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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our Family With a Mission

This conversation took place right after I left a voicemail message for a friend of ours.

"I am a better voicemail-message-leaver than you are," I say to Mark after disconnecting the call.

"Yes," he nods, "you are. You are a better speaker than me in general."

"I am," I say. Then I feel like I should say something nice about him. "But you're a better designer."

He nods again. I don't think he's really paying attention to the conversation. He's driving and I suppose it's good that he's concentrating on that. But then I feel like he might think I only said he was a better designer because I said I was a better speaker. Then I realize that he wouldn't think that anyway. I know, I know. Convoluted.

"Not that you need me to tell you that you are better than me at some things..." I ramble. "Because, I know you are secure enough and confident in your own abilities." Yes. I sometimes ramble.

Mark finally engages. "Well, it wouldn't be good if we just had the same skills. We need to be diversified."

I laugh. "I think that's how we should refer to our family unit from now on. Diversified Chamberlain."

"But does that really reflect our Mission Statement?"

"Hmm... No, I guess it doesn't," I say. "I'm not sure what our mission statement is."

"We'll have to take some time this summer to hammer out the details," Mark says thoughtfully. "Operationalize our definintions..."

Indeed. As if my summer weren't going to be busy enough...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rude Behavior

Sitting in my office:

Me: Whatcha' doin'?

Ali: On Facebook.

As was I.

Ali: Oh, should work on my movie list!

Me: The movies you want to watch over the summer?

Ali: Yeah! Although I guess most of them will probably just come from my Netflix queue.

Ali: Do you have a piece of paper?

Me, looking around my paper-cluttered office: Yea. What size paper do you want?

I pick up a notebook.

Ali: Yeah!

I hand it to her.

Ali: Can I have a pen?

Me: God you're needy today.


Me: Now shut up, I have to play scrabble.

A Brief Departure

So, I usually like to stick to funny posts here, but today I have to take a brief departure from the norm and tell a troubling story.

My office is in what I like to call "film land." What this means is that my office exists in a suite of offices that is connected to the film studio, the film editing suite, and one of the film faculty offices. There are lots of film students outside my office all day, almost every day. Usually this doesn't bother me. I typically let the buzz of conversation flow past without paying it much mind. But, occasionally, I hear something disturbing.

Today, as I sat grading papers, I picked up on a conversation that two film students were having in the common area outside my office. It started with a question:

"Did you see Sucker Punch?" (the movie)

and ended with

"She was the only one in the movie that was bangable."

The student who made this comment was talking about Amy Adams in the the movie The Fighter. Not that that matters, although I'm sure Amy Adams would love to hear that of all the female characters in that critically-acclaimed movie, she managed to present a character that was the single "bangable" female in the entire film.

I'm currently disturbed on many levels by this conversation. Of course, the first is the whole "bangable" comment. The second is the fact that I, a faculty member, am basically forced into eavesdropping on inappropriate conversations being held directly outside my OPEN office door. Why don't people seem to understand that there are appropriate times and places for different kinds of communication? Am I supposed to forget that I heard this student, who, yes, I can identify by only his voice, refer to another woman as "bangable" as if that were her only redeeming factor? Is it unreasonable for me to expect that people would reign in their questionable conversation topics in front of a varied audience? Or does the fact that I don't currently have this student in class make me obsolete and unimportant?

Sigh. Or maybe it's the end of the semester talking?

Regardless, I'd love to hear your feedback on this one. Do I make this an issue to the students outside my office door? Or do I crank up the music and try harder to ignore it?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Harper Has a Drinking Problem

Sunday afternoon. I'm sitting in the recliner. Mark is in the kitchen. Harper is sitting at the table. Singing. Gibberish.

Mark looks at Harper as she sways in the chair and sings.

"Are you drunk?"

It's funny. She does sound quite a bit like she is drunk.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spaghetti Junction and Cornbread

A couple good stories from the commute this morning...

Preface: I'm a bit concerned about Harper. She delights in her father's driving. Now, for any of you who have driven with Mark, you know this is a scary thing. The crazier he gets, the more she shouts "Wheeeeeee!!" This can't bode well for our future.

On the west side of downtown there is place called Spaghetti Junction where 394 and 94 come together in a tangle of curving asphalt lanes of varying elevations. The name is intended to be descriptive. Traffic slows down at Spaghetti Junction as 394 funnels all eastbound traffic that wants to merge onto southbound 94 from 3 lanes into one. We avoid this whenever possible by taking the commuter late which allows to bypass the 394 traffic jam.

(Not the actual Minneapolis Spaghetti Junction, but similar)

This morning as we drove over the mess below us on the elevated commuter lane Mark sends the van in a wide arc around the curve, punctuated by a verbal "Whoosh!"

I look at him. He knows how I feel about his crazy driving.

"Sometimes I like to try to add to the drama," he says in response.

"Mark," I say, "Your driving is dramatic enough without you having to try."

"Hey," he says, "Harper likes it."

"Harper's a toddler. Hardly qualified to make good judgments about things like driving."

"She's very advanced for her age," Mark says with an air of superiority.

I look at him, skeptical. "She also sometimes tries to eat leaves."

Moments later we merge with traffic on southbound 94.

"Mississippi," Mark says.


He motions toward the car in front of us with his head. It has a Mississippi plate.

"Ah," I say, "Miss-uh-si-puh." I have a very good Southern accent.

"What?" Mark laughs.

"You know, Miss-uh-si-puh. That's how people in the South talk." Now I am the superior one.

"Right," Mark laughs some more. "I think you better rub some cornbread on that accent."

"What!?!? Rub CORNBREAD on it!!" I am appalled. As I said before, I have a GOOD Southern accent. "This from the man who makes every accent he tries sound Scottish," I scoff.

It's true. Every time Mark attempts and accent it sounds like a really bad Scottish accent.

"You shouldn't throw stones," I huff.