Saturday, May 13, 2006

Things That Don't Belong In the Bathroom

1) Small boys

Jim The Small Child Nephew's girlfriend, Brooke (she just turned three, or, as she prefers to announce it, "I will be four next May." Well.) came to visit with her two-year-old brother, J.P., who is Jim's most illest homey. When Brooke is not fending for herself amongst all this testosterone, she is potty training, and during her visit she gave Number Two a game attempt. The gentlemen thought this a fine pastime, and trooped in after her to watch the proceedings, until young Brooke decided that they offended her delicate sensibilities. So the door was closed, which left Jim and J.P. to pound on it, yelling "POOP! POOP!" which is a fairly good guarantee against any human being actually doing so.

2) The following conversation

ME: Augh.


ME: There's a lizard in here!

JTP: His name is Roger.

ME: I don't care!

JTP: And he's not a lizard, he's a gecko.

ME: So because he tries to sell you car insurance, it's okay to have him in the bathroom?

JTP: Geckos are okay. Lizards are disgusting.


JTP: He's my pet!

ME: I don't love you anymore.

but the good news is, Roger broke his leg by his blind insistence on clinging to the bottom of the door:

Friday, May 12, 2006


Let's have a big hand for Josh The Pilot, modelling this spring's hottest look: Self-Importance Wear!

Josh is a 24 year old pilot from Waxaw, North Carolina, and is dating the world's most insecure freelance writer, which is truly, deeply saying something. Josh, let's see the front of the prototype tshirt advertising her website, shall we?

Annnnnd now the back:

I'm thinking of leaving it like this. Just like this, for the blondeness speaks for its very self.

Fortunately, I have competent readers to compensate. Many, many thanks to Lisa The Reader of Chumney Visual Designs, Inc., who specializes in personalized greeting cards and will probably even spell everything on them correctly. Go lookit.

Lisa designed a smashing logo for, and merch is now available on CafePress. The markup on every single product (i.e. my profit) is exactly $1. Everything else? Shipping, handling, and The Man.

Another design is forthcoming. For now, however, simply bask in the Lisaness of the whole thing.

greedy corporate pig at:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This Week On

Jesus loves the little Tribbles


Jim The Young Child Nephew has a new word. It's "go!" He could do worse. "Go!" is one of your more useful English commands. You can use it to begin a wrestling match, or scream at a person arranging nose hairs in font of a red light, or scare away French people.

He learned "Go!" this week when my sister sat him in front of the Kentucky Derby. Well done, Julie The NephewMama! Now Jim has managed to add to his busy schedule of consuming jelly and throwing things a habit of yelling "Go!" while running in small circles. It is excellent career training; at thirty-two pounds, Jim's jockey career is already dead, but fortunately Guy Who Hits The Starting Bell is still available.

Speaking of career changes, Gary "This Microphone Is As Big As I Am" Stevens did not ride in the Derby for the first time in quite a while, having retired in December, having decided life is far more excited when one sits in front of an NBC camera in a peach tie. Seriously. Peach. Why not? It's not as if there's going to be heaps and heaps of red roses lying around to clash with!

I saw the Derby on tape delay, at my Tape Delay Derby Party, because when the race actually took place I was fulfilling the vital task of sitting on the lumpiest folding chair in the history of the world, wearing a mortarboard and ten layers of robes and wishing for death, first for me and then for the people in the audience who were under the impression that what a graduation ceremony really needs to underscore its dignity and solemnity is air horns.

But when the party participants were in place, I shoved in the tape and handed out shots of borboun, the unique, spew-inducing taste of mint juleps having not improved in the past twelve months. Scott The Taller had one, and Ryan the Rocket Scientist, and Fletch the Extremist, and me, and Flipper and Friendboy Andy--they were going to share one-- sniffed wussily at the glass for an entire four seconds before dumping it down the sink. "BLASPHEMERS!" I yelled into the toilet some two hours later.

The best part of the pre-race broadcast arrived when the jockeys began making their ways to the paddock. They were shot from below so as to make them appear taller, which had the effect of making them seem a towering four feet high. Look out! That one is going to start reaching for the sink without pulling up a stool first!

The jocks had been posing for a group portrait and needed to go down an escalator in order to reach the walking ring. Gary began waxing eloquent over his inaugural Ride Down The Escalator, which clanks on my archivist's ear in an enormous way. The main attraction of Derby Day is that it holds a timeless quality: ladies in hats, big ol' silver trophies, rich people sitting down and regular people stinking and drinking up the infield. Escalator… no. It is akin to shuttling the horses out to the gate on one of those moving walkways.

Oh, and an undefeated colt named Barbaro won, by the way. I'm pretty sure he rode a Segway.

running in circles at:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


We now turn our attention to 1867 Texas Ranch House and the spectacular ability of its homesteading family, the Cookes, to turn me from hoping for them to make a jolly go of it to rooting for a mass scalping. I have never started liking a group of people and so quickly and thoroughly come to wish for their utter destruction. By the end of the series the only castmembers' welfare I was interested were those of the cows. GO COWS.

The Cooke family was spawned by a hospital comptroller, Bill, who obtained his MBA from a Successories. Bill was a crappy, crappy ranchowner. In fact, Bill is likely also a crappy, crappy comptroller, considering that his ledger was totally missing pages and he didn't record half the transactions going down with traders. Granted, I balance my checkbook by way of swiping the debit card and going "Eh, somebody will let me know if I don't have enough to cover this," but still. I don't make a living of supervising other peoples' money.

Pa Cooke also decided that it would be a super-good idea to allow his sole female servant, Maura, to tag along with the cowboys' cattle drive. But not as a cook. When asked why she would not cook, Pa said, by way of explanation, "She's a vegetarian." Ah. Well, that explains why she decided to dedicate three months of her life to a project focused solely on the slaughter of cattle.

Maura, you will be shocked to hear, is a PhD candidate at Stanford. She--directly quoting here-- "would like to be a hero to all the women." PBS thought this a grand thing and placed an enormous picture of her in a hat and bandana on the front page of its website. Well, good thing we don't need Susan B. Anthony anymore. We've got Maura! And her hat! I don't know about you, but when I need a heroine, the first place I run is my nearest reality show participant.

I'm trying to suss out what exactly upset me so much about these people--who managed to get the entire staff to quit en masse, which... that takes some effort-- when I realized that it was just the post traumatic stress order kicking in.

We freelance writers typically stitch together a patchwork resume to bring home the health insurance until Hollywood calls for the movie rights of our latest collection of free verse poems about the 1984 Winter Olympics double luge competition. Name a job involving a uniform shirt, a name tag, a training video: I have held it.

Before I started teaching, whenever I came across a tyrant of a time card signer, I usually made plans to light out for kinder, gentler minimum wage territory as soon as humanly possible. That escape hatch jammed, however, the summer I socked myself into a Colorado ranch two hours from the nearest airport and eight billion light years from sane human contact.

While preparing to leave, I described the place as something akin to a City Slickers setup without the need to birth calves with Jack Palance; once I got there, I began to ache for an employer with Jack’s comparative warm and comforting presence.

I worked as a cabin girl, pitching soapy water while the wranglers down in the corral pitched substances far less genteel. Fine: it was honest work and in the middle of scenery you can’t factor into a paycheck. What wasn’t fine was—and bear in mind, this is but a single example—moments such as the day I was ordered to de-scum a shower stall, one that had clearly not been visited by Mr. Clean since, at the earliest, the Hoover Administration. I spent the morning on my knees, I won the war on hard water stains and I reported to the wife half of the owner team-- she attended the Wicked Stepmother School of Management--and as she observed the miracle of sterilization I had achieved there in that Rocky Mountain shower stall:

“Next time,” she said, “don’t use so many paper towels.”

Then there was the time when I was told to sweep the dirt paths leading to the cabins, which I did, and then the male half of the Nightmare On Witch Mountain said, "Can you get rid of all the little rocks?" somehow unaware of the fact that the whole entire mountain on which the ranch was sitting a bunch of little rocks. Get to work! You sweep the entire Front Range out of existence right now!

Their finest hours, however, came when they worked as a couple. It was a particularly delightful evening when they had a screaming fight in the middle of a staff meeting. A true shame John Denver did not live to write a song inspired by the sound of "YOU JUST GO BACK TO NEW JERSEY THEN, BITCH!!" ringing amongst the pines.

I was gone within three weeks. Another staff member running for his life and I piled into a pickup truck with Male Half when he went into Colorado Springs to run errands, and if you felt somewhat uncomfortable at some point in early June of 1998, it was due to the enormous Suckhole of Awkwardness those silent two hours created.

I was owed some back wages, and once back on glorious Ohio soil, where the rocks at least behave themselves in a rational fashion, I called the owners to ask for it. A week later, an envelope arrived. With an invoice demanding $248 for "airport taxi services."

The finest bosses, I think we can all agree, are those who provide the employees with free liquor at the 10 AM coffee break. When the time is right and I am in charge (by “in charge,” I mean as in, “of the whole entire world”), there will be plenty of paper towels for everyone.

moo at:

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cash On the Barrel

I have to enter a few more F-'s, then I'm done for the semester. Until tomorrow at 10:20 AM, when the new one begins.

At the very last minute, I was offered a three-week summer course, which meets until June 1. For two hours. Every. Day. I cannot bear myself for two consecutive seconds, so I can't imagine subjecting total strangers to two hours of All Me, All The Time. But now I'll be able to pay the rent, it looks like, so a lot of meeeeeeeeee plus a big heaping wad of dead white male essays will just have to do.

I'm also in the process of fighting off the biannual raft of "I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU DIDN'T GIVE ME AN A+++++++ AFTER I CORRECTLY FOLLOWED ALMOST 45% OF YOUR INSTRUCTIONS ON THE FINAL EXAM" emails. My personal favorite: "My final grade is a B but is really, really close to an A. Let's negotiate this." With what? Cash on the barrel? Child, the last time I checked, your grade wasn't manufactured in Japan in 1992 with bucket seats and an AM/FM cassette player. Negotiate.

Sometimes you can see it coming. One student, who was retaking freshman comp for, I believe, the fourth time, engaged me in the Conversation Of the Year:

ME: You need a stronger thesis.

STUDENT: I know how to write a paper.

ME: And yet... you're still here.

The student evaluations appeared in my mailbox today. I cannot tell you how much the sight of these make me upchuck. It's like reading somebody's slam book that is also cc'd to your boss. Comments weren't too bad (someone wrote, quote, "RRRAAWWWR!", and drew a picture of a house, which I am sure will impress the tenure committee), although one did put, "Contrary to popular opinion, I learned a lot in this class." This could possibly be a compliment. I will have the CIA look into it.

All I know is, I get to take a shower now, and leave the apartment, and return to some semblance of a regular life, so soon I will whine in this little box about the following:

-That one book by that one girl
-Gary Stevens' fashion sense
-Things that shouldn't be in the bathroom
-Dr. Strangeglove
The eradication of Jiminy Cricket from modern society
-Mortarboard removal

You will want to be here for it.

preview: jiminy cricket is one of the things that should not be in the bathroom at:

Sunday, May 07, 2006

How To Waste 24 Minutes of Your Life Without Really Trying

Thanks to the efforts of the EdTech Office at The University of Airplanes and Micheal The Reader (yay!), you may now download the Stetson reading.

I will ask you to keep in mind as you watch the first two minutes of this video that I teach public speaking. Do a shot for every "um" and see if that doesn't fry your kidneys.

This is the Whitman's Sampler Version of "The Waltz." I read maybe a third of the piece here.

and, um at:

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