Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Pictures

First some from Christmas Eve...

Kelsie in her apron, ready to help Erin and I make dinner.

Aidan and Colin.

Erin and Tara.

Tara and Chris.

The kids in their jammies, after dinner and presents.


And some from Christmas Day...


My mom.


My dad.

Bailey, still going strong at almost 15 years old.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Kelsie's Christmas Comedy Show

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. The craziness, which reached its peak on Christmas Eve, has ended here. The kids, of course, had a blast and it wasn't too bad for the grown-ups either.

A couple of days before Christmas, Kelsie (my ten-year-old niece) and I worked on a little comedy show (a follow-up to our Thanksgiving effort). So here it is for your viewing pleasure (especially for Jane, who loved the first show so much). In the beginning, you'll find Olivia, Kelsie, and Erin ready to go. Initially, Aidan and Colin were supposed to participate, too, but they wouldn't sit still and decided to run all over the house screaming instead. At one point, they do try to join in, but are given the boot. And before anyone accuses us of plagiarism, I'll fess up that we found just about every joke online, except for my personal favorite about Santa flying backward, which Kelsie told me last year.

As a final note, I am a tiny bit hesistant to post this video because of the grown-ups' interference in the beginning and pretty much throughout the whole thing. Nothing says "Merry Christmas," after all, like a grandmother yelling for the kids to shut up. But it is what it is...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy holidays...

Check out this video.

By the way, anyone else find it impossible to copy a youtube embed link in Windows Vista? I can do it just fine when I am working with my computer at school (which still runs XP), but when I use my laptop, it will only copy the part of the link that is visible. It drives me crazy.

UPDATE: As you can see, I was able to embed the link (finally). But I had to paste it in Word and then paste it from word to Blogger. If I go straight from Youtube to Blogger, it only does part of it. Weird! By the way, I am almost certain I tried the "paste into Word" solution before and it didn't work. Well, I won't complain. I am just grateful it works. I will say, though, there are a number of little quirks using Blogger with Vista as opposed to using it with XP.

Poetry at the Inauguration

Over at The New Yorker, George Packer is being kind of cranky about poetry at the inauguration.

"Is it too late to convince the President-elect not to have a poem written for and read at his Inauguration? The event will be a great moment in the nation’s history. Three million people will be listening on the Mall. Many of them will be thinking of another great moment that took place forty-five years ago, at their backs, when Martin Luther King stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Such grandeur would seem to call for poetry. But in fact the opposite is true."

He explains, "For many decades American poetry has been a private activity, written by few people and read by few people, lacking the language, rhythm, emotion, and thought that could move large numbers of people in large public settings."

That is, I think, a definite overgeneralization about American poetry. Beyond that, it's faulty logic: since Frost, Angelou, and the rest wrote less-than-inspiring poems, then Alexander will do the same? Why not give the poet the benefit of the doubt? Also, what's with his claim that only Derek Walcott is up to the challenge? What a jerky claim to make. Plus, Walcott isn't even American...

At the very least, making poetry a part of the inauguration will remind us all how very important poetry is to our lives. Besides, we have a poetry-reading, poetry-quoting President-elect...

Quick links...

Coming at ya from New York, where I'll be spending the holiday, some links that have stacked up in my bookmarks:

1) The cast of my favorite sitcom, "How I Met Your Mother," re-enacting some of the top moments of 2008. Oh, now I love me some NPH.

2) A cool article about slang from The Nation. I especially like the section on personal slang--the phrases you and your friends/family use that no one else would get.

3) An interesting new blog about writers' and artists' daily routines.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How in the world did I get a job?

The title of this post is a question I find myself asking the universe every once in a while. This is usually followed by some quick prayers of thanksgiving for the job I have.

Anyway,, which has been nothing but bad news lately for English folks, has given us two weeks of disturbing stories in a row:

1) The Adjunctification of English

2) Disappearing Jobs

The sobering news: total job listings down by 21%. And only 7.3% of total jobs were in American literature? Gulp.


The picture up above always makes me smile...

The news that Betty Currie was headed back to Washington to work with the Obama administration got me thinking about my favorite member of the Clinton family, good old Socks the cat. I wondered what had happened to him since the Clintons gave him to Currie. Yesterday, I found these two articles: the first, from over the summer, is a great little piece about his life with Currie. It shows how much she loves him--and how much he loves her--and how he is enjoying his old age. The second, from last week, gives some bad news about his health. Apparently, I wasn't the only one thinking of Socks when I heard Currie's name: today ABC has a story about the poor fella's cancer battle. Socks, who is 18 years old, has had a good life and maybe his time has come, but I feel so bad for Currie and her family.

Here's a cool little story...

Archaeologists in China find a tiny Swiss watch in a 400 year old tomb. This could be a fun in-class writing prompt for a class: how did it get there?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Year 2 on the Tenure Track...

Since I find myself in the same position as the folks in this column, I feel pretty comfortable calling them a bunch of complainers. Yes, there are lots more responsibilities this year and yes, I never seem to have as much time for my research as I would like, but things still get done on each front (teaching, service, and scholarship) and I still love my job. Seriously.


Anyone else noticed either one of these two commercials? Both arrived in my inbox in the same week. They got me thinking about advertising and if these long, mini-movie type of ads are going to become more and more common. I wonder...while production costs might be higher, is that outweighed by the low cost of distribution? (And further mitigated by the way these spread through email forward, etc.?)

Just something I'm thinking about...any thoughts? (It's been really quiet out there is Comment-land, but I know some of you are reading...)

Pride and Prejudice on Facebook

You remember Hamlet on Facebook, right? Well, this one is a lot of fun, too. I wonder if I should assign this kind of exercise in an intro to lit class. Might be cool...

Music and dancing...

Two quick links:

1) Have you seen the awesome Japanese dude who makes vegetable instruments?

2) Dance for your Ph.D. Anyone who has ever seen me attempt to dance can attest to my relief that this wasn't a requirement to get my degree.

Adventures in Grading: Cheese Edition

The good news: I've just finished entering my last set of grades for the semester. The bad news: this semester, I didn't find nearly as many hilarious pieces of student writing to excerpt as in previous semesters. I am not sure why. But just when I was losing hope of finding anything good, I came across this gem:

"If there is any truth in modern advertising, it is that sex sells, whether advertising alcohol, cars, or cheese."

Cheese? Really?


But then I got to thinking--can sex sell cheese? I asked Vogel about this and she said, "Sex does not sell cheese. At all."

Well, not so fast, my friends.

Or try this one:

So there it is--sex can sell ANYTHING. Even stinky cheese.

By the way, here's one more cheese commercial I found while searching youtube. It has nothing to do with sex, but it really made me laugh--and made me want to dance around my kitchen with my family singing about cheese.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wunder Boner...

You've got to see this to believe it. However, seeing it might make you throw up a bit.

I still haven't gotten a Christmas gift for my brother, who is an avid fisherman, but there is no way I would ever get him a gift with the word "boner" in its name.

The Magic Garden

I've been meaning to link to this for a couple of weeks now--it's a recent NY Times piece on Paula and Carol, who starred in "The Magic Garden" back when I was a kid. Man, I loved this show. It might not be familiar to those outside the NY Metropolitan area, but it was awesome. To this day, I am a bit jealous of my little sister, Erin, who got to see them do a live show at Madison Square Garden on a day I had to go to school.

Thank you, Lego!

I've spent the past few days trying to figure out just what the heck Rod Blogojevich's hair reminded me, thanks to these guys, I know!

I don't know much about Chicago politics, but this quotation from the late Studs Terkel seems to sum things up pretty well: "Chicago is not the most corrupt American city, it’s the most theatrically corrupt." (I had heard it before, but the Daily Dish reminded me of it.)

And if you need a little bit of help pronouncing this idiot's name, Slate has you covered.