Sunday, March 30, 2008

Samurai and Baby Books

My mom just spent the last week in Japan visiting Elizabeth & Dan so we went over there today to visit & see the pictures. She had a great time tooling around the country and seeing the temples & geisha w/ Dan's mom. She brought back some goofy erasers for the kids that look like Japanese food (including a Saki bottle w/ 4 glasses) w/ hilarious English warnings on the packages; phrases like "Eraser is not food. There is fear of suffocation." Another warning is "Please don't put eraser w/ others for a long time because eraser stick to others." Those are quality warning labels. Apparently, accuracy w/ the language is never really a concern & the Japanese love to laugh @ how we write Japanese stuff here. I wonder how many people are walking around w/ tattoos that don't mean what they think they mean. I don't mean that in the post-modern, meaning is constantly being reconstructed & shifted through free-play sense, I mean that all these Japanese phrases we're always seeing are just wrong... Jason, don't you have a Japanese tattoo? Have any native speakers of Japanese ever seen it? I kind of hope it's accurate, but then again, I'd never really know anyway, which is their point w/ the warning labels too. She also got Aiden this hilarious Samurai head band. He hasn't taken it off yet.Along w/ the gifts & pictures, I also got to take a look through my Baby Book (& then through Elizabeth's & Jean's). I was going to bring them home to ensure the accuracy of the following quotes, but my mom wouldn't let me because she was afraid I'd use them to make fun of my siblings on-line. Well, now I'm just going to make fun of them w/o the ability to fact-check. It's funny how the personality traits that were developing @ 9 months old are still so prevalent. Here are some of the best quotes:
* Andre seems to be developing a fondness for Davy Crockett (4 yrs old)
* John B & Paul V gave Andre Star Wars figures for his b-day (5 yrs old)
* Andre's reading skills are progressing slowly, but his handwriting is still rather sloppy (7 yrs old... or possibly yesterday)
* Andre is doing so well in school; his favorite subjects are English & math (8 yrs old... kind of ironic that she was never able to say such a thing about me after that)
* Andre is playing soccer & Gary is actually coaching! (5 yrs old)
* Andre loves to plan things; even a trip to A&W is closely planned out & he decides what he's going to get. He gets rather upset if they are out of what he wants... we're working on that (5 yrs old)
* An interest in Star Wars seems to have replaced his interest in Matchbox Cars (6 yrs old... I suppose this sentiment could be said for my entire generation which explains the waning in popularity of Matchbox/Hot Wheels & the rise of the action figure market)
* Andre is quickly become quite the little soccer star (8 yrs old)
* Jean loves to stare (1 yr old)
* When he is proud of himself, Jean says "Yay!" and claps his hands (recently, I think)
* Jean burned his hand on the wood burning stove (2 yrs old... I remember Elizabeth doing this, but not Jean)
* Elizabeth has a lot of "cranky time" (1 yr old)
* We went to Epcot Center this year instead of Disney World. We all loved it, but Elizabeth kept asking when we were going back to "the old part" (4 yrs old)
* Elizabeth is refusing baby food but she only has 1 tooth so she just gums everything (1 yr old... I think this goes hand in hand w/ "cranky time")

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Who are the Douchebags in Your Neighborhood?

When we first moved into our house, 6 years ago, we had a douchebag across the street who was selling crack out of his front window. The house is divided into apartments, & I think he only had a couple rooms in the front of the house. He would sit by the window & other douchebags would go up to him like he was running a drive-thru window @ White Castle. After a few months of yelling @ him, he was finally evicted (we didn't have anything to do w/ that, btw). Since then we've had 5 years of relative peace & quite, but yesterday I had a run-in w/ the new douchebag in that apartment. (It's quite possibly cursed.) The kids had a half day & Aiden had his 2 buddies over when I got home. They were tearing around the house playing Indiana Jones. Solstice was reading or knitting or playing quietly w/ her dolls... (or something equally pure & good), & Stephanie was sitting @ the computer. I looked outside & this asshat is tearing up huge loaves of bread & throwing the chunks into the middle of the road. He seemed to have an entire plastic grocery bag full of stale bread. At this point, I stepped onto he porch & said, "HEY!" Of course, he didn't respond & just kept throwing chunks into the road. "HEY!!!" No response. He kept throwing bread. At this point, he then tore the plastic bag into 4 pieces & proceeded to violently (which was a weird thing to witness) throw the peices of the bag into the road. Until this point, I kind of figured he was trying to bait birds or squirrels into the road to get them killed, but the bag really threw me a curve. "HEYYY... What the HELL are you doing???" He finally heard me as he looked up all sheepishly & said "I'm feeding the birds." WTF? I then asked what was up w/ the bag, to which he responded by apologizing for littering by saying, "Oh, ummm, sorry about littering." I asked if he was sorry he did it or just sorry he was seen being such a douche. I questioned him about the logic behind feeding the birds in the middle of the road too. He said that he figured they'd get out of the way when a car comes. "Probably," I said, "but what about the squirrel body count that gonna start racking up here?" No answer.... He also didn't think about the fact that the cars were going to destroy the bread chunks & that as the crums mixed w/ the rain we'd be left w/ a street full of mush. To his credit, he suggested that any mess would be cleaned up by the street sweeper; unfortunately, I don't remember the last time a street sweeper came down our road. In the end, the mush factor seems to have trumped the squirrel factor so @ least we don't have a view of carnage & destruction from the front door. (After all of this went down, I watched the US beat Poland 3-0 which adds a little strength to my claims about perogies & soccer.) Feel free to leave douchebag neighbor stories in the comments section & maybe someday I'll tell you all about the douchebags next door who left bleach sitting open until their daughter drank it a couple years ago.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dese, Dese, Dese, Dese... Goal: Easy

For those of you in far off lands (Kentucky & Japan), here's a little soccer update. The O30 Men's Division 4 House Team is now 0-3 w/ 17 goals for & 32 goals against... a goal difference of -15 which would place us above Bolton, Fulham & Derby in the Premiership right now, but they've played more games & have actually gotten a few points over the course of the season. Of our 17 goals, I have 6 of them, including a hat-trick last Friday night. We had a bit of a snow-storm, but I knew the team needed me so I braved the ice & wind & had what I believe is my 1st ever 3 goal game. While the team thought I was a superstar before, I've really got them convinced now. The game was @ 9:00 & in a rather poor move on my part, I ate a plate of Perogies, sour kraut, salad & cornbread @ 6:00. To top it all off, I washed it down w/ a pint of whole milk. I figured the Germans eat a lot of sour kraut & they almost beat Michael Caine & Sly Stallone so what could go wrong? I guess I forgot about the Poles & their inability to make it past the 2nd round of the World Cup since 1978: Perogies & sports don't mix. Needless to say, by the time the game rolled around I was feeling like I'd just eaten a plate of perogies & sour kraut. Even w/ the dinner turning into a ball of cement in my gut, I was the best player on the team. In fact, they're yelling things like "Let Andre take the free kick" & "Give it to Andre & let him set up the play." I'm not even exaggerating. It's really weird. My 1st goal was a nice 1-touch off a give-&-go in the 1st minute of the game. For my 2nd, I beat 2 defenders & the goalie before tapping it in w/ the outside of my left foot. My final goal came as I beat a defender on the left and slotted it into the far corner while the goalie was screened by the very defender I just beat. Maybe my teammates are right. Maybe I'm sweet.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Andre P: Super Reader

The long Easter weekend has given me 2 things. 1) Extra blogging time w/ which to catch up on some things I've been meaning to discuss for a while & 2) time to go to the kids' school yesterday to become a "Super Reader!" I've always enjoyed reading (well since high school anyway), but until yesterday I'd never been given the proper recognition. I made cookies & went to Aiden's class where we I read The Ewoks Join the Fight, a picture book retelling of the Endor storyline from Jedi. I was impressed when the kids noticed the subtle differences between the book & the film which meant we got to discuss the process of adaptation & why things that work in 1 medium don't work in another. I think our group (Aiden & 2 of his classmates) actually understood the issue too. In Solstice's class, I read Alexander Who's Not (Do you hear me, I mean it) Going to Move. I wasn't aware of any other Alexander books besides The Horrible No Good Very Bad Day until yesterday. It was cute & we got to talk about moving & leaving friends & family behind. It was a good conversation, but I was surprised by the fact that those types of books were in a 3rd grade classroom. Speaking of my "Super Reading" skills, the attentive reader will notice that I updated the "Chain Reading Profile" on the sidebar & started The Freelance Pallbearers yesterday. I've been a big fan of Ishmael Reed's for quite a while & this book doesn't disappoint. It;s his 1st novel & is reminiscent of Naked Lunch. Give it a read.This mug-shot-esque pic (taken by Solstice) not only shows the certificate, but also my new facial do. Beards give men a palate with which they can paint new pictures every week. Women can share in the fun by changing pubic beard styles, but (regrettably) they don't have as many chances to flaunt their new dos. Anyway, this is the "Friendly Mutton Chop" as popularized by many Civil War Generals & 19th Century Congressmen. I guess it's called this because the Mutton Chops are getting friendly by shaking hands over the upper lip. By sporting such a style, I suppose I may need to get this shirt. It speaks volumes. This picture also feature my new hair product: VO5 Extreme Reworkable Putty. Sine last summer's failed Mohawk experiment, I've begun to understand the joy that is product. This new stuff has the consistency of tacky Elmer's glue that has been spilled & left to sit out for about a 1/2 hour. I like it, but I'm not completely sold on the "reworkable" idea. How many times do people really need to "rework" their hair in between showers? I know I don't shower as often as most people, but I would think the target audience for this product is showering @ least once a day... probably more than that. Other than that, it seems to be working pretty well. So if you're hip to the idea that putting glue in your hair is a good idea, you should try this stuff.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vernal Equinox

When Stephanie was preggers w/ Aiden, people kept suggesting the name Equinox as a match for Solstice. While it was a poor suggestion & never as clever as they thought, the Spring Equinox is 1 of my favorite days. I love that the tulips are popping up. I love that my window is open. I love that I've been cleaning & straightening up all day & things are actually getting accomplished. Spring always puts me in the mood to read Wordsworth too. Cheesy Romanticism like "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is just what the Equinox needs; that & this sweet sweet tune from the Grateful Dead: "Equinox". This song is from the Terrapin Station sessions. It was neither included on the album, nor played live. It had circulated in bootleg form for decades before it ever made the light of day on an officially released 12 disc box set a few years ago (I never actually got that though since it's 12 discs of stuff I don't really need). I grabbed this version from the Archive a few years ago & then uploaded it today w/ Boomp3. Maybe I'm behind the times, but I've never used this site before. It's pretty awesome. It doesn't have a ton of stuff, but it's free & what there is is all availible for download. Of course, when I say there isn't much, I should preface that by saying there isn't much Phil Lesh. It's certainly possible that more popular, mainstream stuff is all over the place on there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hopping Down the Bunny Trail: This is for Brodie

In keeping w/ my pledge to always bring you the most up-to-the-minute reports on The Catholic Holy Week, and seeing as it is Holy Tuesday (tomorrow is "Soot Sweeping Wednesday, btw), I've decided to give you my Top 10 Easter Films, much like the list I posted in December of holiday films. Careful readers will note that the #1 Easter film has changed since I wrote about this a few years ago & the previous #1 has been relegated to #2. Stay tuned for the Top Ten Passover Films.
Honorable Mention goes to The Robe, the film that introduced the world to CinemaScope & to Ben Hur, w/o which we'd never have the sweet sweet Pod Race scene in Episode 1.
10) Jesus of Nazareth: Often considered the best film version of the Christ story, this mini-series was directed by Franco Zeffirelli and gives a nice humanizing characterization of Jesus
9) Yogi the Easter Bear: When Easter comes to Jellystone, Yogi Bear is up to his old tricks stealing pic-a-nic baskets with his hetero-life-mate Boo Boo. As it turns out, the Easter Bunny has been kidnapped, and they must do everything they can to save him.
8) Jesus Christ Superstar: One more script for the Andrew Lloyd Webber Grill; it's not the greatest film, but then, what can we expect when ALW is involved?
7) Easter Parade: When I dream of Easter, I dream of Judy Garland & thanks to this movie, my Easter dreams have become a reality.
6) The Velveteen Rabbit: There are 2 decent versions of this, 1 narrated by Dennis Hopper & the other by Christopher Plummer.
5) It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown: What list of holiday films is complete w/o a Peanuts special... other than my other list of holiday films?
4) The Last Temptation of Christ: My favorite film version of the Christ story. Harvey Keitel as Judas... sadly, he keeps his clothes on. I'll never forget Fr. Donnaher's rant about how this film was going to end civilization. For some reason though, I doubt he ever saw it. Also, I don't think it had that big of an impact on civilization.
3) The Greatest Story Ever Told: Ming the Merciless IS Jesus Christ! (plus, there's a Grateful Dead song named after this film!)
2) Life of Brian: Blessed are the cheese makers.
1) Mallrats: Some might suggest that this isn't really an Easter film, but we @ Visions of Ypsi know better.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Pat's Seasonal Post #2: Happy St. Pat's

Well, this year's St. Pat's Day was nothing like last year's, but it was nice none-the-less.We went to Conor O'Neill's for dinner last night, but they had their smaller, busy night, menu going so I had to go without the Maeve's Button Mushrooms which are oh so good. This morning, as I woke up, I remembered that we used to put Chocolate coins in the kids' shoes which is apparently some old Irish tradition (they are supposedly left by the Leprechaun... in some sort of Santa Clause type gift-giving). I went upstairs to get the kids up and immediately Aiden said he forgot to leave his shoes out for the Leprechaun. Solstice quickly responded by saying she remembered and was looking forward to the chocolates. My 1st thought was "You really believe in that stuff?" She's been rather skeptical about Santa Clause so the fact that she still buys this whole Leprechaun thing is pretty weird. I suppose she'll discard them all @ once some time soon. I quickly covered my forgetful tracks by saying, "Don't be too surprized if you go downstairs and find that the Leprechaun was a bit forgetful this year." I then suggested that maybe he's come tonight since today is actually St. Patrick's Day. Solstice liked that soluiton (I think she would've accepted any solution that meant she was getting chocolate), Aiden didn't buy it though. He saw through my less-than-clever ruse & shot me a knowing look.Saturday night was Rachel's 40th B-day party. Good times were had by all. We drank lots of wine & ate lots of good cheese. Steve made his soon-to-be-famous shrimp cakes & convinced me to try them. They were good, but his logic was a bit flawed. We got around the vegitarian issue by remembering that shrimp don't have faces (although that really isn't the case) which implied they shouldn't count. Having eaten seafood occasionally, I wasn't that opposed to trying them, but based on his logic, I could have been eating that dude who used to walk around town looking for change after he blew the front of his face off. I have a feeling the whole "face issue" is a bit of a cop out. Then again, it was the same type of leap in logic that led Ben Franklin to eat fish after being vegitarian for years... "So convienent a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." it was this same logic that nearly led me to order a Reuben last night @ Conor O'Neill's.As for the rest of the St. Pat's weekend, I scored 2 sweet sweet goals on friday, but te fact that I always refer to my goals that way sort of undermines the actual sweet sweetness of these 2. The 1st one was after a great through ball from Cal when I faked right w/ a step-over & went left before rocketing it into the right corner w/ my left foot. For the 2nd, I took the ball on my chest and spun while side-vollying it through the goalie's legs. Futhermore, I only yelled @ the ref once so over all, I have 3 goals & the refs haven't learned to hate me yet. Pretty sweet. I guess I'll have to raise a stout to that later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Incredibly True Story of My Electric Blanket

It's really not all that incredible, but since the weather finally seems to be warming up and Spring may be around the corner, I thought a shout out to that fantastic invention was in order. Even Wikipedia, that ever-present source of all knowledge, doesn't really have a useful history, but if you look up the Wikipedia entry, you will learn that electric blankets are the cause of 5,000 fires every year in the UK. This weird statistic suggests that Brits are extremely careless or that they are using some pretty shoddy electric blankets. While the blankets have been around for nearly 100 years, it wasn't until the 1920 that they really took off... & then only in TB wards. Apparently, the warmth helped the tuberculosis patents sleep. of all of the inventions in the 20th century, it may be the most obvious, but considering the number of people who used to die from the cold in the winter, it's got to be one of the most important. Of course, I was never really in danger of freezing to death, but it certainly helped keep my heating bill down all winter. I love to be able to go to bed with the blanket already warm. This is partially due to the sweet sweet introduction of the thermostat in 1936. You can thank the usually useless for that little nugget. This has been your regularly scheduled Visions of Ypsi post. Though a bit forced, it isn't completely useless. Now make w/ the bed-wetting jokes.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I'm on a team again

I got an e-mail the other day asking if I wanted to join the High Velocity house team for the Over 30 4th Division. I don't think the divisions have anything to do w/ skill level, but based on how our 1st game went Friday night, you'd swear there must be some correlation. I've been meaning to get a new pair of indoor shoes because I've always hated the pair I got a few years ago in a pinch when my previous ones broke in the middle of a game. That's gonna have to wait for a while, but I did manage to cut the excessive tongue-flap off which really seemed to make a difference. There's one guy on the team who has some skills, but he is in worse shape than me. In fact, I was the best player on the field last night... for either team which says a lot because I haven't played since October. I played defense for most of the night, but 1 of the few times I got forward I scored a sweet, sweet goal. We lost 11-8, but for a bunch of dudes who'd never met each other before, we did alright. A couple of the guys are total pants though. I have no idea where the term "pants" to mean "lack of skill" comes from, but I'm lovin' it. Furthermore, I'm not sure that that is how it's spelled; it could be "pans" or "pantz." "Pants" seems to imply either trousers or heaving breathing & I suppose they both fit... they shouldn't bother putting the shorts on & they are always out of breath... which also makes me "pants." Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe it's short for "pansy, in which case I don't dig it quite as much. After the game, after I'd changed out of my stuff & was ready to go, someone asked if I wanted to play another game because this other team was shorthanded. While I was in no way physically ready for a 2nd match, I figured "what the Hell? I could play a couple shifts anyway." As it turned out, I was again the best person on the field. I know this sounds arrogant, but really, that's just how bad these people were. In fact, they were so out of shape that I played almost the entire game. I'm still not sure why they were so tired. Maybe they'd already played too. Again we lost, but it was fun. And I got a great work out for the 1st time in ages. In hind sight, I have a few reflections on the occurrences the other night:
* I miss playing w/ my regular team
* I made it through 2 full games w/o yelling @ the ref or fouling anyone (Jean, Liz, Dan... be proud of me)
* Even though I didn't yell, the refs @ High Velocity still suckIn other soccer news, Arsenal beat AC Milan 2-0 on Wednesday @ the San Siro in Milan to go through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. A 30 yard shot from Fabregas in the 84th minute was followed by a nice tap-in from Adebayor after Theo Walcott worked hard on the right to get off a great cross in stppage time. For a kid who's just 18, he's starting to show some amazing skills. While they progressed in Europe, Man U & Chelsea joined them on the sidelines of the FA Cup yesterday as they both lost, Man U to Portsmouth 1-0 @ Old Trafford & Chelsea to Championship side Barnsley 1-0 @ whatever the Hell the Barnsley stadium is called. Watching Chelsea lose to a Championship team was fantastic. Barnsely also beat Liverpool in the previous round; for a team that's not very good, they're pretty good.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

In a Blogosphere Far, Far Away

You were thinking "What the Hell is going on here?" as she dressed all Dom in Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow. You were on the edge of your seat for her deleted scenes on the 2nd disc of Revenge of the Sith. You thought she was pretty sweet in that one episode of Entourage. You thought it was odd when she just barely avoided a lesbian orgy because of a mix-up about her name: "Are you bi? Yes.. I am Bai." You were again left asking, "What the Hell?" as she played Jack's psychic tattoo artist on Lost. You've wondered how many "nip-slips" she can have before they are no longer considered "slips:" Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, & Example 4. (I promise, none of those links are to Tub Girl.) You assumed it was about time for her to get arrested when she was busted a couple days ago for shoplifting. Well, now you can follow all of her hijinks's (or Bai-jinks), complete w/ bad grammar & poor punctuation, @ her very own blog. Along w/ her destruction of the English language, you will also find enough self-photos from her phone to rival any Facebook album of a 14 year old. Be sure to enjoy it... she seems to update it more often than I update this. If only she would clear up the confusion about her name: is it Bai Ling or Ling Bai? There's a lot of conflicting evidence out there. I thought it was Bai Ling, but now I'm not so sure. Speaking of blogs you need to check out, Solstice finally got around to blogging again so be sure to give it a whirl too and leave her some comments. In other Star Wars news, the new animated series starts this Fall & will apparently be preceded by w/ a theatrical release in August. Check out the trailer for the show:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Your Very Own LeVar Burton (w/o the shackles & chains)

It's a well known fact that I teach African American Literature, or at least well known by people who know me. I suppose, in comparison to the amount of people who know basic math, my job isn't really a "well known" fact, but for our purposes here, we'll assume you all know this. I think it's a fair assumption too because people are always suggesting books to me by African American authors. Along those lines, I must admit, I've never read anything by Zane although my students seem to love her. One book I did spend quite a while ignoring after multiple recommendation's is Paul Beatty's The white Boy Shuffle, after which I realized that it's a fantastic book and have since taught it many times. Along those same lines, I always knew I should read Go Tell it on the Mountain at some point, but just never got around to it. Well, I finally got around to it this week just in time to teach it yesterday & holy shit! It's awesome! Michael Ondaatje's little quote on the cover compares Baldwin to Van Gogh, but Joyce & Woolf seem like closer fits. In fact, I need to say how proud I was when a student even noticed the similarities to Ulysses. My student is reading Ulysses for Christ's sake! Anyway, Baldwin's narrative style is amazing. The way he's weaving the multiple stories together w/ the themes of time and redemption is brilliant. Read it!As you may notice on the sidebar, I updated my "Reading Profile" today for the 1st time in ages & included Fever Pitch again. W/ Arsenal perched rather precariously @ the top of the table in the Premier League & preparing for their trip to Milan this afternoon, it seemed like a good book to read this week... before they lose ground on Man U & get knocked out of Europe. I haven't read much else by Hornby other than High Fidelity, but based on what I've seen, he's spent the last 15 years trying to recapture what he did w/ his 1st book. Coincidentally, Go Tell it on the Mountain is Baldwin's 1st book too, but from what I've been hearing, his 3nd book, Geovanni's Room, is just as interesting. I've been meaning to read his 2nd novel, Notes of a Native Son since I was in high school but haven't gotten around to it. I remember my friend loving it & I think Stephanie read it & loved it too. I suppose I'll have to give those a whirl soon. Over all, Go Tell it on the Mountain is great... but don't take my word for it....