Year End

So here at year's end, we're supposed to reflect and resolve.

What have I done? How should I do it differently? Where have I come from? Where am I going?

My only solid resolution going into 2012 is to fit back into my 1996 post-Weight Watchers clothes again. Should be a solid 30-pound weight loss. Urg. My upcoming college reunion should serve as additional impetus.

I also intend to kick it up a notch or three at my new job. Starting as I did on December 1, it seemed prudent to kind of go with the previous teacher's flow at least through Christmas break. I think by the end of this current marking period I need to have a better more "me" plan for the lessons going forward.

And, I have a thesis to write. Oddly, I think that will be the most straight-forward of the three. Once school lets out in June, I'm going to schedule two or three mornings per week to just research and write. It actually shouldn't take me too long to finish my first draft. What's 40-60 pages between friends?

2011 ended in a pretty good place, and I'm excited about continued upward movement in 2012. I hope you and yours are blessed as well.



Just pretend...

I wrote a witty post this morning. It was about being busy and forgetting our family cookie making night. It included a picture of our past cookies which included a TARDIS and a land shark.

It was good, I promise.

But the Interwebs lost it.



Planning Ahead....

Attention, everyone ... Please someone make these for my next birthday, in lieu of a traditional cake. I love owls. And these are adorable! And ... chocolate!



Merry Christmas!!!

I know this site has been hugely popular off and on in the past, but I'm going to try to put it back on people's radar. Today I have all my students contributing to this season of giving.

You should, too!  www.freerice.com

Learn vocabulary (and other subjects) and donate food to hungry people world-wide.

Merry Christmas!




Fever. Chills. Pain. Pressure. Mucus. Phlegm. Sniffle. Hack. Wheeze.

It's not pretty.

A poem my college roommate, Heather, and I wrote, our freshman year:

Snot fills my brain.
I need a drain.
Fly on a plane?
Don't be insane.
Snot fills my brain.

Thank you.



On My Desk

Things within arm's reach on my desk right now:

A felt-lined needlebook with a Tudor-esque rose cross-stitched on the cover
Two baggies of expired coupons I need to mail to overseas troops
This tiny white duckie
Two voided checks I just deposited (thank you, USAA, mobile app)
Cell phone
Cordless phone
The Broadview Anthology of Romantic Drama
Three pages of notes on Christmas traditions in Greece
Weight Watchers cardboard slider calculator thingy
Notes for my eventual Master's thesis
A random, unlabeled mini digital video cartridge
A bright orange chunky highlighter
Tickets to The Nerdist podcast live in Philly next March
A can of Spam, dating back to 1993
A second mini duckie (when did that one get there?)
My second-prize medal for the Amazing Cozumel Race
A ceramic pumpkin (we're awesome at seasonal decorating, but haphazard about un-decorating)
Flat Stanley
Two Mickey antenna balls
Several hundred business cards for a Congressional lobbying job I had two years ago

Just a little look into my clutter ... and psyche?



Follow Up: My Public Apology to Hans Christian Andersen

Dear Hans,

You seem like you were a fairly decent guy. You had a troubled time in school and that likely contributed to the often-bleak endings to your fairy tales (anyone who thinks Disney created the story of The Little Mermaid is certainly in for a depressing shock when they read yours).

Your history of repeatedly unrequited love, both hetero- and homosexual in nature, is also very sad.

So, you'd think people would leave well enough alone and let your work speak for itself.

That is certainly not the case, and for my part, I'm sorry.

For the last few months I've been involved in an updated version of The Snow Queen, adapted for stage by a Jonathan Graham. I don't know anything about him other than the fact that he clearly needs a better editor and that his word choices for a children's play are occasionally quite bizarre. ("fetishized" ??!?)

Numerous liberties have been taken with your story. I understand shortening the narrative and updating the time period. But some of the other changes are just a bit weird. Why change the mirror from troll-made to elf-made? Why eliminate the Grandmother from the scene and reduce her to a few mentions by Gerda? Also eliminated -- the sorceress, the Ravens, the princess and her prince. The robber hag and her daughter are turned into a robbery scene with an elf in disguise (an elf who doesn't even exist in your story). Similarly, Bae the reindeer is the troll in a set of antlers clattering two coconut halves together (OK, strictly speaking, the blatant-Python-homage coconut halves were added by me and not Mr. Graham). And, all spiritual and religious references have been removed.

In addition, I have the troll (in his King Nicholas disguise) doing his best Shatner impression. I'm sorry, but it's true.

The show is a delight, Mr. Andersen (I cannot type that without hearing Hugo Weaving), but I'm sorry. Other than the names of a few characters and the presence of a mirror, there's little left from your original story. Still, if you were alive and anywhere near South Jersey, I hope you'd come see it.


Opening Night

My play opens tonight!

I am so proud of my cast and so grateful to all of the volunteers that have helped make this a success. This wouldn't be half the show it is without you.

If you read this blog and live anywhere nearby, please come see the show.

Order tickets and even pick out your own seats at cumberlandplayers.com



Merry Christmas!

I want THESE on my lawn!
We're big on holidays. All of them, but especially Christmas.

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... Christmas is getting too commercial and we should all remember the reason for the season, etc. Honestly? I love all the hoopla. A lot. (Don't get me wrong. I love Jesus, too, and we certainly celebrate the Christian aspects of the holiday.)

Anyway, we're blessed to have enough. More than enough. And, we like to get into this holiday as much as we're able. This year we have more holiday than usual. I'm directing The Snow Queen for a local community theatre, and that's adding a certain amount of festive (and stress) to an already festive and stressful time of year. Plus, we're going away for Christmas. As soon as school lets out on the 23rd, we're leaving town for the Poconos and we're staying there until after New Year's Day. So ... you know ... packing and planning and lists and stuff. On top of buying and wrapping and printing and stuffing and mailing.

Well, back to Christmas. And Hoopla.

Every year we hit the sales when Lowe's, Home Depot, etc start marking down their lights and other outdoor decorations and buy more stuff. We add to our yard display every year. We have lights lining the roof, icicles along the porch, wreaths on every front-facing window, candy canes lining both the front walk and the driveway, C-9 lights on spikes along all the flower beds, lights around the pool, lights climbing our large oak trees in alternating red and white stripes to resemble candy canes, giant plastic balls hanging from our choke cherry tree, 6 plywood deer wearing giant bows are floodlit, and we are already making plans of what to add next. I think we're up to 47 strands of lights.

And we do lots of Christmas activities. We have two school holiday concerts. We go caroling in full Victorian garb with a local theatre group. We host a party and attend parties. We send nearly a hundred Christmas cards. I bake cookies and we exchange with friends. Once or twice a holiday season we pile in the car and drive all around town looking at Christmas lights (incidentally taking notes of things to improve our own display). This Thursday we intend to go see It's a Wonderful Life on the big screen. (YAY!) We play lots of board games, snuggle on the couch to watch Christmas movies and specials (anyone remember the Claymation special from the 80s? Yeah!), drink lots of cocoa.

The kids are into it, too. I can't wait to see how our holiday traditions and enthusiasm eventually evolve into new traditions in their own households.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all have enough to go around and enough time to breathe and occasionally just enjoy the smell of pine or peppermint, the taste of cinnamon or ham, the sight of twinkly lights on snow, the hugs of greeting or thanks.



Nine Days

My first show (as director) opens in nine days. It's a children's theatre one-act version of The Snow Queen. It's adorable and funny and completely charming. My actors are terrific. My costumer is amazing. My scene painter is a miracle worker. My production manager is a godsend. I don't feel ready, but I'm positive the show will be.

Randomly ordered list of my to-do items:

Glass smashing sound effect
Snow machine
Put wheels on two large cubes
Re-hang a blue curtain
Hot-glue snowflakes to the frame of a mirror
Find a handful of small fake coins
Loop a bit of Monty Python's horse-riding theme from The Holy Grail onto my iPod

It's not a long list, but for every item I've crossed out this week, I've added three. Tech Week starts Sunday. Pray for us.



Han Shot First

I'm a nerd. My husband's a nerd. My kids are nerds. We all come from a long line of nerds, actually. It's part of our heritage. We're proud of our nerdiness, actually.

This is all just a set-up for the premise that follows.

Riding in the car over Thanksgiving weekend, the family (just the nuclear family -- the lineage of nerds was present only in spirit), the four of us began a discussion about Han Solo and Greedo. You know -- that fateful meeting in the Mos Eisley cantina. Greedo is a rather crappy bounty hunter who makes it very clear to Han, his intended bounty, that Jabba the Hut wants his money back and failing that, that Greedo is there to kill him.

Surely you remember Greedo's famous line, "Kuna to chuta, Solo?" (Going somewhere, Solo?) No? *taps mic* Hello? Is this thing on?

Anyway, back to the conversation in the car. Along the way I mentioned Han shooting first. The kids were as of yet unaware of the "Han shoots first" controversy, as they've only seen the altered 2004 DVD-version of the scene. I know. We're terrible parents. Don't judge us.

So, Joe and I explained that George Lucas altered the scene, and that it was a stupid decision because, while we understand that George was trying to make Han's character morally superior to Greedo and to offer Han no choice but to shoot back, that this weakens the eventual change of heart for Han's character, that we want him to be morally ambiguous, even somewhat dark, so that his conversion to the light is more significant.

Anyway, as these sorts of conversations often do (at least in our family), we began to extrapolate other possible Han-Greedo scenarios. Naturally, in each future George Lucas re-release, Han becomes increasingly less culpable.

With apologies to Hyperbole and a Half, I present to you ... Han and Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina:
1977 original theatrical release: Han shoots. Greedo doesn't fire a shot, but dies in an overly-large explosion.

1997 theatrical re-release and 2004 DVD release: Greedo shoots and misses as Han dodges, then Han shoots Greedo
2014 straight-to-flash-drive release: Greedo rapid-fires all around Han, missing him entirely. Eventually, Han fires once and kills Greedo.
2022 holographic release: Han doesn't even bring a gun. His threatening presence is enough to scare Greedo to death before he can fire a shot.
2042 bio-neural gel pack release: Han sits and watches as Greedo spontaneously combusts.
2052 direct-mental-download 75th anniversary Special Edition: Han doesn't even show up. Greedo thinks about meeting him and spontaneously combusts. Roll credits.
Yeah, my kids actually came up with most of these. Heh. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.