Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm the Reason God Made Oklahoma

Last night I was giving the kids a bath when I realized one of the kids had not flushed the toilet. This is really not that big of a deal, but still, after you stock the pond with brown trout, could you just flush it, please? It's just kind of an unpleasant thing to discover.

Sorry I had to tell you about that, but that jarred the words, "That's nasty" in my head, which in turn reminded me of being in 6th grade in Elgin, Oklahoma.

I went to most of my grade school in Iowa. Half of Kindergarten was spent in Pueblo, Colorado, then Davenport through 5th grade. We then moved to just outside of Lawton, where my parents heard that Elgin had good schools. I didn't live in Elgin, but more just north of Lawton. We ended up in the Elgin school district. First day of class, we're doing reading. In Iowa, I had been in an advanced reading class. As we're reading the book, I realize that I read the same story two years ago in Iowa. Right there in the middle of class, I go up to the teacher, and tell her this. Her reply was, "What do you want me to do about it?" I was pretty shocked. But then, I guess I had disrupted the class. What I wanted her to do was to send me to the class that was 2 years ahead, like they did in Iowa. I didn't tell her this, but instead sat down and basically, for the first time in my educational life, said "fuck it."

The powers that be decided that 6th grade was too big for just 2 classrooms, so they had this fabbed "mobile" that I thought was pretty decent that had an extra room, and they moved a third class of 6th graders into it. On the other end of the mobile was a classroom full of "mentally challenged" kids. There was a single-hole bathroom in the hallway between the two classrooms.

I've got allergies pretty bad, and have had them most my life. So I blow my nose a lot. I might have had allergies this one day, or just a cold, and I had run out of kleenex, so I was going down the hall and using the toilet paper in the bathroom to blow my nose. I would simply go into the bathroom and fetch some toilet paper. I was in and out, so I didn't close the door. One of the kids from down the hall was getting a drink at the water fountain and saw me as I was blowing my nose and said, "You should close the door when you go to the bathroom." I looked at him and said, "I was just blowing my nose." He said, "You should close the door, that's nasty. That's nasty."

I tried to explain to him again that I was just blowing my nose but he just kept looking at me saying, "That's nasty. That's nasty." I just moved it on down the hall back into my classroom.

I think that Oklahoma was one of the first times I became aware that there were two sides in this country. That is, the conservative and the other side. In Iowa, we probably had conservative teachers, but the cool teachers are the ones I remember. One in particular was Mr. McGarry. He was the science teacher. He made sulphur volcanos and did other cool shit, like giving us all an ice cube and seeing who could make theirs melt first. My friend, Sam, beat the shit out of his and we laughed at this violence. Sam won, though. Break it up into smaller pieces. I also remember we had to do some kind of science poster, and my friend Dan Cahoy and I drew this hippy with a broken acoustic guitar. We put this huge monologue next to him saying that since he broke his guitar it was important to pay attention to science or something. I don't even remember what it was about. Mr. McGarry thought it was hilarious though. I was surprised. But Mr. McGarry got it.

In Oklahoma, we had a music teacher who I thought was cool. She talked about going to rock concerts and told us about one she went to. I think she went to see the headliner, The Doobie Brothers, but she got to also see Pat Benatar, and Van Halen (and she thought David Lee Roth's name was Van Halen). Then we had to draw a poster for something. I immediately went back to the idea that got me accolades in Iowa, the dirty hippy poster, with the guy using "Man" and such in his dialogue. She was kind of shocked at this. I don't think she wanted a longhair hanging from the school hallway.

I remember that at least Scott, and maybe one other mentally challeged kid from the other end of the building got to go to music class with us. On Halloween, Scott wore a trucker baseball cap (mesh back) and that was his costume. I asked what he was supposed to be and he said, "A mechanic." All the kids got to wear their masks and such, but the teacher made him take off his hat, because you weren't supposed to wear hats in class. I thought that was very uncool. I thought she was picking on the mentally challenged.

I can't say it was all bad, though. She had us put on the play "Tom Sawyer." I got to be Huck Finn, and at the end of the year, the kid who played Tom Sawyer and me got an award for "best actor."

What can I say, it was definitely a unique experience.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When You Realize You Missed The Clue Bus, It Will Be Miles Down The Road

I went to college at Iowa State University. In my first semester there, the fall of 1987, I didn't do so well on my entrance exams so I was forced to take Algebra, Analytical Geometry, and the lower of the two Freshmen English classes (104, as opposed to 105). I think I managed a "B" in all 3.

Before classes actually started, I rushed fraternities and got into Pi Kappa Phi. They had a decrepit house at the time, so I opted to keep my room in the Friley Residence Hall. I can't say the fraternity experience was great. I know that it helped some of my friends make it through college, but for me, I joined for free beer and guaranteed parties. When I found out that the beer wasn't free ($200 fees per semester, where the fuck was that going? It wasn't like I was living or eating in the house. Hell, I even had to buy my own shirts!), I left at the beginning of spring semester, before I had to pay $200 again. But my fraternal experience is a whole 'nother blog that I'll save for later.

I just had to tell you that much so that you know in my English 104 class, there was a girl who sat across from me, who was a plebe, pledge or otherwise associate member in the Sigma Kappa sorority. I sketched her one day in class. I know, pretty embarrassing, but as the end of the semester drew near, finals were approaching, and she asked if I was studying for the Algebra final. I told her I was, and I was sort of stressed out about it. She asked me to come and study over at her room, which was in Willow or Elm, in the Richardson Court area, I can't really remember, in case any of you are tracking this on your ISU campus maps.

So I get there, and I don't remember all of this very well, but we're up on her loft bed (since the rooms are pretty small, most people build lofts, or wooden structures where you'd usually stow your desk or dresser or both underneath to make space) and I've got my book out. I'm doing problems and studying, and she keeps talking to me and she's got pictures of her family, and her boyfriend, who all live in Madison, Wisconsin. She keeps asking me, "Are you really going to study for this test?" I was like, "Yeah, I want to get a good grade." So after about an hour of her jabbering at me, I was starting to stress about the exam, so I said, "I need to go."

Fast forward to 1996. I'm living in Pensacola as a single man in a two-bedroom apartment. I'm taking a shower one morning before work when it hits me.

I think that girl was trying to hit on me.

All during breakfast that morning I'm trying to remember details, and as I'm rolling into the parking lot at work, I've all but decided I'm the most clueless bastard in the world.

Apologies to my wife for this trip down memory lane.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Most Popular Movie Quotes

So I came across this article the other day on the most quotable movies. Note that this survey was taken in Britain, so that's probably why you don't see as many Caddyshack lines in there. The fact that "I'll be back" is the most commonly used line is just a sad, sad commentary on British life. Although, I'm not sure how much better it would be in the States.

Missing notable lines, or some of my favorites, would be from Star Wars, although not the line "May the force be with you." Where would you use that? Anyway, my favorite ones to quote, although not really used appropriately, would be, "I suggest a new strategy - let the Wookiee win." And the whole conversation between Luke and the galaxy toughs at the cantina (paraphrased):

Dr Evazan doesn't like you, either"He doesn't like you. I don't like you either."

"Sorry, I'll try to be more careful."

"You'll be DEAD!"

In the article, Forrest Gump gets credited for the "box of chocolates" line, but the "From that day on, I WUZ RUN-NING!" line is my favorite.

My other favorite line to use from a movie is from Dances with Wolves, where Stands With A Fist tells Costner's character that Kicking Bird is a "Ho-ho-holy man." Every time I see a member of clergy in public, I turn to my wife and say that line.

Billy Madison also gets a lot of time with me when I'm washing my kids' hair. "Shampoo is better than conditioner! I go on first and get the hair clean." I'll spare you the rest of this sequence, which ends with "Quit looking at me, Swan!"

The other thing that baffles me about this article is the fact that most men would, given the choice, have been a character from either a James Bond flick, Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings. Ladies? They would have chosen to be Francis from Dirty Dancing, Julia Robert's character from Pretty Woman, or Scarlet O'Hara from Gone With The Wind. I haven't seen the latter, but I'm pretty sure it's about a southern woman not getting her way. Baby, from DD is pretty noble, in that she tries to do the right thing, (favorite quote from DD, other than the baby in the corner line, which was used as a chorus in a Total Passover song: "He had a folding table and a dirty knife!") but I just don't get where women would want to be a hooker that relies on a rich man to take them away from such an awful life? What happened to women's liberation?

My only other favorite movie line: "It puts the lotion in the basket" from Silence of the Lambs.

Leave your favorite movie lines in the comments section.

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Friday, November 02, 2007


before the great candy conquest

The kids made a killing on Halloween, and we only went down two streets.

My kids are a little more creative than I was when I was a kid. Okay, so the Spiderman costume isn't that creative, but we made the boy a kickass robot costume last year out of a cardboard box, some weird formed fiberboard that came out of a light fixture box, and some flexible dryer vent, so I think that's good for at least another year. Plus, he likes dressing up in Darth Vader, Power Rangers, and other suits, so why would I deny the kid a chance to have a Spiderman outfit?

I really don't think I cared what my costume was as a kid. One year, we kinda stalled on getting costumes, so mom came home with two Captain America costumes on the day of Halloween, so my sister and I both went as Captain America. And this was the late 70's, so I'm pretty sure there were some better ones out there.

Some people say Halloween is their favorite holiday. These kind of people must enjoy working at a costume shop. When asked what my favorite holiday is, I would have to go with "Any Day That I Don't Have To Go To Work." Christmas isn't really a holiday, it's more like a month-long event, involving lots of decorations. The kids like it, though, so that makes it a lot more fun for me. My wife's favorite is Thanksgiving, because the house smells so great, and usually you're eating with family. I would like Thanksgiving more if we could get away from eating turkey. Turkey is probably the lamest meat in the world. I don't care if you inject it full of cajun spices and fry it, a pork tenderloin prepared the same way is still better.

Welcome to the 2007 Holiday Season!

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