Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays from The Dept. of Nance

Merry ChrisMoose, Dept. of Nance readers! Things have already gotten way out of hand here--we've become Holiday Central. Crock Pots have been filled, drapes have been de-cathaired, and the cookies have been brought out of their deep freeze of pre-Christmas hibernation. My house smells like lemon Pledge, Febreeze, Mr. Clean, Windex, Formula 409, and takeout Chinese. That's today. Tomorrow, those aromas will be replaced with glazed ham, Friendship Cake, my three kinds of fudge, Confetti Baked Beans, and all the tangy aromas of the dishes of mixed pickles, shrimp cocktail sauce, and dill dip for the veggie crudites. And once the fam arrive with the trays and trays of cookies, all sorts of indiscretions will occur.

Aaah, Christmas. I hope yours is warm, restful, happy, and above all else, spent with those you most want to be with. I'll see you in the new year. I have such high hopes for 2007, don't you?



Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This Just In: Inflatable Snowman Attack on Video

In the true spirit of journalistic integrity, and because I am willing to pursue the whole story at great lengths for you, my devoted Dept. of Nance readers, here is the link to the actual footage of the previously mentioned, heinous Screwdriver Attack on the Inflatable Snowman.

Just click here.

(It's also because no one is home tonight and I don't feel like reading and glossing the three chapters of The Scarlet Letter that I assigned my honors AmLit students. Yet.)

As you can plainly see from the film, I am not one of the perpetrators. They are clearly: male, tall, large-framed, strong of arm. I, on the other hand, am none of these things. Besides, they caught both of them, and I am old enough to be their mother. And, of course, would punish them. At some point. I'm sure. Enjoy the video.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I Need the Cronkite 12-Step Program--If There Is One

Hello, my name is Nance, and I am a news junkie. I know...admitting you have a problem is the first step. But, the problem is bigger than that. There aren't going to be enough steps in this recovery program. The problem is bigger than I am. I'm hooked and hooked for good. Just the past few days alone have convinced me of it.

It started with this little tidbit, which I read in The Plain Dealer. Up until this story of the python in the Australian toilet, I totally believed--no, needed to believe--that this sort of happening was purely an urban legend. I have a terrific fear of snakes; I will not even touch a photograph of a snake. Once, when I was a little girl, I was terrified that there was a rattlesnake in our toilet. Horrified beyond measure, I screamed for my mother from the hallway. "Mom! Come quick! There is a rattlesnake in the toilet! I can hear it rattling in there! Come listen and then call the fire department to get it OUT!!" My mother came tearing into the hall. She stopped. She listened. Then she started laughing. She tried like hell not to, but she couldn't help it. Her shoulders were shaking with unsuppressed mirth. I was crying---hard. "Nance," she said, her own tears sliding down her cheeks, "honey, that's the wind through the Venetian blinds."

The next news item that gives me pause is one that I heard on MSNBC today. It is the results of a poll given annually for National Kids' Day. Just about 1500 kids under the age of 10 were surveyed as to their opinion of what would be "The Very Best Thing in the World." Number 1? "Being a celebrity." Number 2: "Good Looks"; Number 3: "Being Rich." Now, I realize that "the very best thing in the world" is really broad, and that these kids are very young, but honestly...Number 9 was "Watching Films"!!! Oh, and all those things beat out "God", who rounds out the list at Number 10. Now that's gonna piss off some right-wing conservative Christians, and right at Christmastime, too. I wonder if they specified whose films... 'cause if it's like Adam Sandler or Lindsay Lohan, then it's pissing me off royally.

Finally, we come to an article AND video, the footage of which I cannot seem to get for you but that I saw on both MSNBC and our local NBC affiliate. But before I discuss it, I must digress. (No! Really? La.) It is with great dismay that I observe and note the proliferation of the Inflatable Holiday Yard Decorations. They are no less than an atrocity. What started out as a mere novelty has now turned into an all-out urban assault of not just the standard secular figures of Yuletide; nay, it is now de rigeur to have a yard full of these airy erections in a variety of forms: Sponge Bob in a Santa Hat, the Grinch, a penguin with a scarf, Santa on a Harley, and this year's newest incarnations, the Sno-Globe and the Christmas Carousel. No. I am not making any of those up. They are all in my neighborhood proximity, I am sad to report. The only one I am even remotely flexible on is the Inflatable Eeyore with Reindeer Antlers and that is because, come on! It is Eeyore. If it were up to me, an enormous inflatable Eeyore would be required on every single street. Just not in my yard.

But, I digress.

This report, which I read and saw the shocking and amazing video footage of in no way involves me. I swear it on my life. There is no way, despite my obvious antipathy toward all non-Eeyore yard inflatables, that I would ever stoop to attacking and stabbing one with a screwdriver in the dead of night. Besides, it is clear that the attacker is a man. And I would not go back four times over. Duh.

There you go, as The New York Times' masthead boasts, "all the news that's fit to print."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

All This Testosterone Is Getting to Me

As the only female in the house, I find that it often falls to me to make certain concessions in the interest of Family Harmony. Happily, some of them are trivial...even fun. Others, however, require the diplomacy of an ambassador and the silence of a cloistered nun, two traits that I am not entirely famous for. Allow me to give you some examples of my sacrifice:

1. Fantasy Sports: My husband and two sons are deeply embroiled in this occupation. Rick can spend hours in front of his laptop laboring over his draft picks; Jared spends geological eras in front of his notebook computer, sweating over his nightly lineups in the NBA (er, that's National Basketball Association for those of you in the non-sporting group); Sam disappears upstairs and hollers down to Jared for consults regarding his teams. Jared picked my brain incessantly regarding his bench vs. active rosters until finally, I said, "I'm going to have my own team!" They all stared at me. Naturally, it was too late "to get into a real league," so I logged onto and picked my team. I had one criteria only: looks. I christened my team Cute Boys and my fantasy team was born. I don't give a damn how many points or anything they have. I just want them to look good. And they do. They are darned cute. (Although, if Etan Thomas doesn't get his facial hair under control, even his sexy dredlocks are not enough to save him.) Here is my #1 Cute Boy. Tell me he isn't the cutest thing ever. I love him. He is from Brazil. Or some country that starts with a "B." Who cares? He's cute.

2. The Nativity Scene: Okay, so. My nativity scene has a very special meaning to me. It is carved from olivewood from the Holy Land, and my husband bought it for me for our very first Christmas together in our very first apartment together. Every year, I lovingly wrap it up, each individual piece, in tissue paper, and store it away. Starting last year, the standard figures of the Nativity have been joined by the starting lineup of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team bobbleheads. And LeBron James, whose feet have been broken off, has now supplanted baby Jesus in the manger. But don't despair: power forward Larry Hughes is carrying baby Jesus in one arm--Larry's other arm is holding a basketball, natch. Not only are there Three Wise Men, there are Two Zydrunas Ilgauskases: one is a stretchable, and one is a loomingly large bobblehead. Oh, and there is also a black Santa Claus statue. Only one, though. The other one is strangely MIA. Hey! Don't look at me. I had nothing to do with it. I'm just biting my tongue and wondering who/what is next to join the tableau.
3. ESPN: Are any or all of you aware that this "channel" or "network" or whatever is a non-stop sports thing? Because, really, it's just uncalled for. We must watch "SportsCenter", "Around the Horn", "Pardon the Interruption", as well as the reruns of "classic matchups" which could be, oh, let's say the 1978 North Carolina vs. Mudflap State game. Remember, no one in my family or Rick's family went to either of those colleges. Or even travelled near any of those states. That does not matter, for perhaps Larry Bird's grandpa or Michael Jordan was a peanut vendor at one of those games! That is enough for Jared. So, I grab my Plain Dealer and read or do the crossword puzzle until the news comes on. And get this: Jared says, "The news? All you ever do is watch the news! Nothing ever happens. Besides, it comes on again at 11." Good heavens. "SportsCenter" is on 24 hours a day. Or more.

4. The Christmas Tree: It's a battleground of taste. The polar bear balancing on the circus ball has to be showing its butt. The surreptitious re-hanging of "back of the tree" ornaments on the front of the tree goes on all month. Sam's plastic condiment cup ornament, colored in 1st grade with green and black magic marker and hanging crookedly from a pipe cleaner, keeps mystifyingly reappearing on the front of the tree right at eye-level. The wooden moose and rabbit must be showing their butts also. And any of my crystal drop-style ornaments magically have other obliterating ornaments hanging in front of them. Both boys are almost an entire foot taller than I, so they re-hang uglier ornaments high and in front where they know I cannot reach them. And their father, unless I make a strong appeal, goes along with the joke. This year, I refuse to react. Who really cares? The only people who come over to see my tree know my freakish family and, most importantly, love them anyway. Feh.

Bless them all, my 3 men. In all the insanity of The Holidays, I think they keep me sane. In their way.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sometimes, It Really *Is* All about Meme...

Although my dislike of memes has been previously documented here at The Dept., I am making an exception for V-grrrl, who tagged me for a "5 Things Most People Don't Know about You" thingy. I make this exception for two reasons: one, V. is a friend of mine and two, my other idea for a blogpost is still germinating.

I'll apologize ahead of time, however, that I'm not going to get all philosophical and deep and Barbara Walters-esque on you all. Let's face it; you know the really important personal-type stuff already. It's not like a meme-thingy is going to unearth some Nugget O' Nance that will make you go "Aaaah!"

So! Without any further falderal, here are

5 Things Most People Don't Know about Nance:

1. I've been every size from 0 to 18, and many more than once. And for a variety of reasons. I am now a size 2, up (thankfully!) from a size 0. I plan to stay here.

2. I am an unabashed fan of the lima bean. But it has to be the huge, Fordhook variety, cooked until totally mushy, and served with lots of salt, pepper, and butter. I will eat an entire brick of them myself for dinner, minus the one that I put on Sam's plate. For years, I used to pay him a standard fee of one nickel if he ate that lima bean.

3. I love to watch dog shows on tv but do not own, nor ever plan to own, a dog myself. I know
all the breeds by sight and even know the names of some of the repeat contenders. To me, owning a dog is too worky. You may as well have another kid. YOU, not me. *shudder*

4. I do not, repeat DO NOT, go to the library. See, the thing about libraries is, you have to give the books back. That is, to me, a bad deal. I much prefer to buy books. And they have to be in hardback. I hate, no, DETEST, paperback books. They are ugly and impossible to read. They also convey no gravitas. I buy books. In hardback. If I buy a lousy hardback book, then so be it. Books are like produce: if you get a mealy peach or a nondescript canteloupe, oh well. You did your research, you picked out one you thought you'd like, but it didn't work out that way. C'est la vie.

5. Most of the time when people talk to me on the phone, I don't pay any attention whatsoever. I don't do this on purpose--at least I don't think I do--but I find that I have no idea at all what they have said by the time I hang up. I'm not talking about the "Mom, I'm going to be late; I have to work an extra two hours" phone call. I'm talking about people who unexpectedly call me just to talk on the phone. I loathe the phone. Especially inane cell calls which serve no purpose except to establish that the caller is on the move and on the phone at the same time. Luckily, I don't get many of these. But, I think I have Phone ADD. Or something. I'm not sure.

This is the part where I think I'm supposed to tag other people. But, V, I'm not going to do that. I should have put that as #5 probably: I am not a joiner-inner. I don't go to Tupperware or Pampered Chef parties; I don't participate in recipe chain letters; I don't "forward this email to 10 strong women I know!" My sister Pat would probably laugh and say I was a Parade-Rainer. But she wouldn't do it, either. Hell, I don't even have her email address

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Dept. Presents: "What Not To Wear" Meets "Hardball"

It's December, dear readers, and today we had real snow here in NE Ohio. It was white and fluffy and covered the lawns and tacky inflatable yard ornaments that a shocking number of residents of my town cannot resist planting in their front lawns. All of this made! not get into the Christmas spirit! It made me long for Spring! And what does Spring make us think of? Fashion!

It's time to pay our BFD (Best Friend Designer) Jeremy Scott a visit and see just what whacked-out sartorial psychosis he has in mind for us come April. Ooooooh! I can't wait! Remember last year, he was all about junk food. But not this year. This year, Jeremy is all about The War. That Jeremy! He is still going to have his fun. This is obviously a strong social commentary on the fact that the United States is really running a Mickey Mouse operation over there, and that we had flimsy excuses at best for going to war in the first place. The American people didn't fall for such a sketchy coverup. Ha! ha!

As now-unemployed Donald Rumsfeld so aptly said, we go to war with the army we have, not the army we wish we had. And Jeremy Scott would seem to agree with this fashion statement for women headed to the beach...after they make a quick stop at the beverage store or perhaps the local daycare to pick up the tots!

The United States Constitution is...well, the Pirates' Code, more of a Guideline in the eyes of the current administration. There are parts we need....and parts we don't. Here's Jeremy Scott's interpretation:

War is hard! Fighting the terrorists is hard! We know this from the Kerry-Bush debates; our President told us. It creates the need for lots of down time at the Ranch in Crawford. Those are the times when you just gotta relax, take naps, and phone it in. Jeremy Scott knows this:

But, after all, we're over there, building a democracy! Right, Jeremy Scott?


*Note from Nance: For some reason, this new, buggy version of Blogger that I was urged to "upgrade" to, refuses to link to my previous Jeremy Scott post. So, if you want to read and look at the gustatorial goofiness that Jeremy sent down the runway at Fashion Week last year, search this blog for "Who is Jeremy Scott and Why Is He Torturing Me?" or just click on February and scroll down to that post.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Behind Closed (Classroom) Doors

Each and every day, I strive for a G-rated classroom. I really do. I mean, I don't consciously think about it when I walk in at 7:30 a.m., but at no point in my teaching day do I say to myself, What I have here is a room full of teenaged hormones just waiting for a catalyst. I think it's time to toss out something that is just a blatant sexual innuendo. Yet, it happens. And it's not just me. For example, this from my now-retired buddy Barb in the biology department:

So I've got the kids all dissecting their frogs, right? And, as usual, I'm walking around all the lab tables, looking for the best specimens of each of the organs they have to draw on their diagrams in their lab notebooks. I'm hollering all period: "Over here is a good example of the heart", and "Take a look at the liver at Kim's table" and things like that. And then...I wander to one of the tables in the back where Mike S. is. Remember Mike? He was a football player and was homecoming king that year. Good looking, tall. "Oh, hey!" I yell, all excited. "Mike's got a great-looking set of gonads back here!"

And this from Sue, my department head.

I had been talking about books with my students. We were discussing our favorites and what kinds of books we all like. Some of them are intimidated by long books--one look and they put them down. Other students look for books by particular authors, still others read graphic novels. A few days later, I was eager to share a new book with the class. "I don't know how many of you will like this one," I started out by saying. "But I know Amanda will love it. It's long and thick and hard, just the way she likes them!"

And we thought we could alleviate so much just by shelving the teaching of lie/lay.
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