cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “humor”

Reading Round Up: April 2018


Looking over last year’s April Round Up, my stats were a measly 29% for my reading goal of 101 books for the year. I was also yipping about being so exhausted from taking on an extra AP class to teach.

Maybe I’m toughening up because this year I’m up to 35%, then again I am still exhausted from preparing students for double exams: AP Language and AP Literature. I yipped last post, so I shall refrain.

Reading in April happened primarily during Spring Break. The rest of the month consisted of concentrated teaching efforts. Too tired to read is not my happy place. Binge watching Dr Who kept me from eating chocolate during my stress crisis since I didn’t renew my gym membership this year. At least my stress relieving habits are improving. Wait–do I detect censure for watching four Who episodes at a sitting? Really–I was attempting to grade. Some points for trying to multi-tasking?

April reading highlights:

joyce

image: Barnes and Nobles

I made the mistake of taking this along as my Spring Break travel book. Not actually a cozy or enthralling read.

One of those books that is avoided for ever so long, ever knowing that it is a MUST read, especially for English Lit teachers. It’s almost embarrassing how long it took for me to finally read Joyce’s novel of groundbreaking importance. Admittedly, it was as tough as I thought it would be, but for different reasons than I originally anticipated.

I applaud the ingenuity and daring–the dialogue sequences, the emulation of thought constructs, the stream of consciousness; yet, Stephen is not a character of admiration making it difficult to invest of even care about his story.

gilead

image: Barnes and Noble

Pulitzer Prizers are either outstanding or ponderous in my reading experience. Robinson’s Gilead falls somewhere in the mid zone. The writing is outstanding,the plot ponderously slow, if a book comprised of a continuous future epistolary journal is considered a plot.

There is much to appreciate in the depth of the theology Robinson presents, and there is a beauty in the understanding that the speaker reaches into his feelings for his main antagonist.

Deservedly a Pulitzer—just slow in the pace. Then again, not all books should be hurried through. This one in particular. However, it is doubtful I will continue with the other Gilead books.

Dr Who: Who-olgy by Cavan Scott, Mark Wright

Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr Who, this reference guide is designed for both beginners or experts; the book covers it all for Wholigans. Lots of trivia and background. Informative and entertaining–most def. Some info could be expanded, such as how psychic paper actually works, and why it doesn’t work on everyone, such as Shakespeare. I learned that while I enjoy the reboot series to a point–liking only two of the four, going on five doctors–I doubt I will be attending Comic Con to celebrate my fan status. I do ponder cosplay and vacillate between a Cyberman and Madame Pompadour.

Looking forward to May as I have arranged an extended weekend and plan to read, read, read, along with nap, nap, nap. I shall also partake in swallow watching since our condo balcony is in their nesting flight path. I just hope I don’t get conked by a stray golf ball. Two years in a row it’s been near misses. Absolutely a startling way to awaken from a dozy deck chair dream–a swish, tonk, crash. Not good. Not good. Some people should correct their slice before venturing out on the greens.

Happy Maying–

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April Rue


April has been described as the cruelest month, as one full of showers, and it is a month full of celebrations from April Fool’s Day to pretzels.

Most notably, at least for me, is how April is a month celebrating poetry in that it’s National Poetry Month. Usually I post a poem every day. Didn’t happen this year.

I also do a Shakespeare shout out on my blog. Sorry, Bill–happy belated 454. He did get a video acknowledgement in the school’s morning announcements.

I managed to celebrate Poem in a Pocket Day on April 26 by handing out poems to my students. Always a big hit. I just didn’t write about it.

I didn’t even read much this month. *sigh*

So what did I do this month?

A small pause and a reflection…

I taught in fits and starts. Mainly having fits about the difficulty of starting a unit, considering after we returned from spring break we had a week to prepare students for a week of state testing.

No, I am not going there.

I became so frustrated with not being able to teach without interruptions to the class schedule that I would go home and binge watch Doctor Who. I could have run to my usual standby of Haagen-Daz or chocolate, but I am trying to find non-caloric comfort food these days. The Doctor works.

Somewhat sad and pathetic I know.

But–

May is nipping around the calendar and that means AP winding down and diving into Julius Caesar.

I’m ready to spring into a new month.

The Doctor Is In…Kind Of



Image: http://www.comicbook.com

Having discovered Dr Who rather just lately, I’m finding myself binge watching to get caught up. It’s difficult to get up to a television series that had been around since the sixties. It’s cutting into my book reading, that’s for sure. 

What I’m not going to do is a great big discussion on “Whoism,” there is much dedication to Doctor Who, and I am not qualified (actually I’m a bit terrified of offending the fan base).

What I am concerned with is my unmitigated preference for the former doctors. I’m not in the least interested in the new doctor–at all. 

Why?

He has transgenerated into a woman doctor. The doctor now ponging about the universe is a she instead of a he, and that really bothers me. The issue is not with the new doctor, Jodie Whitaker–don’t know of her at all. I’m more bothered that I’m bothered.

Let’s make something very clear. I applaud capable heroes. Big fan of Captain America. Mostly I like James Bond. Angie’s Lara Croft set a standard. JLaw’s Katniss is so empowering and endearing. And I absolutely cheer the new Wonder Woman. 

Notice there really isn’t a pattern. Men and women heroes dashing about saving people, because that’s what they do.

And that’s what I like about The Doctor. It’s been set up since the show started that this peculiar (some Doctors being more peculiar than others) alien preferring human form, is running away from his home planet responsibilities getting in predicaments, getting out of them, saving the universe, saving people. Because that’s what he does. It worked in the prior series. It works very well in the reboot. David Tennant and Peter Capaldi bring a new dimension to Doctoring–smart scripts and dazzling production are mentioned here.

The Doctor is a pattern: idiosyncratic intelligent alien with human characteristics–a guy ranging in age anywhere from 30ish to 60ish. A guy. Oh yeah, he has a sidekick known as a “companion.” These have been mostly women, a couple of times a guy has helped drive the Tardis. 

It’s not a gender thing. Really it’s not. I think it’s a pattern thing. I’m used to a Doctor pattern and they changed it up. However, I relished how the Master became a Mistress. Missy brought some dazzle to the frenemy role. Just leave the Doctor as is, thank you.

Think about it. Would it be okay, acceptable, if suddenly James became Jane? “Bond. Jane Bond.” I wouldn’t care for that at all. I am okay with the all female Oceans 11. Nice switch out. Not okay with the change up that’s happened with The Doctor.  So I am running through some self-diagnosis about my Doctor preference..

Am I gender-biased? A traditionalist? Close-minded? Maybe I just know what I like. Okay, I can handle being picky. It’s quirky that I abhor cucumbers yet adore pickles–baby dills, thank you. So, I rally towards male Doctor Whos and instead utter “really?” towards the female Doctor Whos. I didn’t care for Jenna Coleman’s stint as Clara being a Doctor for the nano second she had the part and I think Clara quite capable. I imagine she could parallel the Tardis when needed. Nope. The Doctor Who I need saving my planet from Daleks and company is an idiosyncratic guy, particularly with a Scottish accent.

Am I alone in my Doctor dilemma? Anyone else in a quandary?

Techno Faux Pax


A variation of an old chestnut:

Two girls walk into a classroom wearing the same yellow sweatshirt. They stop and stare at each other. They size each other up. The teacher tries to cut the tension with the quip: “Looks like you got the email.”

You know–that joke.

The problem is that teens don’t email each other. At least not anymore. The class bursts out in derisive laughter. “Yeah, right. Because that’s what we do. We email each other.” Loud smirking ensues.

Trying to save a bit of my self-esteem I respond brightly: “Maybe that’s why I don’t hear that often from my own kids –I email them.” The moment is somewhat saved and we go back to English.

I do text. I don’t Tweet. I do FaceTime. I prefer visits. I write letters. Hmm–nothing comes close to a letter. A humorous card maybe.

Yet, if I were to say the right techno term I still would be on the outside looking in. Why? My expiration date is beginning to show. I’m at retirement age and students know it. I don’t feel like retiring yet, but because I could, that makes me old. Out with the old, in with the new.

If I happen to drop in a casual word or phrase students seem surprised. Do I know what that means? If I mention a movie, song, a whatever that is in their world I think it concerns them. It’s as if I have bumped their youth bubble. Granted, I don’t know most of their music, trends, or media choices. On the other hand, they don’t know that Edgar Allan Poe influenced Stephen King, who I remember reading when he first came out and none of his books were movies yet. Or how about everyone from Monty Python to Jimmy Fallon quotes some line from Hamlet and now my students know why. Or the reason there are strong female protagonists like Katniss is because we had Jane Eyre first. And they don’t know about Byronic Heroes–yet, even though they do know about Loki, Ironman, and Bat Man.

I may get my techno terminology tangled, but they don’t know all about the who, how, and why of Shakespeare’s influence of just about everything. I have job security for a bit longer.

So is blogging for old people? Oh who cares–I need more than 280 characters for my say.

Val Day Reset Blick


Between the rain and the uptick in warmer temperatures the landscape had shed its blanket of winter white. I was thrilled.

Snow is fine as long as it stays in the mountains. Let the skiers rejoice. Unfortunately, snow is pervasive and usually hangs around for four months, barely leaving until the daffodils give hint of their arrival in April.

Valentine’s day provided a mixed blick. A reset button of eight inches of snow created a snow day from school (yay!), but winter is back (blick!).

On the positive side I was able to rest and read and grade and beat back yet another round of getting sick. And when life hands you snowyou make a snowman.

Hope your Valentine’s day was delightful, and I hope your winter is going well.

Drug Free Teaching


Today was the first day back to school. I went home just before lunch after confessing to the principal I couldn’t handle it any longer. The look on my  face made him step back and say: “Go home.” Good thing it was only staff day and not class day. 

It’s been a month since I ditched my  mountain bike on the bike path embankment to avoid crashing into anothet cyclist. It’s been a long month of adjusting to using my left hand instead of my right, learning to love ice packs, and enduring physical therapy. Tolerating pain meds is it’s own post.

Being a lightweight (wave a cork at me and I’m tipsy), I take half doses of my pills in order to maintain some state of functionality. This means I’m always at about a three on the pain scale–I think ten is an elephant standing on your head (like when I first figured my wrist must be broken after I crashed).

Apparently, I cannot teach or drive, if I take my pain meds. Driving a car or teaching teens under the influence is frowned  upon .  Something about impaired judgement. So, to prepare going back to driving and teaching I have been cutting back on my dosage. Way back. How about no meds for a day? Yeah–that didn’t work so well. 

Thankfully, my understanding principal let me go home and nap so I could return for open house. Yes, it was a long day first day back.

At this moment I have ice on my wrist and I’m hoping to go back to sleep and go for another day of  staff meetings and prepping my classroom. During staff introductions I held up my black air-cast wrist and joked I had on my Wonder Woman titanium bracelet. The joke was on me when I said, “And it’s my first day without drugs.” And the quip? “In your teaching career?”

Yeah. 

I went home and napped for three hours. Ice is nice. 

  

My Left Hand


Dear Left Hand:
Due to unforeseen circumstances, you have undoubtedly noticed the extra workload and overtime you've been having to cope with these last few days.

Management appreciates your willing attitude and unexpected diversity, if not ingenuity, in approaching situations your aptitude and abilities have previously not necessarily
prepared you to encounter.

Recently it was noted you coped well in the following situations:

  • signing release forms ("Better than the doctor's," noted the nurse.)
  • opening a child-lock prescription bottle (known to be difficult with two functioning hands)
  • making up a bed (we do acknowledge the assistance of pulling corners)
  • putting away dishwasher contents (commendable)

And this last one we found extraordinary:
Teaching a child how to darn her sock in order to uphold a commitment made prior to the stated unfortunate circumstance.

While the everyday and mundane tasks of personal hygiene maintenance and meal sustenance were expected, management appreciates the fortitude and perseverance shown in recent days.

At present it is not known when immediate relief from present duties will be expected nor the return of right hand's full capacity. Therefore, we encourage you to persevere and carry on, continuing appreciated efforts until further notice.
Sincerely,
Management

Philosophical Chickens


Okay, Kauai is still much on my mind. Did I mention how this tropical paradise is practically overrun with feral chickens? This was not mentioned in the guide books.

While I didn’t see this many chickens at one time, they are truly everywhere: four star resorts, the airport, restaurants, shopping centers. And people don’t pay them too much attention. The locals tolerate them. The tourists take photos of them. I guess in the same way that our locals tolerate the moose that often wander down the street. Then again moose don’t jump up on the table to snatch unattended fries. No, instead they decimate tulips. And even the locals take photos of the moose.

I usually discuss cows. Today the topic is chickens due to my spring cleaning in July.

In summer I attempt to tidy up my office in my free and unfettered time now that school is out. I came across this handout that is related to allusions. I had intended to introduce this witty combination of chickens and allusions to one of my AP Literature classes. Somehow it didn’t happen. It’s too good to toss so I share it with you. It means so much more to me now that I have encountered feral chickens. However, I doubt they would be into Nietzsche. Douglas Adams, maybe. What is your favorite reference? I grin every time I read Groucho’s comment. This is found all over the place on the Internet in different version, so I am not sure who to credit. Enjoy!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Hamlet: Because ’tis better to suffer in the mind the slings and arrows of outrageous road maintenance than to take arms against a sea of oncoming vehicles.

Timothy Leary: Because that’s the only kind of trip the Establishment would let it take.

Douglas Adams: 42

Nietzsche: Because if you gaze too long across the Road, the Road gazes across you.

Dorothy Parker: Travel, trouble, music, art / a kiss, a frock, a rhyme / The chicken never said they fed its heart / But still they pass its time.

T.S. Eliot: It’s not that they cross, but that they cross like chickens.

Darth Vader: Because it could not resist the power of the Dark Side.

Darwin: It was the logical step after coming down from the trees.

Emily Dickinson: Because it could not stop for death.

Robert Frost: To cross the road less traveled by.

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Martin Luther King: It had a dream.

Stan Laurel: I’m sorry, Ollie. It escaped when I opened the run.

Groucho Marx: Chicken? What’s all this talk about chicken? Why, I had an uncle who thought he was a chicken. My aunt almost divorced him, but we needed the eggs.

The Art of Nap


I believe in naps. One of my dream projects is to create a coffee table photo fact luxury edition of the history, cultural significance, and medical conclusion of The Nap.

Dagwood would be the centerfold feature. Clothed, of course. Nude napping is not discussed on this family friendly site.

I have long held the belief that napping is a necessity and should not be deemed as a guilty pleasure. 


However, naps get a bad rap. Just ask any toddler. The stigma starts at four when naps are viewed with derision instead of anticipation. Fast forward to high school and napping is once again embraced. I could devote an entire post to napping styles among my students.

Seriously, napping is important. It’s so important that The New York Times ran an article about the need for the twenty minute sleep.

Damien Léger, a French doctor who runs the sleep-research center, believes the following:

  • 20 minutes is rejuvenating, anything longer causes grogginess
  • every worker should be given a nap period in the afternoon–it should replace the coffee break
  • napping is healthy, both physically and mentally 
  • the best naps should be in a safe spot, should be noise and light free–they don’t have to be lying down, but a pillow is recommended 
  • there is no shame in admitting to needing a nap 

   In Europe, actually most non-USA countries, recognize the need to nap. Then again we Americans get a lot done while we are awake. Was it Thomas Jefferson who coined the phrase, “You won’t catch me napping.” I would have said Benjamin Franklin, but he strikes me as a napper. After all, he did spend a long time among the French.

So I say we get a petition going and get corporate to install quiet rooms for workers. Take out the coffee lounge and just lounge. 

“Get Down With Napping.” Hmm, I’ll keep working on a rallying motto.

Fore Warned in My Musings…


Or this could be named: “Cricket Takes a Holiday”

(this is actually my second attempt at posting since the resort wifi is a bit tricky)

I will admit May is tough on teachers. Sure we get our free lunches, cards, and goody sacks on Teacher Appreciation day, but the rest of the year could use some boost and cheer as well. We are all a bit weary and the finish line is closer, yet not quite close enough.

If you are traisping over from my last post you understand I May *grin* be suffering from burnout. This is why I am on holiday. I took two of my hoarded personal holidays (we get three during the school year) and signed myself out for a four day weekend. Never mind it takes about three days to set up two days worth of lesson plans and I hope a sub can be found. I needed to get awaaaay. Yes, that is the sound of a teacher jubilating a happy sound as she pulls out from the parking lot Friday afternoon. And yes, there is a knapsack of ungraded papers I must deal with before I return to work on Wednesday.

The first two days of my retreat–wait, I need to digress…

Why call it a retreat, indicating I am running away from something when I am actually running toward what I embrace willingly without shame? There is honor is working in the trenches classroom. And maybe I am suffering from PTFSD (positively tired from student disconduct). 

Back…

The first two days were spent soaking up time with the hubs, who forbade any talk about school (good man), and soaking up the view, reading, sunning, and watching the swallows.

Our condo faces the fairway (have I got a story about nearly getting hit by a golfball–and I did have a forewarning, but not the yelled out kind) and is the flight path of the resident swallows. In fact, we share the roofline and they often sit near the rail, twittering and preening like tuxeodoed Woolworth parakeets. I love ’em. I left the robins home in the backyard. This is swallow country.

 

The third day finds me all by my lonesome. The hubs has returned home and I am told to “WRITE.” I have not been writing at home, being too (am)bushed from grading essays and creating lesson plans. This long weekend is meant to rejuvenate me enough to finish out the year and to get Something accomplished.

I have pulled up my Hamlet Choose Your Own Adventure manuscript. Not too much dust resting on it. I diligently worked on it all morning. I now have hit the wall. When that clock reads “1 PM” I have hit my creative capacity. I am not much good after sitting down four or five hours. I’m hungering for a walk. Either that or some chocolate. I better put on my shoes.

*update: I did both by stopping at the front desk to buy M&Ms to eat while I walked. Multitasking at its best.

 

 

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