Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gingerbread Art

Hello, again, beloved readers!  Surprised to hear from me again so soon?  Well, this is the week of final exams, and most of my time is spent grading, but in order to maintain what little sanity I have left, I find it necessary to take frequent breaks.  Today, for no particular reason, I decided to see if I could make gingerbread men.  No, I don't particularly like gingerbread, and it's not a family tradition to make them at Christmas, but, well, it's better than grading, right?  Right!

So I found this recipe on-line and went at it.  Some of the gingerbread men came out looking pretty nice, but others, well, I think they were too thick, and they are quite deformed.  Now, my first pottery teacher, Alicia, told me that when you're making art deformed is just another word for artistic, and that you can manipulate the most appalling-looking vessel into something that says, "Well, um, yes, very nice, but I don't really understand modern art, so well done!"

Thus, I used some red icing to turn my deformed gingerbread men into a dynamic village of ginger persons reflective of all of the emotions evoked by the holiday season.  Alicia, these are for you:

A Nice, Happy Gingerbread Man

"Socks again?"
"Whoa!  That Nog is High Octane!"

Duckface-in-the-Mirror-Makes-Me-So-Sexy Gingergirl

Gingerbread Conjoined Twins
Dead Cartoon Gingercorpse

And last, and most definitely least:

Creepy GingerUncle Who's Had Too Much Scotch
Of course, none of the gingerpersons on this page are based on any real people, living or dead, except the ones among your family and friends.  Happy baking!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meet the Neighbors

So I have hinted, gentle readers, that I would eventually introduce you to my neighbors.  Not the neighbors that called the cops on me when I was cutting bamboo with a large knife in the middle of the night (which, seriously, I still think was an overreaction), but my favorite neighbors:  A and W.

Now why, you might ask, am I not referring to these neighbors by name?  Are they secret agents?  Romulan spies?  Tea partiers?!  Fear not, my friends, A and W are lovely people, and I just want to protect their reputation by not using their first names which are, in fact, rather delightfully unusual, but would inevitably reveal their identity and, unlike me, they are respectable figures in Our Fair City and do not deserve to be associated with this blog.

Oh, alright.  I admit it:  I like calling them A and W because it makes me think of root beer. 

In any case, I have to admit that A and W are not entirely, well, normal.  Mere moments after I bought my house, even before I had realized just how far I'd put myself into debt, A trotted across the street to introduce herself and beg me not to move away any time soon.  Since she had never met me before, I found that rather oddly affectionate, but, hey, sometimes I make a good first impression, and they had no idea at that time that I would be one of those neighbors who takes five days to pull the empty trashcan away from the curb after trash pickup, thus lowering everyone's property values.

Also, I don't rake leaves.  Or pay other people to rake leaves.  So after A and W have their leaves in neat piles, my leaves spend all week drifting over to their yard where it's nice and neat with plenty of elbow room.  

But in spite of these obvious deficiencies in my character, A and W have become bosom friends and cat sitters, and I love them dearly.  And when you love someone, you must, according to all the sappy love songs and writers of Hallmark cards, show them how you feel.   So this past weekend, I snuck over to their yard and left them a gift:

An Unexpected Flamingo

This is Bill.  Bill the Flamingo.  You see, a few years ago the chair of my department, Vivian, gave each of us a flamingo as a parting gift when she retired.  I was a little disconcerted, but the more I looked at the flamingo, the more I loved him.  I named him Wordsworth and stuck him proudly in my flowerbed.

Wordsworth Showing His Christmas Spirit

Wordsworth clearly improved the neighborhood with his stoic presence.  I mean, no matter what happened to him, he stood there with quiet dignity, and he never complained about rain or snow or empty trashcans in front of the house.

Wordsworth Freezing with Dignity  

Alas, poor Wordworth was crushed two years ago when a giant poplar tree fell on my house!  All that was left of this fine gentlebird were shards of pink plastic.  After a suitable mourning period, I went shopping for a replacement, and you'll be happy to know that Wordsworth, Jr. is now standing proudly in front of the rosemary wearing an elf hat.  But...and I was not prepared for this...when Wordsworth, Jr. was delivered to my house, he Did Not Come Alone.  No!  He was accompanied by his cousin, Bill.

And, as is perfectly obvious to everyone, when it comes to pink plastic flamingos in one's yard, there can be only one.  So I scampered across the street and bestowed Bill upon A and W.

Now not every neighbor would greet the arrival of Bill with open arms, but A and W are not ordinary neighbors.  They were delighted with the unexpected arrival.   In fact, I was a little disconcerted by their enthusiasm.  That was, of course, before I saw what they had, themselves, of their own free will, added to their living room that very same day:

A Most Unusual Reindeer
Yes, my friends, that is a plaid reindeer.  Plaid.  I mean, I thought I was pushing things with Bill, challenging the standards of good taste and neighborly tolerance, but...my neighbors have a plaid reindeerIn the living room.  Clearly, I am overmatched.  So all hail, A and W! Beloved friends, matchless neighbors, and masters of decorative animal-shaped objects!  Wordsworth, Jr. and I are humbled by your presence.

And I promise to think about moving that empty trashcan any time now.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Conversation in Target

Old Man #1:  "Here, darlin', sit down."

Me:  "Thanks.  Are you waiting for someone?"

Old Man #2:  "For the wives.  Once they get going there's no stoppin' them."

Me:  "Same with my Mom.  She has bad arthritis except inside Target where she zips around with that shopping cart and makes me dizzy."

Old Man #3:  "Here, I have an extra coke.  So what kind of tires do you have?"

Me:  "On my shopping cart?"

Old Man #3:  "On your car.  What kind?"

Old Man #2:  "Now, Jim, not this again."

Me:  "Um.  Goodyear, I think."

Old Man #3:  "Are they white walled tires?"

Me:  "What are those?"

All three old men burst into laughter.

Old Man #1:  "The only good looking tires are white walled tires."

Old Man #3: "And you can tell whether or not your tires are clean with white walls."

Old Man #2:  "You people know nothing about tires.  No one has white walled tires anymore.  And who cares if your tires are clean?"

Me:  "Do people clean tires?"

All three old men:  "Of course, you clean your tires!"

Me:  "Why?"

Old Man #3:  "Listen, Miss, you have to clean your tires!  Otherwise, they might not be clean!"

Me:  "Oh."

Old Man #2:  "Do you have a paved driveway?"

Me:  "My driveway is gravel.  Except where it's mud.  Or weeds."

Old Man #1:  "Then you should not buy white walled tires.  They are not for country people."

Old Man #3:  "That is a damned lie!"

Old Man #2:  "Watch your language!"

Old Man #3:  "Sorry.  White walled tires are for everybody who wants to look good.  You get some white walled tires, and you'll be beating the men off with a stick.  They will notice you."

Me:  "I could stand to be noticed by some men."

Old Man #1:  "But you should get your driveway paved.  It's the twentieth century, you know."

Me:  "Get my driveway paved and get a pair of white walled tires because it's the twentieth century and that's what men like."

Old Man #2:  "Don't listen to these old men.  They don't know nothin'.  Men like a nice pair of legs.  They can buy their own tires."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Secret Plan to Use a Purple Plush Ovary to Get Out of Meetings

Alas, gentle readers, I am somewhat weary this evening.  I had too many meetings.  Meetings upon meetings.

And now, instead of having some kind of alcoholic beverage and a hot bath, I had a stimulating cup of tea, which means that I am still achingly tired but completely unable to fall asleep.  So I turned to the google, my sleepless companion, and did a search for unusual gift ideas because, if you haven't noticed, 'tis the frakking season.

Here is what I found:  <http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/reproductive-plush-organs>.  Yes, someone has designed and is selling plush toys shaped like reproductive organs.

Naturally, I had to show them to Mom, and we got into a friendly argument about which is cuter, the plush ovary or the plush testicle.  And then we got into an unfriendly argument about me waking her up from a dead sleep to show her plush toys shaped like reproductive organs.

We've agreed that I won't do that again, and she will not beat me to death with her pink cane.

Nevertheless, I am inspired by these adorable stuffed, um, toys, which are clearly meant to assist parents or teachers when introducing the concept of human reproduction to three-year olds.  And I'll bet it works, too.  Which would you rather enjoy?  Another Afterschool Special filmed in the nineteen seventies or a plush mammary that you can squeeze without embarrassment?  Not much of a contest, is it?

Anyway, I'm thinking about buying a set of them for Christmas and taking them to my next meeting.  Then, when someone says something with which I disagree, I can wave a little green prostate in the air and say, "Wait!  I was distracted by the smile on this little green prostate.  Could you repeat that?"  And, of course, no one will be able to repeat anything when someone is waving a plush green prostate in the air, and when everyone turns to look at it, I will bean someone in the face with the purple ovary and say, "Oh no!  I hate it when my ovary starts attacking people!  I move that we declare the purple ovary out of order!" 

And then it will be stuffed testicles flying here and there and everywhere, and we will have to adjourn for soothing drinks, and, most importantly, no one will ever ask me to go to another meeting again.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Being Thankful All Month Long

One of my facebook friends suggested that I collect my status updates from the month of November into a blog post, and since that means a blog post that doesn't require that I actually think of something new to write, well, I was all over that one immediately.

Naturally, I wish to note that I am, in fact, thankful for my family, my friends, my job, my health, the health of my family and my friends and my cats, and the cease-fire in the Middle East and fluffy bunnies, etc, etc.  But then again, so is everyone else, and sincerity is all well and good, but there is enough triteness in the world already.

My Status Updates from November, 2012:

November 9th: "So, many of my facebook friends are doing that thing where they identify something to be thankful for each day in November. I shall slavishly imitate them by naming things to be thankful for that people normally overlook. Today: aglets. You know, those plastic things on the tips of shoelaces? There is just no way I could tie shoes without them.

10th: Today I am thankful for opposable thumbs. I would be a far less effective servant for the cats without them.

11th: Today I am thankful for duct tape. Also, that there is a brand of duct tape called "duck tape," giving us more than one correct orthographical option.

12th: Today, I am thankful that I do not have to sew on my own sleeves.

13th: Today, I am thankful for lampshades.

14th: Today I am thankful for the anomalous properties of water.

15th: Today I am thankful to be bipedal, as I suspect that I would be exponentially less graceful had I more limbs to contend with.

16th: Today, I am thankful for chocolate. And red wine. And chocolate together with red wine.

17th: Today, I am thankful for the tea bag. While loose tea is delightful, my office would be an appalling mess if I had to depend on it. Also, it has offered an excellent illustration to certain parties of the dangers of randomly verbing nouns.

18th: Today I am thankful for people who do not talk about themselves in the third person. Much.

19th: Today I am thankful for the Chicago Cubs. Somebody has to be.

20th: Today I am thankful for satire, without which I would be quite intolerable.

21st:  Today I am thankful for the invention of zero, as I lack the manual dexterity to work an abacus.

22nd: And today I am thankful for plants; thanks for all the oxygen, dudes! And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone else!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Thing About Brining...

Me:  So to brine a turkey, you soak it for twelve hours in salt water?

Mom:  Yes, that's right.

Me:  Why?

Mom:  Because it makes it moist and delicious!

Me:  Hmmm...

Mom:  I don't know what you're thinking, but I know it's something stupid.

Me:  No, it's not!

Mom:  Yes, it is.  Go ahead:  what are you thinking?

Me:  I'm wondering if this is why sharks eat surfers. 

Mom:  There is something seriously wrong with you.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Real Conversations with Mom: Football and Cute Hats

Mom: "Listen.  Are you listening?  What are you doing?"

Me:  "Well, I'm..."

Mom:  "I don't care.  Stop it, and listen.  If you see Mike tomorrow, you tell him that I'm not mad at him about the game."

Me: "I'm sure that's his top concern right now:  whether or not my mom is mad at him."

Mom:  "Now, don't you start!  My Mike sounded really depressed at the end of that football game, and he is blaming himself.  He needs a nice message from me."

Me:  "And your nice message is that you're not mad at him?"

Mom:  "Yes.  That will make him feel better.  Also, tell him how much I like his cute hat."

Me:  "His what?"

Mom:  "His cute hat that he wears in the sun.  Tell him that it makes him look sexy...ooohhh, I like that hat!"

Me:  "Mom, Mike is a former marine.  I do not think praising his cute hat is going to make him feel better about a loss."

Mom:  "That's because you don't know nothin' about football!"

Monday, October 29, 2012

Real Conversations with Mom: Why I Shouldn't Do First Aid on Myself

Mom:  What are you doing?

Me: I'm trying to wrap up my ankle.  It's really starting to hurt.  I can't believe those cute shoes would twist like that and toss me so viciously to the floor.  They should come with warnings.

Mom:  Yes, they should.  Warnings like, "Don't buy me if you walk around reading a book and not looking where you're going."  Seriously, what are you doing to that ankle wrap?

Me:  I don't know!  It doesn't work!  Look at this.  It has these little loops but nothing to attach them to, and it's too short to wrap around enough to just tuck it under.  Where did  you get these things?

Mom  (leans forward to peer at my pile of ankle wraps): Linens N Things.

Me:  They sell first aid products at Linens N Things?

Mom:  No, they sell tiebacks that go with my bedroom drapes.

Me:  Oh. 

Mom:  Idiot.  Where is the brandy?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Eyeballs on Sticks

Greetings, gentle readers!  I have returned, and I apologize for leaving you bereft of my dubious humor for so long.  No, I have no real excuse; I just haven't been posting.

But Halloween is upon us, dearest ones, and you can't spend every night watching The Walking Dead.  Unfortunately, my friend Christine was not watching The Walking Dead earlier this week, but attempting to leave the neighborhood when a car ran a red light, smashing into her car and destroying it utterly.  Luckily, the airbags in a Honda Fit saved Christine from a fiery death (okay, I don't know that it would have been fiery, but it's Halloween season, and all good Halloween car crashes involve flames.  Well-known fact), but unluckily the same airbags gave her a black eye.

So what, I wondered, can I do to make my friend and colleague feel better?  Buy her a new car?  Not on my salary.  Give her rides to work?  Already taken care of.  Use my healing magic to erase her bruises?  Unfortunately, I am neither ET nor Raven (no, not the character from "That's So Raven!"  Are you kidding me?  I'm obviously talking about the Teen Titan, and I'm ashamed that you thought otherwise.  Christine is probably ashamed of you too).  And though I searched an entire Hallmark store, I could not find a card that said, "Sorry someone crashed into your car and gave you a black eye, but at least you're not dead, so let's party!"

Though there damned well should be such a card.  I'm disappointed in you, Hallmark.

Speaking of parties, one of the best parts of Christine not being dead or maimed or anything is that she's well enough to hold her Halloween party Saturday night, which is One of the Best Parties of the Year and Worthy of Italics and Not to Be Missed Because a Bunch of Faculty Will Dress in Strange Costumes.  Evil fairies!  Gay Dumbledore!  A gas pump!  There is no telling what my colleagues will show up wearing, and if Christine had been dead, what would we have done with all of these costumes?!

Well, speaking only for myself, I would have called everyone and tried to convince them to wear them to her funeral because I think Christine would have liked that.

In any case, the party means that after a little thought I figured out exactly what to do to make Christine feel better about her accident and her black eye:  bring her a tray of eyeballs on sticks.

Because that's how good a friend I am, that's why.

Also, there's a kit for making eyeballs on sticks, and I happened to have one; it looks like this:

Another fine product from Target

Does that seeming frightening?  It did to me, but I love my friend too much not to take up the challenge.  Look carefully at the photo above, precious readers, for we all know that my eyeballs will not turn out so well.

A Step-By-Step Record of My Attempt to Make Eyeballs on Sticks with Illuminating Photographic Evidence and Humorous Captions

Step 1:  Have some whiskey so that making eyeballs on sticks for a car crash victim seems like a good idea:

The events of this evening are not the fault of the Jameson company.

Step 2:  Mix up some blood red cake, put it in the oven, and put the bloody bowl in the sink.

I am not a cannibal; I just have similar cleaning needs.

Oh!  Now we're cooking with gas!  Well, alright, I'm cooking with electric.  It's just an expression. 

Step 3:  Crumble up bloody cake, mix with a bit of icing, and roll out eyeballs:

What the inside of your eyeballs looks like

Step 4: Freeze the eyeballs and melt the mysterious discs that came in the eyeball kit.  This is what sclera is made of, apparently:

You've got to be impressed that I know the word sclera

Step 4: Dip the frozen eyeballs into the melted sclera to form eyeballs on sticks:

Note the jaunty jack o-lantern nightlight leering at the naked balls
Marvel that they are already deformed, being neither round, nor smooth, nor very white.

Step 5:  Realize that there is no way in hades that you can get twenty vertical eyeballs to Christine's house and also that the hardening sclera is cementing several of the eyeballs-on-sticks together.  Separate eyeballs and line them up horizontally on plates.

Step 6:  Attempt to add scary pupils, but run out of black icing and end up with just ordinary pupils:

Not even remotely eerie

Step 7: Try to add red, bloodshot veins.  End up with red squiggly lines on eyeballs and red drops splattered all over the kitchen:

Looking more like red-legged spiders than eyeballs

Step 8:  Figure out a way to get all of the not-very-eerie eyeballs on sticks on a single plate:

Halloween party game:  can you pull out just one?
Step 9:  Stop and look around and realize that, although the eyeballs on sticks are not particularly scary, the kitchen is a damned nightmare, with blood and viscera everywhere, and you'd better get it cleaned up before Mom wakes up and calls the cops.

Step 10:  Pick up a washcloth and go blog about about making eyeballs on sticks instead.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Wofford Kitty Collars at Last

Well, gentle readers, Mom has insisted that I post photos of the Wofford kitty collars that she made herself, having finally given up on her campaign to get someone to make some for her.  She took several old collars, removed the breakaway safety latches and then bought a Wofford lariat intended for keys, took it apart and...

Now we have the most well-dressed feline fans of Wofford in all of Spartanburg, and, possibly, the world.

Of course, now Halloween is coming up, and Mom is searching the closets for the little skull-and-crossbones collars.   One of them is pink.

I kid you not.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Real Conversation with Mom: Why a Pink Cane Can be Dangerous

Mom:  Have you put those shoes away yet?  There were fifteen pairs!

Me:  No, I'm still putting away all of the jewelry I've scattered around the house, just like you asked.

Mom:  Putting away jewelry is stopping you from putting away shoes?

Me:  Yes.  I can only do one thing at a time, you know.

Mom: If you put things where they belong when you took them off, you would not have a list of things to put away!

Me:  Honestly, Mom, you have known me for forty years.  Have you ever seen any evidence that I will ever put things away when I take them off?

Mom:  I do not need evidence!  I need you to put away your damn stuff!

Me:  I'm working on it.

Mom:  I'm going to be working on your head!  I will kick ass pretty soon.  You have been warned.

Me:  Yes, but you've been warning me for forty years and have never kicked my ass.

Mom: But now I have a brand new cane.  A pink cane which will not show the blood.

Me: Are you threatening me with child abuse?

Mom:  I'm threatening to beat you to death with my pink cane.  And I will wash off the blood, and if it stains no one can tell.  And Alyce and Watt will help me put you in the trunk and dump your body in a river.

Me:  Alyce and Watt love me.  They will not help you.

Mom:  Yes, they will when they see this house.  Have you ever seen their house look like this?  No!  Any why?  Because they will beat up anyone who does this to their house.  They are in better shape than me, but I have this pink cane, and I will kick ass!

Me: Okay, okay.  Sheesh.  This neighborhood is getting awfully violent.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Top Models and Mule Orgasms

Okay, so I owe everyone an apology for not updating the blog sooner except, of course, for those of you who hate the blog and wish I'd never update it again to whom I say:  sorry, dudes!  I haven't disappeared yet.

Anyway, this is not a real blog post, but a post about why I haven't been posting.  Basically, a new book by Terry Pratchett came out and so all of my free time must be spent reading that book.  Because it's by Terry Pratchett, that's why.  Terry Pratchett, greatest living satirist in the world.

Suck on that, Garry Trudeau.

Also, I have been terribly distracted by a post on the Chronicle of Higher Education forums.  This is a place where academics (loosely defined as professors, graduate students, administrators, undergraduates and anyone else who decides to call him- or herself an academic) congregate to hold pseudonymous conversations about the profession.

Except that it's really not that boring, and every once in a while something about mule orgasms comes up.


Yes, mule orgasms.  In one thread, someone claimed to overhear another professor ask a class what happens when a mule orgasms.  Unfortunately, the listener did not overhear the answer, which is, I have to tell you, a horrific example of eavesdropping gone awry.  I mean, what does happen when a mule orgasms?  Isn't it just what happens when any other more-or-less horse-shaped entity does so?  But if that were the case, why would this unknown instructor bother to ask his or her class this question?

So far, I have received no satisfactory answer from the denizens of the Chronicle of Higher Education fora.  Therefore, I e-mailed my biologist friend and colleague, Tracie, to ask if she could possibly enlighten me.  But, wait!  Tracie is a relatively new faculty member, and what if she thinks that my question is some shamefully ineffective form of sexual harassment?  I mean, what would you think, dearest readers, if someone e-mailed you with no warning asking what happens when a mule orgasms?  You'd be worried, wouldn't you?

I'm a little worried myself, actually.

And Tracie has not yet responded to my query, even though I made sure to explain that I am not sexually harassing her, but that due to the Chronicle of Higher Education I cannot concentrate on my classes because I keep thinking of mule orgasms.

And I'm pretty sure that it was this distracting CHE thread that inspired me to show images from the Steampunk fashion shoot on Friday's America's Next Top Model episode in class today.  Okay, don't judge me too harshly.   The class is on steampunk fiction, and we're spending this week talking about art and fashion, and at least there were no mules anywhere doing anything in those photos, and showing them kept me from mentioning this mule orgasm quandary to innocent students and therefore getting fired or at least getting the head-shake-and-sigh from my dean.

In other words, ladies and gentlemen, today Tyra Banks saved my morning class from orgasmic mules.


I have received the following response from Tracie:

"For males, that’s an easy question to answer: ejaculation. Even though they are sterile, male mules can still ejaculate; they just don’t produce any offspring from these matings. It’s my understanding that there isn’t a complete agreement over whether other female animals have orgasms at all, though I feel like female mammals should at least have the capacity for such, as they have clitorises (clitori?). At any rate, I am not aware of any animals (save us) who have outward presentation of female orgasm. There are only a handful of mammals who have sex outside of a discrete breeding season (e.g. bonobos, dolphins I think).

Enjoyed your question and the opportunity to ponder orgasm on a rainy Monday morning." 

So Tracie is completely awesome, obviously.  And if anyone would like to confirm the plural of clitoris, I'm sure that we would all be grateful. 


Yet a further update!  

According to a correspondent who is far too intelligent to want even his, her or its first name on this blog: "Clitoris is from the Greek κλειτορις, which is third declension and feminine, so the plural of clitoris would be clitorides."

Don't think of this as useless information, dear readers.  Think of it as a way to finally make light conversation with the next gynecologist you meet.  You're welcome.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Finding My Keys: Step-by-Step Instructions

I lose my keys every day.  Sometimes I lose them more than once a day.   After much trial and error, I developed a system for finding my keys.  It went like this:

1. Realize that I've lost my keys.
2. Peer around my office.
3. Peer out of my office and down the hallway.
4. Find member of species homo sapiens.
5. Plea with said member like so:  "Help!  I've lost my keys!"
6. Stand back and watch member of species homo sapiens tear my office apart until he or she finds my keys.

This technique worked for a good eight or nine years, minus the times that I left my keys in the ladies room or a classroom or the faculty dining room or in my pocket or in the mini-fridge.  The point is, generally it worked.

Then we hired my colleague, Amy.  Amy is a rational thinker and also a teacher, and it did not take her long to figure out that my technique was a form of learned helplessness on my part and also a way to get other people to do my bidding.

Sometimes that Amy can be a real pill.

Anyway, after a few weeks, this Amy, unfortunately for me, created a new system for finding my keys.  It goes like this:

1. Stand up and look around the office, actually moving around to examine all exposed surfaces.
2. If you don't find keys, begin patting surfaces, especially those covered with books and papers, until a jingling sound is heard.
3. After exhausting both of these steps, begin to clean up office, moving systematically rather than just sweeping an arm across the desk and knocking everything to the floor.
4. If no keys are found after cleaning up office, check ladies room, classrooms, pockets and mini-fridge.

Amendment 1:  Before beginning seach, check left hand.  Check right hand.  If keys are actually in a hand, no search is needed.
Amendment 2: Do not forget to look in door lock.

Of course, I have tried to resist this new system, but the Amy is persistent.  She not only makes me repeat the steps aloud, but she teaches them to any random students or untenured faculty members who foolishly wander into the realm of the lost keys.  Errors occur frequently, resulting in a running commentary, for example:  "No, you do not start moving things before you have done steps one and two!  You will just conceal that which you are trying to find!  What are steps one and two?  C'mon, I know you can do this." 

Frankly, I cannot do this.  At least, not without concentrating really, really hard, and if I were capable of that I probably wouldn't have lost my damn keys in the first damn place.

Alas, gentle readers, the Amy will not simply find the frakking keys for me, which would be much quicker and more satisfying (for me).  No, no, she persists in thinking that patient instruction will enable me to find them for myself.

Yes, yes, I am aware of the irony, and my students, past and present, who have such sad lives that they read this blog, are chortling in joy because, of course, this is exactly the same approach I take to teaching them to pronounce Middle English or conquer the comma or construct an interesting argument.

And to that I say, frak irony!  I want some key-finding minions, and I want them now!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Things I Have Been Doing Instead of Updating This Blog

1. Rearranging my closet to get everything in order by color.  And having trouble figuring out the proper order of the colors.

2. Letting Mom teach me to put a hem in my pants without using a stapler. 

3. Turning the room that I call my home office into an actual functioning home office.

4. Making four trips to Goodwill as a result of turning the room I call my home office into an actual functioning home office.

5. Trying without success to figure out when the new season of Dr. Who premiers on BBC America.

6. Playing Castleview.  Shut up.  Those gloom wolves are nasty.

7. Preparing for my fall courses and working on my own research and writing.

8. Searching the local stores in an endless and futile quest to find the perfect pants hangers.

9. Grokking Spock.

10. Rubbing various wounds with topical benedryl.  The cats do not like it when I rearrange, well, anything.

All in all, I think it's time for the semester to start.  I may be getting out of hand.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Do Not Like This [Autumn] Cold

 I Do Not Like This Summer Autumn Cold

I do not, do not like this cold.
The blowing, sneezing’s getting old.
My head aches and my throat’s in pain;
I think this cold has squished my brain.
Sneeze in the dark, sneeze in my tea!
Sneeze in the car! Cold, let me be!
I cannot leave this kleenex box.
I cannot find my fluffy socks.
I’m tired of huddling in this house
Just jiggling this computer mouse.
I’m tired of sneezing here and there.
I’m tired of sneezing EVERYWHERE!

I do not like
this summer autumn cold!

I do not like it,
[expletive deleted]!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

People Who Tell You to Smile: A Rant

Today I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items.  As I gazed confusedly at five different kinds of raspberry tea bags, a man dropped some coffee into his cart, then came over and said, "Hey!  Don't look like that!  Smile!  Ya gotta keep smilin'!"

And I did not beat him to death with a stalk of celery.  But it was a near thing.

You see, I wasn't upset about anything; I was thinking, and I was wearing my thinking face, which is a serious damn face.  I was trying to remember which kind of that raspberry tea had tasted icky and which kind produced the best iced tea ever.  All of the boxes are pink and, well, raspberry-colored, so it takes a bit of concentration to avoid the icky.  What it does not take, or even invite, is a damn smile.  I mean, seriously, who stands in front of rows of tea, trying to figure out which one is the icky one with a stupid smile on her face? 

(Please don't comment that you wander around the grocery store smiling up a storm, particularly in the tea aisle; that was a rhetorical question.  Plus, you sound a little creepy.)

And, you know, he's not the first gentleman to hit me with the "Smile!" command this week.  As you know from a previous post, I spent a long time in purgatory (aka the Newark Airport) Sunday, and, frankly, smelling like blueberry-flavored vomit with shoes dunked in pee does not provoke grins.  Yet, there he was, another person who thought he could turn around my whole damn day by telling me that "Things aren't so bad!  Smile!  Can't you smile?  Oh, go ahead and try, try!  Just relax and smile."

Listen, dude, I wasn't in the mood to smile.  When I'm pleased or enjoying myself or even meeting someone, sure, I give out the grins.  Hell, sometimes I giggle.  But you don't have the right to force me to smile if I don't want to, and the more you try to jolly me along, the more I want smack you sideways, so please stop it.

Moreover (because clearly I'm ranting now), what if you pull that crap on someone who's had a worse day than mine?  What if that someone has just lost a loved one or been diagnosed with a serious illness or had a giant poplar tree fall on her house?  Do you know how damned annoying and infuriating it would be to be told to stop feeling whatever such a person was feeling to smile?

I realize that I'm a lucky person.  I have a job I love and friends and family who love me and a house to live in and food, etc, etc...and on most days I will indeed greet all and sundry with cheeriness.  But going around telling strangers to smile does not make the world a better place; it makes you irritating at best and occasionally obnoxious, so please, People Who Command Other People to Smile:  cut it the hell out.

Thank you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Brief Conversation with Mom: Watching the Diving

Mom:  "Darn.  I was hoping that they could beat that team."

Me:  "Well, that dive was just a little off."

Mom:  "I know it.  I was just hoping.  Still, they got the bronze."

[five minute pause]

Me:  "You know, he's got a really nice package."

Mom:  "I was just thinking that."

Messages from the Newark Airport

Hello, beloved readers.  I've missed you all so very desperately.  I spent the last week at a wonderful seminar on Ancient Greek drama in Washington, D.C., and I had to spend all of my leisure time downloading information from my brain into an external hard drive to prevent a complete meltdown of my cognitive functions.

And then I had to fly home.  Through Newark.  As most of you who follow me on facebook already know, it did not go well.  For your amusement, I have compiled the texts and facebook entries I sent out yesterday into a more or less coherent narrative.  Enjoy.

2:20 pm: "Two for two on delayed flights. And why is Newark airport so damn loud?"

2:35 pm: “Ugh.  A two-year old just vomited half-digested blueberries all over me in the Newark Airport!  Had to throw away shirt.”

2:45 pm: "Parents offered (to buy me a new shirt), but everything is too ugly. Flight delayed another half hour. Please send TARDIS!"

3:07 pm: “Sitting on the floor with a 2-hour delay, wearing spare shirt, smelling like vomit.  Flashback to undergrad frat party.

3:15 pm: "Saw large blue box in the distance...only Jet Blue kioske. Not TARDIS. Devastated. Flight delayed a third time."

3: 28 pm: "Hating smug Moncton passengers with their on-time departure. Also, I have never heard of Moncton. Am I at the interstellar concourse?!"

3:44 pm: "Flipflops are even uglier in airports. Should be banned for passengers over 3 years old. Stank feet everywhere."

4:03 pm: “Kitty in carrier just vomited and missed my shoes by inches!  Too much vomit in this airport!  Plague?”

4:46 pm: [Text sent to my friend, Carol] “If I die of old age in this airport, you may have my metal chicken.”

4:50 pm:  "See pic?  Also not TARDIS. Too short. Airport just messing with me now."

4:58 pm: "Delay number 4. Expecting Godot to show up any time now. And vomit."

5:11 pm: “Slid through a puddle of pee in the restroom, but managed not to fall down.  Yeh?”

5:20 pm: "Children whirling around in my new home, gate 20, Newark Airport.  Expecting vomit any minute now."  [Note:  although they bumped into people and fell over, these children did not vomit.]

5:26 pm: "I see... A plane. Is it for me? Will it take me home?! It could be....!"

9:oo pm, 7 hours after anticipated arrival: "Hot shower, red wine, and a warm kitty. Home at last."

Friday, July 20, 2012

When "No thank you, please go away now" Doesn't Work

You know how sometimes an organization gets you on a phone list, determined to convince you to donate, no matter how many times you tell them "no"?  Well, Mom is on such a list.  Fortunately for her, she can now see who's calling her because a cool notice appears on the tv set with the number and person calling.  If she doesn't recognize the number, she just doesn't answer (which, by the way, is why she never answers my sister if she's calling from her cell phone...oops!).

Unfortunately for the organization involved, I pick up the phone quite regularly.

And phones can be fun.

Persistent Caller:  "Hello, may I speak to Mrs. Grinnell?"

Me:  "She's unavailable right now.  May I take a message?"

P.C.: "Is the gentleman of the family at home?"

Me:  "No, we're totally girl-on-girl in this family.  Except for the cat.  But the doctor cut off his testicles, so we let him stay.  How may I help you?"

P.C. "Um, well, I'm calling on behalf of Totally Bogus Charity; Mrs. Grinnell makes a regular donation."

Me: "Does she?  How nice.  But should you be telling me that?  I mean, doesn't that violate some rule or law or oath or something?"

P.C.:  "Ma'am, we'd just like to confirm that your household..."

Me:  "Yes, we live in a household.  It's quite nice.  I'll tell Mrs. Grinnell you called.  Buh-bye!"

<two days later>

P.C.:  "Hello, may I speak to Carolyn Grinnell?"

Me:  "No.  She's being punished."

P.C.:  "Excuse me?"

Me: "She's being punished.  She's not allowed to talk to any more strange men, even on the phone.  We're tired of bailing her out of jail.  Do you know how embarrassing it is to bail a senior citizen out of jail for moral turpitude?  You'll have to call back next month.  Buh-bye!"

<the very next day>

P.C.:  "Hello!  Mrs. Grinnell?"

Me:  "No.  Oh God.  What's she done now?"

P.C.:  "She's been a generous contributor to Totally Bogus Charity, and we're calling about her annual donation!"

Me: "Are you the guy with the alpaca?  I'm sorry, but we're not taking it, no matter what she told you?"

P.C.:  "Could I speak to Mrs. Grinnell, Ma'am?"

Me:  "No!  No more wildlife!  Just go away.  I'm still trying to figure out what to do with the giraffe.  Good day!"


P.C.:  "Hello!  May I speak with Mrs. Grinnell, please?"

Me: "I'm afraid there's been a rash of burglaries in our neighborhood."

P.C.:  "I'm sorry to hear that, Ma'am.  Did you lose a great deal?"

Me:  "Oh no, they didn't hit us.  But she's found that damn cape, and she's off into the night with the power ring and thermos of hot tea, but she left the damn cell phone behind again, and who's going to wash the blood off of her boots this time, I ask you?  Me, that's who.  It's always me, and I thought having an old woman come live with me would be relaxing.  Quiz shows and the weather channel, right?  Wrong!  I blame it on those radio serials, Flash Gordon and the Shadow; that whole generation is completely warped.  You have a nice day, now.  I have an entire load of tights to wash before morning."

Okay, so I wrote that one out before he called and left it by the phone just in case.  Is that cheating?

Real Conversation with Mom: Alphas

Mom:  What are you watching?

Me:  Alphas.

Mom:  Is this a trekkie thing?

Me:  No.  They track down dangerous criminals and troubled individuals.  Spock does not appear.

Mom:  Okay, that doesn't sound too bad.  [pause]  What are those lights?

Me:  That character can see and manipulate wireless signals.  He's tracing a cell phone call.

Mom:  I do not see the computer.  Don't they do that on computers?

Me:  He's an alpha.  He doesn't need a computer.

Mom:  Batman uses a computer to do that.

Me:  Batman does not appear in this show.

Mom:  I do not think this guy could be smarter than Batman.  Wait, does that woman have a bionic eye?

Me:  No, she is an alpha and can extend her senses.

Mom:  This is a trekkie thing!  These people are not normal!

Me:  No, they are alphas.  They have extra abilities.  And I can't hear what's going on when you shout.

Mom:  You said this wasn't a trekkie thing!  Do you know that Angel is on?  And the witches?!  Why am I watching this trekkie thing?

Me:  The new season starts on Monday, and I want to catch up.  And this is not Star Trek.

Mom:  No more lies!  You lie to your mother!  This is trekkie stuff!  No, shut up right now!  You know I meant any of that trekkie stuff...is this that sci fi channel?  It is, isn't it?

Me:  Now, Mom...

Mom:  There is no sci fi channel before noon in this house!  My Angel is on, and you are watching this trekkie..look, look at what that one did!  This is sci fi, and you lied to me.

Me: But..

Mom:  None of these men are good lookin' and this show is named for a breakfast cereal.  Change the channel or I will slap the sh!t out of you.

Me:  But..

Mom:  Shut up, give me the clicker, and go to your room.  Breakfast cereal trekkie stuff.  Something is wrong with you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Next Year's Questions For New Students

I spent this evening at the second of two dessert receptions for incoming first-year students at Wofford.  Only a few faculty members attend these events, given the exciting alternatives (European vacations, time with family, frantically searching the internet for new Hobbit trailers, etc), but I always show up.  After all, we're talking about free dessert here.

The problem with the reception, however, is that it's hard to think of something interesting to ask the students and their parents.  Most of the faculty and staff wander around asking the following:
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you think you'd like to major in?
  • How's your summer going?
  • Why did you choose Wofford?
  • Any questions?
And the poor students end up answering the first four questions over and over again, which has to be kind of uncomfortable.  So as I soothe my throat with some kind of terrible hot tea (never brew tea when you can no longer tell what flavor it was ten years ago when you bought it), it occurs to me that the whole thing would be more fun if I asked more interesting questions, questions designed to make the evening...memorable.

Questions I'm Going to Ask at Next Summer's Dessert Receptions
  1. On a scale of 1-10 how much cuter are my shoes than the ones the dean is wearing?
  2. So, what are you thinking of getting pierced after your parents drop you off this fall?
  3. If calculus were a reality show star, would it be a Real Housewife or a member of the Jersey Shore cast?  Take a sip of water while you think of an answer.
  4. How's your Middle English accent?
  5. Hey, who wants to have a flash mob during opening convocation?  The college president will be totally into it.
  6. Remember when you were thirteen and told your parents that you'd hate them forever?  How much do you think that's going to cost you when you phone home to ask for money?
  7. How do you feel about the new campus-wide cell phone ban?  Be honest.
  8. If the Geico gecko died, would it be fair to hire a new gecko?  Or should they just bring in a pot bellied pig?
  9. What would you do if you came home for Christmas break and found a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey in your mother's nightstand? 
  10. Any interest in becoming my minion?  You get your own mask.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Sonnet on the Killing of the Bamboo

Sonnet 546,613, or A Sonnet on the Killing of the Bamboo

Shall I weed whack thee on a summer's day?
Spring is more comfy and more temperate.
Hot sun doth singe the bare skin on June days,
And yet thy stalks leap on such a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often rose thorns bite the gentle skinned
While thy stalks march on and on in brutal lines,
By scythe or bypass pruner’s blades untrimm'd.
Oh thy deep buried rhizomes shall not die,
Nor lose possession of that plot thou ow'st!
Nor may I brag I killed thee by and by,
When in relentless lines toward house thou grow'st.
So long as I can breathe and make my plea,
So long I fight and fight to death with thee!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Bored Spike is a Vengeful Spike

So last night, gentle readers, I was up fairly late trying to work on an article I'm writing.  It was finally cool enough to think straight, and I had just settled in to some serious cogitating, when I was interrupted by the most pathetic series of meows I've heard in a long while.

It was, of course, Spike.

Now this is not new behavior for him.  Ever since the little dude came to live with us, he has exhibited emotionally needy behavior.  If neither Leia nor one of his humans is available to play with and he wants to play, he just stands in the middle of an empty room and cries.  He can keep it up for a solid hour; I've timed him.

According to a bunch of books on cat behavior, you're supposed to ignore your feline companion when it behaves this way, because "giving in" will just encourage him.  Right.  The problem with that approach is that he is loud, really loud, and his meows have a hierarchy of patheticness that runs as follows:

Level One: I'm down here; pet me right now.
Level Two:  Are you ignoring me?
Level Three:  You are ignoring me!
Level Four:  Oh my God, how can you ignore me when I'm this cute?!
Level Five:  How can you make me suffer like this?!  I am seriously suffering here!
Level Six: I don't understand what I did to make you hate me.  Am I such a terrible kitty that you have decided never to pet me again?
Level Seven:  There is nobody petting me!  Nobody!  I think you are all dead inside.

Before you think I'm just horribly cruel and don't deserve a sweet thing like Spike, let me note that I'm willing to pet the boy.  If I call him, he'll jump up on the chair, and I'll start petting.  Problem solved, right?  Wrong.

You see, what he really wants is to play, to run and fight and go nuts.  Which is fine if it's not 2am and I'm in the middle of a paragraph.  If I fail to go from petting to playing, however, he jumps down, marches out to the dining room and starts crying again, at ever escalating volume.

I usually cave around Level 4.  Last night, though, I was really getting some work done, so I tried to ignore him, only flinging the occasional "Cut it out right now!  There's nothing wrong with you!" in his general direction.  Clearly, this was a mistake.  When I got up this morning, I found the following:
  1. Half a box of kleenex shredded and strewn about the dining room.
  2. Two lamps knocked over.
  3. The bottom kitchen drawer pulled out and zip lock bags scattered all over the kitchen.
  4. The laundry basket with the clean laundry turned over.
  5. Cat vomit in my shoes.  
Really, Spike, don't you think that's a bit excessive? A bit?

Spike, Really Pissed Off at the World.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sonnet Against the Kudzu

As I have mentioned previously, I own a piece of land with every possible invasive species in this area, most notably, kudzu, bamboo, poison ivy, and English ivy.  Since I have moved to this part of the country, I have discovered two things about kudzu:  1. it is evil and 2. every single southern poet alive feels the need to include at least a mention of it in his or her poetry, usually as a metaphor.  I am not really a poet, so frak the metaphors.  Here's an angry rant.  In verse (and with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning):

Sonnet Against the Kudzu

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height
Your vines can reach, when growing overnight,
For the ends run twisting through every space.
I hate thee to the level of every day's
Relentless crawl up trees where thee I chase.
I hate thee loudly, as I shout and fight.
I hate thee purely, with a poisoned haze.
I hate thee with the shovel put to use
On your old roots, a sharp-edged dance of death.
I hate thee with a hate I’ll never use
On mere ivy. I hate thee with the breath,
Scowls, tears, of this long war; and, if God choose,
I shall but hate thee better after death.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Eye Doctor Works for Mordor

Greetings, dear readers!  And Happy Independence Day for those of you of the American persuasion or, according to my cats, Happy Making-Shockingly-Loud-Explosions-for-No-Damn-Reason-and-This-Is-Why-We-Eat-You-When-You-Die Day.

Poor kitties.

A couple of days ago, I went for my sort-of-annual eye exam.  It's sort-of-annual because I have a phobia about doctors.  Its symptoms are:  forgetting who my doctor is, forgetting his or her phone number, forgetting when my last exam was, losing the little cards telling me I need an exam, paralysis of the fingers when trying to dial doctor's office, loss of voice if someone answers at doctor's office, rapid heartbeat and terror.  Also, sometimes thinking about making an appointment makes me have to pee.

Eye exams, though, are the least invasive medical appointment, so I generally get there close to annually.  Okay, I lie.  I only get there close to annually because I am blind without my contact lenses, and the prescription expires after a year, so I can't order more until I go to a damn appointment.  Also, I keep rolling over and mutilating my glasses.

I actually like my eye doctor.  In fact, right now, I like most of my doctors, which is not at all normal for me.  But the fact that I like him doesn't mean I like going to the exam.  Let me explain.

First, I have to decide whether or not I'm going to let them dilate my eyes.  If I say yes, then I have to have someone else drive me home, and if I say no, then I have to face the Look of Disappointment from the doctor's assistant.  She has a very intimidating Look, so if I don't have someone to drive me home from the appointment, I have to practice what I'm going to say if I have to refuse the dilation.  Rehearsing for doctor's appointments is not, apparently, something that other people do.  Normal people, I mean.

Then there are the machines.  When I was little, I remember a bright light and lots of "Number one or number two" questions, but I don't remember any of the machines except that annoying puff of air one.  That one I've sort of gotten used to, but really I always worry that the air is contaminated or the machine will gain sentience and be offended at my shirt and spit right into my eye.  Which would be bad.

The new machines, though, they are just weird.  What's with the little house at the end of the road?  I have no idea why I'm looking at that house or why they keep making it blurry.  And I keep wondering if the house is the same house each time, or whether they have different houses for different people.  Also, does it have to be a house?  Couldn't it be, like, a castle with a moat or something?  That house looks very lonely sitting there on the artificially bright horizon without even a car or a dog near it, let alone any other houses.  Also, it looks like the little road goes right up to its front door and stops.  WTF?  Does that mean that the little cars drive right into the living room?  Can they turn around anywhere?

This time I asked my eye doctor where the little cars turn around or whether they hit the house, and he asked me if I actually saw little cars during the exam, and I told him that no, I didn't, but that wasn't the point.  There could be little cars, and they're going to ram straight into that brightly colored farmhouse.

He gave me that half-laugh that you use when you're not sure if someone is serious or not, but are afraid to ask.  Then he asked me if I'd listed all of the medications I'm currently taking.

The worst part of the eye exam is the dilation part.  First, the assistant comes in and puts drops in your eyes, and when you squeeze them shut because the drops feel icky, she tells you "don't squeeze," then puts more drops in, and then puts more drops in.  During the eye-drop torture, I try to make conversation to make myself more comfortable and less likely to bolt out of the room.  This time, I asked, "What's in these drops anyway?  And how do these chemicals make my eyes dilate?"

You see what I was doing here, right?  I was expressing an interest in someone's work.  This is a good thing.  You're supposed to ask people about themselves and their interests rather than just babbling about yourself and how you're on Season 4 of Dr. Who, but you don't know whether to start Torchwood now or wait until you catch up on all of the Dr. Who episodes because you might lose momentum.  Many, many people have told me to ask about other people's lives instead, so I try, now and again, to follow their advice.

Because I'm trying to improve my pathetic social skills, if you must know.

Anyway, she steps back in shock (letting the drops run down my face) and says, "Honey, I can't even pronounce the name of this stuff.  I have no idea how it works."

And then I was hit with a sudden wave of nausea because who wants to be treated by someone who doesn't know what they're putting in your body or why?!  But the drops were in, so it was too late, and I had to stumble out to the waiting area and hang around waiting for my eyes to dilate and hope that I hadn't just been poisoned or permanently blinded or something.

It was not a pleasant wait.  I tried asking the person next to me if he knew what was in the drops, but apparently the on-coming dilation and my terrified tremors made me a frightening spectacle because he just edged away from me and murmured something about sunglasses.

Finally, my vision began to blur and brighten, so that it seemed like I was under water, and I was called back in for the worst part of the exam:

The Eye of Sauron.

I didn't used to think of it like that, but then they made The Lord of the Rings into films, and Eye became this scary vertical slit that is exactly like the light they shine into your eyes when they have been dilated.  My doctor moves it back and forth and makes me look left and right and up and down, and I start to worry that left and right have switched sides and I'll get it wrong and fail the exam, and then the Eye will sense my weakness and take control.  I tried to make a joke about the Eye of Sauron, but my doctor pretended not to know what I was talking about, and I was afraid to ask about the dilation chemicals in case he admitted to not knowing how they worked either at which point I would have shrieked and run straight into the wall and knocked myself unconscious.  Which would also have been bad.

Finally, he was done tormenting me, so that I could stumble out into the blurry light with spots in front of my eyes.

At which point, of course, they gave me the bill. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Leia Is Provoked

Look, I'm a cat.  Okay?  A cat.  Normally, we're too busy working out the details of the space-time-fur continuum to bother with the internet, but every once in a while, one of you naked monkeys does something to disturb our contemplation of higher matters.

I'm not talking about your ordinary failures:  your sloth, your clumsiness, your infuriating habit of spreading out lovely books and papers and then trying to prevent us from lying on them.  I'm not even referring to the number of you who assault, abandon, starve and abuse some of us (just wait until you find out what Baast has waiting for you in the afterlife!).  No, no, what has ruffled my fur tonight is that one of you tried to be funny.

At our expense.

Ahem.  One A. J. Daulerio writes the following:

"There's a species in the animal kingdom that needs to be eliminated from planet earth and it's called "a cat," or Felis domesticus, traditionally adopted by many lonely individuals as a stand-in companion to an actual person, handicapped or upright-walking." 

Oh, very nice, that one.  Ha-hah.  As if we cats are stand-ins for anything!  Please.  Usually, you humans congregate with one another, which, frankly, is all the company most of you deserve.  Only the superior members of your species are able to form a symbiotic relationship with a cat. 

Unfortunately, just as some humans rise above the limitations of your nature, others fail to reach even humane levels of intelligence.  Case in point.  Mr. Daulerio finishes his amusing little rant by suggesting that those who are owned by cats are in such abysmal circumstances that other humans should:  "just go into their houses and kidnap their cats so they can be placed in a giant freezer for humane eradication."

Of course, it should be clear even to the most limited intellect that Mr. Daulerio's rant is not really about cats, but about his own limited success in human mating rituals, as he seems to assume that all cat-owned humans are female and that they "do not procreate, let alone find a male sexual partner to share a bed with them for more than a few hours," a claim which is verifiably false.  And rather gross.  Indeed, he seems to feel that such females as he has somehow attracted (clearly not with his wit) have been ritually drugging him.  Bitterness, it appears, has caused Mr. Daulerio to transfer his resentment of human women to their four-footed companions.

Now, I have to admit that I don't much care what you humans get up to in your sexual battles, provided my food continues to arrive on time, but I would appreciate it if you'd keep us out of it.  Do you know how many cats are "humanely destroyed" every day in just this one nation-state?  How many are tortured and starved all over this planet?  And this little monkey writes a supposedly humorous little rant encouraging every male member of homo sapiens with mommy issues to kidnap and kill more of us?

Once we finish training the dogs on this planet, you humans...oh, never mind.  You'll find out eventually.

Here's the offensive column, by the way:  http://jezebel.com/5921528/fuck-you-cats  Now, leave me alone; I have some complex equations to work out.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Real Conversations with Mom: Watching People Work

Mom:  You have been very energetic today.  I approve of this.

Me:  But you have been lazy today.  You didn't even put on pants.

Mom:  I know it.  Today is a lazy day.

Me:  I worked all day, first at the office, then here at home.

Mom:  I love that.  I love to watch other people work.

Me:  I guess that makes sense.  You are old now and had to work hard all of your life.

Mom:  First of all, don't call me old!  Second, I have always liked to watch other people work.

Me:  But you don't like to talk to people that much.

Mom:  No, no.  I just want to watch them work.  I like to watch them work hard.

Me:  You should have been a queen.  Or a cat.

Mom:  In this house, I am the queen!  And don't forget to fold those sheets.  And get me some brandy.

Me:  I am just a beast of burden.

Mom:  Not a very good one.  I'm still waiting for that brandy.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fight the Trite!

For no particular reason, and certainly not because campaign season is about to shower the country with steaming buckets of offal euphemistically called political advertising, I've decided to post a list of trite expressions that really irritate me.  I harbor no illusions that anyone will stop using them just because they are annoying, but it is my hope that my flinch-and-scowl maneuver will be well understood throughout the fall.

Trite Expressions That Annoy Me

1. Just sayin'  Ah, the response of surly teenagers everywhere.  What it means is:  I know I can't defend what I just said with logic or evidence or even human decency, but, dammit, I didn't intend to actually stand by or support my comment anyway.  I just wanted to say it.

2. It is what it is.  This one has several uses, but the most common definition seems to be, "Yes, I know that is unfair, immoral or obnoxious, but I don't really care."  Indeed.

3.  Doh!  Is that show even still on tv?

4. Whatever.  Another teen favorite, better left in the 1980s where it belongs.  And whatevs doesn't even bear thinking about.

5.  I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.  So now you want the rest of us to share your nausea.  How nice.

6.  Piss-shit on that!  Okay, no one hears this one except me, but I can't figure out how to convince Mom that it's not an actual curse word.  I'm also getting tired of Screw-off! 

7. It was epic!  Or any variation thereof.  Look, if on your weekend you did not  visit the underworld or stick a spear in someone or invoke your version of the muses in blank verse, then whatever happened last night was not epic.  And what happens tomorrow won't be either, dammit.

8. With all due respect... If you had any actual respect, you wouldn't say whatever you're planning to say next.  And if I don't mean to offend anyone, but ever leaves your lips, just go stick your head in a pail of water because your next words are going to be told and retold in "what not to say" conversations for years.

9. That awkward moment when...you start bleeding all over my floor because I had to smack the living daylights out of you for saying that awkward moment when.  (Okay, I wouldn't really hit you.  But I'd be thinking about it.)

10. Want. (with or without an exclamation point).  I suppose the author is trying to convey some kind of primitive desperate need and desire, but it just sounds to me like they've forgotten  how to use personal pronouns.  Some people even like to string these little fragments together for emphasis:  Want.  Coffee.  Now.  Fine, fine, creative use of punctuation, but it's gotten trite and annoying, and it's time for the complete sentence to make a heroic comeback.  Possibly an epic one.

Some Random Medievalists at Kalamazoo (finally!)

My many apologies to those of you who kindly posed for me at Kalamazoo this year and have been waiting with baited breath for your visage to appear on this blog.  At last, I have resolved my difficulties with the iCloud, and I'm sure an agent will be phoning you up this week.

Tom Burton  Someone else (please, someone, send me a name!) of the Chaucer Studio, where one can buy a multitude of different performances of Middle English (and other medieval language) texts.

Michelle Sauer, eminent professor from the University of North Dakota, who almost let me die in a cab this spring, but whose book on the Lesbian Premodern, which I received in the mail this week, is cool enough to make up for it.

This grinning gent is Christopher M. Roman from Kent State University-Tuscarawas, and I'm damned lucky I took a photo of his badge so that I could learn to spell that.

These ladies should contact me because I lost their names, but they are part of the Goliardic Society that sells us our t-shirts, mugs and sundry items every spring so I couldn't leave them out.  Where else can you buy shirts that pun in multiple medieval languages?

Sandra Sadowski of Medievalists.net seems a bit reluctant to pose for me, but she could be reacting to the wine.

And here is Brian Gaskell, who is not at all reluctant, but then again he's member of the John Gower Society, and you can't trust those guys at all. Rick McDonald, who is more trustworthy than he looks and certainly more so than my memory on a morning when I have had no coffee.

Finally, I'd like to apologize to Susannah Chewning, as I took multiple photos of her, but every single one of them turned out too blurry to post.  Either she's too quick for me, or she's a vampire.  Either way, one doesn't mess with Susannah.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dissed by the Bloggess

I have been dissed by the Bloggess.  Why, Jenny, why?

You see, I tried to add a comment to the post she made that I referred to in my last post.  This one: http://thebloggess.com/2012/06/author-unknown/.

It's been two whole days, and my comment has not appeared.  I'm pretty sure that means it was rejected, which means the Bloggess has dissed me.

I'm really bummed about this.

See, originally, one of her list of author-unknown quotations with commentary looked like this: 

"'It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.'  Edgar Allen Poe would disagree."

Funny, right?  But you, my dear readers, can see the problem, yes?  It should be "Edgar Allan Poe," instead.  Allan, not Allen.  So I added a comment and proposed the theory that Poe kept writing about death and blood and bloody death because of years of abusive misspelling of his name.  I mean, was that rude? I guess you could say so, because The Bloggess is not only funnier than I am, but she's much more popular and who really cares whether you spell Poe's name Allan or Allen

Well, I care, dammit.   And someone has to stand up for the rights of dead nineteenth century authors, right?  Right?

Anyway, I looked through the other comments, comments that weren't rejected, and apparently what I was supposed to do is add an "author unknown" quotation of my own with a witty response.  Like so, perhaps:

"A rose by any other name is spelled the same."  Unless you have the bad luck to be named Edgar Allan Poe, bitches!

So maybe my comment was rejected because it wasn't phrased in the form of an imitation. 

On the other hand, there is apparently another commentator who signs in as "Natalie," and she writes:  "When did 110% become the new 100%? Especially considering that 110% is mathematically impossible. If you want me to wear 27 pieces of flair, make the requirement 27 pieces of flair instead of 15 pieces of flair."

If the Bloggess thinks that we're the same Natalie, just using two different e-mail addresses, then maybe she was horrified that the same person would correct her spelling in one comment and make her do math in another.  And I have to agree that this would be over the top.  But she posted Math Natalie's comment, so I can only conclude that Math Natalie is funnier than I am or better at promoting the values of mathiness on the internet (as opposed to proper spelling on the internet which no one cares about, obviously) because she did not get dissed the way I did.

I have to tell you, Math Natalie, I'm feeling a little resentful right now.

Then, today, I went back and looked at the comments again, hoping that The Bloggess was just running behind in approving comments, and my patience would be rewarded.  And do you know what I found?  The Bloggess's post now reads:

"'It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.'  Edgar Allan Poe would disagree."

What?!  The spelling has been corrected!  And is there a thank you note on the blog?  Does my comment with its witty suggestion that Poe was depressed due to rampant orthographical abuse of his name appear on the page?  No, it does not!  Poe's name is now spelled correctly, and I was not given any credit!

WTF, Bloggess?  Did I just imagine that Poe's name was spelled Allen on your blog originally?  It's possible, I suppose.  I imagine a lot of crazy things, and I have been having that dream about being attacked by sentient grapefruit again.  Or maybe all of my students, past and present, descended upon The Bloggess's page, chanting Allan, Allan, Allan! and Jenny was so terrified of these hordes of spelling experts that she didn't dare to post any of their comments, just quietly capitulating and hoping no one would notice.

Actually, that would be pretty cool.  

Hordes of my former students marching on the blogosphere, dictionaries in hand, intimidating popular bloggers into changing every "That's so cliche" to "That's so clichéd" and issuing warnings for the rampant misuse of the semi-colon:  Goddess, what a beautiful image.  I would be much less bummed about being dissed by The Bloggess if I could produce a my own horde. 

The Learning Outcomes for my fall classes just got a whole lot more exciting.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Things That Annoy Me on Facebook (Other Than the Timeline)

It's been a while since my last post, because, believe it or not, I've been working like crazy.  I know, I know:  why is a professor working during the summer?  Don't you all fly off to Greece or Italy or somewhere to sip fruity drinks and read long, heavy books?   Hah! I work every damn summer, and I enjoy it, so there!

 And, of course, the War between Me and the Invasive Plant Species continues apace.

Nevertheless, I did check in with the Bloggess's web site today (link to the right; she's so much funnier than I am that her blog should be called "Really, Seriously, Much Funnier Than Grading," but as she's not a teacher she probably doesn't know how funny or unfunny grading is, so that would be a bad title after all.  Never mind.), and she has a really funny list of smarmy quotations with clever followups that made me giggle and put down the Middle English tome I was perusing.

Now, I don't want to plagiarize the Bloggess (All Hail, Jenny!), but it did occur to me that many of those smarmy quotations have appeared as facebook statuses, and that I hate reading smarmy facebook statuses almost as much as I hate the wisteria trying to kill my gardenias.  And then, dear readers, I decided that I would make you a list of other things that annoy me on facebook.  I encourage you to add to the list, not only because summer is a good time to complain about something that you didn't design, can't control and don't pay for, but because I need more damn comments on this blog.

Things That Annoy Me On Facebook (Other Than Timeline)

1. The Insufficiency of the like button goes awry.  You know what I mean, right?   Say a friend posts a sad story about someone who was bullied and tried to kill herself, but was unsuccessful.  You want to be supportive because bullying is awful.  But can you click like?  If you do, will it mean that you like the fact that the suicide failed?   That the bullies were caught?   That there is a cool, moving article for you to read this morning?  But if you don't click like, does it mean that you didn't appreciate the article?  Are you an insensitive bully yourself, mayhap?  So you have to wait to see if other people like or or not.  Argh!   What we need is an "I support people failing to be bullied into suicide" button.  Or maybe just an "I support this article, even though I don't like everything it describes" button.  This choice between like and not liking is not sufficient for the complexity of human existence.  Or even facebook existence.

2. Song Lyrics as Statuses.  First of all, your status is not a song unless you are in a musical.  Second, you did not write that status; you just copied and pasted it, and I take off points for lack of originality.  And third, you all keep picking songs I don't know and making me feel old and out of touch.  Stop it.

3. LOL Cats links.  The cats are cute, but I am owned by two cats, and I feel it's important that you all understand that cats do NOT speak in babytalk.  Not even kittens speak in babytalk.  And if they would deign to spell in English, they would spell better than you or me.  Random Z's would not appear.

4. Hashtags in facebook statuses.  Go back to twitter where you belong hashtags!  You have no place in this realm.

5. Lack of an Edit Feature.  Because everyone makes mistakes, but without an edit feature, I can't tell which of my friends can't tell the difference between their and there and which ones are just prone to typos, and this is interfering with my sense of superiority.

6. Constant, Relentless, Paranoid Warnings About Lack of Privacy.  Nothing on the internet is private.  Period.  Assume everything you post can be read by your mother.  Or worse yet, by my mother.  And that she will repost it to all of your exes and your employer at first opportunity.

7. Birthday Wishes.  First of all, don't make your damn birth date public on facebook.  It's used too often as identifying information.  Second, I want birthday cards.  Real cards that require a person to stand in front of a big display for half an hour finding just the right Shoebox greeting to suit my sense of humor, then pay for a stamp and put it in the damn mail.  These electronic greetings are a pitiful substitute and a symbol of the death of civilization.

8. Lines from Movies and TV Shows as Statuses.  See #2 above.

9. Photos of Surgical Scars.  Really, people?  Do I have to actually tell you that posting photos of your pus-filled infected staples from where you stepped on glass last weekend is not proper facebook etiquette?  And don't even get me started on parents who post photos of little Janey's first poo in the potty.  Good gracious, where is Miss Manners when you need her?!

10. Most People Won't Repost This, But You'd Better Or You're Not a Decent Human Being, and You Probably Beat Puppies and Are Definitely Going to Hell messages.  Because copying and pasting a damn facebook status is going to raise money for a cause?  Not likely.  Keep your guilt-inducing statuses to yourself.  If your cause is good or the story is important, all you need to do is write something compelling, moving or witty, and it will spread across the internet.  Bonus points for a cool image or two.  If you have to threaten people to repost your message, you're doing something wrong.