Thursday, November 26, 2009


I learned this great parlor game from my colleague Kristen. Here's what you do. You get together a bunch of friends (or random people or relatives.) You cut up paper into small pieces. Everyone takes a pile of paper and writes down as many celebrities as they can think of, one per piece of paper. After writing on each paper, they fold it in half and put it in a bowl. Everyone keeps writing until the bowl is full. The group should define what "celebrity" means before you start writing. Generally, well-known actors, political figures, authors, sports figures. It depends on your group. Students getting their advanced degrees in literature could probably have an entire game full of obscure literary people/characters. Divide up into teams consisting of about three people and grab a watch or timer that can count off one minute.

The first group picks a person to go first describing. They draw a name and start describing who the person is. For example: "He wrote a lot of books with not many descriptive words and killed himself in Ketchum, Idaho."

If the group consists of anyone literary or with knowledge of Idaho suicides, one of the teammates will shout out, "Ernest Hemingway!" At that point, the person describing sets the name in the team pile and start the process over again. They keep going until one minute has elapsed and the time keepers call time. Then the bowl gets passed to the next time who chooses a describer.

The turns rotate between teams and the person describing rotates within the team so every person has to describe. If the describer is mid-description and the time runs out, they return that name to the bowl. When all the names in the bowl have been described and correctly named by the teams, the winner is the team with the most slips of paper.

Often times, what makes this game so funny is the way people get summed up. Like, "Football/murder guy" (OJ Simpson!). The other thing that happens is that sometimes a team won't be evenly matched. The first time Matt and I played this, Matt was on a team where he was the only one with television/actor/movie knowledge. I was quite impressed with how well he could describe names phonetically as with this interchange:
Matt: Her sister is on Bones and she is an actress.
Team: Huh?
Team: Was that just English?
Matt: Never mind. It's up on the hill over there.
Team: The zoo!
Matt: Right. Now turn that into a girl's name...
Team: Zoo, zoo, zoe!
Matt: a little bit more
Team: Zoey!
Matt. Right. Now, it's a perfume that old women wear.
Team: Obsession
Matt: Older than that.
Team: Chantilly
Matt: Nope, try again
Team: Oh! Chanel.
Matt: Right. Now. It's what the French use for "the"
Team: The?
Matt: Yes, "the" What do French people say instead of "the"?
Team: De
Matt: Not quite
Team: Des?
Matt: Yes! Now put it all together.
Team: um, Chaneldes?

At this point the time ran out and I gasped for breath, wiped the tears from my eyes and eventually stopped laughing. I knew who he was talking about from his first clue (mostly because I wrote the name in the first place.) and it was amusing to watch him try and pull the name out of his teammates. When I pulled the name later in the game, I said:
Me: Starred in Almost Famous and that movie with Will Ferrell and she sings.
My team, who were much more pop culture oriented and who also had been primed by Matt's clever description before said:

"Zoey Deschenel."

Another favorite interchange: My brother draws a name, looks relieved and turns to my Aunts, one of who attends church every week and says, "He's the son of god."

The Aunts gave him a blank stare.

Chris continued "Um. Okay. Made loaves and fishes feed an entire crowd?"

"Oh!" My church-going aunt cried, "Jesus!"

It's also interesting to see which names pop up several times. Based on the two games I've played we all are thinking a lot about Julia Child, George Clooney and Hilary Clinton.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I've read that many vegetables roots extend to as far as six feet down in the soil. Looking at the
root of this beet from my garden, I can believe it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

We are cute

We worked hard and we had fun. Then we took pictures.

TSDP, more photos.

If you just couldn't get enough of the TSDP in that last post, here are some photos, and at the very bottom, our dress rehearsal video with bonus footage from alternate cameras at the auction. Thanks to Joshin, for the videos and to either Ariel or Kristen (I'm not sure which one ended up with my camera) for taking these great pictures.

Top Secret November Project- A Million Ways to Edit from Joshin Yamada on Vimeo.

TSDP revealed!

I was inspired in May by this video:

I really wanted to do something of that flavor, but on a smaller scale. I found the dance first:

OK Go - A Million Ways from OK Go on Vimeo.

I started transcribing the choreography over Memorial Day weekend and trying to think what would be a good venue. The trick was the music. Where could we have music that was already playing that we could start dancing? Eventually it came to me: the auction! Every year The Emerson School has an auction in the fall. There is usually music playing in the background. It would be a small matter to have certain music playing at a certain time and just, surprise, certain people to begin dancing.

Matt was in from the beginning, that goes without saying. I sent an email for recruitment and I started with work people first. My thinking was that if I could get people from work they would already be familiar with the auction (and to the people at the auction.) Plus, being teachers, thier availability for summer rehearsal was much greater than the average American. The email said something to the effect of: "secret dance project to rehearse over the summer performance in the fall. If you are in, email me and I'll tell you more details."

Jo and Julie said yes immediately. So we began our rehearsals for the TSDP (Top Secret Dance Project.) We rehearsed every Friday after school for the remaining weeks of school and then every Friday for an hour during the summer. The first 36 counts were a killer to learn. There was disagreement (mostly between Matt and I) about various things. Then, suddenly, one day in late August we finished! We danced the whole thing straight through. That gave us all of September and October to firm things up. We brought a video camera to rehearsal and taped ourselves, so we could see what needed improvement. We started practicing off site at Edge Fitness so we could clean things up without detection from the rest of the school staff. We kept it a big, big secret. The only people who knew were us, the auction chair and the music guy. Everyone else knew something was going on, but not what.

The night of the auction we all arrived in our normal auction finery. I made distracted conversation with a variety of people for two hours, not listening to any of them. At 8:00 we snuck away and changed into our outfits. We did a tiny walk through in the hallway tucked away from the hubbub of the auction. Then we wandered out individually and stationed ourselves around the hall. The music started and:

SSDP- A Million Ways from Joshin Yamada on Vimeo.

It was a great time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Aunt Carol is in Hawaii and so we have Squeak for two weeks. Isn't he a handsome fella?

Compost! The Musical!

Can any noun be made to sound like a cheesy musical just by adding an exclamation point and the phrase "The Musical!" after it? Shall we try it? The Internet has once again amazed me. "I wonder if there is a random noun generator on the Internet?" I'm thinking as I am typing "random noun generator" And lo, I Googled, and lo there was.

Glove! The Musical!
Allegation! The Musical!
Regular! The Musical!
Reservation! The Musical!
Photograph! The Musical!
Card! The Musical!
Banner! The Musical!
Syntax! The Musical!
Classification! The Musical!
Newspaper! The Musical!
Peasant! The Musical!

I think, yes. The last three in particular sound great.

Did I have a point? Oh yes, compost. Here's a pile that I've been somewhat making. I'm not a very good hot compost maker, but I did attempt it this summer. I would like two bins with somewhat level floors and ideally a chicken coop on top. But I just have yard. So I've been trying to use that.
What I've been doing is filling our official "bin" with kitchen scraps and straw. Then, after that has had a chance to mellow for a bit, I take that mixture and layer it with more browns and wet the whole thing down . When I do this, the compost happens a lot more quickly. However, it's more work than putting it in the bins and leaving it, plus, I don't often have very large amounts of kitchen waste at once. The other thing I need is a compost sifter. I know I can make one easily, I just haven't. Soon.

ps. The random noun generator website is fabulous. Aside from random noun, it can generate a random phrase or sentence or paragraph. And it has a name finder named Monika. Very fun.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Matt shows off the picture NOT in the church directory.

The picture taking station for our church directory happened to be set up in the nursery area at church. We did the poses, which was weird. At one point the man asked us if we were married. "Um, no..." we replied, wondering why he needed to know. "Have you been dating long?" he continued.
"Seven years" we told him.
"Oh, okay, this next pose will be okay for you."
Thank goodness we have been together long enough for the "Matt straddling my hip" pose.
I think a women's study major could write a paper about couples posed in church directories and what that says about society and relationships.

At any rate, we got near the end and Matt noticed some dolls they had for the children. The photographer, who had a good sense of humor, if not a full understanding of his perpetuating of the patriarchy, took this picture which we did not select as our directory picture but which now is framed and on display in our house.

Matt enjoys it quite a bit.