Monday, July 28, 2014

The Writing Process

So, I often get asked how I come up with the ideas I write about. Good question! You would think that I know how "the magic" happens. After a moment of thinking about grizzly bears  followed by eating a large chocolate chip cookie followed by some planking, I decided to think more about how I write what I write. I mean I could choose any topic, how do I choose the ones I choose? Is it totally random? Am I attempting to put off senility? Do I owe an ominous gangster lots of money? Could the gangster owe me money and could I please be the ominous one for a while? Did I take too many "crazy" pills? The truth is that is how my brain works. I know, I am as confused and surprised as the next guy (that guy is sitting next to me at the library and keeps inching further away every time I look at him, lean in and snicker). You would think that I would write either ultra-boring, predictably banal stories about humankind's predicament or super-cliched, achingly obvious stories about boy meets girl, girl is actually a wolf in disguise, girl wolf almost eats boy even going as far as creating a fabulous five course boy-influenced menu, only to fall head over heals in love with the boy, before the yawn-inducing ending where they kiss and the boy is magically freed from the evil spell and he is transformed back into a wolf too only not at all interested in the female wolf leaving her at the "altar" (a rotten log in the woods near the berry patch). I also am shocked that I don't write pages and pages analyzing basketball advanced metrics or semi-autobiographical experiences from the womb or a how-to book on the utilization of the word "the" to influence people. Those ideas just seem this side of tired and cliched and although I am quite intrigued by tired and cliched writing, I've decided to steer clear for now as I hear they are similar to gateway drugs in that they lead to addiction of other bad writing techniques and as intrigued I am of those too, I'm a bit lazy at the moment.

So, I aim to avoid cliches or work that borrows to heavily from something else I have read (although sometimes I am so tempted to pay homage to the far-from-original books I read that are rife with temptingly-imitative work). Having said that after a long day's work I enjoy a good cliche every now and then especially the one's that make me seem more "normal" and go really well with a nice chamomile tea. I strive to be me -which involves a lot of time trying to figure out who or what that even is? It is one thing to want to be me (and that's the easy part), but that involves knowing who or what that is and where I can buy some if I'm all out or if some of the parts are defective. I want my words to sound like they came from me and I want the ideas to be original and I want others to be impressed that someone could sound so much like themselves and be so original in these nefarious times in which we live and then I want to be pleased that they are so impressed (I know I'm asking for a lot, but I am going out of my way to imagine longer and longer interactions with people these days to fill up the afternoons. You know it is harder than you think maintaining conversations and relationships with over 10 people at a time all of them more imaginary then the next and yet all more real than me on weekends). I guess what I'm saying is that I want the writing to be uniquely my voice (specifically that voice in my head - it NEEDS a way to express itself or else it starts to hurt my brain and only a massage - SUPER hard to do and he never reciprocates, like never) and I'm hoping that if/when the writing sounds like me, it also doesn't sound like something Joe and Jeannie next door would also write (their writing is ridiculously upbeat and positive and as saccharin as it is, they paint a deliciously desirable world that I wouldn't want to live in, but I could see myself visiting occasionally, if for no other reason than the occasional pony ride or ice cream sundae).

So, my brain thinks these random thoughts and my fingers start type, type, typing away. I like to think of my fingers as conduits for my brain as that always makes me giggle..."conduits"...ha ha ha. One idea leads to another and then another (often interrupted by multiple tangents and interjections (actually, I've always wanted to insert a tangent inside a tangent to see what happens - Hey! I''m doing it right now! Wow - this is cool! And it is snowing in here! You should come check this out! I mean if you're not too busy) Hello? Is he gone? It is hard to keep him out sometimes, Mr. Typy Face with his whimsical comments that only he finds funny - doesn't he understand that all of the bracketed insertions make it REALLY hard to read and follow what is going on? Does he care? Or is this his obscure, near-robotic way of showing that he cares? And it is one thing to let me jump in every now and then to toss in my two cents and my jokes and comments, but then he let's more voices in? Is that some sort of not-so-subtle commentary on my job performance? Am I being phased out? Are my comments so obtuse and vague that he needs that other dude to jump in and clarify the clarifier?) and then another and the next thing you know another blog entry is complete. It is a moment of beauty unless your eyes are closed and then it is just dark. But I am making it sound easy, because it is - you should try it - it ain't hard lifting (aside from the actual hard lifting I occasionally do just for perspective's sake).

Now, having said that it is all random is completely false (why did I spend the first paragraph saying that it was? good question!) - it is mostly random, but not all. I usually have a title or an idea or a theme. If I had to choose, I'd prefer a theme and can I have mine toasted with a side of jam? Once I have my starter, it sits there for an indefinite amount of time and in the deep recesses of my brain, slowly at first and then growing to a dull roar or a loud hum, things start to happen. If you are the sort of person who needs an analogy right around now, let's say it is sort of like a room full of bouncy balls. I actually don't think it is like that at all, but you were the one who wanted an analogy and I was pressed for time, and I just love bouncy balls - so there! (Don't complain, I was also tempted to compare it to a hoard of crazed pigs who have decided to extract revenge for all of the ham hocks and bacon as a way to remember my childhood.) Then one day, I sit at my computer (as I am now) or a I take out my phone (I'm doing that too) or use my wife's tablet (got that as well  -good thing I keep a prosthetic arm around for these rare, although becoming increasingly more common, moments when I just need a third hand) or decide to take a shower (I am enjoying the hot, steamy shower as I type this too! What? You say the water may destroy all of the electronics I am also using? "Pish posh" I say to that, even though neither of us knows precisely what that means) and the ideas just flow from me similar to the water flowing out of the shower head or the tea leaves that I decided to prematurely release from their "prisons" when I cut open all of the bags (my wife has asked me to stop "freeing the leaves" and I just shake my head at her until she gives up and exits the room and then I free the leaves once again.) The next thing you know I am done and I am able to either lean back or take a step back (sometimes I lean and step back at the same time which I believe is known colloquially as "letting your backbone slide") or dance a little jig (it all depends on whether I am standing or sitting and in a dancing mood - it also depends on whether the moon is waxing or waning at the moment) - all to show my sense of accomplishment to anyone who may be near by. Once done, I save my work and I always try to put aside some time for self-reflection. This year I have chosen August.

Now, in order to write, I need to provide nourishment for my body and brain. I mean I don't need to but it just seems right and I think I read it in Cosmo. I also have considered only feeding my brain or my body just to save money on food costs (the brain is such a picky eater too). I'm sure if I didn't nourish myself then I could still write (it's not brain surgery, as I specifically requested that it not be) and it would most likely be way out there (where is "way out there" by the way? I've alway wanted to know- seems like a pretty interesting and different place to go and visit - not your usual boring destination. And once you are there, do you know you are there? Is it labelled some way? Or do people just motion you to keep going away until you are out of earshot and eyesight (this happens all the time to me- I almost fell backwards into a pool once but just missed and fell into a bush which ended up being fortunate as I found a quarter in the bush. "That bush is money!" I said to no one in particular which is good because they probably would have slapped me with their boot). Wait a second- double brackets again? How do they keep popping up? Too confusing! Well-meaning! And fun! Nothing like some confusing, well-meaning fun to break up the monotony of the easy-to-understand, hurtful and boring existence we all usually keep. (I wonder what would happen to me if "they" outlawed the use of brackets as a literary devise and didn't allow me to use quotes as a simple fix. And who are "they" anyways and why do I have to listen to them in the first place? Say what? Why am I questioning myself and answering those questions? What would you prefer I do? Don't answer!) Anyways I'm sure "way out there" is great and all, I just want to know to if you continue to act strange when you are there, do people say "you are way out there...oh wait a second, we are all already 'wait out there'. And that guy is even more way out there then us. Dude he is...where is he?" I guess you run out of places - I plan to retire in that place - the one beyond way out there.) So nourishment - it's healthy, it just seems like a good idea and it helps with the writing. Writing would happen anyway even with out it and would possibly be better or least less pompous and privileged, but if you are too weak to sit up and type and think, then what good are you? (Sorry, that sounded harsh- I'm sure you are still great although if you could sit up and type you'd be even more spectacular).

Often I write first thing in the morning from 6:30 till 7:00. My alarm goes off, I sit up, slap myself silly (an activity in and of itself) and go downstairs (I wanted to say that "I go downtown" with lots of cool attitude and inflection but it just isn't at all accurate. I live and write quite far from downtown). I'm exhausted in the morning but I forge on not unlike a warrior heading off for battle and yet not like that at all either  -that warrior would be in heaps of trouble! I eat a blueberry muffin and write. Often when I first wake up I have some fresh ideas in my head from my dreams and other times my head is empty and devoid of anything usable and other times I happen to be writing a piece that is aiming to be devoid and it almost writes itself (these don't write themselves no matter how often or nicely I ask. Between you and me those devoid piece are a pain in the ass although I can't help but respect them and I often wait by the phone on Friday nights just waiting for them to call). So we sit there, blueberry muffin and I, one of us about to be eaten (a reoccurring dream I have is of a giant, hungry blueberry muffin who just can't convince himself to eat me no matter how much I doll myself up or cover myself in a variety of expensive jellies and jams as he is a lonely muffin and would prefer to have a friend - with the relationship being eerily similar to that of a cat and a mouse except with infinitely more blueberry stains and he seems to genuinely want me to live. Also, in moments of true caring and sympathy he let's me nibble his top, although I usually feel a bit guilty and still hungry afterwards). 

Usually, after eating, the ideas flow nicely but what I find is that when I'm tired and still half asleep, the characters are more tired, grumpy, and short with each other then when I'm awake and they seem to want to revolt against me but are just too tired or can't be bothered to do so. And I often think - what? I'm not even worth revolting against? You good-for-nothing lazy characters! (I'm sorry, I'm sorry - you know how much I need you almost as much as I need that endless supply of cream cheese.) Characters seem to need more sleep or more food before they can be their usual charming, exciting and witty selves (and up for revolting too from what I can surmise). If I write after breakfast or lunch then I feel energized and the writing and the characters respond as if they have just been given a shot of adrenaline (they haven't- I did look into it, but I didn't quite understand how to literarily shoot a fictional set of characters with adrenalin and it just didn't seem ethical or moral and I have been trying to be both more ethical and moral this week or at least less annoying and sarcastic. It's a fine line. Someday I hope to evolve into some kind of Ethical Sarcastic superman if you will...I can't believe I shared that right now). So the characters wake up and get "funny" when I do. Sometimes I have to wake them up like a mom arousing my sleepy kids before school - not sure why I am a mom and not a dad, since I am an actual dad, in this scenario...could be worth looking into) As the day winds down, the writing gets slow and methodical and less bright and interesting although we are also nicely full after a good dinner (or even a bad dinner or a ho-hum dinner - they all work). So, no big revelation here- the writing and characters go as I go - they come from me and I am their lifeblood (although, I have learned the hard way to not bleed while writing or to make characters bleed to much or too often as it just grosses everyone out. Not that I'm afraid to make characters bleed! Nope, I will go there if i have to! If the moment arrives I'll cut you! No! Not you! The characters. I would never cut you, even if you begged and pleaded. Why would you do that? Hey I'm not you- I'm just the guy who conveniently uses brackets to talk to himself as seems much more socially acceptable - let's just hope societal conventions don't shift as I'm writing.)

Counter-intuitively, I do notice that some of the best ideas and most prolific writing periods happen later in the evening as I'm starting to get ready for bed. Not sure why, but it is the best, most creative time of day by far. That time before bed is a veritable goldmine of zippy ideas and snappy remarks. It's so great sometimes I can be seen bouncy in my seat as I type away. I'll sit there with nary a break and just bang the keys one after another loving the click clack sounds they make and slightly less so the actual words typed. I'm a huge fan of click clack sounds and I feel that my life so far has sort of been one humble man's harrowing, death-defying search for more and more things that make those sounds. A story I like to call "Dallas Buyers Club" as it will hopefully lead to more readers. So I just sit there clicking and clacking away having a grand ol' time and feeling equal parts proud, joyful and creative with undertones of guilt (not sure why, it's always there sort of like a thin layer of moss or wax, which I also have in my inner-ear - wax not moss. I should clean it at some point as the blockage is causing me to mishear approximately every 8th word making for lots of hi-jinks). Then when all is said and done, I save my work and go to bed only to lie down, close my eyes and start to dream again (usually in that order).

Ideally I am trying to make all of the readers laugh (you're welcome!), but let's not kid ourselves (or at least, let's take a break from kidding ourselves for the rest of the week- I just think a break would be a good idea. Plus I'm getting fairly tired and with a few days off we will all look forward to the next episode), I want to make myself laugh first and foremost. It would be great, clearly, for all of us to be laughing as me crying and you laughing seems mean and you crying and me laughing seems vindictive and having us either all crying or all angry sounds more fitting for a different author (although I may play one of those "cards" later on - the "all crying one" could be good if we want to come across as more sensitive so our girl/boy friends see that we care and the "all angry one" could be useful if the time for the revolution has come - I'm guessing that if we are all laughing for the revolution we will be deemed with hysterical and unfit to fight and locked away until sufficient time has been set aside to 'study' us and if we are all crying for the revolution we will probably be given the job of sewing uniforms). So when I write I am trying to make myself laugh- not necessarily out loud (my laugh is a bit of a sniff to tell the truth) but I'm aiming more for a full-body laugh that includes everyone especially the typically grumpy body parts (I'm looking at you chin and shins). Not that I need to be laughing, but having said that, it totally takes away from the pain of all of my gaping wounds both mental and physical (the gaping physical wounds are mostly figments of my imagination). So if you find yourself amused or bemused (I don't think demused is either a goal of mine, an actual feeling or even a real word, but if you want to feel it and walk around being all demused and emo, then you be that) as a result of reading things I wrote then I feel like this hasn't all been a huge waste of time (let's not go so far as saying it wasn't a waste of time at all - I mean let's not fool ourselves, or at least you can fool yourself. Who am I too rain on the parade of "wasting time" in the first place? People are always poo pooing the wasting of time and there are far worse things you can poo poo. Like poo for example (Those last two sentences were purely for the joy of my two young daughters, aged 8 and 6, if you also enjoyed them...good?)).

So I've determined that the ideas are at least partially random or at least on the spectrum (not the autism or electromagnetic wave spectra, the randomness one). The next question you may have for me is why haven't you considered some sort of wig or hair grafting? Or you may be wondering what cheeses to mix for an excellent sauce for your steamed green beans? A few others may be wondering "what's up?" and I keep telling you "not much". You should be wondering when I think of ideas (should is almost definitely the wrong word - who am I to tell you what you should be thinking? I should be consulting you! And then you could tell me what I should tell you so you could ask me the right question.) I find the best ideas always come in the middle of a hard, sweaty workout - either a pounding, cough-inducing, bad-on-my-knees-and-back run; an invigorating, heart-pumping, interval-filled bike ride or a stretching-filled, mentally challenging, wet-dizzy-mess of a hot yoga class. Not sure why, but my mind goes to weird, creative, bizarre places when my body is being worked. I start the run, the ride, the yoga and the breathing kicks in and then bing, bang, boom - idea, idea, idea! They just come to me like cute little bunny rabbits come to me in my dreams. I am running in a field highlighted by dandelions, laughing joyfully and bouncing off the ground almost as if gravity applied less to me then others, and just when it seems that I couldn't be any happier, dozens of the cutest, most adorable little bunny rabbits appear out of nowhere and I toss them in the air, hug them and roll around on the ground with them full of love, accidentally crushing a few of them (which comes back to haunt me later in the dream). I know I should try to stay present with my thoughts when I exercise - focus on breathing, think of my goals, push myself harder and harder, but these ideas attack me and I willingly give into their sensuality, their aroma, their gentle, yet firm touch which is almost saying "you, young man (they are so kind), come with us now. That was not meant to sound like a choice. Drop what you are doing and come with us now!" So I go - who am I to say "no" to these ideas? When the exercise is over, the first thing I do after showering is get dressed. It just makes sense in this day and age. After that I take out my phone or run to the computer and I quickly get all of the new gems down never quite remembering all of them. Some of them are lost forever. And it is for those fallen, dying, unrealized ideas that I proudly and bravely march on (actually that is completely false - I feel nothing for them at all) and continue to write.

And then, at some point, after a small bit of editing, botox and revising, I am done a new piece of writing. The sense of accomplishment is unreal. When I'm done a whole piece of writing, I look dramatically at the screen, press "publish", and push back from the desk with feeling. I jump up, pump my fist, and back away from the computer with arms raised. I almost expect a ticker tape parade or if ticker tape machines are obsolete, I'd settle for simply a tape parade with high quality double-sided tape being my first choice and duct tape being less so. I envision myself finishing a race; panting, keeled over, face flushed and suffering from both cramps and dehydration. I look around the empty room wishing I either had someone to high-five or that it is more socially acceptable to hug yourself. I settle on either high-fiving the wall (big mistake!) or hugging the wall (super-embarrassing to be caught in the act of if anyone enters the room, even the cat. I did ask for a store mannequin for my birthday, but did I get what I asked for?!?!? Nope - everyone thought I was joking! It's me, people!). And by the way, finishing a new piece of writing is not anything like giving birth, so I'm not even going to explore this analogy (wow - I'm shocked!) and I'm ignoring the urge to go into a huge gestation tangent as it is too early in the morning for that, I just ate and I'll need to spend more time researching in the field first. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lovers and Friends

He took out his list of goals for the day (1) butter my toast, (2) butter someone else's toast, (3) step back and observe the chaos, (4) either buy more butter or consider a cheaper alternative such as Parkay.

She was so frustrated at being constantly referred to as "edgy", but the more frustrated she got the more she actually became edgy thus confirming what others had said of her, which in turn made her more frustrated and then, as a result, more edgy and so on and so forth for the whole month and the cycle was only broken when she decided to accept her edginess label and then "poof" it was gone and all that was left were the "Get Well Soon" cards and those hipster glasses she bought on a whim.

He brushed his teeth. They had never been cleaner and, as a result, he was planning on vastly expanding his use of pastes.

She spent the afternoon literally and figuratively herding cats and due to extreme exhaustion became confused about which was which.

He was up in the air about only one thing at a time. "Must learn to jump higher" he resolved.

She often perversely dreamed of being kidnapped by a small group of absolutely adorable little kids.

He wanted to take something, anything down from the inside, or failing that, to just stand outside, laughing at everyone who leaves.

She grasped the door knob and with baited breath and sweaty palms, slowly opened the door and cautiously entered the room. "Baby steps" she whispered to herself, combing her long, flaxen locks nervously with her finger tips. It was moments like this, where she wished she was shorter.

He was peeling apples while attempting to mentally solve quadratic equations and then he started to dance, or more accurately oscillate. 

She was asked to "wrap it up" and couldn't decide whether she should obtusely misunderstand the direction with her unique blend of literalism and glamour or just quit this stupid job once and for all. 

He awoke with a start and jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and his running shoes, opened the door and sprinted into the darkness. He ran with reckless abandon. He ran with an insane look on his face. He ran wishing he could harness the wind to save money on electricity. He ran for the acceptance he would never achieve. He ran for freedom. He forgot his shorts again.

She was trying to settle on a new look for the fall and had narrowed it down to either tantalizingly serene or quaintly ravishing. 

He went out of his way sometimes as frequently as three times a week. It was starting to become a problem.

She loved that moment she first lay her head on her fluffy pillow and the moment after that and the one after that. The next one not so much but the one after that was the best.

He sat in front of his easel and painted with exaggeratedly long brush strokes. Beautiful, yet slightly boring classical music was playing and he noticed a small, white bird on his windowsill. He was lost in his work and was at one with this poetic moment and then came the storm. Nothing was ever the same.

She took classes, read "how to" books, saw her life coach and used all the best moisturizers and creams all in an effort to return to form.

He was walking briskly on a trail when he came upon a family of squirrels (although he was mostly guessing at their relation to each other). 

She was vacationing in Mexico mostly out of spite but also partially for the anticipated existential benefits.

He sat on the empty beach and contemplated the vast, cold universe of which he was nominally a member. He felt so small and meaningless. He longed to make an impact, to leave his mark, to give his all and, when time permitted, to reword these goals to sound less cliched. A duck swam buy, eyeing him comprehensively and then, when almost out of view, she "quacked" almost as if to say "fulfill your destiny" but more likely something with a stronger pro-duck agenda such as "stop ordering the duck". This meeting ended up being transformative; he knew what he had to do. He walked taller and left the beach with a new purpose and with something closely resembling a grin. He would return to the beach one day a changed man with the hope of repaying the duck.

She entered the kitchen to check on the delicious aroma of the blueberry pie that she had carefully spent the morning creating and was overjoyed that it was almost done. "God, I hate blueberry pie," she thought to herself.

They held hands for support, they hugged for the warmth and they snuggled on the couch together because absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We Always Make Beautiful Art Together

He: "I remember our first date, we walked in the park and blew dandelion seeds everywhere, only stopping when I gave in to my allergies. We lay on our picnic blanket and I was stunned by you, possibly as a result of the post-allergic haze, but also as I believed you looked like a beautiful angel, not so much for your looks, I mean you were clearly in need of week-long spa treatment, or for your gentle and loving spirit, as using that description would cause me to lose all respect from others as far as my descriptive skills go. Looking back on it now, I'm not sure why I felt you were angelic at all, but I still fell for you."

She: "And I for you. I remember shortly after when we went away for that holiday to the coast - our first real trip away together - it was such an amazing time that I'll never forget. Those long walks on the beach at night, the surfing lessons, that dude with the afro and all of the Spanish omelettes and the subsequent stomach aches which, when they receded, left a hole that only more Spanish omelettes could fill. When I think back on that trip I always see you as a tall drink of water, partially because you are quite tall and give the illusion of translucence, but mostly because I remember being so thirsty and dehydrated the whole time and you have always both struggled with excessive perspiration and had a desire to help me get hydrated."

He: "You are such a constantly thirsty person and I have always loved you for it, aside from those long evenings spent watching you sit next to the full bathtub with a straw unable to tear yourself away even when I offered you rewards and prizes of various denominations. I remember meeting your parents for the first time and getting along so well with both of them, almost to worrisome degrees. I thought I heard your father say that you had your mother's eyes, and, as I am prone to be, I took it literally, and I almost made an excuse to use the washroom so that I could run far far away. I'm so glad that I stayed and that your mother has regained possession of both of her glass eyes, at least for now."

She: "She has and all I am allowed to say upon consultation with my legal team is that we have a complicated relationship. You know, after much thought, I have realized over time that you are like my knight in shining armour sans horse. You always make me feel safe and protected and I'm glad you talked me out of digging that moat around my apartment building. I love you, but I really wish you'd put the good silverware away - it doesn't even protect you from attacks. And stop galloping around the house on the mop, it really gets old and you can't enjoy the splinters."

He: "Sorry, I just got carried away while drying the dishes. I have always strangely found drying the moisture off of the dishes that just acted as vessels for our nourishment a profoundly mystical experience. And I am attempting to give myself at least two moments of being carried away each week - does wonders for my mental well-being. And you my dear, you are as lovely as a dove. Graceful, pretty and not at all like that white, dove-like bird we saw that tried to claw my face off when we were swinging like children in the playground the other day. You are quite pale and peaceful and, call it a premonition, I'm glad we bought those new nail clippers last week."

She: "You should have just given that rabid bird your pickle you were holding that he so obviously wanted. You and your pickles - it is hard to know where one ends and the other begins. Sweetie, you always remind me of a stately oak tree in that you are impressively vertical aside from the occasional windy afternoon and you don't look at all out of place standing the yard for periods of time that are so long I am prone to refer to them as eras. And yes, I promise I won't pretend to chop you down with my father's ax as I know it brings back bad memories of the time that I nearly did. I swear I was sleep walking and that in my dream I needed to go to the shed, grab the ax and then pose for a photo-shoot for a tree chopping expose in the local newspaper."

He: "I believe you my sweet. You've always been quite the chopper of wood and prone to narcolepsy and we both knew that putting them together could be a danger to us all. You know, looking at you in this light you reminds me of the day we met when I compared you to my favourite pair of rubber boots. Water resistant, shiny and perfect for playing in the mud. I had no idea that you were just starting another round of antibiotics to deal with that debilitating skin ailment - I thought you were naturally tire-like and even then I was taken with you and just wanted to splash around with you in muddy puddles like we were little Irish children without a care in the world."

She: "Your love and attraction then meant so much to me and they still do. I've never been totally clear about why we are always Irish in your thoughts and daydreams, or why we always appear as children- a bit odd I have to admit. My skin ailment was horribly painful and I'll never forget your support which often took the form of you standing next to me yelling personal remarks and obscene insults at the skin. We'll never be sure if it were your comments, the antibiotics or when I decided to stop licking amphibians every chance I got. I looked at you, back in those days sort of like how a cute puppy dog sees a plate of noodles. Which means that I just was pretty confused about a lot of things especially how puppies view plates of noodles."

He: "I have always appreciated your comparing me to cute puppy dogs and not just one sole puppy. Anyone could remind you of a single puppy and I have tried hard to encapsulate multiple young dogs in how I carry myself and live my life, and you saw that. And your attention to detail is so heart-warming when you include my all-time favourite, a plate if noodles as you remembered my affinity for plates and also for noodles when they are placed on said plates. It reminds me of those hot, sweltering summer afternoons, when we would sit there in my apartment fireplace on, heaters on high - the two of us disgusting, sweaty messes - just eating plate after plate of cold, mostly-uncooked noodles. I would turn to you and forget momentarily that I wasn't staring into a mirror, mostly because you usually held up a mirror between us and also because I was quite delirious from the sheer amount of heat and nearly chocking on those semi-raw and sharp pieces of noodle."

She: "I also miss those pasta-eating, sweaty, mirror-holding afternoons. You would get so endearingly delirious - you once talked to my shoe for a while until I put it on and walked to the other side of the room, mostly to give my shoe a break from your monologue. When the shoe you'd been talking to "walked" across the room a look of confusion and hurt would flash across your face momentarily before you snapped out of it and stood up and did some light calisthenics. I'd look at you from across the room and you'd remind me of my uncle who was often being interrogated by the police for a series of increasingly weird and weirder misdemeanors all involving shoes or other foot-coverings."

He: "He was a pretty odd guy, and yet I always saw your uncle as sort of father figure. I recall that one time out on the kayak that he loved so dearly, he mentioned that if I felt as he did, I could refer to him as an uncle.  I was shocked. A father figure, yes, but to see him as an uncle - it just felt strange to me. I didn't want to make things awkward, but I quickly jumped out of the kayak and swam back to shore to see your father, the only father figure you had left to offer me. Nothing ever felt the same between your uncle and I again. But your love for me never relented, you were sort of like a mangy dog gnawing at a bone that used to be covered with delicious meat but had been bare for a long time. You gnawed me with your mangy love and completed me."

She: "My goal is to complete you by whatever means are necessary. In fact, competing things has always been one of my main goals in life as a result of totally misreading a horoscope when I was all alone, crying at my 22nd birthday when no one wanted to stay and play with dolls. I enjoy completing puzzles, graphic novels and unusually inappropriate graphic puzzle sets. And then you came along and I have focussed on making you whole ever since. I look at completing you in the same way a general would view leading a group of unknowing, "dispensable" soldiers into a completely un-winnable skirmish. He would know they would most likely die totally gruesome and painful deaths, but lead them into battle he would as it was what he was trained to not ask question and follow orders to do."

He: "That is confusingly beautiful and sweet my love. I am your soldier, that has always been clear to me from the day you made me clean our garage that you kept referring to as "the barracks" and as recently as yesterday when you abruptly screamed in my face while we were in line shopping for a new duvet to drop and give you 50. You are confusingly beautiful and, even more so, confusingly sweet and that was never more apparent then that day when you burned all of my pants. I vividly remember watching you burning pair after pair of perfectly-pressed, in-fashion designer pants cackling and shaking with furor and power that reminded me of my sister when she used to smash my sandcastles 'freeing me from the constraints of my narrow castle-bound view of life'."

She: "That must have been hard for you as I know, to this day, how much castles of all types mean to you mostly as you spoke solely of them on our first five dates to the point that I was both quite worried and intrigued. And I'm not sure what came over me when I was burning your pants - I love you in pants, really I do! You are nothing if not a handsome, pant-wearing representative of your gender and I realize that my actions forced you to wear shorts and the occasional pair of leggings until you were certain I wasn't going to burn things again. You are a worrisome and intriguing ball of fun much like my pet goldfish up until the moment she died when the worry and intrigue quickly went away. Luckily I had you to replace her with, and fortunately for both of us, you enjoyed doing many of the same activities and games that she enjoyed."

He: "I saw how sad you were and I tried to ease your pain by being as goldfish-like as possible all the time. It was so hard to see you cry what with the heaving and wailing and the sheer amount of goldfish crackers you smashed with your fists on our coffee table, not even stopping when the glass-top dramatically broke. You reminded me of a young child learning that the stove is indeed quite hot as mommy told you. I'm not sure why but I'm carrying around the imagery in my head and you could have been doing pretty much anything and it would have reminded me of that. Also you were wailing the words "mommy", "stove" and "hot" as you pounded those helpless and tasty crackers to a fine, cheddar-flavoured dust both freeing yourself from your loss and destroying our snack plans for the next month at the same time."

She: "I am sorry that I have ruined so many of our snacks and for the orange dust that remains prevalent in our living room to this day - who knew I could be allergic to something so specific that not even that Ear, Nose and Throat specialist had considered it as the source for why everything inside of my nose was tinted with a pleasing hue of orange. Through it all you have always been so tolerant and patient much like an usually tolerant and patient bull who takes the prodding and branding in stride and sees them less as abuse and more of an annoyance and an occupational hazard. Your view of hazards has always been so refreshing as has your admiration for bulls especially considering that your old girlfriend broke your heart when she ran away in the middle of the night, unannounced, to train wild bulls or failing that, to keep running away."

He: "She broke my young naive heart and I was kicking myself that I never saw the signs what with her collection of antlers and rare red capes. But shortly after, I met you and you changed everything for me. I started to see life in a new way and I saw a real future with you. Everything looked clearer especially after I got my eyes checked. I was down and you were symbolic of the direction up mostly due to that arrow-like hat you used to wear and the fact you had a great admiration for the atmosphere and wanted to visit it one day. 'Can't get more up than that' you'd always say when I expressed my fear of heights and my doubts of your ability to actually get to the atmosphere and what you would even do when you got there."

She:"You are so good at expressing your long list of doubts. It is so refreshing being with a man who isn't afraid of the scorn and social isolation that usually comes with demonstration excessive amounts of doubt. It's true that in normal situations, I would have taken advantage of your fear of heights and used it for profit, but from day one, it was as if you had stolen my heart most likely as you had actually attempted to harvest some of my organs while I was in a drug-induced coma that one Christmas Eve night. All of the other times that has happened in my life I have held a grudge and didn't feel at all safe any longer or at least it made holding hands just seem awkward, but with you I could only see your handsome face as you had plastered my walls with huge blown up pictures of it. I felt so loved that you spent so much money printing, laminating and plastering my walls with those pictures."

He:"I have learned that there is little that huge blown-up pictures of my face cannot solve including what to have for lunch and what show to watch on TV. I would have plastered your walls with pictures of my face everyday, all day for a year to earn your love, and I did consider it, only deciding against it as I figured that it would make your room increasingly smaller and my therapist wants me to try to plaster less and find other, what he calls "more effective" ways to communicate. Just know this, I would do anything for you, my love, my life was cloudy and dim and you came in like a ray of sunshine; bright, intense, searingly hot and blinding. In fact, I'm fairly sure that love was blind in my case as I nearly went actually blind staring at you because you were standing directly in front of the sun from my perspective for a good two hours at that summer beach BBQ. Those weeks where I regained my full range of eyesight were painful but they strengthened our bond."

She:"I agree my sweet. I was happy to help you regain your eye-sight although a small part of me was worried that I couldn't control what you saw and how much you saw it and, as we both know, that can be a slippery slope. But, our bond was stronger; as strong as one generated by the strongest of industrial glues, as evidenced by the time I actually glued your back to the floor to help you gain perspective. True you lost a lot of back hair and a fair amount of skin, but from then on, you begrudgingly agreed with me about comparing the love we feel to two objects glued together. Watching you cutely trying to sit up and roll over and sweat profusely reminded me so much of why I fell in love with you and why it is always important, as my mother always told me, to keep a lot of industrial strength glue on hand for those moments when you have to proof a point. You have always been my glue - soft, runny, tempting to see what it tastes like and great to use for arts and crafts. We always make beautiful art together."


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Course Planning Guide: Part 2 The Electives

And here are the electives courses, please refer to Part 1 for the Academic course descriptions

Home Economics Classes

Cooking- If you jumped to the assumption that this course involved actual cooking, you would be wrong. It used to be a course where students would learn to cook, but last summer this aging, hippie of a teacher decided to rid himself of all of worldly possessions, including all of the ovens and stoves in his cooking classroom (even though, as he found out after the fact, that they weren't actually his to sell). Before, classes would make chicken pot pies, spaghetti and meat sauce and cookies, and now much of the class is spent sitting in a circle on the floor, listening to the teacher sing songs from the '60s accompanied by his banjo. In breaks between songs, the students will be entertained by colourful stories of his renegade, stick-it-to-the-man cooking past which are all tied together by his passionate anti-war/pro-love philosophy. It is this teacher's hope, that by the end of the course, that although students will not have actually cooked anything, they will have gained a true understanding of the philosophy, beauty and social implications of cooking.  

Sewing - In this class, students will learn to make shirts, dresses, pants, socks and hats. The teacher is an extreme task-master and deadlines are announced early and never extended. Students will learn to sew and will have the cuts and scars to remind them of all of their hard work. It is realized after the fact, that the course also acts as an inexpensive method for the teacher to update their wardrobe. 

Family studies - Family makes up the core of our existence and, by the end of this course, students will learn all about families: how to make them (through a series of informational and low budget videos), how to maintain them (through a series of emotional and intentionally awkward role-playing activities) and how to escape from them (through a gripping multimedia presentation from the teacher showing how she got brainwashed as a young teen and joined a local cult who had her commit  a number of low-level crimes and misdemeanors and perform increasingly stranger and weirder animalistic rituals until she finally had had enough after being asked to trim the leader's beard while also feeding him peeled grapes and she escaped at midnight posing as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesperson). All different types of families are studied: conjugal, avuncular, matrifocal, extended and blended (with a small amount of time watching "Three Men and a Baby" and discussing the pros and cons to this type of family). Lots of time is spent discussing the value and advantages of each and at the end of the course, students will write a final paper where they must argue vehemently which type of family is the best. Bonus points are given to any student who starts their own family during the running of the course.

Career and personal planning- In this course, students will learn to plan their futures. While not anyone's favourite course, the teacher adeptly provides the students all the motivation they need by recounting all of the mistakes, errors and psychological pain he encountered as a result of not planning ahead. This course has a 100% completion rate as all students attempt to avoid being anything like their teacher.

Technology Education Classes

Woodwork- During the first class the teacher shares the truth behind where wood actually comes from. This harrowing tale of courage, valor and bark is meant to have students see wood in a different light and to give it the treatment it deserves. Unfortunately, the story is so obviously made up and borrows VERY heavily from the movie Lion King (he just replaced all of the lions with pieces of wood) that it doesn't quite work the way he intended. During the second class, the teacher lays down the ground rules of safety and behaviour, with extra-emphasis on students never euphemistically referring to male genitalia as wood as it is highly juvenile, creates unnecessary confusion and could lead to bad accidents. "Any other body part can be compared to or called wood," he says every year "knock yourself out!" which is followed by at least one gullible student actually knocking themselves out resulting in much hilarity for all, once they come to. The rest of the course is spent making life-sized wooden models of mythological beasts for Mother's Day and ornate wooden bowls with hidden splinters for Father's Day, because his mother loved mythological beasts and he hated his father who loved his collection of bowls so much.

Metalwork- Students are taught to create stunningly beautiful pieces of metal art from metal scraps found literally in a junk yard. The works of metal art are then appreciated for a week before being dismantled back into random scraps of metal and returned to where it was found.. Caution - the trip to the junk yard is dangerous! There are a lot of sharp edges  -don't get cut! There are small rats and other small rodents - don't get bit! And make sure you stay with your partner, we don't want to leave anyone behind, as they may become one of those strange, runaway metal folk who haunt the junk yard. (Note from the office staff - we wanted to heavily edit this write-up, but the principal decided to leave it as it may attract more students to take the course.)

Mechanics - In term 1, each student is given a large box with all of the pieces of a car in it and the first to correctly assemble the pieces into an actual car gets an A and automatically gets to go open their own mechanics shop and bypass the rest of this course and school. Everyone else gets a C and gets to take pictures of the student next to their car so they can take this picture home and throw darts at it while they cry over their C. In term 2, each student is given a large box with all of the pieces of a car except one and the first student to correctly name the missing part, what it does and what bad things would happen to a driver who "accidentally" ate that part gets an A and gets to automatically work for (and clean up after) the student who opened the shop from term 1; everyone else gets a C and is allowed to mentally hurl and impale the successful student with the missing part. In term 3, the remaining students are taught the following topics "Wheels: why they are better triangular, but more aesthetically pleasing when round", "Car Washing: how to use this to get ahead in our modern world" and "Why everything looks so different from the passenger seat".

Electronics- Students are given the option of learning the most up-to-date electrical codes for houses and how to become filthy rich once gaining this knowledge, learning how to take a computer apart and put it back together and then learning how to do this again but only this time really really slowly, making a robot that can perform basic household tasks all-the-while spitting out an endless stream of sarcastic remarks about your own laziness, or sorting a massive box of discarded used wires into piles of separate colours for purposes that are never revealed (the teacher will say with a gleam in his eye "it's better you don't know"). A final project is learning how to not smile even when your best friend is semi-electrocuted as it is just really bad form, it gives you one less person to mooch off and it is almost definitely horrible for your karma.

Graphics- In this course, students will learn why one graphic design is "fresh and new" and another makes you want to "gouge your eyes out" and how these two extremes seem to flip flop every five years or so. Students are encouraged to find their own unique style but are given low grades if they use too much brown. Students will progress from basic image manipulation and placement in the early part of the course to an aggressive and coordinated advertising campaign featuring vivid, colourful and sleek posters with multiple subliminal messages, hidden objects and cute emojis. Students will be able to inquire as to what the ad campaign is for and the teacher will try, and ultimately fail, to explain via  her own series of colourful sleek posters.

Business & Computer Courses

Web Design- As students enter the classroom on the first day, they are greeted by the following question on the whiteboard "Have you ever wanted to design your own website?" Students answering "no" or "not sure" or "I guess" are given the slow computers that crash constantly and are kept in class until the teacher finishes his World of Warcraft game. Students answering "yes" get the rest of the day off. On day two, students enter the classroom greeted by the same question, only this time it is written in a much larger font. Students answering anything but "yes" are subjected to hours of sitting in the dark, staring at the flickering screens of their computers until their teacher has perfected his calligraphy homework. On each day for the rest of the year, students enter and are met with larger and more forceful lettering asking the same question, with the affirmative-answering students allowed to leave and the students answering "no" having to endure stranger and harsher experiences often involving, but not limited to, sensory deprivation, beds of nails, especially ticklish feathers and bubble gum. This continues until either all students acquiesce and go enjoy their free time or the teacher can't physically use a larger font for the question (one year, he made super-huge foam letters that completely filled the classroom and students couldn't even enter through the door and even if they could, the letters were so large and somewhat randomly placed that the question, though ingrained in their brains at that point, was no longer readable). Once all students have agreed that, in the class called Web Design, that they all do, in fact, want to design webpages do they actually get to learn how to do so, and they will learn so much if the teacher answers his daily question "Do you really want to teach these students to design their own website?" with a yes.

Accounting- In this comprehensive course, students will learn why cash flow is usually good and accrued liabilities are usually not, why cooking the books is better than fudging the numbers, and how to dress for an audit. Students will pair up and role play trying to use "bottom line", "surplus", "asset" and "liquid" in as many ways as possible all the while keeping a straight face. Students will also learn why it is rarely okay for accountants to break down and cry in front of their bosses or clients except if presented with valuable stock options.

Marketing- In this practical course, students will learn basic marketing skills needed to operate the school store. This enthusiastic teacher has even gone as far as writing her own textbook, if you can call an entire book of cartoons a textbook and she can, so it is! The book features chapters entitled (1) Let's Make Taking Inventory Fun (or at least more fun then before)!, (2) You Call That A Profit?!?!? I'll Show You a Profit!, (3) How To Run Your Store So it Doesn't Run You (unless you want it to and then flip to chapter 25), (4) One Secret That Will Help You Sell Anything (and a few more if that one doesn't work) and (5) How To Kill (an expression) Your Competition and Run (an expression) Them Out of Business (not an expression) and Give Them Jobs You Wouldn't Give to Your Dog (might be an expression, won't be sure until I get a dog and try to train it to do menial tasks at my store  -stay tuned for the future editions). The highlight of this class is the final party where everyone gets to throw around copious amounts monopoly money and pretend to light imitation cigars while drinking fizzy apple juice in plastic champagne flutes.

Drafting- Very few people know what drafting actually is (believe me, we looked) and, unfortunately for our school, the one person who did went a do we say this respectfully?...crazy (that wasn't it) and is not currently able to work. While we await his return, this newly completely self-directed class will be covered by our first aid-attendant, so at least if someone gets hurt using any of the sharp drafting tools or accessories, they will be well looked after. Any actual drafting projects that get completed will be purely coincidental and will have to remain ungraded as none of us have any clue what is going on.

Physical Education Classes

Physical Education- Students will be graded on attendance, effort and the volume and intensity of their grunting as well as their performance and progress in the sport skills they are taught. In term one, students will run, play volleyball, run, play soccer and run. If the class is well behaved, they will be introduced to a highly secretive volleyball/soccer hybrid that the teacher invented late at night after drinking a whole lot of coffee and inhaling the contents of three entire canisters of whipped cream. In term two, students will continue to run a lot, mostly by doing laps on the oval track, but occasionally in a complex, highly-regimented zigzag pattern that would look awesome if seen from above. When not running, they are not. And they are also playing basketball, swimming and learning squash. The teacher is a squash fanatic and after multiple failed attempts to share his love of squash, has been known to amp the ball machine up to it's highest speed and fire squash balls at his students as a last ditch, bruise-inducing effort to get them to love this graceful and beautiful game. Finally, in term three the students are expected just to start running almost as if it is a sixth sense. The teacher believes by now, after months of running on his command, that they should just know when he would like them to run and where he wants them to run to. Surprisingly most students are in tune with their teacher and those that aren't have to do push ups, but not just any old push ups, they must do push ups while running - a VERY challenging task! Students will also play tennis, ultimate frisbee and golf.  The teacher doesn't quite buy that frisbee is an actual sport to be taken seriously so he brings in a team of dogs from the local animal shelter for the students to play against, and adopt if they chose to. Bonus marks are given to any student who teaches a dog to throw a frisbee. On the final day of class, the students will be locked in the gym with a single ball and are given the simple instruction "win" - those that win will pass the course and those that don't will be forced to run some more.

Yoga- In this course students will learn to breathe and stretch and why no one should ever do one with out the other. Students will be quizzed daily on the English translations for the Sanskrit names of the poses they are learning with extra marks being given to students who actually learn Sanskrit. Poses learned will include The Sun Salutation (including a contingency plan for days when it is overcast), The Warrior Series (as well as the lesser known Coward and Draft Dodger series), Standing Bow (as well as both Floor Bow, Kneeling Bow and Broken Bow after years of archery practice only gained you a 9th place in the competition), Half Moon (students will NOT be allowed to attempt to demonstrate any posture called Full Moon in this class), Standing Head to Knee (and for the more advanced Standing Body Part X to Body Part Y with bonus marks being given for creativity and difficulty - please do not suggest Hand to Butt, or Finger to Inside of Nose as those jokes are tired and old), and Dead Body Pose (we will end all classes with this pose - PLEASE make sure you do not do this pose too well, as one student spent the entire weekend in the classroom as the teacher and custodian both mistook the still student for a mannequin).

Strength and Conditioning- In this course, students will lift weights, get buff and either need to buy new t-shirts or make all of their old t-shirts look like they were purchased at Gap For Kids. Students will learn how to curl their biceps to the beat of European Death Metal, bench press impressively weighty barbells while enduring self-doubt inducing slogans and blasting their core only after attempting to baste, bless and act blase about it first to varying degrees of success. All body parts will be worked with the focus being on those that can either help in a future rescue situations or look good when someone just happens to have some extra baby oil lying around. Students will be first introduced to high-intensity interval training, followed by medium-intensity interval training, followed by low-intensity interval training, followed by hanging out in the park looking for four-leaf clovers (although some students will do this in a fairly intense matter). And, just to clear things up - there is no actual conditioning of hair in this course, despite how "misleading" some students claim the title is. The conditioning is primarily for your body and secondly for your mind. If anything else is conditioned consider it a bonus.

Note: There will be a long-term teacher on call in for this class for the first term due to injuries and burns as a result of an unfortunate flying-a-kite-in-a-lightening-storm activity that was caused by the teacher either mishearing his wife or being far too literal or both. For some reason, the school board has placed a retired ballet teacher in his place, so, suffice it to say, the class may be slightly different, and students will most likely be considerably more graceful, than usual. 

Fine Arts Classes

Art- Students will learn to appreciate great works of art and understand why some pieces of art should be appreciated and hung in the most famous museums in the world while others deserve to be laughed at and/or egged. In term one, the class will be introduced to painting with colours and why art with colours is always more exciting and appropriate than black and white pictures unless you are aiming for something "moody" or "artistic" or "German". Students will only be allowed to use one colour each week as the teacher feels that limitless colours only leads to chaos and epilepsy. In term two, students will learn about shading and perspective and how, if used properly, they can give your drawings the illusion of three dimensions and how, an accidentally spilled cup of water can reduce three dimensions down to one in seconds. Note: students who lack perspective in their regular life, will find drawing with perspective next to impossible. Finally, in term three, students will work with clay and either create a bowl, a series of intricate and historically accurate Roman warrior figurines, or, for those less-skilled, something more abstract that may or may not be either a bowl, a warrior or both. Male students' final grades will be determined in equal parts on their portfolio, the shape, style and length of their mustache and groveling. Female students' final grades will be determined in equal parts on their portfolio, their choice of beret and level of pretentiousness (any mustaches grown by female students will be taken into account as well.)

Acting-  Day 1: each student has a character randomly assigned to them. Since this teacher is an extreme follower of method acting, where students are intended to live their part off stage and do as they would do, from the second you walk into this classroom until the day you finish in June, you will be on stage and in character all day long - no exceptions! Students are expected to always be in character, even if it results in serious reprimanding at home, actions that lead to failure in other classes and being seen as a social deviant and/or recluse and/or butterfly by those who used to hold you in high regard (the only exception to the method acting rule is when a student is presented with a piece of scrumptious BBQ chicken - everyone loves chicken, regardless of what their character would be hungry for - and everyone must eat it whenever it is served no exceptions!). Each year the class will perform a play in the late spring, and how this is unique is that the play writes itself as the students, in character, interact with each other inside and outside of class while the teacher, playing God if you will, injects overly dramatic situations, moments of high comedy and an almost never-ending stream of social misunderstandings.  The play is always spectacular and the actors are always greeted like returning Davids after felling Goliaths (though the audience members must spent weeks preparing their praise in Hebrew and Aramaic). On the final day of class, students are able to be themselves again and everyone just sits in various random spots in the classroom in awkward silence.

Dance- In this class, students will be exposed to the wonderful world of dance in all of its varieties. Some of the dances that will be taught next year are: ballet, the "Robot, who is badly in need of some new updates or programming troubleshooting", the Waltz, the "I've got something alive in my shirt and I have no freakin' clue what it could be!!! Oh, it was some pizza!" dance, the Flamenco and the "Oh no, I don't dance. No really, I don't dance. Look! How many times and ways must I tell you, I don't dance! Leave me alone!" dance. For the most part this teacher gravitates towards "happier" dance numbers and anything not totally upbeat usually leaves her in tears, although students will at least be initially unsure if these are tears of joy or pain until the wailing begins. Students will learn to dance with focus, so much so that they will often appear to uneducated outsiders that they are in some sort of trance or that they are under some sort of remote brain control, but this is easily forgotten as the dance is just that good. If you sign up for dance expect to work hard and be free to rehearse hours after school. There is a letter of commitment that must be signed and returned by the end of the first week of classes that in no way is legally-binding or grounds for dismissal from the school or putting the student at risk of a criminal lawsuit, but is intended to give the impression that it is.

Band- The year will start with students selecting an instrument. This instrument will become part of you and you won't feel complete with out it. The teacher will discuss the fine line between healthy and scary attachment levels to your instrument and you are expected to constantly toe that line. Students will learn about octaves (including the secret 10 note octave that is a thing of lore), keys (why the best songs always have tons of sharp notes in them), tempo (never make it too fast or else audience members may throw up) and why the best musicians were equal parts lovers, meat-eaters and struggling with borderline personality disorders. The band will learn the Jazz standards as well as experiment with New jazz that involves tons of avant-garde improvisation and growling. Students are strongly encouraged to lose themselves in their work and reach a point of true expression. One of the numbers learned last year was originally intended to be 4 minutes long and ended up close to 3 hours in length mostly as the drummer grew infatuated with the sound his symbol made when he allowed his afro to brush against it and the sax players tried to hijack the song by playing until everyone else just decided to go to the cafeteria for lunch. Unlike more typical bands that remain stationary aside from standing during predictable solos, this band roams the stage as they perform, starring down the audience almost as if they had been challenged to a duel or had possibly dropped their cellphones somewhere on the auditorium floor. There is lots of high-fiving, camaraderie, in-jokes and whoopie cushions among the band members which result in the audience feeling either very left-out and ostracized or hungry. But, anyone can join - no experience is necessary! Come join us in the band!

Choir- If you love singing this is the place for you! We will sing...a lot. In fact, we will only sing, all the time, every class. That's right, only singing. "Why?" some students will ask and they will only receive the answer "freedom" if they sang their question and even then the answer will only serve to confuse matters more. Aside from singing in class, the choir will perform at assemblies and in competitions. In an effort to stand out in, this choir only performs songs in extinct or animal languages. Highlights from previous years was the touching Crimean Gothic song about death and loss (we think - no real idea what they were singing about, and we suspect that some of them didn't either as a few of them were smiling the whole time), the musical comedy number performed in dolphin (by the girls) and whale (by the boys) and the song in Latin about the rapidly encroaching extinction of Latin (historical and linguistic liberties were taken in the writing of this song that shocked and insulted the professor of Latin who just randomly happened to be in the audience). As the performance neared it's end, Latin became extinct and the choir was rendered mute and were only able to express themselves through a series of odd clicks and hand gestures that seemed somewhat offensive, but all-the-while heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The more the merrier in the choir - it is a lot of fun, aside from the harsh and almost constant judging.

And there you go grade 12s! What a comprehensive list of courses. Remember, chose wisely and consider all of your options. Have a great summer and see you next year!

Course Planning Guide: Part 1 Academic Courses

Welcome to course planning for 2014-2015 grade 12 students! This guide is the result of a lot of hard work and planning by the staff at our school and should provide you a useful reference when selecting your courses for the upcoming grade 12 year - the most important year of your school career. You will have to incorporate graduation requirements, post-secondary admissions and your personal interests in choosing your 8 classes. It is important to consider all of your options as there are so many compelling and fun courses to select from. We know you are excited about next year and graduation and the future- it is only a little over a year away - read this booklet carefully, ask your teachers and counsellor lots of questions and talk about your plans with your family. Have fun planning!

Math Classes

Pre-Calculus - This comprehensive class includes the following topics

Algebra - A significant amount of time is spent discussing what to do with the illusive 'x' when it is finally found - does it deserve a celebratory party or a bit of talking to? Sample test questions include "Where is a variable when you need it most?" and "Which of the following are constants? (a) 2, (b) your impending demise, (c) the cat scratching at your door while you sleep, (d) there are no constants in life as everything we know and love is fleeting". The teacher is particularly fond of solving equations and prefers them then regular daily interactions with quote unquote humans. Reminder that 20% of the final grade for this unit is based on an essay on the topic of (a) the political ramifications of using inequalities to reach a long-lasting peace or (b) are algebra tiles the work of the devil?

Geometry- This unit deals with shapes, shapes and more shapes. Students are taught to fight the temptation to only study the more "popular" shapes like triangles and squares and to think outside the box (note: this class actually takes place inside a large cardboard box). For the second month of this unit, the class will be divided in half and will debate 2-dimensional shapes vs. 3 dimensional shapes (the 3-dimensional side has their work cut out for them as the teacher is quite biased, feeling that three-dimensional shapes are invading our domain and that they should have just stuck to 2-dimensions as was intended by our creator). Students will also learn why historically the "rounder" shapes have all the fun and why adding extra sides and angles may initially seem like a great idea but eventually only leads towards mass hysteria and an early curfew.

Trigonometry - Didn't you always want to know how tall that tall tree in the park is? No? Well, how about having the ability to calculate the distance between two ships that have travelled different distances and directions? Really? I bet you've always wanted to know how much higher a taller building is than the shorter one in front of it if you know the angles you are looking at the top of each building with? Fine then! This section of the course is meaningless for you! Bonus marks will be given to any student who creates and performs a rap about trigonometry as long as they can avoid misogynistic language and lyrics glorifying the use of drugs (feel free to be as racist as you'd like as we all know how hard it would be to talk about trigonometry without going there).

Probability- The teacher will spend the entire first week with her back to the class rolling a single die crying (believe us, we know the teacher and can predict these things). The teacher will spend the entire second week of the class shuffling a deck of cards until her hands bleed. The teacher will spend the entire third week of the class, dressed as a happy circus clown, cackling and dancing and flipping a coin while prancing around the room. It should be clear, by the end of this course, why games of chance and any attempts to apply probability to your leisure activities should be avoided at all costs unless of course you win, then by all means go for it! Also, students will understand why a 40% chance of rain almost always results in rain and that instead of 40% having any connection at all to probability it is more of a "premonition" the meteorologist "came to" after a night of losing at poker, heavy drinking, and chain-smoking Cuban cigars. All students will be required to play the stock market aggressively until they go bankrupt as part of a class project on the merits of using probability to make a living.

AP Calculus - Welcome to one hell of a hard class! Like, wow - this is some hard stuff and you should pat yourself on the back for even entertaining the idea of studying this version of math that makes all other types of math look like collecting dolls. On the first day of class the teacher will introduce counting, first by 1s, then by 2s, then back to 1s again. On day 2, the class will spend time on complicated differential equations, focusing mostly on ones that are overly complex and have the least amount of practical applications, and then on day 3 back to counting again. The rest of the year is spent investigating why the most nerdy of the mathematicians end up attracting the most stunning models and why many people believe that calculus was created so that only a small portion of the population would be able to order takeout from that really good Chinese place on 5th. Prerequisites: An A in Calculus, permission from the instructor or some combination of the two. Note: the use of comically large pencils and comically small erasers is a plus - just large pencils and small erasers with out the comical aspect will get you nowhere.

Apprenticeship and Workplace Math - This course will teach you all about math you need in a variety of common workplaces: sinking submarines, burning buildings or buildings that just happen to be filled with a whole lot of chain-smokers, trapeze swings and bakeries that feature delectable cupcakes. Everyone must both literally and figuratively embrace fractions and their low-class cousin from the burbs, decimals, or else we are going to have a bit of a problem. Much time is spent on percentages, their role in the Iran Contra Affair and how the symbol is easily the most fun to share with others in social settings. Students should be aware that each month a different student is selected at random and "voted" off the classroom and can only return after either completing updating their wardrobe or taking a selfie high-fiving the principal (next to impossible as she is VERY out-of-touch with technology and thinks that everyone using a cell phone is practicing some rare form of witchcraft.)

Science Classes

Biology - In this course both plants and animals are studied (and the teacher is open to studying half-plant, half-animal beings if the class has an interest as well). The teacher is a real plant-enthusiast and try as he might, he just can't help comparing and contrasting humans and plants and coming to the non-empirically proven hypothesis that plants are far superior aside from their inability to walk. This leads naturally into an optional unit where the teacher reads from an in-the-works novel he is writing on where a species of walking-plants enslave us all and go on to do a much better job as the caretakers of the planet, aside from creating impossible-to-listen-to club music. The class will most likely enjoy this book aside from the ending where the people and plants become friends and decide to start a new civilization as equals mostly because it seems forced and cliche. Note: students will be doing a lot of dissecting in this class. Like a lot. If it moves, or once moved or is even thinking about moving, it will be dissected. At other schools, they dissect a frog; well, we not only dissect the frog, but make a restaurant-quality dish out of the innards. In some biology classes at other schools they dissect a cow's eye; well at our school we do 5 per day every day often with one arm tied behind our back (we used to do much with one arm behind our back in our school as a result of our first headmaster back in the 1880s losing an arm to a crocodile, who was then dissected).

Chemistry - "Chemistry is everywhere" the students will learn and will be asked to provide a comprehensive list of exactly where and when by the end of term 1 to receive a passing grade. In second term, this ex-theatre teacher has the class dress up as their favorite atoms and try bonding together (a popular and highly controversial unit that is only begrudgingly accepted by the administration and parents due to the high number of students asking for chemistry sets for birthday presents and the very low percentage of pregnant students compared to the national average). The current version of this unit is WAY toned down from its original form in the 60s, as that would just be too risque. Students will not be late and, if they are they need to get a glass of water for the teacher from scratch (the water and the glass). If much of the class is failing at the mid-term break, as is anticipated due to a nonsensical and seemingly random marking scheme, the punishment is that the class has to work solely with unbalanced equations just so they know how they feel and will not be allowed to balance them unless they can come up with a really funny and original chemistry joke. An entire term will be wasted studying the wrong kinds of moles, although the students are now fully-equipped in case of unwanted facial growths or new holes that appear in their backyards. By the end of the course, students will be well-versed in all things ionic and will have gained a new appreciation for equilibrium and all of the good times that naturally come along with it.

Physics - In the past, this senior class has been in the running for "The Most Unnecessarily Difficult Course" title until the new ex-Eastern mystic teacher came in and revamped (read "slowed way the heck down") physics education a few years ago. This teacher does not believe in mixing physics with math in any way constantly and annoyingly using the analogy of olive oil and vinegar not mixing and constantly and annoyingly ignoring students who bring in a wonderfully delicious array of spectacular vinaigrettes to prove her wrong. The class will work on a long experiment that involves rolling increasingly larger and larger spheres down increasingly longer and longer planks at increasingly greater and greater degrees of inclination (don't bring your own ball or plank or suggest your own degree of inclination - the teacher will freak out and hurl anti-Einsteinian epitaphs at you intermixed with The Bhagavad Gita just to calm down). The point of this experiment will remain unclear months after the class is over and students will feel like the teacher just has a thing for balls and ramps.

Geology - This classroom is entirely filled with rocks. Literally. After a few weeks when the initial thrill and shock have worn off, the students realize there is no teacher or books or anything resembling desks. Just a pile of rocks. And not an attractive rock among them. Just a whole lot of ugly ugly rocks. Not surprisingly, this is a popular class. Left to their own devices, classes in the past have either (a) chosen to treat a particularly large rock as the teacher, mostly in their misplaced need for some, any, father figure, (b) sorted the rocks into piles by size, colour, personality and value on the open market and (c) created a Lord of the Flies-type civilization run by kids living among the rocks complete with a marketplace, a one-room rock schoolhouse and a series of monolithic rocks representing a new group of heathen deities. In the average year students actually leave this course knowing less about geology then before and the school has graduated an endless stream of hard-working, enthusiastic and incredibly weak geologists.

Social Science Classes

Law - The first day of this course, students are given an opening lecture on the following topics: "Do you realize how much fun people used to have before laws?", "How to obey the law and look really good while doing so", "If you have to choose between feeding your starving family and breaking a series of old, antiquated, senseless laws how to either develop a new, stronger moral compass or find a new family on a Russian brides website" and "Taking the law into your own hands in 5 simple, easy steps". The rest of this course is spent memorizing the criminal code of Canada word-by-word. There are no lectures, tests, assignments or projects. Instead, day after day and class after class, the students file in, sit down and take out their copies of the code and read. The final exam, worth 100% of the course, is notoriously difficult. Each student is arrested and charged based upon a rare and complicated law and is held in prison without bail until their court date when they are forced to defend themselves using their knowledge they gained throughout the year while reading the criminal code. The pro is that students really learn the law which will help them throughout their lives, the con is that a few classmates have to do 5 to 10 in the local prison where they will utilize their muscles gained from lugging around the weighty criminal code book all year  -plus you never know when knowing how to make a licence plate will come in handy in the future.

History - In this course, students will learn all about the horrifying, tragic and stupid mistakes of history and will spend much time laughing, because, as the teacher always says "if we are doomed to repeat history, we may as well have a good time while we are waiting". This teacher also loves to tell stories and they often go on and on and always go off on weird tangents. One time he was telling the class a story about the rise of nationalism in Italy in the late 19th century and somehow ended talking about his new iPhone. Another time he was discussing the relationship between China and Japan and ended up offending those students who were big J-Lo fans. One other time on a Friday afternoon, he had the class so entranced that they thought the final bell was some sort of air siren warning them of the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour that they spent the entire weekend huddled in fear under their desks. The teacher is also a big fan of learning by doing and often spends the entire second term having the class take place in historical re-enactments. This year, the class will be learning about the Crusades and the teacher prays that after months of re-enacting the Crusades a few students may chose to go buy him a coffee and a doughnut with hopefully a lot less death and religious undertones.

Philosophy - The opening week of this class involves learning, briefly, about all of the major ideas from the prominent philosophers in North American and European history through an interactive puppet show. The second week focuses on Asian and South Asian philosophical thinkers. The third week, equipped with information about all famous philosophies, students will do 10 minute presentations on their own personal philosophies and will be expected to be eloquent, convincing and willing to arduously commit themselves to living the rest of their lives according to their particular brand of philosophy. The rest of the course focuses on all of the "crazy" ideas of the teacher which concentrate mostly on the government being either criminally corrupt or better suited as jazz musicians and why philosophy majors are often the most attractive and constantly in high demand at Starbucks. Male students are encouraged to wear glasses and to grow a beard and then to lean back in their chair, look skyward and stroke their beard pensively. Female students are encouraged to also stroke the male student's beards or at least not to twirl their hair nervously as that is definitely "unphilosophical". Students have a choice to either write a comprehensive final exam or write an essay on the topic of "Nature vs Nurture - CHOOSE NOW!"

Psychology - Each week the teacher administers a different battery of tests on the students hoping to either help each student figure out their true personality profile and take one big step towards self-actualization or to see the short-term and long-term effects of psychological testing on adolescences for his paper that is due to be presented at the big conference next summer. Students are also encouraged to figure out what was up with Freud anyways and why so many famous psychologists have really hard names to pronounce. Other topics covered include (a) the difference between seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist or just continuing to talk to yourself in the mirror wearing a series of different hats, (b) the fine line between weird/funny and weird/where is that straight jacket?, and (c) how to psychoanalyze your friends without being detected to either help them or use the information for your own personal gain.

Geography - Throughout this course difficult questions are answered such as "where am I?", "where was I?" and "can you locate Djibouti on the globe?" The differences between physical geography and all other (lesser) varieties of geography are discussed over a series of excellently caterer picnics. The long-term effects of climate on lambs is researched as are the best sauce to serve with lamb during next week's picnic. The third portion of the course covers rare and exciting geographical terms such as deltas, fjords and chinooks mostly through a series of informational videos viewed over a series of amazing lunches. By the end of the class, the students are often confused if this was solely a geography class or more of means for the teacher to advertise and try out new recipes for her food truck.

English Classes

English - In this essential course for all students, the class spends the first two terms celebrating how English is by far the greatest language on earth. There is much revelry, back-patting and war whoops. A really awesome fort is made. The third term involves a massive research assignment looking into the implications for reducing the number of punctuation marks and how to make English more of a romance language especially for those of us who are considered "undateable".

Writing- If you love making up stories, you've come to the right place! You will write many a story in this class and have a chance to clear out all of those "weird" and "scary" ideas out of your head at the same time. Who knows, you may even meet a kindred spirit while doing so. As grammar is so challenging, the class will spend the first month on the comma and it's potential use as a tool during the impending revolution. Students will also learn how to better "advertise" their boring and unoriginal writing by calling it "creative". This writing teacher takes her job very seriously and, as if to prove a point, only communicates through writing. This serves to make even the most basic of conversations slightly awkward and elongated and it also burns through all of the scrap paper the office staff can provide. One goofy student usually attempts to tickle her to see if she laughs aloud or if she just writes the "tee hee hees" on paper. By the end of this course, you will either love writing or extend your vow of silence to include written communication as well.

English Literature- This class will read all of the works of Shakespeare forwards and backwards, literally. Forwards demonstrates the beauty, complexity and symbolic language of The Bard. Backwards is filled with mostly unintelligible language mixed with hidden demonic overtures rife throughout that somehow still demonstrates the amazing poetic prose of Shakespeare as well. Aside from the occasional student who has to be carted off for speaking in tongues, this is a merry class as there is much mead to be drunk, a veritable feast of wild boar to be eaten and the teacher plays a lovely pan flute that only adds to the mood. Any student asking if there are any other authors or poets to study will be sent out for being confrontational.

end of Part 1, stay tuned for Part 2: The Electives!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Gift of Tongues

For years, he wanted to open the flood gates, literally, until one day he actually did and...let's just say the amount of anguish, clean up and dry cleaning bills far outweighed any of the excitement.

She prided herself upon being well-spoken, a gifted conversationalist and an expert debater, but she just was unable to verbally joust to save her life. It just involved too much coordination.

He tore the cooked chicken limb from limb shortly after verbally tearing her limb from limb for her overly liberal approach towards cooking chicken and shortly before metaphorically and lovingly tearing her limb from limb as a show of appreciation for an surprisingly excellent chicken dinner.

She spent the entire afternoon asking her friend "do you know what I'm sayin'?" and kept receiving no reply which resulted in her getting very frustrated. After cooling down, she realized that she had been looking at herself in a mirror the whole time.

He has been told on numerous occasions that he looked like a million dollars and he always replied that it was part of an entire look he was going for that required a ton of preparation especially when it came to the colour and texture of his outfit, as well as giving the appearance of being two-dimensional.

She is often described as the girl next door which is ultra bizarre as she lives on a boat in a secluded port. The girl part she got, but next door to whom she always wondered?

One crazy habit of his has always been to fight fire with fire which predictably always leads to a really big, out-of-control fire resulting in multiple burns and bruises around his face and neck and the ire of the local fire fighters. He has been asked on multiple occasions why he doesn't use water or, in the case of a grease fire, salt, and he just stares at the questioner flicking his lighter absent-mindedly.

She is always telling people to picture her rolling, so one day her friends placed her in an empty barrel on top of a small hill and stepped back and watched. And then they understood (it was just hard to picture before, that's all).

He is always going on long and arduous fishing expeditions and the results are amazing dinner buffets showing off the delectable bounty of the ocean and a thoroughly disturbing amount of confidential information about the dark and seedy lives of the other fishermen.

Last summer, after a particularly exhausting and serious day at work, she literally tried to laugh his head off, after quite a lot of inner-debating over removing his head via talking or shouting. Unfortunately, as much as she laughed (and she did laugh a lot), his head did not fall off. And then she took out her ax.

For years he has cared so much about every cause, fight and injustice. He has demonstrated at city hall, attended rallies and even hosted a sit-in. But, where had all of this gotten him, he wondered. From now on, he swore, he would not give a fig about anything. THAT'S RIGHT! YOU HEARD ME! NO MORE FIGS! DEAL WITH IT!

Last Monday, she awoke in so much pain - everything hurt! She rushed to the doctor and he performed a battery of tests and exams and it turned out that there was nothing wrong with her. She was still pretty worried and decided to go get a second opinion, but the trip hadn't been an entire waste - she absolutely loved the clean bill of health she had received. She still didn't buy she was healthy, but the care that had been taken in the presentation of the information of the bill all the way down to the choice of font size and graphics used was impeccable. If she had to receive any future bills of health, or anything else for that matter, they would all be compared to this perfectly clean bill of her health, or lack thereof.

He is known for throwing his weight around. Everyone he knows is constantly equal parts bruised, disgusted and impressed with his coordination and agility for such a big guy.

She was so embarrassed. She was trying as hard as she could to be the best employee at the bank. But today, her boss yelled at her to salt the books. So, she did what any eager-to-please, young employee would do. She took out her trusty salt shaker and salted all of the books. He just stood there, stunned, looking at her like she was some sort of salt shaker-wielding maniac alien and then he yelled some more - "STOP! ENOUGH WITH THE ACTUAL SALT! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?!?!?" and she started to cry. Didn't he know she was extremely literal and non-joking especially when it came to salt and all salt-related activities! She had even put it on her resume - "only ask me to salt things if you actually want me to salt something, as I am unable to get any subtleties regarding salt". Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed after they went for a walk outside in the snow.

He had thoroughly enjoyed his lovely first date with her up until the utterly awkward and completely confusing moment right before dinner. She asked him if he would break bread with her and though he did want to have dinner with her, and he loved breaking bread and even more so, eating bread and had coincidentally spent the entire afternoon daydreaming about either eating bread with her or eating bread in her presence, this was a highly irregular request and it caught him off-guard. He didn't want her to be disappointed, especially because of his feeling towards her and the sanctity of bread. So he stood, lifted her in her beautiful dress and fancy shoes and, despite her screams, used her to break the bread. creating such a scene at the restaurant and a seemingly infinite amount of crusty bread pieces were thrust into the air. She had never felt happier or better understood in her life. "So this is love" she whispered.

She is always crying uncle! No, not that one - he is a total jerk who doesn't know when enough is enough with the teasing and taunting. She is crying for her other uncle - the one who loves roast beef.

He is said, by many, to have the gift of tongues, but aside from being able to perform a few party tricks, he sees it as more of a curse.

She is always telling people that she could count the number of times something happened using the fingers on one hand. This was ultra impressive when she was five, but is currently a reason to call to book an appointment to have a review of her meds, especially because the answer is always 11.

On a daily basis, since his son's birth, he has been asking his son "who's your daddy?" and finally, on his son's 4th birthday, his son replied "Dad, please stop asking. What is wrong with you?" On the negative side, he didn't get the answer he was looking for and it caused him to fall immediately into a dark place. On the positive side, he was pleased both with his son's use of syntax (quite advanced for a four year old) and his upfront nature. And it got him thinking about what was wrong with him and why he needed reaffirmation about whose daddy he was - it was not as if he didn't know the answer. The very next day, he went out in search of an answer to his son's poignant response, and a new question to start asking.

She is always in search of the naked truth, as the pursuit of the whole truth is very important to her. Plus, it is very risque and exciting.