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Monkey Busy-ness September 26, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Adoption, Books, Monkeys, Television, Travel.

The semester began three weeks ago today, and it’s been a busy three weeks.

For starters, there’s the teaching, the research, and all the fun administrative stuff that comes at the beginning of the school year.

Add to that the beginning of the fall TV season.  Not that I’m complaining, but I’m invested in too many TV shows.  There’s The Amazing Race on Sunday night, as I’ve already mentioned (my Bluegrass roots demand that I root for Team Kentucky, though they make me a bit self-conscious).  Then America’s Next Top Model on Wednesday night (I know I said that TAR was the only reality TV show that I watched, but I lied; yes, I’m ashamed).  Then three in a row on Thursday night: My Name Is Earl, The Office (I liked how the premiere handled the Jim/Pam situation), and CSI.  And Lost hasn’t even started back up yet.  I’m lucky that the first episode of Heroes didn’t particularly captivate me.       

I also had the ten-year check up on the heart valves that I had replaced.  Everything looked fine, but now I’m a just little worried about whether my having had the surgery will hurt our application to adopt from China (this discussion at Rumor Queen has both reassuring and disquieting—but mostly reassuring—information on that score).

On a less serious note, I did a one-monkey media blitz: two television appearances, one radio show, and a newspaper interview (that’s all I can say, however, because I’m Clark Kenting it here).

Last, but not least, I’ve done a lot of reading for fun.  Specifically, I’ve been reading books and short stories by Manly Wade Wellman, who mixes horror and occultism with Southern folklore and folk music.  Manly gets bonus points with me for living in Chapel Hill, NC for more than three decades (I spent a few years there myself).  I checked out five of his books from the local library; four of them hadn’t been checked out for the past year.    

In other news, happy belated birthday to SBird.  It’s nice that she had fun in Vegas (I recommend the New York-New York hotel and RumJungle; I would diss the Tropicana, but I hear that they finally blew it up).

While I’m at it, I’d like to give a shout-out to Monkeyhead, who is not only a fellow monkey but also someone who knows the secret sign.

Edited to add: Oh, yeah, my parents went to Paris (a change of pace from their last destination, Hawai’i).  I would like to go there someday.  Sure, I’ve been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but that was when we were staying at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas.    


Phil, How I Have Missed Thee September 16, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Television, Travel.

Tomorrow night, a new season of The Amazing Race begins.

TAR is the one reality TV show that I regularly watch.  It’s also the one reality TV show in which ZGirl and I would like to participate.  I wouldn’t even get jealous about ZGirl’s crush on host Phil Keoghan.

A few seasons back, one of my former students took part in the race.  Sadly, she didn’t win.

This season is noteworthy in that it features two Asian American teams: Erwin and Godwin (two brothers) and Vipul and Arti (a married couple).  On the one hand, good for CBS.  On the other hand, the network took ten seasons to get there (I’m not even going to touch the racial/ethnic segregation on this season of Survivor; anyhow, I quit watching that show a long time ago).

Of course, part of the fun is reading Miss Ali’s recaps of the show at Television Without Pity.  But there goes part of my workday.

Log-In Date: August 29, 2006 September 5, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Adoption.

Our adoption dossier has been registered in China.


At Least It’s Not 7 x 70 September 4, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Memes.

I was in Philadelphia this weekend.  Saw the bell.  It was fun.

I returned to discover that Singing Bird had tagged me with the 7×7 meme.  Here goes.

7 things I want to do without dying of embarrassment:

1. Sing karaoke.

2. Breakdance.

3. Go on a 50-mile bike ride (come to think of it, I might die of exhaustion before embarrassment)

4. Ice skate.

5. Ride a horse.

6. Mix drinks.

7. Run for office. 

7 things I can’t do in the summer:

1. Drink hot chocolate.

2. Watch sports (no college basketball).

3. Wear my favorite wool jacket.

4. Hunt the Wendigo.

5. Assign papers.     

6. Ski (not that I can do that in the winter, either).

7. Forget how harsh winters around here can be.

7 things I can do that are meaningless unless you’re in junior high:

1. Play “Wild Thing” on a bass guitar.

2. Make a one-bounce free throw.

3. Construct booby-traps.

4. Crack my right wrist.

5. Summon Beelzebub.

6. Freak out motorists at night by (a) getting together with some friends to put a heavy log across a gravel country road, (b) going back down the road and hiding in the woods to wait for a car to pass by, (c) placing another log in the road after the car has passed, thereby blocking the car’s way on both ends, and (d) leaving.   

7. Vandalize just about anything.  

7 things that attracted me to my house:

1. The Victorian architecture.

2. The proximity to work.

3. The proximity to a body of water.

4. The three floors.  I grew up in a ranch house, so multi-floored houses always seem cool to me.

5. The fenced-in back yard, complete with a pear tree.

6. The non-Euclidian hardwood floors.

7. The strange whispers from the basement that nobody else could hear.

7 things I say most when I’m crying:

1. I love me some onions.

2. Couldn’t I simply cut those nose hairs instead of pulling them out by their roots?

3. Damned contact lenses.

4. The light…it burns my eyes.

5. Next time, I think that I’ll ask for “mild.”

6. Nooooo, why didn’t you guard the inbound passer?

7. Poor Tin Man and Lion—why did Dorothy need to twist the knife by saying that she was going to miss the Scarecrow most of all? 

7 children’s books that I’m adding to my own collection (someday):

1. Where The Wild Things Are. It’s always wild rumpus time.

2. Goodnight Moon. No explanation necessary.

3. A Wind in the Door. I always wondered what happened after the first book.

4. The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain. And anything else by Lloyd Alexander that I don’t already own.

5. Green Eggs and Ham.  And all the rest by the good doctor.

6. Below the Root. I read this one and the third book in the Green-sky series when I was a kid, but my library didn’t have the second book.

7. Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery. Never read it, but I love the concept.

7 children’s movies that I can watch for the bazillionth time without wanting to rip my eyes from their sockets:

1. Spirited Away. Couldn’t possibly become dull no matter how many times I watched it.

2. Into the West. Never seen this movie about two Irish boys and a potentially magical horse?  You should.

3. The Little Mermaid.  Man, Ariel was smokin’. [Sorry.]

4. Toy Story. The sequel was all right, too.

5. The Secret of NIMH.  Not as good as the book, but still good. 

6. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.  Charlie was a world-class dweeb.  Even so, Gene made it all OK.

7. Oedipus the King. No, wait…

I hereby tag Zen Mama (when she gets the time) and the Smithie

International Adopters’ Secret Sign August 30, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Adoption.

Almost every day, ZGirl and I walk past a house that’s about a block away from our own.  A white couple lives there.  They seem like nice people; they say hello when we pass. The husband looks a lot like Anderson Cooper (to us, this is a good thing—we’ve been fond of Anderson Cooper since his days as host of The Mole).

Long before we started our own adoption process, we noticed that these neighbors have an Asian-American daughter.  Could it be that they adopted internationally?

Maybe.  Make that probably.  ZGirl and I can’t be certain, however, because we’ve never asked them.  We’ve been tempted, of course, but we’re reluctant to invade their privacy (do unto others…). 

If there were a secret sign that international adopters used to identify themselves to one another, then we would know.

Unless, of course, there is a sign and we have not learned it yet.

Book It, Monkey-O August 27, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Books, Memes.

Following Nicole’s lead, I’ve answered the 10-book challenge.

1. A book that changed my life: The one that I’m trying to write.  No, it’s not the great American novel.  It’s not a novel at all.  If I find a press, it will become a dusty academic tome. 

2. A book that I have read more than once: The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander.  I’m as devoted to the five-volume saga of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, as some folks are to The Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter books.  

3. A book to take to a deserted island: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne. I’ll probably never read this go-nowhere meta-novel unless I’m trapped in nowhere myself.
4. A book that made me laugh:  Any book by travel writer Tim Moore—but especially The Grand Tour, in which he drives around Europe in a vintage Rolls wearing a purple velvet suit. 

5. A book that made me cry: I can’t remember any book having made me cry.  I remember that E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web made me sad when I was a kid, however, so I’m going with that answer.

6. A book that I wish had been written: I’ve always wanted to read one of the great imaginary books of literature—for example, Abdul Alhazred’s Necronomicon (from H. P. Lovecraft’s stories) or Sir Lancelot Canning’s Mad Trist (from Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”).  I’ll go with The King in Yellow, which produces terrible consequences for anyone who reads it.

7. A book that I wish had never been written: Seduction of the Innocent, the 1954 book by psychologist Fredric Wertham that whipped up an anti-comic book frenzy across America. My mother, who was 11 at the time, resisted the ensuing comic book witch hunt. 

8. A book that I’m currently reading: 100 Ghastly Little Ghost Stories, a Barnes and Noble instant-remainder anthology that includes works by writers ranging from J. Sheridan Le Fanu to O. Henry to Saki to Ramsey Campbell.  

9. A book that I’m planning on reading: I have a copy of Scott Smith’s The Ruins sitting on my shelf right now.  I’m a bit scared to start reading it.

10. A favorite book not already listed: We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson’s misanthropic masterpiece (you may remember the author from “The Lottery”).  I liked it enough to buy a first edition.

I tag any member of my microscopic readership who would like to follow suit.

Here There Be Snow Monkeys August 25, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Travel.

I acquired a love of maps from my brother the cartographer, so I got a kick out of this post at Walternatives.  It links to a website that allows you to map which countries and states you’ve visited.

Here’s my country map:


It’s a sad map.  I feel better about the map of states that I’ve visited:


Oh, how I yearn to visit Alaska and Hawai’i.

Speaking of my brother, he has a somewhat unusual ambition: he’s trying to visit as many U.S. counties as possible.  Fortunately for him, he lives in the state that has, by far and away, the most counties.  He (and I) also grew up in the state with the third most counties.

“Have You Thought About…” August 24, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Adoption.

In an earlier post, I discussed some of the comments that ZGirl and I have received from people when we’ve told them that we’re in the process of adopting from China.  One of them was the question, “Have you thought about fostering a local kid?” Last night, I heard a variation on the same theme: “Have you thought about adopting an older child?”

I’m at something of a loss to understand why some people ask such questions after I have just told them what we decided to do.  Thus far, I’ve developed three theories:

1. Perhaps the questioners are curious about the subject, assume that we (as people in the process of adopting) are informed about such matters, and are trying to ask “What do you think about [fill in the blank]?” If this is what’s going on, then the questions don’t bother me.

2. Then again, perhaps the questioners assume (consciously or unconsciously) that we’re uninformed about our options and are trying to do us a favor by bringing another alternative to our attention.  Put another way, maybe they are trying to ask, “Are you aware of the possibility of [fill in the blank]?”  I don’t know why they would think that we are so uninformed about our options, however.  Maybe they don’t know, either; maybe they’re not thinking that much about their questions.  If this is what’s going on, then I am touched by their concern but annoyed by their condescension (be it intentional or not).

3. A third possibility is that the questioners consciously or unconsciously disapprove of our decision and believe that we should have chosen another option (that is, the one mentioned in their question).  So perhaps they are trying to ask, “Why are you doing that when you should be [fill in the blank]?”  Or, to be even blunter, “Why are you adopting some foreign child when you should be [fill in the blank]?”  If this is what’s going on, then maybe they should go about [fill in the blank] themselves; alternatively, they can go [censored] themselves.

Any other theories?

The Global Zucchini Revolt August 21, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Food.

The shadowy Green Mountain has brought together an umbrella organization of international zucchini liberation movements, including the Zucchinistas (click here for a closer look at the member groups).  Note that the Monkeydog has started her own movement.

The revolution continues!

Erin Go Bragh and All That August 19, 2006

Posted by Snow Monkey in Music.

For the third year in a row, ZGirl and I went to Irish Fest in Milwaukee.  This was our best visit yet.

I should mention that I am, as far as I know, exactly 0% Irish.  Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Welsh, yes, but not one bit Irish.  Still, I like Irish Fest [Sociological aside: The crowd at Irish Fest is very, very white.  Not exactly a big surprise, I know; even so, it’s hard not to notice].

For me, the main appeal is the music.  In particular, I’m a sucker for bands that mix rock and Irish folk.  For example, I love the Pogues.

This time, we lucked into some excellent music.  The first thing that we heard when we walked in was a band playing “Sally MacLennane.” That was a good omen, so we wandered over and listened to Reilly play “Come On, Eileen” and “South Australia,” among others.  Good stuff.

The members of another band, the Gleasons, happened to be sitting not far behind us (one of the members of Reilly pointed them out), so we checked them out when they played a few hours later.  They describe themselves as an “Americeltic pop’n’rock band,” and I can’t improve on that description.  They played the immortal “Whiskey in a Jar,” some Flogging Molly, and some fine original tunes.  Again, good stuff.    

We also found other things to do: 

  • We watched the Celtic Canines agility show—imagine lots of Irish Setters and Irish Terriers jumping over hurdles and through hoops (or, in some cases, not jumping over hurdles and through hoops; these canines varied widely in training).
  • We saw a parade dominated by bagpipes (a polarizing instrument, from what I gather; I’m in the pro-bagpipe camp, myself).
  • At the behest of ZGirl, we saw some of that Riverdance-style Irish dancing  (the group that we saw is evidently a big deal in the world of Irish dancing).
  • And we visited the bingo tent—again, at the behest of ZGirl.  When it comes to gambling, she’s a lucky one: she won on the second try (when we went to Vegas, she won on the slots, too).

I did not drink any Guinness.  Sorry; beer is not my thing. 

Maybe we’ll live it up tonight with the $12.50 that ZGirl won.  Come to think of it, that’s almost exactly the price of one ticket to Irish Fest…