Disclaimer: Some content is inappropriate for readers under 18 years of age or those offended by swear words, references to sexuality, atheism, and libertarianism.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Calling All Residents of the UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar

A friend of a friend is doing a thesis and needs feedback in the form of a short survey.
The survey is looking for feedback from residents of KSA, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar only, so I would greatly appreciate anyone who can help him out!

Roxane Butterfly

I have a new favorite contemporary dancer (and by contemporary, I mean still living and performing, not that she performs in the "contemporary" style... Have I confused you yet?) Her name is Roxane Butterfly and she is a significant driving force behind World Beats.



Roxane Butterfly (it gets better about 40 seconds in or so). She blends hoofing with various ethnic sources of music.



Roxane again. She takes my breath away! I love her humble costumes because she knows she doesn't need to do anything other than showcase her tremendous skill. I love her choice of mellow, jazzy tunes with hints of Mediterranean, Spanish flamenco, and near and Middle East.



She also paritipcated in a "peace tour" with both Israeli and Palestinian performers. How sappy and sweet is that? I love it. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

Shabnam



Isn't this how everyone gets their tea served to them?

RIP Kermit Love


One of the great Muppet designers and builders, Kermit Love, passed away on the 21st of this month. He helped create the world's most well known over sized canary, Big Bird and his enormous best friend, Snuffy. You can also see his work every time you see Snuggle's trademark teddy bear.
Here is another of his creations, the La Choy Dragon, voiced by Jim Henson with Frank Oz inside the costume. After that, Frank avoided doing full costume puppets as the experience was more than a little uncomfortable for him. Still, it was a great puppet, thanks to Kermit Love.
May his legecy live on. With a name like his, how could he possibly do anything less than bring joy to this world?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fantastic Propaganda of Days Gone By


Boy's Beware! Anti-gay propaganda at its best, boys and girls!


Girls Beware! I must show this to my daughter.


Parodied voice over for Boys Beware by Tim Henson of Distorted View. I laughed and laughed. Word of Warning: the content of his show is NOT for the faint of heart or easily offended. That's partly why I love him.

Citizenship, Porn, and Talk of God


As of two days ago, I am officially an American citizen! I was so proud I teared up and cried a little. My parents in-law, husband, and daughter were in the back and while I was getting all emotional over the army reserve guys bringing out the colors, my daughter yelled from her seat that I was, in fact, because the curtain beyond the presiding judge and was going to come out and do a dance. That amused the people within earshot.

I was surprised by how many times the mention of God came up. I came to the States honestly expecting a separation of church and state, but not really seeing much of that. I am totally fine with everyone practicing any religion they so choose, but I do a get a little miffed when I'm expected to follow in their footsteps.

That troubled me when I was trying to buy a bottle of wine early on a Sunday for a party I was going to later that day. I wasn't allowed because someone else's religion says I couldn't! How bizarre is that?!!

Same goes for porn. I can't get the porn channels on my satellite here because some religious dude is offended by it. I'm not! He can have the choice to not have Big Bouncing Bottoms part XVI, but maybe I WANT to have Big Bouncing Bottoms part XVI on my DVR. Heck, I may want to see all preceding parts to make sure I'm caught up on the whole story arc.

I say give me the liberty to enjoy my vices, or give me a better reason than someone else's religion saying it's not right.

Now that I've painted myself to be an alcoholic pervert, aren't you glad I'm a US citizen? I'm really not. I'm a very well behaved individual. I just believe in a little more liberty than others, perhaps.

Diablo III

Oh YES! Diablo III! No release date yet, but I'm excited anyway! Man I hope they still have that Sean Connery sounding guy who sells you shit. "Stay a while and listen..." My husband and I decided to amuse ourself by replacing the words "and listen" with plenty of rude alternatives.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mother Watches Her Son Lose His Virginity

Yes, here it is folks, the trashy side of TeacherLady, up front (or full frontal) and I'm not the least bit ashamed of it!
I've taken to reading British trasy "true story" magazines and was delighted to find some for free online from Pick Me Up magazine.
Here's one of the trashiest stories I could find... A mother's virgin 26 year old son agrees to be on some reality TV show where they train him to pick up chicks. They end up sending him to Amsterdam and film his losing his virginity. Apparently the camera work was more like an edited soft-core porno where they don't show actual intercourse taking place, but all the same... SHE WATCHED IT. AND SO DID HER 76 YEAR OLD MUM.
I don't know who's the bigger freak... Him for letting the world see him pay for sex or the women for being interested in watching that!
If my mother showed the slightest bit of interest in watching a film of my having sex, I'd send her to therapy. I love my mum. She's not creepy like that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Helpless Moments.

There are times, as a parent, when you're not sure whether to laugh or cry or put the Good Samaritans on speed dial. One such moment took place the other day as I dashed to the master bathroom to make use of the facilities... My daughter was in view so I felt pretty confident she'd be okay in our closed bedroom. Oh yes, she'd be just fine.

It began with the laundry hamper, just out of my reach, obviously...

"No, baby... Don't take the laundry out of there... No... Oh... Noo... Put it back, please... Don't throw it all over the floor! Aww baby... Okay, thanks for stopping, at least. Where are you going? Hey... Baby? What are... Baby? Is that my drawer I hear? Oh... Baby, don't play with mommy's stuff, please... Please?"

She saunters past the open bathroom door with a smear of my stage make-up lipstick across her face with the offending stick still in her chubby little hand. She's heading for the book I'm reading. The 1000+ page book I was reading.

"Ooh. Er. Baby, don't touch that, please. That's mommy's book."

She tries to pick it up... By grasping the bookmark. She throws the apparently useless slip of paper aside. I believe it landed on top of a pair of my husband's underpants. She dutifully brings over mommy's book to her as she sits, vulnerable and near crying with her knickers around her ankles.

"It's heavy! Here you go, mommy."

"Thanks, baby."


Other favorite lavatory moments include her asking "Did you poop? Good girl mommy!" in public bathrooms or the ever popular ""Wipe your bum, mommy!"

I guess I ask for it since that's all she hears from me during our potty time together. I just can't wait for the "Mommy! Look at the fat lady!" comments at public swimming pools. We all know the time will come. Yeesh.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gosh Darned Kids of Today, What's Changed and What Needs to Change.

Seizing a pensive moment while my daughter sat glued to the TV set watching a DVD of Ed Sullivan Muppet sketches, I laid out some thoughts about a topic I agonize over a lot in my profession: What is different about the kids of today as compared to those of the past? There's a documented slip of scores on achievement tests, a decline which I believe began very close to the Ed Sullivan Show days, and I'm interested to find out why. Here are some hypothesise:

Ego-Fluffing:
Emphasis is now placed on boosting the child's ego as a separate aspect of the child's personality, instead of developing pride through actual accomplishments based on hard word, practice, and trial and error. I need look no further than the classrooms I see on a daily basis to see an abundance of kids with impeccable egos, verging on complete arrogance, none of which is based on actual skills with which to show off. The result is a really confident, but fairly stupid kid. People I respect are humbled by their ignorance and quietly seek to remedy the gaps in their knowledge or skills by practice or submitting to those who better skilled... These guys think they're the shit at absolutely everything and have nothing to show for their big-headedness.


Gold Stars:
Rewards are given to reinforce too many behaviors nowadays, making the reward the goal in place of pride of accomplishment and success. It seriously has gotten to the point that we have to say "great job" to a kid merely for showing up at all, even if it's 15 minutes late to a class. I think that's patronizing to the child and they even recognize it. I had a conversation with a kid who said she knowingly did a half-ass job on an assignment, got all this praise and candy from her teacher. She said she was disgusted and never made much of an effort after that.
If you lower the bar, the kid knows it and will lower their effort too. Again, I believe in developing pride in a job well done. There's nothing wrong with saying "that's a good start, but why don't you try this..."

The Alternatives:
Generations before me had a choice... Enjoy the privilege of getting an education or else work on the family farm/business/etc... It made going to class a lot more appealing, as described by Glenn and Nelson (1989) in Raising Self Reliant Children in a Self Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People. So what choice do today's kids have? The privilege and right to an education or the DVD, satellite/cable, video game consoles back home? Hm. Tough one, that.

It's for this reason that the teaching profession does have to find some way to compete with that, and it's a tough battle to fight. The last thing I want is to have to learn how to teach the distributive property while juggling with a chair balanced on my nose to make sure the kids are entertained as they are educated, but I believe in making learning fun and inspiring even. Of course that can only happen with a number of other things in place, but I'll save that discussion for another time.

The Parents:
Parents don't love their kids any more or less than they used to, but their relationship with teachers has turned pretty ugly over the years. I don't know if it's based on their own poor experiences with teachers in their own childhoods or if it's because of horror stories about shitty teachers being plastered all over the news, but parents don't trust teachers and, in fact, go so far as to prepare their kids to aggressively oppose teachers, their rules, their expectations, and their principles. It's gotten to the point that our administrators even side with parents over us teachers for the sake of keeping them happy over what's actually best for the child. The result is rather like a kid playing two divorced parents off of each other... It's an ugly situation and although the kid acts smug about the whole thing, it's doing them no good whatsoever.

Parents and teachers need to have more opportunities to interact and prove that they're all on the same side, but this would require parents to at least give correct and working phone numbers that have voice mail with space on them. Out of the 12 kids I had this year, I was able to regularly keep in touch with 2. The rest gave incorrect or outdated numbers, had perpetually full voice mails, got disconnected then didn't give me the new number once they got one, gave phone numbers of other people to feign living in the district etc.

Okay. I'm going to stop ranting now because I really should get my butt onto the Wii Fit board.

PS: RIP George Carlin.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Turn Me Round Like a Record

I don't know whether to think this woman utterly stupid or whether I should fall in love...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Five Years Being His Ball and Chain

Today is our anniversary, so I'm going to go get my favorite damn crab cakes in the area. You know it's good when there are larger lumps of juicy, sweet crab meat in amidst all the more shredded bits. At least then you know you're not eating a big slab of plankton, or something. They also have a goat cheese appetizer we adore... Larger pieces of the cheese are melted on top of marinara sauce and served with pieces of pita bread to scoop it all up with. We've made it at home, and while not as good, it was still tasty fun.

We've been in love far longer than the mere five years we're officially supposed to be celebrating, so we tend to commemorate the anniversary of our first meeting in person too (although I have also committed to memory the date we met online as well, and I'm usually shit with dates). We met in person on the 4th of July many years ago and there may have been fireworks in the sky, but all I remember were the warm raindrops that soaked our hugs and our own fireworks show, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, ifyaknowwhatahmean, saynomore!

I love my man. Who else would put up with my weirdness?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The End of an Era

It is a sad day indeed... My daughter has begun to show signs of embarrassment at her own flatulence. Gone are the days that she can enjoy her gassy bodily functions in the ways adults can only dream of (or go right ahead and do anyway, as I've come to learn from some of my male colleagues). I don't know how she learned to respond that way at her farts, but my guess is the way her parents both giggle and exclaim "What did you do?" and generally act big idiots about the whole thing.
In place of her giggling "A fart" in response to our question, she now changes the subject. Loudly. As though some how she can posthumously cover up the offending noise with her delayed shouting. Example:

"Sing ABCD, mommy..."
"Okay... A..." Just then, an enormous fart then issues from my tiny two year old. I laugh. Of course. "... What did you do?"
"SING. A. B. C. D."
I can tell from her face that she'd rather we drop the whole flatulence line of conversation completely and instead enjoy alphabetical pursuits.

She has also decided it is no longer cool to call ketchup "dippy dip", the name she created for it. I wondered how long that little delight would last. Sigh. My baby is growing up.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Monster

Monster, in all his glory

My daughter is particularly fond of monsters. The Muppets and Sesame Street characters have taught her that monsters can, at times, be anything but scary. In the woods near our house, my little munchkin has found her very own "Monster". There are a number of fallen trees in the area, but this one is significantly larger than the others and imbued with far more character and caked with far more mud and so she dubbed "him" Monster.
She frequently asks to go see Monster and rushes into the woods with all the enthusiasm of a teacher on the last day of school, but once "he" looms into sight her steps begin to slow and she sits on a much smaller fallen tree a few feet away from Monster. She greets him and then begins the ceremonial "beating" my husband taught her to do. She gets a stick and smacks off small lumps of mud from Monster before quickly reclaiming her seat on the smaller tree. When it's time to depart, she bids Monster fair well, also giving the big patch of moss alongside the path a quick pet, and complaining about how muddy it is (echoing complaints she's heard from her city slicker mother) and that I should carry her.
I love her ability to personify everything. When inanimate objects fall to the ground, she often rushes over to them, cradles them, and asks if they're okay. I can't wait to tell her the world can be filled with fairies, and mermaids, and gnomes... If only we could find them.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Wristcutters: A Love Story.




My husband and I watched Wristcutters: A Love Story last night. (Official site here.)

Zia is a young man who kicks off the movie with a suicide. He then narrates the story as a man who is doomed to live out a second life in a sort of purgatory for people who took their own lives. It's an empty existence for all involved and the drab carcass of a landscape seems a fitting prison for those who apparently failed to see the beauty of their former existences (the only suicides in this story are ones where there were plenty of alternatives besides death, making punishment more acceptable to the audience. There were no cases of people wishing to end it all rather than face a slow, suffering, fatal illness, for example.) Along his journey through this world, he makes the aquaintance of a Russian ex-rocker (Shea Whigham) and a stunningly beautiful and quietly charming young lady (Shannyn Sossamon).




It very definitely has the feel of an art house short with a basic message to extend to the audience with very little beyond a straight forward A plot. In this case, simplicity is not a bad thing, though perhaps my curious mind is what made me feel something was lacking by not knowing more about the characters beyond their suicides. If you acknowledge the limited exposition as you would with a short movie, it's a lot more enjoyable. Despite not knowing the characters' former lives, I still found them to be quite endearing and intruiging. They tend not to reveal much about who they used to be, perhaps because it's too painful to recall a time when chances were open to them, but there's also a hint that those memories are a little elusive and just beyond their reach.

Thanksfully, the movie wasn't so cheesy as to have notorious celebrity and/or historical suicide victims strolling around, which would have strongly detracted from the charming little plot. It seems, anyway, that death truly is the great equalizer, as no one appears to be of any more or less significance than anyone else and certainly no happier or more successful.
Some thought was put into the soundtrack for this film (Some tracks available on their Myspace music page. Take the time to listen to Through the Roof 'N' Undergound, it's sung in character by Whigham, but I still enjoyed it!). Four of the songs were sung by people who ended their own lives barring Bobby Johnston's pieces (he's the film's composer), Mushman, and songs sung by the characters. I just checked out Mushman's Myspace page and I must say, I rather like their song Spaceman. They included one of my favorite songs of misery and woe: Gloomy Sunday. I was delighted to find out it was Artie Shaw's rendition. I love Artie Shaw.
Overall, it wasn't the best movie I've seen all year, but it was charming and refreshingly different. I was glad we finally got around to watching it and joining them for the ride.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Fallen Art



It's odd, but my absolute favorite bit is right at the beginning when you see the texture of the soldier's helmet. What art... Tomek Baginski, I shall definitely seek out more of his work.