Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Most Garbled Lyrics Ever

I just read an online article about people's misunderstanding of popular song lyrics over the years, and some of them I found hard to believe.  I mean, seriously, would anyone really think that ABBA's singing "Feel the beat from the tangerine" or that Toto sings "I left my brains down in Africa"?  Really?
But occasionally stars slur their words and songs can be a bit tough.  I was at least 20 before I figured out half of what's going on in Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," but, then again, maybe it was really because I had to study Camus and Nietzsche in order to grasp things.  And Elton John's "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road" confused me for years until I figured out he's saying "let the dogs of society howl."  (Er, I think that's what it is, anyway.)
I remember being six years old and arguing with my mom over the lyrics to Don MacLean's "American Pie."  She claimed that "Bye, bye, Miss American Pie" made no sense, and that the lyrics had to be "Bye, bye, Miss America, bye."  Well, her version, wrong though it is, does make more sense than the original line.
But, the grand champion of all music groups in need of serious elocution lessons is Creedence Clearwater Revival.  And their most garbled song ever?  This one:

I think the only clear lines in the whole thing are "Down on the corner, out in the street."  After that, I'm lost.  ("Billy and the poke boys are playin'/ bringin' nickels can't be beat" ???   What?  That can't be right.)  And I love this song!  I've just never been able to sing along.  Not once.

How about you?  Do you have any nominations for popular songs with garbled lyrics?

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Feel-Good Moment At The Local Jiffy Lube

I stopped at the local Jiffy Lube to have an oil change today, as there's no school, so I actually had some extra time for such things.
I sat grading papers in the waiting room until an employee called me out to go over what they were going to do to my car.  When I returned, someone had taken my seat, and I had to move to the other side of the waiting room.
I continued to grade papers for a while, until a guy's phone rang.  I looked at him, then up -- at the poster on the wall above him.  It held four photos of the Jiffy Lube 2012 scholarships.  And one of the faces was very familiar.
"That looks like [name deleted]!" I thought.  And I quickly checked for her name.  As her name is an unusual one, there could be no doubt that this was the same girl who'd been in my 9GT class 2 years ago.
I pulled out my camera (not a phone, a camera), but I had to ask the guy below the photo to move for me.  And that necessitated my explaining to him, "That's my former student up there on the poster.  I want a picture."
Within a couple of minutes, 3 other customers and 2 Jiffy Lube employees had stopped over to look at the girl and listen to me say how bright she was.  They were impressed.

Yeah, even with all the hate in the media about teachers and with our state legislature's continual attempts to punish and control us, there are still a few perks to this job.
Sure, it's only Jiffy Lube, and it isn't a huge scholarship.  But she's MY kid.  Mine.  I taught her.
And I'm proud of it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Book Blurb For Nerissa MacKay

I've very nearly got The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay ready for beta readers (although they're really more like gamma readers, it's so early on).  In order to hook the kids' interest, I've finally written up a hook for the book:

Nerissa MacKay isn’t just anybody.  She’s fairly positive that a major role in the school play will prove that point -- and maybe attract the hormones of some of the boys who have ignored her for far too long.
But Nerissa’s dressing with a different theme every day for one solid year hasn’t yet convinced the drama teacher of her creativity, and Nerissa gets desperate during the last week of tryouts.  Then, when the local mean girls' clique starts bragging about being visited by a ghost, Nerissa has had all she can take of their upstaging her.
Determined to pull the town's attention toward her and to Aunt Jane's Haunted Zoo, Nerissa plans to find this "ghost" --- right after she does her biology homework.
But the research for biology class leads her to her great-great-great grandmother's commonplace book, which contains several uncommon recipes.

Ghosts, witchcraft, cliques, boys, her mother, homework, and saving the Haunted Zoo -- Nerissa's in way over her head.  Even if no one can see her...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Because, Y'know, Everybody Writes Four Books At The Same Time.....

It's official: I've begun yet another new book.
Yes, this is in addition to Becoming Brigid (which is in the editing stages and should be published within a few months), The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay (which is in the 3rd or 4th draft stage right now, almost ready for gamma readers), and The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook (uh, okay, I've written one chapter -- and about 6 different outlines for the rest of it).
So, naturally, it makes sense to start a fourth project.  Not.
But this idea is just too good, so I'm going to go with it anyway -- even though it might not be ready for public consumption for a few years.
Tomorrow I'm going to throw out stock characters to my 9GT English class and let them pick names and personality traits.  (This thought makes me smile.)  (And, yes, I'm choosing to work with stock characters intentionally; it suits the project.)
That's all for now, folks.  (*cue Looney Tunes music*)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Pulp-O-Mizer

I really wish I hadn't discovered the pulp-o-mizer website the weekend of midterms.

You can create your own tacky magazine covers for retro sci-fi stuff.  And you can have them printed up on notebooks and mugs and such.  And they have their own retropolis brand of hilarious sci-fi items for your shopping pleasure.
Oh my.
This was responsible for at least 15 tests that didn't get graded yesterday.
And yeah, I made and ordered my own notebook (with the above cover) -- because I am a sucker for spiffy notebooks and making my own was just tooooooo tempting.
*hangs head in shame*  *goes off to grade more papers*

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Fake" Thai Stir Fry

As my Christmas lasagna recipe continues to bring 30-40 people to this blog every week, I thought I'd post another recipe for you.
I don't have a photo of this one right now; I'll try to add one later.
This is another of my inventions using Penzey's spices, and, again, I'm not the sort of cook who measures much -- unless I'm baking.

Several hours before you plan to eat, take 1/2 a pound to a pound of lean beef cut in thin strips or bite-size chunks and place in a container suitable for marinating.  Season with soy sauce, lemon juice, lime juice, cider vinegar, sugar, Bangkok Blend, and ginger.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for several hours.

When you're ready to prepare dinner, put the meat and marinade into your favorite stir-fry pan along with several dollops of peanut butter.  (I prefer to use a brand that is just peanuts and salt, as I hate all that shortening and gunk in most peanut butters.)  There is no need to add further oil, as the peanut butter has plenty of oil in it.  Cook and stir.
After a few minutes, when the meat is mostly cooked, add your favorite chopped vegetables or a frozen blend.  (I suggest broccoli, grated yams, green beans, carrots, red or yellow peppers, baby corn, peas or  snow peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts, or onions.)  Add more of the marinade ingredients to make plenty of seasoned liquid.  Add fresh or dried basil about a minute before the end of cooking time.
When it's done, it should appear that the meat and veggies are in a light but creamy brown sauce.
Serve over hot, cooked rice or quinoa.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Becoming Brigid: A Teaser In Honor Of Imbolc

Today is Imbolc, the ancient Celtic holiday in honor of the goddess Brigid, who, over time, morphed into St. Brigid, with this day becoming known as Candlemas.  In the US, we still carry it over as the earliest possible indication of spring (yeah, right; I've still got 2 feet of icy snow in my yard!) with the celebration of Ground Hog Day.

Spring or not, Brigid is very important in my nearing-release-readiness YA novel, Becoming Brigid.  Thus, in honor of Brigid's holiday, I thought I'd post a brief teaser -- with photos!  (Yes, the actual photos that inspired the opening scenes of the book.  Max, you'll remember these.)

Here we go, then:

Chapter One

“Dad,” I said, poking at the cracked orange and green plastic blinds under the table, “has it ever occurred to you that the term ‘ghost town’ might not be literal?  That there might not actually be ghosts here?”

“Just a minute, honey,” he called from behind the broken door.  “I’m picking up really high EMF levels in here.”
I kicked a tumbleweed across the patterned carpet -- which must’ve clashed horribly with the blinds when they were still hanging in the window -- and went into the next room.  It was a kitchen.  Or it used to be one, anyway.  Now it was mostly just a mess; beer cans, old silverware, and chunks of plaster from the water-damaged ceiling lay strewn all over the peeling linoleum floor, and cabinets and drawers gaped open like mouths.

Dad was waving his electromagnetic meter -- a gadget that looked like a black-and-orange deodorant stick embarrassingly emblazoned with “The Ghost Meter” across the front -- along the edges of a refrigerator.  His dark eyebrows were all crunched up in concentration, and he was smoothing the ends of his mustache with his free hand, leaving it streaked with tiny bits of white plaster.
“Dad --”
“In a minute, Pepper.”
“Dad, it’s an old appliance.  It’s probably leaking all kinds of chemicals and radioactive crap into the air.  But it’s not a haunted fridge; trust me.”

Dad didn’t say anything.  He didn’t even look at me.  He just took a pencil and notebook out of his shirt pocket and began writing notes about his fantastic discovery of an electric fridge.
I sighed and went back through the office room, where the walls had been graffitied with hundreds of white hand prints and spray-painted phrases like “Be aware: I will haunt you” and “I died here.”  It’d be tons easier to find evidence of drug use in this place than of any supernatural phenomena.  Honestly, what kind of ghost goes tagging in old motels?

There you go!  That's page one -- with photos!
Martin at fromsandtoglass has agreed to do a cover reveal of the new cover when I'm ready to release it, but I'm still hoping to get a few more folks who are willing to do that as well.  Anyone interested?  Just add a comment below if you are.
I've got Becoming Brigid out to the first copy editor (read: fellow English teacher; they work cheap) right now, so I hope to have this book ready to publish by summer.  But in the meantime, happy Imbolc!