Monday, June 30, 2008

Current Status

Hair: short

Knee: scraped

Ankle: sprained

So far I've read 3,159 pages and hit a top speed of 60 mph on Mary's motorcycle1. Thanks to Sarah for taking me to the pool with her kids, but despite the time in the sun...

Farmer's tan: still completely ridiculous

1 Sorry for crashing your bike, Mer-ber-her.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I've had the urge lately to be in an embarrassing commercial involving medicine or a hygiene product. You know what I'm talking about, something for Pepcid AC or Preparation H, or even a public service announcement for gonorrhea or something. Maybe a Gas-X commercial, something where my ability to make believable faces would help get the job.

Before, I thought about how humiliating that would be—there's a Seinfeld episode or something where someone gets on a poster for a disease and then all their friends think they have it. But now I think I would love it. I could tell all my friends to come over for the big premier (though I wouldn't tell them what I'd done the commercial for—we could take bets), and then, right in the middle of the commercial break after Double Jeopardy and before Final Jeopardy, there I'd be in living color, shooting hoops with the guys. I'd shoot and miss, and instead of going for a rebound I'd turn to the camera and confess that it's hard to play while constipated, but with new Ex-Lax® Maximum Strength laxitive, I'm getting prescription strength relief without a prescription. Cut to a computer-generated diagram of the medicine actually working in my bowels and a brief description of the possible side effects, and then back to me with a heartfelt testimonial about how important it is for me to stay regular, what with my active lifestyle. Then I'd post up, grab the pass, and sink a three-pointer.

I don't think I'd be embarrassed by that anymore. On the contrary, I'd crack up; I'd be proud of it. I'd learn all the facts about the product and spout them off whenever I got the chance, prescribing it to all my friends at the slightest provocation.

I just put this in because every post looks better with a picture. This is my brother's bike, which he sent me so I could begin training for my century ride. One day I saw a fox, and another day I almost ran over a five-foot-long snake.

What changed? When did I cease to be embarrassed by myself so much? As a kid I would gladly have died before putting myself out there like that. Not that I thought about being in Viagra commercials (not that they had them), but I did think about, oh, say dancing. Just the thought of dancing in public terrified me to no end. I don't know that I've ever had as much angst as I did in the weeks leading up to the 8th grade dance. Now I always want to watch Harry Potter 4 for no other reason than that it has a middle school dance in it and I love to feel that anxiety again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Here's how it all turned out:

I got to admit, it was even more fun than I anticipated. Dave and I got really into analyzing the players' styles and strategies, and when we had everyone over for a barbeque to watch the final two matches it was off the hook. The wagering in the final game was heroic, and Andrew redeemed himself poetically after engendering hatred among us viewers.

Next year it's going to be even bigger, even better.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer of Tough

Welcome to the Summer of Tough.

I got no rules, no responsibilities, no income. No job. I'm just chilling in Texas at my parents house for the summer, which you think would be sissy, but no way. I got a big list of awesome things to do—tough things—things to do just for doing.

One of em is to read 10,000 pages, which is about all of these books:

I'm plotting my progress on a giant thermometer graph I drew and hung on my wall.

Here are some of the others (I'm taking requests, if you think of anything)
  • Ride a hundred miles on a bike in one day
  • Hold my breath for 90 seconds
  • Do 20 chin-ups
  • Draw every day
  • Write every day
  • Learn Adobe CS3
  • Learn to ride a motorcycle (I got my permit today)
  • Learn to shoot a gun
I also want to go camping or hiking or to a waterpark or the beach or something rad like that, or all of those together, but I'm not sure if anyone will go with me. Also I'd like to do something tough like take cold showers every day, but since they remodeled the bathroom upstairs it doesn't really do cold very well.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


The other night, as I told you, I jumped into bed to read the final story in The Amazing Adventures of Father Brown. The story was called "The Blast of the Book." I found it to be an apt parable.

In the story, Professor Openshaw, a skeptic scientist who debunked local psychics for fun, was stumped when a visitor arrived at his office and told him of a magic book that made people disappear. Apparently this man had seen the book in action in Africa when it made a friend of his disappear, and he was now in the process of bringing it back to its owner, but he thought he would bring it to Openshaw first since he was such a well-known destroyer of superstitions and myths. Openshaw agreed to look at the book, but when they went back out to the clerk's office where he had left the book, they found the book on the desk, unwrapped, and the clerk gone!

Eventually three more people disappear and poor Openshaw is frantic that he can't explain how this book can really be magic. That's where Father Brown steps in and helps crack the case. I won't tell you how he does it, but I'll tell you the last thing Brown says about it—they're the last lines in the book, actually. Openshaw asks Father Brown, "Did you never feel just a momentary awe of that awful volume?"

"Oh that," said Father Brown. "I opened it as soon as I saw it lying there. It's all blank pages. You see, I am not superstitious."

Ha ha! One point for all good Catholics! And, more importantly, one point for all good readers, for those who aren't afraid of books!

How often are people afraid of a good book on the grounds that it's too big or has too few pictures or that they don't have enough time? How often do we refuse to pick up the book that intrigues us because we feel bound by the book that obligates us? Openshaw was afraid he too might disappear, but Father Brown shows us that there's no need to worry—what's so bad about disappearing into a good book?

As a kid I was always intimidated by books I thought were out of my age group. When Liz was reading Lord of the Flies and got me hooked on the premise, rather than grab a copy myself I fretted that I wasn't "old enough" for a high schooler's book. When Jen showed me the very cool covers of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that were in our house—that had always been in our house—I was too scared to try them out because they were thick and there were four of them.

What's the worst that could've happened to me? I could've read them for 15 minutes and then tossed them aside, bored. Why was I superstitious about only reading books I considered to be at my age level? Why be afraid of chapters or pages or reputations? So much time lost.

Well no more. I'm a book slayer now. You should be too.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Where is Shannon When I Need Her?

So this morning I'm working on an annotated bibliography that's due early this afternoon. I've got to get it done because I have meetings with students soon and there just isn't any time left.

So why do I feel like dancing? It's pretty early in the day, I'm in my pajamas still, and it's thunderstorming outside. We put on Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" and watched out the window for a few minutes, and now all I want to do is dance dance dance.

Here is what I'd be dancing to right now if I wasn't busy getting annotated.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My House

Looks like this:

I sit and type out these blog entries by that second floor window on the left.


So, you think all us English majors just sit around and read books all day, huh? Well think again.

Some of us write, sometimes. And sometimes, some of that writing gets submitted someplace. And sometimes, some of that submitted writing gets accepted and published.


And that time is today! In case you aren't a subscriber to The Religious Educator and thus missed my recent article on the history of the Richard L. Evans Chair for Religious Understanding, you can still see proof that I, David Grover, am a writer...


Check out my very short essay entitled "Second Coming" in the new issue of the online literary magazine JuiceBox. Many thanks to Jes for both choosing it and helping me with the ending.

And to all you naysayers: I can still beat your butts at Tetris, so watch out.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Great Day

Yesterday was a very, very good day.

It all started when I woke up and went to church. It was a good week for church, and it helped that I took along a piece of paper on which I had printed out a 15x15 table, which I intended to use in making my very own crossword puzzle. It was great—not only was it fun (and hard) to fit letters into all the spaces, but it helped keep me awake and aware to the various speakers and lessons (much like doodling does for students).

Just as Joey was dropping me off from church, I saw Dave and Megan heading out for JSK's party, and they invited me to come along. I changed clothes and we took a cooler full of orange Crush out to the country, halfway between Guysville and Coolville, to her beautiful house in the hills above Lottridge. There we met friends, continued work on the puzzle, played frisbee, ate hamburgers and hotdogs and incredible potato salad, and looked out over the beautiful Ohio country. Delightful.

But it doesn't stop there. On the way back, Dave dropped me off at Kate's for the Young SIngle Adult Break-fast (I got a nap in in the car). There I found a full page of puzzles in the Columbus Dispatch and got busy; by the time we left I had completed (with help from many) the large crossword, the Jumble, the Cryptoquip, and the other jumble, and I had made a mess of the quintuple sudoku. And I had read my horoscope, which was surprisingly accurate.

We ate Mexican food, including the Barte secret family recipe of Corny Corn and lots of lemon bars.

After dinner, I played Kate's 5th-grader little brother in a game of memory. You remember that game, right? With the cards you flip over and match?1 Well this was a Monsters, Inc. version of the game, and I must say it was the worst possible incarnation. First off, the cards were not square; they were a festively skewed box-shape, kinda like Arkansas. Secondly, instead of having lots and lots of nicely different pictures to match, it only had the same fourish pictures repeated dozens of times with very, very minor changes. No joke, there was a pair with the one-eyed guy with his hands on his hips (?) and a nearly identical pair with his hands in the air. Then there was a pair with one hand in the air and one hand on his hips. This went on for every character (there's really only three), so what we ended up with was headache.

But I won.

Next I played Battleship against Kate herself. It was pretty fun forcing her to make explosion sounds whenever I got one of her ships, but I was making plenty of them myself. After a hard fought battle, I also won this game, sinking her battleship last of all.

Then a bunch of us played Settlers of Catan in what turned out to be the weirdest match ever. I won't bore you with the details, but you should know I bought 16 development cards since I pretty much couldn't do anything else. It went on for several hours, it seemed, but I eventually won with an army of 9 soldiers and the longest road, but only four settlements (no cities).

Then I came home with a tupperware full of homemade salsa and talked a bit to Dave and Megan while I sipped my fourth and final orange Crush of the day. All told, thats

  • 2 parties,
  • 2 free meals,
  • 1 puzzle created,
  • 4 puzzles solved,
  • 3 games won, and
  • 4 orange Crushes.
What a day.

A fourth and final orange Crush

1 In my family we just called this the matching game.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


So today Dave and I were watching MSNBC's coverage of some committee's deliberations about primary votes in Florida. Well, Dave was watching that; I was doing crosswords on my DS with a big dictionary in my lap. We heard a mass of sirens roll by a few streets away, but honestly, that's not such a big thing for a Saturday late afternoon in our small town, so we didn't think anything of it. I was more worried about an 8-letter word for "doesn't go along."

Until Dave's phone rang.

It was our dear friend [codename], who briefly explained that the sirens were on his account, that his car had caught fire in the Lowe's parking lot and that he needed a ride home for his wife and kids. Dave said I'd be there in a jiffy and threw me the keys to his Malibu (he wasn't about to miss the imminent voting). I filled a bell-pepper orange bowl full of peanut butter ice cream and jumped in the car, off to the rescue.

As I pulled into the Lowe's parking lot I wondered what it would be like to shop around a hardware store eating a bowl of ice cream. Does anyone do that? Would the workers there ask you to step out or anything?1 I was only there for a quick rescue, so I didn't find out. The girl at the returns desk, where I found my friend and his fam, was a little incredulous. "Is that ice cream?" she asked, and then shrugged as I smiled.

Short story: I got the wife and kids home while [codename] waited for the wrecker to come tow his car. He said he would call her for a ride from the shop in a few minutes. I loaned him my gameboy in the meantime, just in case, and, having done my duty, started home. As I was waiting at an intersection, however, a wrecker towing [codename]'s car drove by (and pretty much ran the red light), so I decided to follow them to the shop and preempt his wife having to come pick him up. I couldn't think of a way to get his attention though, and I worried that he would call her on his cell phone in the meantime. I even saw him pull out his phone, but there was nothing I could do.

When we got to the shop a minute later, I parked and walked over to where [codename] was paying the guy in the deserted parking lot. Boy was he surprised to see me, and he said he'd called Dave for a ride and that Dave was waiting for me to get home so he could pick up [codename]. But I was already there! I felt like a spy, man, or a flippin' ninja.

Well, the fire almost ruined [codename]'s day, and the cost of towing his car came out of the grill fund (the reason he was at Lowe's in the first place), but it all turned out fine in the end. Instead of chowing down on flame-kissed pork chops from a grill, he ordered chicken pesto pizza and we watched various Netflix.

And I got to feel like a hero: I was there when I was needed, I had ice cream when it was needed, I had a gameboy when it was needed, and I got pizza as a reward. The only thing I could've done better was to have my camera handy for insurance claims shots. Oh well, next time.

1 Speaking of things out of place, the other day I was teaching my class when I noticed B, one of my students, holding a large metal bowl and a metal spoon. Food in class isn't out of the ordinary, but real dishes and silverware are a little weird, since they don't come out of vending machines. I stopped mid-sentence while I took in the scene—there was a half-gallon jug of milk on his desk as well. I gave him a quizzical look, to which he responded, "Fruity Pebbles" and raised up a box of cereal that was sitting on the floor by his bag.