Monday, February 8, 2016

SB50: "None of This Makes Any Sense"

For an event that's half a century old, the Super Bowl still has game. A lot of people (okay, a lot of my coworkers) counted out Manning and the Broncos assuming Cam Newton and the almost undefeated Panthers would have their way on the field, but I held out hope that a salty veteran would know how to handle a game that's as much mental as it is physical. Turns out I should have been focusing on the other side of the field: Defense. They win championships, and Denver's certainly proved that last night.

Beyond the football, there was a lot of weirdness going on all around. There were no Roman numerals. That field looked like a pilly sweater. Peyton Manning kissed Papa John. It was mostly good weird, some uncomfortable weird, and then a sprinkle of "what the shit just happened?" weird. Let's start with some good.

Good Weird (aka, We're All Little Monsters)

Lady Gaga Singing the National Anthem: Showing up like a last minute candidate for the Born This Way Party, Lady Gaga won over plenty of supporters with her pantsuit, matching eye shadow, and (duh) her voice. It surprises me that people are still surprised by her talent - the woman is a workhorse, and she's trained almost her whole life in a multitude of art forms.

10 Cloverfield Lane: Only because I just watched Cloverfield and my boyfriend is deep in the ARG for 10, a "blood relative" of the original - for such a mysterious movie, they picked quite the powerful (and expensive) platform to share the next trailer. Even I'm interested.

Avocados from Mexico: Avocados are 2 for 2 on Super Bowl commercials. As a food product that I don't ever foresee needing more PR, these ads are a little puzzling, but always entertaining. If anything, they reaffirm my desire to eat avocados at every meal.

Super Bowl Babies Choir featuring Seal: I mean, c'mon. Weird, yes - these kids are essentially singing about their parents getting it on as the result of a football game - but Oh So Good at the same time. How long did it take to even pull this ad together? How did they cast it? WHY ARE THE SEATTLE BABIES SO ADORABLE?

Audi's "Starman": In a beautiful homage to David Bowie, Audi gave a retired astronaut another shot at space travel. This commercial was more sweet than weird, but if you stop to think about it for longer than the 30 seconds it lasts, you do come away wondering how driving a car could ever be like taking a rocket to the moon.

Bad Weird (aka, Real Dads Are Not Like TV Dads)

Doritos "Ultrasound": Okay, yes. This ad made me laugh. It made me go "Ohhh man," and hold my gut. It gave me a visceral reaction. But. Do we need another doofus dad who eats chips in the history of Super Bowl commercials? If I'm judging these commercials by the $5 million they paid to get them on TV, I'm disappointed in this junk food stereotype.

Hyundai "First Date" w/ Kevin Hart: I was turned off during this whole spot which basically declared war between Hart and his daughter's date, leaving the daughter to play the prize to be won/protected. Not only is the overprotective dad thing way overdone everywhere, but in this ad, the daughter doesn't have a voice at all. Also: notice how this review isn't even about Hyundai at all? That's some ineffective marketing.

Every ad for bodily functions or financesPeople of the advertising world need to understand something. Ain't nobody watching the Super Bowl to see bodily functions anthropomorphized. We're here to eat, watch football, and hopefully get entertained. Please don't preach to us about the economy.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat Weird (aka I'm Too Old For These Commercials)

Taco Bell Quesalupa: How many different quasi-Mexican foods can you Frankenstein together before college kids and people who need food at bar close stop trusting you? Apparently at least one more.

Bai Horse Whisperer: It's not supposed to make sense, so I guess we shouldn't force it.

Mountain Dew "Puppy Monkey Baby": Clearly the winner of the weird last night. Will it be a sales winner as well? I highly doubt it.

I'll leave you with this:

Saturday, February 6, 2016


LucyLucy by Laurence Gonzales
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): In this book (found at a thrift store and quickly snatched up by Jesus), a anthropologist (Jenny) rescues an orphaned teenage girl (Lucy), caught in the midst of a Congolese civil war. Jenny begins raising Lucy as her own daughter, but soon finds out she is more than just a teenage girl - she is also half bonobo.

First thoughts: In its early pages especially, Lucy feels like it's still finding its footing. It reads like an early draft, with lots of unnecessary description. Luckily that seems to fall away as the action progresses, but the dialogue remains stilted and awkward. My suspension of disbelief muscle had its work cut out for it as page after page I thought to myself, "Nope, that's not how that would happen," but the content kept me interested enough to keep reading.

Similarities: Jenny reminds me a lot of Diana from A Discovery of Witches - fiercely protective, smart, and tender all at the same time. Both characters have a strong resolve, but won't turn down a cup of tea or a glass of wine before getting down to business.

Book Club Discussions: I'm still waiting for Jesus to finish this so we can talk about it. Already (I think he's 30 pages in) he's like, "Why didn't you tell me xxxx happened in the first pages?" and I'm like "What? I don't remember that." so it'll be interesting to see how different our reading experiences are.

Final thoughts: I like the ending. I'm not sure why the characters didn't reach that natural conclusion earlier, but then I guess there wouldn't be a story. As a whole, Lucy brings up many questions of what it means to be human.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Things My Students Say 3

A random sample of things overheard both in my classroom and in the classrooms I co-teach in during the day:

Student: There's this kid, well it's [name], but I'm not going to call him out...
Teacher: You kind of just did.

Student, as he proceeds to eat tamales instead of do homework as asked: Your class is fun!

"I'm working on STUFF. That stands for Super Technical Undercover Fun Facts."

Teacher: Comprehending means to under...
Student: Armour!

After going on a super cool behind the scenes tour of Motorola's test labs: We got granola bars!

Teacher: What is a housewife?
Student: A wife. Who lives in a house.

Student: Does this school have a mascot?
Tour Guide: Yes, we're the Jaguars!
Student: Who do I contact about being the mascot?

Reading about artificial flavors: What's thatƱata colada?

Me: Homework builds character!
Student: I don't need to build character, I AM a character!

Me: Okay, children...
Student: Yes, Mary Poppins?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hello, Tuesday.

The groundhog predicted an early spring, Iowa is Feelin the Bern, and I have my first month of one second clips compiled into a neat little 31 second video. What's not to be happy about?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Night Survey: Jan-You-Sharing Edition

Tonight we say goodbye to January and hello to February and all of its holidays: Groundhog's Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Chinese New Year, Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day, and Leap Day! I have a feeling that with all these celebrations, this month will go quickly. First, let's take some time to see what's been going on around here.

Watching: basically the entire first season of American Horror Story, plus the new X-Files.
Eating: out. A lot - birthdays will do that to you.
Eating: home-cooked meals. As much as I could, plus leftovers at work.
Rearranging: the living room. Dining room is next.
Walking: home from work on mild days, which we are having a lot of.
Reading: The Martian by Andy Weir.
Getting: a new phone...for free! Thanks T-Mobile/customer loyalty/Jesus for making me accept that my old phone was kaput.
Reuniting: with high school friends.
Enjoying: a relaxed Intersession at work before the craziness of the new semester comes.
Replacing: membership cards after someone took the coin purse I kept them in. (They missed my actual wallet, whew.)
Baking: cupcakes and cookies.
Sharing: the sweetness with Jesus's family and my coworkers.
Teaching: a mini-course on puzzles and games.
Drinking: tea.
Watering: my plants - radiator heat is drying them out!
Filming: my one second a day.
Writing: my one happy moment each day.
Taking: my students on a field trip to a local high school.
Giving: them a reminder that life goes beyond middle school.
Hanging: a few strands of pink and red lights in anticipation of Valentine's Day.
Welcoming: February.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Fraud: EssaysFraud: Essays by David Rakoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Collected essays written by David Rakoff, all following the theme of being a fraud in different experiences.

First thoughts: I didn't read every essay in this collection. I skimmed a few, and read the ones that pulled me in. All in all, I enjoyed the theme. Everyone feels like a faker in different situations, so the essays were relatable in that way. Some essays were just more enjoyable, more interesting, and more suited to me.

Favorite quote: "Actually, I'm not really here as a legitimate journalist (what else is new?)." -p103, "The Best Medicine"

Favorite essays: "The Best Medicine," "Lather, Rinse, Repeat," "Extraordinary Alien," "Christmas Freud," "We Call it Australia."

Final thoughts: An easy, quick read. Good for dipping in and out of during my commutes or if I had a few spare moments.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Creative Outlets

In the dead of winter and before spring holidays arrive, I need a pick me up. I need things that make me feel alive when everything outside is dead. I need sights and smells and tastes. I need to feel at home in my home.

I need creative outlets.

This January, I've been spending a lot of time doing these three things (both as solo activities and with my #foreverroommate, Jesus). Paired with some new music (hello, Sia and Coldplay!), a glass of wine, and a candle or two, I'm celebrating this time of hibernation.

I recently picked up an adult coloring book. They've become popular, so you can find them almost anywhere. If I have a podcast playing, or if Jesus is home and wants to play video games, I can chill out and color. It requires the perfect amount of attention (enough to keep me occupied, not so much that can't focus) and it's strangely therapeutic to stay in the lines.

There's something about picking out a recipe and following it to create something to eat that makes me feel accomplished, productive, and human. These past few weeks I've made hummus, barbecues (sloppy joes), breaded fish filets, sugar cookies, falafel with a cucumber sauce, energy bars, cupcakes, and roasted root veggies along with my usual combos of rice/beans/eggs or pasta/veggies/sauce. Feeling creative and feeding myself? That's a win.

This "creative outlet" is a little less sexy than the other two, but just as effective. When I'm in the zone I can dust and sweep and de-clutter til the cows come home. After a week of letting laundry pile up or shoving my "stuff" into a pile on the table, it's refreshing to put things back in their place and relax on the couch in a tidied up room.

How do you stay sane until spring?