Friday, March 14, 2003

Gearing Down for the Weekend

Since this week was Spring Break at State, I've not spent a lot of time on the "Hey, I'm stupid, look at me, and my shiny PhD" crowd. And this post will be no exception, so if you're here just for the ranty goodness, you may want to bebop on over to NoIndoctination.org. Big fun site, if you define "fun" as getting worked up about the learned class. For the rest of you, a mellow Friday post that will be absolutely Seinfeldian in its lack of real content. And it'll be bulleted!

  • How I know I live in the South--reminder #4,125: We have a possum. A full-grown, fairly slow-moving possum who likes to hang out on our front porch and rifle through the recycling on the deck. Every night about 8:30, the dog will go to the screen door and sniff the air. Soon after, we'll hear plastic being rearranged. I'll wander over to the door, flip on the deck light, and say, "Move along, possum." The possum will look at me, then meander/scuttle away until the next evening. If a possum's top speed is demonstrated by the way ours moves, well then it's no wonder they tend to populate the center line of the highways.


  • Yesterday evening I was outside with the boy, trying to burn off his excess energy before dark. He was excited about seeing birds flying overhead, and kept pointing skyward. I had been absently replying, "Yes, sweetie. Birds," but then I looked up and noticed that he was pointing at the moon, which was visible in the still sunny sky. I thought, "Oh! He's never really noticed the moon before!" and named it for him. Then he walked over to me and asked to be picked up. Even in my arms he kept stretching upward, pointing at the moon, and I realized that he thought I could lift him all the way up to touch it. And I would love nothing more than to be able to do just that.


Have a good weekend, everyone.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Take a Number. I'll Call You When I Care.

In this time of uncertainty and turmoil, isn't it refreshing to know that the Oscars are planning for every contingency? In the event that a tacky war breaks out before the broadcast, they're bandying about the idea of a scrolling news feed. Well thank God. I mean, I understand that the bad fashion, half-baked political commentary and sheer length of the Oscars can be paralyzing to the average viewer, but I had NO IDEA that we will be rendered completely incapable of SWITCHING THE CHANNEL or WATCHING ANYTHING ELSE until the ceremony releases us from its hypnotic thrall.

In happier news, Eminem will be "on vacation" during the Oscars, hence unable to perform his Oscar nominated song. Hee! Eminem might be a rat bastard, but that's why he's fun. I do believe his absence gave the program planner a bad case of the vapors.

Eh, showbiz. I'll check the web the morning after to laugh at the badly dressed. That's about all the energy I can muster for anything "Hollywood" anymore.
Dear Bill Clinton,

Please stop talking now.

Sincerely,
America

PS - Could you please forward this message to Jimmy Carter? Thanks ever so.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Overthink

So yesterday I'm in the car, returning to work from a dental appointment, when Young Turks by Rod Stewart comes on the oldies station (Ack--it's an oldie! Guess I am too, then. Dammit.) Anyhoo, I'm sort of half-listening, doing that whole "remember how we'd listen to this on the radio at the pool in '80-something," when I caught myself beginning to pay attention to the lyrics. Then before I knew it, I was engaged in this mental conversation:

Don't let them put you down, don't let 'em push you around,
don't let 'em ever change your point of view.


Riiight. They're SEVENTEEN! The only point of view they have is informed by watching MTV news, fer cryin' out loud...

Happiness was found in each other's arms as expected,
yeah Billy pierced his ears, drove a pickup like a lunatic, ooh!


Yeah, that's about right. Teenage sex, illicit piercings and a truck. My bumpkin high school in a nutshell. Billy--you're a moron.

But there ain't no point in talking when there's nobody list'ning so we just ran away
Patti gave birth to a ten pound baby boy, yeah!

Young hearts be free tonight, time is on your side.


Sure, time does tend to seem endless when you're an unemployed, umnmarried, high school dropout with a new baby, doomed forever to a LIFE OF GRINDING POVERTY because you couldn't KEEP IT ZIPPED OR KEEP IT COVERED for like the FIVE EXTRA MINUTES it would take you to at least get a DIPLOMA, YOU STUPID GIT! And what's WRONG WITH YOU, ROD STEWART, GLORIFYING THIS STUFF LIKE IT WOULD BE BLISS?!?!? Damn you and your satin stretch leopard print pants, Rod Stewart! Damn you!

And then the stoplight turned green, the song faded out, and I realized that I am, at the very least, in need of decaf. Or possibly valium.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Help! My Writing and Reasoning Skills are Being Oppressed!

Okay, I know I crib a lot from Critical Mass, but dangit! It's worth it. From today's entry, Erin O'Connor posts a response from a local organizer of the Tunnel of Oppression meme that has unfortunately taken hold on campuses as the ultimate diversity experience. We will leave aside the oftentimes absurd nature of the practice itself--go see one sometime if you have an hour to kill and have run short of bamboo to ram under your fingernails for fun--and let its defender speak:

it's people like you that don't allow us to move foward and add to the oppression in society. Being educated means being open to new ideas you may not agree with. As a scholar myself I ask you to look beyond the actors and role play and look at the real hidden meaning of this program and what it truely does. Because numbers don't like and when 750 students ATTEND a program.....you guys have no leg to stand on

It's a self-fisker, really, but that's not my point. What a lot of folks don't realize is that university housing programs, in a desperate bid to avoid privatization, have instituted "residence hall programming" designed to slap a veneer of scholarship over dormitory living. The culprits are almost uniformly Higher Ed majors, and the bulk of their "programming" consists of diversity training, because frankly, Higher Ed as a discipline has nothing concrete to offer dormitory residents. These programs are under the purview of Resident Advisors, Directors and Residence Life Coordinators, and attendance tends to be gained either through bribery or compulsion. So the idea that the mere presence of 750 bodies lends credence to something is patently ridiculous, particularly when the stated purpose of that something is to "move forward and add to the oppression in society." Okay, so I couldn't pass that one up. Fish, barrel, bang.

Also, I would lay money on the fact that the writer of this letter is probably a higher education major (AHA! Google proves me correct--the referenced document is standard in res hall programming, and NACURH is a national body for Housing professionals, much like the MLA for English majors. Added bonus--NACURH will be hosted by my university this year. Huzzah!) Like Liberal Studies, this discipline came about as a way to ensure job security for professors more than anything else. It's a weird hybrid of pop psychology, education theory, and a touch of statistics, and tends to produce "scholarship" of the poorly written, evangelistic variety.

Higher Ed as a discipline also proves the point that more is not always better, particularly where dogma is concerned. Replacing critical thought and literacy with activism should be disdained by the educated, but hey! If it's easy and gets you tenure, then I guess it's all good.

Monday, March 10, 2003

The Deadliest Continent

Australia--designed to kill the unwary. At least, that's my impression of it from, well, everywhere. Any time you turn on a nature channel about deadly animals, you learn that most of them live in Australia, and not far removed from the average Australian. Let's see, they have the world's deadliest snakes (with, I think the exception of the black mamba), the world's deadliest spiders (funnel web, anyone?) and their bodies of water are populated with crocodiles, sharks, eeeville box jellyfish and some tiny little octupus that will Kill. You. Dead.

Usually, I dismiss that information with a "Wow! Remind me, when I visit Australia, to avoid the ocean/outback/ponds/lakes/streams/fields/woodpiles/backyards," (as of today, I believe my future trip will consist of touring one pub in Sydney) and amazement that the prevailing attitude toward these items by the residents is fairly breezy. I am also comforted by my geographical distance from the Australian Scary. But, ladies and gentlemen, we have been duped. The Australian Scary has become more than a mere collection of venomous fauna, has escaped its former pen, and now threatens the world. In fact, the Scary has arrived on these shores, even in my very home, and it is trying to end my life. The scary in question?

The Wiggles.

Specifically The Wiggly Safari, which features, in addition to the aforementioned Wiggly types, the presence of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. Even now, the haunting tones of "Crocodile Hunter, big Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter, Action MAAAAANN!" from the Wiggly Safari's opening number echo in my consciousness, and they are driving me maaaaad, I tell you! Maaaaaaadddd!

Oh, it all started innocently enough. I noticed that my child would sit still for thirty entire minutes when The Wiggles came on The Disney Channel, captivated by four slightly goofy men in colored shirts, a pirate with a feather for a sword (do not go there--just, it's been done, okay?), a dog, a dinosaur, and an octopus with a disturbing penchant for plaid. And the songs were WAY better than that saccharine Barney tripe or the creepy songs of satan sung by The Little People. So, God help me, I encouraged Wiggly consumption.

But I fear I have gone too far, and am now caught in the Wiggle trap. In a fit of motherly dotage I purchased the DVD of the Wiggly Safari, thinking it might prove a nice break from repeated viewings of Baby Shakespeare and the Veggie Tales. And now, it is the ONLY THING MY CHILD WILL WATCH. EVER. AND DID I MENTION IT'S AN HOUR LONG? SO THAT ALL OF HIS ALLOTTED TV TIME IS SPENT WITH THE WIGGLES? I am spending hours of my life that I will never get back watching Captain Feathersword with a fake "cockatoo head" hat screeching "Pieces of Eight! Pieces of Eight!" over and over again. I can actually feel the brain cells running out of my ears.

That's not even the worst part. The worst part is that the songs, however irritating they become, are also impossible to remove from my head. They're on eternal loop. I have no escape. I am doomed. I can only hope that this blog entry will save others, for it is too late for me. Beware the Australian Scary! Beware grown men who hang out with plaid-clad octopi in straw boaters and patent leather! I can't believe I just typed that sentence! Save yourselves! Aaaaaaaaaa!