Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Questionable Variety of Crud...QVC!

Whenever my friend Megan and I get together, we turn into 14 year-old girls. Not literally, but we certainly seem to become completely ridiculous. We go on some strange road trips to such places as Hell and Sleepy Hollow State Park, and do strange stuff like watch hideous jewelry being sold on QVC for waaay too long.

This past week, when Megan was visiting once again, we ended up watching QVC. There was really nothing else worth watching on TV, but that's no excuse. We should have changed the channel MUCH sooner, but it was hard to turn it off! We kept seeing the timer at the bottom of the screen and wondered what monstrocity would come up next! Here are some examples:

They may not look that bad here, but let me tell you, they are somethin' else. The woman selling them was an oddity. I mean, could she really have been THAT in love with the jewelry?? When she was showing the piece on the left, she was raving about that the circles were a full INCH in diameter! Can you believe it? She couldn't. The piece on the right is an "Enhancer." What that means is that you can clip it onto any chain. A miracle! Truly, a miracle. I couldn't find any pictures of the multi-colored chains. Very sad indeed. She was SO in love with the green gold! And was thrilled to mix it with the purple gold and the blue gold. As lovely as they sound. (Yikes!)

I highly recommend that you watch the video. It'll be the best thing you watch all week! Ok, that's a promise I can't really back up, but it'll be entertaining.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"How're You Feeling?" "Pretty Darned Millish*, As a Matter of Fact!"

I took a ceramics class last year and found myself surrounded by an odd assortment of people - it was a class for non-art-majors and I was the only art major in the bunch. While we practiced the ancient art of molding clay into butter dishes, we usually listened to music - either a radio station or a CD that someone brought in. One sunny spring day, one of my more colorful classmates stuck in a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "best of" CD. She was feeling that music. At one point she uttered a phrase that has forever stuck with me: "Tom Petty speaks to my soul."

Tom Petty? Really?

I think that we'd all agree that music can effect our moods, and our moods can effect what kind of music we listen to. I certainly have music that speaks to my soul, so I shouldn't mock our Tom Petty No. 1 Fan. I went so far once as to create CD mixes (not as good as a Mixed Tape, but still serve their purpose) that I could listen to according to my mood. When I was feeling amorous, I could pop in a CD full of love songs. When my heart started to feel the strain of being a twenty-*#$%! year-old single woman, I'd toss the "amorous" CD into the back seat (sometimes with excessive force, I'll admit it) and stick in my CD of melancholy songs. Then there was the one for when I was feeling happy (which included such classics as Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" and the Jackson 5's "ABC") or one for when I was feeling a little more riled (which included Natasha Bedingfield's "Single" and Kelly Clarkston's "Since U Been Gone"), etc. You get the picture.

This past Thursday evening my friend Jen and I went to The Ark in Ann Arbor to see a band called Millish. Not just any band called Millish (as if there could be more than one band called Millish...), but the band called Millish that a friend of mine from high school is in. Jesse and I met our freshman year of high school in a Biology class and formed a friendship while making fun of our teacher. And having 3-way conversations over the phone with our friend Brian while watching TV or playing video games. And hanging out at Jesse's house while he played the piano upside-down. And having our shoes (both Converse All-Stars, or "Chucks") get married. I think his shoe's name was Winston and mine was Wilhelmina.

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah...Millish...

I have seen Millish perform a number of times and always feel electrified when I hear their music. Jen was commenting after the concert that there's no easy way to describe Millish's sound. There's an initial Celtic feel to it, some jazz undertones (or sometimes overtones), a smattering of Blue Grass, with a dash of funk and a side of cheesy fries. (I should eat more before I blog...) Then there was the Michael Jackson break in the middle of one of the songs... If you've never heard "Thriller," Billy Jean," or "Will You Be There" (you know, the theme song from the epic movie "Free Willy") played on a fiddle, well, you're missing out. Each member of the band is beyond talented and play their instrument(s) so well that they seem perfectly at ease playing the songs that are as natural to them as a conversation with friends.

As I was listening to them play this time around, I was really caught up in their sound - the melodies and harmonies, the undertones, the humor (Tex-Mex Epic!), the feeling they put into it while performing the songs - and discovered that their music really speaks to me! (Take that Tom Petty!) It made me feel hopeful, happy, and optimistic. On top of being amazing performers, here these guys are, doing what they love to do and getting paid to do it! As an artist, that is naturally my dream, but it more often than not seems like the kind of dream where you wake up and think, "What was I thinking?" and then the dream is immediately forgotten.

While I'd consider myself an optimist, I could also be categorized as a cynic. Recently, however, some pretty awesome people have helped me ease up on the cynicism a bit. Just a few weeks ago I felt inspired by some photographers in Ludington - Brad and Todd Reed - another couple of guys who make a living doing what they love to do. And now Millish. A few posts ago, when I was regaling you all with my Tales of Being an Extra, I mentioned a woman I called Motivational Lady. She was SO forceful in her belief that you can do ANYTHING if you really want to. I have since then seen these examples of people who felt the same way and have succeeded!

As a result of their great show, mad skillz, and hope-inspiring music (for me, at least), I have decided that when I am feeling hopeful or optimistic, I'm going to say that I am feeling "Millish*." (Though I'll mostly only say that around my blog readers - all 3 of you - and myself in order for people to not look at me the way they did when I went to the library in my Wellingtons.)

I hope you have a very Millish day!

(*Not to be confused with "mulish: of or like a mule, as being very stubborn, obstinate, or intractable.")

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

School Schmool.

There is a common misconception that students dread going back to school more than teachers. I would argue that it is the reverse. As I got ready this morning to go to school, I was thinking, "If I was still on summer vacation, I could lay in bed and read for another hour." "If I didn't have to go to school, I could watch The Price Is Right at 11." "If the accursed first day of school hadn't befallen us, I could go to my aunt and uncles' pool this afternoon." etc. Matters only got worse when I went outside and it was 80 degrees and sunny. They should pass a law that the first day of school should be overcast, chilly, with a misty rain.

As a "Specials Teacher" I didn't actually have to teach today. It was only a half day at the school where I work, so the kids met their teachers, found their lockers, and got settled in. Meanwhile the classroom teachers made sure their classrooms were set up, tried to remember 20+ names, corralled kids from one thing to the next, dealt with students who were hating life either because they'd rather be home playing video games or because they'd rather be home with their mommy, and were generally pulled from place to place like a marionette.

Tomorrow I get to start. The difference between what I do and what a classroom teacher does are subtle: I have to remember not 20+ names, but around 190 names; I don't have a classroom to get set up, but an office and a cart; I get to push said cart from room to room and be a guest in each classroom (so I don't have to corral the kids, but get corralled myself); I also have to deal with students who'd rather not be at school, but also with the ones who think, "Art is stupid." or "This is lame." or "I can't let my friends think I like art." etc. I call them Minimalists: those who do as little as possible but at least do something so I don't report them to their teacher or send them to the office. I'm basically a glorified baby-sitter for these kids.

Do I sound like I'm excited? Well I AM! Okay, part of that may have been forced enthusiasm, but some of it was sincere. While there are those Minimalists, there are also the saviors of teachers: those students who really do love art, and who are so excited when I show up in their classroom each week. I love it when a student really identifies with a project and discovers a talent s/he may not have known they had. I love getting silly pictures drawn by kids especially for me. It's awesome when students bring in art projects they've done at home and share them with me.

While I, like most other teachers (except for those nutty ones who live to teach...), have been bemoaning the end of summer, I know that being back in school will be the time of my LIFE! I mean, I haven't had as much fodder for my blog as I'd've liked this summer (well, I may have had some fodder, but that's none of your beeswax, thank you very much), and now...! Just wait till I start blogging about the kid who sneezed in my face, or the class that made me run out of the room crying and questioning my career choice, or the apology notes I got from the kids who were misbehaving and forced to write the notes by their teacher...

Ah, Back to School...a magical time of year.