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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04

2002-04-04 ... 10:03 a.m.

Just about the best Chicago Sun-Times Weather Word ever: Today is RIDICULOUS. Oh yes! It's just a non-stop Theater of the Absurd here in Chicago! All is empty and meaningless! Our existence is futile! Here in the Windy City, the search for truth in weather has been abandoned, and weather-related language is but a bantering game where words obfuscate rather than illuminate. Question: How's the weather? Answer: Laughable, preposterous, worthy of scorn and derision, RIDICULOUS.

When does a "get-together" become a "party"? In an effort to reduce some of the wine overstock in the apartment,* I invited some folks ("folks"? When did I start channeling Garrison Keillor, for fuck's sake?) over for Saturday dinner and drinks, but it's kind of snowballed, in a good way, and now there are about ten people coming. I think that's starting to qualify for party status.

(*LT cannot seem to stop stockpiling Beaujolais Villages. ["But it's on sale!"] We are like sissified survivalists. If there's a nuclear holocaust and we are trapped in the house we will be very dehydrated and tipsy, but our mouths will be happy ["Too bad the world ended. But wow, what a refreshing and complex fruity bouquet!"] or maybe we can trade with other dead-eyed ashy-skinned survivors of said holocaust: French wine for candles or potable water or bandages.)

Last night I watched this fantastic Frontline on school reform and the myth of testing, "accountability," and "standards." G. W. Bush's education reform plan is a hastily assembled load of malarkey, in other words. Public schools all over the country are rushing into frequent high-stakes testing without thinking about what the tests test, what the tests SHOULD test, or even whether the test measures what the students cover in class. And teachers are under pressure to "teach to the test," contributing even further to the multiple-choice one-size-fits-all fast-food educational mentality. One heartbreaking example was a math teacher interviewed in a poor Virginia school district, who said he used to take his class to the James River and make them figure out how to measure the width of the river without getting wet: compasses, angles, distance formulas, etc. Now, since his whole administration is nuts about getting their school up to the magical level of some arbitrary test, he only has time to teach those formulas etc that will help kids pass. Which teaching method would stay with you longer? Yeah, I thought so.

I went to public school, and I've always thought that it's almost a duty to do so: public schools will never improve if the brightest kids get yanked out to go elsewhere. And I wouldn't want my (hypothetical) kid to go to school where everyone is more or less exactly like him or her: being around people of all different socioeconomic backgrounds is a huge part of learning about the real world and an important part of school. But this rabid focus on educational testing has made me rethink things in a big way, because I will be damned if my (hypothetical) kid grows up never having written an original word in his or her life, and if the so-called statistical level of his or her achievement on a flawed multiple-choice test is given more weight than having an original idea or contributing to a discussion.

What in the world am I blathering about, there is no Mimi Smartypants Think Tank of Pedagogical Theory. Other people have said it better.

This morning as I dressed and prepared for the day (fresh fruit smoothie, deep breathing, aromatherapy lotions, tai chi, fat eight-inch rail of laboratory-grade methedrine) I listened to all kinds of crunchy heavy RAWK music (in contrast to my emphasis of late on experimental gleepy bloopiness and ever-so-slightly-updated new-wave bands): L7 and Nirvana. And I thought that a Muppets cover of "Rape Me" would be most excellent, and in fact I think I detect a bit of a Kermit the Frog quality in Kurt Cobain's voice (Kermit Frog/Kurt Cobain, same number of letters: coincidence? I think not), especially in the quiet parts at the beginning.

My biggest thanks to all those who sent me names and addresses of bars, restaurants, and fun things to do in San Diego. I may meet up with a fellow diarylander for a drink, too, if all goes well and I'm not trapped in the quicksand of panels, conferences, and schmoozing while wearing a nametag. The fact that anyone took the time to send me suggestions pleased me and made me remember what a friendly little web this can be.

---mimi smartypants wants to tell you about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets.


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