so take my strong advice

Ladies and gentlemen, The Real Samuel James.

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I’ve discovered an unexpected side effect of watching The Karate Kid for the first time in my 40s. For the past few weeks, any time I have to push myself or offer a little self-encouragement, I hear a little internal soundtrack:

Sometimes that soundtrack gets externalized in the form of me singing the chorus — and only the chorus — in a strained whisper-yell as I putter around the house. It’s fitting when I’m lifting weights for my physical therapy or doing crunches for core strength… but even I admit that it’s a little funnier when I’m rolling out pastry dough.

It also intersects oddly with a standard household compliment peculiar to us; we routinely tell each other “Aw, you’re the best girl.”* The conflation leads to exchanges like this morning’s:

Elsa: No hurry! We’ve got plenty of time to get everything done. We’re the best! arou-ound!
The Fella: You are the best.
Elsa: AROU-OUND!
The Fella: I know! You’re the best girl.
Elsa: [punching the air] And nuthin’s gonna EVER KEEP ME DOWN!

*You read that right.

meep

updated to add: Even better than the Ode to Joy clip (at the end of this entry) is Beaker’s Habanera with The Swedish Chef and Animal. Enjoy!

Students at Danvers High School in Massachusetts are forbidden to utter the nonsense word meep.

Uh-huh.

Evidently, the students have appropriated Beaker’s all-purpose word for their own constant use, to the annoyance of the faculty and administrators. The principal’s balanced, sensible response, which was not at all silly, misguided, or destined for spectacular failure: he prohibited students from uttering the sound meep. Well, that oughta do it.

Two aspects of this story puzzle me, to startlingly different degrees.

First, the minor puzzle: since when has “meep” been an expression belonging only to younguns? I’m old enough to have watched the original broadcasts of The Muppet Show, and whenever I’ve had occasion to utter a tiny meep! of dismay or alarm, no one has seemed too terribly perplexed by it.

Second, the major puzzle: has this principal or any member of his administration ever, I dunno, met any high school students? Barring that, have they ever interacted with any group of humans? Have they any basic understanding of human psychology?

A quote from the second link:

“It has nothing to do with the word,” [Danvers H.S. principal Thomas] Murray said. “It has to do with the conduct of the students. We wouldn’t just ban a word just to ban a word.”

No, because banning a word will not work, and in fact will be counter-productive. The administration has now identified the word as a guaranteed provocation and enshrined it in legend.

In solidarity with the Danvers High students and for the sheer delight of it, I offer you: Ode to Joy, performed by Beaker.

sticky Valentines

I recently spent an afternoon flipping through CDs and websites looking for a first dance song that would suit both our tastes. It’s turning out to be tricky, especially since most of our favorite music is better suited to a divorce proceeding than to a wedding.

After a few hours, I has a “well, duh!” moment and turned to Google. Ach, my eyes! Ze google does nuzzing! Well, nuzzing except remind me why I have assiduously avoided The Knot: The Knot’s first pick for hip first dance songs is Elvis Costello’s “Alison.”

“Alison.”

Now, I was eight when “Elvis Costello released My Aim is True. “Alison” is probably the first Elvis Costello song I knew word-for-word all the way through, probably the first Elvis Costello song I sang in the shower, probably the first Elvis Costello song that spurred me to buy an Elvis Costello album as I crept toward my teens. This is a song I loved long before I could really get it. This song twangs a string deep inside my chest.

And even as a kid, I understood that “Alison” is not a song about finding your true love and life companion.

No, really. The lyrics to “Alison,” listed by the official Elvis Costello website and fan club, emphasis mine:

Oh it’s so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl.
And with the way you look I understand
that you were not impressed
.
But I heard you let that little friend of mine
take off your party dress
.
I’m not going to get too sentimental
like those other sticky valentines,
’cause I don’t know if you’ve been loving some body.
I only know it isn’t mine
.
Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.
Well I see you’ve got a husband now.
Did he leave your pretty fingers lying
in the wedding cake?
You used to hold him right in your hand.
I’ll bet he took all he could take.
Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
when I hear the silly things that you say.
I think somebody better put out the big light,
cause I can’t stand to see you this way.
Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.
My aim is true.

an inescapable conclusion

Yesterday, Gaoo had us over for our wedding cake tasting. The Fella and I sat in her pretty front room, the sun warming our backs. We paged through her albums of gorgeous cakes and batted around ideas the way kittens bat around colorful balls of yarn, all while we ate dainty slices of cake and tiny chocolate cups filled with frosting off a delicate floral porcelain plate.

(Gaoo’s an artist and a genius, incidentally. I already knew that in an abstract way, but I understood it viscerally last week when she glanced at my preliminary sketch and immediately added a whole new dimension that blew my mind.)

As I ran errands after the tasting, I discovered that a local housewares boutique sells the exact jars I wanted for our (non-floral, non-perishable) centerpieces. The owner, who knows me by sight, generously offered a ridiculously sweet deal on a dozen. (Buy local, kids!) Her offer changed “Hey, that’s a great idea! Now how can I do it cheaper?” to “Hey, that’s a great idea! Let’s do it!” So, more than four months before the wedding, we already have our very simple table decor lined up.

invitdryingAnd we finished the invitations!

The completion of these first few gewgaws and trinkets nudges me toward an inescapable conclusion: holy cats, we’re having a wedding. That must mean we’re getting married.

Yikes.

And Yippee!

A few more details remain, of course. For example, we haven’t settled on a first dance song. So far, we’ve eliminated:
Yakkety Sax
The Final Countdown
– The Futurama remix of Rocketship.
So, three songs down, eleventy billion to go.

resolute

Several of my friends undertake penitent post-holiday resolutions (jog every morning! fit into my high school jeans! abstain from all liquor! elimate all unnecessary spending immediately!) for the New Year. And for some of them, this draconian approach proves fruitful.

Others become so disheartened by their failure to adhere to the near-impossible constraints they’ve established that they give up entirely, dive headlong into a vat of premium ice cream and bitter invective (ew — invective is sticky!), and wallow there until March.

I fall in the second camp. Accordingly, when I plan to better myself or my life, I establish goals more gradually and incorporate them into my life, and when I remember to make New Year’s resolutions, I make certain that I can achieve them. This year’s resolutions:

– find more occasions to drink champagne.*
– sing more. (Sorry, everyone.)
– eat more eclairs.

*I’ve already fulfilled the first; we attended a marvelous New Year’s brunch where the hosts urged mimosas on us again and again. I accommodated their demands to drink. I am nothing if not gracious in these matters.

update, for those who yearn to know: The Fella and I spent New Year’s Eve nursing our colds by lounging sedately in bed, him at the head reading and me flopped toward the foot watching season 1, disc 1, of House, M.D.. Then he clambered over to kiss me in the middle of an episode. Only after my gratifying response of “huh?” did I glance at the clock: exactly midnight.
He’s the romantic in this home. I’m just the beneficiary of it.