Submitted for your viewing pleasure…

I’m sitting here cracking up all alone in a cold room while a crushing winter wind freezes the world outside my bedroom window in total contrast to the warmth of all this hilarity.


By which I mean to say: I’m in the middle of a rewatch of a web series I was introduced to this past summer – Research – and even now on my second go ’round I’m laughing at it like a crazy person.

Yes. That’s right. Barry Bostwick and Doug Jones. No lie.

Research is the brainchild of the folks at Mildly Fearsome Films, the same people who brought you Sudden Death! (“Finally, a musical where everyone dies.”)

Listen: I would not. steer. you wrong. Okay? Just press play. Trust me. Shh, shh… It’s okay, it’s okay…

Coursera: So far…

Earlier this summer I registered to take a poetry class through Coursera, a “company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.”

“Hot diggity,” I responded, as I Facebooked and Tweeted my findings. “I’mma get in on this sweet, sweet learning action lickety split!”

The first class I signed up for, Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) is taught by Al Filreis through the University of Pennsylvania, and the course description sounded right up my alley:

This course is a fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, from Dickinson and Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry) will learn how to read poems that are supposedly “difficult.”

Fast-paced? Poetry? No experience necessary? Wahoo! All that would be required to complete the course would be submitting four short essays, commenting on other students’ submissions, passing weekly quizzes, and participating in the discussion forums. Easy peasy, and fun to boot! If, you know, you enjoy writing essays, commenting on things, taking quizzes, and participating in discussions.

Which I totally do.

As do thousands of folks who are still learning English, and a bunch’a weirdos intent on dumbing down the Facebook end of the experience…

Things I Have Learned From Joining ModPo’s Facebook Group

1. There Are Not Enough OTE Mods/Admins

For about one hora gloriosa the other semana, I played make-believe as a Spanish-speaking T.A. for a handful of Facebook group members who are using ModPo in part as an opportunity to work on their English. It’s an admirable goal with the unfortunate side-affect of making me feel like a useless layabout for never having attempted any such thing in an effort to work on my Spanish.


It was fun getting to know a few of my ESL classmates a little better through that experience, and I enjoyed it on both a social and an educational level. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder how the lack of Other Than English mods/admins throughout the Coursera universe might be impacting the experience of those students hoping to use Coursera as an English exercise.

Mostly I’m picturing hands being thrown in the air “I give up!” style across the globe, Google Translate tabs slamming closed in browsers worldwide.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say Coursera “should” or “must” provide OTE support, particularly since Coursera doesn’t market itself as a “work on your English” resource, so it’s not like it’s failing to supply something it promised in not having live translators on hand for real-time assistance. Plus I have no idea how it is being funded or how much money it is actually making, and real-time human translation services are notoriously expensive. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to offer a website and services entirely in English, or Dutch, or Guarani… I’m just wondering if such an effort- providing OTE mods- would be possible for some of the classes with higher numbers of students, and if expending that effort might pay off in the long run for Coursera and similar sites.

2. Even Poetry Attracts Trolls

Trolls: Making ModPo Poets Less Great since 2012

Hoping to engage in a thoughtful discussion about a question someone raised about the poem everyone is currently reading? Too bad!

but I inform: if, I will see in essays in context something about : word-killer, precious stone and poem, diamond and poem or else, what I have written, I will shame you for all over the world.

That’s right. If during the course of the discussion any of the participants should draw similar conclusions from reading the same poem, and if any of those shared conclusions should appear in any of the participants’ future comments or essays, there is no other possible recourse for this particular troll but to shame the alleged offender on a global scale for stealing their ideas.

Or if you are participating in a thread and would like to point out that you think Classmate A and Classmate B “are very inspirational locutors“? Be prepared to be informed that you are wrong because, frankly, “they are absolutely standart thinking people -it’s complitely boring.

Say that in a meatspace classroom. Please. I dare you.

And don’t bother asking these self-righteous poetry trolls to stay on subject, to keep non-productive and exclusionary comments to themselves, or to behave like adults. Your requests will only be met by such gems as “this idea everywhere is in internet…about innovation. may be your own ideas?” Or the dare to “block me. any perssonmay just block.” Or perhaps it’s time for the “how many Universities have you graduated from ?” challenge.

Wheaton’s Law: It also applies in poetry forums, ass, and you are breaking it with fantastic regularity.

Things I Have Learned From Reading ModPo’s Official Forums

1. Whatever you wanted to say in the forums? Yeah, it’s already been said. About 10,000 times.

I’m having trouble tracking down the exact figures, but the last estimate I saw for the number of registered ModPo students was hovering somewhere around 30,000. That’s right: 30,000 people from all over the world participating in discussions on the course’s forum page, submitting essays, and taking quizzes.

On the one hand: This is awesome and encouraging and crazy and inspiring and gives the international poetry community an approachable and familiar feel and I love love love it and am so glad things like Coursera exist and that people like Filreis are so excited about blazing new trails in online learning and I can’t wait to see how this model develops in the coming years.

On the other hand: Anything you think of to say in a discussion thread? It’s been said. Any question you want to ask? It’s been asked. Any idea you find yourself puzzling through? Spoiler alert! It’s been unpuzzled, and if you are participating as directed you will come across myriad possible conclusions, including your own. Any thought you were developing has already been written out- short form and long form- by literally hundreds, even thousands, of your classmates. So that “participate in the forums” part of passing the class? Maybe you’ve got something new to add, Genius, but me? Yeah, ain’t nothing I can add that’s not already in there a hundred times over, and more clearly and eloquently expressed than anything you’d ever wring out of me.

Presenting an idea or question first isn’t necessarily an ideal solution either, however, as whatever you have to ask or add will be met by the same trollish horseshit (please pardon my French, Christie) addressed above.

For example (using actual quotes from discussions in the Facebook forum) (I know I know the Facebook forum is not the official forum):

Classmate A: (Fascinating, thought-provoking musings, questions, and insight into today’s assigned reading.)

Classmate B: (Thoughtful reply offering up gratitude, further exploration, and new questions.)

Troll: poor Emily [Dickinson], she couldn’t even imagine that her brilliant poetry will be dissected into small bones and this brilliant monolithic poem will be broken into separate words…God..poor Emily. dig, dig dig with dissection her poetry, losing it’s spirit…dig to nowhere..good luck :) Could you be so kind and tell the meaning of this popem using two sentences ?

Classmate A: (Two sentence reply offering a well-constructed summary of the piece.)

Troll: I have asked to depict , to show your idea using two senteces.Sorry, I will not even read this. good luck. how to say the truth in a soft way , in rush way : you are daun and stupid. How it will be on your opinion with YOUR interpretation of E.D. how to tell truth to people ? LOL, know what wanted Emily Dickinson? have you been on spiritualistic seance with E.D. ? I have asked you a very concrete question and wait your answer on it

Classmate B: I am going to assume that you are not meaning to be rude, since English is not your first language. However, your previous comments are coming across as extremely rude and insulting.

Troll: I have already blocked about 5 idiots, who are really mentally retarded))..I am just enjoying of stupiiidity, reading all this ))) what are you doing with E.D. brillian poetry I am FRANK and complitely DIRECT

See, now that’s your problem right there: You’re a mentally retarded idiot whose replies are stupiiid and you are unable to deal with fellow classmates who are simply being frank and direct with you.

I’m sorry, but who wants to participate in a discussion when trolls are interrupting conversations, derailing threads, mocking fellow participants, and decrying attempts to dissect poems even though THAT IS THE POINT OF THE CLASS?

I don’t mean to say the environment is always this hostile. While there is certainly a sad abundance of awkwardly inappropriate participants (here’s lookin’ at you, Facebook trolls), there is also a tremendous number of people in this course who present such brilliant ideas and feedback it’s a wonder they’re not teaching their own poetry classes.

I do mean to say I think a classroom- whether IRL or online- is not the place for this sort of behavior and my personal opinion is that participants like this, whether in official forums or officially sanctioned forums like the one on Facebook, should be given the ol’ heave-ho so they can stop wasting everyone’s time and making our “classroom” ugly every time they sit down at their keyboards.

And by “everyone,” I of course mean THIRTY-THOUSAND PEOPLE required to offer individual insight after reading thousands of others say what they were thinking.


2. Words, Words, Words

We recently received the question for our first essay writing assignment, and  have been advised that we are expected to write at least a 500 word response. 500 words? Awesome. Short, sweet, to the point. A totally reasonable expectation.

For the students, that is.

‘Cause that’s 500 words (minimum) x 30,000 students for a potential total of at least 15,000,000 words being turned in for this assignment. Assuming an average reading speed of 250 words per minute, it would take 60,000 minutes, or 1,000 hours just to read all the essays if every student participates as directed, let alone the time required to weigh in on them. For comparison’s sake, there are 168 hours in a week, during which time the professor and the TAs are also expected to participate in the forums; prepare, administer, and grade quizzes; record, edit, and upload videos of themselves discussing the assigned readings; and teach and attend other classes.


If Coursera has developed a way to make this work, that’s great. And probably also magical. But I can’t help feeling like this is a an implausible load to lay on any professor, regardless of the subject matter. Regardless, even, of the fact that this isn’t an actual college class offering college credit. I almost feel like I need to offer my condolences with each essay I turn in, along with links to stress relief tips and pictures of the candles I’ve lit for the TAs.

One alternative is that there is no actual expectation that the profs and TAs will read all the essays, but in that case I find myself scratching my head about the point of requiring the assignments in the first place. Sure it gets students thinking about the subject matter, and who doesn’t benefit from a directed writing exercise? Lord knows I do! But why bother developing the infrastructure of tracking assignments when most of them will, of necessity, go completely by the wayside? I wouldn’t call it an exercise in futility, necessarily, but perhaps a warm-up…

Another alternative is that they’re counting on most of the students to not fully participate. But that sure seems like a shaky bet around which to plan a semester in a system that is still being developed. And I’d rather believe they’re not banking on most of us slacking off, even though, ya’ know, we probably are. I mean– I know I am.

Third alternative: Peer evaluation? I just hope it’s the thoughtful students and not the trolls doing the evaluating…


Ah… but I still love poetry. I still love the idea of online learning. And I still want this class to work- for Coursera, for Filreis, and for me. So I’ll keep trying. I’ll return to the forums, dive into the boards (ignoring the fact that accusations of plagiarism have already garnered us an official memo on the subject), submit my essays to the (potential) void, and enjoy the fact that at the very least I tried something new and saw it to completion.

And I’m a big girl! I can flag the trolls and move on. I can enjoy essay writing for its own sake. I can even ignore the perpetual TMIers. (Hi! I’m Linda from Seattle and I’m deaf because of injuries I sustained when a co-worker pushed me in front of a car, which I forgave him for because my therapist says I’m trying to compensate for my uncontrollable flatulence and psychosomatic allergies to all animals, which just kills me because I have dedicated my life to rescuing animals and cannot imagine parting with my eight dogs, four cats, six rabbits, twelve birds, or my goat. Also I love poetry.) (That was neither a direct quote, nor an exaggeration.)

But for now I think probably the most realistic description of how I’ll use this course is as a passenger-seat test-drive of how this whole “online learning” thing works. I’ve got a busy weekend ahead of me, so the likelihood I’ll finish the essay on time is low, and as much as I enjoy being on the internet I have never gotten into forums or message boards, so the likelihood I’ll engage in that fashion is even lower. But for the price of Free? I’m up for a test drive.

Vroom vroom, Coursera…

ETA: A ModPo member just posted this link to a very positive, pro-Coursera write-up on edcetera. If you’re considering signing up for a class through Coursera, I’d strongly encourage you to check out this link. It discusses a lot of the strongest points of the Coursera format and will be sure to get you excited about your upcoming studies!

Women Crying Alone With Filing Cabinets

So first I was all:

But then I was all:


I was stumbling through Forbes when I saw the top image, which purportedly depicts a “leader” in the act of “keep[ing] a learner’s mind.” Clearly, right? I don’t know how it is where you’ve worked, but where I’ve worked “leaders” did not do their own filing.

A few minutes later I was at WiseBread skimming their advice on “How to Answer 23 of the Most Common Interview Questions” when I spotted the second image in an ad for Gold Peak Tea.

While I could get a giggle out of Women Laughing Alone With Salad, the images above I can actually relate to.

So how ’bout it, Internet: Can we make “Women Crying Alone With Filing Cabinets” A Thing?


ETA: Woohoo! We’re officially on our way to making this A Thing! I give you: Woman Crying Alone With Excel

Perhaps more accurately titled “Woman Crying Alone BECAUSE OF Excel”

Cum Incidere: Part 1

So I’m watching Season 3 of “Xena,” right? And I’m up to “Vanishing Act,” right? Bruce Campbell as the King of Thieves, Gabrielle fighting a bidding war over non-goo, Xena sporting a giant fake  mole…

I love this show.

But I can’t just watch TV. Not when there’s also: The Internet.

So while watching the show I’m cruising the web via StumbleUpon, jumping from page to page, pic to pic. I look up at the TV to see this moment with Autolycus…

…and look back at my laptop to see the image StumbleUpon has just loaded on my screen:

I love The Internet.

Here, There, and Everywhere

I know, I know– I’m terrible about updating regularly. Whoops. I’ll not buck that trend, however, by updating two days in a row. At least– not with anything real. I just wanted to pop up the links to three other blog projects I’m involved with.

(Here, There, and Everywhere)

For God

The first is a blog I got connected to while spending the month of August in Honduras with my grandma.

Original courtesy of Gary Larson. Edit courtesy of the Jesuits. ;)

It’s the blog of a couple who work with Arrow Child and Family Ministries (read more about Arrow here) in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. They had a blog they’d been trying to keep updated, but for anyone else out there who has ever tried to balance blog updates with the rigors of, you know, A FAST-PACED LIFE, keeping everything up to date can get a bit difficult sometimes.

Especially when you never know if you’ll have power that day, if the internet will still be accessible, if a military coup or union riot will flood your street and house with tear gas fumes…

After meeting this couple, Terry and Carol Mallasch, in person and learning more about their work in Honduras, I wanted to see if there was some way I could help them out. Since blogging is something I know, blogging is what I put on the table. And wouldn’t ya’ know they were actually interested in my offer? What is this world coming to…

You can check out their new blog (which includes all their older posts from their previous blog) at Mallasch Meditations. They’re up to some pretty neat stuff!

From “Real Simple” (click to view source page)

For Gluten

The other blog I’m doing stuff with right now is the brain child of one Laura Jane Roland, who is going gluten and sugar free for the month of September, all while blogging about said adventure. Figuring other folks might be interested in getting in on the fun, she sent out an invitation to a bunch of us asking if we wanted to participate.

Erm… no. No I do not want to go gluten or sugar free. (Though Lord knows I could probably stand to…) But I’ll sure write about it!

Enter: Coarse and Unrefined.

From “Real Simple” (click to view source page)

So far I’ve only written one post for it (Brass Tacks And How To Get On Down To ‘Em), but I’ve got a visit to a gluten-free store in my notes and camera memory, so there’s another one a’comin’.


When this gol’ durned laziness leaves me be.

So possibly never.

There are some pretty great writers involved in this project, so if you’re looking for info on what it’s like living without one, or both, of these major components of the standard North American diet, this blog’s worth looking into. Some of the writers are gluten intolerant, some have other dietary concerns, and some are just gluttons for punishment who think the idea of a gluten and sugar free September sounds like a great way to jump into Fall. Crazy, I know, but it seems to work- both in real life and in the blog.


For Gabrielle

A couple friends of mine from… back east.

I wanted to collect all my dream related blogs and cross post them into a totally separate blog.

So I did: ‘Til Sunbeams Find You.

Aside from the most recent post (it’s somewhat of a spoiler for the series finale of a Xena, so proceed with caution if you think you might ever watch it) they are all entries that were originally posted here, so for regular readers of this blog it’ll all be nothing new.
And please ignore the “categories” when you get there. I think something funky may’ve happened to them during the export/import process. I hid ’em on the main page to cut down on the very weird resulting clutter, but I didn’t do anything yet to actually *fix* the problem…

A Sexy, Star-Studded Wordle

WordPress keeps tabs for you on what terms people search for in Google that bring them to your blog.

I am a big fan of

Slap those two together and: Ta-Da…


Above is a word art image I created by pasting in every celebrity and “blue”  search term that has brought people to my blog into the “Create” box at It’s interesting to me to see what people are looking for, and who they’re looking for, from the seeming privacy of their home computers. It’s a strange thing being able to take a peek at that. For reference’s sake I’ve included a copy of the “pasted searches” in list format below. Fascinating.

And not just a little creepy.

And for those of you wondering: The bulk of the search terms (647 total as of the date of this post) that bring people to my blog have to do with ferrets, dunlap syndrome, theatre, names of people I’ve acted with, and quotes from Carrie, Death at a Funeral, Hellboy 2, and Waiting For Guffman.

Yep. My blog’s a veritable treasure trove of information on the tippiest toppiest of intellectual pursuits.

Without further ado, the list I used to create the above image:

aishwarya rai
beer girl images
belly flab (exact search appears 3 times)
boob growth videos
flat chest
flat chest girl
forgi sex
girl belly flab
girl naked outside
heavy legs
hot hot body image
itchy pantyhose (exact search appears 5 times)
jake gyllenhaal
jennifer aniston (exact search appears 2 times)
jessica alba exposed
jessica alba my space
jessica alba naked
jessica alba sex
jessica alba sex wallpapers
jessica alba wallpaper
jessica alba xxx (exact search appears 5 times)
jessica aniston bare arms
jessica de alba
karen kay 3rd shift
karen kay third shift
karen kay third shift pictures
kyra sedgwick
megan fox (exact search appears 2 times)
megan fox acne scars (exact search appears 7 times)
megan fox has bad acne scars
megan fox peoplepost
megan fox unclothed
megan fox’s picseries
nude flat chested females
nude photos karen kay third shift
omg jessica alba
pantyhose (exact search appears 7 times)
pantyhose and boots
pantyhose in the shower
pantyhose itchy
pantyhose or tights or stockings or nylons
pantyhose required
pantyhose zoey
porn page
see through shirt jessica alba
sex xxx jessica alba
show free clips of women wearing jeans so tight a guy can hardly put his hand inside them
skinny actresses (exact search appears 2 times)
street harassment
super-skinny naked lesbians
third shift karen kay
tori spelling (exact search appears 5 times)
totally nude girls
undressed women porn pics
xxx wallpapers
xxx wallpapers of actress
zoey deschanel (exact search appears 8 times)

For a total of: 1 search a piece for Aishwarya Rai, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Kyra Sedgwick; 2 for Jennifer Aniston (+ 1 for “Jessica” Aniston); 4 for Karen Kay (the sports radio announcer, I’m assuming, and not the romance novel author); 5 for Tori Spelling; 9 for Zoey Deschanel; 13 for Megan Fox; 15 for Jessica Alba; and 18 for pantyhose

I think it’s interesting to note that when searching for Megan Fox, arguably to many the most attractive person on this list, people are searching for her in conjunction with alleged physical blemishes (ie. acne scars) more than half the time (8 out of 13 searches). What does this say about “we the searchers”? Thoughts? Opinions?

You are collectively my “It’s Complicated”

Shot a… um… a “thing” today for a health show on Lifetime, but I’m sleepy and it’s not a terribly exciting story so I’ll save it for later. In fact- I’m saving everything for later. Screw story, screw format, screw points of interest. Bah! Bah, I say! I’m here, it’s late, I’m exhausted but still up. Time to traverse the web and bring back links for my readers and friends.

Will the links be awesome?


Should you like them just because I did?

Of course.

Is our friendship effectively over if you don’t visit at least two of the links provided?


And so it begins…

College Humor

The first few links are from, an exceptionally funny site. But no fair following these links and getting distracted by other links on their page. You’ll leave the rest of the links here feeling all left behind and lonely… and unwanted… and unloved… and a little fat…

Viral Video Politician: “A Presidential candidate does his best to get views for his video.”

If The Other Party Wins: “One thing’s for sure: the person you disagree with is going to ruin the country.”

Hardly Working: The New Girl: “Facebook changes everything.”


Moving right along to my second love (after Barraco’s), is YouTube. Ah YouTube. Eternal fount of all things embeddable and mind-numbing.

Tiny Tim singing Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”

Shuga Lee Lewis singing Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Great Balls of Fire”

I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I laughed at and enjoyed that second one. And I didn’t even forward through it. Heck no. Watched the whole thing. Twice.

“A mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound”

Our Tax System Explained: Bar Stool Economics: “Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…”

Milton Friedman discussing the concept of Greed on Donahue in ’79

The American Recession as Explained By a Canadian: “Much like breasts, economies can never be too large, which is why it’s important that they’re always slowly growing, and one of a few reasons why we’re so disappointed that breasts don’t.”

And so we can end this blog entry joining together in a few moments of “Holy. Freaking. Crap.”: Smart People Stuff…

Science and Technology

The Ghost In Your Genes: Basically says that stuff you do may find a way into your genes and get passed on to the kiddies. Wowza.

Children’s Faces As They Play Video Games: Minus any commentary from me one way or the other, or advocating or denouncing anything from the article itself, I’m including this link for the sole purpose of linking you to this kinda crazy video footage.

What Color Eyes Would Your Children Have?: I think this is how I’m going to determine who I have kids with- you know, in the event that I should decide I’m a sadist- so I’m guaranteed to have green eyed offspring. Because let’s be honest here: Don’t green eyes rock harder than any other eye color?

That’s it. I’m all learned/laughed out. You’re on your own from here.

I less than 3 you, Peter Zarafield

i *heart* you tremendously, Zar. I can’t help it. And this entry? It’s totally for you.

So I’m at home on a Friday night, right? I called, texted, and emailed like 11 people to see if anyone was free to get together this evening and nada. Everyone’s either at home doing family stuff, doing school stuff, not really up for going out, out with other people, out of the area, or not responding.



Got my ramen. Got my Sam’s Club Cola. Got the knocking and thumping of my noisy new upstairs neighbors. Got my walrus. What to do? What to do…


su-one-more1So I Stumbled. A *lot.* And I mean a WHOLE FRICKIN’ AWFUL LOT. Having finally completed watching every episode available on YouTube of Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit!,” showering (unrelated), garnering my highest score to date in Word Challenge on Facebook, and responding to at least half of the emails piled up in my inbox that I just keep not getting to, what the heck else is there to do?

Besides write.

Or read a book.

Or finish the dishes.

Or sort my laundry.

Or bag stuff for Goodwill.

I Stumbled Upon a QDB quote and I usually just laugh at them and move on, but tonight I actually bothered to visit the main page and check out the Top 50 and 1337 pages and I literally roared at a few of them. Roared and thought of my friend Peter. My dear, dear, ridiculously awesome friend Peter. So Peter? These are for you…

Quote #1: This one actually reminds me more of another friend of mine with whom I’m waging a constant battle of attempting to prove I’m not as predictable as he claims. If only he was wrong…

JimBob2814: I actually tried Superman 64
JimBob2814: yes, it is.
Rawlsaur: Is it actually as bad as they say?
Rawlsaur: …
JimBob2814: no, you’re just predictable
Rawlsaur: Are you psychic or something?
Rawlsaur: …
JimBob2814: NO I WON’T
Rawlsaur: …
JimBob2814: haha

Quote #2

(@eliaz`medal): i have broken two of my erm
(@eliaz`medal): foot things
(@eliaz`medal): extensions
(@eliaz`medal): those little thigns on ur feet
(@eliaz`medal): 5 on each ::
(@eliaz`medal): :/
(@eliaz`medal): dunno name
(@Ched): toes?

Quote #3

Commander_598: Heath Ledger dead.
Kroko: …what
Kroko: are you serious
Commander_598: Assuming CNN Headline News isn’t just making things up.
Latis: No, he’s dead.
Kroko: holy crap he is
Baconfish: have they finished making batman yet?
Kroko: yes
Kroko: I think
happydud: imdb lists Batman as in post-production
Baconfish: phew
Latis: awesome. We’re safe guys.

Quote #4

<Tomm> … I am speechless.
<Tomm> I was randomly watching Youtube stuff when I saw a link to Never Gonna Give You Up
<Tomm> And I thought to myself… “Hey, that’s a cool song, and I haven’t heard it in a while”
<Tomm> So I clicked it
<Tomm> …Chocolate Rain.