Monday, June 30, 2008

If It's Cheese, It Leads

As an English teacher, I like to think I appreciate a good metaphor. I find our second-floor school lounge computer's Star Wars-esque mousepad extremely satisfying, emblazoned as it is with the slogan Metaphors Be With You. This is why a recent news item has me somewhat stumped.

Sculptor Troy Landwehr has chosen a one-ton block of Wisconsin cheddar as his medium and reproduced John Trumbull's painting "Declaration of Independence." Now, if you're not sure what painting this is, simply open your wallet or purse and withdraw a two-dollar bill, turn it over, and look at the back. There it is. (Or, click this handy link! Never let it be said that I don't run a full-service operation here at the Dept.) Here is my issue. I don't happen to find this painting particularly cheesy. I mean, there is no attempt on the part of Mr. Trumbull to insert himself in the painting, or to make the signers look dramatic or florid, or to have anyone draw a sword or stand atop a chair or table as if making a heartfelt patriotic speech. The style is realistic, the skill level good, the balance fine, and the subject matter admirable. So...I don't get the whole Cheese Metaphor. Why this painting? Why cheese? I have to say, I'm even a little offended. Last year, Landwehr did a replica of Mt. Rushmore in cheese. Even worse! President Lincoln--Abraham Lincoln--is on Rushmore!

So, I am offering my assistance to Mr. Landwehr. I want to make sure he avoids the same pitfalls next year, those being A) offending American Patriots (me being one) everywhere; B) appearing to make fun of American historical giants (i.e. President Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson); C) completely missing the point of metaphorical humor/expression/irony.

Here are my suggestions for next year's subjects to be carved in the Cheese Of His Choice:
1. Dogs Playing Poker: These depictions have been the Epitome Of Cheesy Artwork forever. Let's face it. No one except college students, bachelors, or bachelor college students would hang these in their homes. The fact that they exist in a series is just incredible to me. Look, I think they're funny and all, but come on. Cheese factor is like...limburger.

2. Elvis On Velvet: Please. Do I really have to even talk about this? Fact: you can buy these off of individuals who park on the side of the road and have them draped over their cars. This one is especially unbelievable. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Cheese factor...Velveeta on a toothpick served as an hors d'oeuvre. With ketchup and mustard mixed together and served as a dipping sauce. Blech.

3. Anything by Thomas Kinkade, self-proclaimed "Painter of Light." (AKA "Painter of Crap" and "Painter of Kitsch" and "Painter of I'm-The-Franklin-Mint-of-The-Middle-Middle-Class") Here is all you need to know about this guy: He is now painting NASCAR race scenes. He's gone from cozy little cottages with flowered gates and haloes of light to "43 mighty race cars thunder[ing] by as "The King" himself, Richard Petty, waves the green flag for the start of the 50th Running of the DAYTONA 500®." Doesn't matter; his stuff isn't art. He's finally realized his audience and he's exploiting them. Cheese factor: Low-fat Kraft American Singles.

4. Precious Moments figurines. Honestly, what is the deal with these things? Normally sane grownups have cartloads of these; moreover, they display them in their homes. Where other people will see them. Certainly I can understand if one has a gaggle of these doe-eyed aliens as the result of a childhood collection.'s time to put them away. They're juvenile, they're scary, they're...frankly pastel and fetishistic. Get over it. Not art. Not even close. And oh so very cheesy. Cheese factor: String cheese. Because IT'S FOR KIDS.

Okay, I feel like I've done my part. For Troy Landwehr, for art, and for America. Oh, and for cheese.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Jug Of Warm Piss" Or Not, Tell Barack I'm Ready To Serve

So I'm watching Meet the Press on Sunday and Joe Biden is on and he gets The Question. It's inevitable, and I'm loving it because I love Joe Biden who is so bombastic and truthful that it's a little like watching a cross between Howard Dean and a pit bull on steroids go after a republican holding a raw Tbone. Here's the most germane part of the exchange verbatim:

MR. WILLIAMS: You interested in the vice presidency?
SEN. BIDEN: I am not interested in the vice presidency.
MR. WILLIAMS: You're not interested in the vice presidency.
SEN. BIDEN: I'm not interested.
MR. WILLIAMS: MEET THE PRESS, April 29th, 2007, Tim Russert asks Joe Biden, "You interested in being vice president?" "No, I will not be vice president under any circumstances." But in a different answer, you answered you'd have to say yes. I don't know, so...
SEN. BIDEN: Well, no. The bottom--look, the--when I was asked that question, I thought I was still going to be president. Now--number one, I, I am not interested in being vice president. I've let the candidate know. If the candidate asks me to be vice president, the answer is I got to say yes. But he's not going to ask me. Look, you cannot walk away...

Exactly, Joe Biden! And therein lies the point of my post today. If Barack Obama asked Joe Biden to serve as his Vice President of the United States of America, he would say yes. Who the hell wouldn't? When called upon to serve, you serve! This is your country we're talking about, ladies and gentlemen! In case you haven't noticed, it's in a big stinking mess, thanks to the republicans. It's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work on cleaning things up around here. Time to recall the words of a famous Democrat and put your own affairs aside and get on with the job.

This is exactly what I said to Rick and Jared as we watched MTP's segment. (Among other things. I also called Sen. Lindsey Graham an Old Lady Fussypants and referred to South Carolina's secessionist tendencies, but I digress.)

Me: You go, Joe Biden! Everyone would be Vice President. Or at least they should. I would!
Rick: You'd make a great vice president.
Me: I would be Barack's vice president in a heartbeat. Wouldn't you, Jared?
Jared: No.
Me: What?! Of course you would! You have to! This is your country we're talking about! If Barack Obama needed you, you would serve.
Jared: Nope. I would be a nightmare. I would tell everyone to go f*ck themselves.
Me: No you wouldn't. You would want to help. You're a student of history. You would care deeply about our country!
Jared: It sounds like a lotta work to me.
Me: Jared! Besides, you get a motorcade and all kinds of cool stuff.
Rick: Nance, it's perfect for you. You finally get to live in D.C., and have a staff and a driver.
Jared: Oh my god. Mom. You just had me drive you around the other day for six hours while you shopped for a purse. And you called and had Ali meet us at the mall to help. There's your driver and your staff. And you boss me around like nuts. You're already vice president.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Sojourn Part I

Had an impromptu outing with my sister Patti yesterday, and I have to say it was a real shot in the arm. Shamefully, we don't get together nearly as often as I'd like, despite the fact that we live near each other and are terrific companions. We talk about absolutely everything, but she does like to get me fired up about The Politics more often than not. I think she knows that I have serious Perspective Issues, but I'm owning that; I embrace it, and even though she does take a serious risk hauling me around in her Brand New Car when I get all excited slagging off on the republicans in general and The Angel Of Death in particular, she knows that the Entertainment Value alone is well worth it.

So, yesterday, while we were leaving the tearoom and walking toward yet another Shoe Shopping Indiscretion (it's only June and I've already bought 6 pair--but none at full price!), I notice one of those "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon magnets on the back of a van in the parking lot. "Geeze, I hate those frikking things," I say to Patti. "They're pointless and worthless. Not to mention meaningless. Do you know how many of those kinds of ribbony magnet thingies there are now?" We climb into her car and start driving. "There are approximately eleventy million," I continue. "There are pink ones for breast cancer. Light blue for prostate cancer. Puzzly ones for autism. Black for POWs. And by and large, none of them were bought with any of the money going toward that cause. Some of them even say things like 'I heart my rottweiler' or 'I heart the Gators.' And the whole thing came from some dorky song by Tony Orlando and Dawn about some convict in prison who was coming home from serving his sentence! Is this really the context we want for America's servicemen and women? And get this! I used to take them off the back of cars and throw them away! What do you think of that?!" I banged on the dash of her car for emphasis.

Patti looked over at me calmly and smiled. "I'm not surprised at all. And, for the record, I never liked that song."

*More of our outing in the next post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

EmilyCat Hits The Reset Button, And I Am Haunted And Taunted By Pet Longevity

As you know, EmilyCat is 18 and is now merely sticking around to annoy me. She is nearly deaf, walks as if she has no knees, has about half her teeth, suffers from occluded vision, is shockingly lax in her personal grooming, and detests everyone. She must be fed three times a day the most disgusting canned hideousness in the universe and I must add hot water to it and mush it up until it is the consistency of cake batter.

I know. How wonderful am I? Can you see my myriad of halos shining from there?


About a week and a half ago, Emily had "an episode." She started wavering and rocking and her back right leg went completely numb; she looked all sleepy and out of it (moreso than usual), and I thought this is it! Emily is going to go to that Kitty Condo in the sky! She was sort of whimpering and she couldn't get up the steps. I called for Rick who picked her up gently and cradled her and said all wet-eyed, "We'd better call The Vet."

"Are you KIDDING!?" I said. "This is Sunday. They will charge us eleventy billion dollars for an emergency call. Let's give her a little while and see how she does."

Cut to the chase: Emily ends up sitting on the floor watching Jared and his girlfriend Ali play Scrabble for three hours. She goes to bed. The next morning, I get up and Emily bounces out of bed, trots to her dish on all her pegs, and barks for her breakfast. She has not peed all over the floor since, and she is fine.

Gimme a break. This cat is going to live forever, and who the hell is going to take care of her while we are in Canada in July? Reminder: SHE HAS TO BE FED DISGUSTING MUSHY HOT FOOD THREE EFFING TIMES A DAY. AND GIRLFRIEND IS GOING WITH, SO NO HELP THERE.

Which leads me to the next part of my post. Which is better, in that it is about a bunny, but devastating in that it is about yet another annoyingly long-lived pet. Here he is:
This story was sent to me via email by Anali, who I'm sure was trying to be nice and had no idea that it was going to be a source of irritation.

This bunny, George, is now in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Oldest Living Rabbit. He is 14 years old, which is about 160 in human years. The average life expectancy for bunnies is 6-8 years. That's pretty good, but what makes it so extraordinary is to what George's owners attribute it. Joe Breton and his wife Amy joke that "the Pez and Doritos they fed George in college are part of the reason he’s still alive."

Oh, ha ha, you might say. But get this: Amy's profession? Veterinary technician. Possibly realizing that she might be coming off as, er...less than credible...Amy offered up this quote to the reporter: “I would never recommend for anyone to feed that to a rabbit but he was a college dorm room rabbit so maybe that helped with his longevity,” she said. Wow, Amy. Good save.

For the record, EmilyCat has never eaten a Pez and she does not like Doritos. And today, she woke me up at 7:23 for her breakfast. It did not matter that I wanted to sleep in. She is such a bitch.

And so far, the record holder for Oldest Living Cat is a Burmese called Kataleena Lady who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Kataleena Lady was born on March 11th, 1977. THIRTY-ONE FREAKING YEARS OLD. Holy crap.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Few Little Happies; I Can Afford It!

I am officially on Summer Vacation 2008. It would, therefore, stand to reason that I am Blissfully Blissful. Happily Happy. I am at my leisure all day today, and gosh darn it! I'll be at it all day tomorrow as well! Try not to hate me.

In addition to just being able to Sloth Around (and, apparently, Randomly Capitalize), there are a few other things that are making me smile contentedly. It doesn't take much, I'll admit it. Thought I'd share:

1. A florist shop near me runs daily specials that they post on their spiffy electronic sign. They offer a free rose to people with certain names. Past recipients have been Donny and Marie and Fred and Wilma.

2. Jared, my English major son, is rabidly managing his fantasy football team. Its name: the Pencey Red Hats.

3. Also earning Brownie Points for Jared is his Kerry/Edwards sticker still steadfastly clinging to the back of his car.

4. Here are pics of my latest major shoe bargains. Got all three pair for less than the SRP* of the first, thanks in part to Jared's "Former Employee Discount." (*Standard Retail Price)

The orange snakeskin peep-toe pumps are actually rather coral, and they perfectly match a summer sweater I have. The kitten heelish flats have that cute little ruffle trio on them, so they look smart, don't they? Nice for skirts or pants. Honestly, if I told you what I paid, you'd throw up. So I won't. But trust me, it was next to nothing.

5. Here's what was making me happy three whole years ago when I first started up this blog. That stuff would still make me plenty happy today.

What's making you happy these days?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Reality Bites, And Someone In Marketing Really Should Have Thought Of That

So I look at the mail today and there's this huge blue envelope addressed to my husband and me. On the outside it says in big white letters: reality enclosed.


I'm thinking: This is not the best marketing tool. I mean, the last thing I need--really--is more reality. Now, it's not like I have this horrific Dr. Phil-worthy life or anything. But, come on. One thing I've got plenty of right now is reality.

1. Took EmilyCat, age 18 years, to the vet today. She is wheezing, coughing, and randomly peeing and pooping all over the place. Dr. examines her and Emily is a complete and total hissing evil bitch. Dr. says, "She is old. I could run a bunch of tests, but how much do you want to invest in an aging cat? Chances are she has urinary tract and kidney infections, but with her temperament, you're not going to be able to force a pill or dropper down her gullet three times a day. Let's see how she does in the next few weeks, then if you're both still unhappy, call me and we'll maybe make final arrangements at that time." We get home, and Emily pees on my snowboots in the basement which are two feet away from her pristine litterbox. Vet bill: $50.

2. Dinner tonight is all the foldy chips I can find from the bag of Lay's BBQ. I am disinterested in food. No one else is home for dinner.

3. It hit 90 today. I had school. In our 175-year old building. Which is un-airconditioned. Which would have been okay had it not been eleventy-billion percent humidity.

4. Got our "economic stimulus" (in reality, Angel of Death Bribery) check. In less than three days following, had to get new U-joint on Rick's vehicle, two new tires on Jared's, and received health insurance bill for Jared, who is no longer covered now on my policy.

5. I have a headache.

6. Gasoline here was at $3.96 a gallon for weeks. "Dropped" to $3.88 today and there was a bigass line! Perceived BARGAIN! Give me strength.

And this bank--who sent me the blue envelope--thinks that reality enclosed is going to get me all excited? Think again. If it said martini enclosed, then yes.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Report Cards: Results From The Quiz

It's time to pass back your virtual papers and let you see how you did on the quiz.
In a word: Yikes. Only one of you came close to passing, and that was Jenomena, who scored a 6 out of 10, which is a D. And Jen, as I tell my students, "You may be relieved, but not happy. No one may ever be happy with a D." :-)

If I got these results in my class, I would have to take a good, hard look at what occurred: Did I fail to teach the concept or material clearly? Was there a school event the night before this quiz? Or was there simply a general lack of concern on the part of the students? Hmmmmmmmmm....

In this case, I prefer to think that I am just a Woman of Mystery. A complex being of many facets and, like Thomas' English Muffins, I have lots of nooks and crannies. To my personality, not my complexion. Sigh. Let me just get to the answers before I really start something.

1. Living Room: The place where I spend a great deal of my time is decorated in--
A. Burgundy, navy, pine green. Cherry wood. Tastefully traditional, library/study decor. On the wall is a reproduction of this Vermeer painting.

I love Vermeer, and I found a place in The Netherlands where they train artists to paint in his style. I ordered this painting done in the identical size of the original for our 20th wedding anniversary. It is huge and gorgeous. My living room is very quiet and sedate and has all my hardback books on shelves, and I can sit and read and look at this painting.

2. Career: Before deciding upon teaching, I initially chose this degree path.
B. Veterinary medicine
I have always had an affinity for animals and had a variety of pets growing up, much to my mother's chagrin. I read the James Herriot series of books as a junior in high school and resolved to be a veterinarian. Shortly into my college career, I discovered a very large aversion to the sight of blood and an even bigger aversion to math. I decided to continue with an education career. I figured I could still work with animals but there'd be a lot less blood. Ha ha, get it? (insert rimshot.)

3. Name: I have always hated my name. Detested it. If I could change it, I'd be named--
C. Samantha

This name has always held such cache for me. My grandmother used to use it infrequently as a nickname for me, and I would live on those moments for days. When I found out that it was fleetingly considered as my birth name, I almost wept. Why oh WHY had they not given it to me? I once heard a story that I was named after the song "Nancy with the Laughing Face" because when I was born, I was smiling. I'm not sure I believe that, and I'm not sure it helps. My name does not suit me.

4. Politics: True or False?

I have never voted Republican in my life, and I am damned proud of it.
Oh, I have voted for a couple of them in my life on the local and state level. Back before The Election of the Dark Times (2000), I always voted for The Person and not The Party. And, someday, I may again, especially if I know the candidate personally. But these days, even if the candidate were Satan himself, I'd probably vote Democrat.

5. Trivia: At the grocery store, I:
C. Get asked advice in the Italian Foods section
As goofy as this sounds, it happens to me frequently. My coloring is such that I am often mistaken for someone of Italian heritage, and if I am lingering in the Italian Foods section at all, shoppers will ask me about products or recipes. Sometimes I just come clean and say, "I'm happy to tell you what I use, but I'm not Italian." Sometimes I just answer their questions without referring to the Italian thing at all.

6. Preferences: I chose the color of my hybrid car, and it is:
C. Black
I like black cars. Oh sure, red cars are snazzy and sporty, but I don't feel like a red car person. And I know darn well that I'd hate a yellow car after about two weeks. A black car always looks a little more expensive and elegant than any other car, I think.

7. Talents: I once won second prize for my:

C. poetry
Okay, first of all, if it were my pesto in competition, it would win first, hands down! But anyway, yeah, I submitted to a tri-county competition and got second prize. The judge was a pretty big deal poet himself, and there were lots of entries. I was happy about it and glad that I practiced what I preach to my creative writing students. At least once, anyway. LOL.

8. Issues: I am fundamentally opposed to:
A. the death penalty
I don't feel that this should be "our" job.

9. Faults: Rick wishes I would
B. Swear less
According to Jared, the answer is really "all of the above," but he only lives here part-time. What does he know? Since we got the hybrid, my braking is fully under control. And since Rick sleeps like one dead, and I do NOT snore (but admit to breathing heavily at times), the answer is clearly "swear less." My profanity is...well...unrestrained. I have to keep my mouth so leashed while at school when, obviously, there are so many curse-worthy moments, that when I am at home it's like taking the top off a pressure cooker. I am trying to use the eff-word less, but it's hard. Really hard.

10. Pet Peeves: I really dislike
A. driving, grading papers, grocery shopping
I really dislike all of these things intensely. Rick sometimes accuses me of marrying him simply because he does not mind driving. This could, in fact, be somewhat true. One of my best friends loves to drive, as do both of my children. This is an alarming trend, come to think of it. Grading papers is a horrid, terrible, awful, heinous, and tedious job. Sadly, it is a pretty big part of being a teacher. When I was a little girl, I used to get red crayons and grade pages in coloring books and old storybooks. I thought grading papers would be the most funnest part of being a teacher. Apparently, I was brain-damaged at some point in my youth. I blame living near the steel mill. And grocery shopping? Please. No viable return on your investment. Think about it. And it's ALL WORK. You walk around and find it; you load it; you unload it; you pay a ton for it; you drive it home; unload it; put it away; then you spend time figuring out what to do with it, then do it. THEN YOU FLUSH IT ALL AWAY AND START OVER.


Those are the Nance Quiz results. Did you learn anything new and exciting? I didn't think so. Guess I'll get back to regular programming. I knew this Sharing Thing was not my style.
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