Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wicked Game

I had completely forgotten that the song below ever existed.  Until this morning, when I was suddenly accosted by its stirring lyrics and haunting melody as I got ready for work.  I just now watched the music video for the first time, and damn is it erotic.  Especially considering it was produced in 1989.  Now I'm trying to decide whether it's erotic in a sensual way, or in a raunchy way (somewhat reminiscent of the "Art or Pornography?" entry I posted last year).  I skimmed over a few articles about this particular video, and was surprised by the majority-perspective.  Most people view it as not only the all-time sexiest video of the '80s, but they see it as a beautiful piece of art; a masterpiece, even.  I've watched it three times now, and I'm still not convinced.  On the one hand, the way the music flows with the sensual movements of her body does seem almost artistic.  On the other hand, some of the model's movements (stroking of her breasts, tossing of her undergarments, etc.) seem almost too cliche, turning what might have been an impassioned, seductive dance into a cheap strip-tease on the beach.  One YouTube commenter put it best:
I'm pretty sure this is how it [the video] happened:
Record Exec: "K Chris we need to make a video for Wicked Game, what do you want to do?"
Chris: "Get me the hottest model, get her topless, and let me fondle her on the beach for 4 minutes."
Record Exec: "Alright, but isn't that too racy?"
Chris:  "Just make it black and white and don't show any nipple, this way we can pass it off as art."
Record Exec:  "Alright, lets do it!!"
Here is the video, so I'll let you judge for yourself.  I will say that, regardless of whether the verdict for this video is "art" or "glorified lap dance," the song itself makes me feel twinges of...something...inside.  And isn't that what art is supposed to do?  But still...hmmmm....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Have a Heart to Get a Heart

I know this picture looks very Valentine's Dayish, so I probably should explain.  At my school, I decided to lead my club in a fundraiser for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.  I wanted to do something simple, such as the red-bucket-type-thing that the Salvation Army does every Christmas season.  But, since this is middle school, I also wanted to give a little tiny incentive for students to donate.  Clint helped me to brainstorm ideas, and here is what I ultimately decided to do:

For every quarter students donate, my club is giving them one of these mini heart charms (I purchased these from Oriental Trading Company for incredibly cheap).  The charms link together to form a chain, and students can display these with pride on their backpacks, or wear them as jewelry.  Well, that was the idea, anyway.  I have students who have used them as hippie headbands, belts, and even decorations for their sunglasses.  But the idea is, the more you donate, the longer your chain will be.  On Wednesday of next week, the seventh grader and eighth grader with the longest chain gets a thank you gift, which is a tiny glass angel holding a heart (we're calling it an "Angel of Mercy" figurine).  To collect donations, my club created a giant box with the American flag on one side, and the Japanese flag on the other.  The box, of course, has a nice fat slit on top.  We just kicked off our fundraiser today during lunch, and it's off to a great start!  The kids love plunking their quarters and dollars into the box, and they are already going wild for the charms, even though they are just these tiny cheap plastic things.  And it's all awesome because all of this money will be given to the American Red Cross. 

The rest of my day was a complete whirlwind, but my poor empty stomach is growling so loud that I can barely concentrate on blogging.  I'm going to indulge in a gourmet peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich now and then zone out on some mindless sitcom.

P.S.  I almost forgot to mention, my students wanted to come up with some kind of logo for our fundraiser, and our first idea was "Come and get your heart on."  But read that out loud once or twice to yourself, and you'll understand pretty fast why that one doesn't quite work out (oops).  We settled for "Have a Heart to Get a Heart" instead.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Today was an awesome first day back to work, but coming off of spring break left me with only a few hours of sleep last night, so I'm feeling a little ragged right about now.  In lieu of writing, I'm going to post a video of a group I recently discovered, Apocalyptica. 

I love this group.  I guess they've been around for awhile, but I had never heard of them.  Matt and Alana mentioned them during our last small group, and now I'm hooked.  The cello was already one of my favorite (if not my favorite) instruments, but seeing these four put so much energy and emotion into something most people associate with classical music alone is something that really stirs me.  Plus I never imagined that Metallica's timeless pieces could be re-imagined in such a way.  It's rather beautiful.  I'm sure I'll be hunting down more of their pieces in the next few weeks and compiling all of my favorites makes for perfect painting music and sure beats Tchaikovsky and Beethoven (I had to google "Tchaikovsky" because I initially butchered the spelling.  I feel so sorry for little Tchai when he was a kindergartner trying to learn how to spell his name).   

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Goodbye to Spring Break

I haven't written in a week, which for me feels like eons.  I've been on spring break, and for some reason I have no desire to blog during breaks.  But my sabbatical from middle school mayhem is now officially over and I'm back to work tomorrow.   Even now I feel no inclination to talk--or write--about anything, but I feel like I'm letting my blog lurkers down when I go too long without posting.  So this is for you, blog lurkers.

Spring break was good, but would have been better if it wasn't gray, windy, and cold the entire time.  I celebrated the last day of my break today by finishing a novel from my book list, Replay, and working on a painting of a Japanese maple tree.  I'll try to write a more detailed entry later about break when I'm in more of a writing mood.   

At this moment Clint is trying to decide what job he wants to "bump" onto for this week (he's been struggling with this for hours, because whatever he chooses, he's stuck with for a month), and he just cried out in frustration, "Help me to make this decision, woman!  That way I can blame you if it sucks."  Hmmmm.  As appealing as that sounds, I think I'll let him work this one out on his own.

Okay, that's all I have the motivation to say for now.  Sorry to leave you hanging for a week and then give you so little to chew on.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Field Trip to the Magical Kingdom

Yesterday Alana and I went to Disneyland!  Technically we were there as chaperones for my club's field-trip, but it felt very unchaperonish.  Of course there was the initial loading of the bus and checking-in all of the students, but once we arrived to the park, we set the kids free and enjoyed a day to ourselves.  It was such a fun day!  First, we went on Indiana Jones, which I hadn't ridden in years.  Next, we went on Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by the Haunted Mansion.  I think.  I might be getting the order of some of these wrong.  We also visited Tom Sawyer's Island and explored some of the bridges and caves, but I can't remember if that was before or after lunch. 

At 11:something, we decided to sit down for lunch.  We went to this Mexican restaurant that had a quaint outdoor patio-area, and I ordered Mahi Mahi tacos.  It was delicious.  We sat down and talked for...a really long time.  Hours, I think.  It was probably one of the deepest discussion I've had with a friend in years.  The table next to us appreciated it too, I'm sure, since I talk way too loud.  At 1:00, students began calling my cellphone to check in.  They were required to check in between 1:00 and 2:00, and every single student was checked in by 1:12.  I love this group of kids...they are amazingly responsible for twelve- and thirteen-year-olds.

After lunch, Alana and I went on Space Mountain, the Matterhorn, Small World, and Thunder Mountain.  Again, I can't remember the order, but I do remember that Thunder Mountain was my favorite.  We rode that one at night, and the dark added to the exhilaration of the ride.  Plus the colors inside the mountain are so pretty...they remind me of the Aurora Borealis (even though I've never actually seen them before).

At dinnertime, we ordered BBQ pork sandwiches from a large deli, which we took to-go so we could find a place to squeeze in for the Fantasmic show.  Before the show began, the park lit off a bunch of fireworks.  The fireworks were beautiful, but I admit I wasn't paying much attention to them.  Alana and I were too busy talking about the crazy things that happened to her when she visited Paris ten years ago (you could make a movie out of some of her stories).  But once Fantasmic began, it had my full attention.  That show is awesome.  I'm pretty sure I was holding my breath during the part where the dragon rises up and turns the whole lake on fire.  It is so dramatic.

Once the show ended, we headed to the front of the park to meet the kids.  All students were supposed to meet by 9:45; I was there by 9:43, and all of them were already there, claiming that I was "late."  I forget that with this group, five minutes early is like being ten minutes late.  They are very punctual.  On the way back to the buses, the students all chattered happily to me about the fun day they had, each of them vying to tell me their funny stories and show me their souvenirs.  It was really cute.

The only hitch in an otherwise perfect field-trip was that, once back on campus, our last student was over a half-hour late in getting picked up.  A half hour generally isn't a big deal, but by this time it was 12:30 (midnight), and Alana and I were stuck outside in the freezing parking lot, waiting with him.  It turned out that the neighbor who was picking him up went to the wrong school.  Once I got home, I thought I might just collapse, but instead Clint and I chatted for an hour and I ate some popcorn.  I know I must have been exhausted though, because when we finally did go to bed last night, Clint wrapped himself around me like I was his body pillow, and when I woke up this morning, we were still in the same exact position.   

Today I feel happy and relieved for having pulled off a successful field trip, but physically I'm in bad shape.  My right eye is infected, and I have had uncontrollable fits of coughing for the last 15 days.  This cough began the morning after our skiing trip, and hasn't gone away since.  Thankfully it's just a cough; the rest of me feels totally fine.  But I have never had a cough like this before.  One minute I'll be doing my thing; the next minute I have these awful coughs wracking through my whole body.  The fits last for a minute or two and leave me gagging and gasping for air.  They get particularly bad in the middle of the night.  Clint looked up my symptoms online and thinks I have Whooping Cough.  He wants me to go to Urgent Care tomorrow, but I am really not a hospitaly person.  We'll see.

Completely off-topic, but it is insanely windy.  The wind has been beating up our house all day, to the point where I thought we were having an earthquake earlier.  But it made for a perfect day to cuddle indoors, watch movies, drink hot chocolate, and do a little painting.         

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Proud Moment

Tonight we went to Trin's award assembly, where she received Honor Roll and Young Author's.  After the honor roll awards were given, the principal explained to the audience that all of the fifth grade teachers got together to vote for one student to represent the entire fifth grade, a class of 130-some students.  Trinity was chosen!  The principal had interviewed Trin earlier during the school day in preparation, so she pulled Trin up in front of the entire audience and told everyone all about Trinity wanted to be an entomologist, what her favorite subjects are, etc.  It was awesome.  Trin was nervously swaying back and forth the whole time and beaming from ear-to-ear.  Meanwhile, I couldn't stop wiping my eyes.  That girl has an inner-drive that I can't even comprehend.  I am so proud of her.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Autumn Trees and Angels

Today was a nice, relaxing Saturday!  We went to the movies to see Beastly.  It was a pleasant and romantic little movie, although it didn't really offer anything fresh or innovative to the "Beauty and the Beast" stories of the past, plus some of the characterization was a little generic.  After the movie, we went out for Chinese food.  Between the cream-cheese wantons and all of that buttery popcorn I ate, I'm pretty much feeling like a plump chicken now (I'm not sure why "chicken" came'd think I would've gone with "cow" or something instead).

Once home, Clint and I pulled out our paints and spent the rest of the day painting.  He continued to work on the autumn tree project that he is making for his mom, and I worked on my desolate angel.  His painting still has several more sittings to go before it is finished, but once it is, I will definitely post a pic (or a link to a pic).  My angel is finished, although now I'm contemplating going back in and painting her other hand resting on her knee, since right now that hand/arm isn't visible.  Here she is:

I just realized I never posted my completed "Child's Play Tiger" on this blog.  Oh well, that one isn't one of my favorites anyway.  My next upcoming projects include a sort of fantasy-themed white tiger (just for the fun of it), a waterfall for Madi, a green and lavender fairy for my baby niece, and something for my sis, although I still have yet to figure out what I want to paint for her.  My mom now wants a small painting too.  It sounds like a lot, but since oil paint takes so long to dry, it's almost mandatory to have several projects going at once.  Thank goodness we have a large laundry room, since it has pretty much converged into a very odd-looking art studio.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dancing, Floating Rings, and Other Random Stuff

I went to turn off my computer for the night, but somehow wound up logging into blogger instead.  The kids and I just finished taking turns reading poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.  I wanted to read one of my childhood favorites, "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out," but it's a pretty long one, and for some reason my voice presently sounds like a bull frog wheezing its way through an asthma attack.  So instead I read "Smart," which has got to be among my top five favorites.  I just love the last line of the poem, "....And [my dad] closed his eyes and shook his head--Too proud of me to speak!"  It just makes me giggle every time.

Today was a pleasant day at work.  The weather has been so gorgeous that I decided to have students work outside the last three days.  It sort of lifts my spirits spending a day out in the sunshine, rather than stuck in a classroom all day.  The students really love the change of atmosphere, too.  Tonight I went to La Casita with Matt and Alana.  Clint is still on swing shift for Wednesdays, so unfortunately he couldn't come with us.  After dinner, Matt and Alana came to my house for a few hours, and Alana and I played "Just Dance 2" on Wii.  It was fun and quite a workout!  I think we did eight or nine songs.  I was actually really relieved that they decided to come over.  I've been in a sort of unsettled mood for the last few days, and I really needed the distraction.  Plus I actually start to get an itch to see those two after awhile.

This video bears no resemblance to anything in my life right now, I just think it's a pretty song.  Plus I like it that he's looking at paintings.  Although personally, when I sing in the shower, I'm usually much happier.

Aren't music videos stange?  Sometimes I wonder what the heck the producers were thinking when they created that particular imagery to go with those particular lyrics.  A great example is the song "Just a Dream" by Nelly.  I love the song, but did they really have to include a giant floating ring in the video?  I get it that they were going for the symbolism, but symbols should be subtle--something you have to search for.  Not a Mount Everest-sized monstrosity right in your face.  It's almost an insult to the viewer, like you might not "get it" if they don't announce it with blaring trumpets.  Oh, and what's up with the floating car?  I guess it's only "just a dream," so I shouldn't be questioning it.  I had a dream the other night that I was painting a portrait of a woman using crunchy peanut butter, so I'm really one to talk.

Oh hell, now I have to include Nelly's video too, just because I spent so much time talking about it.  I really do think it's a sweet song.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pretty Cupcake Syndrome

I deleted my last post because it felt too braggy.  I really have issues putting stuff out there like that.  My mom wants me to post my artwork on facebook for my grandpa to see, but I pretty much hate that idea.  A friend of mine likens this to the whole "pretty cupcake" phenomenon.  That is, you get those people on facebook (mainly females) who constantly post pictures of the dinner they made, or the pretty cupcakes they created, or whatever. Inherently there's nothing wrong with this.  I remember sending a picture to my husband of an over-easy egg I had cooked, just because I was so damn proud that the yolk was still intact.  But when you do this ALL the time; constantly bringing attention to your piddly little accomplishments, it gets to be a little egocentric.  And boring.  I once created a page on facebook called "I don't care what you ate for dinner!" simply because I was so tired of seeing the barrage of pretty casseroles and perfect homemade pizzas.  I felt like saying, "Look, I'm glad you're nourishing your family with your stellar cooking skills, but your other 247 friends really don't give a crap that you made something 'yummylicious'.  They're only pressing the 'like' button out of pity."  Unfortunately that made for a long page title.

What was I talking about again?  Oh yeah, artwork.  I don't want the few amateur paintings I have created to become the proverbial pretty cupcakes, hence the reason I keep them off of facebook.  I don't need a bunch of comments on the stuff I paint; I just want to paint in peace and post my work on my little art blog that no one knows exists.  I might someday put them on FB for the sake of family, but if I do, I will just quietly create the album and leave it at that (no "sharing," no posting to my wall, etc.).  For now, if Grandpa wants to see my paintings, he'll have to settle for an e-mail attachment.

P.S.  I take it all back...if I had actually created the cupcakes shown in the above-photo, I would be posting it all over my wall!  ;-)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Will the Real Bunny Hill Please Stand Up?

I had the time of my life last night!  I don't get it--according to Wii Fit, I have the balance of an eighty-two year old lady.  But by some miracle, I am really getting the hang of skiing.  I started the evening on the training hill with Clint, but he decided to get a private snowboarding lesson from an instructor, and I began to feel restless.  So I decided to try out Snowflake by myself.  I was nervous about getting on the chair lift alone, since my experience is still so limited.  When I arrived to the chair lift, I asked a man standing nearby if this was the "Bunny Hill" (aka: "Snowflake").  He replied with, "I think so."  So I got on. 

About a quarter of the way up (after passing the real bunny hill), I realized I wasn't on the bunny hill at all.  I had gotten on the wrong chair lift.  I started to wonder how concerned I should be, but mentally coaxed myself into not worrying about it.  After a gazillion so-called minutes of "not worrying" passed, I finally got to the top of the hill (mountain is more accurate).  When I exited the chair lift, a few of my students were at the top, getting ready to go down.  I felt relief flood through me at having familiar faces nearby.  I said, "Thank God you guys are up here!  You have to get me off of this mountain!"  One of them, Nathan, who is an absolute sweetheart, said "Come on Mrs. P., I'll stay with you."  So we started down the slope together.  All was going well until I hit a patch of ice and my skis took off.  I flew past the other skiers.  Nathan kept shouting "Snow plow, Ms. P!  Make a pizza!"  I hollered back, "I am making a pizza!!  Nothing is happening!"  Pretty soon I could no longer hear Nathan, and I was completely out of control.  I swerved left and right, sending sprays of snow up into the air, trying to avoid grates, trees, and other skiers.  After what seemed like an eternity of feeling like a runaway train, I finally reached the bottom and made a hard right to stop myself.  At this point I was facing backwards...but still standing.  I was shocked that I hadn't completely ate it.  Nathan and a couple of other students caught up to me and said "That was so cool, Mrs. P!  We couldn't keep up with you!  When did you learn to go that fast?"  I was laughing so hard.  I told them "You guys, I swear I wasn't going fast on purpose!  My breaks just don't work!"

The rest of the night was absolutely exhilarating.  I skied non-stop, mostly with my students.  We took a break at around 7:00 to get a drink of water, and then it was back on the slopes.  Toward the end of the evening I reunited with Clint, and he was doing surprisingly good with the snowboard.

There was one other funny little incident last night.  I was on the chair lift with Nathan, heading up Coyote, and I was telling him about the trailer for the movie Frozen.  I told him how in the movie, the teens are in a chair lift similar to the one we were currently riding, when suddenly the chair stops and everything goes dark.  We were laughing at the spookiness of it all, when suddenly a minute later, at what had to be the highest point of our journey, our chair comes to a complete stop.  Nathan and I didn't say anything for a few seconds, and then he says, "Like this, Mrs. P?"  I laugh and say, "Yes, just like this.  Except for there are supposed to be wolves down there."  After another two minutes of sitting there, stuck, Nathan says, "I hope you have a cellphone, Mrs. P."  I told him, "I left mine at the lodge.  But I'm sure the people behind us have one."  We turn around, and every single chair behind us, as far as the eye can see, is empty.  At this point we both started giggling hard.  Another student, David, was riding solo in the chair in front of us, and I shouted to him, "Gee, this isn't horror movie material AT ALL."  A few minutes more pass, and just as Nathan and I are determining how many hypothetical bones we'd break if we jumped, the chair started moving again.  We found out later that a snowboarder had crashed while exiting the ski lift (she was fine; she herself told us about her accident); hence the five minute delay.

This was the last ski and snowboard trip for the season with my school, but Clint and I are going to try to go again on our own one more time this month.  I'd really like to try snowboarding, although the prospect of having both feet anchored to a board seems like sheer insanity.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hot Potato

I recently agreed to have my Builders Club lead students at my school in a fun lunchtime activity.  Ultimately, we decided to do a game of "Extreme Hot Potato," which we played yesterday out in the quad.  We stood in a giant circle and passed three potatoes around (which were actually giant yams with the words "OUCH" and "HOT" drawn on them with a Sharpie), and every time the music stopped, the three students caught with a potato had to run to the middle of the circle and sit on a balloon until it popped.  The first person to pop his or her balloon got to continue on with the game; the other two students were eliminated.  In theory, the game was simple.  But what a fiasco it turned out to be.  Somehow, during the excitement of the game, the "hot potatoes" wound up getting smashed into a dozen pieces.  So instead of three potatoes being passed around, it was more like ten potato chunks.  This meant that every time the music stopped, ten students (give or take) were running into the circle to pop a balloon with their booties.  It was like a mosh pit, with students pushing and shoving to get to the balloons.  Several times, in an attempt to lunge for balloons, students actually dove head-first into the trash can.

Luckily by eighth-grade lunch we had all of the kinks worked out, and the game ran without a hitch.  But geeez.  Next time I do a lunch activity, I think we'll play a nice quiet game of "Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar" (I was originally going to say "Duck Duck Goose," but I can see that one taking a violent turn).

We are indeed going skiing again this Friday night!  I'm excited to give it another shot, but more than that, I'm excited to try out the "Snowflake Hill" for the first time.

Tonight I'm hubby-less, so I'm going to crank up the music, hang out with the kids, and paint something pretty.