Monday, June 22, 2009

Top 5 Moments in Television History (According to Me)

1. The Cosby Show - The Cosby family performs Ray Charles' "Night and Day" for the grandparents' anniversary:


2. The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson - The Tomahawk Incident (this moment created the longest sustained laugh in televisin history and gave Carson the opportunity for the classic line "I didn't even know you were Jewish.")

3. The Carol Burnett Show - Gone With the Wind:

4. Late Night with Conan O'Brien - Triumph the Insult Dog at the opening of a Star Wars film:

Triumph at the Opening of Star Wars Ii - The funniest videos clips are here

5. Saturday Night Live - Gilda Radner's "Judy Miller Show":

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer and Waiting

I get that I'm lucky to so frequently have summers off and since everyone keeps reminding me how lucky I am in that "geez-you're-goddamn-lazy-and-worthless-and-not-at-all-contributing-to-society-the-way-I-am-with-my-40-hour-a-week-job" way, I try to make my days feel useful in some way. Alas, I am failing miserably.

I wake up early, which cannot be helped on account of the fact that I am just naturally an early riser. I wake up between 7:05 and 7:20am every morning for reasons I cannot explain. It also cannot be helped as I am nine months pregnant and sleeping for long stretches is simply out of the question.

So I'm up around 7am which leaves me with at 15 hours of a day to fill and I just can't do it. I get up, check e-mail, have some breakfast, maybe send out some bills, catch up on correspondence and if I'm lucky, this will take me to 9am. Then the dark veil of uselessness falls upon me. What can I do?

Work on my quilt?
Watch last night's late night shows my husband taped for me?
Cook something?
Reorder the already well-ordered nursery?
Clean a house that remains pretty immaculate as a rule?
Draw? Paint?
Start a rock band?
Go for a walk?
Attempt some very awkward lawn maintenance in 90+ degree weather?

I do all these things (except the rock band part) and then it's maybe 11am. My husband is likely still sleeping and then I get hostile with this stagnant life. I know there are zillions of people who would like all this time off. I get that. I respect it. I sympathize with their plight. But boredom and lack of utility is a plight as well and I'm sick of hearing things like, "boy, you must have a lot of time on your hands" in that tone. It's not all it's cracked up to be.

I'm slowly working my way through my husband's Souther Lit reading list for fall, but even that, because it is not required of me, feels purposeless.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Taking Up Serpents

Snakes and human are not wonderful companions. Nobody would call a snake "man's best friend." Don't get me wrong. I'm no snake hater and I'm not even particularly herpetologically-phobic. I just think snakes belong where they belong and I belong somewhere else. So imagine my displeasure when the following sibilant creature showed up in my dining room this week:

Yes, displeasure. That's what I'm going to call it now that the event is a few days past. Who would not be displeased to find a three-foot snake in their home, a snake that was foreign to a girl from Michigan who can only identify the common garter snake or the occasional harmless corn snake? So, yes, I was displeased, and I calmly called to my husband to let him know there was a freaking enormous snake IN OUR HOUSE! And yes, would he please remove it. Thankfully, my father-in-law was visiting and between these two brave, brave men, the snake was removed and sent back away where it belongs, away from my house. I took a picture beforehand (as evidenced, of course, by the above photo), and calmly (read: in a panic, fingers trembling, breathing shallow, mindful of potential snakes slithering across my feet) got online to send the picture to any person who could assure me I did not just have one of Tennessee's four venemous snakes in my house. A very, very, very kind man - the director of the herpetology department at the university - responded quickly.

Black Rat Snake, he said. Not venemous, but liable to attack if cornered. Thankfully, while the snake threateningly showed its fangs, no attack occurred.

And here are other comments I received from those I sent the image to:

"Great photo, btw!"
"Nice photo"

Yes, who doesn't want to be complimented on their photographic skills when the fear of death by snake is upon them? But this is Appalachia and silly me for finding these responses inappropriate.

This is snake-handling country which is no sideshow but a religious tradition of proving ones faith in accordance with the following bible verse from Mark 16:17-18:

"And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

This is it - the justification for taking up snakes and drinking strychnine (which is a fabulous word, onomotopaedic with its hard k and somber n's).

And there are plenty of dangerous snakes to choose from here - four venemous snakes in all: the northern and southern copperhead, the timber rattlesnake, the western cottonmouth, and the western pygmy rattlesnake. Want to take up a serpent? Take your pick! Behold the wondrous variety available to you!

Michigan has one venemous snake, the Eastern Massasagua Rattlesnake, an increasingly rare breed only found in the lower peninsula of Michigan. 'Just the one and there are no holiness churches calling for its members to pick it up. No sir. We Michiganders leave that snake alone. It likes it that way. We like it that way.

But I'm stuck in Tennessee for a couple more years where snakes forget their rightful place, or maybe it's us humans who have. Either way, I move around my house differently now. I have no desire to prove my faith with any snake-handling encounters, but I will say, with all the prayers of protection I've got going up, that snake may have done its work in bringing me a little closer to God.

(Sidenote: "Salvation on Sand Mountain" by Denis Covington - a smart, personalized, journalistic foray into snake-handling. Read it. Damn. It's good.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Myth of Rain and Pregnancy

There are some things so socially accepted as to be indisputable and yet, I dispute.

Here are two widely propagated myths that need dispelling:

Fact or Myth?

Myth: Pregnancy is nine months.

Fact: Pregnancy is actually ten months.

Fact or Myth?

Myth: Seattle gets more rain than any other city in the U.S.

Fact: Seattle receives a mere 37.1 inches of rain annually on average. Knoxville, Tennessee, on the other hand, receives 47.29 inches of rain annually on average. That's more than ten inches over Seattle.

Why are these fallacies continually reinforced? I'm thinking about looking into the origins of hot dogs. Maybe they're really quite good for us and made of vegetables.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yet another day at Fellini Kroger

Earlier blogging has illuminated the finer Knoxville shopping experience that is Fellini Kroger. A short recap: Fellini Kroger is the Kroger Grocery store on Broadway in North Knoxville, so called because its weirdness and its most frequent inhabitants. When Michael and I lived in North Knoxville, it was our main grocery store despite the fact that a student of mine decided to write about it as though it was an dizzying adventure through something akin to a crackhouse. Really, it's a nice place to be, very colorful, and it's really difficult to leave Fellini Kroger without having a casual conversation with someone that somehow has great significance. I've seen an old man repeatedly wet his pants there. I've learned from an old Knoxville lady how to buy the right celery just as though I had asked her.

And so it should come as no surprise to me that when I tried to return my recycling - oh, I should mention that - in Knoxville, the Kroger parking lots are where residents bring in all their recyclables - so just as I began to sort through my cardboard, mixed paper, aluminum cans, and assorted colored bottles, a police officer approached me. This immediately made me nervous as I had done an illegal u-turn about two miles back and I thought for a split second that he had followed me. I was prepared to play the "but-I'm-a-helpless-pregnant-lady" card.

Great alas, it was not my u-turn that caused his approach.

"Uh, Miss, do you think you could do that later," he asked.

"My recyling?" I was flummoxed. What an odd request.

"Yes, we sort of have a situation here," says strapping Tennessee police guy.

"Oh," I stammer. "Of course," I respond, shoving my burgeoning car full of a month's worth of smelly recycling back in my car, thinking how easily whoever this policeman is after could have taken my car and purse while I was running away from the bees in the smelly glass bottles portion of the recycling.

And so I left, responding dutifully to the policeman's request as quickly as possible. I returned hours later to find a girl I will just call a hippie for lack of a better, more encompassing word, halfway bent over one of the large green bins searching for something amid the smell of hot trash.

"Did you lose something," I ask.

"Uh, no." She is slightly, but not entirely, embarrassed. She sizes me up and asks, "Have you ever heard of Found magazine?"

I'm from Michigan, I tell her, so yes, I've heard of Found magazine, which collects and prints odd items found in miscellaneous places by people all over and which is run out of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"I'm looking for stuff for Found," she says by way of explanation, dipping once again into the filth that I am never entirely able of disinfecting my hands from.

And that's that. Fellini Kroger, ladies and gentlemen. A tour of Knoxville's finest.