Monthly Archives: September 2008

Ten Things Tuesday

Kizz did this not too long ago, and I thought it was a wonderful idea.  Here, then, are ten things from (the first page of) my Amazon wish list:

1.  Bad Boys, both I and II.  The car chase scene from BBII is one of my all time favorites.  Here; see for yourself:

Wasn’t that FUN?!

2.  Seasons 3 to 7 of The West Wing.  Santa, in the form of Bruder Chili, has been gifting me a season a year for the last two; I’m hoping he keeps up the trend.  I love, love, love this show, and I really never get tired of it.

Not for nothing, but I was cruising through youtube the other day, looking for a WW clip I could play for my students as we studied dialogue in writing.  I happened to stumble on this particular bit, which struck me as kind of creepy, given that I’m neck-deep in Stephen King’s The Stand right now for the DSBC.

I think Josh and Stephen are right: we’re not going to do ourselves in with nukes – we’re going to catch a flu…

3.  Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Whorf.  I’ve been interested in this guy ever since I caught a whiff of his philosophy (which, to my incredibly meagre understanding, is something along the lines that we need language to give form to our thoughts; that we can’t really think unless we have a language to frame thoughts in).  I’m still not entirely sure I believe that, but I’d love a chance to think about it.

4.  Anna and the King.  I’m not really sure how that made it on to my wish list.  I may have wanted it for classroom purposes, and I may have caught a portion of the film on TNT or something and thought I might like to have it.  It’s not very high on my priority list, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up if it ended up under my christmas tree.

5.  Relfections on the Human Condition by Eric Hoffer.  I’ve got three other books by this man on my list.  I think there’s a good reason for this – I must have read an excerpt or a quote or something that sparked my interest – but I can’t remember what it was.

6.  Phenomenon.  I know, I know – John Travolta (whom my husband calls “John Revolting”) has opened his mouth and proven himself to be pretty misogynistic, but I really loved this movie.  It’s sweet and tender, it plays with ideas that I like to entertain, and it’s got Aaron Neville singing a cover of Crazy Love.  How can that be bad?

7.  Seasons 3 and 4 of Grey’s Anatomy.  I didn’t LOVE last season, but I really do like this show and am looking forward to season 5.  I want to be Miranda Bailey

8.  War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust.  I’m going to be studying the Shoah forever.  I think I’m a better teacher, a better parent, and a better person for keeping the questions that this investigation brings up close to my intellect… and my heart.

9.  A Lifetime of Secrets and The Secret Lives of Men and Women: A Postsecret Book.  I LOVE the idea behind the Postsecret project, and I find that, every single week, at least ONE of the posted secrets resonates with me (like this one from last weekend, for example).

I’ve not sent in a secret (yet), but I’m glad that others do.  This feels very much like Sting’s “hundred million bottles washed up on the shore” to me.

10.  A Brief History of the Dead.  I picked this novel up in the bookstore about a year ago and was intrigued by it.  I have no idea if it’s any good, but I’m still intrigued enough to leave it on the list.

I have three pages of wish list items – I haven’t looked at them in a while and I suppose I ought to go through and delete the things I’ve bought for myself over the past year or so (I took Pedagogy of the Oppressed off the list, for example, because I got that at a book sale a few weeks ago).  Mr. Chili ought to have little trouble at christmas time this year.

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!


Filed under books, Dark and Stormy Book Club, fun, Holocaust Study and Outreach, learning, movies, reading, social issues, teaching, television, ten things Tuesday

Effortless Prose

Most of you know that I’m reading The Stand for the Dark and Stormy Book Club’s October selection (thanks, Bo!!).  I am enjoying this story very, very much.

I’ll admit to having some occasional trouble keeping characters straight (there is quite a collection of them, let me tell you), and I can also say that there are some parts of the story that are creepy-bordering-on-gruesome (“but of course!” you say, “it’s Stephen King, after all!”), but more than all of those little troubles are the vast swaths of writing that just pour off the page.

I love good writing: words that fit together to say exactly what the author wants me to understand.  No frivolity, no clunkiness, just beautiful, perfect words that seem to click.  King has regular flashes of brilliance where this sort of “effortless prose” is concerned (it’s in quotation marks because every writer knows that while the prose may be effortless to read, chances are better than even that it wasn’t exactly effortless to write.  There’s a difference…).  The man just seems to fall into a trance and, suddenly, the reader is off to the proverbial races.  Every syllable on the page puts a necessary note in the chorus of the story and, with almost no mental heavy lifting on the reader’s part, before we know it, we’ve turned twenty pages.

The “no great loss” section of The Stand was one such glide through the book for me; I knocked off 15 pages over a slice of lousy pizza while waiting for a class to start.  So, too, was this passage.  Short though it is, this paragraph puts words and thoughts together in such a way that just feels right to me.

“The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything.  Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance… or change.  Once such incantatory phrases as “we see now through a glass darkly” and “mysterious are the ways He chooses His wonders to perform” are mastered, logic can be happily tossed out the window.  Religious mania is one of the few infallible ways of responding to the world’s vagaries, because it totally eliminates pure accident.  To the true religious maniac, it’s all on purpose…. …There is really nothing so comforting to the broken of spirit, or the broken of skull, than a good strong dose of “Thy will be done.”  (pgs 607-608)

It’s writing like this that inspires me to continue to practice my own craft as a writer, and that makes me excited to be an English teacher.


Filed under Little Bits of Nothingness

Chatty’s Got a Question *Edited*

Go on over and see if you can help my friend suss something out…

*edited to include: Chatty just sent me an email:

Tons of hits from your site, but they are all reading the comments, but not leaving one of their own. LOL  Oh well.

You guys!  You’re not going to help her if you don’t, you know, SAY something…

I’m just sayin’…


Filed under Friends, Little Bits of Nothingness, ruminating

Community Organizer

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the world is kind of messed up.  If you’re anything like me (and I know a bunch of you are) you recognize that there’s quite a lot of suffering going on out there, and you probably want desperately to do something about it.  You probably feel, though – like I do sometimes – that if you can’t do something huge and dramatic – something that makes a demonstrable difference in someone’s life (or, better yet, something that makes a demonstrable difference in a lot of someone’s lives) – then there’s really no point in doing anything at all.  I mean, come on; really – what’s my lousy little donation of five bucks going to mean to anyone?

Here’s the thing, you guys; my five bucks, combined with your five bucks – and hers, and his, and all of theirs – really CAN make a difference.  Have you ever done one of those outdoor team-building activities?  I’m thinking specifically of the one where one person lies on the ground and goes all stiff, and all the other people circle her, put their index and middle fingers together, put them under the person’s body, and lift her up just like they were moving a piece of paper.

There’s strength in numbers, is what I’m saying here.  You CAN make a difference with a measly little bit of almost-nothing, because I’ll put it together with my little measly bit of almost-nothing and, before you know it, we’ll be lifting someone up.

So, that was the pep talk.  Jules, over at Angst Girl, has been working for a loooong time to help people who were devastated by the floods that happened in Iowa in June.  Remember them?  No?  Well, clearly, not many people do.  Folks are still homeless.  Kids are going to school without basic supplies.  It’s starting to get cold, and a lot of people don’t have their winter coats anymore.  I have made a commitment to send Jules a check and to ask her to put my measly little donation to whatever need she feels I can help ameliorate.

Here’s what I’m asking you to do, Dear Readers.  Give up a visit to the coffee shop one day next week.  Skip a manicure (if you’re into that sort of thing).  Go to your penny jar, your couch cushions, and the pocket of YOUR winter coat and wrap some coins.  Pack your lunch for a couple of afternoons.  Figure out a way to scrape together a little bit of something – even if it’s just five bucks – and email Jules.  She’ll give you her address so you can send your measly little bit to her.  Your little bit, combined with my little bit, WILL make a difference to someone.

The government is planning a 700 BILLION dollar bailout of banking institutions, considered “too big to fail,” that acted recklessly, greedily, and unethically in their fiduciary dealings.  Let’s you and I get together and bail out middle- and lower-class citizens of this country who are too small for the government to bother helping.

What do you say?


Filed under admiration, Blogroll, concerns, doing my duty, Friends, frustrations, health, Home and Family, politics, social issues, strange but true, technical difficulties, Worries and Anxieties

Busy, Busy

Sorry, you guys.  Mrs. Chili is pretty much flat-out today, so I don’t have time to wax philosophic.  I spent the morning rushing around, teaching a yoga class and getting shopping done before bringing the girls to Monkeyface’s 11 birthday party.  My late afternoon and evening is being spent housekeeping and putting together the second third of the syllabus for my English classes at L.U.  I had hoped to do the Great Semi-Annual Chili Clothing Switch today, but that’s not looking likely.  Maybe tomorrow.

Since I don’t want to leave this space too lame, I’m going to offer you a little writing prompt.  In four or five sentence in the comments, consider one of the things that you do particularly well and/or effortlessly.  What do people come to you seeking?  What gifts do you bring to this party?  So often, we focus most intensely on what we struggle with or what we “can’t” do; I want you to admit to your glory here.  So give it to us; what is the quality of light that shines from your spirit?


Filed under Home and Family, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, ruminating


Isn’t there a kids’ group called 4H?  They show cows and goats at country fairs, right?

Anyway, here’s today’s fucking floral and foliage Friday.  First, the foliage (oh, how I love alliteration!)

As promised, I remembered to bring the camera to work this week.  Here’s a view of Centerpiece Hall from my walk from the parking lot to my office:

Pretty, certainly, but this is nothing compared to what it’s going to look like in the next two weeks or so; just you wait and see.  (Gerry, I can’t figure out how to make my sky blue.  This picture was taken at 7:10 in the morning, so I grant there wasn’t a whole lot of blue to be had in the first place, but I’m unhappy with the color of the sky in this shot.  Also, is there a way to play with the sky that wouldn’t mess with the colors of the foliage?)

Finally, here are the flowers (I know, I know – I just can’t help it).  These are the last two holdouts at the end of the Chili driveway.  Beanie and I photographed them yesterday as we were waiting for her bus.

A pretty little daisy:

And a little bit of clover that the rabbits and deer missed:

Nothing pressing to report today.  I’m teaching English this morning (the kids are doing writing workshops; their first papers are due on Monday) and yoga this early afternoon (I’m seriously considering quitting the health club, but Mr. Chili made disapproving noises about that this morning, so I think I’ll wait until I get a chance to chat with him to find out what that’s about).  The Bowyer clan is coming to the house this evening for pizza, and I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again.  They’re wicked busy lately – Tonks with school (she’s a master’s student at L.U. and, to my unmitigated delight, she popped by my office on Monday and we had a chance to chat and snack.  I’m hoping she makes a habit of that!) and Bowyer with teaching high school.  As if that weren’t enough, both of them are pretty much flat-out making wooden toys to sell at ren. faires, which are in abundance in this part of the country at this time of the year.  It’s really a wonder that Bowyer agreed to come over tonight at all; getting him out of the workshop to do anything beyond peeing or sleeping (the latter of which I’ve been informed he’s doing only rarely lately) is something of a feat when faire sesason heats up.  I’m glad he feels we’re worth a little lost time.

Have a freaking, fantastic, fabulous Friday, Everyone!


Filed under F-F-Friday, Friends, Home and Family

Thought for Thursday


Filed under Uncategorized