Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Out of this world

This week's Sunday Scribblings theme is "Out of this World."

Here's what I've got: a bit of verse for a change.

Can pollen survive in zero gravity?
I'm kinda thinking not.
And so, to escape my allergies,
I'm going to be an astronaut.

No more pollen, no more spores--
no more uncontrollable sneezes.
I'm hitching a ride on a rocket
until the onslaught eases.

Of course I'll miss the flowers,
and seeing the verdure of spring,
but, oh, to have one day of peace,
I'd give up 'most ev'rything.

So good-bye earth, and mom, and dad,
good-bye warm sunny days.
I'm not sure when I'll be back,
but for now, I'm off and away.

It doesn't have the smoothest meter ever, but give me a break--my sinuses are killing me this weekend.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Multimedia Friday: Cormac McCarthy interview

One of the best books I read last year was Cormac McCarthy's The Road, followed in rapid succession by Blood Meridian. I read the latter upon recommendation from a friend and the former in spite of the dubious distinction of it being an Oprah book club pick.

Since then, I'm trying to read whatever McCarthy works I can get my hands on; currently, I'm working on Suttree.

McCarthy doesn't do too many interviews. One exception was an interview with Oprah. It was . . . good in some respects; you get a sense of some of his underlying philosophical and aesthetic ideas. And on the other hand, well, it appeared on Oprah. Some of the questions are asinine or downright obvious, but hey. Win some, lose some.

For this week's Multimedia Friday, I'm posting the first of the six videos someone was good enough to put up on Youtube so we snobs don't have to register with Oprah's site to view them. Enjoy.

And that's all I've got. I love that spring's finally here, but my allergies and sinuses sure don't.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

How the fuck did I score higher on this quiz than both Cranky Prof and Ambulance Driver? That's some whacked out shit. I mean, really, god damn.

. . . No, seriously, how?

Now playing: Lacuna Coil - Heaven's a Lie
via FoxyTunes

Read between the lines

Here's the template for a cover letter, as near as I can figure.

Dear So-and-So,

Hey! You seem really amazing. I'd love to get to know you better. So far, you seem like the embodiment of everything I've ever desired. Did I mention I think you are not only amazing, but also amazingly awesome?

Guess what? I'm awesome, too. I bet we'll have amazing chemistry. Yes, I have a bit of history--who doesn't? The point is, I've grown from those experiences and am now much wiser and more mature for it, and really, it's a bonus because now I feel more than ever I am worthy of being with someone of your stature.

I want to have your bab-- I'd love to get to know you better. Let's be in touch, shall we? Here are my digits, and you can reach me any time--and I do mean any time--at overeducatedtwit [at]

Love and kisses,

Overeducated Twit

[illegible scrawl]

Now playing: Bad Religion - Stranger Than Fiction
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who needs satire. . .

. . . when you've got election coverage?

If Clinton were Obama, she'd have left her church based on the remarks made by the pastor.

Puh-lease. Enough of the sanctimonious "I'm patrioticker than you" bullshit.

Oh. Wait. It's election season, innit?

If I were a Democrat, I'd be a little worried about the mainstream media coverage of the Democratic Party's in-fighting garnering so much attention. As is, I'm disgusted by the media's treatment of the election overall.

It's sad that it's taken so long for us to face an election where the primary contenders are not just stodgy white men. The novelty aspect has been overdone, though, and the candidates have almost been reduced to demographic figureheads. Why else would each article following the primaries break down exit poll results into how many white women voted Clinton and how many blacks voted Obama? Surely (hopefully?) those are not the only factors people use in determining their votes. I voted for neither because the only reason I could cast my vote for one of them was if I judged them on a different set of criteria than I would a comparable white guy. That, to my mind, would be its own form of discrimination (a latter-day separate but equal scenario). I digress.

So there's the pigeonholing aspect of the election. Then there's the catty "he said, she said" sniping. Seriously, how is it relevant to policy whether there's a flag pin on a candidate's lapel? That brouhaha can at least be blamed on the pundits. But what of the childish, "I'd have done __________ different because I'm more prouder of my country than you, so nyah"? At the end of the day, even the most open-minded people have close-minded bigots they're acquainted with. You just have to quietly hide your cringes when they go to speak; they may run off at the mouth, but otherwise they're decent folks who pay taxes and give to the community.

It's a non-issue.

If the media spent as much analytical energy conveying candidates' plans and voting records, we'd have a much more informed voting populace. An educated populace is crucial to democracy, and a media apparatus that does not contribute to said education is complicit in any damage to the nation committed as a result. If I were a Democrat, I'd insert a Bush-bashing remark here. I'm not, though, and I know enough well-informed folks who voted for the guy back in 2000.

The DNC thinks I'm a Democrat, though. Sent me another survey/plea for donation mailing. I have an entire four lines to voice my suggestions for the Party's direction. That's double the space they gave me last time! In exchange, I think I'll double the amount of money I contributed back then.*

Now playing: The Suicide Machines - Stand Up
via FoxyTunes

* - $0 x 2 still equals $0.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: I just don't get it.

This week's Sunday Scribblings theme is "I just don't get it." It's been up since Thursday, and I've been puzzling over how to write that in a post for about as long.

So after much puzzling and mentally composing and deleting and re-composing, I came up with it: sports. I really don't get sports. It's not because I never did well in gym class. It's not that I'm averse to what looks like brutality sometimes.

I don't get the energy with which people support their teams, no matter how poorly they play. One of the neighbors goes so far as to lower to half-mast the flag with our football team's logo when they lose a game (which happens frequently). I've seen otherwise-mature professors leave taunting messages on each other's chalkboards during college football season.

I don't get the draw of huge extravaganzas like that Really Big Football game in January (you know, the one where a few years ago, an entertainer lost her shirt and sent the FCC into a puritanical frenzy). At least that event is only one day; then you have events like the Current Ongoing Basketball Frenzy that lead to outright sniping between people rooting for different teams (and many nasty, antagonistic Facebook wall posts and status updates). The vast majority of people invested in those games are mere spectators; most will only watch the games on TV (which, by the way, interferes with regular programming for some of us less sports-inclined types...). I would be willing to concede that actually attending a game could exciting, with a lot of energy in the stands, but to passively watch on a square box in your living room?

Those at least are games with action. What about that game where the competitors walk around, hit a ball, walk some more, and hit the ball again, until it's dropped into a little cup beneath a flag? Seriously, how is that entertaining or engaging? Or as suspenseful as the high speed of car races are, doesn't it get boring to watch cars drive around in circles after a while?

Serious yawn-fest. I think I'll go back to my book. Now that's exciting stuff ;).

Now playing: Brand New - Sowing Season
via FoxyTunes

Friday, March 21, 2008

Passion Quilt--A meme for teachers

William the Coroner tagged me for this meme, so I'll play along.

I chose this image because it contains three of the most important things in writing. Wait, you're saying, pencil and paper? A bit old-fashioned, don't you think? Yes and no.

I suppose my own writing preferences emerge here, but I'm a firm believer in pen or pencil touching paper at some point in the writing process. Whether that draft is hand-written or a print-out, there's nothing like taking a writing instrument to paper, engaging the tactile sense in the process.

There's something possessive about mutilating that otherwise clean piece of paper. It says, this is my writing, and I'll do what I want to it. A well marked-up draft is virtually incomprehensible to anyone else, anyway--arrows indicating when paragraphs should be moved, transitions penciled into tight margins, words crossed out and replaced. What's beautiful about this process is when you see the student reading back over the changes and mentally comparing them to the original, smiling to him/herself. That moment where you, the tutor/teacher/educator, have been forgotten about in light of the task--literally--at hand, is amazing.

That's revision, and it's at the heart of good writing. You could, I suppose, track changes in Word or compare one draft to a previous one, but it's just not the same thing. You've got to be able to hold your writing and physically alter it, I think, to truly own it.

. . .

So. I re-wrote this post three times, trying to find the right tone and content. I thought that was tough. Then I read the rules.

Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for students to learn about.

Give your picture a short title.

Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt.”

Link back to this blog entry.

Include links to 5 (or more) educators.

I inhabit a very small sector of the blogosphere and de-lurk in an even smaller sector. The only educator thus far untagged who comes to mind here is Jo(e). Perhaps her amazing-ness will compensate for the absent four?

----------------Now playing: Bad Religion - Faith Alone

via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


In my usual erratic blog-hopping, I stumbled across a link to the photography of Chris Jordon. Jordon captures in unique ways the magnitude of our conspicuous consumerism. In particular, I recommend checking out the "Running the Numbers" pictures, where you can see the images in greater detail.

Monday, March 17, 2008


The weather is uninspiring today. Grey and gloomy, it's the sort of day where you open your eyes, see the weak light barely peeking in through the blinds, and promptly roll back over, wondering what could possibly be worth getting up for. The rain is off and on, but more on than off, and the thunderstorms--the only possible redeeming factor to the gloom--left after the wee hours of morning. It's soft rain, too, not even the kind you can really hear from in the house. I can only hear the car splashing through puddles on the large street two houses away, coming and going to work and appointments and other potentially disappointing places.

I'm the kind to scowl at the sun when it's out and glaring in my eyes, but I sure missed it today. Hey, rain means it's too warm for snow and ice, which means spring could conceivably be on its way after a dozen patently Midwest false starts, right?

On a more positive note, I'm dusting off my CV and throwing my whole heart into what I hope is an amazing cover letter for a position I've been coveting. My affair with teaching is a rocky one, but like a high school sweetheart, the prospect of going back to it is comforting in its familiarity.

Now playing: Tim Barry - Church Of Level Track
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Inspiration Smorgasbord

For the first time, I'm giving Sunday Scribblings a whirl. What an opportune time, too--I have my pick of topics. I'm snagging "inspiration" off the list, but also "experiment," as I'm trying something new here.

I've joked about my muse in the past, as if it's a separate, sentient entity. Sort of like the classic Greek muses, only with less class--my muse looks like a gothic Tinkerbell, sitting on top of my bookcase, mocking me and making immature faces when I can't write. Why the bookcase? Well, she's got quite the vantagepoint that way, and where does inspiration to write come from if not from reading what others have written before, to enter into a dialogue of ideas. As to her wardrobe, well, I haven't the oodles of cash or the patience for clothing and makeup to maintain the "gothic" look, but it does fascinate me.

It's just silliness on my part, the personification of my muse. Inspiration comes from odd places. A story I wrote when I was about 13 was triggered by an odd moment. I went to the basement to do something and was fumbling in the dark when I bumped into something. I almost said "excuse me," knowing full well I was alone--or hoping I was, anyway. I envisioned a scene with a character alone in a house, bumping into something, saying "excuse me" as if there were a person there--only to find someone there, which led, naturally, into a kidnapping story. I was proud of it, working on it surreptitiously in school and marveling over the pages of my own words. At the time. I later pitched my 30-page magnum opus in the trash. The main character's name? Rose. Her middle names were also flowers, I'm wanting to say Iris and Lily. Last name? Smith. Oh, hella original, for sure. The kidnapper later turned out to be an older brother she never knew about who'd been taken away into foster care on a false charge years earlier. Oh, but wait, it's better. Somewhere in the sequence of events, he got shot in the arm, see, and she had to help him out and then I think it's in his delirium that he says something that gives a hint to his identity. Even richer still, he didn't know it was his kid sister he was kidnapping. I don't remember who he was working for or why he did it, but I think he was essentially a good guy in a bad situation. I think they all lived happily ever after. High melodrama, triggered by a bump in the evening.

I'd like to think my writing is a little more improved since then, but the inspirations are still largely chance. The (currently stagnated) story about Sept. 11 was inspired by an e-mail conversation with a friend about how the events awakened my socio-political sensibilities.

Or this start to a story, which is based on a real (awkward) experience:
I should have known better, should've known that "So what's your sign say?" is the leftist protest version of the standby bar pickup line. I thought we were just striking up innocent, albeit vaguely radical, discussion of the pitfalls of U.S. foreign policy. But one thing leads to another, and from a discussion of depleted uranium and post-traumatic stress disorder, he asked me out to dinner.
If it plays out the way I want it to, it'll veer off into a philosophical musing on sin and love and religion and the negotiation of identity against a backdrop of leftist agitprop. It, ahem, hasn't gotten far yet. A bit ambitious. Still, it was a chance incident that I was able to file away for later use.

Or this, based on a childhood memory:
"Trip-trap, trip-trap, who's that trip-trapping over my bridge?"

The little girl shivered in delightful terror and clutched her mother's hand tightly, half expecting to see the glimmer of sharp teeth and cruel eyes from beneath the bridge. The wooden bridge beneath them reverbated with her and her mother's stamping as they crossed[?] to get to the playground, and her mother's growl echoed faintly in the nearby parking garage.

They didn't have to cross the bridge; there was a walking path that circled around, but it was something they always did when they walked to the park. It was a ritual. With a snarling voice, mother became monster, and with the tight clutch of small hands, she became mother again, a guardian against any of the monsters that roamed the world, ready to prey on those vulnerable.
I have no clue where it's going. I just thought of it in relation to another story I'd written, a children's story that began with a mother tickling her kid and playing monster in the morning. My creative writing classmates had identified with that scene, so I was trying to capture another childhood scene, this one based on something my mom and I used to do to re-enact my all-time favorite book. I'm kinda thinking horror's the direction for this one. Who knows. I just snagged it when it came.

I'm trying to be open to inspiration, let the stories come as they will. I can't just toss up my hands and say the muse wasn't speaking. She's always speaking. I just don't always listen so well.

Now playing: The New Amsterdams - Worse for the Wear
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, March 15, 2008


According to the Stuff White People Like blog, one thing white people like is grad school. Now, I haven't always identified myself as "white" (racially, sorta, in that classic American mutt sense of the word, but I've never felt in step with mainstream whitebread American culture). I guess, though, if SWPL is as accurate in its depiction of white peoples' relationship to grad school as it is in other areas of satire, I'm certifiably white.

And certifiable here would be an operative term. As in, "Grad school? What are you, certifiably insane?"

When I graduated with my master's, I kept getting this question: "So, when are you going on for your PhD?" Sometimes it was in jest (from those who know me well enough), but most often it was a serious question from well-intentioned but nosy folks. My answer was usually an emphatic, humorless, "No."

Twice this evening I got a variation on the same question, "Are you going on for your PhD?" My answer? "Not right now."

Not nearly as certain and in no way as emphatic. It's almost coquettish how I say it, if I'm in the right mood. Six months of rebound from my master's, two months in a self-pitying unemployed funk, and however many odd days I haven't accounted for, and I've been entertaining the concept of more grad school.

Certifiable, I tell you. Completely certifiable.

I miss academia. I kinda miss teaching. I kinda liked teaching. OK, I liked teaching. Correction: I liked teaching at the university; community college, not so much. I know that now. And I know the game, the racket, if you will, that in order to stick around in academia--in order to have a chance at sticking around in academia--I need a terminal degree. I also know that as much as Romantic-era British fiction interested me, it's not a viable long-term interest. But writing is. Creative writing, if the growing document list is an indicator. To make a career of teaching and writing, to teach more than just comp, to get into literature and ideas and yes, the creative stuff, too--

It's madness. Certifiable madness.

I only had one course in creative writing, and that was unstructured. I'm thinking to go back and take a few, get a little more polish, a little more experience in having other eyes see my work, a little more grasp of form and style and voice. And if I like what comes of that, more school to gain more of the same. And another diploma, one that qualifies me for a shot at a full-time position in the hallowed halls of academe (I know the bleak odds in the field of English).

So help me god, I'm thinking to go back for more grad school.

I'm certifiable, I tell ya. Completely certifiable.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lost priorities

Last Thursday, I heard from a friend I haven't seen in a few months and probably haven't talked to in as long. I love hearing from her, her tales of academia and travel, and in exchange I try to make my life sound as interesting as possible. I'm not a huge phone talker, but our conversations, for as infrequent as they are, generally last 1-2 hours.

We'd been playing phone tag for a week or two before last Thursday. Around 7:45 Central Standard Time, my phone rings, and I do my usual sprint to catch it.

"Everything OK?" my friend asked. "You sound distracted."

"I'm fine. Just had to run to catch the phone, and I was eating dinner."

"Oh. Do you want to call back after you're done eating?"

"Sure." I paused, doing a brief mental calculation. "Actually, this is going to sound horrible. Can I call you back after Lost?"

She laughed, all was well, and I called back later. Still, it was an interesting moment to realize how I had arranged my priorities, if only on a temporary basis.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In lieu of content...

...I share a (an?) LOL Cat whose mission I thoroughly endorse. Carry on the good fight, Grammar Kitteh.

Humorous Pictures
Enter the ICHC online Poker Cats Contest!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the fish

I don't usually do "today in history" type posts, but today is a special day. Sort of. Douglas Adams would've been 56 today, and it's a damn shame he's gone.

Don't know who Douglas Adams is? Your education has been sorely neglected if that's the case. Where else would you learn the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything? Every person should read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at least once before kicking the bucket.

Saw the movie? That monstrosity doesn't count. Read the damn book. Not only will you learn the answer to the above question (42), you'll be treated to some of the sharpest, driest, most uproariously witty writing ever. Don't let the science fiction genre intimidate you--there's something here for everyone, whether it's the satirizing of politics or the dig at bad poetry or even the appreciation of a good cup of tea.

Here's the introduction:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.

Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.

And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terribly stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost forever.

This is not her story.

But it is the story of that terrible stupid catastrophe and some of its consequences.

It is also the story of a book, a book called The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy — not an Earth book, never published on Earth, and until the terrible catastrophe occurred, never seen or heard of by any Earthman.

Nevertheless, a wholly remarkable book.

in fact it was probably the most remarkable book ever to come out of the great publishing houses of Ursa Minor — of which no Earthman had ever heard either.

Not only is it a wholly remarkable book, it is also a highly successful one — more popular than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than Fifty More Things to do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?

In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.

First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words Don't Panic inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

But the story of this terrible, stupid Thursday, the story of its extraordinary consequences, and the story of how these consequences are inextricably intertwined with this remarkable book begins very simply.

It begins with a house.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go re-read the book. If you're into sitting for hours reading text off a glowing screen, you can read the book in its entirety here. I still prefer the paper version.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Better late than never

There's a movie I've been planning to go see since it came out. I'm not sure when it came out (December? Oh. IMDB says November. Pfft.), but it's coming to DVD this week.

I finally got out to see it. No Country for Old Men was worth it. Sparse and violent, the movie was good. There was no soundtrack, so there were periods of dead silence punctuated only by, say, the ticking of a clock, as in the pauses in the last scene, a monologue. The characters, which were well written to begin with, were cast and acted well (especially Chigurh, the ultimate villain *shudder*). Cormac McCarthy's been described as a humorless writer, but his brand of humor is bleaker, more like gallows humor, and it came through in the movie. The ending was deliciously ambiguous ("That's it?" a couple other moviegoers asked each other as the credits started to roll).

I'm not pretentious enough to say how many stars or thumbs up it deserves, but I enjoyed it. Now I just need to go back and finish reading the book.

...Post is late again. Oh bother.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Now THAT's hot

Once again, a headline from Yahoo news has caught my eye: "Men who do housework may get more sex."

Forget the feminist movement and its struggles; news like that alone could do wonders for the ongoing struggle for gender equity. (Did that sound cynical? I'm more amused than anything else, among the reasons being the fact that the name in the byline is a man's--it kind of explains the spin.)

If you think about it, it's a win-win situation. Women don't have to come home to a house that's just as chaotic as she left it in the morning, and men get, well, laid. Seriously, there's nothing more aggravating than the frustration I see in many women over the fact that while they may be out in the workforce, they still shoulder an unfair burden in household tasks.

And there's not much sexier than an intelligent, well-read, handsome man . . . with a feather duster in one hand and the declaration that dinner is ready and waiting. Oh, yes.

Damn, that mental image is. . . uh. . . almost pornographically hot.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Multimedia Friday: On the issue of environmentalism

I swung by the grocery store today to pick up something for my grandmother. I was so proud of myself for finally remembering to grab a paper bag out of my trunk to re-use. Nine times out of ten, I forget to take the final step between toting them around and using them. It's worth a nickel back at most places, but that's barely relevant--plastic comes from petroleum, you know, and that's a finite supply we're dealing with.

So, I bring my paper bag into the store and put it on the conveyor belt. I'll give the clerk credit; he didn't ask, as one cashier did, whether I intended to use the bag(s) (because I brought them just for kicks?). I pay for the item, grab the bag by the handle, and head out.

Only outside the store do I note my cashier's diligence: he placed my paper bag very carefully inside a new plastic bag.


That incident reminded me, in a loosely associative way, of a humorous clip on Youtube from environmental activist Derrick Jensen (his name's popped up on this blog before). This particular clip is on how many environmentalists it takes to change a light bulb. It's pretty funny, I suppose, if you find leftist politics interesting . . . and it's even funnier if you've participated in them. I particularly like that he's willing to have a good-humored chuckle at the ridiculousness of what seems like sectarian division amongst people who profess to have a common goal. Does it apply to right-wing political movements? I don't know, haven't participated in any, but from the outside, they seem a little more cohesive. Without further ado, the answer to that timeless question: How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb?

Now playing: Against Me! - Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious...
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I've been having a good week, but today put the icing on the cake.

I went back to tutoring part time again at the community college writing center. It's a lot less stressful than teaching (in many ways, though it has its aggravating, make-you-want-to-beat-your-head-on-the-wall moments). Oh, and the work at the writing center stays in the writing center, doesn't follow me home and take over both my floor and mental space, pile by pile of freshman prose.

While there today, I saw a former Comp. II student on my way out. I went by the table where she was working with another tutor, asked how she was, etc., and out of curiosity, asked what class she was in, since she passed mine with flying colors and didn't have to take more composition.

Speech, she told me. And, unprompted, she added, "I've been using the analysis techniques you taught us in class."

I think I mumbled something along the lines of "good to hear that" and ducked out quickly--I'm not good with compliments.

But there was a huge grin on my face moments later and a definite spring in my step that I'm quite sure wasn't just the third cup of coffee spontaneously kicking in.

Now playing: Against Me! - Unprotected Sex with Multiple Partners
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

That was unexpected...

The Google gods have apparently chosen to favor me. Or, more accurately, by some odd fluke, I included one word in my last post that sent my hit count spiking. One word. One name, actually, and I'm not typing it in this blog again. Stupid chat bot.

See what that did in terms of site traffic?

I shouldn't complain. Exposure is exposure. This feels... tawdry, though, even though I didn't do it deliberately. It's almost as bad as if I'd invoked any number of drug-addled or has-been pop culture figure for the sake of attention, like I've compromised my bloggerly integrity.

But mostly, for the sake of those 100+ folks who've been googling a celebrity gossip chat bot, I wish I'd sharpened my critique of the concept of chatting with people who aren't actually people about matters that have no relevance to the real world whatsoever.

Bah humbug.

On a lighter note, I can only dream of one day generating enough content to get search strings like these.

Now playing: The Broadways - Upton
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fake people

These are funny times we live in. People have the potential to be so connected, be it through texting, social networking sites, e-mail, phone calls, video conferences. I've video conferenced with people halfway across the world and e-mailed with the same. Thanks to Facebook and (when I had one) Myspace, I've kept in touch with people I probably would've lost touch with. I don't text (it's not in my plan, folks, and it costs me when I accept the occasional message!), but I do keep in touch by phone. A scant handful of people have my blog URL(s).

About the only medium I haven't dabbled much in is IMing or chatting. Why? Dunno, it just hasn't been a priority. I only recently got an AIM screen name and have actually been using it (well, leaving it signed in, anyway). My buddy list isn't very long, and I only catch friends online occasionally.

Today I was logged in via Gmail's chat and noticed a "friend" online. I didn't recall adding this person, this GossipinGabby person. I don't know any Gabbys or Abbys or even anyone whose names were remotely similar or for that matter people who would take it as a point of pride to be gossipy. I logged into the AIM program, see if they had a profile.

GossipinGabby appeared under the tab titled "ChatBots." Could've sworn I deleted all those from my buddy list. They're not people. Why would I want to "chat" with a computer? For that matter, who would? Are people so lonely they'd rather chat with a fake person than be online without talking to anybody? Or are they so plugged in they're not going out and actually interacting with real people?

I say this as someone who has a tendency to hide from life behind a computer screen; I admit it. But I'm not stooping to consorting with fake personae in an effort to delude myself into thinking I have a social life. If my friends are offline, it's because they have lives. I should be doing the same, not chatting with an online program about the latest celebrity gossip.

It's scary how lonely this generation seems in an age where connection is little more than a mouseclick away.

Now playing: Owen - Declaration of Incompetence
via FoxyTunes

Monday, March 3, 2008

Arming up

Knights, soldiers, and other warrior-types always take protective measures when heading out to battle baddies and other sundry folks. It's wise--after all, if someone's coming after you with something dangerous like a lance, gun, hatchet, halberd, knife, or katana, it's best to be prepared for the worst. I suppose the main thing they're trying to protect are vital organs and such.

However, there are other less dramatic battles waged on a regular basis, battles in which vital organs are not in danger (directly, anyway) and whose injuries can be just as painful.

We've all heard of the medieval tactic of pouring boiling oil over an invading army, correct? I can almost guarantee a chef came up with that.

The kitchen is a dangerous place. Knives can be mastered, as can wayward graters. Frying pans can be wrested from the hands of an angry spouse. The inevitable debris from breaking glasses and plates can be cleaned up. But there's no controlling the spitting of an irate pan of frying grease, no way to control the billowing steam that fogs up glasses and threatens to scald hands. Even the kitchen sink is not safe if the water comes out scalding hot (and, a creative writing classmate once demonstrated, people can do Very Bad and Violent Things with a disposal).

We need kitchen armor, something along the lines of a lightweight hazmat suit, complete with face guards. And gauntlets. Gauntlets are the bare minimum requirement for doing battle on the homefront. Or in the home, as the case may be.

Now playing: Emilie Autumn - Rose Red
via FoxyTunes


The first time I decided to participate in a solid month of posting, I did it. This time, on day two, I'm off the wagon. By 20 freakin' minutes (give or take).

So, to give up the ghost and just post when my fickle muse speaks, or continue in the spirit of [Really Awkward Abbreviation Month]? For now, I think I'll continue in its spirit. My muse needed a kick in the ass anyway. (In all fairness, we're on speaking terms again, she and I.)

More tomorr--er, later today.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The usefulness of a liberal arts degree

I've always been a reader. Whatever I could get my hands on, I read. I had little supervision, so some of what I read was probably beyond my grasp at the time. But I self-censored, delicately avoiding anything too "edgy."

And then I went to college, got one of them fancy-pants liberal arts educations, specifically, an English degree (and a second one!). I read all sorts of stuff, things about death and ghosts and incest and many a piece of literature with all sorts of bawdy plots (what education wouldn't be complete without Shakespeare?).

In that time, my "weirdness threshold" went up significantly. I have yet to read something so utterly offensive as to make me put it aside in horror. Incest? So Greek tragedy-esque. Romantic-era gothic fiction containing a date-rape scenario? Mildly disturbing, but kinda quaint. Stories with homoerotic undertones? Yawn.

I was discussing this with a couple people recently.

"Yeah, I mean, I was reading this book once where necrophilia was a factor, and this little part of me went, 'well, that's disturbing,' and I read on."

"What's necrophilia?" one person asked.

"It's when people like screwing corpses," my dear, sweet grandmother, whose attitudes about sex I could swear are Victorian, explained in a stage whisper so the other people in the coffee shop couldn't hear.


Which made me think, where did I originally learn what necrophilia was?

Probably from a book.