Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Upon This Blog

My mom says this blog is a constantly-updating personal ad.

My dad says this blog is practice for a future job at The New Yorker.

The auntourage says this blog is a great way to keep in touch.

Tolkien Boy, Optimistic, and mishkin27 say this blog is good reason to worry about me.

Shaant says this blog is both "stupid and kind of immoral," but likes to read it when I email him the entries.

Google says “this blog is” full of crap.

Merriam Webster says this blog is a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

Kaneeneenie says this blog is funny.

The SLO says this blog is redundant, as she's already heard all my stories.

I say this blog is my lifeline to people who can surf my drift, catch my wave, and pick up what I put down--or, in other words, to sanity.

So? What say ye that this blog is?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

One Out of Many

Part of my job here is to be a good, upstanding representative of America, to help counteract bad press. (Britney Spears, I'm looking at you here: knock it off!) While sometimes I'm great at this--"you think all Americans love free sex? Congress pays me to tell you otherwise!"--at other times I worry what sort of generalizations my school colleagues are going to make. I feel a list coming on.

If They Judge By Me, The Teachers Will Think All Americans...
  • firmly believe orange and pink match
  • are willing to sing Arabic pop songs if asked
  • maybe even dance to them
  • speak passable Indonesian, but with a tendency to over/misuse colloquial particles
  • wear big, dangly silver earrings
  • can talk really fast
  • can't tell left from right
  • gesticulate wildly while explaining things
  • go to strange churches who, it is rumored, sacrifice newborn babies and drink their blood
  • don't get offended when asked if they drink baby's blood every Sunday
  • say the word "rad" with a straight face
  • giggle every time anyone says "get off." Or "ball-peen hammer," but that doesn't happen nearly as often, more's the pity
  • read, on average, a book a day
  • act "flirtatious," which can also be translated as "vain"
  • wear a pen behind their ear
  • forget that said pen is behind their ear and start looking for another one
  • complain endlessly about waking up so early
  • drop the whiteboard marker every fifteen minutes or so
  • don't like durian
(Actually, that last one may be true.)

I feel sorry for my replacement next year. Whoever you are, I just want to say this: have fun singing and dancing in the teacher's room. Brush up on your Amr Diab, if you can. Though they also like church songs--have you ever been to Bible camp? Oh, and don't try durian. You won't like it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

That Was a Pretty Good Day.

Thursday, as I sat in the teacher's room bored out of my mind during my five non-teaching hours, a package arrived for me. It was the box containing pretzels and peanut butter M&Ms and an Iris Murdoch novel that Alea sent in November, arriving not only three months late but, alas, just late enough to be after Lent, which prohibits me from enjoying either the M&Ms or the novel. No matter: I was still overjoyed to see the box, particularly the pretzels, whose absence in my life I've been sorely feeling over the past seven months. I tried to restrain my excitement--Javanese culture places a high emphasis on the bridling of feelings, whether happy or sad, and the teachers already think I'm hilarious/downright strange for my highly expressive use of face and hands in conversation--but clearly failed, as the one teacher who was present when the package came then felt it necessary, later, to relay to all the others how, upon seeing the box, I jumped up and down and waved my arms about wildly. (I believe her exact words were, "She was like a crazy person." I, personally, would call it, at the most, skipping back and forth and maybe moving my forearms a bit, like a moderately happy person, but such are the dangers of intercultural communication.)

So the teachers teased me for a while about how unsuited I am for Javanese culture, and then, just as everyone was getting back to real work, or at least to pretending to really work, Ibu Maya, my favorite teacher, walked in, saw the box, and said, "Aha! The package from your ex-boyfriend!"

Chaos ensued. "Well, that's why she was so happy!" they all exclaimed. "It's not the food she wants, but her boyfriend!" I tried emphasizing to them ex-boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, but to no avail, and I had to endure the teasing to the end of the day. For the record, though, it was the food: I love you dearly, Alea, but I love pretzels more. Add peanut butter M&Ms to the mix, and you don't stand a chance.

And now, a mere two days later, the first bag of pretzels is completely gone. Though I have, I admit, eaten enough to make my tongue sting with salt, it's mostly because I offered the bag around the teacher's room as special souvenirs from America. (Or, um, Canada, but that's basically the same thing.) The teachers all eyed them warily at first, and those who were brave enough to eat a few spat them out in distate at the saltiness, until someone said, "hey, they look like little tree branches" and a giant lightbulb turned on for everyone all at once: "they're just like in Mr. Bean!" (There's an episode where Mr. Bean serves small tree branches to his guests to substitute for pretzels.) From then on it was a rush to the pretzel bag, with several teachers asking for extras to take home to their Mr. Bean-watching children. So the pretzels are gone, but, on the other hand, my stock in the teacher's room has never been higher. Maybe next time I can exchage snacks for teasing: "If I give you my peanut butter M&Ms, you have to stop asking me when I want to get married. Deal?" It'd be worth a shot.

(Note: not a chance. Those M&Ms, come Easter, are mine.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thank You, Hollywood

Miss Hannah: All right, today we're going to talk about how to give advice. Advice? Do you know that word? Nasihat. Who can tell me some phrases for giving advice?

Students: You had better...why don't you...I think you must...etc.

Miss Hannah: Good. Now what are some phrases we can use for accepting advice?

Students: Thank you....good idea...I'll go and do it right away...I think you're right...etc.

Miss Hannah: Excellent! Now what if we think it's bad advice? What can we say?

Students: I think I'll try something else...thanks anyway...that's a bad idea...etc.

Miss Hannah: Good. Now--

Andrew: Miss! Miss! I know something else you could say!

Miss Hannah: Yes?

Andrew: Shut up, asshole! Do you think I'm stupid? I wasn't born yesterday! No way I'm trying that! Now piss off!

Miss Hannah: nearly dies laughing

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rabu Abu

This morning, in honor of Ash Wednesday, whose Indonesian name, unfortunately, sounds more silly than sombre, I went to mass. Unlike a few years ago, when I casually dropped in on a Spanish-language session in Orem before my first class of the day, I did this one in proper Lenten mourning style: dragging myself out of bed at 4.30 A.M., I then walked for a half hour, in the dark and rain, to the city's cathedral, where I was too late to even get a seat and had to stand at the back, simulating a kneeling posture by just slightly bending my knees. I stayed through the sermon, a lovely homily reminding us all of Christ's sacrifice for us and its value in our lives, and even lined up to receive the ashes on my forehead (which, rather disappointingly, was closer to a smudge than a cross), but drew the line at partaking of the Eucharist--call me a wimp, but I think my childhood experience with being offered red grape juice as "blood of Christ" was too traumatizing to ever be repeated. Plus, I'm, um, not Catholic.

Be that as it may, I will be, as usual, honoring this Lenten season with a fast. This year's is intense: I'm giving up desserts, as always, but also English-language media, primarily novels, DVDs, crossword puzzles, and most websites. Basically, I'm giving up my sanity for Lent. Wish me luck.

If You're Happy And You Know It

I've been informed, after writing my last post, that, based on its content, those who love me might be worried. I'd like to clarify, then: I wrote the last post, not as a cry for help, but simply as a statement of fact: I've watched a lot of movies recently. And I've cried a lot while watching them.

That is not to say, though, that I'm sad. I love it here, I really do, and have at least one "I'm so glad I came" moment a day, even if it's only taking the chance to laugh at something ridiculous. But culture shock still manages to raise its ugly head, even through all that love, and sometimes--frequently, in the month of January, which for some reason was a particularly bad one--I just need to hide in my room, with my cell phone off and the DVD player on, and give vent to all the frustrations that build up from day to day, all the irritation I often feel at slow public transactions, naughty students, nosy neighbors, maids who pressure me to eat and then, while I'm eating, stand beside me and point at other things I should be eating, men who yell vulgar things at me on the street, men who yell "mister! mister! misTER!" at me on the street, hot weather, waking up early, gym employees who insist on standing two feet away from the treadmill and watching me jog, my total lack of independence, slow internet connections, flooded streets, languages I don't understand, jokes I don't get, indoor smoking in public places, constant stomach sickness, mud, trash, rats, and cockroaches.

Besides, if you look at my movie list, I'm not exactly choosing films of sunshine and light; even the happiest person might, I think, break down at murdered Jews, resistance fighters, airplane passengers, slum residents, nineteen-year-old girls, and Spanish children. So never fear, those who love me: I'm happy. And I know it. And for those who hate me, I'm sorry for this post. You may feel free to ignore it and go back to imagining me alone, in the dark, and crying my eyes at the totally curable testicular cancer of a fictional character. It beats therapy.

Monday, February 19, 2007

By the Rivers of Babylon

Movies I've Watched in the Last Few Months While Battling Culture Shock

(And My Reaction)

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
United 93
After the Wedding
Pan's Labyrinth
Schindler's List
The Queen
(teared up)
Fahrenheit 9/11
(sneered, teared up)
Looking For Comedy in the Muslim World
Look Both Ways
(laughed, cried)
(looked at the clock, cried)
The Squid And the Whale
(looked at the clock, fast-forwarded)
In America
(fast-forwarded, cried)
Children of Men
City of God
Mystic River

Most of the information I've read on culture shock lists one of the symptoms as "feelings of sadness, melancholy, or depression." Yeah, you think?

Let's just say I'm glad January is far behind me. Ayo, onwards and upwards to my happy ending!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Schrödinger's 10th Graders

Imagine this Gedankenexperiment, if you will: a class of tenth-grade EFL students working in groups are, while completing the task, either speaking English or not speaking English. Until the teacher moves closer to supervise their work, the students must be considered in a state of quantum superposition, in which the states of "speaking English/following directions" and "not speaking English/ignoring directions" overlap. It is therefore the observation of the teacher itself which affects classroom behavior and forces the students into a definite linguistic state.

(ps: I know this isn't really quantum theory at all. It should involve decaying nuclei and radioactive substances, but, much as I occasionally wouldn't mind forcing the students into a dead state, I don't think the principal would look kindly on hydrocyanic acid in the classroom.)

(pps: I'm kidding. I would never kill my students. I love the little brats dearly, even when they are in the state of "not speaking English/ignoring directions.")

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Philosopher Met a Girl...

...but things very quickly got too metaphysical.

...but she wasn't his Type.

...but she told him, 'Don't even Sartre. It'd be absurd."

...but she was all about meme, meme, meme.

...but she didn't want to hear about his thing-in-itself.

...and he didn't care about her personality, only her paradox.

...later, their breakup was Absolute.

...all she did was quine, quine, quine.

...and he wanted to try the Original Position but couldn't get behind her veil.

...after some time they broke up because he was too deep, when they talked.

...but she spurned him categorically.

...he introduced himself and she said, "Nice to Nietzsche."

...they decided to keep things Platonic.

...but she was a cheerleader so he had to stick to Ordinary Language.

...he said, "I'd love to date you but I'm Kant."

...he was hoping to explore action theory, but she thought it would be a Sinn.

...but she was a real Paine in the butt.

...even though they got closer and closer he could Zeno future together.

...her sign was sine qua non.

...he begged the question but she refused.

...she wanted to take a break and asked, "Do you mind?" "No," he replied, "It doesn't matter."


(credit where it's due: this was a joint effort between me and my dad. I won't tell you which ones are his and which are mine, except to say that if it's dirty, it's likely his, and if it's punny, it's likely mine.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Must Love Puns

Petra seeking rock-solid relationship to take a lode off her mind. Me: cleavage and a gneiss disposition. You: a boulder to lean on, neither animal nor vegetable, never full of schist--a real gem. Must enjoy a sedimentary lifestyle. Must not resent intrusions. If you don't take me for granite and bring me shear bliss, I'll gravel at your feet. Together we can study zones of orogeny and make the bed rock.

Moss gatherers need not apply.

The Year of Living Dangerously

(With apologies to Steve for stealing his title. Then again, he should probably apologize to Christopher Koch, so I don’t feel too guilty.)

Before flying to Sumatra, several weeks ago, I was consumed by a nagging sense of sorry and impending death, having opted to save $40 by flying the cheapest of the cheap airlines, which recently suffered a major crash due to mechanical failure. (Also, the main remnants of the plane are lost in Southern Sulawesi, probably permanently, with the airline steadfastly claiming, at first, that they had already found it, along with twelve survivors. They also claimed that the plane had crashed into a mountain, when it turns out it most probably exploded in mid-air. Real professional, guys.)

Of course, everything was fine when I actually got on the plane and now, looking back, I see how silly I was to even worry. Aside from all the statistical comfort I had been using in the days up to the flight—Adam Air runs hundreds of flights a day, and just because one of their ancient 737s went down doesn't mean all of them will—I realized that, on any given day, I do a number of things far more dangerous, in real world terms, than flying on a semi-sketchy airline. (At least their motto is not "Fly Is Cheap," which is more than can be said for some of the other low-budget carriers, cough Wings Air cough.) While sitting on the plane, smoothly cruising over Java, I made a list of some of these daily activities which could, any day now, get me killed. Thus, for your reading pleasure, or perhaps, if you are my mother or close female relative, panic, I present,

The Dangers of Indonesian Transportation
or, Ways to Get From Here to Eternity

1. Cross the street. Those of you who have been to South or Southeast Asia know what this is like. Those of you who have not should just start imagining Frogger—only, in this game, it’s not just small squares of poorly-animated light moving at you, it’s buses, trucks, public vans, bicycles, motorcycles, becaks, and sometimes other pedestrians. There are lanes, in theory—at least, there are white lines painted down the middle of the road—but these lane boundaries are constantly in flux, veritable Alsace-Lorraines of traffic flow, with each vehicle feeling free to suddenly stop, shift lanes, drive down the precise center of the road, or weave between and through the other vehicles. Oh, right, and in this game you’ve got no extra lives. Have fun!

2. Ride a becak. You’d think a guy driving what is essentially a chair strapped onto the front of a bicycle would yield the right of way to an oncoming bus. You’d be wrong. Becak drivers apparently have no fear of death, God, or traffic: for a fifty-cent fare, they’ll gleefully steer their rickety contraption the wrong way down a one-way street, completely against the flow of traffic, all without blinking an eye. At least, I hope they’re not blinking, being the drivers and all, but my eyes are usually too tightly screwed shut to know for sure.

3. Ride a bicycle. I can’t even talk about this one, because I’m too scared to try it. Never particularly talented on a bicycle at the best of times—my sense of distance is dangerously skewed, leading me to believe that, at all times, I’ve got “plenty of room,”—I would have to be truly idiotic to even think about this method. For the average person, though, riding a bicycle, preferably with another person balanced on the handlebars, is no more dangerous than, say, juggling knives or taking candy from strangers. If you don’t believe me, ask the missionaries; in particular, ask Elder H., who, after a crash about eight months ago, still can’t feel his left hand.

4. Ride a motorcyle. I’ve written about this before. Everyone constantly tells me how safe motorcycles are, but when, doubting their smiling reassurances, I ask if they’ve ever been in a crash, these same folks then eagerly begin telling long sagas of grisly motorcycle accidents, complete with the scrapes and scars to prove them. (“And then there was the time my motorcycle skidded on a slippery wet road...look, I’ve still got the imprints of embedded gravel to prove it!”) In my time here, I’ve seen at least five of my students hobble into school with all the skin torn off their elbows and knees, and at least one of them has broken a limb, but no one except me seems to register this as proof of the fact that motorcycles are not safe. I guess, for them, it’s just another ride in the park.

5. Drive a car. Despite having learned to drive in Boston, a town where even hearse drivers cut you off, I’m not brave enough to drive by myself here. A car feels safer, certainly, than a becak or motorcycle—at least you’ve got all that metal to protect you—but the comparative is necessary here: safER. It’s kind of like saying, for example, “Aghanistan is safer than Iraq”: be that as it may, you’re not about to run out and book a two-week vacation to Kandahar. The senior mission couple who just arrived pulled me aside after church on Sunday to whisper to me, worriedly, that they were afraid their hired driver was “not very good.” I asked them why they thought this and they pointed out that he just got so, well, close to other cars. Poor things, really, but that’s okay: it should only take them about another week or two to figure out that “within an inch of hitting other vehicles” is not “not very good” but, rather, “normal.” In the meantime, I told them, they should work on not hitting the air brake every ten seconds; if they needed to, they could just close their eyes and think of the Church.

6. Ride in a public van. These vehicles, about the size of minivans, with two small benches inside to accomodate as many as twenty riders, cruise the city looking for passengers; for a mere twenty cents you can flag one down, hop in, and go anywhere your heart desires, as long as your heart desires to go somewhere on their fixed route. The drivers are usually twenty-somethings who, apparently, learned to drive from bumper cars at the local amusement park, and the vans themselves are usually venerable, creaking machines with a worrisome propensity to suddenly run out of gas in the middle of the street, refuse to start again after slamming on the brakes for a passenger, and skid on the wet streets during the rainy season. When I'm by myself, these public vans are my main method of transportation around the city. I figure hey, if I’m going to die in traffic, why pay more than twenty cents for the privilege?

7. Ride a bus. The buses are the biggest things on the road, sure, but not the safest. I’ve been on public buses that tilted precariously while going around turns—one, I swear, lost wheel contact with the road on one side—careened around the city at forty miles an hour, ridiculously fast for urban traffic, stalled while going up hills, and, like any other respectable vehicle, serpentined through lanes in order to both move as fast as possible and be ready, at any second, to pick up new passengers. It’s also not particularly comforting, safety-wise, to look down, while standing on a bus, and see, through the corrugated holes in the metal floor, the road whizzing beneath you.


In my twelfth-grade psychology class, we were told that a person in the Middle East is more likely, statistically speaking, to get in a car accident than a terrorist attack. Though that may have changed somewhat post-September 11, I’ve been to the Middle East twice since then, and, while I’ve never been attacked by a terrorist, I’m 2 for 2 on car accidents. The danger here, then, statistically speaking, is not bird flu and tsunamis and earthquakes and terrorism and air crashes. It’s about how I get to school every morning, how I visit my friends, and how I cross the street on my way home. And now, having written this, I feel perfectly confident flying any budget airline I like—if, that is, I can get over my newfound fear of leaving the house at all.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

'Tis Nearly Two Months Past the Season

Some lucky folks may have already received this unChristmas unNewsletter (accompanied by our recent family photo, in which, amazingly enough, we all are looking at the camera with our eyes open) in the mail. Some others, suffering from too-slow international mail systems, may still be waiting for the day their prints will come. Still others will never get a hard copy, no matter how long they keep wishing, and hoping, and thinking, and praying, and planning, and dreaming, but now, thanks to the magic of the internet, it will be theirs!


This year the [P] family has combined a gift and a newsletter in order to gift you some opinions which we hope you will find useful in the coming year.

Family Opinions Gifted To You During This 2006 Holiday Season

  • "Gift” is not a verb. (Petra)
  • An A minus is not an A, it is a minus. (Mom and Dad)
  • An A minus is an A. (Brother #1, a.k.a. The Duke and Brother #2, a.k.a. Klement)
  • What is an A minus? (Petra)
  • If they say it is beef they are buffaloing you. (Dad)
  • "Buffalo" is a verb. (Petra)
  • Organs should only be played in cathedrals. (Mom)
  • She means pipe organs. (Dad)
  • Parents should keep their "opinions" to themselves. (Petra, The Duke, and Klement)
  • Airlines should have a higher baggage weight limit. (Petra)
  • A vacation in India is not a vacation from India. (Everyone)
  • An economy class airline ticket and two little Valium pills from the local Indian chemist is better value than business class. (Mom)
  • Klement thinks his parents are great. (Mom and Dad)
  • Klement thinks his parents are grating. (Klement)
  • In Mother Russia, opinions have you. (The Duke)
  • Christmas newsletters mailed at the end of January which contain no news are actually neither "Christmas" nor "newsletters." (Mom)


There you have it. What's your opinion?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

An Open Invitation

I have two fixed plans.

Fixed Plan the First: On May 28, I will depart from Jakarta and fly to Delhi for the high school graduation of Brother #1, a.k.a. Hairlessmano.

Fixed Plan the Second: On June 28, I will depart from Singapore and fly, through Tokyo, to San Francisco.

The more perceptive among you may have furiously calculated dates in your heads and
noticed that these two Fixed Plans are exactly a month apart. These same perspicacious folks may then have concluded that I have no Fixed Plans for that month, which is, more or less, June.

Correct! I will go to graduation, of course, which I will hopefully enjoy more than my own high school graduation, where I started and finished Oscar Wilde's Portrait of Dorian Gray during the course of the ceremony, and I will probably spend a few days pretending to help my family pack up and move, and my mom's throwing around some crazy talk about hiking in Nepal, but nothing is set in stone.

So here is where you all, dear readers, can help. I would like, during that time, to travel Southeast Asia. I have a tentative agreement to go with SWMNB(B)N, but since I have family obligations first, things may not quite work out. While I'm quite brave/stupid enough to take on a solo tour of Southeast Asia, I, like misery, would love company. So, if anyone is free this June, and has a couple thousand dollars they'd like to spend riding crowded buses, sleeping in dirty, dilapidated homestays, and emptying the contents of their intestines over squat toilets, please, come join me! (Oh, and we might also see some ancient temples, interesting cultures, and beautiful scenery. But surely all that is just the icing on the Lonely Planet-style travel cake.) The places on my list, so far, are Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, but I'm entirely open to suggestions.

If you're interested, you can contact me at any of my four active email addresses you happen to know. Or you could message me through Facebook or BB, or you could post a comment on this blog, or you could call me, if you, like half the male population of Indonesia, have my cell phone number and care to use it. I guess you could also try sending a message in a bottle, or lighting flares, or designing a semaphore or Morse code message, but I can't guarantee those will be successful. This offer is not limited to those I know in real life, although all those Egyptians who have reached my blog by Googling "swingers AND homestays" are, sad to say, exempt from this invitation. I will also require some sort of reassurance that you are not a) certifiably insane, b) afflicted with any contagious diseases, c) flat broke and expecting me to pay for souvenirs, or d) incredibly irritating. These aren't tough criteria to meet, I don't think, so please! Come join me in Southeast Asia! Your intestines will never be the same again.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

This Week In Haiku1

Monday: On Passing the Same Group of Becak Drivers While Walking To the Bus Stop2

Each morning3 they shout:
"Mbak!4Mbak! Naik5 becak, mbak!6"
They should know by now.

Tuesday: On Asking a Listening Comprehension Question to 12th Graders

Silence in the class.
I wait. And repeat. And wait.
Nobody looks up.7

Wednesday: On Visiting the Gym

Seven employees
only to watch me work out
solves unemployment8.

Thursday: On Using the Public Bathroom At McDonald's

The Western toilet
has sneaker prints on the seat.
It's a squat pot now.

: On Finishing a Japanese Novel Highly Influenced by Haiku9

The snow is pretty,
But just description bores me.
That's haikus10 to me.

: On Being Asked to Guest Speak at a Teacher Training Workshop

Teacher talk for kids:
what do I know about it11?
Money12 for B.S.

: On Walking To Church Every Sunday Morning

As I pass the mall:
"Hey Mister! F***13 you!"
Who taught them English?14

1. Technically senryu, but haiku is the more well-known form, and I'm willing to sacrifice accuracy for recognition here.
2. Technically, it's not a bus stop, but simply "the place where I wait for the bus," or "in front of Papa Ron's Pizza," since the bus suddenly and erratically swerves to the side of the road to pick up anyone who looks like they might want a ride.
3. Technically, only Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday morning. But shouldn't that still be enough for them to figure out I don't want to hire them?
4. Yes, this is one syllable.
5. In standard Indonesian, this should be two syllables, but both monophthongization and diphthongization are common in colloquial Indonesian, and so this word is more commonly pronounced with a diphthong than as two syllables demarcated by a homologous glide. For the sake of the poetic form, though, let's pretend that becak drivers speak standard Indonesian and assign it two syllables.
6. "Miss! Miss! Ride a becak, Miss!"
7. I hate this.
8. If only it were so simple. In reality, Indonesia's unemployment rate is about 11.8%, according to the CIA World Factbook, 2006.
9. Snow Country, by Yasunari Kawabata. I don't really recommend it, Nobel Prize notwithstanding. Maybe it's better in Japanese.
10. This is not the proper plural, in Japanese or English. Japanese uses classifiers in its pluralization, and I don't know the correct one for "haiku." The preferred English form, according to Merriam Webster, is simply "haiku," but I added the "s" for the rhyme with "news." Again, I opted for humor over accuracy, and I'm really sorry. Hence the footnotes.
11. Nothing, for the record.
12. $50! That goes a long way here.
13. This is also one syllable.
14. This is a rhetorical question; were I to answer it, I would say, "movies." Or maybe "the internet." But it was certainly not me: I would have at least taught them "Miss" instead of "Mister."