Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Bathroom Etiquette
I used the urinal at my summer job and saw a hair about 7 feet up the wall while standing there. How did it get there? Freaky.

Anyway, at work I come in contact with students as a counselor. Male and female. What's weird is when I'm through with a student, having seen a few in a row and need to take a bathroom break. I believe that 7 out of 10 times, if I just "counseled" a guy, he'll be in there when I go in there. Now, I don't wear a nametag (because I'm a doofus and have lost the two they gave me) and that keeps most people from stopping me in the halls to ask me questions so they don't have to wait in line like everyone else. But the person I just had in my office and is now in the bathroom knows I work there, so if they have any other questions or want to talk about how they're working two jobs and just got married/back from Iraq/back into college after a hiatus, they will start the conversation back up again. I don't know about you, but I thought that men had a code. There are certain things you just don't do. Some of these involve the bathroom.

1) You don't take the urinal right next to a guy who's already there if there's another one farther away.

2) You don't check out his equipment; this means looking straight ahead, straight down or closing your damn eyes if you have to. Going to the bathroom is not an auction or a contest or a dating opportunity.

3) You don't start up a conversation with the other person other than saying a perfunctory "hey" if you know them or just happen to catch their eye on the way in and want to be polite. Topics available for discussion (if you must): "Woo, this weather!" or "Aaah, I needed that" or "Almost quittin' time" (even it it's 9 in the morning) or "Thank God the week's almost over" (even if it's Tuesday). To me, asking a guy at a urinal the popular question, "They workin' you hard?" is just looking for trouble, so it's out.

4) Talking on a cell phone. It's bad enough to walk down an aisle of the supermarket, have someone walking toward you say, "Hi, how are you?" and answer them before you see the cord in their ear and realize they're not talking to you. In the bathroom, this is doubly annoying because people think that they are doing intimate things in the bathroom, therefore they can call and have intimate conversations with their loved ones. Too many times I've had the silence punctured by the phrase, "Hi honey."

By the way, stalls don't mask noise in any form. Just a tip, because a lot of grunters don't seem to get that. That includes cellphones. So if you go into a stall, don't think that others can't hear you.

5) Farting. Now, I know that the bathroom is for things like this, and what better place to do it, right? But too often a man has walked up next to at the urinals, unzipped, sighed and then let one rip. Man, go in the stall. We'll hear it, but we'll think it's a part of the process, not you trying to start a kazoo band or lamenting that 4th bowl of chili.

6) See 2)

7) Be sure that you are alone in there to use the mirror to pull out a stray nosehair or check out how the workouts are going.

These are just a few thoughts, but remember that a more civil society could begin in the bathroom. So heed these words.

And no peeking.
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 3:00 PM | 7 comments

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
H2G2 and others
During Sin City, they showed the latest preview of Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I've been waiting since 1984, when I found this book, for the movie. Yes, I'm old. There have been many stops and starts to a theatrical release, but they finally did it. The television version is complete crap, but I have it (as do many true fans) because it seemed to be the closest we would ever come. And Simon Jones is a great voice for Arthur if not a great actor.

I understand the Hollywood need to inject an American into the essentially British story, but Mos Def? I like Mos Def and his song "Close" is one of my favorites. But Ford Prefect? Please. Plus they appear to have Arthur and Trillian fall in love in the movie and this didn't happen in the books. Yet another Hollywood twisting of a good story. Martin Freeman from "The Office" is perfect for Arthur and Alan Rickman as Marvin looks like fun. I'm only sorry that Douglas Adams died before he could see his creation finally hit the big screen.

This will be a welcome antidote to the Star Wars/Batman/Superman/Spiderman/LOTR/Harry Potter pre-packaged crap that Hollywood has put out or is planning to put out. Give me a break. None of the Sci Fi/Comedy genre would have been possible without Adams, and I never understood the appeal of Tolkein. I wonder how many people who love the movies ever tried to read the books or just bought them to be cool. They're dense, confusing and wayyyyyy too long. If I want a book like that, I'll read my literary criticism texts. Better than Ambien.

Amityville had some cool scenes in the preview, but really, was this remake needed? And House of Wax with Paris Hilton? Were we being "punk'd" or is this a real movie? Rob Zombie's new movie looks good. Good old-fashioned, straightforward horror. It's about time.

We read The Satanic Verses for a class this week and there's a reference to Jack the Ripper in it, plus a copycat killer in London called "The Granny Ripper." Yet another reference to ol' Jack. They do pile up. There was a Star Trek episode entitled, "A Wolf in the Fold" written, I believe, by Robert Bloch(Psycho) that transports Jack to the Enterprise. Psycho was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, whose first movie was "The Lodger." Which was about Jack the Ripper. He do get around.
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 1:15 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 11, 2005
Taxes

Rachel said...
I'm not particularly disputing the tax issue here, but I honestly don't believe Oklahoma has a high tax rate, do we?



"Oklahoma's sales tax burden is the 17th largest in the nation."From the IRS website. This from a state that ranks 46th in education.

"State taxes in Oklahoma are $1,738 per capita, ranking the state about average compared with state taxes for the country as a whole." Americans for Prosperity

"Oklahoma's individual income-tax rates are high and progressive compared with the rest of the country." Americans For Prosperity

I could post more, but you get the idea. I will say that when I was single, I did seem to pay less taxes into Oklahoma. Maybe that's the perception you're coming from.
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 10:52 AM | 4 comments

Sunday, April 10, 2005
Weekend
Sin City was pretty good. Very noir-ish and stylish. What's funny is that I didn't really think about going until ET dragged me to a lecture on Shakespeare Thursday night. My Victorian Lit. professor slash hoped-for dissertation director says hi to me and then says, "Have you seen Sin City? You need to see it. If you like noir." So, if it's good enough for him. . . He's also the director of film studies at TU. We've talked about Psycho, noir films like Maltese Falcon and the rest. It's just funny to think a man with titular control over me, like a boss or something, is directing me to entertain myself with a film full of either spoken about or actual genital mutilations.

I'm trying to keep up with work, school, assignments, readings, etc. It's getting tougher and tougher to even act interested. I definitely think I have senioritis, if there is such a thing only about halfway through a degree. I've got Great Expectations (the book) to finish, but I find myself reading Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County instead. With just the three or four MST3K episodes a day thrown in. We were talking in one class about all the absences from sickness this semester and have put it down to a mild winter not killing off the fungus, etc. I know I have allergies, but they usually manifest themselves as headaches and insomnia due to stomach ailments. Glad to know I'm not the only one. It may have something to do with my lack of motivation. Plus, Oklahoma is one of the worst allergy centers there is, so it just sucks to be here. Even the Shakespeare guy who came here from Stanford to deliver the lecture was sniffing and coughing and sneezing throughout the presentation.

I'll be working at TCC throughout the summer for the counseling/advising department, something I've been doing off and on for about a year now. So if anyone needs any advice about school, DON'T GO! SLACK OFF AND HOPE YOUR PARENT WILL LET YOU STAY AT HOME FOR FREE! The title "counselor" is really misleading; I have people come in and ask if I had a degree in Psychology to do this job. Yeah, it takes that to tell people their math skills suck and they need to take developmental courses. Or to find a comp class on Monday nights. They're talking about changing the title, because we do get people who want to bitch about their instructors or tell you that they need to drop a class because their husband or wife left them and they have no babysitter, or they missed a couple of weeks because of a DUI, etc. TCC is nothing if not diverse.

Taxes are done and it looks like we are getting a rebate from the federal government and raped by the Oklahoma one, so it's pretty much like last year. I don't understand how a state that charges such high taxes has such bad roads, schools, pollution. Tulsa and OKC are always on the "dirty air list" from the EPA and travelers always complain both about our turnpikes and the fact that the roads they have to pay to use suck. I wish there was one guy who went around announcing that he was the recipient of all our state taxes, thanking us very much for his mansion, cars and boats and that we have made him very happy. That would be easier to swallow than the thought that we just have a piss-poor and inefficient state government.

I just noticed all the Freudian hidden sexual imagery in this post. Genital mutilations in the first paragraph are not hidden, but then I use words like "titular" (hah!), "sucks," "rape," "swallow," and most disturbing, "fungus." I'm getting as bad as ET.
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 1:22 AM | 3 comments

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Mama Mia
I got the monthly report on my family last night from my mom. What bothers me, aside from the usual in-fighting about money and how my siblings' relationships are screwier than an Andy Dick reading of Hamlet's soliloquy, is the fact that my mother seems to have all these guys hitting on her lately. I say lately, because my father died in November. What's weird is that these guys have no compunction about saying the most crass and crude things to her, as if they were teenage boys instead of grown (and sometimes, married) men. I guess men never age. I mean grow up. This one guy, who is somewhat of a bigwig in the small town my mother lives in, calls her every Thursday at work "just to make sure you got to work safe." Another guy comes in and asks if he can call her. She says "I don't know." So he proceeds to leave her convenience store and IMMEDIATELY call her at the store on his cellphone. He tells her to his wife left him and would she like to get dinner sometime. He even adds, "I promise, no sex stuff." Which is what every woman wants to hear. What a shot in the arm to the old self-esteem.

So when she's at work, this bigwig will inevitably come in and make small talk, laced with innuendos about how he'd like to show her his ranch and how her voice drives him wild (she's from Berlin and has never lost the accent). This dude is very married, by the way. So the other day, there is a "secret shopper" for the company that owns the store my mother works at, those people who come in and evaluate the staff without them knowing. My mother passed the inspection, and was awarded a cash prize and a "gold star" certificate for her friendliness, efficiency, etc. Anyway, this married guy comes in, hears about it, leaves and comes back with a present for her. He makes her open it there and it's a box of chocolates. He tells her they're for her service. He also says they are aphrodisiacs. Then he says that she is "very important" to him and kisses her on the forehead. I swear, this kind of stuff really still goes on? Men think that this type of steamroller approach works? She told me that all she could think of was "Please leave, I'm old, go find someone else."

Aside from the legal ramifications of this (what would they be, anyway? He's not her boss), my mother is overly friendly with everyone. I don't mean she flirts, I mean she's one of those people who can make you feel like the most important person in the world when she's talking to you. Everyone in that town loves her. Maybe it's the accent, but men, even when my dad was alive, would pester her. Now I think it's different because there's a possibility (remote) that there could be:
a) A date
b) A relationship
c) A marriage to someone else
d) Se- I can't even write the word. It's my MOM!

My mother is still deeply entrenched in trying to tie up my father's estate, retirement stuff, etc. and she just bought a permanent marker for his grave. They were married for 40 years. Isn't there even a mourning period that people should respect before badgering her to "find someone?" She even tells me that she has no interest in even talking to these people outside of work. She just wants to be left alone. But again, things could change.

I'm trying not to think I'm being a selfish child who doesn't care about the happiness of his parent because that would threaten how I perceive that parent. But I do know that my family is not the family of divorce, of stepfathers and step and half-siblings. This is just not something I've had to confront before. And that's not to denigrate those types of families. It would just be unprecedented.

Part of this comes from my utter loathing for the town I was forced to call home in middle and high school. These people have not left the 50s and disgust me politically and socially. To think that she would ever hook up with one of these Mayberry yahoos is excruciatingly sickening.

Ecch. I need to shower.
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 12:58 PM | 3 comments

Monday, April 04, 2005
Monday
Below are two pictures, one representing the area where Jack the Ripper, um, worked and the other a contemporary newspaper cartoon of the case.

I finished a ten-page research paper from scratch yesterday, spending about 5 hours at the library. Pretty good.

My students are getting better about turning in work and showing up to class. Panic must be setting in finally. I'll be glad for some time off this summer.

Why doesn't anyone sell a good sub kind of sandwich through a drive-thru? I don't mean Subway-type of stuff. I mean a good hearty sub sandwich. I'm sick of McD's, Burger King, et al and I would rather eat something at least a little healthier. Wendy's now has fruit bowls but I hesitate about going there now. I don't want to point the finger at any one particular instance, and I can't put my finger on any one thing that bothers me about Wendy's, and I'm sure that they work their fingers to the bone to put forward the very best product, but I'm not sure that they really have their finger on the pulse of society.
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 2:11 PM | 3 comments

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Newspaper photo Posted by Hello
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 7:57 PM | 0 comments


Whitechapel 1888. These are the sites of the canonical victims of Jack the Ripper. Posted by Hello
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 1:21 AM | 0 comments

Friday, April 01, 2005
Random Thoughts
I enrolled for Fall classes this week. I'm taking a Victorian Novel and 6 hours of residency in order to stay a grad student. What a racket they have, charging students just for being there without any classes. Anyway, I'll take the exams sometime in November and my primary field is Victorian, so the class will help. I know most people don't take any classes during the semester they take comps, but I'm one behind because my first Ph.D. semester I didn't have a TAship and had to pay myself, so I only took two classes.

Goodbye to Terry Schiavo. Sorry, but I should never have known her name, let alone have her all over the news. That was a personal matter and our government yet again made me ashamed by politicizing the case. Especially Tom DeLay, who didn't hesitate to pull the plug on his own father years ago but is all high and mighty now.

If you haven't heard about this plagiarism case making the rounds of the Internet, go to www.aweekofkindness.com/blog and read about it. I could easily go on and on about this topic, but I have to say that as an instructor and a student at once, anyone who tries to find a shortcut to work really pisses me off. I have a lot of work and I bitch about it, but later when I look at those papers and perhaps use the research I've done on my dissertation, I at least have the satisfaction that it's my own work. Plus, if you don't do the work, you don't have the knowledge. Do you want people in potentially sensitive positions or health care fields, or even lawyers who didn't do their own work? How can they help you if the diploma they have is bogus? It just points to an increasingly easy attitude toward plagiarism, in which people don't see it as cheating but "getting over" on a teacher. It's bullshit and this girl instigated all her own woes. As far as my own students are concerned, I am usually able to tell the difference between their own writing and writing from other sources. You usually get that way if you've been teaching a while. But I don't mind the anti-plagiarism software out there and students are not savvy enough to change their plagiarized parts to conform to their own style. It's pretty easy to point out those who've worked on their papers and those who've "had a little help."

Does anyone have any other instances of bad things happening in threes? I've written a paper (already, so I'm not looking for help or plagiarized sources!) about the number three indicating bad things and all I can think of is that celebrities seem to die in threes. Any other thoughts?
posted by Lavaughn Towell @ 1:42 AM | 1 comments

Thomas Neill Cream
Thomas Griffiths Wainewright
Frederick Deeming
The Bravo Case
Madeleine Smith
Constance Kent
William Palmer
My Ripper Inventory
JTRForums.com
Ripper Notes
Ripperologist
Hollywood Ripper
Jack the Ripper Forum
Archives: Jack the Ripper
The Whitechapel Society
Largest German Jack the Ripper Site
The Victorian Web
Victorian Dictionary
Victoria Research Web

The Final Solution by Walter Harmidarow
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