Friday, October 30

#5FandomFriday: Favorite Halloween Episodes

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space ChickThis week's #5FandomFriday topic is Favorite Halloween Episodes, and it didn't take me very long at all to make my list! I've looked forward to Halloween episodes of my favorite TV shows since I was a kid (the 90's were prime Halloween episode years, y'all!). You can see the upcoming prompts here at the Female Geek Bloggers community.

5. That 70's Show, "Too Old for Trick or Treat, Too Young To Die" - I watched That 70's Show in syndication every day after school in high school, and this episode is great on so many levels. First, there's Fez's Dr. Frank N. Furter costume from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which he tells the gang he chose just to freak out his conservative host family. As the kids are griping about the fact that they've aged out of their prime trick-or-treating years, Kelso says he wishes they could be in the Alfred Hitchcock movie marathon that's on TV. The rest of the episode features funny tributes to Rear Window, Vertigo, the Birds, Psycho, and North by Northwest. The best 70's Show episodes were the ones with crazy dream sequences and concepts, like the Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, and musical episodes, and this Halloween episode is one of the most memorable.

4. Parks and Recreation, "Halloween Surprise" - Parks and Rec always had great Halloween episodes. This one features Ron and Andy taking Diane's kids trick-or-treating so she could deal with a middle school emergency, Jerry's "fart attack," Donna live-tweeting a movie called Death Canoe 4 ("In the fifth one, the canoe is actually the hero!"), Tom inventing Rent-a-Swag, Ann helping Leslie with house hunting, and of course, the best Halloween surprise ever from Ben. 

3. The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror #1 - The "Treehouse of Horror" episodes of the Simpsons are great because they're a chance for the writers to really play with the characters and get creative without messing up the continuity of the show. The first installment is still my favorite because of the show's version of "The Raven," narrated by James Earl Jones and presented in a way that actually helps kids understand a great piece of writing! My students get really excited when I show the clip in class during our Gothic literature unit.

2. Roseanne - I remember really looking forward to Roseanne episodes as a kid - I always wanted to be invited to the Conner family's haunted house and Halloween party,  and Roseanne, Dan, and Jackie always had the most creative costumes. 90's Halloween episodes led little me to suspect that Halloween would be even more fun as an adult than as a kid.

1. Boy Meets World, "And Then There Was Shawn" - I grew up with the Boy Meets World characters, and like any red-blooded American teenage girl all I wanted was for Shawn Hunter to be happy. The highs and lows of Shawn and Angela's romance caused me inner turmoil, and Shawn's angst is behind the Halloween episode where the students are trapped in John Adams High ("where you're all gonna die") along with Eric, Jack, new student Jennifer Love Fefferman ("Feffy"), and a kid named Kenny's who's obviously just there so the gang can make a South Park joke when he dies.

Tuesday, October 27

literary junkies - october

Pink Heels Pink Truck

1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it.

I have been reading Charlie N. Holmberg's Paper Magician Trilogy. I wanted to read something magical for Halloween, and saw these titles on Kindle Unlimited. In Holmberg's alternate Victorian universe, young people can choose to go to school to train as magicians just as one would go to culinary school. In this world, magicians can only control man-made substances, and after graduation, the young magicians choose one substance to be bonded to for life - fire, metal, paper, glass, or plastic. Unfortunately, there's a shortage of paper magicians in England, so Ceony Twill is required to apprentice to a paper magician rather than learning to work with metal as she'd hoped. There are shades of Daddy Long-Legs when Ceony learns that her mentor, Magician Emery Thane, was the benefactor who paid for her scholarship to secondary school. After learning this, her heart warms a bit toward him and she is charmed by the possibilities of paper magic - like the cute little paper dog Thane makes her because she misses her terrier. She also learns Thane's secret - that he was married to Lira, a woman who became a practitioner of a forbidden form of magic - blood magic. When Lira returns, determined to claim Thane for only herself, Ceony has to literally venture into his heart to save him. It's a really creative take on magic, Ceony is a lovable main character, and even though the books aren't branded as MG/YA, they would be appropriate for younger readers.

2. What was your favorite book you had to read in school and which was your least favorite?

My favorite novels were To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby - those two taught me so much about writing. I can still remember my tenth grade English teacher telling us there wasn't a single word in TKaM that didn't need to be there, and that stuck with me. I also really loved it when we read plays in class - I was a strong oral reader from a very young age and I was always that kid who wanted to read a big part like Juliet or Ismene in Antigone. My least favorite was The Scarlet Letter - I distinctly remember wanting to throw it out the school bus window.

3. What is your favorite book that was turned into a movie? Were you happy with the movie?


My favorite book, The Time Traveler's Wife, was made into a movie and I thought it was a good adaption of the book but some of my favorite scenes (like the Velvet Underground concert) didn't make it in. My favorite movie adaptation of a book is probably The Book Thief - the movie is beautifully made and captures the book's magical realism and depth of emotion.

4. Which book do you wish would be turned into a movie?

Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races is being made into a movie, and I'm very excited about that. I think Diane Duane's So You Want to Be a Wizard would be a really fun movie, but as far as I can tell it was optioned for film back in 2007 and it never got made.

5. Did you set any reading goals for 2015? How are you doing with them?

I use Goodreads to set a reading goal each year. This year my goal is 35 books - I've been very busy at work this year, and devoting more time to hobbies other than reading, so I had to set a slightly lower number of books as my goal to be realistic. I'm only two books behind schedule right now, which is fine with me.

What have you been reading lately? Come link up with us at 
Pink Heels Pink Truck and Life with a Side of Coffee!

Monday, October 26

clicks of note: just to make you smile

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • After I heard Elle King's "Ex's and Oh's" on my local indie station and Micah featured it for Musical Mondays, I wanted to check out more of her music. While most of her songs tend toward funky and sassy, "Make You Smile (Love Stuff)" is a sweet love song.






Sunday, October 25

sunday simplicity: where you feel like yourself.

"Home isn't necessarily where you sleep 
at night. It's where you feel like yourself
Where you're most comfortable. Where 
you don't have to pretend, where you 
can just be you.” - Elizabeth Eulberg

Friday, October 23

5 Fandom Friday: Halloween Costume Ideas I Love

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space ChickThis week's #5FandomFriday topic is Halloween Costumes I Want to Wear! You can see the upcoming prompts here at the Female Geek Bloggers community.

5. Lt. Uhura - I love J.J. Abrams' take on Star Trek and I love Zoe Saldana.  Trek costumes are fairly easy to find at the big costume shops that pop up in empty strip malls this time of year, and I can totally rock go-go boots and a high ponytail.

4. "Toxic" video characters - Alias was my favorite show in high school and started my obsession with characters who are spies. Then Britney Spears' video for "Toxic" came out and converted me into a Britney van because I was pretty sure it was an Alias tribute. Every single costume in that video is awesome, although I'm pretty sure my version would be more conservative.

3. Daisy Buchanan - I did a post about creating a 1920's flapper costume a few years ago and still love the idea. I will definitely be Daisy for Halloween one of these days, and I'd love to throw a speakeasy-themed Halloween party.

2. A Sanderson Sister - The villains of the best Halloween movie of all time would make great costume inspiration for three girl friends (I'm pretty sure I could talk Breeze and my SIL into doing this with me), and witch hats and black, red, and blonde wigs are easy to come by.

1. Peggy Carter - I can't wait for next weekend because I'm dressing up as my favorite Marvel character (and Dubsmash queen), SSR Agent Peggy Carter! She's a literal boss and she knows her value. Until then, I'll be listening to the Andrews Sisters and watching victory roll hairstyle tutorials on YouTube.

Monday, October 19

clicks of note: you can read me anything...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • This week I'm loving Irish singer-songwriter Gavin James' beautiful song "The Book of Love" - definitely the most romantic thing I've heard in a while. I'm linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.





Sunday, October 18

sunday simplicity.

“Home was not the place where you were born 
but the place you created yourself, where you 
did not need to explain, where you finally 
became what you were.” - Dermot Bolger

Friday, October 16

#5FandomFriday: Things I Love About Halloween

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space ChickThis week's #5FandomFriday is all about my favorite holiday! You can see the upcoming prompts here at the Female Geek Bloggers community.

5. Candy!

Actually, teachers love November 1st because all of the Halloween candy is on sale.

4. Halloween music

Because listening to "Thriller" in June just isn't the same. Any song about a witch is fair game (thanks, Queens of the Stone Age and Fleetwood Mac!). I also love creating playlists of songs that aren't specific to Halloween but include creepy themes (Why is Maroon5's "Animals" not considered a Halloween song?) or odes to scary and otherworldly creatures (most Florence and the Machine songs, actually).

3. Halloween movies

Hocus Pocus tops my list - it just isn't Halloween until I watch it. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Toy Story of TerrorGhostbustersPractical Magic, The Craft, Addams Family Values and The Nightmare Before Christmas usually make it into my rotation as well, and I'll use the Halloween scenes in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Silver Linings Playbook as excuses to watch my favorite crazy-people love stories. I don't like actual horror movies - I have a very visual memory and have trouble getting troubling images out of my brain - but I love kids' Halloween movies and sillier versions of witches, vampires, and monsters.

2. Pumpkinfest

Breeze and I started a new tradition last year and brought Miss J along for the ride last weekend. We start the day by going to a local pumpkin patch (that also has a petting zoo with baby animals!) and farm store to find the very best pumpkins and candy, then go back to Breeze's house to eat a crock pot meal and carve pumpkins - while drinking sangria, of course. Because wine and knives go so well together. Our husbands watch football and tune us out, basically.

1. Dressing Up!

Halloween is my favorite holiday because it's all about fantasy and magic. As a kid, I was a witch for about three years running, along with Snoopy, a mermaid, a princess, a gypsy, a cat, and a '50s sock hopper. In college, my favorite costume was a go-go dancer outfit I put together complete with mod makeup. As an adult, I have enjoyed masquerading as Hermione Granger, an '80s My Little Pony, and Effie Trinket. I've also noticed that my Halloween costumes are tending towards full-on cosplay - I've gotten a little obsessed with the details being just right. 

Monday, October 12

clicks of note: i'm no place without you...

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • I've gotten behind with blogging - a week straight of rain combined with work and personal life stress led to a pretty dark depressive episode and I was struggling to maintain a normal routine, much less my hobbies. I'm feeling much better now, and slowly getting back on track. If you missed it, check out last week's Clicks of Note here.

  • I fell in love with Andrew McMahon's song "Cecilia and the Sattelite," named for his newborn daughter, when I heard it on our local indie station and realized why it sounded so familiar - he was the vocalist and songwriter for Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin, two bands I loved in high school and college. I'm excited that he is still writing and performing, and the video for the song is gorgeous to boot. I'm linking up today with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.






Sunday, October 11

sunday simplicity: castles in the air

“If you have built castles in the air
your work need not be lost; that is 
where they should be. Now put the 
foundations under them.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Friday, October 9

#5FandomFriday: Favorite Fictional Teachers

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space ChickThis week's #5FandomFriday is especially exciting for me because I suggested the topic! When I was thinking about fall, back-to-school was still on my mind, and I thought Favorite Fictional Teachers would be a fun topic for my favorite community of Geek Girls. You can see the upcoming prompts here at the Female Geek Bloggers community.

Christy Huddleston, Christy - Remember that time in the 1990's when between daily Little House on the Prairie reruns and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman episodes, stories set in the previous century were everywhere? Christy was one of my all time favorite series; I loved that Kellie Martin's character was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse just like Laura Ingalls. When I read the novel in college, I fell in love with the story of a young teacher who travels to the mountains to follow her calling. Looking back now, some of Christy's struggles as a first-year teacher in Appalachia in the 1900's were no different from my own in the 2000's - poverty, hunger, and willful ignorance don't change - and the student who was determined to marry me off to her uncle was a dead ringer for Ruby Mae.

Rupert Giles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Having seen every episode of Buffy, I've come to the conclusion that Watcher is a terrible job title. Giles' life would have been a lot easier if all he had to do was watch Buffy become the Slayer - instead, he had to initiate, train, and mentor her, run the school library (which never seemed to have any patrons, but still), and use his mad research skills to keep the whole Scooby gang from getting killed by the Monster of the Week. Over time, Giles went from a stereotypical uptight Brit to serving as a father figure for Buffy and a role model Willow as well.

Mr. Feeny, Boy Meets World - Will I ever be as wise as Mr. Feeny? Probably not. I think this character had a huge influence on me as a kid - I could never figure out whether the class he taught was History or Literature (or both?), but I always thought it was cool how much he respected his students and spoke to them as if they were adults. Feeny could take a lesson on Romeo and Juliet or the War of 1812 and turn it into a life lesson. In my town, our elementary school vice principal moved up to middle school with us, and I was really hoping he'd pull a Feeny and come to high school and college with us too.

Yoda, Star Wars - Any list of great teachers should include Yoda! I love the way he starts testing Luke from the moment they meet and teaching him about patience and humility. Yoda pushes Luke outside his comfort zone - to what we teachers call the "frustration level" - which is what must be done in order for learning to occur, even when the student hates it. Yoda isn't just concerned with whether Luke can master the skills required of being a Jedi, but whether he can handle the mental and emotional pressure of training.

Minerva McGonnagal, Harry Potter - Out of all the teachers in the wizarding world, Minerva is my fave. I like to think that in my own teaching style, I'm transitioning from being a Christy into being a McGonnagal - basically, a classroom Tiger Mom. I understand now that I can't save every child because that mindset leads to burnout, but I can still make a difference and lead by example. I admire McGonnagal because she obviously feels compassion and love for her students, but she does not allow them to make excuses or whine when things get tough. She's great at seeing students' hidden talents and finding ways to let them shine (Harry's Quidditch aptitude, Seamus' gift of kaboom), and challenging students who aren't working to their full potential (making Ron take Potions with Professor Slughorn). Also, she can turn into a cat. 'Nuff said.

Who are your favorite fictional educators?

Tuesday, October 6

love where you live: learn something new!

I'm gonna drop a little truth bomb on you: sometimes when you think you're bored with where you live, you're really bored with yourself. One way to kick that sense of malaise in the boo-tay is by seeking out local opportunities to learn something new. There are opportunities for learning and growth no matter what size your "treat yo self" budget may be.

First, is there a college in your area? In my community, there are two outreach centers that offer sattelite courses from major universities, a community college, and a small private college. In addition to traditional academic courses, there are courses in things like CPR, photography, and sign language that would be practical and fun to learn.

As you know if you've been following my yoga journey, I'm a huge fan of my local parks and rec department, and I get ridiculously excited when each season's new course catalog comes out. Our parks and rec offers arts and crafts classes, adult and youth athletics (I really want to take tennis classes in the spring), indoor and outdoor wellness classes, music lessons (I harbor a secret dream of learning to play the banjo), and gardening workshops. Our YMCA also offers some fitness classes I've never tried before, like pilates and kickboxing.

One of my favorite sources of inspiration for fun new things to try is Groupon. I'm not sure if it's true in your area, but around here ladies are going nuts for wine and painting nights. There are a few companies and independent artists who run these events in my area in conjunction with local breweries, wineries, and restaurants. I was sure my painting would look like a three-year-old's finger painting, but instead I have a cute mountain scene worthy of hanging in my upstairs hallway - and a new interest in taking future fine arts classes I never would have had otherwise.

Finally, there are plenty of 100% free opportunities to learn new things in any community. One way to gain new skills is in exchange for service as a volunteer - for instance, someone who has always wanted to learn to ride a horse could spend time shoveling hay at a local therapeutic riding barn, or someone interested in learning abut other countries and cultures could tutor local ESL students. Women's clubs, church groups, and that person you know from work with the crazy talent or hobby provide other cost-free opportunities to learn everything from knitting to beekeeping. There's nothing like learning a new skill for a renewed sense of energy.

Monday, October 5

clicks of note: if you say that you love me...

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • I'm definitely going to be watching The Voice this season - did y'all catch Morgan Frazier's audition? It's a little late, but I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.





Sunday, October 4

sunday simplicity: the ache for home

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The 
safe place where we can go as we are 
and not be questioned.” ― Maya Angelou, 
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

Saturday, October 3

love where you live: play tourist for a day!

One of my favorite ways to reignite my love for where I live is also one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend with friends and family: by playing tourist in my hometown! It always amazes me how much I can discover (and rediscover) about places I've been around for years.

I grew up in the Roanoke area, yet I hadn't actually been to our star attraction (pun intended) in years until my friend Philly came to spend the weekend with Mr. Q and I. Your city probably isn't home to the largest freestanding illuminated man-made star, but there's something quirky and unique that deserves the up-close look you haven't given it in years - visiting the star wasn't really about seeing a huge metal novelty object; it was about showing my friend the best view of the city I think of as mine - and the skyline had changed quite a bit since I'd been there last!

I try to play tourist at least once in every season - my mom and I love to visit Roanoke's museums and indie movie house. We let museum docents tell us about pieces even if we've seen them before, and we learn new things from new perspectives. We go to movies from foreign countries and feel transported. Breeze and I like to browse the farmer's market and window-shop in stores we can't actually afford. We try on dresses that are way out of our price range and feel glamorous. Mr. Q and I enjoy riding on the Roanoke River Greenway. We usually stop for a visit at Black Dog Salvage, which is famous from being in an honest-to-goodness TV show! 

The "touristy" things visitors enjoy are gems we forget are right in our backyard - priceless works of art, beautiful things from all over the world, and beautiful mountain surroundings. Next time you feel a sense of malaise about your hometown, try adopting a tour guide's perspective - where would you take a friend who had never visited your neck of the woods? What restaurants would you take them to for brunch, lunch, and dinner? What sights would you want to make sure they saw? What outdoor adventures would you be sure they experienced? What kind of local culture or performances would you take in? You might even want to see how actual tourists have experienced your town - what places have received high ratings on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp?

Rediscovering your love for where you live may mean discovering places you've overlooked - you may have been to the closest art museum, but have you visited any smaller galleries? Many cities and towns, even those with smaller art scenes, have gallery crawls or open studio days. No art galleries or museums? Antique malls are a great place to find weird, beautiful artifacts. You may have gone hiking or running on your local trails, but have you been rock climbing, kayaking, or camping? If you live in a place with limited outdoor options, I dare you to sign up for the weirdest class your local parks department or YMCA offers. Have you supported your local theater troupe, ballet, opera, or symphony lately? What about the middle school jazz band or your little sister's dance studio? There's talent and wonder everywhere - if only we look for it with renewed vision.

Friday, October 2

love where you live: explore your neighborhood

In my introduction for this series, I mentioned that I've lived in a few different parts of Virginia, from the very rural subdivision I grew up in, to a bustling college town, to my current cozy townhouse complex on the quiet side of a small Appalachian town. I think that a big part of my well-being, no matter where I've lived, has been the sense that I am part of a neighborhood.

Growing up, I had a strong sense of neighborhood. My parents were some of the first homeowners in our subdivision, which began when the developers bought a farm and parceled it out. For a young family, that situation provided the best of both worlds: my parents were able to plant a garden and orchard and enjoy the privacy that came with owning a large piece of land, but we also had neighbors who were friendly and helpful in times of need, like when the road needed to be plowed in the winter. Our next door neighbors had two children, and the three of us were stair-step kids - they were one and two years old when I was born - so we were constantly playing outside together, building treehouses, riding our bicycles, and Rollerblading (it was the '90s, after all).

In college, I lived in several different neighborhoods within my college town. I loved being within walking distance of restaurants, shops, libraries, and my church, and always felt safe and confident walking on crowded sidewalks. When I missed the country, I knew exactly which roads would take me to rolling hills and tree-lined paths.

We live in our townhouse more out of convenience than anything else - another teacher in my department was getting married the same summer as Mr. Q and I, and she was moving away. Her townhouse right behind the school seemed too good to pass up - we knew we would be renting for a while in order to save up enough money to buy our own home, so why not rent in a convenient spot? Being so close to work for the past four has been awesome - I'm able to stay at school until my daily tasks are finished without dreading a long commute, I'm able to attend my students' sporting events and performances often, and best of all, I probably get to sleep in the latest of anyone on the faculty. The downside of our neighborhood is since these are rental properties, there tends to be a lot of turnover - it seems that just as we get to know one of our neighbors, they move away. I really look forward to building close relationships with neighbors when we move into our own home at last.

Aside from the convenience, when I stop to think about it, I can actually think of many perks of my current neighborhood. Within walking distance, there is a lovely park with a pond where my students like to go fishing, wooded walking trails, a Mexican restaurant where the waiters automatically bring my Diet Coke, the YMCA where I enjoy taking yoga and spin classes, and a couple of fast food restaurants for when I'm feeling lazy. Expanding my definition of "neighborhood" a bit further, there's the church Mr. Q's parents attend, a public swimming pool, a bakery, a thrift store that always holds some interesting finds, and a mountaintop with the best view around. My neighbors might change often, but that's an opportunity to build new friendships, and since our townhouse is easy to find, it's great for entertaining small groups of guests. There are positive aspects to every neighborhood, but first we have to get outside of our comfort zones and go exploring!