Phil Dunphy

"I’m the cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face." - Phil Dunphy

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Day in the Life of Laurie

                I roll over on to my side, feeling the after-sleep drowsiness creep through my body and the drool encasing my pillow. I reach over, finding the broad shoulders of Dan, and begin stroking the hair encompassing his earlobe. I chuckle at the fact that he refers to this part of his body as his “crown.” Dan turns his back to me, signaling his wish to become the little spoon in the next hour or so of cuddling. Of course I abide. I love my little bird.
            Our daily ritual continues and I slip off the covers to trudge to the bathroom. I cannot help myself from stopping in front of the mirror, analyzing my curvatures. Dang I have a rockin body. The offspring of Jon and I would have become the most attractive children in the world. Wow, that would make a great tweet. I write it down on a sticky note and post it on Dan’s toothbrush so I will not forget it. In the reflection of the mirror, snow drifts down from the sky outside the window. Another blizzard means another day in utter blackness all alone with my Dan. I will make sure to really ruffle his feathers this time around. From the corner of my eye an eerie green light protrudes from underneath the bathroom door. Rather than waking my Big Daddy Bird, I open the door to investigate. All of the sudden my head begins to spin, my insides clench and…

            “Begin with the body! DO THE MOTHER F#@!ING BODY FIRST!” I rub my eyes, attempting to find my bearings. Yet in all this confusion, I think I remember that voice, because I recall how I agreed with her in that, yes people should definitely do my body first. Hold on a second, I most assuredly know that voice. But how? My eyes finally adjust to the light and, sure enough, there I sit in front of the one and only, Ms. Serenksy.

            I try not to panic as I wonder how I could have travelled back to my junior year of high school. My mind races as I glance across the semi-circle to see the genius couple holding hands underneath their desks. Wow, nothing has changed. Even the same girl giggles in the end seat while the semi-Asian girl makes faces at her. Ugh, I wish Jon was here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

If I Were A Girl

“Stay away from AP English like the plague.” “Have fun repairing your writing hand next year in AP English.” “I heard students in AP English sit around in a circle everyday and discuss their problems.” “The AP English teacher could force a penguin to migrate south.” “You take AP English? You’re a doofus.” Although somewhat outrageous, I heard these exact words in my career at CFHS from older students and younger students alike. These threats, conspiracies and facts most definitely rattled my younger, sophomore self. Yet somehow, someway (although it may have come from the fact that my lazy older brother found a way to finish both years of AP English), I accomplished the first year of the stressful course with hovering colors. Now, as a veteran in the form of AP English, I believe that I have an honor, no, a duty, to pass along my insurmountable knowledge of the class to younger ladies and gentlemen who face a similar situation as I once did. So, without further ado, allow me to begin a spiel containing information and advice regarding AP English that will hand success to readers on a silver platter. To begin with, a student must never, under any circumstance, start a day off in AP English with a lack of a black and blue pen. This deems the first and most important rule a student must remember before entering the gates of Serensky’s lair. I once learned my lesson the hard way after forgetting this key rule, and in turn, walked out of class that day with eyes resembling the colors of the pens I should have brought to class. In all seriousness, the teacher requires students to bring a pen everyday, yet I have learned during my adventures that bringing two pens enables a student to feel twice as prepared. Now for rule two: a student must train his/herself to love a variety of television shows. After school each day, an AP English student should work out their writing hand by flipping through the channels on their remote. A stronger writing hand equals a faster writing pace and therefore more success in the world of AP English. Thirdly, an individual under the teachings of Ms. Serensky needs to acquire a certain sense of humor. A student must learn to laugh at things that others may deem cruel, unusual and most definitely awkward. For example, strangely located tattoos, dying horses, and abnormally large ladies facing terrifying circumstances involving men with pig faces, now prove side-splitting funny to students of AP English. Sharing a similar sense of humor with the instructor of the class enables time to fly in the utter bareness of the room residing at the end of the hall. Lastly, a student that wishes to excel in AP English must become as close to female as possible. Weird, I know, but you heard correctly. I do not think it necessary to exclaim that I only speak to males regarding this last rule. Females swarm like insects into the AP English classes, outnumbering the boys by tenfold, creating an environment unfit for individuals who prefer campfire over candlelight. The saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them” directly applies itself in this situation. Girls possess greater writing skills than boys. Fact, not fiction. Therefore, begin practicing this transformation by curving your calligraphy, analyzing the un-analyzable, and dotting your letter “i’s” with cute heart bubbles. A student who follows these four simple steps will find themselves overwhelmed with success in the world of AP English. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another Dreadful Day

Before you read: Ana Moran serves as a fantastic, non-judgmental writing partner. Readers should not take this piece of writing seriously.

The dreaded seventh period hovers around the corner. I wish sixth period would last forever. I guess I missed the shooting star last night though, because the bell chimes three times, signaling for all students to continue on with their day. I drag my feet along the hallway carpet, thinking that maybe if I can create enough friction and then touch Ms. Serensky’s door handle, I can electrocute myself so that I do not need to endure another day with my writing partner. I inhale deeply and flash-forward a few months. There I stand, gazing up at the ceiling of a brilliant hall in Harvard University, accompanied by other teenagers able to understand the theory of quantum entanglement. I snap back to reality and take my seat in the semi-circle. Across the room, the boy with the abnormally large head and UNC t-shirt laughs as he makes a sexist joke. I do not think he would laugh so hard when he hears that his fellow female classmate plans on attending Harvard next year. Ha! Such short-sightedness. And then he walks in. Him. How could fate turn against me so that I must endure him for a full semester as a writing partner? Actually, how could Ms. Serensky turn against me by pairing me up with this oaf? I make a note to myself not to include her in my speech after winning the Nobel Prize. He walks next to me. Goodness! I cannot become accustomed to his height! He would give Frodo Baggins a run for his money. Lol. Good one, Ana. He struts casually into his desk wearing a college logo t-shirt and gym shorts with black basketball shoes. Whoa Derek! Try not to step too far out on that limb! Maybe tomorrow he will decide on jeans…probably not though. Ms. Serensky asks us to begin discussing a chapter from Watchmen with our writing partners. Derek turns towards me, with concentration written on his face, preparing for an in-depth comment, and states, “So…I really thought that Laurie was like…super sexy.” Wow Derek, your insightfulness never seizes to amaze me. Ms. Serensky goes around the circle, passing back in-class essays. I fold back the corner of mine to glance at the AP Rubric score: 10+. Not bad. I sneak a quick glance at Derek’s paper and find him grinning from ear to ear at his 5- score. Atta boy, Frodo. Congratulations on scraping your way to a passing grade once again. The three “dings” from the bell cause everyone in the classroom to throw their belongings in their packs and race for the door. An innocent bystander would think the bell acted as a fire alarm, not a normal “beep” that signaled the end of classes. I follow in the wake of the students, eager to rush home and shower after another day with my writing partner.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Welcome to the Future

              Next year, I, the one and only Derek Stevenson, will attend Grove City College. I know, shocking, this college does in fact exist, located an hour south of Pittsburgh. I look forward to meeting a plethora of new people and pray that some of my peers feel sympathetic enough towards me to act as my friends. With this in mind, I would like to leave a certain impression upon these unfortunate students. To begin with, I would like my future friends to think of me as sociable. My tuxedo shirt already hangs in my closet, waiting for me to strut my stuff in it, giving me the impression that I strive for formality, but also look to party. Seeing that Grove City has remained a dry campus since the age of dinosaurs, this goal may look slightly different than most people imagine. After my first year of college, I hope all the students in my hall view Derek Stevenson as a friend they can go to for a hang-out, a serious conversation, or help in revising their English papers. As seen from my parents and two older siblings, college friendships have the potential to become strong bonding relationships that last past the few short years of education.  Secondly, I want my future friends in college to admire my work ethic. College acts as a place for learning, and I would bet my left knuckle that Jim and Barb will constantly remind me of this fact. With the pleasant reminder from my parents and the challenge set before me by following in my older brother’s footsteps, I will work harder than a woodpecker in a petrified forest. In doing so, I must become accustomed to hours spent in the library, creating flashcards and forming study groups. Pride would radiate from my body if I could start college as a mechanical engineer and finish the four years of college with this same title. Finally, I would find it quite pleasing if my friends thought of me as an overall joyful person. In order to achieve this goal, this summer I plan on watching and analyzing the PBS legend, Mr. Rogers, along with the rest of his neighborhood, putting my skills learned from AP English to good use. Red V-neck sweaters, along with very young children, will become my new best friends. If I can accomplish these few goals, I will enjoy the next four years of life and I hope I can positively affect the lives of students around me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dear Individual,

                 I have heard of the unfortunate circumstance regarding your special someone and hope to provide advice you can utilize in order to solve your problematic situation. Unfortunately, I know few details about your current relationship, so I must share general information about relationships that I have accumulated over a long and inspiring dating career. To begin with, buy your own tampons. Secondly, buy the condoms if you find yourself involved in a physically sexual relationship. After interacting with certain young men just the other day, I discovered that asking a gentleman to buy tampons may prove the most repulsive task ever asked of them. In fact, the reason why your boyfriend wishes to leave you in the first place may stem from that exact request. As you can see, I do not understand the word or concept of “filter;” one will discover only utter bluntness in my advice. To continue along this pattern, cut back on the southern fried okra. Allow me to introduce you to your new favorite friends: fruits, vegetables and discipline. Also, I luckily stumbled upon another useful tip during my younger years. Delve into the art of Zumba. This erotic dancing shapes the hips, making the men desire the lips. I do not know the location of your nearest gym, but I do know that the daily trip to work out that soon-to-be sexy bod can cause a dent in your gas money. So toss that Hummer you drive around town to the nearest cars salesman available and acquire a machine that acts a tad nicer to the environment. While also saving Mother Earth, your boyfriend will love you for downscaling the size of your vehicle, cutting the difference in proportion between your car and his red Prius. I hear my microwave in the kitchen beeping, informing me that tonight’s broccoli has cooked to perfection. Therefore, I must wrap this to a close, but not before I give you the most important advice you will hear in this letter. I save the best advice for last, so you must try and brace yourself. I admit, if anyone had told me this next tidbit of advice only a few years ago, I would have called them crazy. However, after reading the graphic novel, Watchmen by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore, I came to fully understand the tastes and likes of the opposite sex. In actuality, you possess too much intelligence. This deems the reasoning behind your boyfriend’s departure. You must dumb yourself down so your I.Q. hovers around that of a toothpick. As clearly seen in the character, Laurie, from this novel, who plays two males at once, guys dig the shallow stupid girls. I hope my knowledge will allow you to make the necessary adjustments within your daily life and in turn bring your boyfriend running back to you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Denzel at His Finest

I remember visiting my grandparents, who lived in New Jersey, and my cousins, who still live in Lincoln, Nebraska during my elementary years. My mother, two brothers and sister would endure the eight hour ride out to the east coast once a year to hang with my mother’s parents. My father on the other hand, seemed to always have work to do, ironically enough. Since Cleveland, Ohio to Lincoln, Nebraska tops the list of “The Longest and Most Boring Drives in the Country,” we chose to make the 16 hour drive once every three years or so. Despite this infrequency, one can imagine how much time my family spent in our Honda minivan. Since kids under the age of 13 cannot sit still in a car for more than an hour at a time, and since we frequently drove across the northeastern United States with four children under the age of 13, my mother permitted us to bring the portable television and VCR on our trips. These road trips allowed me to learn and memorize every line from the movie, “Remember the Titans.” Often times seen up to three separate times on a road trip, I quickly became acquainted with the characters and actor of Denzel Washington. At my young age, I did not understand the importance of the racial segregation depicted within the movie, or the appreciation for the movie’s fantastic soundtrack, or the talent of the actors, or even the comical quotes and scenes captured by the filmmakers. I just loved to watch football. About a month ago, I found myself browsing the channels on my television and stumbled upon the astounding film featured on ABC Family. Denzel Washington huddled up his football team in the locker room before their first game, looked at each of his players and told them, “Like all the other schools in this conference, they (the opponent) are all white. They don't have to worry about race. We do. But let me tell you something: you don't let anyone come between us. Nothing tears us apart.” After Denzel finished his sentence, I wished nothing more than to go back in time and join the Civil Rights March on Washington. Excuse me, for I find myself jumping ahead and confusing those who have yet to experience the thrill of watching this movie. Allow me to provide a brief synopsis. Based on a true story, “Remember the Titans” begins with the integration of blacks and whites into a Virginia high school by the name of T.C. Williams in 1971. Teammates on the football team hate each other based on the color of each other’s skin. Even the coaches have trouble getting along. However, against impossible odds, these high school boys find a way to turn their animosity into brotherhood, weaving an inspiring tale one cannot miss. Every moment in “Remember the Titans” on and off the football field carries a wide range of emotions from that of misery to exhilaration. Denzel Washington’s character as coach of the T.C. Williams football team, constantly inspires his audience with quotes of community, pride and morality. To this day, my brothers and I quote the movie, when we remember the Titans.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Read If You Dare

I have a fairly long one.
However, I do not feel animosity
From others for retaining one of such length.
Madonna wishes she had one.
The governor of California, the famous
Actor, has an extremely long one.
Asians tend to have short ones.
It’s intriguing to of think how diverse they
Come, varying in sizes. Am I the only one out there
Fascinated with the assortment of last names?

I thought long and hard about what I should venture into this week in order to cause extreme discomfort for the readers of my blog. After hearing a Brian Regan stand-up comedian act in my father’s car this weekend, I knew what words to throw on paper in order to make my audience squirm. Regan brought to my attention the frequency at which people pronounce names incorrectly. He used the name “Caroline” as an example, not knowing when to stress the “I.” Regan continued to tell of the unspoken truth about how individuals become extremely offended when a person pronounces their name incorrectly. For this reason, I think the awkward diction of “last names” truly distinguishes the above poem as possessing an uncomfortable tone. I bring to my audience’s attention the assertion that people tend to accept everyday patterns of life without thought, the concept of last names acting as one of these patterns. The abstraction of such a notion astounds me: the variety, length and differences in pronunciation deem endless. I also choose to format my poem in such a way that radiates awkwardness. Instead of following a symmetrical approach by centering the poem on the paper, in response creating a light-hearted tone, I attempt to vary the length of each line within the poem. This unbalance, along with the strange use of enjambment in certain places, exemplifies the instability the poem possesses, disrupting the flow of the reading. From the use of these structural and literature elements, I strive to make my audience wriggle with displeasure from the uncomfortable feeling emitted by the poem.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dear Derek,

            Hello there my eleven year old self. Possessing the ability to view all events from your present time to your senior year, I have some advice I would like to give to you. Let us begin with the topic of girls. Firstly, do not talk to girls from now until the time you reach 11th grade. The definition of “talk” in this case, means to never make eye contact with people of the opposite gender unless over the age of thirty…seven. In all honesty, girls do not want to talk to you. I had the misfortune of not realizing this until too late. In fact, women to this day have no interest in interacting with me. With that in mind, you can probably skip Mrs. Rathbone’s second semester class (the reproductive unit) because you most definitely will not need that information for a long, long, long time. Now that we have that touchy topic covered, let us move on to advice about school, or more specifically, English class. To begin with, go out of your way to help out Mrs. Wallenhorst in any way possible; she is a saint. The following year, however, you will receive She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for your English teacher. Have fun re-enacting “The Diary of Anne Frank Play” for three and a half months. Yet try and persevere, because your English teacher your freshman year remains one of the coolest cats ever to walk the halls of Chagrin: Mrs. Ashkettle. Ask her strange questions about her daughter Frankie, and all that weird jazz you somehow tend to have a knack for. Finally, you will remarkably make it to junior year and meet the legendary Ms. Serensky. Fun fact for you: the seemingly hard to read, blunt and harsh Shakespeare professor actually spends her time angelically dancing to Zumba in her spare time. Remember this when a big fat 1 appears on the grade of one of your in-class essays. Another thing I should make known to you: some students actually obtain essay scores of 8’s and 9’s, you just suck too much to get such a score. In all honesty, I do not know why I have shared this tidbit of information with you since such information only further lowers your writing confidence. O well, humility is a virtue. Allow me to shift our conversation to the topic of style. When you feel like wearing something, wear it. Dress for comfort, if you would like. If a teacher one day calls you a name like, o I don’t know, a lumberjack for instance, because you decide to dress normally in a plaid shirt and jeans, let the comment bounce off your shoulder. Remember that only insecure people make fun of other people’s apparel. Good luck in the future and I hope this advice helps you out in your endeavors.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Two is Better than One

            I had told her I would arrive at her doorstep at six. Here I stand, 29 minutes after five, waiting in the rain, holding a blue umbrella in my left hand. I use my second hand to ring the doorbell. Her father answers the door. I glance at his gun collection over his shoulder. Uh oh. The second hand reaches itself out to firmly shake his hand. His daughter appears at the door. The second hand guides her down the slippery stairs to where my car remains idling. I scoot ahead to open the passenger door with my second hand, and then follow her into the car.

            We drive through town. One hand remains on the wheel while the second hand strokes and caresses her fingers. “Even though it’s raining, you’ve got your shine on.” Stupid. I mentally smack my head against the window. She smiles. We reach the roller rink. I jog ahead of her to open the doors. Surprisingly, my outstanding strength cannot open the doors with one hand. The second hand comes to the rescue. Close call.

            I slide my arm around her waist.  Using my second hand, I pay for our tickets, flaunting my wallet. She seems unimpressed. Note to self.

            I tie my skates tightly and quickly. The second hand reaches down to hold her laces while she knots them together. Brownie points. We skate out to the rink. I clumsily fall onto my face within the first few seconds. My first hand begins to break the fall. The second hand finishes the job. She must hold onto the railing from laughing so hard. This is too easy.

            Everyone starts circling together. We stick our first hand out and shake it all around. Next we thrust our second hand into the air and shake it all about. I love hokey pokey.

            The night comes to a close. I walk her to her door. She grasps onto my arm while my second hand protects us from the night’s shadows caused by the moon.

            I sit in my car. And thank God for giving me two hands.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Cowardly Lion

            The dull hum abruptly stops. Sweat beads my forehead. I gaze across the black nothingness to see my fellow accomplice shivering. He tends to do this in the face of danger. Nervousness seizes his body. We remain there in the darkness, contemplating our next move. So far, my partner and I have run into little interference in reaching and executing our quest. Everything went according to plan, just as the boss said it would. But here we sit, waiting to complete the last stage of the plan, unrewarded if we cannot reach our objective. The boss warned us of the vulnerability we would encounter in this next stage due to a “blind spot” in the operation. Now comes the time when the men separate themselves from the boys, when the soldiers separate themselves from the citizens, and when the courageous separate themselves from the…uncourageous. My companion and I look to each other, “1…2…3” we recite in sync. I thrust my weapon deep into my pocket as we step out into the tundra air. Time seems to slow as my instincts take over. I distinguish the outline of every snow flake whipping around my head while the wind howls with rage. My partner slithers around the left flank, as we practiced a million times back at the base. All seems well, until I venture a step from my concealed location. Immediately, lights shine upon me, igniting my body with a bright glow, resembling my grandpa’s birthday cake in a dark room. Unfortunately, I am slightly allergic to dying, so I dive behind a large, gray obstruction protruding from the ground. I hold my supplies near to my chest, cowering in the dark, praying that my leap to safety proved quick enough. My eyes pop open as I hear voices beginning to make their ways towards my location. Shadows materialize near my feet, and the sound of boots crunching on snow cause me to shove my head into my arms, hiding in fear. Yet the voices fade away as soon as they appeared. Did they not catch a glimpse of me? Am I still alive? I know the answer to the latter question because I can hear my breath rattling now in the quick confines of safety. Finally, after reciting Mel Gibson’s speech from Braveheart, I inhale deeply and then jump to my feet, flying across the icy ground. Bright lights shine upon my figure but I continue to push forward, no longer caring for the safety of my well-being. I trip over a low bush, losing my balance and hitting the concrete hard, yet land on my shoulder, enabling me to roll right back up and continue my sprint. Finally, in a breathless haste, I crash into the glass doors, fumbling momentarily with the handle before I am able to take a step into the cozy foyer of Chagrin Falls High School. I journeyed through Chagrin Falls, crossing the deadly senior lot, and have once again arrived to school on time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The End is Near

            Our blogging adventure has at last come to a close for this semester. The New Year arrives and weekly habitual actions find themselves replaced by other, less desirable things. However, the AP English teacher decided to make the weekly action of blogging “go out with a bang.” All the AP English students know of our teacher’s dedication towards the sports world. Therefore, I think her students can all agree that ESPN’s top ten sports plays of 2012 inspired her with the idea of this next blog post. Why not take the coolest moments of our blogging adventure and compile them all into one paragraph? Genius. I look forward to reading this week’s list of blogs because it will parallel watching a highlight film of our class’s greatest works. So, without further ado, I take pleasure in sharing my own top features from my blog. A couple of blogs battled for the position of the “Most Well-Written Blog Award.” However, “The Surprisingly Dreadful Day” came out on top for a variety of reasons. To begin with, the blog catches the reader’s attention with a surprisingly ironic statement. I then continued to write about a small anecdote that happened in English class at the beginning of the second quarter, relatable to all my readers and containing a touch of humor to keep one’s focus. I proceed to transition to a light-hearted mood to a more serious topic of answering the question: why does a leader emerge within a pair of people? The blog analyzes the “Second Bakery Attack” to solve such a question in a very coherent manner if I say so myself. This blog also found its way onto the AP English Blogger Show, invoking pride towards this short paragraph. Next, we move on to the “Most Interesting Blog Award.” Again we had a war between posts to make it to the podium but only one prevailed: “Ernie Should Have Confided in Bert.” I believe this post proved my most intriguing piece of writing because it shared with my audience a lot about myself as a person. Looking back on it now, I think that after a summer of reading other’s blogs and commenting with one another, this paragraph deemed the breakpoint in my ability to feel comfortable with my blogging. Therefore one can understand why I find this post most interesting; I could not believe I voiced such strong opinions and disrespectfulness to my classmates and on the web. For example, I informed my peers of my fearfulness of finding myself in a situation necessitating small talk. Finally, Claire Kampman won the award for “Favorite Comment Award.” Let me share with the audience a snippet of her reply: “Competition drives success, and losing builds character.” I absolutely love this quote because I could not agree with it more. Competition drives the ways of the world and promotes hard work as well as entertainment. Thank you Claire for your enlightenment to my blog.