Trivia Night

Many people have asked if and when the third semiannual Backyard Trivia Night will take place. But of course! Chris and I are waiting for Spring to get here for real to set a date, but likely early May. We've got some ideas cooked up to liven things up, but it will, as always, rock your face off. If you have any suggestions for categories, inter-round events, prizes, or keg types, please comment. Start thinking about your team name and brushing up on useless facts via the Random Article generator on Wikipedia.

On a related note, Dan Z, who you may know as one member of the original winners of Backyard Trivia Night, the Champagne of Trivia (with Picklehead and Crusher-Destroyer) or as a kick-ass artist, recently featured an homage to trivia in his weekly RFT comic Amazing Facts...and Beyond!, including a shout-out to Backyard Trivia via highlighting a question about the Golden Girls theme song, which came straight from my brain.


You Do Not Suck At All

I have cheated on my regular karaoke night.

I love karaoke. Love it. I'm not a particularly good singer in any way, shape, or form, but I convince myself of it in the shower, on long car rides, or by drinking. This started shortly after I moved to St Louis. I was slowly ingratiating myself into South City, and my friends took me to the River City Pub. River City is just a few blocks past the city limits on Gravois in Affton. It's a nondescript, no-frills type of place. With its neon beer signs, Big Buck Hunter game, cash-only bar, pool table, and the overwhelming beverage of choice Bud or Bud Light, it didn't even have a sign until last year.

My first visit, the one that hooked me, was honestly the event that sealed the deal that I was having way more fun in St Louis than I would have had staying in Des Moines living in my parents' basement. In order to understand the phenomenon that is River City karaoke, you must first understand its host, the infamous Ali Baba. Ali Baba is a middle-aged Pakistani with a heavy accent who in recent years has taken to wearing half-glasses. He likes to drink Hot Damn and has a shirt that is a map of Missouri. His life outside of River City was somewhat of an enigma, until Lazer saw him while visiting a company for her work and discovered that he is a book binder by day. He has several catchphrases he uses during karaoke, including "You do not suck at all," "We all go to (Johnny) Gitto's!" and "Is everybody having good time? Social!" He also sings. His signature song is "I Feel Good" in which he adds "Bitch" to the end of the line "..'cause I got you." He wants everyone to buy $2 shots of Hot Damn.

There are also several regulars at River City, the most famous of which (and most noteworthy) is Steve-O. Steve-O is approximately 56 but looks like he's about 75. Years of heavy drinking and smoking pot (which he does out back; this you can note as you go to the bathroom) make speculating as to whether or not Steve-O is, in fact, dead if he is NOT at the River City Pub (which, incidentally, he allegedly lives above) a regular occurrence. Steve-O is a legend because he sounds (on his better days) uncannily like John Fogarty, whom he will choose to emulate by singing CCR, but more likely you'll hear singing his signature number, "Gangster's Paradise" by Coolio. You have not lived until you hear an ate-up, aged hippie sing "Gangster's Paradise" with every fiber of his being. Along with Steve-O, there's also the Vietnam vet who sings "Chocolate Salty Balls" in an extremely loud monotone voice, never realizing that the novelty wore off long ago. There's also the chick who occasionally works at the bar, hugs me every time I see her as if we're old friends, and sings "Love Shack" with the Vietnam vet.

By the grace of God, my first visit was someone's bachelorette party. Not only did I hear the incendiary "Gangster's Paradise" performance, but saw what elevates Ali Baba from "funny guy with accent" to "totally audacious character who regularly exhibits borderline illegal behavior". In case you were wondering, Ali Baba has no problem with public displays of affection. With relative strangers. On this particularly cherry-poppin' visit, I witnessed Ali Baba effectively dry-hump the bride-to-be on the dance floor. I also, luckily, saw the bride's skirt hiked up around her waist and her lack of both underwear and public hair. To this day, I believe it was the closest I've ever been to another woman's vagina. I've also seen, on numerous special occasions (thankfully, not including my own bachelorette party, which did make a stop at RC) lucky ladies hoisted up by their asscheeks so Ali can put his face between their legs. I am not kidding. Trust me, that I have seen this on multiple occasions, nay, it has happened to multiple People I Actually Know, is not a fact that doesn't shock my sensibilities every time I visit.

For a while, we went to River City every Saturday night, but I realized it's a lot more fun if you space it out. So we go there every other month or so, get tanked, and try and see who can sing the most ironic song. I was doing Journey's "Open Arms" for a long time, because it seemed like a song the clientele would enjoy and I enjoy emulating Steve Perry. But I've switched it up to include "Brandy" by Looking Glass, "Purple Rain" by Prince, and duets with K.Vav such as "Picture" by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. Banter sings the theme song from Ghostbusters, which is really awesome. K-Vav sings "Careless Whisper" by Wham, also Awesome.

ANYWAY, although there is a group of hard-core River City fan among those whom with I socialize, there are a few (including my husband) who hate River City. Yeah, I know, like, what? It was for that reason that instead of going to River City on Friday night after a long night of drinking with the girls that we decided to head for Harry's on Southwest.

I've been to Harry's before. Some of Chris's friends hang out there regularly. But I've never been for karaoke. Although the crowd wasn't as great or large, there were several elements that have elevated it to equal status with River City. First of all, song selection. In my experience (and Randy Jackson's) song choice is everything. I personally like 80s pop. Ali's song list has remained relatively stagnant over the years. I've been dying to emulate Chrissie Hynde. So the fact that Harry's had "Brass In Pocket" (and at least eight other Pretenders songs) was selling point #1. #2: In the middle of karaoke, the host turned off the mike and turned on three rap videos and thus began a short-lived dance party, which I was just drunk enough to participate in. Because of my experience with contemporary high school dances in urban areas, I have some knowledge of how to dance to rap videos. I believe I can "walk it out" as well as any 27-year-old white woman from Iowa. #3: Bubble Machine. #4: More than two types of beer available. #5: New crowd of which to make fun. One dude sang Drowning Pool. Um, seriously? A methhead in a Blues sweatshirt sang Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life" with one of the waitresses. One guy, seriously, sang "We Are The Champions" by Queen (and then Shannon sang "Somebody to Love" and I raised my hands up to the heavens from which she came).

Although I had a blast, I am hesitant to return to Harry's, even if it means I get to sing "Back on the Chain Gang". I feel like I've been in this long-term karaoke relationship with River City, and I'm cheating on it with the new, exciting, lusty Harry's. I don't know if the host at Harry's will ever greet me with an inappropriately-long hug or bump my song to the top of the list when I walk in. I do know I can use a credit-card there (plus) but I can't see Steve-O (minus, particularly since who knows when he's going to retire from karaoke on account of having to get a trach ring). I can sing "Party All The Time" by Eddie Murphy, but can I see a girl cry while sitting on a stool singing "Foolish Games" by Jewel? Chris will actually go to Harry's to see my vocal stylings, as opposed to River City, which he is loathe to set foot in. On any given night, would I rather be surrounded by the Bayless High School class of 2001 or the DuBourg class of 1999? And, as far as I can tell, people tend to keep their clothes on at Harry's, which could be a pro or con, depending on the person.

I guess it will have to be a game-time decision, one based on a careful consideration of all the pros and cons, one made in conjunction with whomever I am drinking with. But if I do decide to start going to Harry's with increased frequency, abandoning my karaoke roots in Affton, don't think I'm an unfaithful, wanton woman. I need to expand my horizons.

Just don't tell Ali Baba.



Hey friends with cooler blogs than I.

Not that I don't have anything else to do, but I'm trying to expand the readership of my blog through social networking and media. However, there's so much out there I don't even know where to begin. Thoughts/advice from the pros? I would be so grateful. Leave a comment or e-mail me at kbestoliver (at) yahoo (dot) com.

I thought about starting with BNN. They seem to generate a lot of traffic for sites.

I kid! I kid!


Awesome Student Quote

"[Student 1 who said he was highly intelligent], not everthing in the world is a conspiracy perpetrated by the Freemasons. Get over it, it's annoying."

said by Student 2 who is actually intelligent.


Awesome Husband Quote

"Colonel Adama is like Tony LaRussa. Stoic. Never showing emotion."

Chris, while watching Battlestar Galactica Season Three.

Happy Baby!

Big ups to my cousin-in-law/regular blog reader Jenny and her husband Marc. Jenny popped out shorty #2, Elijah Benjamin, yesterday morning in the ER. Kid was hesitant to come out and I guess just decided to speed up the process once he got the nerve. Elijah joins big brother Jack. Congrats, Jenny, Marc, and Jack!

Jenny--How long until drinks?

Also, R.I.P. my hard drive. My suspicions were correct: you are indeed dead. Farewell all those 0s and 1s I knew as documents.


Last Saturday

My Spring Break was too short. I realized how behind I was in my Policy Development class so if I wasn't cleaning, at soccer practice, or running errands, I've been working on that. Today's the last push--I've been watching Outfoxed, then I have a class to watch, then a crap ton more reading. Since we have practice at 8AM tomorrow (don't even ask) then Easter with Chris's family, I've got to get as much done today as I can. Which is, logically, why I'm blogging as I watch Outfoxed streaming online. No worries, I had a triple cappuccino, so yeah, I'm good.

Chris and the League of Dorks (TM Sports Gal) have their fake draft today for their fake baseball teams. You cannot believe the level of preparation Chris has put into today. He has a leather legal folder full of various highlighted and chicken-scratched lists and printouts that he shuffles about endlessly. He's done at least six fake fake drafts. Yes, he does fake practice drafts to get ready for the real fake draft. Each one takes at least an hour. For the last week, he's had the folder by our bedside. When he can't sleep (possibly due to anxiety about the fake draft) he reviews his fake "research" until he falls asleep. Today, we had to make a special trip to Walgreens so he could get new highlighters for the fake draft. A friend called today while we were on the way to the fake draft (I dropped him off, obviously vaginas aren't allowed into the Fake Draft Batcave) looking for these "lists" because he didn't have a printer. After Chris got off the phone with him, he said, "I can't let him look of my lists. Then he'll know my strategy." I dropped him off at 11:30. As of 6:20, the League of Dorks are still pouring over their fake draft magazines and fake research and making their fake picks for their fake teams. Actually, by now, they may be debating their new fake teams and thinking about possible fake trades. Who knows?

I was stupid enough to try to go to the mall. It was one of those days when you have to drive around to find any parking spot, let alone a close one. Too many people stress me out, for reals. I was looking for a dress for a wedding next weekend. Found something cute, cheap, and made of organic cotton at H&M, but I've got to dress it up for the wedding.

Oh, the best part of today was that my laptop died. Well, it won't go past a gray screen with an icon of a file with a queston mark. Mac.com says that is no good. Bye bye, hard drive. Didn't back up recently, either, so I could be totally screwed. Luckily, it's not my computer. Sorry, school tech department. Hope you can fix it.


Thanks, Stat Counter!

A perv in Switzerland found my blog by searching for "sweet asshole", leading him to this post. Gross. Where's Chris Hanson when you need him?

Weekend Update

Whew. It feels good to be on Spring Break, even though I am keeping very busy catching up on school, cleaning my stank-nasty house, and going to soccer practice. I was so stressed, depressed, and tired of the cheeldren that I thought I would burst before 3:15 on Thursday. We drove up to Des Moines on Thursday night and then drove the rest of the way to Minneapolis on Friday.

We were staying in downtown Minneapolis because my school is downtown. On Friday, we planned to check in early, watch the streaming episode of Lost we missed Thursday, then I had a meeting with a professor. We stepped into the lobby of the hotel only to be assaulted by the familiar squees, cell phone rings, and interrogative tone of hundreds of teenagers. It would be my luck that a statewide DECA conference was wrapping up that weekend. Son of a bitch. Teenagers everywhere. I almost had a panic attack while waiting in line to check in. Through clenched teeth, behind mirrored sunglasses, I politely inquired as to the nature of mass of tightly-bundled hormones. The saintly-patient woman behind the counter smiled reassuringly and said, "They're leaving tomorrow." They would, however, thwart my timetable for events. After watching Lost, I left our 18th-floor room to go to my meeting with the professor and made my way to the elevator. When one finally arrived, naturally packed with teens, every single floor button was pushed. I immediately stepped out and waited for another elevator. Again, every single floor button was lit up. These motherfuckers. This totally karma coming back to me from all those soccer tournaments where my friends and I disturbed shit in hotels. By the time I got to my meeting, I was frazzled, flustered, sweaty, and my nose started running uncontrollably, which is undesirable when meeting with a professor about a paper. The worst part was that I was sweating profusely, and I was wearing my cool new "Bitches Get Shit Done" t-shirt under a lightweight bamboo sweater. I desperately wanted to take the sweater off and air out the jacuzzi under my arms, but I didn't really know the professor that well and how he would respond to two expletives in one t-shirt. So, I literally sweat it out.

The same thing would happen the next day when, after sleeping in past class starting time due to the age-old predicament of setting one's alarm to PM instead of AM, I didn't even attempt the elevator when I saw, no joke, at least 25 kids and their luggage waiting for the elevator the next morning. I took 18 flights down at breakneck speed, only to come into class 30 minutes late, sweaty, hair a hot tranny mess. I spent a lot of the weekend flustered, but mad props to the downtown Hyatt in Minneapolis. They handled the teen drama, and the other guests who had to deal with said drama, with class and hospitality. I'd recommend it.

Class was good, though, and Chris and I really enjoyed the time together in the car and hotel room. I particularly enjoyed our trip to IKEA on the way home, where we procured, unexpectedly, quite reasonably-priced new dressers, essentially doubling my clothing storage space, which is much more awesome than I imagined. We totally moved around our bedroom, and it seems much bigger even though we have more furniture in the room. Sucked putting together twelve drawers on Sunday night, but the results have been great. I totally love IKEA, and, after putting together both dressers, I really believe the quality of their stuff has increased over the past few years.

Anyway, I'm spending this week catching up on my Policy class, which includes watching Outfoxxed, cleaning and making minor home improvements, and hopefully drinking some beers, although not before soccer practice. That would be irresponsible.


What do y'all think of Obama's speech on race? Discuss.



Sometimes I need to use this blog just to get some feelings out, and this is one of those times.

I'm leaving my job. I was considering leaving since last school year, but then my district eliminated my position due to budget cuts (expected) and did not offer me a position in my building, they offered me my old crappy job at the alternative school (unexpected) even though I should have been offered a job in my building with my kids (which does exist). Basically, they made me an offer I couldn't accept, and that made my decision for me. I was very sad and hurt because I know that the reasoning behind this was personal. I offended a higher up because I stood up for something I believed in, and that put me on the short list of people that rock the boat and therefore must be eliminated. I have no bad observations in my file and I've done a million things for the district. My resume speaks for itself. But I am expendable.

In reality, I'm very happy about leaving and I know I'll be happier when I'm gone. One, I'm disillusioned with teachers' roles in the education system as it exists, and I don't feel like I'm doing as much as I want to be doing in terms of really, truly making social change. Two, there are just things going on here that I can't support, namely the treatment of teachers. I'd rehash it, but I just analyzed it in my paper and it took 10 pages just for the economic and political sections and I'm frankly so sick of it that I won't even get into it. Long story short, it's a toxic place to be right now and I'm glad to be done with it.

But, there's rumblings around school about me leaving which lets me know it's time to tell my kids. That's the part that sucks. Because I teach a large group of kids who have been left or abandoned by multiple people in their lives. And it sucks that I am going to be another one of those people. It sucks that the girls whom I've coached for the last three years, the girls who turned our program from never having a .500 season in school history to going undefeated in conference last season, that I'm not going to be there for their senior season. I'm sad that they might think that I'm leaving them, because that's not it. For me and my own sanity, I've got to go.

And I'm sad because for most of my adult life, a large part of my identity is as a teacher. I've been entrenched in this community and the work I've done with these kids. To walk away from that, from the relationships I have built with my kids, and from that atmosphere, is difficult. I'm having a little crisis right now because I don't think I can go into the classroom. I always swore that if I found myself getting bitter, I'd get out of the classroom, and right now, I'm bitter and my heart isn't in it. I look at the amazing teachers that I work with, the most intelligent, skilled, deliberate educators I've ever met. Sometimes I meet teachers from other places and am pretty aghast that they're in a classroom, because they just seem like amateurs compared to our staff. I'll be sad that they're not my colleagues any more, and I'll be sad that I won't be a teacher.

Mmmmm Veruca.

I basically finished my paper, so that's cool. Told y'all I'd get it done. I've got an update on the Scared Straight! story after I talk to Chris about it. Things got interesting there, I'll tell you what. But save that for later.

My weekend was mostly spent writing aforementioned paper, reading stuff about policy, and catching up on watching my video classes. I did sneak a trip in to Left Bank Books, where I picked up this, this, this, and this. I actually wanted to get the latest issue of Believer, but alas, they did not have it, which was a disappointment.

I also got down to Veruca Bakeshop, which is down on Sidney Street right next to the fabulous Niche restaurant. Niche pastry chef Mathew Rice is baking up a storm down there with some right fine pastries. I met Mathew when I went in Saturday morning (he recognized my name from a local online food forum), and he's a very nice guy who happens to make mean treats along with a mean Tahitian vanilla latte. I think his cupcakes are better than the ones from those fancy-pants cupcake bakeries around town who have yet to impress me. I'm also a big fan of the lemon bars and the better-than-Hostess snack cakes. If you get a chance, head down there and check out his goods. I don't think you'll be disappointed.


Sunday Reminscing

I knew it would be like this. You knew it would be like this. Paper due tomorrow, yet here I am, just getting it popping at 1:19 PM, and we've got soccer practice at 3:00. Why oh why am I blogging? What can I say? I'm committed to you.

But no worries! I will prevail; make no mistake, I will prevail. I've already got lots of the background work done, which is why I'm taking a little blogging break. I'm just chilling over at this place, drinking some fair-trade coffee and taking a trip down memory lane by listening to The Lemonheads seminal album It's A Shame About Ray. I've been looking through a pile of old CDs as I rebuild my iPod library (again! but I got the new 80GB Classic and it has quickly become MY PRECIOUS) and started uploading stuff such as Evan Dando, Juliana Hatfield, and the other dudes in the band. (Interesting sidenote: a colleague is cousins-in-law with this dude, so I heard). This takes me back to my old Sassy-reading days . Sassy once had an article about how Evan Dando just went to prom with some fangirl back in the day. They had the formal photo of him in a tux and everything. That's beside the point. The carthartic wash of adolescence just poured over me as I listened to this disc. Remember that cover of "Mrs. Robinson"? Ain't shit compared to "Rockin' Stroll", "Bit Part In Your Life", and "Buddy". I feel like I should just pop this on a playlist with Toad the Wet Sprocket, Buffalo Tom, and Blind Melon, pretend I'm Angela Chase, and call it a day.

Well, I have to work. Interrupt me if you feel so inclined.



I'm exhausted. The worst part of being tired, the kind of tired that you can't stop thinking about, is how your eyeballs feels. Sure, there's the bone-tired body-tired where your limbs just sigh when you finally lay down to rest, but I'm talking about the I-didn't-get-enough-sleep-and-it's-catching-up-to-me tired where your eyeballs get itchy and, well, tired. Is there a more desperate everyday-life situation than craving sleep and knowing full well there's no relief in sight.

AND it's Friday. As in, I have social life stuff to do because hi! a girl needs a beer now and again. After Chris and I chill together and go visit this place under the false pretense that I have time to read for fun, I'll be heading up to Lemmons for the Dudes Mag Ish 11 (aka Snake Eyes) release party. Basically, the Dudes on my kickball team make a magazine. $5 cover, Celebrity Autopsy, Hot Atomics, and Devlin's Kids (yes, some Dudes have a band called Devlin's Kids) will be rawking. You should come if you're into irony, zines, rawk, beer, shuffleboard, or shit-talking.

I will then be spending the weekend writing a paper and watching class videos that I'm behind on.

Oh, snap. One of our most ridonkulous students just said, in front of his teacher, that he was just going to make up his works cited page for his persuasive essay. Said teacher said, "Hello, I'm sitting right here."
Student replies, "Oh, I though Mr. (Student Teacher) was our teacher."
Teacher, "Yeah, but I'm still your real teacher. Obviously if you cheat, I am going to tell Mr. (Student Teacher)."
Student, "That's gay." Said it all serious, no hint of offense or knowledge of wrongdoing or deception.

We're straight doomed.


Big Ups To My Home State

Iowa ain't no backwater farm state..err, maybe it is, but we love the cheeldren.


New Blog

I've been writing for GreenOptions since its launch over a year ago, and it's grown by leaps and bounds. We just launched a new food-themed blog, EatDrinkBetter, focusing on sustainable foods. I posted on Rachael Ray today, if you're so inclined. Despite the fact that she annoys the crap out of me and you can't escape her (seen her mug in the cracker aisle? Too much), her message that anyone can cook real food is empowering. I'm not ashamed to admit that there are some downright tasty 30 Minute Meals.

Snow Day. Psych.

Really, truly, and honestly, my school district is the only district in the entire St Louis city/county area that is in school right now. Right now, as fat flakes of snow fall and cover everything in a beautiful blanket, our teachers are trying to figure out what to do today while other teachers (including Chris) are snug in their beds. I had a great new project to start on in Creative Writing--we're working on personal narratives and other types of creative non-fiction, and we're going to have our own StoryCorps, with the kids interviewing each other about a significant event in their lives and recording them into podcasts. However, only ten kids showed up today. I'm not about to start something new and then have to explain the whole thing all over again tomorrow. So we just had catch-up time today.

The kids in my first class were freaking out about having to be in school, particularly as the snow fell harder and harder. I tried to assure them that they were safe and we'd probably let out early, but they were convinced that it was about to go Donner Party up in this bitch. One girl actually said, "I dare someone to try and steal my kidney."

More later. Things are pretty low-key around here with only about 50% of kids in attendance and the rest getting out early because their parents are worried about them.


Awesome Student Quote

"Martin Luther King, Jr is a beast."--drama student in my friend KD's class.