Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March '09 Book Review

The Other Queen- Philippa Gregory- A novel about Mary, Queen of Scots and her imprisonment in England. Definitely not my favorite.

A Wrinkle In Time- Madeleine L'Engle- After I posted my list of influential authors, it was pointed out to me by a friend that a fantasy writing English teacher should most definitely have read this book. Which I never did, so I went to the library and checked it out. I wish I had read it when I was a kid because I probably would have liked it more.

Three Willows- Ann Brashares- The next generation of Sisterhood books. It’s all right, a harmless book, nothing new or exciting, certainly.

Edenville Owls- Robert B. Parker- His first novel for young adults. I could see a lot of Spenser in the main character. I missed the snappy dialogue from his other novels. There were some funny lines, but it wasn’t the same.

Lord of the Flies- William Golding- This is one of those books a lot of kids read in high school but I think my class read A Separate Peace instead. It’s really quite the experience. I can’t imagine what I would’ve thought of it had I read this in high school. There’s some really horrible happenings going on in this book. Anyway, the character, Ralph, made me reflect on one of my own protagonists quite a bit. I’ll be interested to see what comes of it.

Wintergirls- Laurie Halse Anderson- Her latest novel for young adults. This one concerns a girl struggling with anorexia and the death of her friend. There is some truly beautiful, powerful writing in these pages.

Dead Until Dark- Charlaine Harris- The first Sookie Stackhouse novel, the books the new Showtime Series “True Blood” has been based on. Gave this book to a friend for Christmas and when it showed up at the library, I thought I’d read it. It was all right. Certainly didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. It’s weird. Like, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy had sex with vampires. Two of them and that didn’t weird me out. Then I read Breaking Dawn and this book, where the heroines have sex with one vampire and I was just- I don’t know what I was exactly but I guess I’ve decided I am firmly against sex with the undead. Unless the undead is David Boreanaz. Then I’d have to rethink that. Anyway, I’ll likely read the rest of the titles in this series because that’s what I do.

Twilight- Stephenie Meyer- Another vampire book…but one in which the vamp and his girl do not have sex….no, they’re going to wait until they’re married and then they’ll have a little half vamp baby monster thing…but I’m getting ahead of myself. I reread this book because the movie was on my Netflix list and it showed up so I thought I’d refresh my memory or whatever before watching the film. I read the book for the first time last year, almost a year ago, and while I had issues with parts of it, I thought overall it was a pretty good young adult book. This time, however, I thought it was terrible. Beyond terrible. I’m thinking maybe my extreme disgust for the fourth book has since colored my views on the rest. Anyway, the one good thing I could say about it is that it’s slightly better than the movie.

New Moon- Stephenie Meyer- It's a sickness. Don't judge.

Eclipse- Stephenie Meyer- Told you it was a sickness. Debating whether to finish the series off by re-reading the book that made me hate all the rest.

Well, that does it for March...I read ten books this month, for a year long total of twenty five books. That means I have to read seventy five more...Gotta be honest with you, I don't think I can do it. Not if I hope to write anything this year. Which I do.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Doggles and Dewclaws




As I mentioned in an earlier entry, Sebastian, my soon to be six year old German Shepherd, was diagnosed with Pannus. Many sites concerning Pannus suggesting getting the dog some sort of protective eyewear to guard his eyes from extended exposure ultraviolet light so I did.

I managed to score a pair of Doggles for him. Our trainers, Linda and Carl, had a pair needing a good home kicking around the kennel and since they were Sebastian's size, I took them. They're bright blue, which is not the color I would've ordered for Sebastian, but hey, they were free. The dog is colorblind. He'll get over it.

Carl said to train the doggles like you would a muzzle. I know how to train a dog to wear a muzzle. I know this because part of the ring sport test is the "heel with muzzle" exercise where the dog walks beside you in heel position while wearing a muzzle. Hmmm... that may have been self explanatory. Anyway, you do it slowly, putting the strange and offending object on the dog for just a short while at first. Make it a short, happy, positive, successful experience. Offer treats and such afterwards. And every day, increase the time the object is worn by a little bit. Eventually, the dog will have no trouble wearing the object.

So I brought the doggles home. Joe immediately started making all sort of rude comments. I got irritated, though not overly. I mean, I know they're silly looking and I know I may be overreacting but I'm not dressing the dog in some pink fluffy sweater. I'm not getting his nails done. I training him to wear a pair of sunglasses that may help keep his incurable degenerative eye disease at bay.

Sebastian is, of course, thrilled.

I can't explain to him how he's being tortured like this for his own good. I can't explain to him that there's some other purpose to it other than me putting them on him and taking pictures. Although I did do that and I did laugh a lot while doing it. But I had the very best intentions. Like taking adorable pictures to post on my blog and on my social networking pages. I mean, protecting his eyes from the incurable degenerative disease that has taken up residence there. Just to be fair, I put the doggles on Mischa and took pictures of her too. This, I suspect, did not make Sebastian feel better.

So that was Friday. Saturday, I took Mischa to obedience class. It went marginally well. Before class even started, Mischa went charging across the room to tag a German Shepherd whom Mischa suspected of giving her the hairy eyeball. I was less than pleased. Carl assured me (or tried to anyway, because when it comes to this kind of thing, I am often impossible to assure.) that the German Shepherd in question likely was giving Mischa the hairy eyeball because that's what that dog did. Whatever. We went on to lose the Simon Says game when I, in a total moment of ignorance, put my dog biscuit down on the floor at Mischa's feet, which Simon did not say to do. I did make it to the final three though and eventually, Simon got everyone out, so I didn't feel so bad. We went to my parents' house afterwards so I could visit and Mischa could run with Piper. We'd just pulled into the driveway when my cell phone rang. It was Joe. I answered it.

"Sebastiantorehisdewclawandhe'sbleedingeverywhere," Joe said.

"What?" I said.

Joe repeated what he had said. Then he added, "Who do I call?"

It took me a minute to respond. Mostly, I think, because I had stopped breathing after Joe said "he's bleeding everywhere." Then I had the realization that Joe has no idea who our vet is or where our vet is and that the vet also has no idea who Joe is.

When I went to Russia back in May 2005, I happened to think of this and asked our then vet (not our vet any longer...) about it. I had to write a note impowering Joe to be able to seek medical treatment for our then menagerie in my absence. I added Heather to the list too, just to be safe.

But no such note exists now. Besides, it was a Saturday and our then (not our vet any longer...yes, I have a new vet between Saturday and today.) vet was closed. The then vet did not offer emergency services (the now vet doesn't either, as far as I know.) so I told Joe to call the North Country Animal Hospital. This was the hospital that looked at Max last year when he had his unfortunate run-in with our storm door (Interesting note: Jake and Alison have not left their dog with me since. We are not only allowed supervised meetings.). Since I knew they offered emergency services, I told Joe to call them. I didn't know if they would look at Sebastian or not, but I figured it was worth a call.

By this time, Mischa and I had made it into the house. I hung up the phone and waited for a call back. I'd barely gotten out a "Hi" and a "Here's what happened..." when the phone rang again.

"I got a recording telling me to page the doctor on call if it's an emergency," Joe said. "Is it an emergency?"

Well, to me, it was an emergency because my dog was bleeding all over the place. My dog. But it was a dewclaw and those, I understand, bleed like crazy. Must like when a dog tears his ear. Those bleed like crazy too. I know that. I've seen that first hand. Sebastian accidently tore Piper's ear once. Damn house looked like a damn multiple chainsaw murder crime scene. And I hate to be the crazy overreactive dog mom. Joe and I discussed the condition of the injury. The dewclaw was still attached, hanging on by a very thin thread, apparently, and Joe assumed it would have to come off.

"I think I could just pull it off," Joe said. "But I think that would hurt him."

"Well, yes, hon," I said. "That would hurt him. If we pulled your toenails off, it would hurt you too."

"What do we do?" Joe asked.

"I don't know," I said. "Let me call Carl and ask for some perspective."

So I did. God bless Carl. If you live in the Southern Maine area and you have a dog you think is out of control or untrainable or whatever, call Carl. If you need his number, I'll give it to you. The man's fantastic. Anyway, I talked to him. While I did so, Mischa was in the middle of the dining room systematically dismantling her Squirrel and I didn't care that she was doing it. Squirrel bones (the plastic inside supports) were being torn out and left all over the place and I didn't care. Fortunately, my mother was good enough not to care either.

Carl told me to have Joe wrap the foot but if we couldn't get the bleeding to stop, or at least slow down, then do the emergency vet thing. There are two emergency vet clinics in our area that I know about. Each is an hour away, in different directions. And I really didn't want to have to pay for an emergency vet clinic appointment, on a weekend, no less, but, if I had to, then of course I would.

So I called Joe back and relayed the instructions to him.

"I've been trying to wrap his foot! He won't let me!" Joe exclaimed.

"Do your best. Mischa and I are on our way."

And we left, taking with us as many squirrel bones and other remanents as I could find.I hate it when my dogs are hurt. It always makes this huge pit in my stomach and I do noting but worry and then worry some more. Which is really saying something because I spend a lot of time as it is worrying about something. God help me should I actually ever have a human child. I'll never survive it.

Mischa and I drove home, me swearing at everyone who had the audacity to be in front of me, or do something outlandish like drive the speed limit. We made it home eventually though and I left Mischa in the car. I went inside and out from the living room comes my poor sweet baby boy, limping, and looking so very happy to see his mommy. That's my big brave German Shepherd.

"Look at that!" I said. "Mom leaves you home with dad just once and look what happens. He breaks you."

This is a very untrue statement. I have left the dogs in Joe's care more than once. When I went to Russia, Joe had Sebastian in his care an entire month and no harm came to the dog, but how could I resist the opportunity to tease the hell out of my significant other.

"I did not break him!" Joe cried from the living room.

Here's what happened: Joe had taken Sebastian outside for a walk around the yard. We don't tend to take him for walks around the neighborhood anymore as too many of our neighbors have dogs they let out off leash and without supervision. These dogs then have a tendancy to charge any dogs they see walking the neighborhood. Sebastian, as you can imagine, does not do well with dogs charging him. So we walk around the yard instead. Sebastian doesn't mind this as it is (a) shorter and (b) an opportunity to pee on all the trees that Dowa and Barney (two of the neighborhood dogs we see in our yard on a regular basis.). On their way back up the driveway, however, Sebastian hit a patch of ice (not hard as most of the driveway is currently ice) and lost his footing. He did this ungainly spread eagle thing and ended up removing his dewclaw in the process. Well, mostly removing his dewclaw. His dewclaw was the Nearly Headless Nick of dewclaws.

Or so we thought.

We unwrapped the bandage and discovered that the claw was now offically all the way off. It was still, by the way, bleeding like freaking crazy. So we rewrapped it. Sebastian did not enjoy this exercise. He didn't enjoy it anymore the other times we had to do it either. By Monday, I was exhausted of telling him to leave it alone and stop licking the bandage. Joe was exhausted of hearing me tell Sebastian to leave it alone and was probably equally tired of hearing me say things like "Dad broke you" and "I can't believe you broke my dog". He went to work. I called the vet. The dewclaw (or the stub that remained) was still bleeding, not a whole lot, certainly not when compared to Saturday, but still, I wanted it looked at.

We now go to Compassionate Care Veterinary Hopsital. We've moved here because our vet moved here to open his own practice. He's the vet who figured out Sebastian's allergy problem and who then figured out Sebastian had Pannus and not chronic conjunctivitis. He's good with the dogs and gives me lots of information. He talks a lot. But if you can deal with it, he's the best damn vet around.

I took Sebastian down a couple hours after talking to him and explaining what had happened. He said Sebastian had removed the entire nail, leaving the entire quick exposed. He put some sort of sealant (nexaband) on the injury to help it stop bleeding and oozing and hurting quite so much. We're now at the point where we have to wait and see what happens next. The nail will grow back, but it's a question of whether the nail will grow back properly or deformed. If it's door number two, he'll have to have the dewclaw removed entirely. Sounds like fun. If Sebastian seems like he's in pain, we're to give him one tylenol (500 mg) up to three times a day. The vet was going to give me something else for it, but the something else had a theoretic possibility of worsening Sebastian's Pannus and he didn't want to risk it. This is why I love my vet. He keeps apologizing for being paranoid but I love him for it. No one is more paranoid than me. I appreciate the fact that my vet cares so damn much.

At the end of the appointment, he was putting Sebastian into the system and asked if we'd taken a weight on him that day. I told him Sebastian was 130 pounds. Which is what the scale showed when Sebastian sat on it after our arrival. The vet looked at Sebastian anew and said, "Whoa. I thought he was like ninety."

This made me laugh because Sebastian hasn't been ninety pounds for years now.

"In that case," the vet said. "Give him two tylenol."

So that's the Saga of the Dewclaw. Sebastian is resting currently. We have to keep his foot dry and wrapped through the week. I will be glad when the weekend comes because that will mean I can stop harassing him about licking the damn bandage. Sebastian will also be glad when the weekend comes because that will mean he stops getting harassed. I can't blame. I know it hurts. I know it sucks.

I'm going to leave you today with my five year old niece's comment on the situation. She asked about Sebastian's bandage so I explained to her what had happened. Afterwards, she looked at the bandage and then back at me.

"Well," she said. "That sounds like it would be uncomfortable."

You have no idea.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Television Week In Review (Week Ending 3/20/09)

Sunday

The Amazing Race: Siberia, Part Two. I was excited for this episode because I always love when they're in Russia. Joe was excited for this episode because the previews showed the female contestants running in their underwear. That's my boy. Interesting that Jen had to put on underwear because she doesn't wear any. That's really the sort of thing you want to tell America. Loved her comment "I look great in my underwear!" Marge and Luke are back in first place. Good for them. The blonds are in last and, fortunately for them, it's a non elimination leg. Next week they have to complete a speed bump. And oh, by the way, Vincent/Victor, whatever his name is, is an asshole. He really is. We feel bad for Tammy. That is all.

Legend of the Seeker: So this was a pretty cool episode. Dick, Kahlan and Chase are in pursuit of Chase's family who was brought to some keep so they could be experimented upon by the evil wziard Giller. Unbeknownst to our intrepid trio, evil wizard Darken Rahl is also going to the keep so he can keep watch over Giller's experiments. Giller's trying to make a confessor out of what looks like evil accupuncture. Anyway, Kahlan confesses a D'haran soldier and he helps them break all the prisoners out of the keep. Chase's wife, Emma, kisses Chase and he falls ill because of the ancient evil magic Giller infected Emma with. So, it's back to the keep where Kahlan goes undercover as one of the recaptured prisoners, thinking to confess Giller. Well, Giller used the evil accupuncture to create a potion that makes one immue to a Confessor's powers and so she can't confess him. She's taken prisoner. Dick and the others, meanwhile, are planning to blow the keep to smithereens when Dick finds out that Kahlan has been captured and ruins the whole explosion plan. He meets Darken Rahl. They fight. Ding, ding, ding...Rahl wins. But of course he wins because otherwise, the show's over. They all go back to the torture room where Giller starts sticking Kahlan with the evil accupuncture skewers. She scream a lot. Dick screams her name a lot. It's looking pretty bleak when all of a sudden, Kahlan's eyes go red and everyone's all like, "Oooooh! Blood rage!" which means that she can suddenly confess a whole bunch of people at once, including a couple of Mord Siths. She also shoots the evil accupuncture skewers out of her body and into Giller's body, killing the poor bastard. Darken Rahl makes a break for it and just manages to get away, but not before Dick manages to leave a gash on his cheek. There's one potion left in all the devistation and even though Dick and Kahlan realize that if Dick drinks the potion, they can have lots and lots of sex, they give the potion to Chase so he can drink it and have lots and lots of sex with his wife. Chase joins the resistance and Dick and Kahlan start off on a long journey to the morrow woods where, supposedly, Zedd is waiting for them. I love this frakking show. Probably a little too much.

Monday

Dancing With The Stars: Joe, I suspect is jealous of Chuck. Joe also wants to be able to put his hands on Julianne's ass. Lil Lim's ass, by the way, is not lil. But the girl can dance. Tom Bergeron is the best damn host out there. I stand by my belief that he was absolutely robbed by the Emmy people. That is all. Oh wait, no, that's not all. I also want to give a shout out to the new pro dancer this year, Chelsie. Chelsie was one of the final four dancers on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance last summer. She was great on that show so I'm excited to see her doing well.

The Big Bang Theory: Penny starts a business and asks Sheldon to help. The other three nerds get involved. I remember laughing quite a bit, probably mostly when Sheldon was introduced to caffiene. Hi-larious.

How I Met Your Mother: This epsiode made me laugh too. Marshall and Barney bonding over their love of nightshirts and Robin's show playing in the background was really too funny.

House: A cat sleeps with people who are about to die. House spends the entire episode trying to disprove it and is horrible to Taub and Kutner in the process. At least it didn't focus on Thirteen.

Castle: Someone kills a nanny and stuffs her into a dryer. There's a lot of humor in this show and Nathan Fillion is great. There are some parts when you wonder just how stupid the NYPD can be, but that's to be expected, I guess, since the star of the show is Captain Hammer.

Tuesday

American Idol: Woo hoo. It's country music night. I really kind of hate country music night. Adam Lambert was just weird. I found it absolutely hysterical that Randy Travis had no idea what to make of him. Everyone else all right, I guess. I loved Paula's comment that Scott the blind guy McIntrye should leave the piano and show America what a showman he can be. You know, because Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder were always noted for their brilliant stage antics and dancing. I think Scott's just fine at a piano and I totally agree with Simon. Stay where you are, Scott. Danny Gokey looked like he was going on some kind of polar expedition and did seem a little off tonight. The chorus was great, the rest was rough. Matt Giruad was pretty good. Megan Joy sounded fantastic tonight. Her weird hip thing was still weird but I'd totally buy her CD. I love her voice.

Dancing With The Stars Results: Recorded it and watched it later. That is really the only way to watch results shows. It really is. Anyway, this year, they have introduced a dance-off where the bottom two teams battle it out to try and raise their judges' scores to try and save their asses. Tonight it was The Computer Nerd and Belinda Carlisle. Neither are very good, but it's Belinda who gets the boot. Which is fine by me. If I have to watch any of them over again, I'd prefer it to be Steve the Nerd. He's just a nice guy. Loved David Allen Grier's "I want a new Mac...for Free!" comment...it's probably not as funny here in my blog. Loses something without the actual context. But trust me, it was funny.

Wednesday

Scrubs: Not their funniest epsiode ever. Just before this one aired, Joe and I were watching the reruns on Comedy Central and watched the two epsiodes where Turk and Carla get married....now those are hysterical. I laugh my ass off every damn time I watch them. Every damn time.

Better Off Ted: A new comedy....and it made me laugh. It's....off beat, to say the least. I'm curious to see what's going to happen because I think it'll be fun. Joe and I are pretty sure we've seen the woman who plays Linda somewhere before but we're having trouble placing her. I know I could just look it up on IMDB but that's cheating.

American Idol Results: Unfortunately watched this live so, you know, it kind of sucked. Alexis Grace, Allison Iraheta and Michael Sarver are in the bottom three. Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis sing a sweet little duet. I think Randy is absolutely smitten with Miss Underwood. That, or he's afraid of that thing she's wearing in her hair. I'm afraid of the thing in her hair and I'm sitting safely in my living room. Anyway, it comes down to Alexis and Michael and it's Alexis who received the fewest number of votes. WHAT???? America, I am deeply disappointed in you. Hmmm. All's right in the world, once again.

Lie To Me: I don't know what to make of this show. Can't say that I like it but yet, I continue to watch it. At least for now.

Thursday

Bones: Here's a catch...Cam won't de-flesh the corpse so Bones doesn't really have much to do. There's a new lab assistant and he prays five times a day which sees the team making an awful lot of...I don't even know what. Meaningful glances at each other or something. Roxy breaks up with Angela so she sleeps with Hodgins. And one boy in a high school impregnated four girls onthe volleyball team. Booth sets him straight by the end. It was an interesting episode but probably not my favorite.

Grey's Anatomy: Some guy's getting a face transplant and it stands as a massive hit you over the head metaphor for Izzy's own dire situation. Mrs. Kim shows up as a hernia patient who is Cristina's first solo surgery. Bailey keeps sending people into the woods to find and bring back Shepherd, except Derek keeps bringing everyone down so they just sit on the porch with him, drinking beer. I loved the part where the Chief went out there and read Derek the riot act. I loved the part where Cristina, before she began her surgery, looked right at Alex and Bailey and told them what was happening with Izzy. I loved the montage after that of everyone rallying around her. So, Meredith went out to the woods to bring Derek Izzy's scans and whatnot. Next week shows the big operation...will she live? Or is Katherine Heigel really leaving the show? I kind of hope she's leaving. I think it'll make for better television.

The Office: Poor Jim!! I hate episodes where things don't go well for him and just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The tux, the two way petting zoo, the fake job title...too, too funny. Oh, and Michael quit. WHAAAAAT!?!?!?!?!? Awesome.

30 Rock: In this episode, Liz gets to see how the other half lives...that is, the truly beautiful people who get whatever they want because they're beautiful. It made for a very funny outing. Tracy's contract also expires so Jack spends his time trying to negotiate that. Loved it when the kids were in the office telling Jack they had to get their dad back to work. The kids' names are Tracy Jr. and George Foreman...hysterical!

Supernatural: So Alastair tortured Big Daddy Winchester...probably not the sort of thing one would want to admit to when your torturer is Dean Winchester. The angels are back and Castiel is looking all brooding tax accountant guy. Hot brooding tax accountant guy but still he gets his ass handed to him by the mysteriously freed Alastair. Don't worry though because Samn Winchester's in town and he's ready to bust some demon heads. Loved, loved, loved the look on Castiel's face when Dean said he had the power to kill...and kill he did, thanks to the demon blood he scored from Ruby. Anyway, for a show about the Winchesters, they didn't seem to figure much into this episode. Apart from the demon killing, of course. Uriel the angel turned out to be the bad guy and Dean started the apocalypse. Betcha that'll keep him up at night. Next week's episode looks to be a complete turn around from this week's...which is good. We need a funny episode.

Friday

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Right. So John knows Cameron didn't kill Riley. He asks Derek to tell him about the future and then goes to confront Jessie about the whole murder thing. In Jessie's flashback, we see the T-1000 and learn that Jessie had a miscarriage. John tells Derek to let her go but Derek doesn't want to. She gets away anyway. Because that won't come back and bite anyone in the ass.

Dollhouse: Joss Whedon said this was an episode not to miss and so, I did not miss it. He wrote it, which I think helped immensely. Fred was back as was Badger. Helo got it on with his neighbor Melly, who is actually a sleeper dollhouse agent. Echo and Helo came face to face so Echo could kick his ass and deliver to Helo a message...not sure if that's what was actually intended to happen or not. Anyway, the scene Helo had with Patton Oswald was classic Whedon as was the Helo/Echo fight. After watching this show, Joe concluded that it's weird. Which it is, but it's also cool.

Battlestar Galactica: Well, those of you expecting to see a recap of the series finale here are going to have to wait because I'm feeling like it deserves its own blog entry. Don't know exactly when I'll get around to posting it, but I'll make sure I do.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tales Out Of School, Part One

As some of you may know, I worked, for a time, as an English teacher at an alternative school/program for at-risk adolescents. These were teens who had trouble with a variety of things from drugs and alcohol to self esteem issues, attitude problems, skipping school, flunking out of school, whatever. One kid was sent because of "The Party" she threw at her parents' house when her parents were out of town. I take it it was a very destructive party. Another was court ordered to our program because he stole cars. Ironically, he was not the student who then tried to steal my car. But, as always, when kids are involved in anything, you get some truly hi-larious stories out of it. Here are some of mine:

When I first started at the school, we used thematic units that changed every month. The first unit was ancient times, then medieval time and so on and so forth right up on through modern times. It was easy for me to find literature to fit each unit and when we hit medieval times, I was especially excited because well, because I'm pretty obsessed with the middle ages. I don't know if you know that about me, but I am.

Anyway, due to time restraints, I was having a class read a translation of Sir Gawain And the Green Knight. We would read it aloud in class because I quickly learned that assigning reading as homework was a waste of time because no one would do it or understand it if they did. So we read aloud. Every night, I would come home and prepare the next section, reading each line over carefully in order to be fully prepared for anything that might come up. Anyway, one day, the class was moving along at a fairly good clip and we actually managed to get ahead and started to read a section I had not fully vetted. One student was read and I was following along and happened to read a little further ahead and saw the line containing the phrases "gay cock" and "erect Arthur." In my head I was saying many not nice words. I contemplated running away before they got to that line, or banging my head against the table until my brains leaked out but I didn't. I sat. I waited. The student reading reached the line I was dreading and stopped.

"Gay cock?" he said, barely getting it out as he was in the midst of a fit of giggles. Much like the rest of the class.

"Erect Arthur?" was next. Followed by more giggles.

So I turned it into a lesson on the evolution of the English language. A gay cock is a happy rooster, kids, and Erect Arthur just means he's standing up straight. And a fagot (yep, that one followed.) is a bundle of sticks.

Needless to say, I never taught Sir Gawain and the Green Knight again.

Sleepless Nights and Rewrites

Well, it's two thirty in the morning and I'm still awake. I tried to go to bed. I laid there for a good long while and listened to all my normal night noises. Tonight was a whimpering Mischa night. Then I starting thinking about my book because, well, because I think about it a lot.

And I had this epiphany about Second Nature. About how I was telling the story wrong. Not like wrong really, but just in the incorrect order. So I thought about getting out my trusty purple nightstand book (if you are unfamiliar with my trusty purple nightstand book, you should ask my sister Wendy about it. She could tell you a great story about it that doesn't make me seem like an absolute freak. No, not at all.) and scribbling down some ideas. And while I was contemplating doing that, I had a thought about a rewrite I'd been working on for Effigy. Then I had to contemplate scribbling down notes about that too. But the problem with scribbling down notes is that Mischa mistakes my movement for a cue that it's time to get up and not sleep anymore, which makes Sebastian get up and wander around the room, which makes me, more often than not, say "Would you just go back to bed already?!?!?" which, more often than not, wakes Joe up. And since I'd already woken him up earlier that evening when I was tried to extradite Jenny the Bitch Cat from the bedroom (she fell off the side of the bed, trying to evade me, and was tagged by Mischa. Chaos ensued. Joe would've had to have been dead in order to sleep through that.), I didn't think he'd much appreciate me doing it again.

So I took my insomniac ass out of the room and plopped it down in front of the computer. I even closed the office door behind me so the Bitch Cat and her evil counterpart couldn't distract me. I haven't looked at the Second Nature stuff yet, but the Effigy scene is coming along nicely. I'm pretty happy with it so far, which is always a danger, but good for me. No notable progress on my synopsis yet, but I've still got little more than a month to crank that baby out.

So I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell y'all a funny story from today. I took the dogs with me on my errands. We went to the post office and then Joe's office to drop off the office's mail. I brought the dogs in to meet Steve, the new guy. I don't know exactly what Steve does there. I don't actually know what anyone does there. Anyway, that's not really the funny part of the story except that Mischa was in the office approximately one minute before she managed to find a tennis ball. The ball belonged to Joe's boss's new poodle puppy, Alice. Hope Alice doesn't mind Mischa borrowing it and slobbering all over it. So after we left the office, we went to the grocery store. I went inside and when I came back out, there was this little old lady (well, okay, maybe not little and old...little, older lady) standing next to my car, looking in the windows. Sebastian was sitting in the backseat with his back to her, ever the social dog. Mischa was sitting in the front seat, staring at the little older lady staring at her. Because that's what Mischa does. Of course, knowing Mischa as I do, she could've learned Morse Code or hypnotism one morning while I was in the shower (not that I'm ever in the shower that long, of course...) and was using it on the little older lady to get her to bring cheeseburgers or liver treats to the car.

As far as I know, she wasn't.

Anyway, Mischa broke off the stare when she saw me approaching. Then she bounced into the backseat and both dogs stared at me as I put the groceries into the back of the car. The little older lady smiled at me and started to get into the car next to us. I smiled back. I even said hi. Ever the polite child. Then I got in the car. The first thing I did was hook Mischa to the front door. It keeps her in the front seat which keeps her from tagging Sebastian every time a (insert something Mischa freaks out about while in the car here. ) goes by. The little older lady, sitting in her car, is still looking at me and then, when she sees that I've seen her, says something. Which, since I am sitting in my car with the windows up and she is sitting in her car with the windows up, I cannot hear.

But, as I am ever the polite child, I put the window down. This, you realize, requires me to hold onto Mischa's collar so she won't jump out the window. Yeah. Learned that one the hard way. The little older lady does the same.

"I was just saying, wow," she said. She gestured to Sebastian, speechless. "I mean, just one would scare me to death! But you have two!"

"Oh," I say. "They're pretty big babies. Especially the big one."

Especially when you consider all I have to do to protect him from the little one. But I don't say that. I'm sensitive to my abnormally large German Shepherd's feelings.

"I just couldn't imagine if they were my dogs," little older lady said then.

I declined to point out that if they were her dogs, she probably wouldn't be scared to death of them. Ever the polite child.

We left then.

It's not the first time I've come out from some place and found someone standing by the car, looking at the dogs. It makes me wonder what the dogs are doing while I'm wherever I am. The first time it happened, I was at CVS. When I came out, there was this woman standing on the passenger's side of my car, looking in the window. When she saw me approach, she told me how she was standing there, waiting for me, because she wanted to tell me how beautiful the dogs were. Then she said something about Mischa being a German Shepherd, which I, of course, had to correct. Then we talked about the Malinois because she had never heard of the breed. Lately, it's been happening at the Post Office. Once, it was a guy who's wife ran a pet sitting service and he wanted to give me her card. Because Sebastian loves strangers. Other times, it's just people who want to tell me how pretty the dogs are, or how well behaved (obviously not the people in the Friendly's parking lot the night Mischa was liberating the cookie bag from my glove box.), how large Sebastian is, or just how damn cute Mischa is when she gnawing the head off of whatever stuffed animal has the unfortunate fate of being her car toy that day.

Funny.

Anyway, I'm going back to work. Just want to note that my iPod seems to be very much into Alice In Chains and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog this morning.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reading Quest

So, I read, on average, sixty books a year which I thought was always a decent number of books to read each year. That comes out to five books a month which is little over a book a week. But then I joined Facebook. Since then, I've befriended people who read well more than sixty books a year. They read one hundred books a year. One person said she used to read about two hundred books a year but then she had kids and since then, she's only been able to manage about half that.

What???

How does anyone read that many books? I really don't understand it. I mean, I read a lot. I'm constantly reading something. I'm constantly reading lots of something and still, I can only manage sixty books a year. How do these people fit in the other forty? So now I have a new goal. I have to read one hundred books. I'm thinking about reading a lot of young adult fiction, the kind of books I can just read in a couple of hours. More Janet Evanovich or something. I can usually read her books in a few hours too. Any books, really, in which one does not have to worry about any deeper meanings. Face valus books. Popsicle books. My reading teacher will be so very happy.

I don't know how else to do it. What are these people reading? I mean, am I just stupid or slow or something? Like, right now, I'm reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, Saturday by Ian McEwan, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Three Willows by Ann Brashares. Three out of four of these books are not novels that (I think anyway) are ones people can (or maybe should) just breeze through. They're books where one should revel in the language and just marvel at the talent that went into the writing of it.

I am floored. I am flabbergasted. I am at a loss. But I'm still going to try and do it. This probably does not bode well for the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. This probably does not bode well for my writing goals. Oh crap. If I don't finish my synopsis in the next month, I'll be stuck reading nothing but Jane Austen novels. That, certainly, does not bode well for my brand new book goal. Hello, Vicious Circle. I think we've been here before.

Well, gotta go. Can't blog...must read.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Television Week In Review (Week Ending 3/13/09)

Sunday

The Amazing Race: The teams all head to Siberia!! Woo Hoo! Wendy and I would like it noted that we would've gotten Chekov a lot sooner than some of those other teams. A should out to Amanda and Kris who were U-turned and had to do both the shutter challenge and the wood stacking challenge. Sucks to be them.

Legend of the Seeker: Dick and Kahlan meet up with Chase who has escaped from a D'Haran work camp. The trio then goes back to Hartland to liberate the town there. Slutty Anna makes a return appearance, this time as herself, and not as a figment of Dick's imagination. They fight, they romp, they win. Dick's adoptive brother, Michael, bites the dust and not in the same way as he does in the books. Doesn't matter to me though. I'm just freakin' in love with this show. Cheese and all.

Monday

Dancing With The Stars: Joe was looking forward to this. I kid you not. Of course, he was mostly interested in seeing Karina Smirnoff and Edtya Whatsherface's skimpy costumes but to each their own. David Allen Grier is a riot and I hope he sticks around for a while. Gilles the Naked Guy was really very good and I'm glad Cheryl has a good partner again. Samantha Harris was lame as usual but since she's married to some ABC bigwig, I guess we're stuck with her. I'm picking Steve Apple Computer Guy to be the first one out.

Castle: Nathan Fillion is freaking awesome. This is a fun show and I look forward to seeing more of it. Nathan Fillion, AKA Captain Tightpants and/or Captain Hammer, is so much fun to watch. If you didn't see this show, you're totally missing out.

The Big Bang Theory: Well now, this show spoke to me on many levels tonight. The first, the opener being the discussion about deleting recorded shows from the TiVo, which is something I am currently faced with. I don't want to delete any Battlestar Galactica either. Then, Sheldon is obsessed with trains which is funny because all I could think about was how much he'd enjoy my never ending subscription to Classic Trains Magazine. Then Leonard was reading a book called A Wrinkle in Time just as I am also reading a book called A Wrinkle In Time (not the same book, of course) and then Summer Glau of Firefly and Terminator fame makes a guest appearance. Awesome!!!

How I Met Your Mother: So this was the episode with Ted's pompous ex and the pants story. I can't imagine that the pompous ex is the mother because then, you know, the show would've been over already...you know? Them having met in college and all. Besides, the mother is the random girl Ted ran into last year in the St. Paddy's Day episode. Rumor has it we're meeting the mother before the year is out. Can't wait to find out that I'm right.

Chuck: So Chuck and Sarah are supposed to move in together just as Chuck and Morgan are supposed to move in together. Then Anna sees the lease Morgan has and assumes that she and Morgan are supposed to move in together. Chaos ensues. Agent Barker (hot James Bond wanna be) gets shot...a lot and we finally get some confirmation that maybe Sarah has real feelings for Chuck. Just as he tells her that he won't move in with her after all. Awwwww.

House: This was a fun episode. Loved the truth telling guy, especially in the scene where he met Cuddy. That was hysterical. It really was. I like that Thirteen was not the focus on this episode. Nothing against Olivia Wilde or her character, I just have grown weary of Thirteen centric episodes. There are other interesting characters here.

Tuesday

American Idol: The Top Thirteen perform the songs of Michael Jackson. No one touches Billie Jean, which is good because after my man, David Cook, sang it last year and (as Randy would say) blew it out da box, to attempt it again would be suicide. Anyway, Lil Rounds has a great voice and a really big ass. It's kind of distracting. I keep calling it a shelf on which she can store necessities like a bottle of water or a spare microphone. Mean, I know, but remember...I still think she's a great singer and if I voted on this show, then I would definitely vote to keep her in it. Scott MacIntyre sings an inspiration song and pretty much guarantees that he'll be around another week. Danny Gokey sings PYT and I worried for him but he was pretty good. Fun. Then some of the others sing but they don't inspire me to remember their names or their performances. Megan Corkery sings "Rockin' Robin" and all I have to say is... "What?" Nice song choice. That, by the way, was sarcasm. Adam Lambert was good...again, weird at times, but good overall. His singing inspired Joe to start looking up the 80's hair bands like Steelheart and Bang Tango and whoever else because he thinks Adam's style of singing is very much like that. Allison Iraheta was great as was Alexis Grey. There's apparently some big twist in the results show tomorrow night that America may not love. My feeling is that the judges are taking back some of the control to keep their favorites in the competition a little longer...can anyone say "sing off"?

Wednesday

Lie To Me: This was the first episode where I didn't hate Kelli Williams's character so that must count for something, right? It was also the first episode where I didn't feel as though they were making smart people look stupid. Good job, writers!

American Idol Results: The new twist in the competition is that the judges get one save they can use this season. Meaning that should one of their absolute favorites (read: Adam or Danny or Lil) should find theirselves eliminated too soon, then the judges will swoop in to save them from being sent home that week. Of course, the following week, two people will find themselves sent home. Anyway, can I just say how much longer it is to watch these result shows live and not on your DVR? When you watch them on the DVR, you can skip past the group number and the stupid banter and the Ford music video and the Kayne performance and just watch the good stuff like Kelly Clarkson's return (Hi...my name is Melissa and I'm a Kelly Clarkson fan.) and the final two minutes of show where they actually announce that Jasmine and Jorge are going home. The judges did not save them. Good.

Thursday

Bones: This episode was directed by David Boreanez which perhaps explain why Booth got to have so much fun in this episode...like test driving the $100,000 Audi sports car or getting a lapdance (too freaking hysterical of a scene, by the way). The corpse was particularly disgusting this week and I loved how it kept making the Jeffersonian's alarms go off and how tense that made cam. Mr. Nigel Murray was back as the lab assistant and while I love him and his random facts, I thought Lowell (I think that's his name, the guy who played hockey will Booth) was a better fit. Plus, he's the only assistant who's actually gotten to do something outside of the lab with Booth. Something recreational even. We'll see who pops up next week.

Grey's Anatomy: Derek's quitting surgery because his pregnant patient died and he got sued. Didn't they cover in Brain Surgery 101 that people will die? I mean they call them "inoperable brain tumors" for a reason, right? Anyway, he's all drunk and sulky and mean and hit Meredith's engagement ring out into the middle of nowhere with his stupid golf club. She says she's not going anywhere and we'll see. Meanwhile, Izzy's interns figure out she has a type of brain cancer that only has a five percent survival rate. She decides to tell Cristina because Cristina is a robot who doesn't like Izzy. Owen is trying to protect Cristina from himself and Lexi is trying to protect Sloan from herself. The Chief and Bailey were fighting but they got over it by the end. And George didn't have much to do again. Oh, and Callie is now hooking up with the peds surgeon.

The Office: Okay, now this episode made me laugh. Particularly Dwight and his comments "I keep a diary to keep secrets from my computer" and "I fell on my sword once. I was running with it in my belt. Won't happen again." Too damn funny. Kevin asking his girlfriend out was sweet...even the "Nice...boobs" comment he threw in at the end. And the very end where Dwight was trying to do the knock knock KGB joke on Jim but Jim wasn't cooperating was funny too. This is the show I know and love.

30 Rock: This was also quite funny. I love it when Dr. Spaceman makes an appearance. Tracy also learns he can say whatever he wants on television as long as he pays the FCC fines afterwards (FCC...must stand for 'federal bunch of sticklers'). And then Liz becomes a firebug and nearly kills everyone on staff. Overall, well done.

Supernatural: The boys become ghosts so they can take on the demons who want to kill the reapers to open another of the sixty six seals. Sam's been working out his supernatural power, for better or worse (I'm guessing worse because even Cool Blind Pam said so and besides, the show's track record pretty much guarantees it.). No sign of Ruby but Castiel made a cameo. Rumor has it that multiple important deaths are coming by season's end...if they kill Bobby, I will not be happy.

ER: Had to watch this epsiode because all the rumors said that Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway would be making a return appearance and I always did like Doug and Carol. Also popping in was Peter Benton, Carter's long time mentor, who just happens to be working at the hospital where Carter is awaiting his kidney transplant. It was nice to see their reconnection too. Some other stuff happened in the episode too but let's face it, no one really cared about that.

Friday

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Well, the gang found out that Riley's dead and everyone thinks Cameron did it. Jessie spends a lot of time recalling a submarine mission of hers and gets into a bar fight with a bunch of pilots. And that about covers it...

Dollhouse: Echo undergoes surgery to render herself a human camera and blind to boot in order to infiltrate a sect of religious freaks. Vincent has a...man-reaction in the shower which causes problems in the dollhouse. Agent Whatshisface doesn't like Echo and set out to rid the dollhouse of her. He failed and she knows what he did. That can't be good. Agent Helo (have no idea what his name in this show is...Ballard?) continued to track down the phantom Caroline and failed again.

Battlestar Galactica: So for a pentultimate episode, I kind of expected more....well, anything, I guess. I'm withholding all judgment until I see the two part finale next week because they're obviously building something and I think it's like a Monet painting where if you look too closely at one corner of it, you don't necessarily understand what the artist was trying to do so you have to stand back and look at the whole entire picture to get the meaning of it all.

Friday, March 13, 2009

In Which I Rediscover Caffiene...

As though of you who tune in regularly to My Pet Blog know, I've been suffering from insomnia of late. My overeager overactive mind is keeping me awake and no amount of sleeping pills (all right, in truth, I have not tested that theory and have no actual intention of testing that theory. It's hyperbole, people.) seems to be able to quiet it.

So I've decided that I need to try, really try, to stick to a sleeping schedule. Go to bed at the same time at night and then get up at the same time in the morning (Mischa will be thrilled. She's a creature of habit if there ever was one. That's a polite way of saying she's an anxiety ridden OCD dog if there ever was one.). Last night I went to bed at 11pm, having taking a sleeping pill an hour earlier. I was still awake after midnight. I was awake again at 4am when the cat, who had managed to stay hidden during my cat exodus, was amusing herself by running back and forth across the bed and then knocking over the picture frames on the bureau. I was awake again at 6am when Mischa realized it was 6am and that we'd be getting up soon. Mischa amused herself by running back and forth across the bed too. She's a little heavier than the cat so she's harder to ignore.

We got up at 7am and by 7:30, when the bed was calling my name, I resisted and started a load of laundry and got on the computer.

At 7:45, I took Sebastian and went to Dunkin' Donuts for hot chocolate.

I haven't had a caffeinated beverage since 2005 when I came home from Russia. Drank a lot of coke in Ekaterinberg and Moscow so I came home with the intention of giving up caffeine. And I did.

But you know what? Caffeine is good. Caffeine is swell. I rediscovered this as I downed my medium hot chocolate and my two double chocolate donuts. Double chocolate donuts, by the way, are equally swell. One of them had jimmies on it, shaped like little shamrocks. Festive. And swell.

But now, four and a half hours later, I'm suffering from withdrawal. I could tell the exact moment it started to fade. I was in the car and stuck at the end of my road, waiting to make a right hand turn onto the main strip, stuck behind some frakking idiot who was trying to make a left hand turn. From the right hand lane. And because I called him a lot worse than a frakking idiot, I knew the caffeine buzz was on its way out.

Fatigue is easing its way back in and I have nothing with which to fight it. It's a good thing I already went out and did the daily errands because I'd never be able to muster up the energy or desire to do it now.

Which probably does not bode well for my afternoon writing plans. I plan to be creative. I plan to be productive. I plan to write at least a complete sentence in my synopsis. I have decided to forge on ahead, regardless of who is (or is not) reading my manuscript. I have decided to give myself a deadline and consequences should I not meet this deadline. The deadline is April 30th. The consequence for the failure to reach this deadline will be that I shall not be allowed to read any other novels other than those written by one Miss Jane Austen until the failure is remedied. I'm hoping my absolute and total lack of interest in reading anything written by Miss Jane Austen shall help spur me on to success. We'll find out.

Here's my horoscope for today:

It is true that success goes to the persevering. And yet it is also foolish to continue down a path that is clearly not working. So, should you be tenacious, or should you change your approach? You'll know for sure by Monday.

You mean I have to wait that long?

This weekend, Mischa and I are going back to school. A new class is starting at our obedience school so we're going. Sebastian does not get to go because I am only one person and this is not the type of class in which one person can handle two dogs. If it was a tracking (as in search and rescue) class or an agility class, I could do it. But with a straight up obedience class, one dog per handler works best. And since Mischa is a never ending source of energy and Sebastian is a newly minted ass-biting asshole, Mischa gets to go. Of course, Mischa will be the perfect little Malinois everyone there thinks she is. Everyone who doesn't live with her and only sees her at obedience school thinks she's a perfect little Malinois. If only they knew...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Television Week In Review (Week Ending 3/6/09)

Sunday

Amazing Race: Mel and Mike are Number One!! Good for them. Victor/Vincent (don't know his name) and Tammy went from first to last because of some bad luck at the airport and then some very bad decision making at the detour. Tammy was right at the end when she said she needs to be more assertive because if she had, they wouldn't have wandered around the Romanian wilderness nearly as long as they did. I am actually proud of the teams who chose the gypsy moves challenge becasue I thought that would be an opening for many an ugly American moments but, for the most part, they were well behaved. The married couple, whose names I do not know and now have no need to know, had really bad luck in Amsterdam and ended up finishing last and were eliminated.

Jesse Stone: Thin Ice: Tom Selleck's back as Robert B. Parker's literary creation, Jesse Stone. I've enjoyed the movies they've done so far. This one started with Jesse sitting with homicide commander Healy (another beloved Parker character) in his car on a non-stakeout when someone comes and starts shooting up the car. I gasped/screamed and said, "They did not just kill Healy!!!" and Joe said, "Don't you already know what happens?" because the all the movies thus far have been based on Jesse Stone novels. This movie was not. They did not, by the way, kill off Healy. They did replace Molly however with Kathy Baker playing Rose. I know they did that a movie or two ago, but I don't think I was blogging about it then. The main mystery was Jesse dealing with the shooting. The secondary mystery felt like kind of a rushed waste. It had to do with a child kidnapped at birth...or shortly afterwards, anyway. I am surprised they have not made this into a regular series. Maybe Tom is afraid of commitment.

Legend of the Seeker: Well, Dick gets himself into more trouble and Zedd has to get him out of it. It was funny to hear Zedd all "Can't break another wizard's spell! That's against the rules!" when last week he spent the entire hour trying to break another wizard's spell. Just saying. Also worth noting: Kieran the Ancient Seeker and his wizard (whatever his name was) looked like rejects from the Braveheart set. And why don't any of the other Confessors (or most of the show's other female characters) have Kahlan's perfect hair? Do the hair and makeup people blow their entire budget on her perfect hair every week so that everyone else has to fend for themselves?

Monday

The Big Bang Theory: The opening was entirely unfunny. The rest of the episode was pretty amusing however. Joe was annoyed by the paint on the cushion thing, saying that it was just paint and water would've taken care of it, still Sheldon's reaction was priceless. Also loved Leonard's confession that Sheldon's Chinese restaurant went out of business two years ago and he bought four thousand food containers in which to put the food he bought from the other restaurant so that Sheldon would never know.

How I Met Your Mother: This was a very weird episode, but pretty funny. Barney saves all. I didn't much care for Ted in this episode but he wasn't given that much to do, either. Loved the end when Lily was faking a conversation with Marshall's mother. Ahh, the things we do for love.

Chuck: A good episode. Introduced a hot British secret agent. Oh, and Chuck and Sarah broke up (again) and then got back together (again) by the end of the hour because Sexy British Man got himself kidnapped and Chuck needed to go into twenty four hour special protection...which means that he and Sarah have to move in together. I like the show and like the cast but the whole Chuck/Sarah thing get tiring.

Tuesday

American Idol: The final group of twelve take the stage and most really suck. Nathaniel Mitchell wears his trademark headband and skinny jeans and always makes me think of this guy I worked with for a little while a few years back. This guy tried on the junior girls' jeans we had in the store, which fit him, but, as he lamented, did not have a lot of pocket room for his wallet and whatever. My response? "Wow...it's almost like those jeans were made for a twelve year old girl." Fortunately, he bought a bigger size than I did. Anyway, I mostly agreed with Simon on all things. I usually do. Lil Rounds was fantastic. Scott McIntyre will likely get through too. I have no idea who the third should be. As long as those two go through, I don't think I care who the third is.

Reaper: It's back. Finally. After a very long absence, so long, in fact, that I scarcely remember how the first season ended. Anyway, I haven't watched it yet which probably doesn't bode well for me watching it in the future. If I do watch it, you'll be the first to know!

Wednesday

American Idol Results: Well, Lil Rounds and Scott McIntyre and Jorge Nunez are sailing through to the top twelve. I tried to get a video of Lil singing up but couldn't seem to manage it, but she was great. Tomorrow night is the wild card round and for some reason (I'm guessing producers who want the drama), they are bringing Tatiana del Toro back. WHAAAAAT? Didn't you see Simon mocking her as she came down the stairs after her name was called?

Lie To Me: Well, I totally had both mysteries figured out about fifteen minutes into the show. I'd say that makes me like crazy smart but I think the show's actually crazy stupid. The writers should take lessons from the writers from Bones because they know how to give the audience necessary information without making a character more stupid than they should be. For example, one of the lie experts shouldn't be explaining to another lie expert why a subject is doing what he/she is doing. Find a nobody to stand there and say, "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" or something. P.S....this note goes out to the promo people: Lie To Me is NOT the next House.

Thursday

American Idol Wild Card Show: So the judges picked eight people to whom they wanted to offer a second chance to make it to the top twelve. Three of them would make it through. Matt Giruad is awesome. And they picked him. They also picked the weird hip action girl...I think her name is Meghan. Jasmine Murray, the cute little sixteen year old is going through too. Props to weird hip action girl for being a big person about her spotlight being stolen by Tatiana Drama Queen, who did not make it through. Props to the judges for making the top twelve a top thirteen this year so that they could inclide fan favorite, the affable Anoop (don't know his last name.). Lots of good performances tonight but I think they made the right decision.

The Office: I wish this show would get its groove back. I laughed, I did, but not as long or as hard as I used to.

30 Rock: Any show that can pay tribute to Harry and the Hendersons is an awesome, kick ass show in my book.

Burn Notice: I want to be Fiona GlenAnn. She is so totally kick ass awesome. I want to be her. Anyway, pretty good season finale, lots of action and explosions. Must make note to remember to ricochet bullets off pavement into the undercarriage of cars if I'm ever in a high speed gun fight. New episodes return in June!

Friday

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Well, Cameron finally got to do something. Of course, she got to kill birds. Big Whoop. Annoying Riley's dead, shot by the mysterious Jessie, but according to next week's previews, everyone seems to think Cameron did it. Sucks to be her. Joe's still waiting for John Connor to actually be the leader because he's not the leader in any of the movies or this show, Sarah's the leader. I told him that's why it's called The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Dollhouse: This is a cool show. I really want to know where Joss is taking it because, well, because it's Joss's brainchild and that man is brilliant. Plus, I really want to know who Alpha is. I understand that it's a big secret that Joss is trying desperately to keep under wraps. This only makes me want to know more. But not until Joss decides he wants us to know. I am nothing if not loyal.

Battlestar Galactica: YOU KNOW THE SPOILER DRILL BY NOW, KIDDOS!!! Anyway, a bit of a disappointment, this episode was, given how frakking awesome last week's was. I expected this week to be more...explosive, you know? If there weren't only three episodes left (this week included), then I probably would be more zen about it. But as it is, I want answer. I want big fat answers. And I guess Baltar confirming that the blood on the dog tags Kara took from her earth corpse is a DNA match to the living Kara was something, but, I mean, I already knew they were the same...what I don't know is HOW THAT'S FREAKING POSSIBLE. Oh, and they made Anders into a hybrid floating around (well, not really floating) in a big pool of goo who now spouts things like "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza..." and "You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace. You will lead them to their end." Not that we know what that means either. One last though: the magical moveable cylon colony looks like a very creepy place and I hope Boomer is proud of her sad, sorry self. End of line.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Who Needs Sleep?

The question is who needs sleep. The answer is, of course, EVERYONE.

The problem, however, is that I have apparently decided to give up sleeping. Which sucks because I really do love to sleep. Sleep is awesome.

What is not awesome is lying wide awake in your bed not sleeping. When I go to bed, I listen to Joe toss and turn. I listen to Joe snore. I listen to Sebastian snore. Some nights, I even listen to Mischa snore. On the nights when Mischa is not snoring, she is often whimpering. I can only imagine that she is having nightmares about wayward bridges, cookie sheets or magazines. Maybe all three. I can imagine that and do. Because I'm wide awake.

I also listen to the cats. They get banned from the bedroom every night because the orange one, Jenny, is just frakking annoying. She wants to be as close as possible to you. She'll sit right on your face if you let her. We don't let her. We throw her out. So Jenny and Lily spend all night wrestling up and down the hallway. Sometimes they sit in front of the bedroom door and meow. Sometimes, I listen to Lily sneeze. Lily has this apparently non-curable respiratory infection that causes her to sneeze. As in all over the place. Most of the time it's pretty harmless, just a little gross. Other times, it's so freaking disgusting, there aren't words.

So yeah, I listen to that too. I listen to the heat come on. I listen to the heat go off. I listen to the filter in Joe's fish tank. When it's windy outside, I listen to that too.

I also think. I think about scenes I'm writing. I think about books I'm reading or shows I watched that night, or shows I'm planning to watch the next night. I think about my plans for the coming day. I think about things that piss me off. There are, often times, a lot of things that piss me off.

Like not sleeping. That pisses me off.

So, when I went to the grocery store Tuesday, I picked up some Rescue Remedy Sleep Aid. It's all natural and non-habit forming. The box said it would help calm a restless mind. The box said it worked quickly. The box said two squirts on my tongue and I'd soon be asleep.

The box is a big fat liar.

Two squirts on my tongue (by the way, the stuff is disgusting.) and all I got out of it was a chance to test my gag reflex (in tact, in case you wondered.) and dry mouth because here it is, four thirty in the freaking morning, and I'm writing a blog about how much I can't sleep.

And now it's to the point where, even if I could sleep, I wouldn't bother because Mischa is going to be up in an hour and a half anyway because she doesn't comprehend the concept of sleeping in. She'll actually be pacing around the bedroom in about an hour in anticipation of getting up. On the mornings when I don't get out of bed to write blogs or read books, I lie in bed and listen to her pace. Taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap from one end of the bedroom to the other. It's really the only time I regret having such a large bedroom. Meanwhile, the boys are both still snoring and I'm watching the freaking sunrise.

But the absolute best part (SARCASM ALERT!), is when Joe, who has, by the way, been sleeping since nine or ten the night before, gets out of bed and promptly complains about being tired. I, of course, always respond with loving empathy. Never with cranky bitchy sarcasm.

So here's what I'm doing now to kill time: I read the headlines on MSN. A man is facing assault charges for roughing up the Chuck E. Cheese's mascot. A woman called 911 after the McDonald's she was in ran out of chicken nuggets. What the hell is wrong with people? I was flipping through my dictionary a moment ago and discover that the definition of the word "water snake" is as follows: a snake that lives in or near the water. Well, thanks for clearing that up. By the way, I wasn't looking for the definition of the word "water snake"...just happened to catch my eye. Oh look, here's another one: wrist band: a band worn around the wrist. A "xystus" is an Ancient Greek walkway with a roof supported by pillars. That one I didn't actually know.

Yep. It's coming up on five in the morning and I am actually reading the dictionary. Not that there's anything wrong with that, really. It's a good way to learn things. It's just that, at five in the morning, I'd much rather be sleeping. But instead, I guess I'll google "trouble sleeping" and see what pops up.

Here are some suggestions for getting a good night's sleep (courtesy of 4therapy.com, the first on the results page.)

**Follow a regular schedule--go to sleep and get up at the same time each day. If I could go to sleep, I wouldn't be needing suggestions for getting a good night's sleep.

**Avoid taking cat-naps during the day. I never take cat naps. Next?

**Try to exercise at regular times each day. Moderate physical activity 2 to 4 hours before bedtime may improve your sleep. 2 to 4 hours before bed, I'm usually playing with Mischa to help improve her sleep. Unfortunately, it still does nothing for mine.

**To adjust your internal sleep clock, try to get some exposure to the natural light in the afternoon each day. Check. Now what?

**Eat smart, avoid heavy dinners, and don't eat too close to bedtime. I have no smart ass comment for this one. Except that I just don't tend to do that.

**Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day--caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. I haven't had a caffeinated beverage since 2005.

**Refrain from drinking alcohol close to bedtime or in an effort to help you sleep. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol can make it harder to stay asleep. Dammit. I was going to try that next. What if I mix the alcohol with the sleeping pills? Is that all right?

**Smoking in an effort to help you sleep can have the opposite effect since nicotine is a stimulant. I don't smoke. I'm still using my lungs.

**Do something pleasurable before bedtime to help you unwind and get your mind off the day's responsibilities and nagging concerns. Like taking the dogs outside and standing in the single digit degree night while I wait for Sebastian to find a goddamn place to take a dump?

**Take a relaxing shower or bath before bedtime and, if you like to use fragrances, consider using lavender scented body soaps, lotions or oils for its naturally calming effect. Been there, done that. Didn't work out.

**Avoid over-stimulation before you go to bed. And only go to bed when you're actually tired. Don't try to force yourself to sleep, instead get up and "do something boring" then head back to bed. Trust me, I'm really tired.

**Be especially thoughtful about what end-of-the-night TV shows you watch and your bedtime reading selections. Avoid content that focuses on issues that are disturbing or that dwell on a topic that's currently causing you to feel concerned, worried, threatened, or afraid. Well, the selection of the top twelve contestants on American Idol concerns us all.

**Listen to music you especially enjoy at bedtime. Play it at a low volume and make sure to select music with especially soothing rhythms and calming lyrics. Gregorian chants, anyone?

**Consider purchasing an acoustic "nature sounds simulator relaxation machine" (typically under $20. at certain pharmacies, or stores like Target). Settings for such sounds as "Spring rain," "mountain stream," "ocean waves," and ""summer night" can help relieve end-of-the-day stress and act as a natural sleep aid. Yeah. Right.

**Create a safe and comfortable sleeping environment. Make sure there are locks on all doors and smoke alarms on each floor. A lamp that's easy to turn on and a telephone by your bedside may be helpful. In addition, the room should be dark, well ventilated, and have all nonessential sounds blocked out. Non essential sounds...you mean like "Spring Rain" or "Mountain Stream" right?

Anyway, the next two results are music videos on YouTube. Because that'll be helpful. Well, maybe they have soothing rhythms and calming lyrics. I hear that can help.

The next result is a site with a quiz called "Do You Have Insomnia?" I think I'll take the sleep quiz to find out. It should take under five minutes. It actually takes about two, and that's only if you read each question really, really slowly. I score a 20. I have no idea what that means. The only numbers on the entire quiz were the question numbers. Don't these people know enough not to frak with insomniacs? I mean, even Joe, once he complains about how frakking tired he is, will stay the hell out of my way. Is 20 good? Is it bad? What's the scale here? I scored 20 out of what? 20? 30? 100? What? Frakkers.

"Superannuate" means to retire, or retire someone, with a pension. Just thought you should know. Oh look. An ivory billed woodpecker is a woodpecker with an ivory-colored bill. Who the frak wrote this dictionary because I am going to kick their frakking ass.

Hmmm...Maybe I'll go write some lyrics instead.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Influential Authors

This is a spin off of another Facebook time waster. Much like my previous post about the twenty five influential albums of my life, this was supposed to be a list of the twenty five influential books of my life. So I thought about it. And then thought about it some more. And then some more. This is what I came up with: a list of the top twenty five authors of my life. There are a great deal more than just twenty five authors who have had an impact on my life, but here are, in chronlogical order (to the best of my ability), the top twenty five:

1. Dr. Seuss- Growing up, we had, I think, just about every book this man wrote and we read them often. Cat In The Hat, Green Eggs and Ham...

2. Shel Silverstein- Ditto. I can still recite the poems I learned in the second grade.

3. Judy Blume- This woman owned my childhood for a good long while. Freckle Juice, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The One in the Middle is a Green Kangaroo, Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, Blubber, and the list goes on and on...

4. Joan Lowery Nixon- the writer of the young adult mystery books with which I was in love. She also wrote historical fiction novels for kids too.

5. The Secret of the Unicorn Queen Crowd- This was a series of six books that my mother came across for me. They were written by different authors but I had to put these books/authors on my list because these are the books that inspired me to write my own fantasy series. Talk about influential. They are: Josepha Sherman, Gwen Hansen, Suzanne Weyn and Dory Perlman.

6. Francine Pascal- The creator of the Sweet Valley High series. I was very much in love with these books when I was in the seventh grade. My mother and reading teacher were a little less happy about this. They had this whole theory about how these books were like a popsicle, how there was no substance to the books. Didn't stop me from reading them though. A lot.

7. Ellen Emerson White- Well, if you know me at all, then you know she had to be on this list. I came across her novel, The President's Daughter in the school library in the seventh grade one day when I was tired of being harassed about my Sweet Valley High obsession. I haven't looked back since.

8. Cynthia Voigt- An amazing writer for young adults. I was/am particularly enthralled with her novels that revolve around the Tillerman family as well as those in the Kingdom series.

9. George Orwell- I read Animal Farm a lot when I was in eighth grade because it wasn’t a very long book and I could read the whole entire thing in a forty five minute class period. The rest of my class took longer. Anyway, I liked it. I liked it enough, at any rate, to seek out other stuff he'd written. And write papers about him. And not because it was assigned either.

10. William Shakespeare- What I was reading in eighth grade when I wasn’t reading Orwell. Haven't really stopped since. Hamlet is, hands down, my favorite.

11. John Knowles- Read his novel A Separate Peace in the ninth grade. It’s been one of my favorite books ever since. One of the few books I read in high school that I actually, truly liked and one of the few books I chose to teach my own students because it was the one that I actually, truly, liked. They were shocked to find out there were books that I didn't like. Yes, English teachers are people too.

12. E.E. Cummings- Most noted for his poetry, but he also wrote prose. His novel The Enormous Room is an account of his imprisonment in France during World War I. He's on this list because he was really the first writer to show me that grammar rules are sometimes meant to be broken.

13. William Carlos Williams- Another of my favorite poets, although I did not fully appreciate his brilliance when first introduced to him. I wrote a detailed blog entry about him last April during National Poetry Month. Click here to read it. Scroll down to April 8, 2008.

14. William Faulkner- Another amazing writer. I read a lot of his books in my later high school career. The one that inspired me the most was As I Lay Dying which helped me to start my novel (in progress) How Many Angels.

15. Marion Zimmer Bradley- I read The Mists of Avalon when I was a senior in high school. And then read everything else she wrote.

16. William Goldman- The man who wrote The Princess Bride, both the novel and the screenplay. He also wrote the screenplays to Misery and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

17. Geoffrey Chaucer- There's a funny story about how I came to read (and love) his work, Troilus and Criseyde, but since it makes me sound kind of stupid and uneducated, I think I might skip writing it here. Let me just say that my college professor was right. Whatever.

18. Robert B. Parker- Of course Robert B. Parker had to make this list. I'd like to thank Ellen Emerson White for having her character, Meg Powers, read Spenser novels. I've always loved Parker's sense of humor.

19. J.K. Rowling- If you don't know why I've included this woman in this list, then you don't know me at all.

20. Laurie Halse Anderson- I first read her novel, Speak when my sister, Elizabeth, recommended it. It's now one of my all time favorite books. This woman is an amazing writer and if you read nothing else in your lifetime, read Speak.

21. Stephen King- The man to whom I owe my stict anti-adverb philosophy. Thanks! While his non fiction book, On Writing, has probably influenced me the most, his novel Wizard And Glass is one of my all time favorite novels.

22. Philippa Gregory- Her novels are, as a whole, amazing. The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance are particularly impressive. Her novel, Wideacre, has what I have longed considered to be the most perfect ending I've ever read. I don't know how to describe it but damn, it's just perfect.

23. Ian McEwan- I read his novel Atonement last year because I thought the movie Hollywood had made was pretty good. The book was better.

24. Cormac McCarthy- I picked up The Road last year and was blown away by it and its non-traditional and extremely powerful use of language.

25. Joss Whedon- Last, but certainly not least, is Joss Whedon. Maybe he doesn't write books, but he has written the scripts for about a gazillion of my favorite television shows. Plus, my damn religion is W.W.J.W.D? so how could I not put him on this list?

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Misadventures of Mischa the Misbehaving Malinois

I should probably start off this entry by saying that I love my dogs. I do, I really do. And, all things considered, I would absolutely have another Malinois. Maybe just not two at the same time.

So, Mischa has been, how do you say, testing her boundaries of late. In fact, during February Vacation week, she was getting so bad that I told Joe I was just going to kill her. I was just going to drop kick her scrawny little puppy ass into the semi frozen Saco River. I, of course, did no such thing. It just felt good to say.

It being February Vacation week, there were people every where. On the roads, on the sidewalks, every where. And every time we were in the car, Mischa barked at them all. Mischa threw herself against the car window and went into an apoplectic fit each and every time we passed someone. Someone built a snowman outside of Pizza Hut and she flipped out at that too. I was glad when it finally melted enough that she no longer considered it a threat. I think Sebastian was glad too.

Sebastian, by the way, actually refused to get in the car during February Vacation Week. Normally he only refuses to get in the car if his spastic sister is already inside so he generally gets inside first while Mischa is still in the house, throwing herself against the windows and doors there because she's convinced that Sebastian's getting to go somewhere she isn't. But this time, he refused to get in the car altogether. Because he knew, he just knew, the absolute delight of a time we would all have.

One day we were at a stop light and Mischa was freaking out over the snowmobilers going to McDonalds. Sebastian was sitting on the other side of the car with his head out the window probably sending secret morse code messages for rescue. When I managed to talk Mischa off the anger ledge over the snowmobilers, she turned around to look at me, expecting a cookie for so nicely scaring away the snowmobiles when she totally went off the deep end again. I looked to my left and, sitting in the lane next to us, was a truck with a German Shepherd sitting in the passenger's seat with his head out the window. Sebastian, my ass biting asshole of a German Shepherd, was doing absolutely nothing except looking at this new strange German Shepherd. Probably looking at him in absolute jealously, now that I think about it, but not so much as a growl came out of Sebastian. Mischa, however, was having a fit. And once she gets going, and I mean really gets going, she is damn hard to talk back down. The light turned green and the truck and the German Shepherd drove away but we didn't go anywhere for a little bit. Much to the delight, I am sure, of the people sitting at the light behind us.

But eventually we got calmed down. I shouted a couple of obscenities and death threats- I mean encouraging platitudes- and we went on with our day. Funny story unrelated to Mischa and her questionable behavior: that same day, at the post office, I went inside and came back out and there was this woman standing in front of my car, looking at the dogs. I said hi to her and she said, "You've got a big dog in the back seat!" as though I did not realize that I had a big dog in my back seat. I agreed with her and resisted the urge to say something like "Oh my God! Where the hell did that come from!"

Another day, my dear sweet Mischa, found out that she could break into the cats' room. We have two cats, in case you don't know. They have grudgingly accepted the dogs, although I do think that some days they are plotting against me for my treachery. They have their own little room upstairs. It's really a glorified closet, but it works and is a completely dog free zone, thanks to the baby gate we put up in the room's doorway about six years ago when we first brought Sebastian home. It works. We use a similar tactic to keep the dogs out of the laundry room and that works too because they're both a little skittish about baby gates falling on them.

Apparently, however, Mischa got over it. She's skittish about every thing, every damn little thing, the vacuum, the dishwasher, the silverware drawer, bridges, cookie sheets, pots, pans, magazines, you name it, she's probably afraid of it, but she decided to damn the torpedos and head full on into the fray one morning while I was in the shower. Normally, both dogs sit right outside the bathroom door if they haven't thrown their weight against said door, popped it open and sat right outside the shower itself while they wait for me to finish. The morning of Mischa's little quest, I got out of the shower and found only Sebastian waiting for me outside in the hall. I asked him where his sister was since she did not appear to be eating the afghan in my office, or tearing a new hole in one of my slippers. Sebastian, of course, did not answer but gave me that look that says Don't look at me. I didn't want a baby sister.

So I called my dear sweet Mischa who will, normally, drop whatever she's doing and come running to me, not actually stopping until she's run directly into me. Thank goodness I'm not a man, that's all I have to say. Anyway, she did not come. I called her again and still, she did not appear. This is a major red flag because the only time Mischa does not come is when she's into something she shouldn't be into.

So I went on a hunt to find her. Half way up the stairs, it occurred to me what she was doing and I started screaming obscenities and running like hell.There she was, having broken down the firmly installed baby gate, bypassing the newly filled food bowl, with her head in the litter box. I was not, what you would call, pleased. I was so far removed from pleased I think they probably hear the obscenity screaming three counties over. I think that may have been the day I told Joe I was drop kicking the dog into the Saco.

Things didn't get much better. She still won't leave the baby gate alone, she's actually shredded some outgoing mail, she's been tagging Sebastian for daring to look in either her or my direction. Somedays, she won't let him near me. I do not tolerate that. She may be a bitch, but I'm a bigger one. Just ask Joe.

Her latest, greatest caper, was at my mother's house this past week. We went down to pick up puppy meds and stopped at the house so Mischa and Piper could play together. They really do play together nicely. I brought them both outside off leash so they could run. I think Piper got a little fustrated that she couldn't keep up with Mischa. I kept telling her she shouldn't feel bad because no one can keep up with Mischa.

Then later, we were all in the house and apparently Mischa decided she was hungry, and not at all tired even though she'd been on the move for a good ten hours straight, and broke into Piper's food bin. Piper's food bin, by the way, has a lid on it that has snaps on it to help hold it down and make it puppy proof. Puppy proof, just not Mischa proof.

I shouldn't be surprised. This is, after all, the same dog who managed to break into the cookie cupboard, open the cookie box, take out the cookies, close the cookie box and then the cookie cupboard door all so I wouldn't known she'd been in there. So I shouldn't be surprised that she managed to break into a food bin. Twice. That's right. After she was scolded for it the first time, she went back for more.

My dog is a delinquent.

But it gets better because that night, while my family and I were dining in Friendly's, Mischa was in the car, breaking into the glove compartment. I'd left a treat bag filled with cookies in there because I knew better than to leave it just sitting there on the dashboard or something. I thought it would be safe in there. Ha. That'll teach me. Of course, I didn't know she'd done anything until I went to take the treat bag out of the glove box only to find the cookie-less tattered remains of what had once been a treat bag. So yeah, in total Mischa style, she managed to get the glove box open, eat the cookies, and hide the evidence.

The damn dog is just too damn smart. A freaking genius but one, however, without any social cues. She has no idea when I am mad at her. Sebastian always has the good sense to hide when I'm mad at him. Or Mischa, actually. He does tend to hide when I'm pissed at her too. But not Mischa. No, she continues to follow me around, looking at me with her sweet little brown crazy tinged eyes, wondering what great misadventure we're going to have next.

I'm wondering too.

So be sure to tune in next time when I'm sure I'll be relating the tale of how Mischa hotwired the car while I was in the grocery store so she could go score herself a couple of cheeseburgers. Not that I'll know she did it, of course, until I find the receipt crumpled up and stuffed under the driver's seat.