Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday: Thinking About Trucks, Television, And All The News That's Fit To Fabricate

So I'm watching Judge Judy, one of my guilty pleasures. (Don't start with me. I already know I watch entirely too much television as it is, and I cannot be tasked with watching only quality programming all the time. I've already cut out most Food Network shows, having broken up with almost everyone over there. But that's another post entirely.)

Anyway. Over the course of several months of watching Judge Judy, I've noticed something curious. There seems to be a growing trend of young single women who drive trucks. Not semis or eighteen-wheelers, like for their jobs; I'm talking personal vehicles. Like a pickup truck. I cannot begin to tell you how many times a young woman will begin her testimony--as a defendant or a plaintiff--by mentioning her truck. Either it was damaged or someone owes her money for one or it was supposed to be a gift or whatever. And let me tell you--this truck ownership crosses racial and socioeconomic lines as well. These young women are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and mixed races. They are seemingly well-to-do as well as appearing down on their luck. The Judge Judy show is filmed in New York, but her cases are from all over the country.

I am honestly befuddled by this apparent movement of Young Woman Truck Ownership. Why is this occurring? Why is the pickup truck so attractive to these young ladies? Do they have things they need to haul? Do they have a lot of friends who move? Do they not want a back seat, thereby eliminating the need to provide rides for lots of people at once? Are they sending a certain message, and if so, what is it? Do young men find women who drive trucks "hot?"

I find it all very intriguing. Perhaps the common denominator is that young women who drive trucks are either very litigious or very unlucky; failing that, they are hooked up with people who go to court an awful lot.

On a related note--marginally, at best--there is a television commercial that I find highly irritating lately. It is for a new laundry product by Purex called the 3-in-1 laundry sheet. In the ad, a woman with terrible-looking red hair says that this product "makes her life ONE THOUSAND TIMES BETTER."

Holy crap. Seriously? How miserable is this chick's life? And how much of it revolves around laundry? You know what? When Jared told me about using Control + F, it made my life easier, but mainly when I'm trying to search through hundreds of entries in my resident archives of the Brian Williams Tie Report , and not 1000 times. And again, only when I'm writing silly little blurbs...about ties. Someone needs to get some perspective, Redhaired Laundry Slave, and it isn't me.

Finally, there's this, just for...well, just for. (Mainly, so you all feel good about your families being ONE THOUSAND TIMES more normal than mine.)

Scene opens with Nance in bathroom drying her hair. Jared enters casually.

Jared: Hey. This just in. Dad says he doesn't like you.
Nance: Yeah? So what?
Jared: Mom. Hey. I don't make the news. I just report it.

Jared saunters out. Nance continues drying hair. Rick is in living room feeding logs into fireplace, innocent to all which has taken place.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Variation On The Thumper Rule: If You Can't Think Of Anything Smart To Say, Then Shut The Hell Up--The Political Version

Mark Twain once said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." So many people in politics would do well to have that quote tattooed upon their forearms or, at the very least, with them, visibly, at all times. Here are a few examples that I've been collecting lately for your consideration. Hey, everyone needs a hobby.

Case 1. Ideally, we want our leaders to be brilliant. We want them to be smarter than we are and not the kind of ...entrepreneur that puts himself through law school by posing naked for a hotsy-totsy publication. Or the kind that uses his historic (the first time a republican has garnered a Massachusetts Senate seat in over 30 years) acceptance speech to pimp out his daughter. Senator-elect Brown is not your typical republican in many respects--he is pro-choice, he supports his state's subsidized health care system--but he needs to smarten up. Here is a delightful quote that says it all for me: "I'm a history buff. I love the Museum of Natural History." Oh, boy. Come on, Scott. Do you even know what is in a museum of natural history? Heavy sigh.

Case 2. I liked Elizabeth Edwards and stuck up for her when people--male people in particular--said unkind and disparaging things about her. (Same thing about Barbara Bush, by the way, who I always liked until she opened her snobby elitist and out-of-touch yap about the Katrina victims.) You know, the snotty remarks about how she (and Bar) looked old enough to be her husband's mother, how Elizabeth was matronly, overweight, and all that crap. Then, as the media circus was finally settling down and she and her kids could just live their lives and she could focus on managing her terminal illness, Elizabeth wrote her bestseller and dredged it all up again. Okay, whatever. I say, "Stick it to the cheating bastard and make him squirm." But just as John "The Haircut" Edwards is finally facing the music, what is Elizabeth doing? Well, among other things like running a furniture store, she's giving an interview to POLITICO, in which she seems to make excuses for him. Oh, Elizabeth Elizabeth Elizabeth. Here's what she told them about Babydaddy John-boy: "The things he wanted to do weren't going to be natural for continued public life anyway. He honestly cares about poverty." Hm. Well, it's nice that he cares about...something.

Case 3. Speaking of John Edwards. (In the interest of full disclosure, I used to like him. As a matter of fact, he was My Guy way back when. I saw him, as I may have said in a much-earlier election blogpost, as a sort of Kennedy/Clinton clone. Obviously, I STAND CORRECTED. The guy is a slimeball.) Anyway, does this guy strike you as a modern-day Reverend Dimmesdale from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, or what? Remember him, the minister who got the Puritan woman pregnant, let her take the fall for him, stayed silent for eight years while she raised her daughter alone and was vilified by the community, and then, as he was dying, gave a pseudo-confession with his last breath, and was still seen as a Christian martyr by many in the community? One of Dimmesdale's midnight promises to his daughter Pearl is that he will one day legitimize her by standing with her and her mother. When Pearl asks if it will be the next day at noon, Reverend Dimmesdale says no, it will be another day: Judgement Day. In an eerily similar vein, here's a little quote from John "Call Me Rev." Edwards: “I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace. It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me.” Oh, PS. Little Frances Quinn Edwards-Hunter is TWO. At least she only had to wait ONE year for her father's acknowledgment.

So, yeah, I get it; I get that being under constant public/media scrutiny is tough. You can't filter your mouth nearly enough. But these? These are...just terrible. These people chose a public life. Now they need to choose their words, too, and carefully. Or just shut up.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The First Step Is Admitting That You Have A Problem: But That's A Helluva Big Step, You Know?

How sad. I am completely bereft these days of anything valuable to say on any topic of Real Significance. This fact became all the more apparent after I had one martini on an empty stomach on Friday, grabbed Rick's PDA during dinner out, and jotted down what I thought would prove to be incredibly brilliant notes for a blogpost.

I'm still using them here. I'll leave it to all of you to decide if there should be a new organization called WADB: Writers Against Drunk Blogging.

*)(* People everywhere need to stop ordering and drinking White Zinfandel!! (Ed. Note: This was written after I noticed the waiter bringing a gargantuan bottle of White Zinfandel to the table next to us. They eschewed the waiter's suggestion of La Crema pinot noir or another lovely Chardonnay and instead got this two-liter of WZ.)
Rick: It's not even "white," it's a BLUSH.
Nance: Yes! True. And here's a shocking truth. I'm just putting it out there. I'M A SNOB.
(Ed. Note: I'm pretty sure I sat back with a sort of "so there, act surprised, but there it is!" expression on my face. I probably am a little bit snobby about a lot of things, but in all fairness, I don't think I'm really a snob. Completely. )
Rick: (laughs)
Nance: And I just want to take that huge bottle of white zinfandel and smash it on the ground. And then I want to take this purple crayon and write on this paper tablecloth: STOP DRINKING WHITE ZINFANDEL. FOREVER!! (Ed. Note: We were at a Macaroni Grill, hence the crayon and the paper overlay on the tablecloth. That chain still likes the cutesy idea of the waiter writing his name on the table. I don't get it, personally, but okay. By the way, their new appetizer--which I wish had arrived much earlier so I wasn't already half in the bag--of marinated olives and parmesan bread, is very nice.)

*)(* A Singing Waiter! What a lovely voice, but he only sang one time and then we never heard him again. Probably one reason why was because EVERYONE ELSE SIMPLY IGNORED HIM AND KEPT SHOVELLING FOOD INTO THEIR YAWS. HARDLY ANYONE EVEN LOOKED TOWARD HIM! Typical Ohio mentality: feed your yap and not your soul. (Ed. Note: He was not our waiter. He waited on the table behind us and a few tables over. At one point during his song ("If I Loved You"), one of the diners at the table harmonized with him, which was surprising and pleasant. Both Rick and I turned toward him; our waiter, who had arrived to take our orders, stopped and listened with us. We inquired politely about the young man, who we discovered is trained in opera. All in all, it was an unexpected pleasure which was largely unremarkable to most of the other patrons, it seemed.)

*)(* My Perfect Blackberry! It would be red or pink and less square and I'd call it a raspberry. NO KEYBOARD. I would speak clearly into it, and then I'd say "stop." I would be able to edit the message before sending it by SPEAKING THE CORRECTIONS into it. Then say, "Send to Rick" or "Send to whomever". Again, the most important thing is NO KEYBOARD. (Ed. Note: I am flexible on the Raspberry name. And the "roundish" aspect. But the idea of typing on a "phone" device is completely abhorrent to me. I detest the phone, and the idea of sending messages on the fly is appealing, but teensy-tiny typing is NOT.)

I know it seems horrifyingly impolite that I was taking all these notes during a nice dinner out with my husband. Let me assure you that it took only moments to record them because, as you can see, they are fluffy little bits of nothingness. And I was everso discreet. At least I think I was. After all, I was deep into a gorgeous vodka martini, up, slightly dirty. Isn't it just tragic how little it takes to get me...thinking? And about such deep, deep things, too! Sigh. Ah, well. Let someone else win Nobels.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

It's Not Just A Job, It's An Adventure: Snow, Easels, Etch-A-Sketch, And Some Etiquette

Well, I'm back at The Rock after a bit of a Break, and trust me, it was a Monumental Struggle Of Epic Proportion for everyone concerned. Thank goodness that The Longest Week Ever In The History Of Education was cut short by a Snow Day on Friday. (Best Christmas present of all!)

Here for you are 3 vignettes from Room 245, where the students are sometimes very human, and all of us learn more than just English and American Lit.

I. D's & Sympathy

Scene opens on active classroom. Students are paired off discussing the life and works of Emily Dickinson in preparation for presentations. Teacher circulates while keeping despairing eye on windows which give a wide view of ever-increasing snow outside.

Dylan: (calls teacher over for assistance) Mrs. D., can you help us a minute?
Mrs. D.: Of course. (walks over, sits down next to student)
Dylan: Are you alright? You look...I don't know. Not real good. (quickly) No offense.
Mrs. D. : That's okay. No, I'm fine. I just detest this weather. It won't stop snowing, it's freezing, the sun hasn't been out for a hundred years, and I just hate it. It's absolutely miserable and horrid. I just hate it here.
Dylan: Yeah. I know. (pats her hand sympathetically) How long ago did you move here?
Mrs. D.: What?
Dylan: How long ago did you move here? Where did you live before?
Mrs. D.: Right here! I've always lived right here. And I've always hated it. Now (brightly)...what was your question, sweetheart? About Miss Emily, I mean.
End scene.

II. Easel Does It

Scene opens on empty classroom during class change. As students begin to filter in, teacher is at the front of the room adjusting the easel to be used for visual displays during Emily Dickinson presentations. Students Brandon and Elijah come up to seats near teacher desk.

Brandon: Wow! An easel! Just like elementary school. I remember how my teacher used to use the easel for this big writing paper, and she used to show huge letters on these big charts.
Mrs. D.: Those were the days, huh, B?
Brandon: Heck yeah!
Mrs. D.: You know what I used to love in elementary school? FELT BOARDS! You probably have no idea what that even is. I used to absolutely love when my teacher would put the felt board on the easel, take out the big box of felt shapes, and use them to tell a story...or do math, even. You probably had a SMART board or something like that when you were in elementary school. How terrible. How sad. Technology is ruining childhood.
Elijah: Man, I always loved me some Etch-A-Sketch.
Mrs. D.: Oh, yeah? Me, too! What a great toy!
Elijah: (gazes off, face softening, eyes dreamy; he is completely lost in a reverie and smiling) I could take a Etch-A-Sketch and a cup of applesauce all day!
End scene

III. Just When You Think You're Talking To A Brick Wall...

Scene opens in a quiet classroom as students begin to drift in for 7th period junior "regular" English. As usual, only a few girls arrive promptly. They quickly clique up and begin to gossip as the teacher sets up the overhead projector and transparencies for the day's notes on Adjective Subordinate Clauses.

Angela: ...I know! And she has a face like a bird's.
Faith: That's because she has a nose like a chicken.
Kourtney: Well, I--
Mrs. D.: (interrupting because she can definitely hear all this and has to say something) Ladies! What a terrible thing to say! None of that is very nice at all. I certainly hope that you're not talking about anyone in our class. Remember, we all have to get along, and--
Kourtney: (interrupting with a matter-of-fact tone and expression) We're talking about The New Girl.
Faith: None of us like her.
Angela: She's a troublemaker, Mrs. D. You don't know her.
Mrs. D.: Good heavens! She just got here. And I expect the three of you--and the entire class--to treat her with respect.
Faith: She was in this school before.
Mrs. D.: I don't care. Good heavens. I had no idea the three of you felt this way!
Kourtney: ( head cocked and slyly smiling) That's because we all have to get along and treat each other with respect. Right?
End scene
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