Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Derailed Reading

Half my life is in books' written pages
Living, learning from fools and from sages
You know it's true
All those things
Come back to you
--Aerosmith, "Dream On"

Remember way back when, I told y'all I was diving into East of Eden? Well, my train got derailed. I stalled somewhere around page 24. Not due to any fault with the book, mind you, but I assigned book groups to my students and I have been keeping up with their reading schedules on my own. Now, of course, I have already read all of the books I have assigned to them; however, after at least a year in all cases, I need to refresh my memory with all of them. The only book I haven't been very good at keeping up with is The Great Gatsby, and that's no big deal, because I've read that one about six times in the last six years. I am good with that one.

But, I have assigned eight different books to various groups in my various classes, so I have a lot to read: A Farewell to Arms, Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Not Without Laughter, Gatsby, My Antonia, and As I Lay Dying. Whew! Great books all, but I haven't had time for Eden. I have managed to sneak a page or two of The Member of the Wedding in there, though. Go figure.

Anyway, I haven't forgotten about the book. I'll get to it when I can. But it will be a week or two before I can even think about it. What can a man do?

In other news, I am sure you are wondering about the weather. I haven't mentioned it in about two days. It's good. Warming up, with temps consistently in the near-fifty range for the past few days. But that Tenacious Puppy Run of Death still terrorizes the denizens of Central Standard; however, I think it knows its days are numbered. Sunday and Monday were great, with the Spring-thinking sounds of running and dripping water all around. That which is not frozen is mud. That which is not mud is water. That which is not water is blacktop. And so on.

Of course, today was chicken nugget day, so, you know that's good, and Monkey made a hummingbird cake on Sunday. It was delish! And no hummingbirds were harmed in its making.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Quelques Choses, Peut-être Ils Doivent Au Séjour Caché (Some Things, Maybe They Ought To Stay Hidden)

Last night, Monkey and I had a tasty dinner of Indian food, then came home to watch a movie we had rented. We actually rented two movies, but knew that one would have to wait until this morning.

The movie we had selected to watch was a French film, Cache, or, as the translation on the DVD told us, Hidden. At the outset, this movie had several things working against it. The first being that it was French. With few exceptions, I just don't like French films. They generally have a languid quality that I do not like. In addition, I often feel like they don't make plot developments clear enough. That could be a cultural problem (or, possibly, an intelligence problem), but whatever it is, I don't like it. The second difficulty that this film had to overcome was the prescence of Juliet Binoche, the French Julia Roberts. The third thing was the belly full of curry that was literally trying to drag me into the Land of Nod.

Well, friends and neighbors, let me tell you that this movie was about the worst thing I have seen since Running with Scissors (and maybe even before that). The pace of this movie made all previous French films seem like The Fast and the Furious 2. It was evident from the opening shot (which lasted for ten minutes) of the dwelling of the protagonists, in which one bicyclist, one vehicle, and about four people passed in and out of the frame. Every scene was stuffed with silence and inactivity. For some this is art, verite, an integral element of the film's thematic arc. For me, it's just boring as baseball is for Jersey Girl.

The Indian food got the best of me on more than one occasion, but I couldn't tell if I missed anything or not. Needless to say, my high school-level knowledge of French does me no good when I am drifting off to sleep--I am subtitle dependent.

Oddly, Madame Binoche was pretty good in this film. She was about the most active character in the film, and she did a capital job. I kind of enjoyed her--go figure.

The bottom line here--avoid Cache, as a matter of fact, avoid French cinema, as a rule.

The other movie we watched this morning. Cowboy del Amor, a cute doc about a 60-year old former cowboy in New Mexico, who now makes his living setting up desperate gringos with Mexican women. It is as light-hearted an entertainment as documentary can be. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

And today, by the way, the sun is shining, and it feels like it's about 40 degrees out there. Beautiful!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

But, Then...

It's snowing again on Ice Planet Hoth. Didn't see that coming.

A three day weekend coming up, thanks to the first and sixteenth president's birthdays. I need the day to catch up on school reading. That's pretty much all I did during the last snow day, but I have fallen behind again already. No worries, I'll catch up.

I have no idea what this weekend holds. I'll let you know how it turns out later. I am leaning toward dinner out and a movie in, but we shall see.

Did you ever have that feeling that there was something you intended to say, but when it came time to say it, you couldn't think of what it was? That's me right now.

Well, if I recall it, I'll post again...I don't think it was too important.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Feelings of Encouragement Come to Ice Planet Hoth

Pitchers and catchers, Baby! Pitchers and catchers.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Snow That Broke The Camel's Back

Little bit of whiskey
in a little cup of tea
just to take the chill out
of poor frozen me
--Bill Morrissey, "Little Bit of Whiskey"

Another snow day here on Ice Planet Hoth, extending our school year one more June day. I went to bed in the rain and woke up in a squall of snow. We got about four inches by the time it let up around noon. And, of course, it's in the teens again and will be for a couple of days. Time off is always good, in most every way, but tacking nearly useless time on to the end of the calendar never has made any sense to me.

In honor of today, and the Winter of 06-07 here in Central Standard, I give you my list of Top Ten Things That Have Annoyed Me This Winter:

10. The Tenacious, Treacherous Puppy Run of Death
9. Seeing the cloud of my own breath while sitting inside my house
8. People who talk on their cell phone while piloting treacherous roads
7. Cinders
6. Having the opportunity to ice skate on frozen ponds and not being able to find my ice skates
5. Cracked, bleeding knuckles
4. Not getting a newspaper when it snows because my delivery man drives a 1983 Colt hatchback
3. Having the only shoveled driveway on my street
2. People who complain about things that have annoyed them this winter
1. Snow days with no monkey

And there you have it. Boring Election, I was going to invite you skating, but, I still haven't tracked down the old hockey skates. Fear not, they must be around here somewhere.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Thaw Comes to Ice Planet Hoth

Well, reader, the temperatures have soared near forty here today, melting a good deal of the dingy ice that covers Ice Planet Hoth. However, the Treacherous Puppy Run of Death has clung tenaciously to the earth, like a starving hagfish on a dying grouper. It shan't last long, this thaw, as temps are forecast to plunge back into the twenties tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Such is February, I suppose.

Speaking of February, my favorite minor holiday passed on Friday with nary a whimper. We hardly even marked the day here. I don't even know if the damned whistle pig saw its shadow. We haven't seen our whistle pig for months, so, who knows when this winter will end. At this rate, I am guessing somewhere between before the next presidential election and never (probably closer to never).

On the sporting front, a word about this past Super Bowl. As a favorite son of the Queen City of the Patapsco River Drainage Basin over the age of thirty, I am required by law to loathe the team from Indianapolis that is falsely named the "Colts." This is a little known codicil in the Baltimore City charter that is punishable by being either excommunicated from the church or disowned by one's family. Since I am not a member of any church that has an actaul excommunication procedure, I can only be punished by being disowned by my family.

You see, due to the dastardly deeds of the Baltimore Colts' late owner Robert Irsay, who stole the team away from its working-class city in the dead of a snowy winter night because the town wouldn't spring for a new stadium, my hometown became a football wasteland, depressed, unsure of itself, angry, drug-infested, and populated with a glassy-eyed citizenry that would while away Autumn Sundays at Enrico's Bar or the Dew Drop Inn, staring at dreaded Redskins games and seething at the injustice of it all. Until that happy day when the dastardly deeds of former Cleveland Browns' owner Art Modell, who stole his team away from its working-class city in full view of everybody because the town wouldn't spring for a new stadium, leaving Cleveland a football wasteland, depressed, unsure of itself, angry, drug-infested, and populated with a glassy-eyed citizenry that would while away Autumn Sundays at local watering holes, staring at dreaded Bengals games and seething at the injustice of it all, gave Baltimore a new football team.

All in The Town That Lincoln Snuck Through were certain that we could relive the glory days of Lenny Moore and Johnny Unitas (and Art Schlister and Mike Pagels). Yet, try as Mob City's fathers and mothers might, the NFL would not let Baltimore have the "Colts" name back. They did let Cleveland keep the "Browns" name, which is fine for them. Except that many in Charm City cried foul. They wanted it to be like it used to be, when families came together to drink large amounts of whiskey and peppermint schnapps and get into fistfights with the dickheads from Pittsburgh and throw up at Sunday dinner. But, things change. We in The City That Reads, came to grips with this. However, we found out that, truly, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm sure they discovered the same in Cleveland. So, now, both cities are depressed, unsure of themselves, angry, drug-infested, and populated with a glassy-eyed citizenry that while away Autumn Sundays at local watering holes watching their hometown teams, and seething at the injustice of the high ticket prices that pay for the shiny new stadiums the teams play in that preclude anyone making less than 300 thousand dollars a year from actually attending a game.

But I digress.

So, I am not supposed to root for the team that Payton Manning plays for, but, I did. And I am happy that they won. I am happy for Payton, a man who respects the history of the game (and is a fine quarterback, six-five, with a rocket, laser arm...usually). I am happy for Tony Dungy, a true class act in every way. Unlike that Belichick doofus in New England...what a tool. So, there. It's out. I just hope my family will still talk to me.

Mom, Dad, Brother-man: If it's any consolation, I still hope Bob Irsay is skewered on a stick somewhere in the bowels of hell. Love ya!