My friend Sandra e-mailed me this link. You should totally watch it.

Student Quote

From a student's "persuasive" paper on why people should have cell phones:

"My brother talks to all of his lady friends that he met on MySpace with his cell phone."

Teacher Quote

From my lovely coworker Nancy, who keeps me going most days:

"Whatever happened to the serendipitousness of a snow day?"

--when discussing district procedures for determining whether in fact we will close school due to inclement weather.


What I'm Reading/Watching/Listening To

I've been listening to a ton of Belle & Sebastian lately, mostly their B-sides compilation, Push Barman to Open Old Wounds. They also have a great free NPR:Live Concerts podcast of a show they did in DC (if you haven't check out NPR: Live Concerts, you totally, totally should). Chris also found an eerily Jeff Buckley-esque singer/songwriter named Matthew Santos. Same dude who did the hook on Lupe Fiasco's Superstar, and he's well worth checking out if you are a Buckley fan. Although not in the past few days, I've been listening to Okkervil River's The Stage Names, one of '07's best. If you are in STL, they're playing an as-of-yet unpublicized show at the Bluebird in March, which should be a good time despite my experience there with State Radio. Seeing a band you really love in a small venue is one of life's greatest pleasures.

I haven't really had time to read books for fun until the past few days since I was crazily cramming in all my school readings, but after class, I was able to pick up the latest issue of The Believer. It's done by the folks at McSweeney's, and is worth the cost just to read Nick Hornby's monthly column "What I'm Reading". I also finished The Golden Compass and am now and atheist. The latest Ready Made came yesterday all about organizing your life. Nice effort, but I'm sure I'm still going to be the slob I've been for 27 years. Sometimes I wish I could just do projects from that magazine and have that be my life. Unfortunately, I gots to pay the bills, I don't live near an IKEA, and my aesthetic isn't really modern, or at least it doesn't come naturally.

Saw two great documentaries that you should definitely check out. Taken For A Ride is awesome on two levels: information and awesome late-80s styles. This film outlines the calculated demise of streetcars, spearheaded by GM, who needed a way to increase sales of personal automobiles. Our entire car culture was basically a construct of GMs business strategy. Think about how that's changed our entire country, and you'll realize why this is important.
Also saw This Film Is Not Yet Rated, which is all about the MPAA ratings system and how arbitrary and biased it is. For example, female orgasm or homosexual sex is almost guaranteed an NC-17 rating, or at least put your right on the border of R & NC-17. They also showed how violence is perfectly acceptable, but sex is taboo, which is basically the opposite of the European way of thought. The filmmaker hires private investigators to find out who exactly is on the MPAA ratings board (since it's not really public information). Of course, the movie itself got an NC-17 rating, so the filmmaker released it as NR. Really gives you insight into the film industry. Warning: total nudity. Lots of boobies, partially for irony, partially to demonstrate how what's totally R in one movie can be NC-17 in another.

We've also started watching Battlestar Galactica Season Two and Oz Season One. If you're into anal rape, shivs, cylons, or Edward James Olmos, check those out.

Off to Punxsutawney this weekend. Bing!

Live Notes from the State of the Union

51 weeks. 51 weeks. We can do it, guys.

Sigh. Is he really our president? Really? Two terms? Sweet Jesus, we get what we deserve, I swear.

*Cheney is a smug son of a bitch. This would be ten times more entertaining if Pelosi had a "I'm with stupid" shirt on or busted out laughing every once and a while. Bunny ears? It's your only chance, Nance. Come on; throw us a bone!

*How much more awesome would the State of the Union be if reactions other than a) clapping with a smirk or b) not clapping with a bored look, were allowed. Even just a "can you believe this asshole" point with a withering look or a knowing shake of the head. Right now, the most subversive behavior allowed is to read the program like you aren't listening.

*Cut to Obama pensively thinking with a fist to his mouth, thinking, "How can I liven this shit up a bit?" I'll tell you what: when Obama is president, all he needs to do is stand up there, hold his hands up and look around with a grin on his face as if to say, "What now, motherfuckers?" and it would be infinitely more awesome than this awful display of constructed reality. Actually, he could stand up there and say, "Give it up for my man Rrrrrandy Watson-ah." and it would be infinitely more awesome that this.

*NCLB is a bipartisan achievement? Achievement is not the word most people who are professional educators would use.

*Do you have anyone who doesn't work for a non-renewable energy company in your cabinet or in the EPA? Carbon sequestering is NOT the answer. The majority of coal is NOT clean. Keep talking like you made huge strides with emissions reductions. We're the only developed country to NOT ratify Kyoto and we were BOOED in Bali. The idea that we're "leading the way" when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is laughable at best, a bald-faced lie if we're being honest.

*I ask congress to ban the buying, selling, patenting or cloning of human life. But we can patent non-human lives with no qualms. There goes my eBay kidney business.

*Cheney only stands up when Bush mentions warmongering or the military.

*Has he read 1984? Do you think he understands the term Orwellian? I highly, highly doubt it. War=peace, right?

*Okay,okay I would stand up for the armed forces. I would, and I support veterans benefits and extended benefits to military families. And I do not support genocide. Why isn't everyone standing up for that statement. Aren't we all against genocide?

*I'd love to see the margin notes scribbled between Democrat congresspeople and senators. Do you think they're about the ridiculousness of the speech, or more along the lines of my marginal notes from class this weekend that said, "All I can think about is a burrito."

*Aaaaannnnndd, cut to The Office. Where at least the wildly foolish man in charge is fictional.

God bless America.

P.S. CBS post-speech coverage:
Katie Couric: Can you predict what people will say about him after his presidency?
Some dude: It doesn't look good.


Would You Like Some Pancakes?

If you answered yes, you should read my friend Alice's article in the Suburban Journal. She's a serious nutrition student who once went to Rooster and had the balls to order oatmeal with pureed pumpkin and cinnamon.

I'm heading up to the arctic tundra of Minnesota for my first class of the semester. Should be a good time if I read 100 pages tonight. Likely. Or I could just watch the Battlestar Galactica Season Two DVD I got from Netflix today. Like I tell my kids every Friday, make good choices.

Don't forget to e-mail me at kbestoliver at yahoo dot com if you want a zine. They are super duper.


HumpDay Playlist

These days, work is sucking my soul dry and I'm yearning for weather warm enough to sit on my front porch with a beer and a book (one I'm reading for pleasure, please). Music is getting me by. What's poppin' today as I write curriculum and lesson plans, corral kids, and try to read for school? How about a little playlist to feel empowered and happy?

Another Sunny Day--Belle and Sebastian
Breakin' Up--Rilo Kiley
Young Folks--Peter Bjorn and John
All the Young Dudes--Mott the Hoople
Brass In Pocket--The Pretenders
Cut Your Hair--Pavement
Race for the Prize--The Flaming Lips
My Name Is Jonas--Weezer
Trying Gets You Nowhere--Goodnight Ghost
A Better Son/Daughter--Rilo Kiley
Take Me To The Riot--Stars
Good To Know--Stephen Brodsky
We Do Not Fuck Around--Viva Voce
What's Mine Is Yours--Sleater Kinney


Zine-tastic. Get your very own.

Big, big ups to Dr. King. I can't say anything that hasn't already been said, but I echo sentiments that recognize how far our society has come, yet acknowledge how far we have yet to go.

Chris and I spent the weekend chilling and having an all out relaxing time, something much needed. That extra day is crucial to relaxation, particularly since my trips to Minneapolis start up again this coming weekend, and I heard its like -72 there or something. And I have to read this whole book on Adam Smith between now and Friday, plus supplementary readings on Marx.

We also spent a large portion of our weekend working on a new project that we came up with because we were feeling like we wanted to make something and we were both struggling with some writer's block.

We set a goal to create and produce a zine in 24 hours. Everything had to be written and laid out in that span of time, and we copied and stapled today. Anyhow, we produced 25 copies, and we're offering them free to the first 25 people who either comment on this post or Chris's blog or e-mail me. I will mail one to you, free of charge, or give one to you next time I see you, your choice. We are not visual artists, but I like how it turned out. It's a mix of sociopolitical rants and fun stuff. Delurk and request a copy fo' free, y'all.


Buellerizing My Life

Sweet Jesus, the thought of a three day weekend is exhilarating. Thank you, Dr. King. Couple that with me going to Minnesota next Friday, translating into a three-day work week next week, THEN going to Punxytawny the following weekend, and, well, I'm just not really going to work very much, now, am I? Guess it's time to start Twittering.


Morning Person

I ask you, is there a worse feeling than waking up in the darkness and realizing your alarm is going off in two minutes? I think not. Which is why when I woke up, squinting at Chris's alarm clock this morning, I was fully prepared to be disappointed and exhausted, again. I ain't been sleeping very well lately. But I squinted harder, looking like my mom used to look when we'd wake her up at 2:15AM to open presents from Santa, and realized yes...dare I hope...YES! there was a 4, not a 6, on the hour side. I still had two hours to sleep. Then, Chris got up and took care of the pets this morning instead of doing our usual, "It's your turn" tango and let me sleep a little bit extra.

I've been going through some drama lately, which I will post about at a later date when it is more appropriate. Don't worry, I'm not trying to pop out a shorty or anything, although I thought I was going to for a minute. THAT really threw things into a tizzy 'round here. But I'm good now. That's a Bob Schneider song.

I've also been very busy trying to get all my reading done for school. We have seven books for my cohort class to read before January 25, and then we have to read them all over again over the course of the semester. There are four non-fiction and three fiction texts. I've got two fiction done, one non-fiction done, and two other started. The course is about critical issues and the social, political, and economic contexts, and, from the fictional texts, we're really going to be looking at the effects of colonialism on African nations. If you haven't, you should really read Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible
as it is easily one of the best books I have ever read AND a book that everyone should read.

The other class I'm in, History of Critical Ed (yeah! my first official critical pedagogy course) has three books and a ton of supplementary stuff, and I'm anxious to get into it once I finish my cohort class work. Awesomely, the first non-fiction text I read was all about ritual, myth, and symbolism in world cultures, and it was all difficult to read, but the last chapter is all about WWF as myth and symbolism. So it was pretty sweet to open up this academic book and see a picture of Sergeant Slaughter and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake coupled with an in-depth analysis of the overarching patriotic symbolism of a typical WWF episode in the 80s. Totally bitch.



Hmmm. Elections. Somethings in the air, and I like it, I think.

Let me say, I like what seems like a real involved effort for participation on the part of America. But more on that later. First, let me address what I don't like. I really don't like how the media is shaping our news in general, specifically the elections. I preface this rant by admitting that I'm reading a book on that very topic for school right now, called Constructing the Political Spectacle by Murray Edelman. It's totally hilarious how last week, OMG Obama with the upset! Nobody saw it coming! (even though a lot of real people actually did) Lily-white Iowa voted for a brown person! Then, last night, OMG Clinton with the upset! Nobody saw it coming! People with penises voted for a woman! That is so 1984-ish I can't even believe it. Does the media think that people have so little brain capacity that they can't remember one week ago? Edelman talks about how there's no way media can be fair and balanced (ha!) because there is subjectivity in the selection of what "facts" (and he uses the term loosely) are included, highlighted, even obsessed about via a 24-hour feed with scrolling tickers. What's totally fascinating is that he wrote this book in the 80s, before them thar internets exponentially increased the exposure to information that the average American has on the daily. They want to increase the real!life!drama because people will watch if it is entertaining. If it isn't, and there isn't some kind of narrative storyline, then they won't. And they are in the business of selling that narrative storyline, so it is in their best interest. People in general really aren't interested in the news unless they perceive that it has a direct correlation to their lives. Why do you think local news stations are milking the Hwy 40 shit for all it is worth? They know people will watch because that directly affects their lives. I'd say more and draw more parallels, but as I am a master procrastinator (see prior post), I am only on Chapter Three.

Damn, y'all. This thing ain't even close to being over. Do you realize how close it really? How close Iowa really was? After two tiny states with a largely rural population of white people. I mean, you know I rep the DMI, but they are hardly indicative of the wishes of the American public in general. The percentage difference in votes was relatively large, but the number of delegates between Edwards, Clinton,and Obama was two, total. There are still 48 states to go, with many, many more delegates to pledge.

What's awesome about it? Um, did you ever think four years ago (or even two years ago) that the biggest fight for president, the two legitimate contenders for the democratic nomination, would be a woman and a Black man? Seriously? Yeah, it's no big. Or, damn, a MORMON. Like, thank Big Love for that (I KID! I know LDS and FLDS are completely totally different things. Don't e-mail me.) Seriously, I think it is actually really fascinating that when they would first interview people about the "freakshow" that is Clinton/Obama/Romney and people say, "Well, I don't know if a woman/Black man/Mormon is ready to be president," or "You know, I don't know if the country is ready for a woman/Black man/Mormon as president." For reals? Only old WASPs have the moxie or merit to be president? We haven't evolved past the patriarchy? Stone fucking Ages, man. Of COURSE we're ready for it. We're desperate for it, craving it, wishing someone or something different would happen. And here it is. I'll give Bush credit for one thing, and that's making it abundantly clear to the public in general that being pasty and having twig and berries and some family money is clearly not enough to lead this country. That's why people are responding so well to Obama's speeches. Sheesh, don't we deserve an intelligent president that can stir a nation with his or her words, inspire hope that we don't have to live in a country completely dominated by assholes, and sure as shit doesn't say shit like this:

"I got a lot of Ph.D.-types and smart people around me who come into the Oval Office and say, 'Mr. President, here's what's on my mind.' And I listen carefully to their advice. But having gathered the device, I decide, you know, I say, 'This is what we're going to do.'" --George W. Bush, Lancaster, Pa., Oct. 3, 2007.

Okay, I've got to calm down. I've got myself all in a flush. And, even though he is a white male, I love me some John Edwards, too. Can we have an Obama/Edwards ticket?



All I ever do is put off doing other things. Like right now, I'm putting off planning one of my classes tomorrow, finishing this curriculum that I've been putting off since, oh, June, and reading Constructing the Political Spectacle by Murray Edelman. Why would I do those things when I can upload pictures to my laptop and post them here? Like of my new tattoo. Right forearm, by Luke at AllStar Tattoo in U City.

Brief Note

If you want to feel good, listen to Golden Smog's cover of The Kinks "Strangers" on their disc Another Fine Day featuring the sweet, sweet vocal harmonies of Jeff Tweedy and Gary Louris. You heard The Kinks version on The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack. So good, I got up and went across the room to replay the song on vinyl. Oh, wait, you can listen to it (and the rest of this kickass album) streaming online here.

P.S. If you don't know Gary Louris from the awesome band The Jayhawks, you should, at least, if you like alt-country. If you don't know who Jeff Tweedy is, then you are dead to me.


Happy Monday/Thursday

It's a Monday/Thursday--a Thursday, but the first day back with the kids at school so it feels like a Monday. I don't feel like Monday, actually, I feel like a pile of poo that desperately needs a full night of sleep without dreaming of replicant clone robots, but whatever.

If you are like me and shudder when you recall having to sit through the painful, painful trailer for the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, gasping when you saw your beloved Jason Lee as Dave, poured one out for the Brodie-Man's career, then said, "Oh fuck no" and thought art is dead when you saw that David Cross was also in it, you should read Cross's justification of why he did this god-awful piece of shit movie. It's entertaining.

Also, just FYI, in my first hour class of the day, Creative Writing, I shit you not, I had a kid say, to the entire class, that he was highly intelligent, had a narcissistic complex, and was a "very skilled writer". Seriously. He said all these things about himself as the entire class simultaneously rolled their eyes. This is the same kid who came in the Writing Center last year and said that Coldplay was "good music to chief to." Who says "chief" as a thinly-veiled euphemism for smoking pot in 2007? In front of a teacher? Who does he think he is, Slater from Dazed and Confused?