Sunday, July 05, 2015

One wet and not wild summer


It was one of those days when we decided to grocery shop.

In the rain.

And it came on fast and furious.

After we rescued the groceries from the car, getting wet by doing it, we looked out the window to realize the downpours were never going to stop. We live on a main road, so in the winter, it's always plowed, but in the summer, well, you can't plow rain.

Unless you attached an enormous squeegee to the front of a truck.

Our house sits lowest around the houses on our street, so we've got two storm drains -- one in the driveway and one in the yard. We watched from the windows as the rain continued, and after looking at different radars, it wasn't going to stop. Not for over an hour.

And more was on the way after this current round.

This isn't normally a problem, but all the storm drains on the street, and the ones in our front yard, weren't working.

The water wasn't going anywhere.

We opened the garage door, armed with umbrellas, and watched as the water crept closer and closer to our house. I began to fear the water. It was too close to the garage.

We moved our cars, and I pulled up my Taurus station wagon, since it sits lower, so the bottom of it wouldn't get wet.

Small bouts of thunder and lightning still pounded and flickered in the sky. We had to do something. I changed into clothes that I did not care out (I should've just changed into a bathing suit), I waded out into the driveway in my trusty Crocs, and found that debris covered both of the grates. At this point, standing water was in the front yard and in our neighbor's front yard.

I didn't even bother with an umbrella, and as rain tapped me like a million poking fingers, it soaked me through. I knelt in the water and scooped up all the grass and whirlygigs (from our Silver Maples) and threw them out in the street. I stuck my hand across the grate, but I still felt no suction. After a while, I manned the grate in the yard, while Steph took care of the grate in the driveway, and although we kept scooping and throwing all the wet crud out into the street, there was only a small amount of suction.

It wasn't just the debris causing the flooding, there was just too much water.

At this point, the water was half-way up my calves. When I knelt down in it, to check out the grates, my rear end was fully immersed.

Meanwhile, our neighbors came out of their house to watch.

Wading through the water, me soaked, and Steph with her vivid umbrella, they got their own Cirque Du Soleil performance.

Then, the Lady Neighbor started taking pictures.

I don't think they were of us, but I've got a feeling, if she wanted to get a shot of the entire scene, without trying, we were definitely in the shots.

And the rain continued to fall.

I felt very Bill Paxton to Steph's Helen Hunt.

We took a break to see how bad it was in the backyard. There was standing water in the "back forty" where Nigra goes Number Two, creating our very own cesspool. And if that wasn't bad enough, the cesspool took it's yucky fingers and moved mulch from one side of the yard to the other.

We returned to the front yard, and thankfully, the rain did start to slow down. All the drains finally caught up, and when we placed our hands over the grates, we felt the pull of the water going down. With all my being, I pushed my soul up to the sky and willed the clouds to continue the slow drizzle, or even, to stop.

At this point, we each manned a grate, gathering yard sludge, throwing it out to the street.

After an hour outside, doing what we could to combat the flooding, the height of the water started to fall. The drains pulled the water toward them, the rain finally stopped, and we were able to go back inside and throw a pizza in the oven.

The water never made it to the garage, but the weatherman was still on the news -- flash flooding was imminent, he said, and lucky for us, more rain and storms were on the way.

With no rest for the weary, I went out a couple more times throughout the night, making sure the grates were clear. Although there was standing water throughout the evening, the grates and drains were able to keep up with the second and third wave, and I continued to throw brown gunk from the grates into the street.


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Live-Blogging Event: Independence Day


Every July Fourth, I celebrate the birth of our nation with that crazy summer blockbuster "Independence Day." This movie came out in 1996, and the special effects still hold, but I think the message of this movie is what keeps me coming back: World peace is achievable. It just won't happen until aliens invade.


We start with the dramatic moon shot where the plaque from the July 1, 1969 moon landing sits, unfettered. For now. We pan across the footsteps still pressed into the moon dust. But wait. They're starting to vibrate and shift. 

Cue creepy shadow drifting over the lunar landscape.

Oh, great. It's a gigantic spaceship. It's like, every summer, when we try to get the family together for our annual reunion, some kind of aliens invade. Sadly, this year, it's "Pixels" starring everyone's favorite actor, Adam Sandler. No offense, Hollywood, but I like my aliens scary.

Cut to: bored scientists playing putt-putt while R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" plays on the tape deck.

Remember, this is 1996 -- tape decks still exists. And all the data these scientists are collecting are spooling into piles of tape. Piles and piles of tape. I feel bad for anyone that has been in charge of digitizing anything from the government.

Now, before all the drama starts, we have to be introduced to POTUS Bill Pullman. As he walks down the hall with his people, trying their best to be better than "West Wing."

"They're not attacking your policies, they're attacking your age," Cable Repairman Jeff's wife says. "The message has gotten lost. It's just too much politics, too much compromise."

Oh, Roland Emmerich, look at you try to come up with witty Aaron Sorkin dialogue.

What? Another character? Now, we cut to Jeff Goldblum, cable repairman, playing chess with his cigar-smoking dad in the park. Then, when he gets back to work from his lunch break, all the TV's are a mess, the signal is distorted, the pictures are all fuzzy.

Goldblum must work for Time Warner.

Stop! I can't keep up! Drunken Randy Quaid's been introduced, stumbling like a poor actor out of his red crop duster plane. Remember, everyone, he's going to be the comic relief, in real life and in this movie, rising to be the Comedic Savior in the last few minutes of the movie.

This is going to be impossible to keep up with -- Cable Repairman Jeff has figured something out about the signal the aliens are sending out while the rest of the world is realizing that a TV series in the 2000's called "Falling Skies" is going to take place on TNT, so they're running for the hills.

Uh-oh, we just got our first set of casualties. Let's send a plane toward the spaceship as it enters the atmosphere in a fiery combustion.

File under: What not to do when aliens invade.

And POTUS Bill Pullman tells his workers, "The best thing right now is to have people stay in their homes."

Luckily, later, he changes his mind. Because later, you know...lasers, death...

Cut to spaceships as they continue to enter the atmosphere, centering around big, important buildings in big important cities. Let's just focus on the one entering New York City, for now. People have been running and screaming with their luggage and children, while, of course, the only two people to get out of New York City with ease are Cable Repairman Jeff and his cigar-smoking dad.

I need Cable Repairman Jeff right now to come over and fix our Xfinity wifi. It's been cutting out the entire time I write this. I know he's busy saving the world with his 1996 laptop, but I've got real problems here.

While I fight the wifi, like Will Smith fights the aliens, I almost miss one of the best lines of the movie: "We advise that you don't fire your weapons at the spaceship because you might inadvertently cause an interstellar war."

Uh-oh, we're going to get our next set of casualties. This time, we're going to shine a giant Lite Brite at the spaceships to see if they want to play. Luckily, they do, but the aliens only know how to play Battleship.

So, now we've got Cable Repairman Jeff talking to POTUS Bill Pullman -- you have to remember, in order for a movie to be successful, the only man that can save the world used to be married to a woman that works with POTUS Bill.

"But I don't like Time Warner Cable," POTUS said.

"It's the only way your life will be saved," Cable Repairman Jeff said.

Cut to: all the people standing right under the spaceship's center on top of a building in Los Angeles.

"They're opening up!" screams the annoying red head from "Saved by the Bell: The New Class."

Yay, you, with you're one line in this summer blockbuster movie!

Just kidding, she's got another: "It's so beautiful."

So are jellyfish, Ginger. So. Are. Jellyfish.

As the timer on Cable Repairman Jeff's computers strikes zero, all those "beautiful" blue lights standing above all the major cities go kablewy, which leads to one of the more suspenseful shots during the first one-hundredth of the movie -- the plane POTUS Bill Pullman and his crew are on just barely make it out of the DC area as tongues of fire lick the tail of the plane.

All the while, Cable Repairman Jeff (luckily on the plane, too) has flashbacks during this flight out of hell remembering that one time the T-Rex was chasing his Jeep Wrangler.

I lied, there's another suspenseful scene, this one featuring our very own Indiana-born Vivica A. Fox, best known for her time spent on "Celebrity Apprentice." Of course she makes it to the concrete storage room under the bridge, while the fire from the spaceship's blast eats away L.A., that's not the suspenseful part. It's whether her labrador retriever, Boomer, makes it, too. In a movie with such high stakes, it's not the human actors we care about. It's the animals.

And here endeth Act 1.


Randy Quaid is driving his RV with his step-kids, and he's all proud about how "for ten years, I've been sayin' it!" about them aliens and their heinous attack (he believes he was abducted, figured they'd come back), but the real mystery is Miguel, one of his kids. You see, Miguel's older brother, earlier in the film, was all angry at Randy Quaid about Miguel's medicine and how sick Miguel is. As they drive through the desert, Miguel is drenched in sweat. "Pull over, I don't feel so good," he mutters.

I want to care about Miguel and his strange sickness, but I don't even know what Miguel has. How can I care? Is it diabetes? Is he pretending to be sick from his vaccines?

A sequel to this movie is in the works (dramatic sigh), and I believe that Miguel, as well as his siblings, are aliens that have disguised themselves. Randy Quaid's character believe's he's was abducted about 10 years ago, I believe he truly was abducted.

You see, Randy Quaid married one of the aliens. She and her children were on a stakeout mission, abducted Randy and chose him to keep them safe.

(In a scene that didn't make the final cut of the movie but was put in a re-release, Randy Quaid talks to Miguel about how his mother didn't have the medicine once and she was alright. Something tells me that mother and Miguel, as well as the kids, are aliens and need the medicine to handle Earth's atmosphere.)

The children will have an awakening, soon, because they think they're human right now, but Miguel is the first to break. Years later, the others will, too.

They'll call their alien people, and that will be how the sequel will start.

OK, back to the action. These aliens don't realize how pesky we humans are. They attack, we attack back. The first attack won't be as successful. Remember all aliens have better technology than us -- if they didn't, well, they wouldn't have invaded, right?

Protists on some planet in another galaxy have yet to create the tools needed to fly interstellar to come and get us.

In the following scene, Harry Connick, Jr. stops playing the piano and coaching young people on "American Idol" long enough to stick a cigar in his mouth and fly a jet, alongside his gal-pal Will Smith.

Another great scene, alert! Another great scene alert! Will Smith lands from parachuting out of his spazzing jet, approaches the alien jet he shot down. The hatch pops open, and Will Smith leans in and punches the squiggling alien right in the face and shouts, "Welcome to Earth!"

Heroes aren't made, people. They are born.

Meanwhile, on Air Force One, before Harrison Ford told the terrorist to "get off my plane," we've got everyone arguing about whether or not nuclear force should be used against the aliens. This is Roland Emmerich's chance to write in his social commentary about nuclear weapons. If you didn't catch it, he uses Cable Repairman Jeff to state his stance: they're bad.

But a major plot point comes out of this argument when Cable Repairman Jeff's father shouts, "What about Area 51! You knew then!"

So, I guess we all know where Air Force One is headed.

Down on the ground, amidst the destruction in Los Angeles, Vivica A. Fox finds the First Lady, and that's all fine, and all, but the best part is when we cut to Will Smith dragging the alien he punched, in the parachute, screaming about its smell, and its heavy dreadlocks and bemoans, "I could've been at a barbecue!"

And the refrain goes: Heroes aren't made, they're born.

And it just so happens that a bunch of character storylines are going to intersect at Area 51. You can't write this stuff! I mean, er...

Randy Quaid's RV crew, as they drive across the desert, meet up with Hero Will Smith, and with their powers combined, decide to head to Area 51, just as Air Force One lands.

Now that we're in Area 51 (it's a lot smaller than I thought it would be, and it's lit like an IKEA), we learn that a spaceship landed in the 1960's, and here we have Roland Emmerich using the famous Area-51-weather-balloon storyline. It works, Roland Emmerich, this time, but you've got a lot of explaining to do with that sequel coming out.

Now that we're all comfy-cozy in Area 51, one of the scientists (he played Data on "Star Trek: Next Generation) geeks out with Cable Repairman Jeff and gives a tour of the spaceship they recovered back in the 60's. Cable Repairman Jeff is so smart that he already knows more about the spaceship and he just looked at it. You have to remember, Cable Repairman Jeff went to MIT, but was lured by Time Warner to work with them. Cable Repairman Jeff has already hooked up his mid-90's laptop running Windows 96 to the spaceship.

New York City shouldn't have had any cable problems with Cable Repairman Jeff in the vicinity. The things he can do!

While Cable Repairman Jeff plays science fair with the spaceship, POTUS Bill Pullman finds out what we already knew, the aliens haven't come to just blow up a few major cities. They're here to blow up all the cities. Speaking of POTUS, his lady was rescued by Vivica A. Fox in her roaring semi that still works after the alien --

Oh, who cares...we're at one of the more frightening scenes in the movie: the alien dissection.

Remember how Hero Will Smith dragged that alien in the parachute? Well, it's been playing possum, waiting for the right moment to attack. "I've been buying my time, humans," it whines. "Buying. My. Time."

In a scene reminiscent of Willow Smith's first hit, the alien whips its hair back and forth, whips its hair back and forth, and then takes them dreads, grabs the scientist we've all grown to love, and slams his five o'clock shadow against the glass.

The scientist's arms and legs are sprawled out against the glass like those cat posters. You know the ones. "Hang in there!"

Willow Smith, er, I mean the alien turns the scientist into a puppet and hoarsely whispers to POTUS Bill Pullman and his buddies that they're all going to die.

Just because.

"Do we need a reason?" it asks in a hiss.

"Yes!" POTUS Bill Pullman said.

"Well, you're not my mom," it shrieks, and then too bad for the alien because the glass isn't bulletproof and, we find out, neither is the alien.

All this dreadlock-and-shooting drama is happening as Hero Will Smith steals a helicopter because, well, he can.

A fellow soldier raises a gun to Smith's head, not realizing who he's up against.

Smith says, "Do you really want to use that? I need to save my wife that will appear on 'Celebrity Apprentice' someday."

The soldier is so starstruck that he trembles as he lowers the gun. Hero Will Smith is off to save Vivica A. Fox from the smoldering ruins of her career, I mean, the base they were supposed to meet.

Meanwhile, POTUS Bill Pullman allows for the deployment of a nuclear missile against the aliens, even though we already know how Roland Emmerich feels about them. At first, we think it's successful, but then we remember the title of the movie is "Independence Day," and this is only July third.

Here endeth Act 2.


Cable Repairman Jeff has started celebrating the Fourth of July a little too early.

"It's five o'clock somewhere," he mumbles, stumbling around with a half-bottle of booze, kicking trashcans and slapping white boards, when his father's all, "Get your act together you louse, or you'll catch a cold."

"You're totes brill," C.R. Jeff says, grabbing his father's face in his hands.

Moments later, C.R. Jeff is somehow sober enough to shoot a gun aimed at a can sitting on the spaceship.

Don't forget that, in just a couple of days, C.R. Jeff has not only repaired all of New York's cable, but has also figured out how to give the alien's computer system a virus using the sophisticated Windows 96. How this works is news to me because have you seen the screens on the spaceship's computer system? The spaceship screen doesn't even showcase numbers or letters. The spaceship's screen looks like the Matrix with green lines of code scrolling up and down.

This plan is crazy, but even crazier? When some skeptic cries out, "Who will fly this thing?"

Hero Will Smith steps forward and says, "I can." Hero Will Smith, who was rejected by NASA, finally gets his swan song into space.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Now that we have finally figured out a way to possibly bring down the aliens, by working around their defenses, we cut to different scenes from around the world, using morse code, telling every other nation what the plan is. A British man stands up and says, "It's about bloody time."

Like, what?

That's Roland Emmerich telling the audience "of course the world is waiting for America to come up with the plan to save the Earth."


'Merica!

So, while we get all set up and recruit random pilots (including Drunken Randy Quaid), POTUS Bill Pullman, who also used to be a pilot, stands atop a truck and delivers the speech that needs to be delivered when aliens do invade. We, as a world, must finally come together to defeat them, giving us, for the first time ever, one common enemy.

Now we wait.

And as we do, let me take a moment to relate this to a show on TV right now. If any of you have watched "Falling Skies" on TNT, this part of the movie is very reminiscent to season four's ending when Noah Wyle and his half-alien daughter fly one of the spaceships to the moon to destroy the alien power source.

Hero Will Smith and C.R. Jeff have loaded the spacecraft and have successfully flown it into the mother ship. My question is this: The aliens wear these slimy body suits with dreadlocks, and the inside of the spacecraft looks very, oh, I don't know, easily accessible to humans.

These things have tentacles. How do we know they didn't hang themselves from the roof of the craft to fly it? When the aliens stand, in their slimy suits of armor, they are huge, but C.R. Jeff and Hero Will Smith fit snuggly in the cockpit chairs.

While I sit and quietly debate this, POTUS Bill Pullman and his entourage fly toward one of the many flying saucers, shooting missiles at it.

That spaceship is massive. It's like throwing specks of sand at an elephant. Once one of the missiles makes it past the force field, we know the virus has worked, even though I'm not convinced the alien system would allow a laptop running Windows 96 to sync up with it.

Did these people have access to USB C already? I can't remember if Bluetooth was a thing in 1996...

With the planes swarming around the spacecraft, and Hero Will Smith and C.R. Jeff sending a virus to the mothership, these aliens are getting P.O'd. They're about to take out Area 51, when Drunken Randy Quaid finally flies out of nowhere, ready to shoot a missile up the spaceship's butt. Of course it jams, making Drunken Randy Quaid question his lot in life.

"Do me a favor, tell my children I love them very much."

And up he flies, screaming, "Up yours!" filling his role as the Comedic Savior.

The spaceship crashes into the desert mountains in a fiery burst of orange and yellow.

Now that all the spaceships on Earth have been taken care of, we have to take care of one last piece of business -- the mothership. Somehow C.R. Jeff and Hero Will Smith, along with whoever helped them, have attached a nuclear missile on the spaceship. It's so convenient that the alien technology and the human technology can work together so well. While smoking their "When the Fat Lady Sings" cigars, they press the "send" button.

Once the "package has been delivered," C.R. Jeff and Hero Will Smith try to fly out of the mother ship, and as they do, the doors start to close, leaving the smallest space for the spaceship to slip through. This suspense device was also used recently in "Jurassic World" when Chris Pratt was trying to run out of one of the cages that was closing. I shall write an essay about this suspense device and the movies that have employed it.

As you all know, they both make it safely back to Earth, and they're greeted by all the main cast members out in the desert. They smile and joke about how they promised each other fireworks as they look up at the destruction of the space ship burning up the mountains, as well as debris from the nuclear space explosion raining down through the atmosphere.

I think the real danger has just begun: putting out those fires and all that radiation from the nuclear space explosion.

As I watched the ending for the umpteenth time, a little piece of movie magic died for me. As they all stood and looked up at sky in joy, the green screen effect was evident. When I first saw the movie, I thought they all were really out in the desert, and the spaceship in the mountains was superimposed or whatever it's called. I blame HD TV and the evils it has wrought watching older films using special effects.

Oh well. I will leave you with one final thought as we conclude another Fourth of July.

When I first saw this movie back when I was 14, I remember thinking: How are they going to clean up all those spaceships?

What. A. Mess.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Because there's a strong push for me to write about food right now


I need to tell you about food right now.

I was going to write this long post on Facebook about my past two nights of dinner for all my foodie friends out there, but I was afraid it was going to be too pretentious.

Like, "I only eat free-range chickens that have been fed organic microgreens."

So, instead, I'm going to be pretentious on my website. Not too pretentious, though. I don't want to lose friends and alienate people. I'll leave that to Facebook right now.

It's doing such a nice job.

There's a gigantic push to eat and buy local, lately. It's super-trendy to run screaming from Walmart and run cheering to a local farm stand, instead. I've been a part of this trend for a little while now. I still go shopping at Aldi and Meijer, but whatever the local farm gives us for the week is used to plan out or dinners.

If they give us a giant head of cabbage, we shred it and put it on shrimp tacos, or I use the whole thing to make from-scratch coleslaw.

Our farm of choice is Tuttle's Orchard. It's so much more than just apples, regardless of the word "orchard" in its name. It's in the next county, and although it takes about 25 minutes to get there, I go each week with a song in my heart to pick up a tote full of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and if they aren't local, they're from a Tuttles-approved farm in a neighboring state. Or a not-so-neighboring state.

"Where exactly is this orange from?" I could ask, holding it up like it's a murder suspect.

"That's from Sassy Fred's Citrus Grove in Clermont, Florida."

I'm happy to know exactly where my food is coming from.

Now, here's where I'm going to start getting all pretentious and hipster-like.

You've been warned.

Because of the farm we go to, we've also introduced ourselves to some local meats and honey and pies they sell in the store. It's getting to the point where some of our dinners are about 80% local. My goal is to become 100% because there's a certificate involved.

Now, the past two meals have not been fancy, mind you. The menu consisted of BLT's and barbecue.

For the BLT, let's start with the bacon. I will never buy processed bacon from the regular grocery ever again. We call it fatty-fatty bacon, and the taste of it is buttery, porky, and complete insanity. The tomato, although not from Tuttles, came from a Tuttle-approved farm in Tennessee. It's flavor was also filled with complete insanity.

Like, ohmigawd, this is what a tomato tastes like! Everything else up until this point has merely been Play-doh!

Sadly, it was the only tomato we received in last week's tote, The skin was tender, at the peak of its ripeness, and as I sliced through, the enviable deep red of a Crayola crayon went all the way through.

Yeah, so the sourdough bread and the mayo were from Aldi's -- nothing fancy. Shh. Don't tell anyone. (Kidding. I live and die by Aldi's -- it owns Trader Joe's. Literally.)

But the sugar snap peas were from Tuttles, and we sauted them up in butter and salt.

For the BLTs, I realized we could go 100% local/homemade: I would love to make my own mayo, and a friend of mine makes a killer loaf of bread. The only reason I would do this is because it's a personal challenge, it is not necessarily something I strive to do.

Our barbecue dinner would be a little tougher to go 100% homemade, since I'm not sure hot to bake brioche buns.

Tuttles has a freezer section with many local meats to choose from. There's ground beef, bacon, bison, pork, chicken, and sausage. They also have pre-made shredded pork barbecue.

We put the barbecue on two open-faced brioche buns (that we got from Aldi). On top of the barbecue, I scooped a small mound of scratch-made coleslaw (this rendition had local cabbage and beets). I will never buy jar coleslaw sauce again. Ever. It is now a mortal sin. I touched a jar the other day, and my fingers burned. Since you can't just have a sandwich by itself as a full meal, I roasted up squash and zucchini (grown at Tuttles).

The barbecue was lucky to be followed by a dessert. We picked blueberries last week in Virginia and brought them all back with us. Those need to be used, before they go bad, and we also have raspberry bushes in the backyard. So, although the crumble I made to go on top isn't necessarily the healthiest (with its butter-and-brown-sugar-goodness), the berries are "superfruits." I think it's safe to say that all those balance each other out to the point where I didn't even eat dessert. It's the same philosophy when you eat off of someone's plate, those calories don't count.

Not every meal is that ridiculous when it comes to local fair, but I feel a small sense of pride shopping at a small local farm. The best part is, they recognize us now, we go so often. Let's just hope they're not getting sick of us.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

He wanted to write, but something held him back

his summer, my goal was to Blogpost the Summer Fantastic. Luckily, summer is far from over, but I am not posting it fantastic. It's more like Blog Won't the Summer So Spastic.

I had goals, these lofty goals. I would write, constantly, and post enormous amounts of nonsense. I would press the words out of me like a grape stomping celebration, but it's been all sour grapes. I wake up, go work out, spend my morning drinking coffee and just being (enjoying all the mornings I can whilst free from a school schedule). Yard work might commence, TV shows may be caught up on, but I still have pages and pages of time to sit down, edit a novel, and write out some parts for this so-called bucket of a website.

Lately, I've been freeze-dried. I didn't finish up an overly creative school year that exhausted me. I was looking forward to having gobs of time to Blogpost the Summer Fantastic, but something is in my brain crawling around.

I can feel it. It's got over 100 legs, it's segmented, and it's inching up and down my synapses, shooting electric currents through my body. It shoots a warm shiver down my spine, and the feeling goes away for a moment, and then it returns.

It isn't constant. It's not a body snatcher. It only happens when I think about writing. I decide: "I will finally sit down and write today."

And then, my brain starts to feel the feels. It's almost like having the heebie jeebies.

There's a cartoon on Exploding Dog with which I relate. I want to create, but something is holding me back: failure, the blank page, no audience, anxiety.

I'm finally breaking through. When it comes to creating, we need to make sure we give ourselves permission to create garbage, even if it's public.

Once we give ourselves permission, there's no stopping.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When things get turned upside-down

We're in the heart of tornado season, but for me and people I work with, tornado season came early.

Everything around us has been pitching for a while. The clapboard walls were shuddering, shaking up something fierce. It wasn't until this past semester when the winds bore down on us. There have been watches for some time, but once January hit, and the school board OK'd the changes, warnings were in full effect.

About two years ago, the middle school principals in my district forged together and approached the, then, newly elected superintendent about the middle school schedule, which was slowly offing us left and right.

The superintendent came from a middle school background, understood the mystery beasts that young adolescents were, and work began to fix the current schedule which fracked good teaching from us and left us tired.

After a year of research, a vote from the school board, and a semester of planning and preparing, the middle schools are officially moving from a seven-period day, where we teach 54-minute periods, to a block schedule, where we'll spend 90-minute periods with our students and see them every-other day.

We also grouped teachers together on teams, eliminated study halls, upped the amount of elective choices, and starting in August, we'll be set loose with all this newness.

But, before we knew what all of this was going to look like, the unknowns were sentinels standing guard around the school, and the only thing we could do was speculate. Rivers of gossip helped keep the rumor mills turning, and some of those mills caught some fish of truth, but mostly, it was something to keep us busy.

It was thrilling. We were pioneers.

Change was on the move. For a few, it was insanity. I'm sure they all got stomach aches thinking about all the question marks that floated around their heads. I'm the only journalism teacher, so a lot of the changes weren't going to affect me, so I got to watch in awe as the tornado whipped through, careening over here, and then swiftly going over there.

I wasn't totally safe from the wind. Even my hair got messed up when I found out that I had so many students signed up for my classes, that a fellow teacher in the building was going to help teach the overflow.

It was such a weird sensation, really. We were mindfully preparing for this new school year where we met with kids every-other day, where five teachers shared a group of students on a team, where we would be able to do some amazing things with our time and our craft, and all while we were finishing out the current school year where we rode through a seven-period day.

I know change is sometimes this big, bad, wolf. I'm super-weird and welcome it. Some major shifting needed to happen, and now that it's all falling into place, it has reignited some fires, and it's definitely making the future more exciting. I see a step in some fellow teachers' walks that were not there before. Sure, there's much uncertainty, but the good news is -- we're all weathering this together.

There's energy when things are turned upside-down. I will see what kind of elements this energy charges once August hits, but luckily, since it's still June, I've still got some time to spend by the pool.


Monday, June 08, 2015

Fables Vol. 20, "Camelot"


"Fables" has been a part of my life for the past five summers. In a sense, it has been an on-going summer series. Even though they're available at any time of the year, it seems fitting to sit down and read them when I'm out of school.

I will not pen some penultimate review where I navel gaze about the brilliance of the stories and the immense withdrawal I will go through now that it's out of my life -- that will happen after I read the last two.

As per usual, it's difficult to write a review for a series, knowing some sad and lonely individual will actually trudge through this review having never heard of "Fables" before. I ain't about to sum up 20 volumes of a graphic novel (OK, fine, comic) series.

We last left our beloved Fables in a disheartened mess. Bigby was turned to crystal, shattered, and distributed to the winds. Snow White and Bigby's daughter shows up as an adult, telling the rest of the family that one of their own had died saving her. Red, Snow's sister, finally makes an appearance again. And the formerly fat Mrs Pratt, now gorgeous and svelte from Mr. Dark's magic, takes her turn being a Big Bad -- or, so it seems.

"Camelot" plays on the tropes of our beloved story. Everyone is well aware of the tragedy the befell Guinevere and Sir Lancelot -- and let's not forget about poor King Arthur's heart. As Red decides she needs to recreate the Round Table and locate new knights to claim her honor as the Paladin of Hope, all the pieces begin to fall into place that, although this is a new Round Table with a very new attempt at giving different people Second Changes, the cards will be played the same way.

It's just, that, well, it's a bit of role reversal -- since Red's a lady and all, but she's also filling in as the new King Arthur.

Which means, she will be facing a new Lancelot.

And we can already guess who will fill that role, because seriously, what other female character is strong enough in the "Fables" series to be the Lancelot to Red's Arthur. It's also a way to run the story arcs full-circle, since Red and her sister, Snow White, didn't really get along in the beginning.

One of my favorite chapters in the book found Bigby wandering through a different land (is it heaven? Do we find ourselves in another life when we die?) talking to Boy Blue.

There is much build up, but we must wait until volume 21 to see where it takes us.

What I do know is that Issue 150 is the final issue, which will be published this July, leaving me with two more issues to read.


Sunday, June 07, 2015

Blogposts the Summer Fantastic


Last summer, my creativity was riding its bike, and then I saw it topple over and hit a tree.

I ran to it, unleashing my CPR training.

"You! Call 9-1-1!" I bellowed out to Nigra.

"You," I shouted at Maeve, "get the AED!"

And I went to work. I pressed on its chest thirty times. I breathed into its mouth. I pressed on its chest again, counting maniacally.

Once Maeve brought over the AED, I placed the pads in the right places: 11 o'clock and 4 o'clock.

I turned it on. It wooed and beeped. The electric-light woman came alive and started telling me what to do.

"Everybody stand back," I said. "The area is clear."

I followed every direction. I pressed the green button. She proclaimed that she was shooting jolts of electricity into its body.

After a few moments of charges, woots, sirens, and beeps, the AED turned off.

But it was too late.

My creativity had died.

And I went through the summer barely reading. I didn't touch my website, and I found it difficult to even write a word. I had no desire to even create anything. For a lack of better words, this made me sad, but I had also ended a two-year streak filled with creativity. It wasn't aimed at my own writing or this website, but I had become a better teacher and pushed my little middle school journalism program online.

I think last summer, I suffered from brain-drain.

I don't want that to happen again. In order to be creative, I need to push myself, even if what I write or post is garbage. I learned, especially after posting for 40 straight days this past spring, that creativity cycles. I must cycle through the muck in order to find a diamond hidden in it.

And sometimes it's the Blue Moon Diamond.

Monday, May 25, 2015

"The Magician's Land" by Lev Grossman


This is the final installment of a series that took the fantasy genre for a joy ride.

Or so I'm told.

I have yet to sit down with any high fantasy novel, but I get the idea that Lev Grossman's trilogy's goal wasn't to be high fantasy, but to deconstruct it by using the familiar trope of Narnia.

We all know Narnia, right? Ordinary kids are special because they are whisked away to a fantasy land that is held together by the lion Aslan. Different kids. Different adventures. Always the same cryptic lion. Lots of religious allusion.

Grossman uses the Narnia idea, removes the religion, and asks the question "Why isn't this land perfect?"

Even a fantasy land has it's demons. And those demons can haunt.

All three of these books are character driven told mainly through the point of view of Quentin Coldwater, a 30-year-old magician by the time we enter book three. The story finds our anti-hero kicked out of Fillory (the Narnia of this book) and looking for a place to belong. Compared to the other novels where he is restless, listless and whiny, he is finally getting comfortable with his lot in life.

And even though he's not quite sure what that is yet, he's not crying about it.

After all the things have happened to him, all the negative, and mostly, self-induced pain, he has grown up and instead of being the most unlikeable character (like he was in the first and second books), he starts to walk through his life with a wisdom he so lacked.

And the reader actually enjoys being in his head, for once. It's like, "You're finally getting it, Quentin. Thank you."

He returns to Brakebills (the college of magic where he started his journey) to begin teaching. He finds out that his true magic ability is to repair things, which seems super lackluster (until the very end of the series when it is the perfect ability). He teaches. He studies a page out of a book he has from the Neitherlands. He isn't too mopey, and he decides he's quite happy at the school, regardless of how slow it seems.

He doesn't consider himself the most powerful magician, but throughout the book, he's still pretty impressive. Maybe not the best, but pretty close.

Then we meet Plum, a girl who is related to the Chatwins (the last name belongs to the kids that went to Fillory). She has run from the story of Fillory all her life because she sees how it has destroyed her lineage. She doesn't realize that one of her teachers, Mr. Coldwater, has actually been there. Their paths finally become intertwined one night when Quentin has to save her from a magical prank gone awry. Both of them are kicked out of Brakebills, both come face-to-face with Quentin's dead girlfriend, Alice, who is a so-called niffin (or magical-being-demon-type-thing, which you should know about if you read the first book, so please don't ask me to clarify), and both were contracted to be a part of a journey to reclaim some magical items.

During the first half of the book, the characters are hired by a magic bird to search out a suitcase that belonged to Rupert Chatwin, one of the kids who journeyed through Fillory. The search goes awry, but the suitcase is found. As well as a journal with a testament written by Rupert, explaining secrets about Fillory that become helpful later in the book. Plum realizes she can't run away from her past anymore and completely embraces this place called Fillory, and with a new plan, she and Quentin set out to work some very serious magic.

Parts to why the title "The Magician's Land" as a title makes sense.

In the meantime, told through other chapters, we find out through Janet and Eliot, the High Queen and High King, that Fillory is dying. And they mean to save it.

Some of the best chapters are with Janet and Eliot, two hipster, jaded characters that love their magic, love their Fillory, but don't talk like characters all stilted from a George R. R. Martin book. They make jokes, show off, speak in modern lingo, all while riding hippogryphs and winged horses and the like. And they throw zingers at each other that are hysterical -- and weirdly out of place, while they talk to a giant snapping turtle, fly in the air, produce axes out of thin-air, etc.

Meanwhile, Quentin and Plum, using a spell from Rupert's journal, study and prepare to create their own land -- and when they do, only to realize it's a sad mirror of the house they are staying in, Quentin also realizes he has somehow brought Alice, the blue, scary niffin with.

Why isn't she killing Quentin? We soon find out.

Quentin, Eliot, Janet and the lives of everyone from the first two books intersect in a grand finale that showcases the growth of all the characters, the completed journey, and an ending that is actually quite happy -- something you really want the characters to have because their train ride through the series was absolute hell.

Grossman's prose is accessible, making it a good series to tiptoe into the fantasy genre. On a deeper level, though, you can see Grossman picking apart the genre, and if you want to be more cerebral about it, there are such discussions to be had.

I get where he is coming from, stylistically, but I also enjoyed the story, the writing, and the fleshed-out characters.

We live in a day-and-age when finales are shoved under microscopes. An author or creator has to get it just right, or he will be crucified by his audience.

This time, I think the author succeeded.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

"The Ten Commandments" Live Blog-Post-a-Thon Event! Part Three


My favorite parts of the movie are when they're at the Palace. I think this is because I like stories about rich people with problems, and these rich people have problems!

A whole plague of them.

Moses Gets a Makeover
I missed why Moses was compelled to climb the mountain. The doorbell rang and the Girls went crazy. Then, my phone wasn't ringing, and I wasn't getting text messages! It was complete chaos!

But everything has settled, which brings me to a pivotal plot point: Moses' Makeover.

The voice of James Earl Jones is telling Moses that he's been chosen, that he gets the final rose. Really, the Burning Bush in this movie is my favorite. I think because it's 1950's special effects. What movie wizards can do now can look more believable, but the runty bush with light glowing from it wins, hands down.

I think it's the subtlety.

Wait, is that Joshua? I can't remember if he walked the desert to look for Moses. He probably did. I mean, they're best friends. That, and when you do the Big Reveal in "What Not to Wear," you want to make sure all the most important people are there to witness it, right?

Oh! It's the Big Reveal. How will everyone respond to Moses new look?

"Moses, your hair," Lily Munster says, running her hands through it.

He must've used a whole can of Biblical Hairspray.

He went up the mountain with barely a beard and regular hair, and he walks back down with a fro streaked in white. Something the Bride of Frankenstein would envy.

It is time to move this plot forward! Moses takes his staff and begins to walk.

Intermission!
You mean, I actually have to get up and change the DVD? Can't DVDs hold more than this? I mean, seriously.

I hope the second act is shorter. That's usually the case when it comes to things like this. The first half is so much longer than the second half.

Moses Pays Ramses a Surprise Visit
Blah, blah, blah, everyone is paying Ramses (now the Pharaoh) a visit, but who's that in the back? He doesn't look like he's rich.

Oh. My. Gosh.

It's Moses!

"Let my people go," Moses quoteths.

Ramses does not listen. Instead, he makes life harder for the Hebrew slaves.

"Good, one, Moses. Thanks a lot," they shout at him.

Then, he goes and visits Moses' Girlfriend, even though she's married and has a child (with the same weave as Ramses). She professes her love for him, still.

"That Moses is dead," he says.

Just walk out, Moses. Don't listen to her! Now, she's threatening him. "If you don't come to me, you're people will never leave!"

Whatever.

"You've got no power over me," he says. "Be gone before someone drops a house on you."

Let the Plagues, Begin!
I'm surprised Ramses allows Moses to just hang around.

Uh, hello? Ramses? Moses is a threat, right?

Even the great epics have plot holes, I suppose.

Who knows how many days Moses has been around Ramses, trying to let his people go, but Ramses is having none of it.

Now we're at the Nile. We all know what's about to happen next and Ramses just stands there, with his fists on his hips, all smug.

Then, Moses goes and turns the Nile to blood.

"For seven days," Moses pronounces. Ramses tries to undo it, but, nope!

Moses: 1, Ramses: 0.

Then there's another scene where Moses just walks around the Palace freely. Does he go and help himself to food? He knows where the kitchen is, since he used to live there.

Ramses still doesn't believe in God, so Moses goes to the balcony and speaks of hail that catches on fire.

"Pish, posh," Ramses says.

Then there's that creepy breeze, you know the one, right before a storm comes? On a humid day, when you know a storm is afoot, the darkest clouds push over the land and a cool breeze casts away the heat. Yeah, that happens.

Then, Ramses patio is doused with hail that catches on fire.

Moses: 2, Ramses: 0.

That, and it's dark for three days, totally wigging people out.

Moses: 3, Ramses: 0

"C'mon Ramses, just let the people go, dude!" one of Ramses men says.

Ramses is just so gosh darn stubborn.

In the meantime, Moses' hair continues to grow in wild disarray, but Ramses is not going to falter. He's not threatened by Moses' hair -- or the next plague.

"It's on your head, not mine," Moses says.

"Just go away," Ramses says. "Why did I even let you come back?"

Then the worst plague comes -- the death to the first born, if there is no lambs blood on the door.

Moses: 4, Ramses: 0

(In all reality, it's Moses: 10, Ramses: 0, but the movie would've been about 10 hours longer if Cecil decided to put frogs, locusts and boils in the movie, too.)

Ramses finally gives in.

Let My People Go!
The entire cast of "The Ten Commandments" begins their mass exodus away from the Egyptians. This took an entire month to shoot.

And there was no catering. Cecil wanted the cast members to know what it must've been like to leave Egypt.

For a movie made in the 50's, the cinematography really is pretty spectacular!

But not before Ramses changes his mind!

Chariot-scene!

Why didn't the rest of this movie move this fast? Five minutes after everyone left, Ramses was dressed in his battle gear, ready to go. They approach with break-neck speed, kicking up dust in all directions.

Moses becomes Traffic Director, and tells everyone to go to the sea.

"Watch this!"

But before Moses parts the Red Sea, all the people feel jipped! Boy do they feel bad after they see what happens, next.

"We were just kidding, Moses!" they shout at him when the see the fire tornado stop Ramses' men and the storm clouds come to push the sea to two sides. "Ha, ha. Just. Kidding."

The special effects are pretty cool. I'm sure there's a documentary out there somewhere that spills all the secrets, but I doubt it was done by green screen.

Woo! It looks breezy down there as they walk through the parted sea.

Uh-oh, the fire tornado is gone. Ramses charges ahead!

People who saw this movie in the theater, if they weren't asleep by now, were probably grinding their teeth and chewing their nails from the suspense.

Then, boom! The Egyptians are washed away.

Ramses loses.

You know the rest. Everyone dances around the Golden Calf for a few minutes when Moses comes down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments, scolding them.

So let it be written, so let it be done, indeed.



"The Ten Commandments" Live Blog-Post-a-Thon Event! Part Two


Moses Has Left the Palace:
Ew, Vincent Price the Master Builder is being all smarmy, hitting on one of the female slaves, and not just any female slave: Joshua's girlfriend, Lilia! He just decided that she will be his. Then, he's carried away. Lilia is totally depressed, slouching on the ground.

She wanted Joshua to ask her to the dance, not the Master Builder, regardless of how popular he is.

Then, more royalty pulls up. This area must have a lot of traffic.

Moses' Girlfriend catches Moses working in the mud, and demands that he comes with her. She dances around him, as he's covered in dried mud. She yearns for him. She misses him!

"Moses, Moses...you wanna help your people? Come back to the Palace!"

"Woman! I will not!"

Then she's all: "Moses, Moses, think of me as Ramses wife. I will use jealousy to win you back to the Palace."

They kiss, what might be their final kiss, and he struts away, "You will never have me."

Meet-Cute with Lilia and Joshua
Cut to: Smarmy Vincent Price the Master Builder. He's dressing up his latest catch, Lilia, but Joshua storms into the premises. No one touches his girl! She hates the color gold!

Joshua is a total hero.

Cecil B. DeMille has allowed for Vincent Price to have too much screen time. This Master Builder has nothing to do with the main plot of the movie. He's about to whip Joshua for trying to save Lilia, but wait!

Enter Moses!

Vincent Price was a mere plot device to help Moses meet Joshua and Lilia.

Moses strangles Smarmy Vincent Price the Master Builder to save Lilia and Joshua while calling him "The Master Butcher."

Touche.

Moses Chooses His Path
Pharaoh and Ramses ramble on about Moses. He's been caught for killing Smarmy Vincent Price the Master Butcher.

"Bring him in!"

Moses' Girlfriend is shocked to see him in chains. They each have something in common now: They have both killed.

Ramses is a proud peacock in his Egyptian clothes, speaking down to Moses. He's really enjoying this. The truth has been showcased to Egyptian royalty -- Moses is not blood, he is a Hebrew slave.

Ramses wins!

But wait, Pharaoh is showing Moses some grace, but Moses tells Pharaoh that he is, indeed, a Hebrew slave. So Pharaoh hands Ramses Moses' Girlfriend and pronounces him future-Pharaoh.

The rest of this is scene is just Pharaoh getting all British, walking around the set like Hamlet.

Cut to: Moses shackled in a cell. Ramses and Moses' Girlfriend are now there.

"I win," Ramses just said, speaking in Over-Dramatic.

Moses' Girlfriend kisses Moses one. Last. Time.

Cut to: Ramses shines bright like a diamond in his Egyptian garb as he stands out in the desert with Moses, ready to cast him out. Ramses has decided to let the desert kill Moses so he doesn't have to.

Bad, choice, Ramses. You'll be regretting that decision in a few hours.

Now, Moses must walk through the desert as he gets sand blasted. All he has is his walking stick, his robe  all blowing around like he's in a music video, dancing to the dirge of the British narrator.

He takes long, stumbling strides, bored to tears by the narration.

He has no clue what the narrator is saying. He collapses in boredom, confused by all the metaphor, dragging himself to...what?

A goat!

Woman Shepherds Swooning at the Well, Moses Chooses a Wife
A bunch of woman are going on about men and how they can't stop thinking about them. Lily Munster wades through a bunch of ferns, and then proclaims how she's found: A Man!

Then, some bullies come over and try to take water from the well -- but with the toot of a horn, Moses stomps out and kicks their butts.

Lily Munster silently swoons: "The stranger is strong."

There is so much bosom clutching in this movie.

Now, the women and Moses are flirting. They're wiping him down with their drool.

Moses presents himself to Jethro, the Father of Many Bumbling Giggling Girls. They chill out and eat pita. Jethro invites Moses to chill with his posse.

"I am a stranger in a strange land!" Moses proclaims.

"Pish posh," Jethro says. "My daughters will teach you how to be a shepherd."

Cut to: Moses is a shepherd now!

He gazes upon Mount Sinai, and Lily Munster tells Moses that God is up there.

Moses is still so super-dirty, but Lily Munster looks like she just bathed. She's even got gold earrings on. What's that about? Did she just bring him water from their charcoal filtration system?

They have a Kierig in the tent.

Cut to: The tent where the daughters are fighting over Moses.

"I wish everyday was a shearing festival!" one of them calls out.

Girlfriend, I do to.

Lily Munster hands out hand cymbals to her sisters. They scoff that she's not going to dance with them, but she's all, "I am not going to shake my booty at Moses. I'm going to tend the sheep."

The daughters/sisters come out and dance, but Moses' heart sinks. Where's Lily Munster?

All the men are cat-calling, and telling Moses that he can only have one of them.

This is naughty. Cecil B. DeMille even got a G-rating for this movie.

Now that the dance is over, Moses must choose his wife.

Who will he give a rose to?

Cut to: Lily Munster and Moses have a secret date in the cave.

"Which of my sisters did you give a rose to?" she asks.

"None of them."

"You're heart was scarred by some bimbo in Egypt, wasn't it?"

Moses looks off into the cave. He doesn't want to remember Moses' Girlfriend, who is now married to Ramses. "Yes."

Now Lily Munster is spewing poetry at Moses. He's fidgeting around in his robe, looking for the rose. He can't find it. Instead, he places his hand on Lily Munster. He ties a string around her wrist, choosing her to be his lawfully wedded wife.


"The Ten Commandments" Live Blog-Post-a-Thon Event! Part One


My favorite part about Easter isn't the ham, or the candy, or the Easter egg hunts. I'm happy the weather starts to shape up, and some Easters are warm, while others are down-right frigid, but that's not my favorite part either.

It's the annual airing of Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments."

Today, I will spend 3-hours (maybe, we'll see how long I can last) to live blog this movie -- I can't wait until Sunday night with commercial breaks. I actually own the movie. So, I'll do it now:

"So let it be written, so let it be done."

Overture:
No wonder this movie is over 3-hours long. There are even curtains about to open. Oh, a man just came out. He just told us that the Bible leaves out 30 years of Moses' life. That, and they turned to historians to look for Moses' early life.

No wonder this movie is searingly realistic.

English Majors, alert: The man just told us the theme of the piece.

Did early Hollywood leave us nothing?!

3 hours and 39 minutes to unfold, and there will be an intermission.

Oh, Cecil. Why didn't you just turn this thing into a musical?

The Movie has started:
We have put baby Moses into the basket, and we are now wading through the water. Moses mother looks eerily familiar to Lily Munster, the matriarch on "The Monsters," but we know that's not true because Yvonne de Carlo will show up later and steal Moses' heart. Moses' Adopted Mom hands the Hebrew cloth to Memnet, her servant, but Memnet doesn't toss it into the Nile.

Instead, she will use it when the time is right!

Cut to the future: Yule Brenner, Ramses, is helping dress his father, the Pharaoh, right now. He's the only one that actually looks like he could actually be from Egypt. Everyone else is British and white, strutting around the set like it's Shakespeare.

Moses has just returned from Ethiopia.

Moses' adopted mother is a bit obsessed with him, throwing flower petals and practically swooning. She says his name like she's not his mother, but...wait. Maybe that's the girlfriend. No wonder she was mumbling over-dramatically and staring off into space. Every year, I get those two confused.

Now that Moses is back, Ramses is all-kinds of jealous. Too bad there isn't a cat-fight between these two later on in the movie. Moses could go after Ramses' ponytail. Yank that weave right off his head.

Scenes from outside the Palace:
Now, we turn to the Hebrew slaves building the city. Joshua and Lilia are a bit too spry to be slaves -- shouldn't they be more haggard? Joshua jumps down from the top of the statue he's working on, much like an excited Tarzan, just to get some water from Lilia. They shouldn't be breathlessly in love, but breathlessly exhausted, right? The quick scene is just to remind us that they are still waiting for the Prophecy of the Deliverer to come.

Cut to: Ramses talking about the Deliverer.

I wonder if the Deliverer is their acting coach. Someone to help them not speak. With. Pauses. Like. William Shatner.

Cut to: Oh no! An old lady's belt is stuck under the giant statue that's being pushed. It's going to get her! The suspense! Moses! Where are you? The lady, she's fallen and she can't get up!

Life Alert!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Joshua! He's leapt from the basket up high to save the lady who was too weak to rip the fabric of her robe to escape from impending doom!

No, I lie. He just stopped the guards. It is Moses, Moses that frees her from the stone, and then confronts none other than Vincent Price, the Master Builder!

"Are you a master builder or a master butcher?" Moses has just asked.

ZING!

"If we stop moving stones for every grease woman that falls, the city would never rise."

Delivered by Vincent Price with his coined, casual coldness.

This scene between Charlton Heston and Vincent Price was brought to you by Edgar Allen Poe.

But Moses isn't finished, yet! He has led the slaves to the grain silos to unleash and bury them all with food.

That is gross. Their dirty, sweaty bodies are engulfed. What will that bread taste like?

"Mmm, dirty skin bread!"

Back to the Palace:
Important scene alert! Important scene alert!

Ramses just kissed Moses' Girlfriend. He was all, "You'll be my wife, regardless of what you think."

And she looked at him defiantly and was like, "Psshh. That kiss wasn't telling you what you'll have, but what you'll never have." She then stuck her palm up to his face.

But Ramses one-upped her and was all, "I don't care if you like me. I like you and if you don't like me, that's your business." Then, he threw a shawl over his shoulder and, literally, struts away.

Moses' Girlfriend wipes her mouth off and stares off, over the right shoulder of the cameraman, and starts to tremble in doom to make sure the audience knows this is foreshadowing.

Cut to: The Pharaoh is so proud of the city Moses is building he slaps him on his back and says, "Our names will be carved next to each other. Ramses' name will be nowhere."

BURN!

After the Pharaoh and Moses hold hands and skip away, Ramses doesn't falter. Instead, he sticks his chest out and proclaims with blind ego: "The city Moses builds will bear my name. The woman Moses loves will bear my child. So it is written, so it shall be done."

Cut to: Moses' Girlfriend is gazing at her navel in the mirror when the Evil Memnet shows up, holding Moses Herbrew baby blanket, showing his true identity.

Moses' Girlfriend is having none of that. Instead, she pushes Memnet off the side of the building, and then throws herself at Moses. She's so in love with Moses that she will kill!

Run, Moses! She's got crazy eyes!

But, no! Moses finds the Hebrew cloth. Moses' Girlfriend tells him the truth, clutches Moses and sobs, "You are the son of Hebrew slaves."

Then, before he goes and asks his adopted mother his true identity, he sings his first solo in the Palace hallways.

"Who am I? 24601!"

Oh, wait. That's "Les Miserables."

Plot Twist!
Remember that old lady that was caught up and about to get squished under the stone that Moses saved? That's Moses' mother!

Now that he's met her, his world has been cast into confusion. Is he a slave? Is he royalty?

Stay tuned!



Friday, April 03, 2015

Pioneers, O Pioneers

There are times when I wish poetry was my thing. There's something so visceral about it. One of my favorites became a favorite because of the recording, the hit of the drum, and the modern Americana video that was attached to it. It is a wordsmith's music video, sans music. 

Whitman was a soothsayer as he wrote these words. They are immortal. They are just as important now as they were in the 1800's. 

For a world to become better, words like these must be written, sung, spoken in order to light the fire under a generation. This fire helps to promote a change in thinking, a change in action. 





Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Make sure you own a cast iron skillet


Whether the chimney, the wood stove or the open fire outside, make sure you have a cast iron pot before the end of the world.

While you're at it, have a few cast iron pots, maybe a skillet, a pan, and anything else Cracker Barrell has in their store. Get those now.

I'll wait.

Are you back?

You're not taking me seriously, are you?

Dish soap won't be an easy necessity to get anymore, and we're going to need to cook over the open fire, but even the simplest of utensils and items will be difficult to use after the world ends.

No wonder pioneers used these.

We can load the dishwasher, but they'll just mold-up. And as we continue to fight about electricity, and the water hasn't run for a while, it's time to rethink how we prepare our meals. If we can't wash dishes with ease, we'll need to cook with something that doesn't need to be washed with soap.

Cast iron is it.

Scrape that food gook off, flick it into the compost pile, and rinse it off. Let it dry, and it'll be ready for the next meal.




Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Nigra's Hierarchy of Needs


Each night, we must go through Nigra's list of needs. It's sort of like Maslow's list. You know that whole hierarchy thing? But Maslow isn't sitting in my face whining at me. 

Nigra's vehement whining only happens when Steph and I are home together. If it's only one of us, Nigra acts like she is content.. She lays quietly on her pillow. 

Our powers combined must bring out the Captain Whine. 

Steph will spend her Fridays and Mondays at home with the Girls. She has no issues all day, but the minute I walk through the door, Nigra approaches me, after I have relaxed onto the couch from standing all day,  looks up and begins to whine a la Oliver Twist. 

"Please, sir, can I have some more?"

To understand Nigra, you have to know that this girlfriend has intense eye contact. It's powerful. She will stare you down until she gets her way. She cocks her head and bores into your soul with her little brown eyes. She is determined. She is unrelenting, and she will not give up until her bidding has been done. 

I told Steph that she must imagine me wearing an apron and says Nigra's on it. I'm the one that must always do her bidding. She will sometimes whine at Steph, but really, it's me she always wants. 

After a few whines, she will, then, back up. The minute she backs up a little, and whines, you know it is so important. The whine is important enough, but when she backs that thang up: game over.

After about 50 different whines, we realize it's time to go through the list to make sure our Nigra is satisfied. 

Yes. There is a list. 

In order to make sure Nigra is happy with life, we double-check the list -- it needs to be made into a print-out, really, because we're always forgetting something. 

If it's 5:00 p.m., then she must be hungry. If we haven't fed her yet, then that is it. For a couple minutes, after she dines, she is satisfied. 

Then, right after dinner, she must have Number One. This is her first treat for the night. This is the first of three. At about 7 p.m., Nigra will whine for Number Two, and at about 8 o'clock, she'll ask for Number Three. 

You see, there weren't always three goodies each night. This is something Nigra has decided. Nigra knows how to change the rules, and she uses her whine to do so. 

Every once in a while, she'll try to eek Number Four out of us, but we're on to her games.So, with some of those whines, we need to make sure she has had all of her treats. 

If it's nice out, she wants to be with her squirrels so she can commune with them until nightfall. If it's too cold, then she will perch on the sofa and gaze out the window, watching and guarding. The minute someone walks in her peripheral vision, she woofs. She's content for a bit...

Whine.

After that, she just continues to whine at me all night long. The next item on the list: I have to make sure she's got water in her bowl. We used to give her ice cubes in that water, too, but Maeve bobs them all out, so now we put the metal bowls in the freezer with some water at the bottom. 

If the bowl if full, then I check to see if Nigra has to potty. Maybe those goodies just went right through her. We can never be sure. I let her out for a little while, and she is right back at my side, gazing lovingly at me as I am smothered in her whines.

"Pretty please, Daddy, with cherries on top?" Her eyes say.

"Pretty please, whaaaaaaaat? What do you waaaaaaaant?"

She's eaten dinner. She has a full bowl of water. She's had all three of her treats. We're both home. After going through the hierarchy, at this point, usually it's time to take her out to play. 

I will take Yertle the Turtle outside with us (yes, that is Dr. Seuss' Yertle I speak of) and go crazy. Nigra runs around the yard, chases after me with my stuffed turtle and plays catch. She growls violently, and playfully wags her tail. She'll pounce and jump and soar and bark. She'll sprint and spin and dance and sing. For about 10 minutes (or depending on the temperature), I do my best to wear her down. The goal is to make her over-pant, to get her so crazy-tired that she will come inside, get a long drink and then collapse on her pillow in pure bliss that her Daddy played with her. 

If she persists after that, I am at a loss, and slowly descend into madness.