Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The DoN Says, "You're Fired!"

"Now is the winter of our discontent..."

That line is, of course, Shakespeare's. It's from Richard III, but I think it should be the motto of Ohioans. According to Zogby, the poll people, we are an uhappy lot, and it's not just the lousy winter weather. Oh, hell. Let me just quote Zogby International verbatim here, because it's just too luscious:
A Zogby International online survey, conducted a week after the Nov. 8
election and released yesterday, shows just 6.5 percent of Ohio voters view the
embattled GOP governor very or somewhat favorably. Barely 3 percent rate his job
performance as "good" or "excellent."

61% of respondents want, Bob to resign. (Only!) And what's more, nearly 50% of those polled said that Taft ran a "purposely corrupt" administration. Those Buckeyes don't even think he's just stupid, ignorant, and inept. They think he's downright shifty!
That's where I part company with them. I know he's just dumb. See,, Bob Taft came to my high school to speak a couple years ago to promote himself and some lame initiative that I can't even remember because it failed, like all of his initiatives inevitably do. He asked for one of our school leaders to introduce him. We chose a young man and he prepared a creative and well-written introduction. Which he shouldn't have, because Taft's lackeys gave him a card with a pre-written generic intro on it full of political crap. But the student read it like the decent kid he was. And Governor Taft got up there and spouted his empty rhetoric for a while and the students were polite and applauded in the right spot, and the local paper took a picture. Well, later, when the kid went back up to the podium after it was all over, he found a page of Taft's speech that had fallen out of the sheaf of papers and been left behind. Between two of the paragraphs was this typed notation: "pause and smile." THE GUY HAD TO BE CUED WHEN TO FREAKIN' SMILE.
Ohio has no legal mechanism for recalling its governor. He is too damn stupid and prideful--over what, I know not--to resign. The best we can hope for (the 90+% of us who aren't related to him, apparently) is that he'll just shut the hell up and not do any damage before he gets up off the chair in Columbus.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Little Learning yada yada yada

I have two college degrees, yet I cannot:

1. Program my cellphone.
2. Successfully tape the correct television program.
3. Drive anyplace beyond a 20 mile radius of my own home.
4. At any time tell where North is (or any other direction, for that matter).
5. Swim.
6. Play any adult card games at all.

I suppose the thing to do is ask if any of these half-dozen things really matter. Dangerous question, that. Opens up the field of whether the vast compendium of things I do know matter. Now I'm looking at the subject-verb agreement of the sentences. Should the verbs be "matters"? Sigh. Screw it. I know too damn much.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Virtue, Liberty, and Independence*

Pennsylvania is to be commended for having the smarts to go to the polls and pull the right levers or touch the right screens or hang the right chads or however they vote there. Not only did they go blue in the presidential election, but they put Rep. John Murtha (D) in his seat 16 times.

If you haven't been following the news the past 3 days--shame on you!--then you've missed quite something. This longtime hawk has stepped to the microphone and given voice to the American majority and has not backed down, no matter how harsh the vitriol from the backlashing Republicans. Among his snipers was, of course, Darth Vader Cheney, who accused this Vietnam vet of having no backbone. This from a man who sought and was granted five deferments and never did see military service. Disgusting.

I used to really dislike Pennsylvania; it was a long state that was in the way of where I wanted to go, which was New Jersey, where my then-fiance was living. It made my trip way longer than I wanted. People from the Pittsburgh area say things with a funny emphasis, like INsurance and UMbrella, rather than inSURance and umBRELla. But now, I think Pennsylvania is just goshdarn freaking brilliant.

*Pennsylvania's state motto, and that first one's a toughie for the Angel of Death's admin, no doubt!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Food for Thought...Literally

Lately and for a variety of reasons, I've developed almost a love-hate relationship with food, and I've had to think an inordinate amount about it. That's not too hard this time of year; the ad executives use the holiday season to bombard the consumer with commercials and print ads that encourage each one of us to eat, drink, and be merry, and the minute it becomes New Year's Day, they turn around and assail us with messages from Jenny Craig, Bowflex, Lean Cuisine, and TrimSpa.


I've come to the conclusion that there are quite a few foods that are overrated:

1. Pizza. It's boring. Basically bread, cheese, spaghetti sauce. Food for teenagers whose tastes are suspect anyway. After all, they made Britney Spears and face glitter popular.

2. Crab Legs. Too worky. Crab is delicious, but crab legs or crab you have to crack forever is too much effort for what you end up with. Get a good crab cake--if you ever, ever can--or a pasta with a decent crab sauce, or best yet, a crab bisque.

3. Caviar. Are you kidding? Salty, fishy, and a gross texture all wrapped into one. It's like Nightmare Tapioca of the Devil.

4. Waffles. I'm not even sure we need this food. After all, we already have pancakes. Waffles are redundant. And those things from the freezer that you put in the toaster that are hard on the outside and defy syrup to penetrate them...not sure what those are.

5. Veal. Aside from the objectionable way in which this meat is produced, isn't veal really just sorta porky chicken? Or chickeny pork? Do we really need it? I'm thinkin' no.

6. All Melons Aside from Watermelon. Okay, Maybe Cantaloupe Can Stay. All the rest of them are boring and basically bland. Watermelon has personality and an identity. It IS summer. It's juicy and recreational; who in his life hasn't spent a summer afternoon spitting watermelon seeds? Cantaloupe is pleasant and sophisticated--I'll give you that. But all those casabas and honeydews and santa claus melons have gotta go. Admit it--you just bought one to try or to add color to a fruit salad. It tasted lousy and you've never bought it again.

There are more, but let's not get carried away. I was watching my favorite cooking show Paula's Home Cooking , and she was talking about being asked what her all time favorite food was. She said hers was the potato. I had to agree. I could live on potatoes for the rest of my life: french fries with ketchup, baked potatoes with butter and chives and lots of salt and pepper, garlic mashed long as I had a few light condiments, I could hang with potatoes for a good long while. Screw those half-dozen foods up there. And I could add so many more, as I bet some of you could, even as you detract from my list.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

DoN Gets a Little Bit Smug, Politically

Tough times for The Angel of Death (Dubya, for those of you who are still sporting kid gloves). The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll is a Democrat's dream. Click on the link to see the numbers for yourself, but the thing that I'm most excited about is the fact that 80% of Americans see the indictment of lil' Scooter Libby in the outing of Valerie Plame, CIA agent as a serious matter.

Remember doing analogies on the ACT or SAT college entrance exam? Those onerous word pairings where you had to determine the relationship between the first two words and then duplicate it?

Here's one for Bushie, then.

Monica Lewinski : Bill Clinton :: Valerie Plame : George W. Bush

At least Bill had a good time with the woman who brought down his presidency.

Monday, November 07, 2005

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

I advise and edit my high school's literary magazine. It comes with the territory of teaching our creative writing course, which I love. What I do not love is seeing students stride firmly over the same tired ground, year after year, committing the same egregious acts, using hideous and predictable snippets of writing.

Things like these in short fiction writing:
1. ice blue eyes
2. raven hair
3. piercing eyes
4. a romantic dinner always being in candlelight and always having roses and always having wine and always being something actually unromantic to eat, like spaghetti or steak or lobster
5. auburn or chestnut hair, shoulder-length or midway down her back
6. the lovers always calling each other "babe" or "love" or "my angel" or some sappy combo of the three
7. the found note that wraps it all up at the end
8. vampires

Or things like these in poetry:
1. warm sun caressing skin, or pretty much anything
2. 1st person voice who "wears a mask"
3. breeze drifting lazily and/or caressing again
4. the phrase "in my mind"
5. the theme of "no one understands the real me", usually repeated ad nauseum
6. "the blade against my skin"
7. the simile of tears and rain
8. vampires

I could go on and on. I have already told my new crop of writers that they are forbidden to use the word "amazing", which certainly must be the single most overused word in the English language this century. Also, that no one's heart is allowed to be "pierced" , nor is it allowed to "melt" in their stories or poems. And that if I read one more creative piece in which a hero has "steel grey eyes" or the heroine has "lush lips", I will likely blow my brains out. I threatened to Google them for the rest of their lives, always on the lookout for these nasties. Such good sports, they laughed and took an oath to protect my sanity and blood pressure forever. Thank goodness. Deadline is November 11. In my mind, no one understands what it is like to be the real me, with tears falling like rain, waiting for some steel-eyed, lush-lipped writers to submit their work on time, all the while knowing that I'm just another raven-haired English teacher who wears a mask of toughness on the outside; all it would take to melt my heart is a good story that would satisfy me like warm sun caressing my skin.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

DoN Bosses the Final Frontier

It's not that I fear change; it's just that I truly believe with all my heart that some things should be left alone. They nibble at the edges of Big Things That Matter and they just mess around with Things That Should Not Be Messed With. Let me try to explain.

I live in Ohio, a state with not much to recommend it. Our weather sucks, the stars who get inducted into our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and Museum!) go to a ceremony IN NEW YORK, our governor was recently in court to face criminal charges and has an approval rating of 19%, and we are the state that blushed enough to put Dubya (aka The Angel of Death) in the White House last year. We have the river that actually caught fire, too. But we do have one thing, and that is Lake Erie, a Great Lake right smack on top of us. I was raised a couple of minutes away from that lake, so in elementary school when we had to memorize the Great Lakes, I could picture Erie lapping around my ankles. Huron, Ontario, Michigan, ERIE, Superior, I memorized; H-O-M-E-S, homes. How simple. Then, in 1998 Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont proposed new legislation declaring Lake Champlain a Great Lake. He was after federal moolah for colleges and almost sneaked this by, but it didn't pass. Could you have imagined if it did? Little schoolchildren everywhere denied the simple mnemonic of HOMES; what would they use then? CHOMES? HOCMES? HOMECS? And those of us who grew up on HOMES? I shudder. All Great Lakes Staters really got pissed off, and I can't say I blame us. After all, tradition and history should count for something.

Which brings me to the topic at hand...and yes, I still have one. And it is Pluto.

Not the Disney dog (who is mysteriously allowed to be doggishly naked whilst Goofy, also a dog, is clothed; that is for another post), but the planet. Which is the issue we must wrestle with.

Apparently, there has been some backdoor dealing amid the pointyheads in the science world to delist Pluto as a planet. How did I, average person, find this out? On Comedy Central! I immediately (and accusatorially) emailed my colleague Jeremy, physics teacher extraordinaire, who emailed back that he'd "been telling people Pluto wasn't a planet for so long that it had never occurred to [him] that it was news." Well, I am devastated. When I was in 3rd grade, I did my planet report on Pluto! It most certainly was a planet! I memorized the NINE planets--count 'em--9 by the mnemonic device everyone did: My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus (ha ha you said your anus), Neptune, PLUTO. Are we going to just toss yet another valuable learning tool on the scrap heap just because of a bunch of picky nerds who can't even agree what a planet IS? (Not to mention the fact that I got an 'A' on my report! And old Mrs. Fauver never gave A's in Science to anyone, believe you me!) Besides, now the Hubble telescope has found two new moons orbiting little old Pluto, who has one fine big moon already. It even has a name, Charon. This adds yet another facet to the debate. If Pluto is just a spaceberg, a big chunk of space ice, why name its moon? I really think you science types are just looking for trouble and things to argue about. I'd be glad to submit my Pluto report to any of you who cares to read it. I still have it, and it's even illustrated. In Venus brand colored pencils, no less. Venus: also a planet. SO FAR. So, leave Pluto alone. Or I'll put you all on MY list, and it's not a very nice one. So there.

The world is changing fast enough. Some of it can be...let be. If you're not sure which stuff, check with me. The Dept. of Nance stands ready to decide.
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