Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
"When you pull the tab, the contents don't squirt in your face."
There are so many things wrong with this video, but they all join together to make it so, so right. It's sacriliciously wonderful, and I hope you enjoy.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Strange dreams and other nonsense
- Last night I had the oddest, most rambling dream I've had in a while. At this point in the day I remember only scraps, but boy, what scraps they are. I was in a large building that was some odd combination of the Kalita Humphreys Theater, my friend Lane's first home in Mineola (the one on Lake Brenda, for those of you in the know), and my high school. Apparently, I was staying with Lane's family in what was supposed to be Lane's childhood room. It was a huge room with at least four sets of bunk beds, plus a recessed sitting area with a full sized couch. The furniture reminded me of the stuff in the lobby of one of the dorms at my college. Anyway, the event necessitating my stay was a paddleball tournament, in which not only was I a willing participant, but apparently some sort of nationals level finalist (in reality, I suck at paddleball). And I wasn't the only one. My brother, also a finalist, showed up dressed as though he was about to go on a covert ops mission. Well, there are some gaps in my dream memory at that point, but the next thing I can remember was being back in Lane's room, and being panicked because I was going to be late for my first round in the national competition. Fortunately, Lane knew a shortcut from the room to the performance area (why Lane's house was attached to a performance center, I have no idea) that utilized a few secret passages. So I started running fast as I could down this secret corridor, when I stopped because I heard some voices. I looked around a bit, and found a doorway to a hidden room. And what should I behold when I opened the door? Well, naturally, the members of ska-esque group Smash Mouth, along with a goofy guy I went to college with who now works at the church I occasionally attend. In addition to Smash Mouth's undeserved pomposity, the room was filled with what appeared to be WWII era radio/shortwave equipment. We spoke (I think I asked for directions), but I don't remember the details. What I DO remember is knowing, without a doubt, that Smash Mouth was being held in that room by MTV, for the network's own nefarious purposes. I continued running through the passage until I found myself in the theatre area. And that's the last thing I remember before my alarm woke me. Seriously, the hell?
- This morning on my way to work, I got stuck behind this old lady driving about 15 miles an hour. That in and of itself is unremarkable, except for the fact that, in addition to the back of her head, the only thing I had to look at while she meandered down the road was about 15-20 brown and white Pound Puppies. Not the full sized ones we all remember from the 80s, but the tiny crappy ones McDonald's used to give away in Happy Meals. Apparently, this lady was fond of Pound Puppies. And driving badly.
- Speaking of driving badly, does it seem to anyone besides me that the quality of traffic, in Dallas specifically but also in general, has really gotten terrible lately? In the past two weeks, I've somehow wound up behind at least three different vehicles that drove down the road straddling two lanes. Not to mention all the people driving 5-10 miles below the speed limit (and when you're in a 30MPH zone, those few miles make all the difference). Are they just handing out licenses like candy at the DMV now? Should they just start running those ads that always start "Bad credit? No collateral? Do you have $100 dollars? Then you're in!"?
- Two movies that I've seen recently that I would recommend: Brick, a modern day detective noir mystery, starring that kid from Third Rock from the Sun, and that cute chick from Everwood. Oh, and Lukas Haas, finally looking older than 13. It's dark, funny, and exists in a little microcosm of its own, replete with shady characters and witty specialized dialogue. It's excellent. See it. Also, Friends with Money. Special thanks to Nate, Dish, and MAV for inviting me to this one, as I would've never seen it otherwise. It was funny and depressing, and as usual Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, and Joan Cusack were excellent. Jennifer Aniston was good as well, though she was a little outmatched by her fellow actresses.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Mineola Missives: The Jr. High Days, Part I
Jr. High, (or Middle School, depending on where you went), is a time of big changes. For most people, it's the first time you experience the multiple teacher format that will continue through high school and college. It's the period where the girls come back from summer vacation having hit puberty, and suddenly, shoving them at recess isn't the only thing on your mind. New friendships are formed, old friendships are tested and sometimes fail, and the adult you will one day be starts coming a little more into focus. Jr. High for me was...well, in a word, miserable. Sure, there were moments of fun, and some experiences I wouldn't trade for anything. For the most part though, Jr. High was, for me, the genuine outcast scenario. I was the slightly introverted, inept, nerdy kid who never quite fit in. Mind you, I probably brought a lot of this on myself, as some of these tales will bear out. So sit back and enjoy a few brief stories of the miserable gauntlet of teasing and humiliation that was Jr. High.
*DISCLAIMER - Some of these stories might sound like I'm fishing for sympathy, and that's simply not the case. As miserable as it was, it helped form who I am today, and I'm pretty okay with that guy. I tell them simply to give more information on my formative years, which is what this whole Mineola series is all about.
Teachers and classes
- The first notable teacher I remember from sixth grade was Mrs. Ramsey. Mrs. Ramsey was our 20/30-something World History teacher. Mrs. Ramsey was hot, and I wasn't the only one who thought so. It's amazing any of the males in her class learned anything, distracted as we were with drooling over her. Something about her class - the time of day, the people around me, something I've never quite put my finger on - always kind of made me lose it a little during that period. At least once a week, probably more, I would be sitting peacefully in Mrs. Ramsey's class, when I would suddenly be overcome by a fit of the giggles. Now mind you, this was in the middle of class, so I had to choke back my laughter and try not to give any signs of my internal state of hilarity. This usually resulted in me rocking back and forth and turning beet red. Lane sat next to me in this class, and every time one of these bizarre little fits would overcome me, he would turn and look at me completely stone-faced, which would naturally set me off even more. I don't remember ever getting in any particular trouble over this, but it wouldn't surprise me to be reminded I did. Oh, for one particular project we were required to make some sort of presentation with a partner. Lane and I paired up to make a model of the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were delivered (yeah, I don't know either). I mention this only because every time it comes up in our conversations, Lane always points out that that project was sidetracked when we tore out of my house to chase down the ice cream truck.
- Mr. Daniels was our math teacher. Math has never been my strongest or favorite subject, but Mr. Daniels did his best to make it interesting, albeit often at his students' expense. For instance, he somehow found out at some point about a meaningless crush I had on a girl in my class. Instead of leaving it alone, he turned it into a math problem. I can still see him in my mind, holding up a drawing (he REALLY liked to draw little illustrations of his students to use in his word problems) he had done of the girl in question driving a car up a hill, with me in hot pursuit. Mr. Daniels had a real problem with people sitting on their feet in class; so much so that he turned it into a "spankable" offense. He was a little crazy.
- Mr. Young was the computer science teacher. Mr. Young was, and this is putting it mildly, an aging hippy. He wore a LOT of tie-dye, had a long silver/grey beard, long lanky silver/grey hair, and some very interesting theories about the world and the future of technology. My particular favorite was the time he told us about the future of microcircuitry. He claimed that in the near future, scientists would be able to program a microscopic chip such that when you throw it into a puddle of water, the programming would take over and voila, you could have your very own motorcycle made entirely of diamond. Which, for some reason, he believed would never wear out due to friction. Mr. Young also claimed that once, in his younger days, he was out on a camping trip in the middle of some wooded area. One night while sitting in the cab of his truck, doing God knows what (though the rest of the story gives you a hint), he claimed that Bigfoot climbed into the back of his truck, smoked a cigarette, and then walked off. Some of us later told this story to Coach Day, knowing he would appreciate it. He laughed while we told the story, and at the end his only comment was, "Yeah, and then he married her. Ah ah ah ah ah."
- Coach Michael Claire Cunningham taught...well, I don't actually remember what he taught (Life Science, maybe?). Probably because my memories of his classes all revolve around the weird stuff he tried to get us involved in. He was always giving us handouts about various activities and events around the world, or just random interesting tidbits he found in a book or the paper. We once made "peanut butter" in his class, which tasted exactly like what it was: peanuts he crushed up in a bowl with salt (?!). I also remember eating sardines in his class; for what purpose, I have no idea. After we had completed 8th grade, a few of us went by to bid our farewell to him. He was cleaning out his classroom at the time, and started giving us all textbooks, flyers, and various other informational crap he had stored up over the past year. I wound up with a set of VERY basic scientific "encyclopedias", which I think is still in my parents' house. His classroom also always had a TV/VCR in it, which we often availed ourselves of with his blessing. One day after lunch, a couple of us wandered over to his room for some reason. Now this was the time that New Kids on the Block mania was at its height, and the video for Step by Step had just been released, to the delight of teenaged girls everywhere. We walked into the room to find a group of girls huddled around the TV, giggling and squealing at NKotB's wacky antics. One of the guys I was with (or maybe it was me) made some random disparaging remark about the group. The next thing we knew, we were being bum-rushed by the girls, and thrown bodily out the door. It was like Wild Kingdom, only with teenagers and crappy music.
- When I started 6th grade (1987), the city had just completed work on a brand new Middle School/Elementary School facility. My class was the first to complete all three years of Middle School in this new facility. In our 7th grade year, a teacher of some class I didn't take passed away during the school year. There followed the requisite mourning period, in which students who had probably invented new insults to apply solely to that teacher acted as though their best friend had just died. A short string of subs followed until a permanant replacement was hired. I think the replacement held the job for about 4 months or so before he, too, passed away. Thereafter, subs were shuffled in and out for the rest of the school year. Rumors and whispers of the "cursed classroom" shot around for a while, until we all got bored and moved on to something else. But still...weird, no?
- A coach called Skittles!
- Coach Johnson, the motorcycle driving coach!
- Mrs. Lamb, who thought it was fun to scream!
- The Texas History teacher who thought she was a cat!
- The band director with delusions of grandeur!