Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weird Al 201

You probably don't need Weird Al 101. Odds are good you know your "Amish Paradise," your "White and Nerdy," your "Smells Like Nirvana," and of course your "Eat It." Perhaps you could even test out of Weird Al 123, if you're familiar with some non-lead singles, like "I Lost on Jeopardy," "It's All About the Pentiums," or "Yoda."

But it's time to get down to business, students. It's time we tackled some Weird Al original songs.

First thing we discuss after going over the syllabus is that half of Al's songs are not parodies. Every other song on every album is a song he wrote the music for. These are, usually, "style parodies," written to sound like a particular band or maybe just to fit into a genre.

Let's begin.

Would you care for a song about an internal organ, written in the style of the Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys? Of course you would. ("Pancreas," 2006)

How about a song written only in palindromes? ("Bob," 2003)

Al admits that "One More Minute" (1985) is about a real breakup--I don't know what it says about me as a person that I think that makes it funnier.

"Truck Drivin' Song" (1999) may not even be the best original song on Running with Scissors, but it's the only Weird Al song (I can think of) that features steel guitar.

Finally, if I had to pick a favorite Weird Al song, this is it: the "Generic Blues." (1989)

Good job today, class. See you next time.
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Friday, June 7, 2013

And now for your Bummer Book of the Day!

The Night Dad Went to Jail


:(  :(  :(
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Because Madison.

The other day I was walking through a residential neighborhood when I saw a guy on a bike, hauling a tiny wagon (yes, a specially-modified bike-trailer wagon) with two tiny bales of hay in it.  And I was unsurprised, because Madison.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Library Conversation

Extremely Flustered Lady: I tried to use the computer, but someone is using my name!

Me: . . . What?

EFL: I tried to use the computer, but someone is using my name!

Me: OK, what were you trying to do?

EFL: Use the computer!!

Me: You tried to do what on the computer?

EFL: Email!

Me: You tried to sign in to your email?

EFL: NO! I wanted to make one!

Me: You wanted to sign up for an email account?

EFL: YES, but someone is using my name!!!

Me: Were you trying to sign up for a Gmail account?

EFL: Yes!

Me: And you wanted to use your name, but it wasn't available?

EFL: Yes.

Me: OK, with big companies like that, there are just so many people using them that someone with your same name already signed up. Try using your name with a number that's significant to you.

EFL: All right. [Walks away with no further questions, entirely satisfied]
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Merry Football, Everyone!

Today is, mercifully, the beginning of the college football season (and more mercifully, the end of The Worst Offseason Ever).  There are many interesting topics I could cover here--this year will see the long-awaited Return of the Leach, for one thing--but let's just do the basics.  Let's make sure we all know who's in which conference.

Teams new to the conference will be *ed.

Ms. State
Ole Miss
Texas A&M*

South Carolina

As you can see, the divisions are really more Southwest/Northeast, but calling an SEC division "Northeast" would be untenably hilarious.

I still have mixed feelings about the Ags being here.  I am pro the money, the increased TV exposure (both for recruiting and my own personal ability to see more games), but I have not convinced my brain yet that I am an SEC fan.  It's weird.  Also, if we had to bring somebody from the old clubhouse, why Missouri (other than as a sacrifice to Almighty TV Footprint, of course)?  They're so . . . blah.

I also have mixed feelings about the La Tech postponement.  Obviously, you have to be careful about the weather, but it's too bad the Ags aren't going to have a bye week.  On the other hand, I was not convinced we were going to walk into La Tech's own stadium and walk out with a win.  If our season is going to start on an embarrassing defeat, better for the victor to be Florida than the best of the seven teams in the WAC.

Team to watch:  The Ags, obviously.  Be sure to bring your high pain tolerance, though.

Big Ten
Ohio State
Penn State

Michigan State

Even though the Big Ten didn't add anyone this year, they are still entering a brave new world.  One of the conference's premier brands, Penn State, will not be competitive for a very, very long time.  The number of scholarships they'll have in upcoming years will basically make them an FCS school in an FBS conference.  In the short term, that combined with Ohio State's postseason ban makes the "Leaders" race pretty unsuspenseful.  If Wisconsin doesn't win a division where half of teams are ineligible or Indiana, something has gone terribly wrong for them.  (This also shows why trying to split a conference by competitive balance is folly. You never know what the future holds, so you might as well just use geography.)

And of course, these are still the worst division names in the history of dividing things. (Rece Davis did give me this handy hint, though: LegeNds is made up of Ms, Ns, and Iowa. That still leaves me coming up with "Leaders" by subtraction, but it's better than nothing.)

Team to watch: The Badgers, why not? They've got another senior ACC transfer QB, since that worked pretty well last time.

Big 12
Iowa State
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech
West Virginia*

Yes, still ten teams in the Big 12 and twelve teams in the Big Ten.  Up is down, left is right, and Charlie Weis is the right man to rebuild a college football program.

I don't feel about the Big 12 the way I would about an ex-boyfriend--no, more like I would about a good friend's ex-boyfriend.  I know I'm going to see him around, probably with his sketchy new girlfriend (West Virginia), and it's not going to be heart-wrenching, but it is going to be pretty awkward.

Team to watch: K-State's success last year defied logic, so I'm interested to see if it's at all repeatable.  In any event, Bill Snyder Part II is going much better than I thought it would.

Oregon State
Washington State

Arizona State

Now, I like these Pac-12 divisions.  Sure, they play a little fast and loose with "north" and "south" when you get to northern California vs. Utah and Colorado, but still!  It makes sense.

Last year was the first roll-out of the Pac with Utah and Colorado, and of the divisions, but this year will probably be a better showcase for them.  Remember, because USC's bowl ineligibility, 6-6 UCLA got to go to the inaugural Pac-12 championship game, which was ludicrous. Utah and Colorado should be better (although in Colorado's case, they almost have to be), so that should help too.

Team to watch: This is not a hard question. It's Washington State, because  MIKE LEACH IS BACK, BABY! I can't wait for all the insane post-game interviews.  I'm so excited.

Boston College
Florida State
NC State
Wake Forest

Georgia Tech
Miami (FL [obviously])
North Carolina
Virginia Tech

I'm not going to lie to you--if I were given a pop quiz on ACC divisions, I'd probably score like 25%. These are the original geographically meaningless divisions, but at least I can physically speak their names without rolling my eyes/doing air quotes, Big Ten.

The ACC looks deceptively stable here, but next year they're joining the ranks of the 14-team conferences, as we'll see more about very soon.

Also, sorry about the map. The Raleigh-Durham area has a ridiculous number of Div I schools.

Team to watch: Florida State is getting hype again, but I'll believe they're contenders when I see it.  I always like Va Tech, but I'm going to be taking a greater interest in Virginia.  One of my friends got hired as a professor there!  So Wahoo-wah, apparently.

Big East

This year, the Big East lost West Virginia and subbed in former member Temple. Next year, they're losing Pitt and Syracuse and are wildly overcompensating for it.

Why yes, that is a map of the entire United States!  In 2013, the Big "East" will include Memphis, Central Florida, Houston, SMU, Boise State, and San Diego State.  The lesson of conference realignment is this:  whether you name your conference with a number or a direction, it'll be wrong sooner or later.  (Oh, and I shudder to think what those divisions could look like.)

Seriously though, it's a little tragic that the Big East cast out so desperately for members to try to keep their automatic bid status, just before college football decided to switch to a system without automatic bids.  Oh, Big East.

Team to watch: Realignment-wise, Temple is a feel-good story.  To quote Phil Steele in his eponymous preview magazine, "Coming in '09, the Owls had not had winning season in an amazing 18 str yrs and in '08 they topped 4 wins for the first time s/'90.  The Big East booted Temple out after the '04 ssn."  (I left Phil's abbreviations intact because they amuse me.)  Temple did better once they got into the MAC, clawing their way into respectability.  So when West Virginia left the Big East in the lurch, it was obvious who they should call.

And that ties in to the overarching theme of this post:  conference realignment:  she's a fickle mistress.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Could Win a Prize!

Guys! Twinings is having a tea story contest!!! Do you think I should enter my Lapsang Souchong one?!
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

My New Job

Last month, I stopped working at The Library and am now working at The School. I made the switch for cash money reasons, since I was working at the library part-time without benefits, but I don't begrudge the decision on professional-fulfillment grounds, because I think it's going pretty well.

I'm a special education assistant at an elementary school. Specifically, I help this little bro who is in the fourth grade and has autism. He's extremely interesting, fitting stereotypes about autism in some ways and not at all in others. I don't want to talk about him too much on the internet (although I'll probably answer questions if you have them in the comments), but I will say that he's almost nonverbal, meaning that there are some ways that I draw on my past experience of babycare to work with him; at the same time, there's plenty he can do and understand. (And he is just as physically able as any of his classmates.) We're working on fundamentals of math and reading, and he's learned a noticeable amount in both areas just since I started working with him. Needless to say, that's really awesome.

I also work some with the other kids in my lad's class, either generally trying to help when he's with the group, or during a segment in the middle of the day where the special ed teacher works with my lad. And I have to say, it's so much more challenging to work with the big groups of "regular" kids. Fourth graders, man, they don't like to sit still, much less sit still and learn stuff. Not that I don't enjoy it. I help out in the social studies part of the day, and this month they've been working on presidents. You know I've been dropping some presidential trivia knowledge on those kids.
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