The story behind the name:

One evening, at the Old Broadway Grill in Fargo, North Dakota, my brother caught the end of a Mountain Dew commercial. In the commercial, a Mountain Dew drinker was riding a shark in the ocean. My brother exclaimed in surprise, not realizing that it was a commercial. When I told him he declared "All I saw was a guy coming out of the shower with a shark." Of course, he meant water, but the idea of showering with sharks has been with me ever since.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Time to Put Away Childish Things: Part III

So, the past two Childish posts have been about dolls. Today's post moves us into the realm of electronic fun - specifically, video games. I'm crediting this post to my brother, Jared. He has a great blog that talks about video games and gaming in general. Check it out if you like that sort of thing.

I'm not sure how old we were when Jared got the original Nintendo game console. Pretty young. I remember trekking up the hill to our neighbors house to play Mike Tyson's Punch Out before we got our own system. Of course, the original NES came with Super Mario Bros. The Super Mario series is still my favorite series of games (with X-Men: Legends being a close second). Anyway, some of my favorite childhood memories involve Jared and I, up late in Jared's room, playing Mario.

I still remember the theme song and frequently sing it to my dog, Quinn.

My BEST memory from Mario Bros., however, comes years later after the release of Mario 3, arguable the best Mario game to date. Once again, Jared and I spent late nights up in his bedroom working our way through the various levels. In Mario 3, World Three is a water world, with several levels that rise and sink. This world also introduces the character Big Bertha, an angry red fish that will attempt to swallow Mario whole.

If memory serves, level three, World Three was a scrolling map. I always hated scrolling maps because you can't take your time, you have to keep moving or the back end of the screen will catch up to you, resulting in all manner of unpleasantness. This particular world not only scrolled, but it had multiple levels. You could run on land above, or you could swim below. At one point during the game, late at night, I was on the run (swim) from Big Bertha. The map was scrolling. I was beginning to panic. I was on the bottom level of the game, barely keeping my head above water (literally, in the sense that my character in the game was swimming), when I came to a dead end. Behind me lay the edge of the scrolling screen AND an angry red fish with a very large mouth. Ahead of me, a brick wall.

I turned to Jared and said, "Uh oh. I may be stuck."

Now, I know this doesn't sound particularly funny, but, trust me, it was HILARIOUS when it happened. We laughed until tears came to our eyes. The phrase "uh oh, I may be stuck" has become one of those great shared-sibling jokes. In fact, that one sentences sums up all the great moments I had playing (or watching) video games with my brother from that first NES through every incarnation of the NES, to Xbox, to Play Station and beyond.

We share these moments even as adults. Here are a few more:
- Me head-stomping Jared as Chun Li in Street Fighter 2
- Jared running from Crispin in Time-Splitters 2
- Jared cursing monkeys in Time-Splitters 2
- Playing Mega-Man 2, first on a tv with no sound, then on a tv with no color. Every time we switched it was like playing a whole new game.
- Goldeneye. Enough said.
- Ocarina of Time, when you hit the chicken enough and it calls all the other chickens.

Anyone else have either great video game or sibling moments they want to share?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time to Put Away Childish Things: Part II

So, I know that everyone has been anxiously waiting to see what childhood toy I might write about next. First, I have to say that it has taken me so long to get my next chapter written because I've been INSANELY busy. In the past week and a half I've written two exams, graded an exam, graded speeches, graded papers, graded outlines, advised a myriad of students and generally been an all-around super prof.

Choosing my next topic for this blog series was difficult. Should I tackle GI Joe? My Little Pony? Barbie? But then, inspiration struck. For Part II I will shall discuss no other than SHE-RA: PRINCESS OF POWER!!!!!

She was quite possibly my favorite toy and cartoon when I was a kid. The cartoon was on for 15 episodes starting in 1985. Rather than explaining the plot of the cartoon, I will let you all check out the opening of the cartoon, which I found on youtube (awesome).

I owned many of the She-Ra dolls. Looking back on it now, I think I can probably trace my love of chicks-kicking-ass to She-Ra. She was tough, had an awesome sword, and rode a unicorn! What could be cooler than that! She-Ra was the first in a long line of ass-kicking heroines to win my admiration. The was Jinx of GI Joe, Gina Davis' characters in both Cutthroat Island and Long Kiss Goodnight, Charlie's Angles (both TV AND movie versions-yes, I know and I don't care), and Rachel Morgan in the books by Kim Harrison to name a few.

She-Ra is a great role model for many reasons. First, she is a flawed character. She was the leader of an evil Army, but she learned the errors of her ways and decided to lead the Rebellion instead. She is loyal to her family and often fought with her brother He-Man. She-Ra is strong and independent and can take on any one. Also, did I mention the cool sword and the unicorn?!

Finally, I just need to mention that you can actually find full episodes of She-Ra online. I think we all know what I'll be doing during lunch tomorrow!

Who are your heroes/heroines? Anyone else out there a huge She-Ra fan?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Time to Put Away Childish Things: Part 1

Two things happened recently which have prompted me to reflect upon my childhood... specifically, the toys of my childhood. The first happened in the Mall. I came across a display of Barbies through the ages. Several notable Barbies were displayed. I was particularly interested in the Barbies of the late 1980s to early 1990s, my own prime Barbie time.

The second thing that lead me down the road to my childhood was the recent live-action GI Joe movie. This movie was both horrible and awesome. Jared and I used to watch the GI Joe cartoons and the cartoon feature-length movie. Jared also had several action figures.

In light of these two events, I have decided to do a series of posts about memorable childhood toys. Yes, I will be discussing both Barbie and GI Joe, but not until later. I decided to devote my first installment to:


Jem is excitement. At least, that is what the theme song of her show used to say. According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know, I never allow my speech student to cite Wikipedia as a source) Jem the cartoon was based on the Jem dolls by Hasbro, of GI Joe fame. Jem was the rocker alter-ego of Jerrica Benton, owner of Starlight Music and Starlight House, a home for foster girls. Jem and her band, the Holograms, got into many different adventures, competed with rival band the Misfits (whose songs, they claimed, were better), and were all-around glamorous and musical.

I have mentioned Jem to several people in the last few days and no one really remembers her. I, on the other hand, can still sing most of the Jem theme song. I had many of the dolls as well. I remember liking Jem's pink hair and sparkly outfits. I played with Jem during the same time I played with Rocker Barbie. Jem and Rocker Barbie shared similar tastes in make-up and wardrobe.

As a rhetoric scholar now, I can't help but wonder what I learned from my play with Jem and the Holograms. I guess Jerrica/Jem was a strong female role-model. After all, Jerrica DID run her own company and Jem and the holograms DID win a mansion in the battle of the bands. Of course, I don't think I needed Jem to be a strong female role model. I had my mom for that.

Another big theme, at least in the Jem cartoon series, was the struggle to keep Jerrica and Jem separate. There are probably parallels here that can be drawn between Jem/Jerrica and any other person who wears multiple hats in a day. This week I've been Mom, Wife, Teacher, Adviser, Friend, Confidant, Counselor, Citizen, Faculty, and Bitch. When you get right down to it, don't all of us have some identity we're trying to suppress? And, if I'm really being honest with myself, I do think there is a pink-haired, pink-eye-make-uped rocker inside me longing to be free.

In closing:

Anyone out there remember Jem? Anyone want to share their hidden Jem?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


So, I was just reading my FB newsfeed, seeing what all my FB friends were up to. One of my friends, Tanner Vix, wrote that he had a better supper last night that consisted of sirloin, shrimp, veggies and taters. My immediate thought was:

"What's taters, precious?"

Is that wrong?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

O. M. G.

So, today Mark and I drove separately. I wanted to be able to leave early because, for a wonder, I didn't have any meetings or appointments scheduled. I did, in fact, go home early and I took a wonderful nap, but that's not really the point of this posting.

At 4:45 Mark called and asked if it would be OK if he stayed late to do some work. I said "sure." I was just about to leave to pick up Harper at daycare. After talking to Mark (and finding out which $100K great room remodel won best bang for the buck)I told the puppies to be good and headed out.

The Harper pick up went smoothly. We we got home I discovered a giant puddle of regurgitated water in the entryway. Sometimes Quinn drinks so much water so fast that it immediately comes back up again. Anyway, we were greeted by a vast expanse of thrown-up water. I took Harper out of her car seat and navigated around it just as Quinn threw up another, possibly even more voluminous, puddle in behind me. Whatevs. I'm still zen at this point (largely thanks to my awesome afternoon nap).

Harper and I went immediately into the kitchen. I was intending to clean up the great lakes of dog-water later. I mixed Harper up some sweet peas and rice cereal. She sat in her bumbo on the table and watched me with much excitement. I bibbed her and she opened up for the first bite. I put the pea-cereal mixture in her mouth and her face changed from one of excitement, to one of horror. I'm not kidding. Imagine the face of the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man on Ghostbusters right before he explodes. THAT is what her face looked like. And then, once again - not kidding here - she reached down, grabbed her bib, put it up to her mouth, and spit the pea-cereal into it. It was such a deliberate action that I didn't have the heart to try another spoonful.

I discarded that bowl and mixed up one with prunes instead. I know, I know, many of you out there are thinking "Peas to prunes!?! You are a terrible Mom!" But, seriously, the first time she had peas she LOVED them. I don't know what happened. The prunes were received with a grudging acceptance, not nearly the enthusiasm to which cereal and carrots are subjected. At one point, Harper made her elephant noise which spit cereal into my open mouth. Of course, my mouth was open because I was mimicking her. I often think of the baby-feeding scene in the Incredibles. You know the one? Well, that's what I was doing when Harper spit cereal everywhere.

As you might imagine, but the time we were done there was cereal, peas, and prunes everywhere, not to mention what was leftover on her clothes from her earlier meals. I decided it was time for a bath.

I ran the water and got her ready. I really enjoy bath time. She's at the point now where she plays in the water. It's really fun. Unfortunately, as I was getting her into the bath I discovered yet ANOTHER puddle of regurgitation. This time, I didn't see it in time to avoid stepping in it. It smelled very bad. It was all over my socks and jeans. I had to take both off. So, I gave Harper a very short bath in my shirt and underwear. As she played in her crib, I had to go around and clean up three (yes, three for those of you who haven't been counting) lakes of dog regurgitation. Awesome.

I am really at the end of my rope as far as dogs are considered.

Tongue Trills

Yesterday when we picked up Harper from daycare one of her teachers said she was making a funny noise. I asked if it was tongue trills. Harper just recently figured out how to trill her tongue... it sounds similar to when you roll your r's, except that she does it for sustained amounts of time in a high-pitched voice.

Her teacher exclaimed "Yes! That's what it was!"

I responded that she had just started doing that.

Her teacher said "I've never seen a baby do that before."

This particular teacher has been at daycare for years and years, so she has seen babies do a LOT of things.

See. I knew my baby was exceptional.

Monday, November 9, 2009

1/2 Moon

A little boy just mooned me.

More accurately, a little boy just mooned me and Ali Rapp. The boy was standing outside my office window with his back to us. At first, Ali thought he was peeing on the wall. Then, to our extreme amusement, he wiggled one side of his jeans down to reveal most of one cheek. Technically, I guess it was a half-moon. It appeared to be a challenging process because he had some guitar-shaped instrument strapped to his back.

After he had run away, Ali said she still thought he looked like he had been peeing at first. I went to the window and looked at the wall.

"Nope," I said. "A closer scientific examination has revealed no wetness on the wall or ground."

The evidence is in. He just wanted to moon us.

Happy Mornings

Filling out Harper's daycare form this morning got me thinking... On this form, we indicate three things about Harper's state of being that day.
1. How did Harper sleep? What time did she get up?
2. Did Harper eat anything before she came to daycare? If so, how much and at what time?
3. How is Harper today? Happy? Not her normal self? (Notice that cranky is not an option)

Answer question number three always makes me feel very lucky. I almost always get to check off "happy." I think she has only not been "her normal self" once or twice. Yes, Harper wakes up happy every day. EVERY DAY. Every morning Mark or I goes into her room to get her ready for the day and we are greeted with a big toothless smile. To Harper, every day is a new opportunity for a great day. Everything is new and exciting... even things she has seen or done before. Her joy at being place in the bouncer at daycare is great every morning.

Reflecting on her happy disposition this morning made me wonder what it takes to face everyday with that excited smile. I wondered about my "normal self." Do I have a normal self that faces each day? If so, what is that self? I think that I'd like my normal self to be more like Harper's normal self: facing each day with a smile and a curiosity that allows me to discover new joy even in things I experience everyday.

Harper is teaching me a lot of things. Some other day I'll have to write about what Harper is teaching me about posture.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Moving Furniture

I made Mark help me move the furniture in our living room around today. He hates it when I get the rearranging bug. But, I'll get an idea one day and then it just festers and festers and festers until I can't take it anymore and then I ask him to help me move furniture.

Once, several years ago, we were sitting on the sofa in an apartment that I had just moved into. We were watching TV, which was located on the opposite wall. I wasn't feeling this furniture arrangement. So I said to Mark: "Do you want to help me switch the TV with the sofa?"

He looked at me. He looked at me like he always does when I ask this question. His face clearly says "Why, why, why would you think that I would WANT to help you move furniture?"

He said, "No."

"Ok," I said. "How about this: Would you rather help me switch the couch and TV now, or would you like for me to harass you about it for the foreseeable future?"

We moved the furniture.

We've been together for almost nine years, married for almost seven of those years. Is it any surprise that now, when I want to move furniture, he just sighs and says "Where do you want it?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


So, today at lunch we (my departmental colleagues and I) wound up sitting with a woman from another department on our campus. During our conversation she revealed that she was currently dealing with some political problems. Her boss had hired a consultant to come in to "fix" her department. This consultant has apparently been in before and this time, when this woman was told the consultant was coming, she "respectfully declined" to meet with her.

Anyway, the ins and outs of the politics aren't important. What I think WAS important and very admirable was that this woman went to her boss and told her that her integrity was more important than her job (in so many words). She is unwilling to compromise her dignity and I think that is incredible, especially considering our current economic situation.

I would like to think that if I had to, I would make the same choice as this woman, but I don't know if I would be as brave. In the immortal words of Kenny Rogers "You have to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." I think that the holding can be much more difficult.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why? Why?

So, this post is about my wonderful husband's tendency to do things that are sometimes not so wonderful. He may read this and that's OK. This post is about button-pushing, which he purposefully does to tick me off.

This morning, after I explicitly asked him to NOT drive like a maniac, he swung into a parking spot in front of Einstein Bros. like he was being chased by machete-wielding monsters. Of course, this sent stuff in the car flying and knocked over the plant that was sitting on the floor in the backseat which resulted in dirt on the floor and on one of my scarves. I told him it was his responsibility to clean both the scarf and the floor of the car. If he's going to do stuff like that in order to tick me off, then he can deal with the consequences of his actions.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ali + Skittles = ugly

Ali Rapp just ate, like, 7 mini bags of skittles from my left-over Halloween candy basket. Now she feels yucky. She says she's going to get the Rainbow Barfs. I think that sounds like Rainbow Brite's little brother.

Remember Rainbow Brite? She was awesome.

So Far Behind

Yes, I have lots of grading to do. I should be doing it now. But before I can get back into the grind, I had to take a moment to rest my sense of disappointment. The majority of my students do not capitalize, do not use correct punctuation, do not, in fact, write in complete sentences. One of my students misspelled the word communication. The exam is in the class Introduction to Communication. It is an open book and open notes exam. You would think that, at some point, this communication major would have learned how to spell communication. I'm tempted to blame computer-mediated communication. I'm sure that CMC has impacted this on some level. However, the problem is so systematic, I have to wonder if that is all that is going on.

Are students really just this lazy? I mean, really, is the extra pinky stroke necessary to capitalize the pronoun "I" that much of a burden?

Also, at what point did everyone forget that a sentence is supposed to have a subject and object?

And finally, wouldn't you think that having automatic spell check would have reduced the amount of spelling errors in typed documents? Because I can tell you... it hasn't.