Monday, April 30, 2007

Southern Living, indeed: Garden & Gun

Just when I think I've seen it all, I see more.

Grocery shopping today brought me face-to-face with the premiere issue of a new mag dedicated to modern genteel Southern living: Garden & Gun.
You read that right.

Garden & Gun.

Gracing the cover is uber-Southern man Pat Conroy.

I was in a hurry so I didn't open it and thumb through, but Lia Miller of the New York Times, in her article "Garden & Gun Magazine Has an Awkward Debut", has the skinny:

Garden & Gun, a glossy new lifestyle magazine from Charleston, S.C., says it is for those who love “an adventure-bound, art-loving, skeet-shooting lifestyle.” In reality, the magazine is less about guns than it is about gardens, “Southern tradition” and land conservation. The gun part of the title, said Rebecca Darwin, the magazine’s publisher, is a metaphor for “the sporting life.”

It is also an inside reference to a popular ’70s Charleston disco called the Garden and Gun Club.

The name might not have raised an eyebrow had not the premiere issue arrived on newsstands just days before the shootings at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on April 16. Ms. Darwin said only one critical e-mail message was received, among many positive ones, but others in the magazine industry noted the unfortunate timing.

Ms. Darwin, a former publisher of The New Yorker and Mirabella, said that there were no guns in the first issue. The “sporting life” piece is an article by George Black on trout fishing in Georgia.

Garden & Gun, which is published by the Evening Post Publishing Company, has an initial distribution of 150,000 and plans to publish five issues this year and 10 in 2008.

Samir Husni, the head of the University of Mississippi’s journalism department, said that he winced when he saw the name. “In this day and age, any title that you have to explain, you know it’s not the right title.”

But Ms. Darwin, who had 20 years of publishing experience in New York before returning to her South Carolina roots, said she was confident of the magazine’s appeal. “There are 40 million people that enjoy hunting and fishing; when you get outside of New York City, there is a whole other world out there.”

Oh, well if they're only metaphoric guns...

When my aunt and uncle, who live in Illinois, visited a few weeks ago, they were startled by the occasional gunshot in the not-so-far-off distance. I remained unruffled. I don't know who's shooting, or at what, but the occasional KERPLOW!! has been a fact of daily life for all of the thirty-one years I've lived in this house. I live in a subdivision that backs up to a woodsy, trailer-occupied area. KERPLOW!! is a sound as mundane as the crackle and whoosh of the squirrels who chase each other through the dry leaves of my backyard.


And guns.

New South, same as the Old South.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I am not 250 years old!

I almost never look at my profile. Today I did and discovered that somehow I was listed as 250 years old.


I feel really young now.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Not a conservative molecule in my whole body

I am:
"You're a complete liberal, utterly without a trace of Republicanism. Your strength is as the strength of ten because your heart is pure. (You hope.)"

Are You A Republican?

Put on the trail of this quiz by konagod.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The kind of momentous event for which blogs were invented....

I've completely used up the ink in a ballpoint pen.

That never happens; I always lose them first.

Mark this day.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Laugh of the Day

A student came to my office to discuss her paper. While she was here, she insisted on giving me a doctor's note for her most recent absence. I require no notes; students get X absences, then no more.

She left the note on the desk hours ago, and I only just looked at it.

Student J's illness was a plastic surgeon.

Instantaneous (Lack of) Gratification

At 4:50 a student e-mailed everyone in the class (including me) to see if she could borrow a book to read tomorrow’s assignment.

At 4:57 she wrote to me to complain that no one had answered her e-mail and what was she to do? By the way, I already had responded, offering my book. I wrote back and offered the book a second time.

I’m trying not to laugh. It's 5:02. Why hasn't she responded to my twice-made offer yet???

When we don’t get what we want, it should fail to come immediately, yes?

(Edit: over an hour later, she still hasn't responded to my two e-mails. Imagine that.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Out of Excuses, or, Not All Fluorescent Bulbs Are Created Equal

About a year ago, I bought a few fluorescent bulbs to replace incandescent bulbs, but I hated the color the light put off: so yellow that everything, including people, looked jaundiced. I even tried searching for info on a bulb with more "natural" light, but I guess I kept using the wrong keywords. Until now.

Apparently the thing to look for is the CRI, or "Color Rendering Index":

Color-rendering Index (CRI): Refers to how well the light from the bulb reflects true colors.

The CRI scale tops out at 100, the equivalent to natural sunlight or soft white incandescent bulbs. The CRI for fluorescent bulbs typically ranges from 50 for a basic bulb to 90 for a plant and aquarium bulb.
I presume this number is on the bulbs' packaging.

Time to go shopping.

Karl Rove Revokes Sheryl Crow's Citizenship

Or something like that.

Karl Rove's debate with singer Sheryl Crow and producer Laurie David about global warming heated the atmosphere at a black-tie Washington dinner.

On the eve of Earth Day, Crow and "Inconvenient Truth" producer David walked over to the presidential adviser's table at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner Saturday night at the Washington Hilton.

Their differences on global warming quickly bubbled over, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

"I am floored by what I just experienced with Karl Rove," David said later. "I went over to him and said, I urge you to take a new look at global warming. He went zero to 100 with me. ... I've never had anyone be so rude."

Rove said: "She came over to insult me and she succeeded."

As the debate intensified, Crow tried to calm things down but was drawn into the debate with Rove instead.

"You work for me," she told Rove, according to the Post column "The Reliable Source."

"No," was his response. "I work for the American people."

Heather Lylis, a spokeswoman for Crow and David's global warming tour, said Sunday that Crow's response for Rove was: "Yes, and I'm an American citizen."

It's not news that this administration has a hard time with the concept (one I learned in grade school) that government officials work for us and not the other way around (and that would be all of us, not just those who agree with them). But hey, don't go messin' with Sheryl Crow.

Sheryl Crow and Laurie David at said dinner. You know what Rove looks like.

Earth Day 2007

We only have the one planet. Without it, what happens with Don Imus, or on American Idol, or even in Iraq is rather irrelevant.

Let's get our priorities straight. Let's take care of the earth.

Earth Day 2007.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bad News

For a few minutes today, in a very small way, I knew what the families of the VT students felt when the news of the shooting there first broke and little was clear, because Marine Son lives in a military housing area just about a mile from where a Blue Angel crashed this afternoon during an air show. The initial reports only indicated that the plane went down in “a residential area.”

I was away from home and heard the story on the radio. I know my son well enough to know that if an air show was in town, he was there…and not in his home. But then he didn’t answer his cell phone when I called to check. Fortunately for me, I suppose, I’m not an overreactor.

He was indeed at the air show and he and his family are fine. We now know that apparently only the pilot died.

But for those few minutes, the horrible thing was possible. And for one family, the pilot’s family, that horror is real.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

When I'm Wrong, I'm Wrong, or, Gov. Crist, Are You Sure You're a Republican?

First Charlie says he wants to get rid of paperless voting machines, potentially restoring confidence in the integrity of Florida's voting process to skeptics like me.

Then Charlie says he's going to restore the voting rights of felons who have fully "paid their debt" to society.

Now, at a RALLY AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING (my poor abused mind is still trying to wrap itself around that one), Charlie announces that he has legal staff looking at the possibility of a posthumous pardon for Jim Morrison, who was appealing his conviction in Florida for indecent exposure at the time of his death.

Gov. Charlie Crist said he was seriously considering pardoning music icon Jim Morrison's 1970 indecent exposure and profanity convictions stemming from a Miami concert the year before.

"He died when he was 27. That's really a kid, when you think about it, and obviously he was having some challenges," Crist said Monday, after attending a rally against global warming with rock star Sheryl Crow. "There's some dispute about how solid the case was."

Morrison's arrest generated a lot of attention at the time and is still a part of the Morrison legend. He was drunk at the concert and police said he exposed himself, which Morrison denied.

Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek said Tuesday that he never saw Morrison expose himself and none of the more than 100 photos entered into evidence showed Morrison's genitals.

"He taunted the audience. 'I'm going to show you! I'm going to show it to you!' Then he took his shirt off, held it in front of him like a bullfighter's cape, wiggled it around as if there was something going on behind it," Manzarek said.

Morrison appealed the convictions, but was found dead in a Paris bathtub before it could be heard.

"Trying to clear his name and then he dies. If you have a heart pounding in your chest, that has to tug at you a little bit. It should," Crist said. "To have that much talent and to have it sucked out, even if there was some self-involvement ... that's very sad and very tragic."

Crist is the man who ran to the other end of the state during the last moments of the gubernatorial campaign to avoid being seen with George W. Bush, which now no longer looks so much like a political stunt as it does a metaphor for his political worldview.

Salon reports that Crist has a 73% approval rating in Florida. Me? I'm leaning against the wall in the corner, arms crossed, watching with interest to see what Charlie will do next.

Rock and roll, Charlie. Rock and roll.

4-20 edit: I discovered tonight that a friend attended the Crow concert and heard Crist speak. She reported he is indeed passionate about doing something about global climate change.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The difference a day makes

Our classroom's door is usually kept locked and students can't get in until I arrive with the key. That's fine, but it stays locked from the outside and becomes a nuisance after class begins and the stragglers start knocking on the door and jiggling the doorknob. Either I stop what I'm doing and open the door -- over and over -- or the student nearest the door patiently gets up -- over and over -- and lets in Mr. or Ms. Tardy.

Today I sat at the back of the room during my first class and watched students make presentations, and because I was in the back, I was facing that door, that heavy, solid wooden door with the strong lock.

Last week a classroom not easily entered was our curse, but today it feels like our blessing: a snug, safe haven.

May the Virginia Tech community find peace.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

My life is just like that

I dropped in on Sarah Sometimes tonight and read a post that, if not in the details, in the spirit, perfectly captures MY life. It's nice to have someone else do the work for me.

Somehow it is the end 0f March and I see I have written not a word here. I do feel as if I have been running a marathon--work, teaching, grading, preparing, uh-oh, have to write a paper for a conference, uh-oh, have to get to the airport, too much traffic, am I going to make the flight? yes, I made it! uh-oh, am I going to finish the paper in time to deliver it at 3:30 the next day? yes! it's done, sort of, well, I can always ad lib, it's just like teaching, isn't it? Conference is over, race home, see my family for a birthday gathering, uh-oh, it's Sunday night, am I ready to work and teach tomorrow night? Okay, I can do it, I did it, but, now it's Wednesday night, help, I'm being observed in class! Now it's Thursday, I'm going to work, I'm seeing the tax person after work (too late, though, she'll have to file an extension), after the tax person I take the bus crosstown, back to the school where I teach, meet with the observer, whew, she liked the class!

Home, collapse, take nap, watch Grey's Anatomy, whoops, it's a rerun, I'll watch it anyway.

I read a handful of teachers' blogs because it's so, so, so reassuring to know that all over the country brilliant people -- not just me -- are walking into classrooms partially prepared for class, partially rested, partially going mad.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Very Small Play, in One Act

The play takes place in Bitty's blog, a murky place with dusky blue walls and furniture that looks, oddly, just a little out of focus.

(Door opens, stage right. Bitty fumbles for the light switch, walks in cautiously, looks around.)

BITTY: It's cold in here. (Runs finger along bookshelf.) Dusty, too.

(Bitty reaches into an overhead cabinet and pulls out a long-handled Swiffer duster and begins dusting the shelves, the ceiling fan. She moves to the ceiling corner.)

BITTY (with feeling): UGH! Spiders! (Shoves Swiffer duster back in the cabinet and slams the door.)

(Bitty sits at her desk, picks up a photo of Molly, an elegant black and white cat, sighs. Puts it back down. Her fingers hover over the computer's keyboard momentarily, then she sighs again and drops her hands to her lap.)

BITTY: Not yet...but soon.

(Bitty stares into the distance, stage left [of course], still and silent for just that length of time necessary to bring the audience to the verge of impatience but not quite take it over the edge.)

BITTY: Maybe next week. (She touches the photo of Molly, then exits through the door, flipping the light off as she goes. We hear the click of the key in the lock. )

Curtain falls.