Category Archives: Humor

If X Were Your Y

If X were your Y

For your reading list

If you’re prone to binge reading, close this tab right now.

Think you can handle it? Here it comes: Check out the Toast’s If X Were Your Y. This section caught my eye with If LaVar Burton and Yo-Yo Ma Were Your Dads by Nicole Chung and Karissa Chen. Then I read another piece. And another. You could say it’s my latest obsession.

The premise is as simple as one phrase: “If ___ were your ___.” Writers fill out that phrase, and then take it to its logical – and then far beyond logical – conclusions. With that Chung-Chen piece, the idea led to passages like:

If LeVar Burton and Yo-Yo Ma were your dads, when you were a kid, every time you had a question about anything (“How do you spell ‘loquacious’?” “Do sharks sleep with their eyes closed?”), LeVar Burton would tell you to take a look, it’s in a book. And when you complained about how annoying Dad was being, Yo-Yo Ma would play a slow, sad song on the cello, and they’d laugh at you (never unkindly) as you stomped away.

Logical enough. But did you know “if LeVar Burton and Yo-Yo Ma were your dads, your orchids would never die, no matter how much you overwatered them”? That one waves to logical as it passes, keeps going, and ends up three galaxies away. Another great one: If Justin Bieber Were My Terrible, Golden Son. Continue reading

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Filed under Blog, Humor

DC State Fair contests open: Think of this as my White House video announcement

Okay, it's a public library panel, not a national broadcast. But you get the idea. Photo by Stuart Levy

Okay, it’s a public library panel, not a national stage. But you get the idea. And note the DC State Fair t-shirt. Photo by Stuart Levy.

Pundits have used a lot more red ink lately, marking Xes on the days when President Obama doesn’t hold a press conference. One hundred and fourteen days here, 101 there. Only a Russian-protected leaker and a red line in Syria could staunch the scribbles, bringing Obama officially before the press an astonishing two times  in August. Otherwise, it’s X, X, and X.

What Obama does instead is push out constant social media blips and almost daily White House videos.

So think of this as my trendy White House video-type announcement about a matter of great interest to the public:

The DC State Fair contests are now open.

The media haven’t caught wind of it yet, as far as I know. Yet news of favorites like the Pie Contest, Honey Contest and Homebrew Contest has zipped around D.C.

Now that you’re in the know, go ahead and check them out.

And to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah today, shana tova! May your year be filled not only with luscious desserts and homemade beer but also the sweetness of peace and inspiration.

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Filed under DC, Events, Humor

Code Switch

I recently met up for dinner with a few friends, including one who had just graduated from an ASL interpreter training program. As we gazed at a kaleidoscope of pictures outside an East Village restaurant, someone asked if the menu looked good to me. “I think so, but I’ve never experienced Japanese tapas,” I said. Suddenly, the interpreter friend declared that I had code switched.

Code switching is a linguistic term for moving between languages. And Code Switch happens to be the name of a new National Public Radio blog about race, culture, and ethnicity. Hearing a piece about it this morning brought me back to that night. Learning that NPR had chosen that title also warmed my wordy heart. Continue reading

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Filed under Humor, Language, New York

The dark side of color

Like most college instructors, I use the Blackboard online learning system. And like some of those (possibly misguided) instructors, I believe I can keep students’ attention by adding color to the software’s dour design.

It’s easy to do. You just go into an assignment, click “Edit,” and in a few seconds you can make the title of the assignment a pretty color.

Oh boy! Color! Can you feel the excitement?

For a few semesters now, I have been noticing two things about the color choices for such titles. First: Each option on the color wheel that pops up has a formal name. Second: Those names, without exception, make me want to slit my wrists.

Want to turn that project title a grassy green? You’ll have to slime it with Obscure Dull Spring.

Would you like to soften the headline for the test by applying an “It’s a Boy!” azure? It’s Medium Faded Blue for you. (Thank goodness Evite doesn’t use the same color system as Blackboard. Planning your little fellow’s baby shower could get depressing real quick). Continue reading

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Filed under Humor, Teaching

Storm Preparedness for Professors

rainy night scene

I may not be wearing myself out reporting on storms, but as a new university instructor, I still feel the cold slap of wind and rain. And there is more at stake than a few ruined elbow patches and disrupted night cap schedules.  When my school shut down, I put my research skills to work, resulting in five tips to help you survive the rest of Hurricane Sandy — with your emerging reputation and sanity intact.

1. Survey fellow faculty members to determine best practices in the case of school shutdowns. A simple Facebook inquiry last night brought a long list of valuable suggestions for keeping your academic energy up. This was especially helpful for me as a rookie eager to keep momentum rolling.  For example, I learned that with just an Internet connection and a copy of your syllabus, you can both stream horror movies and protect your desk from the condensation on your Side Car.

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Image for the Day: Pickle wine stopper

Pickle wine stopper

Best. Kitchen gadget. Ever. Rivaled only by the box it came in, which asks, “In a pickle about how to preserve your pinot? Well, get this gherkin workin’ and all of your problems are solved!”

It turns out pickles are quite the it thing right now. What’s the dill?

Pickle wine stopper by Fred, available at Trohv. Photo by Rhea.

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Cracking into the truth

walnuts in a boxSometimes you need to cover the truth to best expose it.  This is what I decided as I sat in the parking lot behind my apartment building, a hammer in my hand and a crackling paper bag sitting on the cold pavement. The truth, in this case, was black walnuts. Notoriously tough to crack, this bitter, perfumed species native to 15 states does not succumb to nutcrackers. They do, however, help me think about how I conceptualize good writing and what a metaphor fanatic I am.

A little background: I ordered a case of these things for a locally-sourced meal not realizing it would take a research mission just to taste them. The most common advice I found for the home cook is to use a vise. Yes, a vise. Because of course you have one in the drawer right by the lemon zester.

I didn’t have the equipment for that, so I developed a technique involving soaking the nuts, placing them in a paper bag, and then whacking the heck out of them. Stay with me here. The writing/metaphor part is coming.

This nut-busting technique was not easy. I couldn’t see what I was doing and had to feel blindly for where to bring down the hammer, then painstakingly loosen each bit of nutmeat with a fork. But I had to admit this was the best way to go. Continue reading

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Filed under Humor, Language, Teaching