Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Best Wishes

Good luck to:

Roger Federer at Wimbledon, and all other Grand Slams. (And Andy Murray at Wimbledon, just in case.)

All potential triple crown winners. You go, horse!

The Chicago Cubs. Although, it doesn't look like this will be your year.

The athletes in Vancouver 2010. Surprise me.

Houston, We Have a List!

The top five reasons I expect to love Houston for the next 18 months are:

5. Whitney Houston. Great name. Although I'm not really sure she has any actual association with Houston.

4. Reba, the sitcom. My favorite. I love the ensemble cast. Again, I don't think they actually filmed in Houston, but they make references to sports teams, like the Rockets, the Astros, and the Texans.

3. Apollo 13. Home of the famous quote, "Houston, we have a problem." A much more uplifting (not to mention true) disaster drama based in that great city than, say, Independence Day.

2. Dean Martin's song, "Houston." A classic where in Dino longs for the city where everything was good for him. Also, featured in the background, the clinks are the sound of a Coca-Cola bottle.

1. The word y'all.

Y'all come back in a year and a half to discover how my predictions came true.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Proofreading the World, Part 2: The Yearbook

My sister's final high school yearbook came home last week, the day after one of the student editors received a special award for her excellent proofreading, but I still found some not so worthy pages. These errors made me shudder while chuckling, or chuckle while shuddering you decide, and tell me which reaction you get.

All of the typos involved misspelled celebrity names. The first one I noticed was "Micheal Phelps." Twice. But the kicker on this is they spelled it correctly once on the same page. "Michael Phelps." But this year's popular musical artists must have hard names to spell, particularly, Briney Spears, Joson Mraz, and Josh Groben. My personal (least) favorite: they included this album cover for the artist they call Rhianna.

This just leads me into one of my personal pet peeves. Misspelled baby names. I hate it when parents assign their child a "unique" spelling of a name. Some names have legitimate variations, but mostly I just think parents are compensating for have the tenth Emily of the day by naming her Emmileigh. Spelling nightmare. I hate it. I'm sure you'll hear more about this soap box later.

The Best of the Best (with Honors): Part 2

Today's topic: Movies You Can Watch in Scenes

This list is inspired by the previous topic but takes it to the next level. Some movies are really great because you don't have to commit to watching the whole thing. You can decide, "Hey, I want to watch the part where..." You can also think to yourself, "I really feel like seeing so-and-so do such-and-such." And with the magic of DVD's, you don't even have to waste time finding the right scene: you can just skip right to it. Hopefully, this list will inspire you to watch your favorite sequences from movies that work equally well in segments.

1. A Christmas Story. This movie really is the ultimate segment movie. I have only watched this movie once straight through, but I'm fairly certain I've seen it at least twelve times. This is due largely to the traditional TBS Christmas Day 24-hour marathon of the film. You can catch the part where he visits the Santa from purgatory, the part where the dad receives the leg lamp ("fra-GEE-lay"), or, my personal favorite, the part where the boy sticks his tongue to the flagpole. Any other favorite scenes?

2. Napoleon Dynamite. What really qualifies this film for this category is its utter lack of a solid plot line. This movie, by nature, begs you not to watch it in one sitting. Lately, it's playing every other week on Comedy Central. Just this week, my mom found it on TV and asked me, while I was in the other room, which scene it was. As soon as the conversation started, I recognized from dialog alone one of my favorite sequences: Uncle Rico throws Kip's Steak at Napoleon. In fact, most of my favorite scenes feature Kip, although it still churns my stomach when he plays footsie with Lafawnda. This movie also inspires strong feelings: either you love it or hate it. Where do you fall on the continuum?

3. Night at the Museum. This movie has a much stronger plotline than the two previous movies (as well as its okay but over-hyped sequel), but its quotability really qualifies it for this category. I think it's fun to just watch the Ricky Gervais scenes, but you also have Ben Stiller's first scene as a night guard in an echo-y museum chamber or his attempts to pronounce "Sacagawea." Towards the end, it gets harder to find standout scenes while they're chasing Dick Van Dyke around Central Park, but even the interplay between Jedediah and Octavius is worth a laugh.

4. Home Alone. This movie is quite easy to watch all the way through, but has so many strong scenes that work alone. Obviously there's the final showdown, but honestly, the build-up to that is much funnier. Kevin's grocery bags breaking on the way home, Kevin being confronted by the robbers before he knows they're robbers, Kevin stealing a toothbrush, Kevin sledding down the stairs of his house, Kevin pigging out on junk food, Kevin shopping by himself and chatting up the check-out girl. But most of all, the way the filmmakers incorporated the scene from "Angels with Filthy Souls." Very clever, and with an equally good payoff in the first sequel. "Keep the change, you filthy animal."

5. Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables, The Sequel. These movies are so long that I never watch them straight through, but again, I've seen them plenty, thanks mostly to KBYU pledge drives. Now that I have them on DVD, I mostly skip to what I affectionately term, "The Gilbert Parts." Gilbert calling Anne "Carrots," Gilbert rescuing Anne from her watery grave, Gilbert applauding her poetry reading from his feet. Skipping to the Gilbert scenes is essential in the second film because of that huge chunk of time when Anne leaves Avonlea to teach school and almost falls for the old man (although the dance scene from that segment is worth watching to catch a glimpse of young Dave Foley as Anne's dance partner). However, I should give some credit to other characters. Diana plays a fine drunk, and I always nearly cry around Matthew's death, particularly when Anne and Marilla cry over it in the middle of the night.

To summarize, great "scene-only" movies usually have at least two of the following qualifications: 1. They have weak or gimmicky plotlines. 2. They are inordinately long. 3. They are frequently played on television. 4. They have very a high number of very quoteable lines.

Honorable mentions: Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, The Trouble with Angels

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Best of the Best (with Honors): Part 1

I think it's obvious I've stopped blogging for a while. I'd offer some lame excuse, but I don't believe in them. But I am willing to make up for it. I'll be posting my top five favorites in a variety of categories for the next few weeks. I'm taking the best new Facebook application--Living Social's Pick Your 5--to the next level. Face it: some things just can't be explained in quick phrase and a photo. And if you know me, you know I need more words than three to fully express myself.

Today's Category: Best Movie Scenes of All Time

This entry is dedicated to Zac Efron, star of the best movie I've seen in the theater in a long while. 17 Again features our current top heartthrob as a 37-year-old who gets transformed into his 17-year-old self. During the transformation scene, where Zac is wearing a full suit while in the shower, my sister leans over to me and says, "It's like Cary Grant in Charade." Sure enough; 17 Again pays an excellent homage to that Grant-Hepburn classic which is one of the entries in my top five list.

5. The closing scene of What's Up, Doc? I'm including the entire sequence at the airport and on the plane as a part of this selection, although some portions of it are more about wrapping up the film's many plotlines than the credentials that put this scene on the list. Mostly, I just don't want to exclude any of the perfect dialog delivery between funny lady Barbra Streisand and straight man Ryan O'Neal. Plus, Ryan's final line is delivered to deadpan perfection. Who doesn't love a guy with a few quirks, or one who's willing to make fun of his most famous role? And the final kiss is probably in the top five most unique and memorable on film, too. Overall, this scene qualifies because of how well it wraps up a great movie and pays tribute to other moments in pop culture.

4. The "mashed potatoes" scene from While You Were Sleeping. I've personally watched this scene dozens of times, and I've come to the conclusion that it achieves the perfect mix of dialog. There are at least three simultaneous conversations going on here; it's hard to determine the actual number because they blend together so seamlessly in the scene's payoff. Floating around in this dinner table conversation are some of life's greatest questions, such as "why are mashed potatoes so satisfying?", "are most good film actors tall?", "do guys like girls who remind them of their mothers or not?" and "why does Argentina have such great beef?" Sure, in this tribute it sounds more like a Will-It-Blend experiment gone wrong, but if you know what I'm talking about, you really know what I'm talking about, even though some people in the scene itself have no idea what they're talking about.

3. The "water lady" scene from Return to Me. This selection comes from another all-around great film that uses similar conventions to the previous film: a cast of great older actors who have nothing better to do than sit around philosophizing retirement. Return to Me has plenty of great scenes like that, but this one does not primarly feature that generation. Instead, this is the classic sequence where boy meets wrong girl and right girl at the same time. David Duchovny proves that it's okay for a guy to be totally transparent when showing he likes a girl, and the audience likes that girl right along with him because she gets an appropriate amount of vindication on "water lady." Anyone who's ever worked in a service industry will cheer for Minnie Driver's clever but subtle revenge.

2. The shower-in-a-suit scene from Charade. Cary Grant is just too adorable in this scene. His antics are a great way to comfort the tramatized recent widow played by Audrey Hepburn, queen of the brunettes. Forgive me for getting a little cheeky and/or English major-y on you, but I think showering in a suit is a symbolic way of saying, "You're more important than my well-tailored suit." Plus, it's a way of satisfying two Cary Grant fantasies in one magical scene: Cary Grant in a suit, and Cary Grant in the shower. Thirty magical seconds that have stood for over forty years. Plus, Mr. Grant is portraying a sharp dressed detective, and you should know by now that I have a soft spot for those.

1. The garage dancing scene from West Side Story, featuring "Cool." The single greatest cinematic sequence ever captured. In fact, if this scene were only five seconds long, it would still make this spot on my list, as long as those five seconds looked like this. The remaining Jets line up along one wall of the garage, squat down with loose arms, and move forward snapping and jumping over their arms like they're an invisible rope. I hope you know what I'm talking about, but if you don't, do yourself a favor and find out. Kudos to Jerome Robbins for being a genius. All choreographers bow at his throne. Kudos to Iceman for leading the Jets after Riff's untimely death. And for his intense eyes. And for executing this dance sequence perfectly. Crazy. Cool. Go.

(I know. It's not the same, but this gives you the basic idea of what I was trying to describe...)

Honorable mentions in this category include the train scene from North by Northwest, the presidential flashcards scene from That Thing You Do!, the mud fight scene from McClintock!, and the volleyball scene from Top Gun.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Even Webster Can't Spell Sometimes

Well, Lynne Truss fans. Here's a new one. This story almost makes me reconsider becoming an editor. Almost. But I have a good suggestion: why don't they just change the name of this crazy lake to an unpronounceable symbol? Like Prince did to get out of a recording contract. Think of it this way--no one can pronounce it now, anyway. Plus, I just love the irony that a town bearing the same name as the creator of America's first dictionary has such a problem with maintaining correct spelling. But it also makes me wonder? How often do people really have to spell it? And where was the editor when the road signs were made? The devil may just have the last laugh, Daniel Webster.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

18 on the 18th

Today is my favorite sister's birthday. She's 18. That's ten plus eight. That's not old, but it makes me feel old. Last year in her birthday card, I told her that my first solid memory is of holding her--a brand new baby--in my arms. My first memory is of being a sister. I said, "My life begins with you." And that's still true this year, but feels even more so. Now she'll be graduating from high school and going off to conquer the world. Which she will, by the way, but no need to worry. She's not a dictator. Nonetheless, I'd like to offer some advice to a world that's about to be graced with someone just as pretty and twice as classy as Grace Kelly. David Archuleta, pay careful attention, because this is how I expect you to treat my sister.

  1. Never underestimate the power of a pair of high heels. She'll certainly be wearing them every chance she gets, and if anyone knows when to do so, she does.
  2. Daisies are a good peace-offering. She loves them. She considers it absolute fact that "daisies are the friendliest flower."
  3. Girls are allowed to have whimsical crushes. Hers happen to include Rafael Nadal, Harry Potter, Gilbert Blythe, a certain Eddie she sometimes borrows from me, and her future husband who's already been mentioned in this blog.
  4. Don't mistake a quick tongue for a sharp one. She's just as full of wit as I am but has absolutely no harsh words for anyone. She'll make you laugh but never cry. In fact, she's always there to help a friend.
  5. Surprise her by showing her a good suspense film. I don't mean horror; she's not into gory slasher movies. She just really enjoys the work of Hitchcock and Shyamalan.
  6. Perfectly groomed hair is more important that a spotless bathroom. Let's just say it takes a while to look as good as she does every day and her life is so filled with adventure that she doesn't always have time to clean up the hair products. It's a compromise.
  7. Always be available to kill spiders. Something in her genetic makeup prevents her from doing this for herself. And in my opinion, she shouldn't have to.
  8. Talking during movies is not a crime. In fact, with us, it's almost a sport. One day the contract will come through on our DVD commentary deal. But until then, we have plenty to say and the will to say it. This might be especially necessary during the aforementioned suspense films. Talking makes them more tolerable.
  9. Learn to be sneaky when photographing. She will do anything and everything to keep you from taking a picture of her, although she's incredibly photogenic. She'll probably be embarrassed that I posted a picture of her, but it's the best one I had. Maybe if she allowed more to be taken, I'd have a better one.

Okay, I made it halfway to 18 with my tips. I can't tell the world everything. 18 would certainly not be enough, and everyone deserves the joy of getting to know the greatest sister of all time. Believe me, this is a big step for me. I'm very possessive of her. I think she's so great that I'm not sure the world deserves her. But I also know the world can only be a better place with her in it.

Happy birthday, Joe.
Love, Frank.

The Last Load of Laundry

Not just a great alliteration, "the last load of laundry" is also the horror story that happened to me last night. Finals finally gave me a break and I had some time to do my laundry. So I could continue to wear clothes. I think that's a good idea, so I loaded my darks into the washer, added the detergent, paid my quarters and walked away. When I returned, all my clothes were sopping wet and of course only two of the dryers were working. Neither of them were available. I proceeded to squeeze what water I could back into the washer, but soon the pants I'm wearing have water stains dripping down them and everything in the basket is still soaked.

So I tried a new tactic. I carried everything back to my apartment, which is up two small flights of stairs and at the other end of the building. Little known fact: when wet, laundry is heavy. Also, the holes in a laundry basket are a great way for additional water to drip out onto the carrier. I stopped after one flight of stairs, ran down the hall in my water stained pants, and grabbed a towel to put under the basket. This technique worked okay, but I still had to wring out what I could when I returned to the apartment. In the kitchen sink. Luckily, it wasn't full of dishes.

Two hours later, I'm still waiting for a dryer, so I give up and carry everything to the neighboring building with the help of a few roommates. I'm feeling relieved, thinking that everything will get dry. An hour and a half later, the dryer has barely made a dent in the sogginess of my wardrobe. So I separate it into two different dryers and put both loads in for another hour. And when that's done, it's one o'clock in the morning, and guess what? It's still not dry. I know when I've been defeated. The laundry gods have decided that I do not, in fact, need to continue wearing clothes. As I write this today, I have two basketsfull of laundry in various states of dampness.

The clincher: I still need to do both my whites and my towels. Wish me luck; I have a feeling I'll need it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jem Finch Meets Baseball

Despite my complete lack of hand-eye coordination, I have a strong secret desire to be a sports writer. Perhaps this stems from my love of anything to do with the Olympics. Maybe it comes from the fact that the film Remember the Titans changed my life, and I saw it five times in the theater. Maybe I just love great stories, and sports happens to have a lot of them, and the best ones seem to find their way into the hands of great writers. My top three, in no particular order: Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (just in time for the upcoming Kentucky Derby), The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost (the one and only time golf ever seemed understandable and enjoyable), and The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb (a book that confirms that running is a task for the diligent and crazy).

In the interest of pursuing this goal, I'm always looking for the crazy, untold sports stories. Today, MSN.com came through by providing me with this story. I was particularly struck by the story of #3 on the list. After all, Jimmy Piersall did once bat wearing a Beatles' wig. I also noticed that his life was good enough to inspire a movie, which led me to the ultimate source of knowledge: Wikipedia. The film, entitled Fear Strikes Out, features Anthony "Psycho" Perkins as Piersall and was directed by Robert Mulligan. This name struck the dejavu chords in my mind, perhaps because mulligan is a golf term meaning "do-over." But no. The name has actual significance for my pop culture experience. Robert Mulligan is also the director of the classic, must-see To Kill a Mockingbird. When I started reading about Jimmy Piersall, I never thought it would lead me to Anthony Perkins, let alone Jem Finch.

PS And for those of you playing at home, the last time I made a Kevin Bacon game post, I referenced a movie called Fear of Clowns. Today, that Fear Strikes Out. Any other "Fear" films I should know about? Considering the fact that neither these films sound watchable from their descriptions, maybe I'm better off not knowing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Hottest Names, or, A Lazy Friday Night

Last Friday, my friend Erin and I, just sitting around chatting, had the conversation that led to this list. I started by saying I hadn't been to the school library much lately, so I'd broken up with it. She then said, "Oh, you're dating Jesse, now?" (The humanities building where we attend most of our classes and work is named after a guy named Jesse.) I conceded that. Then, out of nowhere, Erin drops the sentence that will captivate our conversation for the next hour and a half: "Jesse's a really hot name."

So, in case anyone wants to know, here they are. The names both Erin and I thought were hot. Note that Jesse didn't make the list.

9. Derek
8. Max
7. Charlie
6. Sam
5. Jeff
4. Ben
3. Will
2. Jack
1. Eddie

And, just because I want to, I'm posting a picture of the hottest Eddie known to woman. He almost has the power to take over Cary Grant's throne. As you can see, he knows the power of a clean haircut and a sharp suit. Not to mention the sunglasses. Watch out, Horatio Caine. Enjoy. I know I do.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Death: How to Get It Right

This article caught my attention because for as long as I can remember, my grandmother (who, by the way, insists on that grand and well-deserved title) has had her own funeral planned. My mom has slightly followed suit in this, telling me three songs she wishes played at her own funeral. Sadly I must admit I cannot recall the titles of these songs, although I know at least one is by the piano virtuoso Chopin. Hopefully, my mom and grandmother will have it recorded in an easy-to-find place when the time comes. Apparently this trend now extends beyond my family. (And, just so you know, I love the title of the book Meredith recommends.)

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Okay readers, here's something to check out. I just bought this book yesterday based on a recommendation from an editor at a children's literature conference. Plus, it was on sale and only about $5. I do not have will power strong enough to say no to a $5 book. It's called The Mysterious Benedict Society, and it was written by Trenton Lee Stewart. So far I've only been able to stop reading a) if I'm sleeping, b) if I'm in class, or c) if I'm at work (with very limited will power in the c category).

The basic scenario: Reynie Muldoon is a gifted child looking for special opportunities, so he certainly has to follow the add that leads him to just that. What follows is a series of test and a few new friends, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Try it. Then you, too, can become a clever kid detective with special opportunities.

If you make it through, there's also a recent sequel, which I'm sure I'll be reading as soon as my budget (or local library) allows.

Friday, March 13, 2009


It's official: Today I became a published editor. I volunteered on a student journal at my university last semester, and now the journals are out and my name is in print. I must say, it's a new and exciting feeling, and one that I could get accustomed to. You might say, "It almost makes my career begin."

Of course, this happy circumstance comes at the same moment that I rediscover the drive for my true passion: writing. Yesterday, I went to a children's book conference at a neighboring university, and spent the day meeting with authors, editors, librarians, and teachers--all the pantheons of the children's book world. One of the best days ever. Now those ideas for novels that I've been carrying around for years are starting to surface. Even now, as I type this, my fingers are itching to release what's really inside them: a good story. Or at least a story I think is good. I'll let you know when you can find out for yourself. It shouldn't be too long now. My fingers can't contain it much longer.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Last Word in Cereal

Today, I heard a slightly happy twist to the not-so-happy story of champion/misdirected youth Michael Phelps. Kellog dropped his sponsorship after news of his marijuana use hit the press, but apparently they donated all remaining boxes of Cornflakes with his picture to the Los Angeles food bank. Now, those without cereal can eat the breakfast of champions. Even if its a fallen champion. I still have one box left, the two inches of cornflakes I couldn't bring myself to eat after consuming two and a half full boxes singlehandedly.

Another optimistic development: this controversy brings out some good word witticisms. I've seen the events described as "Snap, Crackle, Flop."

Also, my seven foot poster of Michael performing his flawless butterfly stroke has arrived. But I've yet to find a wall space big enough for it in my apartment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Birthday Card Philosopher's Irish Mentor

I'm journeying through one of my favorite novels again, Maeve Binchy's Circle of Friends. A must read for any woman who is going to college or has ever been to college, or even knows any woman who's ever been to college. I sympathize with Benny and find Aidan Lynch the best male character overall, although Jack has his charms. It keeps me daydreaming for days, right when spring fever is in the air. Not five minutes ago, I decided to peruse Maeve's website and discovered her brief but fascinating bio. Check it out. (Just click "About Maeve.")

I particularly hope to emulate her traveling for pleasure, writing for life, and marrying for love. Not to mention the utter beauty of everything Irish. And, doesn't she have the best name for a writer? Ever? I'm officially inviting you to her circle of friends. You won't regret it.
A cautionary note: Don't check out the movie of the same name based on the book. Just because it includes Minnie Driver and the oh-so-charming Chris O'Donnell is no reason to trust it. Totally inaccurate and unnecesary change to the perfection that is Maeve's book.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

When the moon hits your eye...

I love Dean Martin. Love. Which is why its so perfect that he has a new album coming out (despite being dead) entitled "Amore." No joke. I just found this out through his fan page on Facebook. I was thinking it would have all the songs I already own from him, and it does have a few, but many I've never heard of. I know I'm going to check it out. I'll let you know. I can already recommend "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," Dean's version of the song from My Fair Lady. Let's just say Rex Harrison has nothing on Dino. When Dean sings it, it's actually romantic. I sigh when I think of him giving up his arrogance, all because a woman is simple yet unforgettable. Which is what the song is. Especially if you find the version with Chris Botti accompanying him on the trumpet. Pure magic. You can find the video on YouTube if you don't want to shell out $15 for the CD, or spend 99 cents buying the song on iTunes. See the album, "Forever Cool." Because that's what Dean is. As Grace describes him in Return to Me, "Best Male Singer--Dead."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hair Idol

Curly hair has been a major life lesson for me. I tried to avoid it for years, accepted it at fifteen, and honestly I've never looked back. However, that doesn't mean I'm always totally satisfied with my curly locks. In a dream world my hair would always resemble that of two amazing curlyheads. First, Melina Kanakaredes of Providence and now CSI: NY. (I'll admit, I don't just watch CSI: NY for her hair. Two words: Eddie Cahill. One more: Miracle.) Flawless and seemingly effortless.
Second, the lovely songstress Leona Lewis. Not only is she gorgeous and British, but her hair looks great even when it's supposed to look messy. What's your secret ladies? (I also recommend Leona's cd Spirit, full of danceable tunes and soulful expressions. Check it out.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day=Red Velvet

In honor of the celebration of hearts, I made the best cake ever: red velvet. Unfortunately, I sacrificed a part of my finger to the baking pan. The hazards of not owning a hot pad. Nonetheless, my burning finger could be considered a symbol of burning love. And it was worth it. Delicious. They don't look as red in the pictures as I'd like, but you get the idea.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Initially Surprised

In perusing this website, I discovered that I have the same initals as William Shakespeare and the World Series. Coincidence? I think not. I just can't imagine why I never thought of it before. See what famous things or people you share famous letters with.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ping-Pong. . . and Bong?

For the last week and a half, I kept my eyes glued to the other side of the world for the Australian Open. I discovered tennis this summer watching the legendary Wimbledon showdown between the former, four-years-in-a-row number one, Roger Federer, and the newcomer, current number one, Rafael Nadal. This sport exemplifies everything great about athleticism: endurance, speed, strength, and, most of all, elegance and flexibility. Some of those backhand shots are balletic. I am amazed. How do they do it? Unfortunately, I discovered tennis just a little too late, since I constantly cheer for the "good looking enough to be a GQ cover model" Federer (whose initials form the core of the word peRFect) who lately is coming up just short. In fact, in the men's singles final down under on Sunday, he actually scored one more point than Rafa, just apparently at the wrong time, since he lost, two sets to three. Don't worry. He still looks good. My sister and I said he is the Ian Thorpe of tennis--the better-looking talent who might be surpassed by the young upstart who arrives in his wake. Rafa is the Michael Phelps of tennis--obviously talented, but certainly a little shorter in the looks department. (Coincidentally, Ian Thorpe happens to be an Aussie.) To prove my point, here's Roger selling Gillette razors, proving he can be clean up and be clean shaven.

Which brings me to my next point. I know I've proclaimed my fascination with Michael Phelps loudly before, but that just leaves me speechless in the wake of recent news. No stranger to a razor himself, apparently he missed the clean part. The saddest part: he only seems to regret that his actions were uncovered, not that they took place. I guess he's learned that public opinion is paying for his mansions and sports cars, but I'm wondering how hard the wake of this event will hit him in the face, especially since he's a swimmer used to swimming in clear water. . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Circus Freak-y?

Tonight I had my first session of tutoring writing in the school library. Not very busy, which gives me plenty of time to surf the internet, which allows me to find great fodder for my blog. (I just looked up the word "fodder" in the online dictionary and it means "any foodstuff that is used specifically to feed domesticated livestock." I'm not implying anything with my use of the word; it just sounds great.) Here's is tonight's great gem and the Kevin Bacon-esque story of how I found it.

I'm in a children's publishing class right now, and I'm supposed to spend half an hour every week browsing the blogs of those in the kid lit industry. I find Sarah Miller's blog (I have no idea who she is, but I'm sure she's connected to the kid book biz), where, in a recent post, she mentions a book by Twyla Tharp. The name rings a bell, but not a Jeopardy! buzzer, so I head over to the trusted source of internet knowledge--Wikipedia.

For those of you who, like me, know Twyla Tharp's name but don't know why, let me tell you the high points before I get to the low point. She is an American dancer and choreographer who worked on the Billy Joel-inspired musical Movin' Out and with everyone's favorite Russian danseur, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Those works earned her great accolades, but her most recent Broadway venture was not so lucky.

But before I tell you, I need to take a little side trip. My family loves the game "Balderdash," especially when we are priviledged enough to play it with our favorite cousins. One playing of this fine game has become one of the top five family jokes. I don't remember what word we were redefining, but one of my cousins offered this gem as an answer: "an Albanian circus freak." Okay, so you probably had to be there (and, let's be honest, most of my blog readers probably were) but that one phrase--circus freak--has caused hours of laughter for more than ten years now.

And here's where Twyla Tharp meets the Circus Freak. I take this straight from her Wikipedia bio. "A recent Broadway venture was The Times They Are a-Changin', which places the music of Bob Dylan in the context of a small family circus, in which the clowns rise up against a cruel ringmaster. It was a critical disaster, torn to shreds by practically all, and closed after 35 previews and 28 performances. The orchestra pit was covered with trampolines, and the folk/rock band was on an elevated platform on stage." Who knew a musical about clowns and Bob Dylan songs would be "a critical disaster"? Probably the many people who consider clowns one of the ten scariest (or should I say "freakiest"?) things. It even has an official name: coulrophobia--but don't ask me to pronounce it. In fact, I was just looking up the official name when I discovered, through my friend Wiki P., that there is even a movie called Fear of Clowns. Not that surprising, actually. I wonder if there's an official name for the fear of Bob Dylan, or Bob Dylan music. . . . In any case, I'm not 100% sure why someone would make clowns the heroes of a musical, but the answer, my friends is blowin' in the wind if someone hasn't captured it yet and put it on Wikipedia.

PS I can't help but write this. Heath Ledger's rendition of the Joker should be a good indication of why this didn't work. Not only did Heath portray the freakiest clown around, but he also played Bob Dylan. Coincidence? Kevin Bacon and I don't think so.