Category Archives: Laughter

Best. Final. Ever.

So I gave my creative-writing final this week. That class has only three students, so instead of giving a conventional final, I walked in yesterday, handed each kid a Barbie doll, and gave them their choice of three writing prompts involving a sentient Barbie.

Prompt 1: Barbie lives in a Dream House owned by a 9-year-old girl with affluent parents and a bad habit of losing small objects. Barbie has several housemates who may or may not be sentient. She has a crush on one, and another is incredibly annoying. She has access to a Corvette, Jeep, and RV. Despite her luxurious surroundings, Barbie is dissatisfied with her life and has resorted to unhealthy coping mechanisms. She views the 9-year-old as a destructive monster, benevolent deity, or obnoxious landlady (your choice).

Prompt 2: Barbie lives in a crude dollhouse lovingly constructed from a cardboard box by her owner, a precocious 9-year-old girl from a working-class family. Barbie is the girl’s only store-bought toy; everything else is a hand-me-down, yard-sale find, or something homemade. Despite her meager surroundings, Barbie is satisfied with her life. She and the child are each other’s only friend. Barbie wants to help the child, who is being mistreated, but is hampered by the limitations of being a plastic doll.

Prompt 3: Barbie is living rough in a city alley after falling out of a dumpster that was being emptied into a garbage truck. Once a 4-year-old girl’s favorite toy, she was separated from her owner through some tragedy and is now fending for herself. She either desperately misses the child or is grateful to be rid of her. She is in mortal danger from some threat. She has no survival skills and is learning on the fly, acquiring or creating her own shelter and other necessities in whatever way you deem appropriate for a small plastic doll.

I’m not sure this prompt would have worked with another group, but these girls are clever, caustic, and fully capable of turning Barbie’s perfect pink fantasy world into a biting commentary on modern capitalism, a dystopian hellscape, or an existential nightmare.

They’re supposed to be turning in their final drafts tomorrow. I cannot WAIT to read them. I’ve promised the girls that anybody who makes an A on the final gets to keep her Barbie, so they are MOTIVATED.

Emily

I can’t stop watching this.

I know it’s old, but this video makes me laugh harder every time I watch it.

I’m still trying to figure out where she found a cat that isn’t terrified of the vacuum cleaner. Walter hides under the bed every time we get ours out. He doesn’t even like for me to use the Dustbuster. And God help you if you try to put some kind of clothing on him.

Anyway. Cat in a shark costume, riding a Roomba. Get into it.

Emily

Kitchen help

I was hungry when I got home tonight, so I decided to make myself some seasoned oyster crackers. I didn’t get the bag sealed properly, though, so when I turned it upside-down to make sure the crackers were coated evenly with the margarine-seasoning mixture, it popped open, and at least a third of a bag of greasy, Italian-dressing-mix-coated crackers fell all over the floor.

This is just one of many reasons I insist on owning a rat terrier at all times. Without canine assistance, this could have been a real pain to clean up. Dog spit is much easier to scrub off the floor than margarine, and since Riggy couldn’t see where the crackers were, he had to rely entirely on his nose — which meant every square inch of tile that smelled like food got a thorough licking. (Yes, I’m the kind of a-hole who takes advantage of my dog’s disability to get him to pre-clean the floor for me. Trust me: He doesn’t care. He got a third of a bag of oyster crackers out of the deal.)

Reminds me of somebody I used to know.
Reminds me of somebody I used to know.
"Mom! He's eating all the treats! Make him share!"
“Mom! He’s eating all the treats! Make him share!”
"Oh. I can just take some if I want? OK."
“Oh. I can just take some if I want? OK.”

Walter and Songdog still haven’t figured out that Riggy can’t see them, so both of them were veeeeeery hesitant about eating the crackers off the floor once Riggy came scrambling in to get them. Walter finally worked up his nerve, but as soon as Riggy came in, Song backed off and waited until he was all done to eat one he’d missed under the edge of the stove.

Riggy didn’t even growl at anybody; the other animals just deferred to him. I’m not sure what they think an 18-lb. rat terrier with no eyes is going to do if they try to make him share his crackers, but I think it’s pretty clear who runs this pack.

In related news, the dog wasn’t the only one who thought the crackers tasted good, so they’ll be a Vegan Friday offering in the near future.

Emily

Joie de vivre

Here is a thing I love about Cape Girardeau: The kids here seem to be animated by a sort of crazy wild joie de vivre that exceeds anything I’ve ever seen anywhere else.

Examples:

When I went house-shopping a couple of weeks ago, I found myself at a stoplight behind a school bus. Three or four little kids turned around to grin and wave out the back windows at me, and when I passed the bus a couple of minutes later, more kids were grinning and waving and opening the bus windows to shout, “We love your car!”

Last weekend, a pack of about four or five rugrats on wheels came barreling down the hill in front of my house. Two or three were on bicycles, and two were on skateboards. One little guy who looked to be all of 8 years old was flying hell-for-leather down the hill on his board, shouting, “Sh*t! Sh*t! SH*T!” in a tone that was somewhere between gleeful and terrified as he picked up speed on his way down. (He interspersed this with a couple of heartfelt “F*** yous” when the other kids laughed at him.) Toward the bottom of the hill, he managed to stop the board. One of his companions, a little girl on a bicycle, looked at me, beaming from ear to ear, and announced, “That’s a longboard!” as she pedaled past.

Yesterday morning, as I was heading to the office, two little kids came hopping down a side street on pogo sticks. Really. Pogo sticks. When was the last time you saw a kid on a pogo stick?

The sign says something else, but I think the real name of this street is Klickitat, because my young neighbors are like something out of a Beverly Cleary novel. If I don’t end up with a children’s book out of this, it certainly won’t be for lack of inspiration….

Emily

Kids are so funny.

I’ve been on kind of a Judi Dench kick ever since we watched Skyfall earlier this week, so Ron downloaded Mrs. Brown for me this evening on the Roku. He’d seen it a few years ago, but I hadn’t. Charming movie, and Billy Connolly is … yeah. Um. Wow. I don’t know if I’d trade Ryne Sandberg for him, but I’d probably consider it.

Ensuing Facebook conversation:

ME: Just watched the movie Mrs. Brown. Why are Scottish men so ridiculously sexy?
FORMER STUDENT: That awkward moment when your old English teacher says “sexy”….

Thirty is going to be SUCH a shock for these kids, isn’t it?

Emily

More bee drama

Remember last summer, when we shucked out $800 and pretty much went through hell and back trying to move our hives all over the yard to get the city off our backs after some jerk called to gripe about our bees?

Remember when I said that I really hoped the guy behind me was responsible for the visit from the city inspector, because the changes we were required to make pretty much ensured that his backyard was going to look like O’Hare International Airport, what with all the hives now facing his property and the big ugly privacy fence guiding them over there?

The guy outed himself today by taping a little handwritten nastygram to my front door, telling me what a horrible neighbor I am because my honeybees are drinking all the nectar out of his hummingbird feeders and scaring his dog away from its water bowl.

I would like the record to show that the letter I am sending back to him does NOT say, “Baaaaaaahahahahahahaha!”

But really:

Baaaaaaahahahahahahaha!

Emily