain how it felt to be watching this movie. Even when I wasn't laughing out loud, I was in a warm comedy glow. If laughing out loud is the orgasm of comedy, now I know how women feel when they talk about multiples.

Alex is a mid-thirties video game tester living the dream career of anyone who's ever played a video game: 1. Get stoned. 2. Play video games. Repeat. Alex's roommate spent the rent money on massage parlor girls, and Alex is out on the street. He ends up at Grandma's house. The movies follows Alex's encounters with Grandma and her two roommates, and his adventures with the people at work.

There isn't much of a plot. Imagine a recording of a week or two of your life. Would you find a clear beginning and end, or would you find a series of events? Only minimal attention is paid to a plot in this movie. I didn't care because I was laughing so hard.

The movie looked fine to me. The actors did a nice job and none of them seemed unfit for their characters. Most of the movie is related to video games and pot smoking. The movie does not have an overabundance of redeeming social value. This film is not great art.

I think most viewers will either love it, or hate it. I loved it. I'm going to tell everyone I know that they should see it. That includes you guys. Look for me. I'll be the one seeing it again next week.

* This movie may do terribly at the box office. It has not gotten much ad support that I have seen. The screening I saw Saturday afternoon had few people. I predict that this movie will find an audience on cable and dvd, and people will look back and wonder how they missed it.

Actual Update: I think I will go ahead and call this the funniest movie of the year. Even if I'm wrong, if another movie comes out this year that's even funnier, I'll still consider myself a winner.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Put On Your Diapers

Don't blame me if you pee your pants after reading the best blonde joke ever!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Life Imitates Garfield: Schools Hate Mondays Too

Everyone told me it was crazy. They looked at me, sure that I couldn't be serious. Back to school on Monday, January 2nd? It's true. Our district is less than optimally intelligent. It didn't help that on Saturday, the local paper announced we would be closed on Monday. The correction on Sunday was less than widely read. The result? Less than 50% attendance on Monday.

On the plus side, with that many kids gone, you can't help but have a good day.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Cause I'm T.N.T! Dyna-mite!

This young woman makes me proud of our country and hopeful about our future. She says some things you don't expect to hear. Things that people just don't say. The things you secretly believe or wish you could say yourself. Things you know need to be said, but too often aren't, in our modern, polite society. Things like this:
In three years, Private Jordan's enlistment will be over. She said she had yet to decide whether to make the military a career and extend her service or to leave and do something else, perhaps back here in Lyndon. "If the war in Iraq ends, I might get out, because what's the point of being in then?" she said. "But if another war is happening, I could get back in full time, that's what I'm thinking."

Or like this observation I made recently:
What is the big holdup on Joe Dirt 2? I have been waiting for a sequel all these years!

Important, inspiring things like that.

Found in the paragraph twenty-nine of twenty-nine of this NYT article here, but it wasn't buried there to hide something positive about the military. It worked well there as a sharp closer to a rather positive article about one soldier's life as she prepares to go to Iraq. This is an article that supports the troops in all the right ways. Some woman Monica Davey wrote it. Never heard of her; maybe I'll look up some of her other stuff.

Private Jordan is hard core. What's the point of joining if there's no war? But if another war does come along, I'm there! How can you not love that?

Good luck kid. Be careful.

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