Sunday, November 11, 2007

Top 5 Things You Do Not Know How to Do

Tim's Top 5:
1) Swim - Everyone has such incredulity towards my inability to swim. My father only learned because he had to in order to graduate from college, and I don't think my mother is extremely confident in her swimming abilities. And I've lived my entire life landlocked in an era where there were video games like Pitfall and Seaquest to remind me that water is overrun with sharks, electric eels, and alligators who have no goal in life except killing you and sending you over to the start of the level. And, let's be honest, as much as I love water in shower and drinkable forms, as a venue for activity, it's pretty gross. Kids pee in the pool, fish do nothing but have sex and defecate in our rivers and's like you're spending your time laying facedown in Reno. No thanks.

2) Play the guitar - This reaches my list for obvious reasons, given that I'm trying to do something about it. I've always felt my life was missing something, and I think it could be filled by being that dude who tells people he's thinking of starting a band, just as soon as he masters "London Bridge is Falling Down" on his Les Paul. My goal is to start the band, then graciously let someone else take lead guitar and rhythm guitar and second rhythm guitar and bass while volunteering to be the dynamic front man who lacks all musical ability but will get all the groupies. It's a hard knock life.

3) Dance - I shouldn't even include this, because it's abundantly clear that I'm white, so by including it, I'm a cliche. But it's that I quite literally don't know how. I may actually possess the ability, but it can't be intuited, it can only be unlocked by a heroic intake of booze. It's like an extra level on a video game...and the fact that I would think of that as the most apt analogy pretty much explains how we got to the point where I can't dance...followed closely by the fact that I just now am thinking of the nearly-eponymous Genesis song/album.

4) Drive a manual transmission - This is barely appropriate for the list here because I know how, I just didn't manage to pull it off in my fifteen minutes of attempting in my dad's truck.

5) Watch American Idol - It's clearly something one must learn, and I'm definitely in the remedial class where students do so poorly that they take pride in their underachieving. Whatever is fascinating about 1) people who can't sing, 2) people who can sing and choose to do so by performing songs you already know in a way that will make you run to your ITunes to let Stevie Wonder defend himself, 3) fake drama about getting a record contract even though every asshole who makes it past week 1 (and some who don't) gets a record contract of their own anyway, 4) extra fake drama because apparently the phone systems can't even accurately handle the millions of calls people are placing to vote in this all-too-failed democracy, and 5) unnecessarily long recaps of things that happened in the past even though they are totally irrelevant to the end result of the show -- is apparently totally lost on me, so I must be a cultural heathen. Or you're just a pack of morons who couldn't tell Clive Davis from Clive Barker without a recap show and have some sort of bizarre ambivalent sadism, because you enjoy seeing people's dreams shattered by getting voted off, but seeing them simultaneously fulfilled by securing a deal to sell records to housewives who thought you were cute.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Get Paid for These Various Writing Endeavors - Seriously, how sweet would it be if we could actually get these things published beyond this blog that virtually no one reads? In addition, over at my own blog, I come up with an occasional post that's not unfunny. Surely that's worth something to someone? I'm not asking to be a millionaire, but how about a free sandwich? But nope, my other blog with its invasive Google advertising has so far earned me five cents.

2. Juggle - Seriously, juggling is never truly uncool. Once you know it, it seems like it would take very little energy to do, and it's always kind of fun. If you have three of something, you can always enjoy cheap entertainment. On that note, damn you, Ryan.

3. Drive a Manual Transmission - I had one lesson in a truck with a stick shift, and it just frustrates me that he's moved away. So I kinda sorta know how to do this one, but only when there is no other traffic on the road and I get about half an hour of practice beforehand in a church parking lot.

4. Write Lyrics and Vocal Melodies/Sing - I suck at singing, as is true of many people (see Tim's #5), but when I write music, I also suck at coming up with (a) what the vocals should sound like and (b) the actual words that should be sung. Hence, virtually everything I've recorded to tape disk is hopelessly instrumental, and some lyrics would sure sound good.

5. Swim - OK, I really know how to do this one. But the extent of my swimming ability is limited to preventing my own death and propelling myself while floating on my back. I'd like to know how to do the standard freestyle stroke so I could get in some exercise that doesn't involve me getting all sweaty and stinking.

Ryan's Top Five

1. Know a foreign language - Any language would suffice. One of the reasons I wasn't incredibly keen on grad school (read: one of many) was that I didn't want to devote the time to learning a foreign language (as this necessitates going to another country at some point, essentially). I'd really like to magically speak German (I know a little) or Spanish.

2. Play Guitar Hero on a difficulty above medium - Nuts to actual music, I'd like to have the ability to excel at guitar hero. I do not.

3. Participate in an organized sport - I'm actually pretty good at sports, or I would be if I gave a shit and participated in them. I'd like to know enough people to have an organized game of ultimate frisbee (emphasis on the word 'know,' by which I mean not just any of the random hippies I could find at KU).

4. Disciplining Kids - I am getting better at this. I'm still not, however, good. I tend to subscribe to the notion that if I'm cool enough and my students like me, they will eventually listen to what I tell them to do for this reason. Problem: I'm not cool--not only uncool among my peers, but resoundingly uncool to kids. I also have a difficult time punishing kids who I like but who are nonetheless lazy jackasses. Anyway, this is an ongoing battle that plagues first-year teachers, so I don't feel especially bad at discipline, per se.

5. Review books - To be cocky, I am pretty damn good at reviewing books compared to a lot of the shit I read in papers. I do lack whatever knowledge it takes to get published, as any half-hearted efforts I've made at doing so have not really been followed myself. I'm now tempted to make this a Top 1 List and put "Not Be Lazy" at the top.

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