Monday, October 31, 2005

Just for Christian

See, Christian, the Shark-Deer does exist. And you should fear it's dreadful hunger the next time you're out backpacking through the wilderness by yourself. Sure, the Kodiak is really big, but the Shark-Deer is sneaky.
Sunday, October 30, 2005

Lauren turns 3!

My niece, Lauren, is the most amazing child. She turns 3 next week, and I finally downloaded a picture from my cell phone that I took last year that I want to share. This is from her Doodleboard. She drew it herself - with no help (including coaching) from Aunt Keckie (as she calls me). I didn't even suggest the topic. So, at 2 years old, she drew this wonderful picture of what she calls a CAT - and I think it's amazing.

Here's a picture of us in front of my computer. This was taken over a year ago (excuse my horrendous hair cut). Her hair is golden blonde, much longer and very curly. The stuff around her mouth is lipstick. I'd just put some on, and she came up to me and kissed me on the mouth. ;-)

If you haven't guessed it by now, I am completely devoted to this child. God help anyone that tries to harm her in any way.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

This one's for you, Gena

I've been a little tough on my dear Gena lately (it's all Jill's fault - she's tempted me into photoshopping excess!!). So here's a special pic just for her. I present the real Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

The Internet Can Bring Us Closer

Several years ago in a graduate course on composition methodology, I did a research project on the Internet and teaching. Part of my research covered the issue of how the Internet impacts socialization. Some studies showed that the Internet was causing people to make fewer "real" friendships with "real" people, that it made the user withdraw from family and social life. Other studies weren't as conclusive. My conclusion was that, like a great many things, the impact of any outside agent on an individual is going to be unique to that individual.

This blog is a perfect example. Since I've started it, I have made so many new friends. People that I share all sorts of delights with - sometimes serious thoughts and sometimes those nutty inner truths that make us the quirky people we are.

Today, I had a frustrating day and blogged about it. And to my rescue came a new friend, Michele. I met her on my friend Gena's blog. Michele took time and effort to send me the best pick me up someone could - an Orlando fantasy. Better than a card off the rack, this beautiful story put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes.

Phooey to those people who say we can't make real friends via the internet.

Thanks Michele, ma belle. ;-)

Sometimes it doesn't pay... be a nice teacher. A few examples:

1. I caught a plagiarist who stole a paper from another classmate. He finally admitted to it because he didn't want his friend to take the F. Part of me allowing him back in class was that he receive a zero for the essay but he still had to write his own and submit that by a week ago last Friday. I gave him an extension to Monday, October 17. I still do not have the paper, but he's still coming to class. He's never said a thing to me.

2. I have a student who comes in late all the time, but has only missed 1 day of class. Still, he has not submitted any work. However, because I was asked to help him, I met with him and made the following deal: if he turned in a rough draft of the first essay due the week before, I would be able to make comments on it in class on Wednesday and hand it back to him before class was over (students were working on group projects). He could then turn in the revised essay on Monday (yesterday). If he did so, I would hold the paper till the end of the semester, and if he had turned in everything else on time and kept attending, I would not penalize the paper with late points. He agreed. (Note: I give students at least 2 class periods wherein they can work on essays and conference with me. There is no excuse for not having something to turn in). I still have not seen a draft of this essay. And he's still coming to class.

3. A student asked me the second week of school to transfer into my class. She wasn't working well with the teacher she had, and there was a friend in my class who could help her (she's from another country). So, I made sure she had adequate English skills and agreed (enrollment was still open at this point). Our first major paper was due October 6th in rough draft form. She did not turn anything in. The final version was due October 13th. She brings be a page on the 13th, but in my syllabus I state clearly that I won't accept a final draft without seeing a rough draft first - I want to see the paper being developed. So I wrote some comments and handed it back to her, saying I would take that as her rough draft and she had to turn in the revised paper by October 19th (the last class before Fall Break). She's absent from class, and though school is still in session on Wednesday, she does not contact me at all. Today, she brings me her paper - but only the final (and it's mandatory that they turn in the rough draft with it). Not only that, but the paper is only 1 1/3 pages long and the minimum is 2 pages. Then she wants to know if she's going to get credit for it!

These are just 3 examples of what happens all the time around here. You give students a break, taking time to meet with them, grade late work, etc. Then they don't even follow through on what they have asked you to do for them. This is, by far, the worst part of my job. I don't mind giving students second chances. I believe in it. However, when I go out of my way to be flexible, and they basically spit in my face, then I feel so disheartened. I don't even get angry. I just feel so let down.

It's no wonder some teachers end up bitter and cynical, unwilling to give students any leeway. Too often, rigid teachers are not born - they are made by bad, uncaring students. At this point, every infraction becomes monumental. I was actually considering a separate grade for formatting. Students would receive a 25 point grade for every essay based on formatting alone. Maybe if I make it a significant grade, then I can get them to put their freaking names on their work, a title, page numbers, even type and double space the essays - as I've told them to do on the syllabus and every essay assignment handout I give them.

Okay, enough venting. Think "Orlando knows how to format." "Orlando would turn in essays on time." "Orlando would French kiss me in my office." "Orlando would take me away from this."

I feel much better know.
Saturday, October 22, 2005

Movie Review - Elizabethtown

Ammanda McCabe and I went to see ELIZABETHTOWN tonight. Now, because Orlando Bloom is in this film, it is worth going to see. ;-) However, I was really overwhelmed by Orlando's acting in this movie. His movies to date have been light on dialogue or even range of emotion. Yet in this film, he runs the emotional gamut, and does so convincingly. This was a fantastic film. Mandy called it when she said it could have used better editing. I agree. The first part of the movie is long, and does drag in places as we go through various subplots. Still, those moments do not majorly detract from the overall film. There's one long phone scene between Drew (Orlando) and Claire (Kirsten Dunst) that is reminiscent of THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS (except no masturbation). And the scenes with Chuck and Cindy, the couple getting married who are staying at Drew's hotel, are marvelous.

Anyone from a small southern town, with lots of family, will find the scenes about family so familiar and honest. My dad has 6 brothers, so when we get together, it's a madhouse. And the mixture of tears and laughter in the midst of grieving the loss of family reminded me of those same moments in my family.

Go see this film. You'll leave the theatre with a lighter heart. (And more Orlando Bloom fantasies if you are of that persuasion. He was actually HERE in OKLAHOMA and I DIDN'T KNOW!!!!! Oh, the agony!)
Friday, October 21, 2005

Moved to tears

Okay, serious blog moment. ;-)

Twice this semester so far, I have been moved to tears by the sheer beauty of artistry and the realization of a dream. The first time was seeing Luciano Pavarotti in concert. During his opening song, I cried because not only does his voice touch something inside of me, moving my emotions, but also just being there, hearing him live was amazing.

Yesterday, I had another such moment. I have long loved the pre-Raphaelite artists John Waterhouse and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. The photo-realistic quality of their art, the beautiful use of color and setting, and the lyricism of their vision move me. My friend, Marie Dawson (who also accompanied me to Pavarotti), told me several months ago that the OKC Museum was displaying an exhibit on Photo-Realism in the 19th Century called "Artist as Narrator: Exploring Storytelling Through Art." Yesterday, she suggested we see it.

Imagine my shock and delight when I turned the corner of the exhibit entrance and saw Alma-Tadema's "A Reading from Homer" (shown above). It is magnificent- the size, the color, the incredible brush strokes and blending. I stood there in front of it, and simply cried. Now, it wasn't a copious amount of tears. I simply teared up and a few ran down my cheeks. But I felt so alive at that moment.

I know a lot of people would find it difficult to comprehend crying because of a painting, but art moves me like this. Books, poetry, music, etc., can reveal something so beautiful that my soul responds in a way that words cannot convey. When words fail, tears follow.

So I hope you have a moment when you are moved to tears by the sheer exuberance and beauty of creativity, of life. Nothing makes me feel more alive than those moments.

I was also excited to finally see the Dale Chihuly exhibit that is permanently housed at the OKC Museum. It is the largest collection of his glass work in the world, and he is truly unique and incredible. The site includes a presentation called Boats (see to the left). And also a wonderful hallway with the glass displayed above you in a glass ceiling. It's like you are walking on the bottom of the ocean with incredible sea creatures and flora floating above you, the sun beaming through them (see below). It's is truly amazing. Awe-inspiring. And afterwards, Marie and I treated ourselves to dessert in the Museum cafe. Spectacular food. I had the apple strudel, which was itself a work of art. The museum used to be a grand cinema built I believe in the early 40's. So the cafe is really a wonderful, theatre-district-style setting. I'm definitely going back for dinner one night.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I'm Boobie Battyboob

My sister, Sheri (aka Crusty Frickenfanny), sent me this today. I thought it cute enought to share:

We all need a little stress-reliever! This only takes a minute.
Please don't be a bore and ruin it. Send it on to everyone you know including the person who sent it to you.

Sometimes when you have a stressful day or week, you need some silliness to break up the day. And, if we are honest, we have a lot more stressful days than not.

Here is your dose of humour...

A. Follow the instructions to find your new name.

B. Once you have your new name, put it in the subject box and forward it to friends and family and co-workers. Don't forget to forward it back to the person
who sent it to you, so they know you participated. And don't go all adult - a senior manager is now known far and wide as Dorky Gizzardsniffer.

The following is excerpted from a children's book, Captain Underpants And the Perilous Plot Professor Poopypants, by Dave Pilkey, in which the evil Professor forces everyone to assume new names...

1. Use the third letter of your first name to determine your new first name:

>>>>a = snickle
>>>>b = doombah
>>>>c = goober
>>>>d = cheesey
>>>>e = crusty
>>>>f = greasy
>>>>g = dumbo
>>>>h = farcus
>>>>i = dorky
>>>>j = doofus
>>>>k = funky
>>>>l = boobie
>>>>m = sleezy
>>>>n = sloopy
>>>>o = fluffy
>>>>p = stinky
>>>>q = slimy
>>>>r = dorfus
>>>>s = snooty
>>>>t = tootsie
>>>>u = dipsy
>>>>v = sneezy
>>>>w = liver
>>>>x = skippy
>>>>y = dinky
>>>>z = zippy

2. Use the second letter of your last name to determine the first half of your new last name:

>>>>a = dippin
>>>>b = feather
>>>>c = batty
>>>>d = burger
>>>>e = chicken
>>>>f = barffy
>>>>g = lizard
>>>>h = waffle
>>>>i = farkle
>>>>j = monkey
>>>>k = flippin
>>>>l = fricken
>>>>m = bubble
>>>>n = rhino
>>>>o = potty
>>>>p = hamster
>>>>q = buckle
>>>>r = gizzard
>>>>s = lickin
>>>>t = snickle
>>>>u = chuckle
>>>>v = pickle
>>>>w = hubble
>>>>x = dingle
>>>>y = gorilla
>>>>z = girdle

3. Use the third letter of your last name to determine the second half of your new last name:

>>>>a = butt
>>>>b = boob
>>>>c = face
>>>>d = nose
>>>>e = hump
>>>>f = breath
>>>>g = pants
>>>>h = shorts
>>>>i = lips
>>>>j = honker
>>>>k = head
>>>>l = tush
>>>>m = chunks
>>>>n = dunkin
>>>>o = brains
>>>>p = biscuits
>>>>q = toes
>>>>r = doodle
>>>>s = fanny
>>>>t = sniffer
>>>>u = sprinkles
>>>>v = frack
>>>>w = squirt
>>>>x = humperdinck
>>>>y = hiney
>>>>z = juice

Thus, for example, George W. Bush's new name is: Fluffy Chucklefanny.

Now when you SEND THIS ON..use your new name as the subject. And remember that children laugh an average of 146 times a day; adults laugh an
average of 4 times a day. Put more laughter in your day.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My HTML Color is...

Here's something fun I found on Deirdre Knight's blog. It's a quiz that lets you discover your HTML color. And I would say that the description is fairly accurate (at least of my own perception of myself).
you are violet

Your dominant hues are red and blue. You're confident and like showing people new ideas. You play well with others and can be very influential if you want to be.

Your saturation level is lower than average - You don't stress out over things and don't understand people who do. Finishing projects may sometimes be a challenge, but you schedule time as you see fit and the important things all happen in the end, even if not everyone sees your grand master plan.

Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.
the html color quiz
Monday, October 17, 2005

He's So Fiennes

This is for my friend, Gail Cox. She and I watched KINGDOM OF HEAVEN this weekend - we're both big fans of historical movies. However, she prefaced the viewing by saying she didn't "get" my Orlando Bloom attraction. She did not think him anything special.

Yes, I know...heresy. ;-) But I have to reciprocate because she is enamored of Joe Fiennes. And though I find him handsome, his voice intoxicatingly sexy, I am not driven to see his films. Gail, however, owns every version of Shakespeare in Love available - multiple copies. It is her favorite movie. An excellent choice, I admit.

So, I offer here, a vision of Joe Fiennes as Master Will. What do you think?

So Sorry, Cardinals

Well, last night the Cardinals lost...again. What has happened to the red juggernaut? Who would have predicted that the 100+ game winning Cards would be down 3-1 to Houston? Losing in Minute Maid Park, a place tailor-made for sluggers?

I haven't been this puzzled since I tried to figure out how Alfonseco managed to pitch with his pants hiked up that high. Surely he gave himself a wedgie when he finished his windup and delivery? I mean, the man looked like a character from Quigmans, the one-panel cartoon.

The only consolation I have is in watching my friend, Jeff Cox, watch his team completely fall apart. Sauce for the goose, and all that.

Hey, Jeff...There's always next year. (snicker)
Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hide the screwdrivers!

CJ Barry blogged about her adventures trying to replace her keyboard. She finally solved a problem by taking two that wouldn't work and replacing the broken part on one with a part from the other. This involved opening the keyboard and dealing with technology.

It reminded me of how stupid I am sometimes when it comes to fixing things. I remember once when I bought my first serious stereo system. It was a Yorx (okay, I was 18 and didn't have a lot of money, so $80 was a lot then). The system had a turntable, graphic equalizer, huge speakers, and....DUAL CASSETTES!! (cue horns).

The first week, I am really excited because there's a special interview with Wham! on that Saturday: music, info, George Michael actually speaking. (This was before he came out of the closet, though rumors abounded. Did I mention I was 18?)

So I pop in a cassette tape, ready to record his melodious voice so I can then play it all the time. (Did I mention that I was 18 and completly nuts about GM? I had his poster taped to the ceiling right above my bed, so when I woke, I could see him. Well, actually I couldn't 'see' him because I'm blind as a bat without glasses. But I KNEW he was up there. To the right is the picture that I had - GM in a muscle tee.)

Okay, so I have the tape in, the minutes are ticking down till the start of Rick Dee's interview, and I decide I had better do a test run - this is a high-priced piece of equipment, new to me. So, I push record, but I can't get the button to go down all the way. IT WON'T RECORD!!! Panic ensues. (Did I mention that I'm 18 and things like hearing GM sing "Different Corner" make me cry and long to be Mrs. GM? That when he came out with "Faith," and I would hear him sing 'Because I gotta have Faith, I gotta have Faith..." I would respond: "I'm changing my name to Faith"?)

So when faced with a mechanical failure of a high priced piece of technology, do I prudently wait and ask my father or brother? Do I take it to a stereo shop? No, I dig out my screwdriver and start poking around. In my GM intoxicated state, I somehow believe the gods of technology will guide my standard screwdriver into somehow jabbing at the right bit of molded plastic and thus fix the problem in time for me to record GM. (Did I mention I'm 18 and though I owned every piece of Wham! merchandise an Oklahoma girl could get her hands on - but of course not the merchandise I REALLY wanted - the thought of missing a static-filled radio interview by Rick Dees - of Disco Duck fame - was simply unthinkable).

I think it was Johnny Mercer who said "Something's gotta give..." - well it wasn't the screwdriver. Yep, I broke my brand new cassette deck. And the tragedy of it all (other than not getting to tape the GM interview) is that it wasn't broken at all. The cassette I was using had the safety tab popped off preventing someone from taping on it.


Double Duh.

I still feel like an idiot 21 years later. Of course, that's nothing compared to being that last person to admit that GM is gay, and then only after the incident in that San Francisco bathroom came out.

I still have the poster I hung over my bed. And a scrapbook that documents my obsession with George Michael. I don't, though, have the stereo. Now I have a cute Dell DJ 30 iPod Nano (electric blue), and you can bet, I'm not letting a screwdriver come near that baby.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I've been tagged!

This is how it works: 1. Delve into your blog archive. 2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to). 3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to). 4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas. 5. Tag five people to do the same.

Okay, Michelle, here's my 23rd blog, 5th line: "It really ticks me off that we have so little protection from this type of intrusion."

I wrote this about blog spam after I got hit with two posts. That's when I enabled the password thing.

As for pondering...hmmm.

"Pinky, Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

"I think so, Brain. What you mean is that people who cross the line of civility and break the social contract by abusing your space to carry out their own personal enrichment agendas fill you with loathing and disgust. Narf."

"Obviously, Pinky, you were sleeping when I briefed you on our plan. We are going to use a hidden subliminal message in the templates available on our blog space that will force people to join our group. The message will enthrall the viewer and make him vulnerable to the second subliminal message that we encode with a group blog, forcing people to send all personal and financial information to us. Thereby allowing us to control all wealth and use it to buy our way to Capital Hill where we will take over the WORLD!"

"Poink. Are you sure you weren't really upset at being spammed?"


Orlando on David Letterman

Fate is kind, sometimes.

Last night, after the Yankee-Angel game, I popped over to David Letterman, though I haven't regularly watched any late night show in a long time. I couldn't believe it! Orlando Bloom was his guest. It was fabulous.

Orlando is so charming. He looked great, in a steel grey pinstipe suite with a white open-necked shirt (French cuffs). His hair was long-ish because he's filming Pirates right now. And he did his American accent for David (he plays an American in Elizabethtown - opening this week).

He is always gorgeous, but when he truly laughs, he is irresistable. Okay, not that I would do any resisting anyway. ;-)

Here's a cheeky pic of him showing off his tattoo.
Monday, October 10, 2005

Guilty Pleasures - a final summary

Okay, here's a list of all the other Guilty Pleasure movies I was going to list.
  1. The Black Shield of Falworth - Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh
  2. Bolero - Bo Derek and Andrea Occhipinti (worth it for the site of his masculine buttocks)
  3. All of Me - Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin
  4. Grease 2 - Adrian Zmed, Michelle Pfieffer, and Maxwell Caufield - some really great tunes
  5. Point Break - Keanu Reeves, Keanu Reeves, and Keanu Reeves (and some other people)
  6. Barbara Cartland's Ghost in Monte Carlo, Duel of Hearts, and Hazard of Hearts
  7. Goldmember - Austin Powers keeps getting better with each film
  8. Elvis: Blue Hawaii, Girl Happy, GI Blues
  9. Queen of the Damned - Stuart Townsend, the 4th Vampire Lestat story
  10. Supernova - Angela Bassett and James Spader - Spader is really buff in this film
  11. Sneakers - Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Akroyd, River Phoenix - a really fun, quirky film

I am sure there are plenty more really bad or mediocre films that I watch way too much, but that's my initial list.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Orlando Moment

Just to start the week off right, have some delicious decadent Orlando.

A man who is built well, but you know doesn't obsess and spend hours at the gym.

A face meant to smile.

A modern Byron?

I was looking for a picture of Lord Byron to do some photo-shopping on, when I suddenly noticed how much Byron and Greg Maddux resemble each other. I can't believe I've never noticed this before. I've been a Maddux fan since my first years with the Cubs (1988). Here's a side by side comparison. What do you think?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Baseball Commentary - the 'duh' factor

Sometimes, baseball commentators really say the most inane things. Yesterday, during the Cardinals-Padres game, is a good example. The Cards were winning 5-1 in the 7th inning, and one commentator said that The GM and players on San Diego's team could feel their moment slipping away.

Uh, when did San Diego have a realistic chance of beating the Cards? So far, the Cards have not blown SD out of the water, but that's not really because of outstanding play on SD's part. So exactly where did this man see San Diego actually letting go of anything?

As a Cubs fan, I can definitely document many instances when the Cubs have lost a game because of their own devising. They beat themselves.

No offense to Padres fans, but really - the Cards are a juggernaut. SD probably got to the playoffs primarily because Barry Bonds didn't play this season and San Francisco collapsed without him. (excuse me as a give a small tee-hee of delight).
Thursday, October 06, 2005

Speaking of Fabio...

I mentioned Fabio in the last post. While trying to find a picture of him to insert, I came across this hilarious summary of Fabio's video A TIME FOR ROMANCE. I have actually seen this video. I gave it to my sister one Christmas as a gag, and we watched it that night. Talk about funny (unintentionally so, I'm sure). Anyway, even if you've not seen the video, this guy's discussion of it is good for many laughs.

Ken Begg's Video Cheese site:

A Time for Romance
Plot: A 33 minute cheapo video ("approximately 40 minutes," my ass) portraying various historical adventures starring Fabio (!!), every woman’s perfect man.

Boy, if you ever see this tape resting in the dollar bin of your local video store, grab it. I don’t think it’ll be making its way to DVD any time soon. Or ever.

We cut from a chintzy computer generated title credit to the man himself. The big haired goofus is attired in a sports jacket, sans shirt. Because, you see, it’s so sexy. He inarticulately thanks us for joining him and then we get going. After a soulful montage, mostly consisting of slow glides over a typewriter, we cut to an attractive woman tossing and turning in her bed. She rises and begins searching through the crumpled sheets of paper surrounding the typewriter. Then she grabs a pad of paper and, digging further, finds a picture of Fabio. In this he’s attired in a sports jacket, sans shirt. Because, you see, it’s so sexy. It certainly spotlights his incredible cleavage, anyway. Maybe, the woman mutters, she should make this fellow the hero of her new romance novel.

Her main problem, other than the fact that she has photos of Fabio in her house, is that she’s unsure of what time period to use. This is a big decision, after all. As can be seen from the covers of these books, they are all exactly the same. Only the names of the characters and the historical settings are different. (Did you ever see that one featuring the big bare-chested guy with long hair? And he’s crushing the loins of a beautiful woman against his own, while her upper body leans back with a facial expression indicating a swoon of ecstasy? Yeah, that one.) "My editor expects something today," she notes helpfully to herself. Normally, I’d laugh at the idea that anyone could write an entire book by pulling an all-nighter. However, we are talking a romance novel here, so all she really needs to do is plug in the appropriate proper nouns. I mean, writing these things must basically amount to filling in a very long Mad Lib, as far as I can tell.

First up, in a burst of fecund originality, she envisions Fabio as a Viking. "I open with him," she thinks – ah, voiceovers, the bad screenwriters' greatest friend – "heading towards a particular castle." Those are the kind of details that mark a great author, by the way. A hack might have had the Viking heading towards a castle in general. Not here, though. No, this is a ‘particular’ castle, and on "the English Coast," to boot. Our Hero, meanwhile, is shot is silhouette, so that our first good look at him will be all the more laughable. Er, I meant dreamy.

"He might decide to go ashore alone," she ponders. What, and leave that whole other guy that was traveling with him back in the boat? This is a doughty warrior indeed, my friends! Odder, though, is his reason for doing this. It’s not for purposes of stealth, say, but because he wishes "to avoid unnecessary bloodshed." Boy, this lady really has vast insight into the whole Viking culture. Who else would have pegged a plot on their little-mentioned squeamishness regarding violence.

Our intrepid, battle scarred hero (well, not ‘battle scarred,’ literally, that’d mess up his pretty visage) comes across a young Englishman. This fellow is waving about his sword and dreaming of martial glory, calling out exaggerated insults to his imaginary foes. Laughing with disdain, Viking Fabio leaps out, cutting off the impudent toad’s head with one mighty stroke of his sword. He then smears his face with his enemy’s blood and mounts the head on a stick as a warning to all. Oh, no, wait, he mercifully teaches the lad a lesson and will then let him go. Yep, he’s a Viking, alright. This goes on at some tedious length, especially for a program lasting just a tad over half an hour. I am now pretty glad that they fell so short of the advertised forty minutes.

Finally, Viking Fabio grows weary of all this (I hear ya, buddy!!) and makes to end it once and for all. Supposedly. Although I can’t help noticing that the ‘death stroke’ lands about two feet away from his opponent. In any case, the lad’s life is supposedly spared when the Obligatory Beauteous Lady runs into frame – where the heck was she supposed to be? – to beg for her young brother’s life. Viking Fabio orders her to kneel before him, giving us a rather cheesy glance at her own impressive cleavage. (Ye Olde Silicone, no doubt.) This sight I found rather strange, given what you would presume to be the video’s target audience.

She prays, thinking she’s about to die. Hearing her, he asks her brother if they are Christians. (English gentry? Gee, I wonder.) Anyway, the twist ending is that he sends the lad off for a priest. That’s right, he steals her away rather than killing her. Moreover, Viking Fabio will see them wed first, in respect to her religious beliefs. (!!!)

"Forget that one," our authoress exclaims as we return to her. (Maybe she’s a better writer than I thought.) Then she laboriously puts her gray matter back to work on the matter. "You know," she mutters, "my editor has a real thing for pirates." Wow. A romance novel about a pirate. There’s a brainstorm. So the stage is set, as "a pirate ship…employed by Queen Elizabeth…is chasing a Spanish Galleon." Astoundingly, this is more or less historically accurate. Well, OK, the privateers alluded to here tended to be British, so the Fabio thing is slightly off. Still, though. Anyway, the average fan of bad movies is undoubtedly envisioning the copious use of stock footage to bring this all to life. In fact, they use an even cheaper technique. Everything is just described verbally. Hell, it makes you wonder why they bothered using film.

Anyway, a storm hits and the pirate ship is damaged (we're told). The Galleon fares even worse, and sinks near an island in the Caribbean (we're told). "The Captain," she continues, "would probably set up camp on the beach." Why, yes, because that way you wouldn’t have to show a ship at all! How convenient. Furthermore (gee, who’d thought), most of the crew has been ordered to stay aboard said unseen vessel. Upping the Hubba-Hubba factor for…uh…someone, presumably, the Fabulous One is here shown topless, shamelessly flashing his giant hooters at the audience.

Fabio, who lacks the scarring that one might associate with life as a pirate captain, is set up in a tent on said beach. Meanwhile, most of the production budget is blown in procuring four or five, uh, well you can’t really call them actors, but…you know, guys, to play some of his subordinates. These fellows are a hoot, attired in hilariously bogus wigs, sporting the white even teeth that are requisite in bad historical epics, and making the obligatory "Arrr!" noises. One, of course, has an eye patch. This guy, as you might anticipate, is the worst ham of the lot. Inevitably, he refers to Fabio as the "The C’pn."

Anyway, one of them spots something off camera, and soon an unconscious woman is being brought before Pirate Captain Fabio. Who, yes, is now wearing a puffy white shirt with the plunging neckline, the traditional garb of those in his line of work. Seeing the woman slung over one fellow’s shoulder, he asks, "What’s that?" Now, I know that pirate captains didn’t require a college degree or anything, but Yeesh. Anyway, and I was waiting for this to be said, but the woman was found "washed up on shore." This, of course, is explained rather than shown, and furthermore the woman’s dress is dry. "What is that stench," Captain Pirate Fabio asks. "Ah, the tides washed her through some animal droppin’s," comes the answer. Huh?

The woman comes awake and is tormented, sorta, by the lusty pirates chaps. Proving rather fastidious for a pirate, Captain Fabio orders her washed -- gee, I didn’t see that coming -- "with plenty of soap." (!!!) Uh oh. That’s sure to cause dissention in the crew, who at this point in the voyage are probably down to half rations of soap as it is. That’s not the only thing, either. Proving as sexually progressive as, say, oh, a Viking, Captain Fabio promises that the woman will remain undefiled by his men. Then Fabio, who gives off a definite vibe of disinterest towards the female gender during all of this (hmmm), tells her that she better start treating him with respect. And if she doesn’t? "[Y]ou will go without dinner until your manners improve." Yep, he’s a pirate, alright. Edward Teach used to do the same thing.

About an hour passes. To indicate this, we next see Pirate Captain Fabio wearing another puffy shirt, this one in patterned pastels and adorned with big rhinestones, er, I mean, diamonds. Because pirates pretty regularly changed their attire, I guess. I mean, when we first saw him, just a bit earlier this same evening, he was shirtless. Then he donned the white shirt. And then he changed into this one. Still, no matter what the shirt, it remains faithfully unbuttoned, the better to showcase Fabio’s Pamela Anderson-sized breasts to advantage. Not my advantage, particularly, but somebody’s.

Pirate Captain Fabio returns to his tent to find the freshly washed woman there, now dressed in a white slip (?). She complains about the inappropriate nature of this attire, and he agrees. Lifting a trunk lying in his tent, he notes "There must be something in here a woman can use." (Hmmm.) Sure enough, he finds one dress, which magically fits her perfectly. (Actually, she hasn’t put it on yet. I’m just assuming.) However, the Puritanically Proper Pirate makes her say "please" before he hands it over. I mean, he actually asks her, "What do you say?" (!!) You can only wonder what he does when one of the crew misuses their salad fork.

Dinner is brought in, nicely arranged on plates. Again, though, Pirate Captain Fabio insists on a "thank you" before the woman will be allowed to eat. She refuses. This is all supposed to portray, I would guess, his masterful breaking of this strong yet haughty woman’s spirit. But Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, they ain’t. Instead, it’s like watching two petulant children playing You’re Not the Boss of Me. (This is especially true if we assume that one of the children can barely speak English.) Anyway, if the goal is to create a palpable sense of sexual tension, well, back to the drawing board. Ditto on the scene’s supposed humor factor.

After dinner the two begin to play chess. (First they rip off Tom Jones, then The Thomas Crown Affair.) To my horror, they use Pachelbel's Canon to accompany this scene, bringing to mind Alex’s experience with Beethoven in A Clockwork Orange. Of course, in his case the problem was that he couldn’t close his eyes. My problem is quite the opposite, as I’m severely tested to keep them open. This all goes on for a while, and in slow motion, to boot. Anyway, it’s well known that few woman can resist the Joys of Chess, and it’s here that she begins to fall for the big lug. The game completed (in more ways than one – get it?), Fabio leans in for a kiss. However, the woman (not yet named, to my knowledge) demands that he say ‘please’ first. How droll. Ye Olde Turnaround. Needless to say, the one kiss ignites their passion and a grand make out session begins. This sight, meanwhile, ignited my grand passion to hurriedly press the fast forward button on my VCR remote.

Cut back to Our Authoress. Smiling over her work, she happily notes that "That is a really good possibility." If she means in terms of creating the first literary ipecac, then she might well be correct. However, she then pauses. "I’d love to write something contemporary," she muses, "with a real twist at the end." I thought she had to have this done by morning? And who is she talking to? Talk about a lazy scripting technique. Anyway, she ponders the current interest in the supernatural. (This actually is true. There’s a whole sub-genre now of vampire romance novels.) We are again horrified by the awareness that yet another vignette approaches. Still, the fact that we learn it represents the Authoress’ "secret fantasy" at least indicates that it’s the last one. And none too soon, might I add.

This tale is shot in sepia tones, and stars the Authoress as its female protagonist. This makes sense, since it’s her ‘secret fantasy.’ Also, it’s one less *ahem* actress they have to hire. Apparently she has a different idea of what ‘contemporary’ means, though, for her dress and his white tuxedo coat mark this more as occurring in the 1940s than the present day. Which is the point, I guess, that it resembles a 1940s cinema romance. A really, really bad one, but still. Entering, she notes that she can’t believe that she’s with him. For this is Count Fabio, you see, "one of the handsomest, wealthiest, most sought after men in the world." (This must be that supernatural angle she mentioned earlier.)

Wisely, they let her do all the yakking, while Count Fabio mostly keeps his inarticulate trap shut. Unwisely, there’s a lot of yakking for her to do. The plaintive revelation that she’s a "plain, ordinary, grade school teacher" alone made me burst out laughing. (By the way, was the phrase "grade school teacher" used back in the ‘40s? I can’t recall ever hearing it in a film from that period.) She tells him that she’ll always cherish their time together, but that tomorrow she must return to her world, where she belongs. Of course, he then tells her that she’s wrong, that he really does love her, etc. This goes on as an abject lesson of how dreadfully long five or six minutes can last. During his speech, triumphant horns sound to mark key clichés. "Just listen to your heart," he tells her. (Cue horn.) "I couldn’t live my life without you." (Cue horn.) This device calls to mind the 1966 Chamber of Horrors, although they were a bit more truthful in calling their musical cues the "Horror Horn."

She continues to blather about how it can never be, etc. Finally, to prove his love, he proposes. Cue tearful slo-mo close-up shots and the obligatory swell of romantic music. (Usually I’d use the term ‘lush’ to describe the romantic music, but that’d be a bit much here.) Anyway, the Authoress rouses from her daydream (which is more than I can say), a smile on her face (ditto). Looking up, she notices an almost comically massive red rose sitting nearby. Turning around, she finds Fabio, still duded up in his Count outfit. Apparently this is like that scene in An American Werewolf in London where David Naughton seemingly wakes from one nightmare only to find himself in another.

Count Fabio undoes his ponytail, letting his luxurious mane fall freely. Our Heroine has problems dealing with her literal dream lover appearing in her living room. (Considering that he’s Fabio, I’d imagine that much of her problem stems from embarrassment. This is probably the kind of thing that destroyed the Krell.) She tries to wake herself back up, but to no account. Count Fabio, also confused, puts forward the theory that the ‘Dreammaker’ has decided to make her dreams come true. This is all played, I think, for comedy, but that’s a theory at best. Oh, and in case you missed it, this is the contemporary supernatural storyline she alluded to before. The woman whose dream phantom lover comes to life. Again, I’m going back to that Krell thing.
Anyway, she wakes up again. Talk about a glutton for punishment. Now, if that was the supernatural element, the whole ‘Dreammaker’ thing, then what about the also mentioned twist ending? Well, the exhausted woman decides to go back to bed. Where we find that her lover/husband/whatever is…get ready for it…Fabio. Wow. She was fantasizing about her own man. Gee whizzo. Yeah, that’s a corker of an ending, all right.

  • Viking Fabio, in fog.
  • Viking Fabio, in dramatic silhouette.
  • Viking Fabio, dramatically jumping from a log two feet to the ground.
  • Viking Fabio, blessed by Odin with vast quantities of shampoo and conditioner for his lengthy tresses.
  • Dammit, if Fabio’s going to speak I need subtitles! Subtitles!
  • Man, they sure made mighty swords of tin back in those days.
  • Wow, Viking Fabio can Offscreen-Teleport!
  • I don’t know, I’d have thought that the son of an English Lord would have been better trained in swordplay by the time he hit twenty.
  • Pirate Captain Fabio, blessed by, uhm, Neptune with vast quantities of shampoo and conditioner for his lengthy tresses.
  • At one point Eye Patch Guy lifts his patch to Pirate Captain Fabio. I think this might have been meant as a gag showing that he still in fact has his eye. This is just a guess, though, because the lighting and camera placement are so poor that you can’t see his face!
  • Man, you can really cook an elegant chicken over a campfire.

    -by Ken Begg

Scent Stories - Are You Kidding Me?

I saw a commercial last night for new Febreeze Scent Stories. This isn't exactly new - I think another air freshener company came out with something similar. But, how ridiculous is this?! You insert a scent disk into this machine. Each disk has a theme: exploring a mountain trail, walking barefoot on the beach, strolling through the garden, laying in a hammock, etc. And the different scents on the disk supposedly recreate the experience. For example, the blurb for the beach is "Crisp and cool scents bring the pleasures of the waterfront to your home." Well, if you've ever been to the beach, you know that there are many scents along the waterfront, and not all of them are exactly pleasing. And exactly how do you recreate that hint of salt in the air when you're at the seashore?

These aren't stories. What beach? Whose garden? And maybe my hammock is inside! It's just another ridiculous marketing ploy, and I just can't imagine buying something as silly sounding as a "scent story disk." However, if they want me to write a scent story, I'd be happy to. Think of the drama, the romance:

Raoul: My dear, dinner was magnificent. Your pot roast makes me feel so virile.

Marly: (laughing girlishly in delight) Oh, you Latin lothario. I am helplessly enthralled by your mesmerizing charm and the magnetic effect of your gold medallion nestled in your thick thatch of chest hair. I am all a-flutter.

Raoul: Perhaps my love flower, you need to recline on this couch.

Marly: Oh, yes! And I shall plug in a Febreeze Scent Story. Would you like A Night at the Roller Disco or A Walk in New Jersey's Industrial District?

Raoul: Definitely the disco. And may I offer you some I Can't Believe it's Not Butter? The incredibly deceptive taste of butter will waft you away to a Fabio-filled fantasy.

Marly: Raoul, do you know what you're saying?

Raoul: Si, cara. Let me be your Fabio!

They embrace as the heady scent of mirrorball, dippity do, and floor wax float in the air, with a sensual undertone of butter.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Postseason Spasms

I love baseball. I am a die-hard Cubs fan. I know, some of you are wondering how the two are connected. I live daily with the abuse that comes from loving the Cubs. Anyway, even though my Cubbies are rarely part of postseason play, I still enjoy the game. However, now I am in spasms because PRISON BREAK will not be on again until AFTER THE CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!! I can't take it. Waiting for 3 weeks to see Michael and company break out of prison. It was bad enough having to wait for January to see the conclusion to Battlestar Galactica's finale, but at least I had my new show.

I'm also having serious scheduling issues on Thursday night. It use to be an easy night: CSI at 8 and Without a Trace at 9. Now, Alias is on opposite Smallville at 7, and CSI is up against the new Night Stalker at 8. What about Tuesday and Saturday when nothing's on? Please, give me something to watch then! Unfortunately, the few shows that I consider MUST SEE TV all seem to be scheduled opposite each other on Thursday and Friday nights.

Of course, maybe I'll get some writing done. I've fallen into the bad habit of switching on the TV rather than writing - this has been going on for several years. Of course, I have been writing: graduate papers, reports, handouts, lesson plans. It seems that all I do is write, but not my fiction. But now that grad school is over, I can perhaps retrain myself and start working on one of those books gathering cyber dust under my digital bed.

So Go Cubs! There's always next year, and perhaps the Yankees will lose so horrendously that Coach T will leave and consider the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field - home of traditional baseball and the best fans in the world.
Monday, October 03, 2005

A Lyrical Moment - Omar Khayyam

(imagine a tree overhead)
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough
A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh! Wilderness were Paradise enow.
-from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam-