Archive for August, 2008

I Can Has Dichotomy??

The Daily Kitten’s chat room is becoming a mother lode of source material!  I have Arcalian to thank for this one–gratitude FUZZ!

LOLBAT saves the day!
LOLBAT saves the day!

So how in the name of Merriam-Webster can I support this obvious abrogation of proper English grammar and spelling?  Simple–it’s funny!

Let’s face it, would Al Jolson have had as much impact if his one spoken line in The Jazz Singer been “You haven’t seen anything yet”?  Would we UGa alumni get as fired up shouting “How about those dogs?”  If Huckleberry Finn had used proper English, who would have been absorbed in his adventures, or would he have had them at all?

Don’t get me wrong.  I still believe that if I could find the person or persons responsible for developing text message slang, that as an English teacher, my slow, torturous cold-blooded murder of them would be found to be justifiable homicide in any courtroom for all the remedial teaching I have been forced to do–with HONORS students, no less!

That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with our language, as long as it’s done in the right place–sites such as I Can Has Cheezburger are a great example!  It all started with HappyCat.

The animal species expanded with the very next post–there are now lolbunnies, and lolhamsters.  Most famously, the lolruses stay in search of their stolen bukkit–a saga that has not only inspired a movie but even an invented storyline for 24 (that has, sadly, been removed from YouTube).  A lolcat version of religion has even emerged.

As popularity grew, ICHC branched out as well.  There are now sites for loldogs (or “goggies,” as the lolcats refer to them),  funny graphs, political humor, doppelgangers, and (most recently), an outsider’s view of English.  Checking out “lol”s brings joy to me, and often makes me say “Dang, I wish I’d thought of that!”

And that’s not entirely a bad thing….

What Do YOU Do When You’re in Hot Water?

A frequent poster on The Daily Kitten’s chat room had the following to say.  At this particularly difficult time in my life, when schools are gearing up for the year and I still don’t have a job and can’t get my phone to ring despite cyber-papering 5 different districts with a damned fine resume and credentials (if I do say so myself), I really needed to read this.  Not only that, I needed to share.  Thanks, cricketsmama!

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A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘ Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches

Lightening Up

I spoke on the phone w/Hubby tonight (his job is 90 miles away–it’s cheaper for him to rent an apartment there during the week than pay for gas to commute).  He thinks I’ve been too serious lately, and advised me to lighten up.  Since it’s about time for my Annual Act of Unquestioning Obedience in Order to Preserve the Marriage, I decided to comply, even if I’m not in the most jovial mood right now.

One of the first lessons I learned when studying to get my Texas Teacher’s Certificate was “don’t reinvent the wheel.”  In other words, if you see an idea you think will work; beg, borrow, or steal it.  That meshed well with the first thing I was taught in Journalism school, which was “if you can get someone else to do your research, go for it!”  It is in the spirit of those pearls of sage advice that I present the following clips, courtesy of the fine folks at YouTube–classic, timeless comedy that may even have me laughing by the time I’m done!

First is a series of clips from an 1969 episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour featuring special guest “Mr. Showmanship” himself, Liberace.  Keep an eye out for “Super Dave” Osborne as a motorcycle cop.

The next excerpt is from my favorite comedian of all time, Jack Benny.  His best friend, George Burns said, describing Benny’s comic uniqueness:  “In radio [where both first achieved nationwide fame], a comedian only has two tools–sound and silence.  Others used sound to get a laugh; Jack used the silence.”  This clip shows Jack’s use of the silence to get side-splitting laughs in a minimalist dialogue with Mel Blanc (yes, the “man of 1000 voices,” most of them for Looney Tunes cartoons).  It also showcases just how stellar a violinist Jack Benny was (the poor playing was only a gag).

Finally, there is a Shakespearean twist on what may be the best comedy routine of all time:  Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” send-up of baseball.  (click on the link if you are not familiar with the classic original).  If you love high theatre and low-flying humor, this performance by a New Jersey duo is for you!

Have a chuckle, a chortle, or a guffaw on me!  I’ll leave the “low-flying humor” light on for ya!

The World is Much Poorer Today

I awoke this morning to read of the deaths of two people who enriched my life greatly, albeit in very different ways.

Skip Caray had been the voice of the Atlanta Braves since 1976.  Henry Aaron was gone by then, and greatness was dangled in front of the club like a stringy toy in front of a catnip-influenced kitten for a decade and a half before the Bravos finally snagged it.  He was the son of the immortal Harry (“Holy Cow!”) Caray, the only person other than Skip to show such devotion to a club that had lifetime membership in the “Charlie Brown” association)  Much as the Houstonians near where I live like to remind the world that it was the now-semi-retired Astros commentator (and Skip’s predecessor), Milo Hamilton who called Henry Aaron‘s 715th Home Run for the Braves in 1974, it was Skip’s voice (“along with Don Sutton and Pete Van Wieren“) I always associated with the Braves.

Do not mourn the Caray broadcasting legacy, though:  it lives on in the forms of Skip’s sons.  Chip and Josh are both in the Braves organization broadcasting booths.  Chip calls the games for cable Superstation TBS, while Josh does radio broadcasts for the Braves’ Class A minor league affiliate in Rome, GA.

And now for what may be the most diametrically-opposite segue in the history of blogging…

I was also greatly saddened to learn late last night of the passing of Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn at his home in Moscow.  His widow, Natalya, said of his passing:

“He wanted to die in the summer — and he died in the summer,” she said. “He wanted to die at home — and he died at home. In general I should say that Alexander Isaevich lived a difficult but happy life.”

If you were not culturally aware during the Cold War and want to know what all the fuss was about, or if you think the Cold War was just about nukes, you very much need to read Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It is a brief read, less than 200 pages, but OH! so profound.  It gives a gripping account of a single day in the desperate life of a criminal (His crime?  Escaping from the Germans in WWII rather than dying for the Motherland) in a Soviet gulag in Siberia that was not too different from the one in which Solzhenitsyn himself was imprisoned.  This book will explain in no uncertain detail what it was the West feared most should Communism expand.

With Solzhenitsyn’s passing, we lose another link to the cautionary tale of everyday life in a totalitarian regime.  He was one of the lucky ones, he got out.  Solzhenitsyn took full advantage of the freedom his new life in the West afforded him, much to the consternation of his US “handlers” in charge of setting him up in New York and protecting him from covert Soviet retaliation (a very real threat).  Just as he wasn’t afraid to speak out in Soviet Russia, neither was he afraid to rail against injustices he observed in the US and elsewhere in the free world.  If only more of us were this brave.

When I studied Russian in the mid-1980’s, I learned that they have many ways to say goodbye to one another depending on social status, familiarity (or lack thereof), or even the likelihood (or not) of ever seeing one another again. Their word for “farewell” seems fitting now, more so than saying so in the tongue of his adopted land, for the word in Russian is only used when one expects never again to see the other.

Прощайте, Алекса́ндр Иса́евич.

It’s Almost Football Season!!!!! Dawgs on Top!

Less than a month to go.  I’m a kid who just celebrated Thanksgiving and is already sleepless at the thought of Santa’s impending visit.  On August 30 at 12:30 pm Eastern, my beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs (hereafter known as “the Dawgs” will kick off their 2008 season against Georgia Southern.  You will find me either glued to the TV or downstreaming Larry Munson’s audiocast, or perhaps both.  As a warm up, enjoy this article from Cary Estes, a contributor to NBCSports.com.  I like the way this guy writes!  The message isn’t half bad, either.

\”Georgia great, but it\’s still easy to doubt Dawgs\” from NBC Sports

If you don’t enjoy gushing over the gridiron, be forewarned regarding the next 5 months.  I love football.  I live for football.  My father started working part-time for the UGa Athletic Department when I was 1.  When he retired from there, I was married and had 3 kids.  Bulldog sports wasn’t just entertainment; it put food on our table.   It paid for the little extras.  It got my brothers and me out of school on the Friday before the Georgia-Florida football game the first weekend of November every year (although, since the SEC went to 12 teams, the game has been moved to the last Saturday in October).

Thanks to Daddy’s position with UGAAA, I got to meet my first celebrity outside of UGa Athletics.  In 1976, the Dawgs were on their way to their first SEC championship in 8 years.  They had fired up the fans the year before by labeling Defensive Coordinator Erk Russell‘s squad the “Junkyard Dog Defense,” taking the name from the last line of the chorus of Jim Croce‘s #1 hit song, “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.”  The Godfather of Soul, James Brown (an Augusta native and a HUGE Bulldog fan), wrote his own anthem to celebrate the Dawgs’ athletic achievements and to, in his own unique way, wave the flag of the Bulldawg Nation.  He was to perform his song, “Dooley‘s Junkyard Dogs,” named in honor of the beloved (and later legendary) head coach, during the halftime show.

I just happened to find a video of James Brown’s performance on YouTube.  I was there, and thanks to the kind soul who not only had the forethought to film it, but the generosity to post it.  Enjoy, sports fans!

Since Daddy had to be at the Gator Bowl Stadium 2 hours before the gates opened, so did we.  Mom was letting my older brother and me (my oldest brother was in the Army by that time) burn off steam by walking laps around the empty stadium.  We happened to look down, and I saw for the first time in my life a limousine.  I thought it was the biggest, fanciest thing I had ever seen.  There was a small group of people gathered around a man in the flashiest red suit I had ever seen.  Amazingly, Mom took us downstairs to meet James Brown himself!  He was in a jovial, generous mood and spoke very kindly to this 12-year-old white chicklet who wasn’t fully aware at the time of the greatness she was meeting.  He even autographed my game-day program, right above the Jack Davis (another illustrious–pardon the pun–Bulldog alum who gives back during football season) cartoon that was the cover art.  I still have that program–I was looking at it just last week.  I really need to frame that thing.

You know, the Redcoat Band still plays exerpts from both songs during football games!  “Leroy Brown” gets played after a great defensive play, and “Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs” usually before or after the game, even though Coach Dooley retired as Head Coach after the 1988 season and as Athletic Director after the 2004 season.

There are more Tales to tell about Life, the Universe, and the Bulldogs, but I’ve got the whole season to tell them.  For now, all problems are overshadowed by the fact that the USA Today Coaches’ Poll put my beloved Dawgs at #1 in the preseason!  Life is good!  How ’bout them Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where Were You When…

After being political two days in a row, and getting so serious yesterday, I decided to back off a bit for the weekend.  Last week, a bunch of us on The Daily Kitten’s Chat Room got to talking about where we were during pivotal events in recent history.  I admittedly went overboard (and I cut out quite a bit before posting, even!), but I thought I would repost recent history through my eyes, along with a few additions that come as a perq of having one’s own blog.  Someday, I may even go into even more detail, but again, they are Tales for Another Day!

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JFK Assassination: I don’t remember–too busy floating about in my mother’s womb (I was born 3 mos. later). Interesting side note, though–my uncle was living in Manhattan in the early 60’s with a successful career as an award-winning architect (which he later abandoned to travel the world playing piano). He remembered vividly seeing bumper stickers everywhere that read “Eliminate the KKK: Jack, Bobby, and Teddy.” Those bumper stickers disappeared very suddenly after November 1963.

Malcolm X: busy being 11 mos.

MLK/RFK: busy being 4.

Apollo 11 Landing: THAT I remember! I was 5 1/2, and since it was summer and there was no school, we kids were allowed to stay up late to see Neil Armstrong take his first step. We had our color console set in the living room, but since the video from the moon was black and white anyway, Dad set up in my bedroom the little b/w portable set we had bought for our camping trip the month before. I remember it was about 10:30 at night when Armstrong finally appeared–two hours past my bedtime. I was sleepy, but aware that this was important, and I have never forgotten it.

Elvis’ death: For me, it was “Yeah, he died, in an embarrassing manner, but that was my mom’s music–big deal.” Turned out it WAS a big deal. Little did I know.

The overthrow of the Shah: This affected our community greatly. The US Navy’s Supply Corps School is in my hometown of Athens, GA (for a brief time longer; they are handing it over to UGa to create a medical school in 2010), and we had a lot of Navy families relocated there after being very hurriedly removed from Iran. There were also a lot of Iranian refugees who came to our town, including one family that had a son who became my hubby’s best friend in college. Too many stories about that time to post all at once.

The murder of John Lennon: I didn’t even like the Beatles until I got into high school. I was a sophomore when Lennon got shot, but what got everyone talking was the fact that the shooter (Mark David Chapman) was a friend of the older brother of one of my classmates, and had been a frequent houseguest when my classmate lived in Atlanta. My friend was freaked–he never thought Chapman was the type to do something like that.

The Reagan Shooting: I will always remember that day as if it were yesterday. My favorite class that year was 11th grade American History, because of the irreverent way my teacher, Mr. Bosquet, presented the material (I have always tried to teach like he did, because the irreverence made routine stuff memorable). The lecture that day had been on the election of 1840–Gen. William Henry Harrison had gained fame as an Indian fighter and the enmity of one particular shaman, who, according to Mr. B, had placed a curse on Harrison. The shaman said Harrison would die in office, and so would every other president elected in a year ending in “0.” If you know your American History, you know that Gen. Harrison had the shortest term of any president, dying of pneumonia contracted on a cold and rainy Inauguration Day 31 days after taking office. Lincoln, of course, was elected in 1860; Garfield in 1880; McKinley in 1900; Harding in 1920; F.D. Roosevelt in 1940; and Kennedy in 1960–all died in office (only Harding and Roosevelt of natural causes).

That very afternoon, I came home to learn of the attempt on President Reagan’s life. There wasn’t an empty seat in Mr. Bosquet’s classroom the next day–in fact, no one was even tardy: we ALL wanted to know what he had to say about the shooting of (as he pronounced it) “Ronnie Ray-gun.” He came in and said simply “Guess the ol’ shaman is losing his touch.”

The Challenger Disaster: I was in the Air Force’s Intel School at what used to be Lowry AFB outside of Denver when this happened. That week was our final exam–a 5-day war game we had to successfully run. We were in a building that was so secure that broadcast signals could neither enter nor leave the building, save the lobby, which was about the size of a 2-seater public restroom. The war game scenario took place in Communist Yugoslavia, and throughout the exercise we would get updated “intel” unexpectedly that would affect the battle plans we would recommend to the brass. Suddenly, someone burst into the room and said “The Shuttle’s blown up!” Our first reaction? “OK, let’s see how that affects what’s going on in Ljubljana.” It took us a good 10 minutes to realize that this was real-world stuff going on, then everyone abandoned the game and crowded into the lobby to see the only TV–a 13″ portable on the guard’s desk. There must have been at least 100 people jammed into that lobby, but no one jostled or complained.

The Marcos Exile:  I was stationed on Hickam AFB when former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, his wife Imelda (she of the shoes) and their entourage fled Manila and stayed at Hickam for a month back in February, 1986.  Apparently, they could own half the planet, but couldn’t buy a decent set of luggage because all the news footage showed everyone hauling stuff packed in Pampers boxes out of the military cargo plane.

All of us enlisted barracks-rats were upset because the large-screen TV’s in the Enlisted Mess were appropriated for use by the Marcos’ and because off-base pizza parlors were not permitted to deliver there due to heightened security that did not allow people without a military ID on base.  Much as we grumbled, though, we all knew that the folks living in Officers’ Country were having it worse–much worse.  Those living near the home where the Marcos’ stayed were not even allowed to be on the other side of the street from their own homes!  Needless to say, everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the Marcos’ got their own private residence a month later.

9/11: The hardest day teaching I ever had. I taught 2nd grade in Florida at a Christian School that ranged from K3-8th. My own children were in 8th, 4th, and Kindergarten. I was on break when I was told about the plane crashing into the WTC, and thought about the B-25 crash into the Empire State Building in 1945. I imagined this Cessna with an inexperienced pilot. It turned out the whole Middle School was watching in the history classroom. I went more as an opportunity to spend a few minutes with my oldest–I still didn’t fathom the enormity of what was happening until I saw it on TV. There were no classes for the MS that day–they just watched. We elementary teachers, though, were told not to let the kids know what happened. About 1/4 of my class got picked up by anxious parents before lunch–enough to make the rest suspicious, but not so suspicious that a quick, flip, non-informative reply couldn’t satisfy them. Pretending to act normal on the most abnormal day of my life was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I pulled it off.

All the rest of that week, I made it a point to step outside as often as possible to view the sky and observe the absence of aircraft.  My house in Clearwater, FL was underneath the approach of the small municipal airport about a mile away, and was also under the flight paths to/from Tampa’s, Orlando’s, and Miami’s airports and MacDill AFB.  The sky was always lousy with contrails and the sounds of freedom and commerce.  To see only clouds and hear only birds was eerie.  I never wanted to forget that.

The Columbia disaster:  We had plans that day, but I don’t remember what–perhaps it was an afternoon session swim meet.  I seem to recall that it was Gasparilla weekend in Tampa–there was always a meet then.  Anyway, I was at home preparing while Hubby went to gas up his truck.  He came back enraged.  He had gone to the Chevron Station not too far away–it always had the cheapest gas in the area.  He had his radio on while filling up and heard the news.  He went inside the station to ask about some STP or something like that, and the man of middle-eastern descent who either owned or ran the station (he was someone in charge) asked Hubby how he was today.  Hubby replied “Not good; I just heard the Columbia blew up on re-entry.”  The SOB behind the counter said nothing, but GRINNED from ear to ear!  Hubby turned around and left, because he knew if he stayed one second longer, he’d be going to jail–at the very least on assault charges.   We never went to that station again, and rarely go to Chevrons at all.

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So tell me, where were you?  What sticks out in your mind about the events that have shaped our lives and our world?  Also, how do you like the silhouette photo of Linus and the dear, departed Lucy (his sister) for my new banner?  I’d like to know.


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