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 clich├ęd" 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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Some Cute Shoes, Dammit.

A couple of days ago, I sent my beloved sister a photo of two new pairs of shoes I had just bought, and she told me that I had a disease.  A shoe disease.

It is possible that she's right.

But I would like to point out that I don't have an expensive shoe disease.  That is, I buy too many shoes, but I don't buy expensive shoes.  In fact, when I found out that there were actually people in the world who spent more than $100 on a pair of shoes, that, in fact, some people spend five or ten times that amount on one single pair of shoes, I was appalled.  I mean, do you know how many books I could buy for that?!  Exactly.

So I buy fairly inexpensive shoes or moderately priced shoes at a deep discount.  Shoes that cost less than $50 (sometimes, much less) are my kind of shoes.  Of course, this does cause some embarrassment.  Have you ever been to one of those markets where they sell shoes for a social or political cause?  Either the shoes are made of recycled surfboards or tires, or each pair of shoes puts a village through school or helps bring fresh water to the desert...you know what I mean, right?  If you're a concerned global citizen, it can be difficult to resist these shoes because not only do you get that little glow from doing good, but you get to wear the shoes around so that other concerned global citizens can give you the nod of recognition that boosts that little glow.

However, I have to admit that I never buy those shoes.  First, most of them are not cute shoes.  They are often weird, shapeless things that look like something I could sew myself (which I can't, of course).  But even the cute ones cost more than $50.  And therefore if I bought a pair, instead of feeling the little glow of satisfaction from fighting world hunger by buying shoes, I'd also feel the little spurt of nausea about spending too much money on shoes I don't even like.

Which leaves me with the glowing nausea.  Ick.  So I end up sneaking past those booths with the global citizen shoes, trying not to make eye contact with the earnest salespeople.

And I go buy the global citizen jewelry instead.  But that's a topic for a future post.

Now, some among you are thinking, "Okay, I get it.  You're one of those people who also won't buy the eco-friendly coffee just because it's five times the price of other coffee, right?  Do you understand that your consumerism is destroying the planet?!"  To which I reply, I'm not allowed to drink coffee anymore, and I recycle and drive a car that gets really good mileage, and I don't buy water in bottles, so lay the frak off, okay?  I like cute shoes, dammit.

Now that I've gotten that out, here are ten randomly chosen pairs of my inexpensive shoes for you to enjoy and/or ridicule.

1. Shoes that make me feel like I have wookie feet:

2. The closest I get to those ugly flipflops that I wish would go out of fashion:

3. Funky flower shoes that make me think of the 1970s, except not really:

4. Sandal boots that are inappropriate for both hot and cold weather:

5. You would think that sage green shoes wouldn't go with anything, but then you find out that they go with everything:

6.  Comfy shoes that make me wiggle my toes in joy:

7.  Rainbow shoes that I've almost worn out:

8. Shoes with puffy bow-things that make me think of 1950s slippers, except not:

9.  Another almost flipflops, but much cuter than those ugly rainbow things and not as cheap-looking as the weird sparkly ones:

10.  Oh, and taupe wedges!  Taupe, which is an awesome color for shoes, unlike nude which looks creepy:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Real Conversation with Mom: The Rain

Mom:  "It's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way."

Me: "And what would you know about that, Mom?"

Mom:  "I'm perfect.  You should know this already."

Me:  "Perfect.  You just called the rain an asshole."

Mom:  "It's raining harder whenever we get out of the car.  That's an asshole."

Me:  "Mom, the rain doesn't even have an ass."

Mom:  "Yes, it does.  It has a bubbly ass."

Me:  "A bubbly ass.  Really?"

Mom:  "Look at it!  Bubbly ass!"

Me:  "You are a very odd woman."

Mom:  "And you are just like the rain."

Me:  "?!"

Mom:  "Tee-hee, tee-hee!  That was a good one."

Me:  "If you say so."

Mom:  "Rain!  Rainy daughter!"

Me:  "Mom..."

Mom:  "Rainy daughter!"

Thursday, June 7, 2012


This blog will take a brief intermission while I do some damn work for a change.  Feel free to go to the lobby for overpriced snacks and beverages.  Here's cute kitten while you await my return.

Please deposit trash in the appropriate receptacles before returning to the blog.  Thank you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Baby-Proofing the Living room

My friend Kim, who, I continue to remind you, dear readers, is entirely responsible for the existence of this blog, is bringing her baby over tonight to play with the cats.  Since I am a responsible and loving friend, and since I do not want to be sued, I am trying to babyproof my living room.

It's harder than it looks.

First of all, I don't own any of those little plastic thingies that you put into outlets to protect children from electrocuting themselves, so I've been trying to think of an alternative.  I went around pasting large squares of construction paper over the outlets this morning.   And what is with this cheap masking tape that shreds with a fingernail?  How can it shred so easily, but then stick all over my fingers so that I have to yell and jump up and down and curse repeatedly to get it off?  I don't remember masking tape behaving that way when I was a kid.

Anyway, I was very proud of myself for getting all of the bright construction paper plastered crookedly over the outlets, and just as I sat down to sip a tall glass of iced tea, the cats, specifically Spike, proceeded to walk around the living room and tear every single piece of construction paper off of the wall.

WTF, Spike?!  That took me an hour!  And now I have to spend another hour getting masking tape off of his paws while he cries pitifully.

Obviously, this babyproofing thing is not for amateurs. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Things I Can Cook Pretty Well or Better

Yesterday, I had one of those awesome phone calls that don't make any sense to anyone else because they don't seem to be about anything.  Do you know what I mean?  Does the texting generation even have those calls?   You don't really have anything to say, but you wanted to hear the other person's voice, so you talk about all sorts of nonsensical things and end up feeling pretty ebullient afterward.

Yes, I said ebullient.  I aced my damn SATs, dudes.  Every once in a while I'm gonna hit you with one of those fancy words.  You'll just have to deal.

Anyway, this conversation somehow wound its way around to meal preparation, something that was not tested on the SATs, and which, therefore, I have failed to master.  My telephonic buddy, however, kept coming up with things that I do cook pretty well, and she encouraged me to make a list to boost my culinary confidence.

Which just goes to show that she's been watching daytime talk shows or joined some kind of group therapy or something because she knows darned well that lack of confidence has never been my problem.  Nevertheless, this list is for her.

Things I Can Actually Cook Pretty Well or Better

1. Grilled cheese sandwiches.  Skillet, grill, even the frakkin iron skillet, I am the queen of the grilled cheese sandwich!  They are awesome, and I will make you one any time you like, as long as you don't start giving me a lecture about how you really shouldn't eat it because it's so bad for you.   I put carrot sticks on the paper plate, so stop your whining and eat up!

2. Ginger-Soy Sauce Brussel Sprouts.  You will love these, I guarantee it.  Yes, even if you hate brussel sprouts.  My former dean's wife claimed to hate them, but she ate two damn servings of mine which proves that either they are as awesome as I think they are or southern ladies will seriously do anything to be polite.  Hmm...

3. Cornbread.  And I don't mean from one of those little boxes, either.  White cornmeal and just a touch of very sharp cheddar cheese. 

4. Guacamole.  Thanks to my sister's recipe.  It's the only party food I can make, so don't talk to me about seven-layer dips or homemade hummus.  It's guacamole and/or a bottle of wine. 

5. Cucumber Salad.  Sometimes I get a bit of blood in it, but it's worth the occasional maiming.

6. Chocolate Cheesecake.  The most elaborate thing I make.  I knew that I had become a semi-responsible citizen when I bought my own springform pan and a morter and pestle for grinding up the oreo crumbs.

7. Flavored Scrambled Eggs.  Mushrooms?  Peppers? Onions?  Cheese?  I can slice and dice them into a fluffy confection that cannot, unfortunately, be called an omelet even with an omelet pan.  But it will taste good.

8. Squash Soup.  I like to make soup because no one can tell if you screw up the recipe.  Usually.  But squash soup with red peppers is amazing.  You can use sweet potatoes too.   The secret is to nuke the squash in the microwave by poking holes in it like you would to bake a potato.  In a microwave.  The other secret is not to try to peel the squash as soon as you pull it out of the microwave, as second degree burns are painful and leave scars.

9. Gazpacho.  Tomatoes and other veggies put in a blender.  You don't even have to heat anything up.  That's the kind of recipe I can get behind.

10. Cat Treats.  Open can or shake bag.  Dump in bowl.  You say it's not really cooking?  Well, maybe not, but no one, and I repeat no one is as appreciative of my cooking as the cats, and certainly no one else is willing to claw me half to death if a meal is fifteen minutes late.  And they've never made fun of me over that broiled cake, either.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mick Climbs the Shoe

Yes, it's another blog entry about shoes.  Well, a shoe.  A comfortable, brightly colored shoe.  Plus, there's a kitten.  Shoe(s) and a kitten!  I don't see what more I could offer you, readers of mine.  Enjoy.

Hey, what's this?  Can I eat it?  Can I kill it?  Can I climb it and fall off adorably?!

It smells funny.

It tastes weird.  Icky.

I think I can climb it.

Wait, almost there...ugh, this really tastes bad!

Steady, steady!

That was tough work.  Time to go to sleep.  This spot will do.