Saturday, January 31, 2009


this is an interesting one on both translation and catholicism in the news...

i'm all about the blog today. one might say it's because i'm bored. i say it's because i have my priorities in order.

this new blog labels thing is tricky, though. what AM i posting about? hmm.

"and knowing is half the battle."

via today's the stranger slog:

things i love about this:
1. the notorious abandoned refrigerator. these must have been everywhere in the 80s. remember when cherie on punky brewster almost died in one of these, too?
2. the huge stache on GI joe. nice.
3. of course, the fact that knowing is half the battle.

300th post! wooooosh.

and, now i'm mad - you can't just take away apostrophes, guys!
also, a potato bug will follow you home unless you buy me this tote bag.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

all stories are true. even the ones that shouldn't be.

okay, i'm really excited about this article. but you all know how i get excited about myth and fact. i've written about judith warner's stuff on this before, and again, it's very, very cool.
In each of these examples, real problems – that some girls are engaging in too-young, risky and degrading sex, that some children are being stressed excessively and stifled by nonstop structure, that some boys (poor and minority boys) are doing badly in school, that some children are getting really reckless mental health services – are grossly simplified and, via the magical thinking of dogma and ideology, are elevated to the level of myth.
and then, the magic psycho-analysis. what's this really about? oh, judith warner knows.
All the examples of child myth-making that I’ve mentioned here have to do, at base, with the perceived corruption of childhood, the loss of some kind of “natural” innocence. When they depart from kernels of reality to the level of myth, they are, I believe, largely projections that enable adults to evade things. Specifically, the overblown focus on messed-up kids affords us the possibility of avoiding looking inward and taking responsibility for the highly complex problems of everyday life.
what do you think? i'll buy it.

here's a thing on peta and "intersectional exploitation," which i didn't even know was a term. but it's definitely a thing that peta doesn't seem to get [or care about]. and, below it, a cool piece on how the patriarchy hurts men. this one's for all my male friends who don't think it's cool to be all genderized, either.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

snow day! or not.

thanks to kris for this one:
Obama: Snowy Washington Needs 'Chicago Toughness'

and for this opinion:
Some People in Washington Need to 'Lighten Up'

i mean, read the part where CPS stays open because their kids don't have childcare. yeah. about that, ms. private school principal who would rather have kids playing outside. and that's a weird opinion anyway - i mean, who wants to be published saying that their students will be happy to have a snow day and they don't want to make them come to school? [is that what you all got out of it?] aren't you in the business of education? because i know, of course, how much teachers love snow days - but i think we're supposed to pretend to hate them.

i did have one of my first "wow, i'm a real teacher NOW" moments when i got so mad that a snow day was putting us behind...

and also, i'd pull my [hypothetical] kids from school if their principal made fun of me in the washington post. clearly not the way to handle your students' parents. whether or not one of them is the president of the united states.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"have you blogged about casseroles yet?"

why, no! i haven't!

i sent an email to my lunch friends [we alternate days bringing lunch for everyone, and yes, it rules] explaining that i'm living out my 20-something rebellion by baking lots of casseroles, because my mom would never let us eat that stuff when we were little. i mean, she would cook chicken. and rice. and vegetables. and more vegetables. and lots of vegetables. but everything was separate, and healthy, and there was NO velveeta or cream of anything soup to be found anywhere. IMAGINE. so now i'm cooking with all those things. in ONE BIG DISH. covered with bread crumbs. take that, mom.

ahhh, rebelling against great parents. what can you do?

but i love the "you should blog about this" compliment. really? you think i'm funny enough to be published instantly online? OKAY! [speaking of which, same friend gave me this, which is kind of weird - it's like a blog, only old-school! because it's a newspaper.]

i'm watching the friends where monica goes to dance class to find the woman who stole her credit card. i don't think credit card thieves actually, you know, go out in public and socialize using the name of the person whose credit card they stole, but i guess this was before the internet and all. i do love the part where the fake monica hates dead poets' society so much that it makes her decide to, you know, SEIZE THE DAY. because she wasted so much of her life watching that movie. well-played, friends.

and, related time-wasters, from nbc local news tonight:
"i look at the governor these days, and all i can think of is britney spears... when she was unraveling... so i just don't know what to expect next..."
speaking of precision of language - ALL you can think of is britney spears? really? and you're afraid he'll unexpectedly release a comeback album?

also, the new head of chicago public schools is the former head of the CTA [since, yet again, someone close to me got hired by obama]. yes, this seems especially relevant to my life. but i still hate the local news.

sorry about all the links to my own blog. i can't stop.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"the pamchenko? no way. it's too dangerous!"

someone recently asked me how often i blog. well. the answer, apparently, is that it depends on the week. so, some thoughts while i sit on the couch, watching the cutting edge. interspersed with thoughts about the movie.

first of all, how creepy is the dad in this movie? "excuse me, honey, while i pressure you and demean you and take charge of your entire life." and how blatant is the sexual innuendo? and how much of it totally passed me by when i first saw this at age ten?

TWO of my former congressmen are now working for obama. clearly, he loves me. big week big week - and i had one of those nostalgic experiences watching the inauguration on a fuzzy tv in the campus ministry office, then running down to class to listen to the rest of it on the radio. [remember the radio?] then we did this lesson from teaching tolerance about inaugural prayer. [click through for a pdf of inaugural pray-ers in history, too.]

i love that part of the movie on new year's eve when they're about to kiss, and you know it because there are SPARKLERS in between their faces. hahahahahahaha. i also love when they kiss at the end of their routine at the end. why don't we see more of that at the olympics?!

my favorite sean casey is retiring! to work for the MLB network! whoa.

no doubt, my favorite part of this movie is the part where she takes the tequila shots. i think of this literally [yes, LITERALLY] every time i take tequila shots. mostly because the first time i saw it i was like, what the hell is she doing? and why is she wearing sunglasses the next day?

a quick search reveals that i blog about misuse of the word literally all the time. seriously. [if anyone's counting, i use "seriously" much more than "literally." what, you don't spend as much time searching my blog as i do? silly.]

new under "things i like" - passive-agressive notes and the flickr page on pointless road signs. this one is definitely my favorite.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"you kiss by the blog."

this week's postsecret [sorry, changes every week] is kind of sad, but this one was too perfect.

i often try to tell people stories that they've already read on my blog. it always makes me really happy, though.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"the pressure of language..."

so i casually read the freakonomics blog, a lot. and the other day, i casually read this article about giffen goods, i guess, and tangetially related to prostitutes and rice. and then i read feministing, and oops - i was supposed to be outraged.

interesting comments, though - i think the one i linked just now is getting right to the point. like, yes, insensitive turn of phrase. but not blatant assholery. and also, they're economists. they're the ones who [in their book, summarzied here] attribute the drop in crime in new york in the early 1990s to the drop in unwanted pregnancies after roe v. wade passed in 1972. because potential criminals aren't being born. i mean, what? i feel like that's a bigger threat to human dignity [of course, feministing doesn't get to that, but that's another post] than conjecture about the economics of the sex trade. but they go ahead and make that point, because it's supported by statistics and they're in the "hey, sorry, but we think this is causal." [that word is so awkward.] and, also, i think they're basically good people who make up statistics about college students and sweatpants. so that's why this debate was so interesting to me, i think. because i actually like the guys on the other side of the outrage, and that's not usually how i feel in this kind of situation.

i think what i originally wanted to blog about was how the language we use can change our entire meaning. how it carries implications we don't always anticipate. and how the blogosphere is CRAZY. comments are crazy. and i feel pretty open-minded [who knows what other people think of me, but i try], but i read a lot of fury out there on issues i didn't anticipate.

my employee handbook actually says something like, "communicate in person whenever possible to avoid being misunderstood." which, you know, seems sort of cumbersome in the modern world. but, point well-taken - no matter how clearly i write, how well can all of you really understand what i mean? and how many people are getting angry right now?

only semi-related - has everyone seen the multigrain cheerios commercial where the guy asks the girl if she's trying to lose weight [because she's eating mgc]? and she's all "do i look like i need to lose weight?" ahh, yes. i always try to fit the comeback, "ARE YOU CALLING ME FAT?" into conversations in which it doesn't belong. people get pretty awkward when i do that.

my current jam [and title of this post] is "the cool, cool river" by paul simon. rhythm of the saints, first of all, is an under-appreciated album. and this song is probably my favorite little-known song. give it a listen.

"i believe in the future we shall suffer no more. maybe not in my lifetime, but in yours, i feel sure..."

sigh. at present, through a glass, darkly. but then, face to face. i love that, really, that passage is about being understood...

ouch. bad day for polka.

still, this is pretty awesome. my favorite part is how he "chose to face the music."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

the word of the day!!

had the most amazing conversation the other day.

c: i love that bus! it stops right in front of this amazing shoe repair place.
s: why would you get shoes repaired? just get new ones.
b: actually! in this economy,* business is booming for shoe repair places. i saw it on the news. [pause] and i'm really glad we're having this conversation, because i wasn't sure when i was going to use that information...

now, some of you may know that i kind of hate the local news. i seriously saw a story recently that used the teaser, "mp3 players may be good for your health! stay tuned." and the story was about how people work out for longer when they listen to music. HONESTLY. this is not NEWS. but i watched it anyway, because i thought it was going to be something NEW and AWESOME. and that's what i hate about the local news.

but! i do remember, from when i was living in middle middle america, that i had a hard time following conversations if i hadn't watched the news. and i certainly used the local news in conversation this weekend. so here's my question - is the cultural zeitgeist** [so to speak] determined by the news, or is it the other way around?

* bonus points for using "in this economy" in every conversation. try it. you'll be amazed at how relevant it seems. i mean, it's certainly relevant in the local news.
** "zeitgeist" is the word of the day.

FONTS. again.

here's the article about obama and fonts i mentioned earlier. you don't think fonts are important? READ THIS ARTICLE. and note how "change" looks in the different fonts. it'll blow your mind.

words, all words.

i'm working on a new analogy. it's gotten mixed reviews so far, but see what you think.

ready? the BCS is the electoral college of sports. everyone's always talking about how it doesn't work and we should go to a playoff [which is the popular vote of sports, apparently]. but it doesn't look like it's ever going to change...

if you didn't like this one, please note this one [at the bottom] about the diet dr. pepper of dairy products.

also, we're looking for a new term for "drunk texting." "sexting" is clever. "drunk dialing" is alliterative. but anyone got anything for the drunk text? please comment with your ideas.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"so you agree? you think you're really pretty?"

really liked this jezebel post about how to respond to a compliment. i, personally, prefer the enthusiastic thank you with unnecessary details. por ejemplo, in a recent conversation about my new earrings - "THANKS! they were a dollar. at the target dollar spot! you know, right when you walk in the door? i bet they're still there. you should TOTALLY GET THEM."

i once had a conversation with a guy about sports. i mean, about talking about sports. i don't remember what the conversation was about initially, but i suspect that i was worried about guys who don't like sports. especially in the particular corner of middle america where i was living at the time - how must that feel when someone mentions a sports statistic or piece of news that you're totally supposed to know, and you can't respond? girls tend to be able to laugh it off. you know. double standard.

but anyway, the guy i was talking to said that talking about sports is a polite way to guys to make conversation. like talking about the weather. [as my brother would say,] oh yeah? and women talk about their respective appearances?

i bring up the gender issue because it's in the article - and in several very interesting comments. i recommend.


have you ever noticed how much "bullish" looks like "bullshit"? as in, "The titans of corporate America were glorified on the covers of Forbes, “trickle down” economics justified obscene wealth, and a bullshit Wall Street gave even working stiffs a piece of the action." i was like, whoa, catholics in alliance for the common good blog. wild.

i got two amaaaaazing voicemails in the past two days.
1. "i'm just calling because right now... i'm watching a movie about the font, helvetica?"
2. "i think of you whenever i hear this band... hang on, i don't know the words... YOU CAN'T COUNT ON ME."
it's almost like my interests are predictable. fonts and counting crows, guys. that's what i like.

twice, writing this post, i've tried to link to previous posts that don't exist. one's about the movie helvetica and the nytimes article about obama's "change" font. [well, here's part of it, actually.] the other is about the time a stranger asked to kiss my shoe. stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"if i could FIND YOU NOW..."

got a delicious burrito today. and yesterday. yesterday, they cooked the outside of the burrito on a big grill, the rice was yellow and delicious, and the man said "claaaaaro que si" when i asked him if he had any salsa for me. [i find the spanish language, in general, charming. i think it would be different if i were actually good at speaking it.] today, there was no rice, i got chipotle flavor and fat-free black beans [whatever], and the burrito was really spicy and delicious. i was a little disturbed, though, when the guy taking my order didn't speak spanish. then i was a little disturbed about being disturbed. [i was meta-disturbed.] anyway, did i mention that it was delicious?

as i got off the bus, a neighbor with his dog may have seen me do air drums to this song. am i a fifteen-year-old boy on the inside? maybe.

but THEN, on the way home from the bus, walking got very treacherous. but only in some spots. my theory is that something under the sidewalk is making only some spots melt and then refreeze, but under the snow. [i should have been a scientist.] so, every ten steps or so, i'd unexpectedly and suddenly lose my balance and have to catch myself. but then, all of a sudden, i just BIT IT. it was one of those falls where i didn't even rememeber thinking, "oh, shit, i'm falliiiiiiiinnnnnngggg..." nope, no slow motion at all. just BAM and, "hey, why the hell am i on my back on the ground? and why's there all this snow on me?"

it was unrelated to the air drums, just so you all know. i had already moved on to being distracted by a little kid and his cars-themed one-shoulder backpack.

so i recovered by rocking out to this new find, which i love.

yes, my brother got an electric drum set for christmas and played along with his ipod for like three days straight. why do you ask? does it seem like i've spent a lot of TIME with him recently?


breakstone's fat free sour cream is totally the diet dr. pepper of dairy products. seriously, those guys have CRACKED the diet technology. how do they make it so good? and do you think they'll ever make ice cream?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

this blog post will change your life.

i had a conversation the other night in which one of my friends alluded to a comment one of HER friends made that changed her life. she very earnestly [see below] told me that it actually changed her life. i, of course, believed her.

the comment was something like, "our generation doesn't value the internal life." we're always into telling people everything we do and constructing a whole narrative [and you know how i love narrative] - but where's our reflection? or prayer, even?

i like this for two reasons:
1. the "secular ways to talk about the faith business" thing. i'd tell very few people that they'd be happier if they thought more about their prayer life, but i'd talk to a lot of people about their INNER life. like, are you taking time for yourself? do you feel like you never relax? is something bothering you, and you don't know what it is? and i'm not saying religion is the answer, but i wonder if we're wired to require some kind of... well, something more. something that makes us different than the worker bees.
2. as an over-sharer, i'm sensitive to the value of not sharing some things. if they're really important.

then, i had another life-changing conversation.

h: i always think it's so weird when i'm drunk at a bar and someone asks what i do - and i talk about working with kids.
b: try being a religion teacher. that's always a fun conversation to have with a stranger...
j: but i think that's just part of being our age, you know? trying to balance having a career with still trying to have fun and be young.

and we moved on to talk about how much people should talk about their weekend activities at work. but, how awesome is that? yes, bar conversations as a metaphor for being a 20-something and feeling like you're living a double life. well, two or more lives. i mean, that's one of the reasons i started this blog. [and maybe it ties in with the "inner life" thing more than i thought.] because, if i can't talk about the things that are important to me, how important are they? and, if i can't talk about my job at the bar, why am i in that job? [or, of course, why am i going to the bar?] let me be as authentic as i can be. yes.

then, i had another one.

m: can we blame society when we respond to sincere emotion with snark?
b: YES. please always feel free to do things WITHOUT IRONY.
m: someone once told me i was "earnest" and i didn't know what to do with that.
b: i think that's a huuuuuge compliment.

and i do. [someone once told me that something i did was "endearing." i liked that, too, and consider it somehow related.] but you know, when you have a moment of earnestness with someone, where they lean over and say something real and serious and important to you - that's what i'm talking about.

and the opposite of that, well - while i'm ethically opposed to [or, i guess, offended by] stuff white people like, i often think about the entry on irony.

Also, you might find yourself in conversation where you mention that you like something and there is an awkward silence indicating that it is not cool. In this situation, you must say “oh yeah, I also like [insert similar things]” and smile, the white people will laugh and all will be well.

again, one of those things that always sticks with me. maybe because i've spent a lot of time worrying about how to be ironic. or, you know, asking my friends whether other people were being ironic. [because you just have to KNOW.] and all along, i think, i'd rather be earnest.

oh, and my current favorite life-changing conversation? i was upset about something, and one of my favorite slightly older friends just said, "your 20s are really hard! i remember being really confused the whole time." i was like, THANK YOU. that's just what i needed.

on a related note, may i interest you in a few songs. and in seeqpod, where you can search for songs and embed them! i got this recommendation ["like youtube for songs"] in a christmas letter.

first, as always, i thank the lord for the people i have found...

[later ed: apparently seeqpod is now defunct. you'll have to provide your own elton.]

and, "fill it up again" by the indigo girls. from a relatively recent album. and ROCKIN, especially for the new year. the new road is an old friend...

[later ed: guys, when the album all that we let in came out, i was very "this is my LIFE" about it. kind of still am.]

so what i'm saying is, get the whole song. right now.

narrative, the next chapter.

now here is something i had never seen before. this is a long excerpt, i know, but it's a really long article and i didn't want to awkwardly link to part of it. it's from salon's "the year in sex," which they claim has been disappointing, overall. but here's how they ended the article.

It was a little ironic that the most physically and emotionally arresting candidate of our lifetime seemed to be scandal-proof and, truthfully, a little sex-proof. I'm not saying the guy isn't handsome, debonair, charming, charismatic, swoon-worthy. It's just that, weirdly, Barack Obama did not ... sizzle.

In fact, for all the lame efforts of the smear press, there was really only one person who could raise the temperature on our Barack, who could truly hot him up: a cackling, nut-cracking, shirt-ironing broad in an array of jewel-toned pantsuits.

Yes, it's true. American voters have never had it so good as they did for six months of 2008. His mellow ease to her spiky ambition. His cool confidence to her bellowing honk. Yes, I know, I know: that grating, wrong-note-hitting, not-conceding, change-resisting, healthcare squawking, Bobby-Kennedy-invoking bitch! And: that cocky, strutting, hope-peddling, smooth-talking, shoulder-brushing, sweetie-calling, poetry-spouting bastard!

Have you people never seen an episode of "Cheers"?

Now, out of respect for Michelle Obama, I want to make explicitly clear that in no way am I suggesting that there is, was or ever will be any actual carnal attraction between the president-elect and the future madame secretary. I'm merely speaking on a performative, narrative level about the way that the characters on our stage have played against each other. I'm just pointing out that in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about the rub and chafe of like-minded opposites attracting.


Obama mania just wasn't as fun without Hillary. And after Nov. 4, this whole new blissful upcoming administration was perfect and groovy and everything, but really a little dullsville until he picked her. By then, no one even bothered to hide the allusions to the pair's chemistry anymore. According to CBS, "They've become so close that it turned into a strategic courtship, leading to Clinton being at the top of his short list for secretary of state," while the New York Times described Clinton's "passionate" speeches on behalf of Obama and the stage at which "the wooing was complete."

And so, the Year in Sex thanks you, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, for providing us with the sparring smolder of a 1940s romantic comedy, if black people and women senators had been allowed in romantic comedies of the 1940s. For the first time in years, the heat on our televisions and newspapers and magazines didn't come from shorn celebrity beav or reality stars who taped their doggy-style antics so that we could have something to watch at our cubicles while we ate our Subway sandwich. In 2008, it came from the head and the heart, from the old-fashioned sizzle of strong minds bumping up against each other, from the gimme-more friction of big ideas and hearty disagreement, a fight for dominance, a see-saw of control.

Our only warning for 2009: Don't get too chummy. Remember what happened after Sam and Diane got together.

but you know how i feel about "speaking on a performative, narrative level about the way that the characters on our stage have played against each other," yes? yes. let's talk about literary themes, and how they're everywhere. and how we can even use narrative to talk about things that real people do. all stories are true - and everything's a story? stay tuned for more on narrative.

let me just say, for the record, that blogger records the time i started this post, not the time i actually posted it. not sure if that makes me cooler, though.