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.