What I did on my summer vacation

My latest godson, Joshua Adam O’Keefe, in his lovingly knit blankie, with his dad, John
Finally got connected – just in time for supper. Updates, photos, narrative ramblings, all this and more to come.
I think we can all agree that I must be relaxed if I was able to live offline for five days. Vacations are awesome!

Rapid Reviews

Just to prove that my brain didn’t atrophy over the last six weeks:
Just for Laughs gala with host Craig Ferguson:
I have never seen the Late, Late Show hosted by Ferguson, but I think I’ll start PVR-ing it (for the technophobes, that’s “taping” without the tapes). Ferguson is hilarious, and smart and dirty. My kind of guy, in other words. Best line – when the audience didn’t react to his mention of his time in rehab, he said “no, no, it’s a good thing – but you’re all drunks, I gather. That’s right, this is an intervention. Me against you. Canada, I’m worried about your drinking.”
Highlight of the gala: Demetri Martin. I’ve seen his ‘Trendspotting’ bit on The Daily Show, and it’s OK, but not pee-your-pants funny. Last night he was the funniest thing in the show. Then again, maybe that’s because half his jokes are, apparently, written for English teachers. To whit: “I went shopping and I was trying stuff on and the salesperson said ‘if you need anything, I’m Jill.’ Wow, I thought – I’ve never met anyone with a conditional identity before. Who are you if I don’t need anything?”
“If some one asks you if you’re ticklish, it doesn’t matter what you say – they are going to touch you.”
And of course, the line that slayed me (and I think one other person in the whole place): “It’s weird how ‘finger puppet’ is OK as a noun.”
Vancouverite Tim Nutt was great, too, although his impact was dampened by the fact that the reviewer of another show gave away half his punchlines. Since I had no idea who was in the gala line-up, I didn’t know not to read the review. Local guy Joey Elias looks amazing, 70 lbs lighter – and thanks to his diet, he has a whole lotta new material. Always good.
Saturday we’re off to another gala, this time with host John Cleese, which brings me to review #2…
Wine for the Confused, with host John Cleese
DVD: This was a present from TB and Irene (along with a Jane Austen action figure (she comes with a writing desk and a quill pen)). Since our trip to the UK this winter, Dr. T and I have become wine afficianados. This DVD was good – it’s essentially a two-part Food Network show in which Cleese and the cameraperson drive to a few vineyards near Cleese’s house in California.
We did learn some interesting things about grapes and glasses and fermenting – and best of all, Cleese turned me on to Chardonnay. I am a red wine drinker, with a definite penchant for strong grapes, such as Shiraz. I have not been keen on whites since a rather unfortunate night in my teenage years. I have drunk whites when there’s nothing else going – I typically quote Alberto Tomba on these occasions: ‘white is what we drink when the red is gone.’
Cleese, though, managed to convince me that Chardonnay is the heavy hitter of the white grapes. So, based on that and on Malcolm Anderson’s recent review of a couple of wines, I went off to the SAQ and picked up a few different Chardonnays. Favourite so far is the Toasted Head, which is kind of peachy, with a lot of vanilla and spice. The Beringer’s Founder’s Estate is OK, but not a must-have. We also liked the Oyster Bay from New Zealand.
We’ve also rediscovered rosés, thanks to Malcolm Anderson. He reviewed a Côte du Rhone recently, and said that it wasn’t as sweet as rosés typically are, so we tried it and really liked it. Then we discovered that Jacob’s Creek does a Shiraz rosé. Suffice it to say that we have a few bottles of that one tucked away for future consumption.
And finally…
Recommended Reading:
I blazed through three more Sophie Kinsella’s: The Undomestic Goddess (thanks for the recommendations, Jessica and Pat), Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Takes Manhattan. So far, this author is four for four. Every single book has been a one-nighter, because I can’t put them down until I’m finished. As with the first one (Can You Keep a Secret), these three have their predictable moments; but frankly, I’m a sucker for a formula in the hands of an entertaining writer.
Speaking of entertaining writers, I finally bought Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, and got through that pretty quickly, too. It’s his story of his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail from bottom to top, heavily interspersed with stories he’s uncovered from hikers and historians. After the disappointment of Made in America, I was relieved to rediscover the Bryson that I loved in A Short History of Nearly Everything.
I also enjoyed:
Robertson Davies’ Tempest Tost, a short Leacockesque novel about an amateur production of The Tempest;
Libby Purves’ Mother Country, which relies on the old American vs British culture clash but which is worth reading, especially for the peripheral characters;
Nick Hornby’s Polysyllabic Spree, which if nothing else made me feel a lot better about how many books I buy. Talk about confessions of a shopaholic!

Somebody wake up that dog

The end is in sight! One more class of oral presentations this evening, and two workshops on Monday, then the summer semester is over!
Of course, I am faced with the usual towering pile of essays – but I have taken Vicky’s advice: I am telling my students to let me know if they want comments; otherwise, I’m just reading and marking. I managed to knock off five of them this afternoon!
If all goes well, I’ll be finished marking by next Tuesday, if not earlier. Someone needs to tell Snoopy get ready for the traditional end-of-semester Happy Dance.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention please:

I am in the process of compiling a teaching portfolio, based on the first four M.Ed. courses in the Performa program. One component of this portfolio is my journal, including my musings on how my entries since January 2005 reflect my evolution as a teacher (or, perhaps, my intelligent design).
I would very much like to include everyone’s responses to my entries – many of you have commented on a post or two, adding further insight and illumination, as well as the wisdom from your own personal experiences. I’ll be contacting some of you via e-mail, naturally, but there may be some people whose addresses I don’t have – so please let me know if you would prefer to have your comments omitted.
Finally, if there are any comments you considered posting but didn’t, I’d be happy to include them now – just drop me a line (gmaggie@TAKETHISOUTgmail.com).