Friday, December 31, 2010

Trivial tidbits, New Year's Eve edition

Get out your pointy, rubber chin-strapped, party hat.  Warm up your paper blow horn.  Dust off your dancing shoes.

It's New Year's Eve!

Regardless of how you celebrate:  watching the ball drop in Times Square (or from your couch), partaking in all you can eat and drink offers at a local bar, or staying safe at home, surrounded by friends and loved ones (or completely alone), odds are you will end the evening with a toast and a kiss and a song.  More precisely, this song:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

In honor of acquaintances, old and new, I bring you today's trivia:

Who wrote the 10-stanza poem from which the above verses are drawn?

And today's bonus trivia:  Which Young Guns movie includes a scene where the boys return home from a New Year's Eve celebration to find one of their own murdered?

I will drink two tequila rose shots in honor of the winner of today's trivia questions.  Good luck! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Any other name

Braden and I saw Gulliver's Travels starring Jack Black with some friends this week.  All-in-all, the movie was good.  Of course, it took poetic (and oftentimes dramatic) license to the novel written by Jonathan Swift in 1726, but Swift may very well have appreciated Black's unique flair.

What bothered me about the movie was the leading lady's name:  Darcy Silverman.  Each time another character spoke her name, it caught me off-guard.  Because Darcy is rather unique, it is always odd to hear it used frequently in public places by someone other than my family and friends directing it toward someone other than myself.  In my life, I have known one other real Darcy; we worked together in college and have invariably lost track of each other since the employment ended oh so many years ago.  I occasionally hear tales of "a Darcy I knew in high school" when people learn my name, which further supports how unique it is to be named Darcy.  (I hardly imagine that Sarahs are often met with a similar response.  After all, who didn't know a Sarah in high school.)  Literary Darcys don't bother me so much.  Maybe this is because it is common for me to see my name written, but hearing it repeated in movies and television shows is odd.

And so I wonder, does anyone else feel this way or am I alone in this peculiar trait?

(And yes, I am aware of the name theme of the past few blogs.  That's just what's on my mind right now.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The TBR Dare

My friend C.B at Ready When You Are, C.B. has challenged his followers to a reading dare to start the new year.  It's a non-threatening resolution, of sorts.  No grueling counting of calories consumed or burned.  No daily search for inner peace and acceptance.  No unattainable goals of any kind.  Instead, you simply read.  Confused?  Seek out the details here.  But I'm all in.  You should be, too.

Trivial tidbits, week eleven

My parents named me after Darcy Farrow, the tragic heroine of a John Denver song by the same name.  My brother after William B. Travis, commander of the regulars who defended the Alamo against Santa Anna.  My sister's name was a favorite from the dictionary.

I don't know about other parents, but I felt a lot of pressure when it came to naming my son.  Everyone, even strangers, rang in with their favorite suggestions.  His middle name, Samuel, was known with certainty.  Finding a first name that was unique, yet not bizarre, fitting of a future Senator or musician, equally masculine and poetic, that flowed with Samuel Cearley, proved more difficult.  Momentarily driven by a family pattern connected to the alphabet, Braden was almost Eldridge or Eli.  Eldridge lost out when my mom suggested we call him Ridge for short.  (I've always believed that you name your child what you wish him to be called, not something you later morph into a nickname.  I believe I subconsciously learned this from my step-mom, whose kids are Mandy and John, not Amanda and Jonathon.)  Eli haunted me because of a former student with the same name.  Being a teacher further plagued the naming process because every name associated itself with another experience.  However, I decided to twist the teacher-name association situation into a positive one for naming my son.  After much creative thinking, I constructed Braden, who is named after Ben, Rashad, Aaron, Dusty, and Stephen respectively.  These students embody the very qualities I want in my son as he reaches his teenage years (and further into adulthood).  While we have encountered several boys named Braden since his birth, only one other shares his spelling, and I am certain none came by their name as uniquely as Braden Samuel Cearley.

In honor of naming rituals (and as a belated holiday blog), I bring you today's trivia:

What other names were considered for the red-nosed reindeer before his parents settled on Rudolph?

The winner of today's trivia challenge gets to listen to Braden play "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" on the piano.

And if you're willing, share your naming story with me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trivial tidbits, week ten

My new guilty pleasure:  The Sing Off

I know this confession makes my friend Mr. Brame cringe, but I cannot help it.  The Sing Off compliments my Glee obsession, filling my heart with song.

In a world of reality shows where human nature displays its ugliness in shiny glory, and backstabbing, betrayal, and brutality defeat simplicity, sincerity, and sensibility, The Sing Off is refreshing.  The competition entails a cappella groups, mostly comprised of relative unknowns (not has-been performers like Dancing With the Stars), competing for the title of "The Best Music Group in the World" (or something equally hyperbolic) and a recording contract with Sony records.  The competition is brief, lasting only four weeks, but Braden and I watch the performances with racing hearts, rooting for our favorites, invigorated by the talent.  Braden aspires to sing a cappella in college like the Whiffenpoofs and On the Rocks; I wonder why I let my voice go.  (Not that I was ever truly a talented singer, but a girl can dream.)

My favorite group:  the Whiffenpoofs.  Why?  Because of their adorably geeky, unique style.  Sadly, this a cappella group, which hails from Yale, was eliminated last night. On the first episode, one member of the Whiffenpoofs claimed that the original Whiffenpoofs, established in 1909, "created a cappella".  (I believe he intended to say they started collegiate a cappella, but this is pure assumption on my part.)  Piqued about the origin of collegiate a cappella, I decided to research the plausibility of this claim.

During my investigation, I discovered that the Whiffenpoofs were not the first collegiate a cappella group; however, they are the longest running.  I also unearthed lots of juicy details about collegiate a cappella from Harvard to Berkley.  In celebration of musical geekiness, I bring you today's trivia:

Which college is home to the first all-female collegiate a cappella group?

 The winner of today's trivia gets to hear me sing!  Good luck!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reasons to love Missouri, part one

My brother loves Missouri--not just the people, but the actual territory that its people occupy.  It's a deep-rooted allegiance nearly impossible to describe in words, especially by someone such as myself who cannot understand such unconditional devotion to an inanimate object unable to return the affection.

If I were to vest Georgia the state against Missouri the state, Georgia's windless, red-clayed, pine tree-lined Southern charm wins hands down.  (I can hear Travis' exacerbated grumbles even as I type.) 

If I were to vest Georgia's people against Missouri's people, I am at a near draw.  I spent ten years in Georgia building relationships and memories with its people--relationships more formidable than a Missouri winter--and while the majority of those people are not joined to me by a DNA double helix, they are family to me.  However, I would not be back in Missouri--a state I am not sure I love--if not for the love of my brother (and the others too numerous to name).  This nudges Missouri slightly ahead in the tally.

Although I returned to the state of my youth to return to the fold,  I am in constant search of reasons for liking Missouri other than familial comfort.  One such reason presented itself to me on a recent episode of "Modern Family," a television comedy that actually makes me laugh.
Missouri's much more cosmopolitan than you give it credit for.  It's got a vibrant cowboy poetry scene.

And so, as I continue my search for reasons to love Missouri, I wonder if I have the voice for cowboy poetry?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trivial tidbits, week nine

Apple pie.  Baseball.  The Stars and Stripes.  Oh yes, these things are pseudonymous with America.  But do you know what's more American than these?

Grilled cheese.

Seriously, who doesn't love grilled cheese?  If McCarthy were still investigating Communist behavior, disliking grilled cheese might be seen as suspicious.  Plus, the numbers don't lie.  According to a NY-based research firm, 2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches are consumed annually in America alone.  Imagine the total world-wide?

Braden and I had grilled cheese for dinner tonight, hence the inspiration for this trivial tidbit.  His, white bread and American cheese, a standard for purists like him; mine, American and provel on 7-grain, my version of gourmet; both, meltiness that reminded me of my youth.  Last Sunday afternoon,  my mom made my sister and I grilled cheese for lunch.  It was the first grilled cheese she had made for me since I don't remember when; yet eating it, burnt edges and all, I felt 8 years-old again.

Add a bowl of tomato soup (and when possible a chilled American brew) and leave the worries of the day behind.

In New Haven, Connecticut, The Caseus Cheese Truck serves gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to students at Yale.  On the one occasion my Chaucerian Elizabeth and I found its location, a line of people gathered and waited in the rain for their unique twists on mom's old stand-by.  It was well worth the wait, soggy shoes and all.  (In my next life, the one where I have disposable income, I will own a cheese truck.  Don't live near New Haven, but want to eat cheese grilled in a truck?  No need to despair, you can also find grilled cheese trucks in Boston, Portland, and Chicago.)

And if you're truly crazy for the gooey deliciousness, consider attending the Grilled Cheese Invitational held every April in L.A.

But what I really want to know, however, is who do we have to thank for this slice of Americana?  Who invented the grilled cheese sandwich as we know--and love--it today?

The winner of today's Trivial Tidbit gets to make me a grilled cheese sandwich.  Good luck!