Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I don't get it.

Roman Polanski drugged and raped a child.

Why is anyone -- ANYone -- upset that this is a serious punishable offense?

We're not talking blow-job-from-consenting-adult, censure and move on.

He drugged. And raped. A child.

Harrison Ford? Whoopi Goldberg? I love you both, but STFU.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Mountain Day!

I went to college in western Massachusetts, on one of the most beautiful campuses you'll ever see. This time of year is so gorgeous, so exhilarating, there. Fall is the best time of year on Cape Cod, and in many places, but out in western Massachusetts, it's cranked up a notch. It goes to 11.

My alma mater has a clock tower with bells heard on the hour all over campus. Every fall semester, on one day chosen from all the impossibly gorgeous fall days, the bells would toll the seven o'clock morning hour... and then keep ringing, and ringing, and ringing for five minutes. This was the signal for Mountain Day -- a college tradition since 1838. On Mountain Day, classes and meetings of all kinds were called off. The idea was that everyone should spend that day climbing the nearby hills.

Many students really did climb a little mountain on Mountain Day. Others turned off their alarms and got some more sleep before using the day as a reprieve from too-pressing deadlines, maybe giving a nod to the tradition by doing some work outside on the green instead of in the library. Either way, Mountain Day was a gift -- a day of sanctioned hooky (if there can be such a thing), or one more day to finish that paper you should've finished yesterday (as a practical measure, though taking a bit away from the pure joy of things, experienced professors would include Mountain Day deadline contingencies in their syllabus).

Mountain Day is a different calendar day every year, and part of the fun of it was guessing when it would come. On especially lovely days, we'd listen carefully at 7:00, and if the bells stopped at 7, the suspense would continue. Too early and it doesn't seem like enough of a gift -- the pressures of the semester haven't piled up enough. But left too late, we might run out of gorgeous days. Autumn's stunning reds, golds and greens give way to chilly greys and browns all too soon.

I can't remember a year when they didn't find the perfect balance.

Now of course we're all older, with jobs and/or children and whatever other adult obligations make it harder to just ditch everything on short notice and head for the hills with a picnic for the day. But today, at a lovely little college in western Massachusetts, it is Mountain Day, and as they've done for 170 years, students are ditching the books for a few hours and scrambling up a hillside to get a good look at their little corner of the world from up top. Perfect.

Plenty of college traditions haven't stayed with me. I never got into the one involving prancing 'round the Maypole, for example. But declaring a Mountain Day from time to time is good for the soul.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Who the hell is Mitchell? I was writing to Pamela.

Lately, because I'm in charge of different stuff for different organizations, I've had to email a lot of people I don't know particularly well. I'm amazed at the number of women who use an email address with their husband's name on it, and not their own. For example say I'm writing to Daisy Popplebottom; her email addy won't be daisyp@___, or the gender-neutral dpopplebottom@____, or a family thing like CapeCodPopplebottoms@____, or even Daisy&Thirsty@____, or something completely unrelated to her name, say, naughtyzoot@___ (not that I have ever used "naughtyzoot" as a username for anything. Never you mind.) No, Daisy's email address is ThurstonQPopplebottom@_____. When she replies to my email, I have no idea who the hell this is or why he'd be writing to me, but I have to open it in case it's one of these women with their husband's email addresses.

Gah! Why would you do this? There's just no good reason not to have your own email address. Even if it's a "family" one, why attach only one person's name to it?

My own inclination to independence and not being thought of as adjunct to anyone else, particularly in business I'm conducting my own self, leads me to think of these women as somehow pathetic. But I'm obnoxious like that. Does it bother you the same way, or at all?

Friday, September 25, 2009

You know...

...seeing the occasional spider in my house does not really bother me.

What bothers me is that they are not starving to death.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As promised, the schlocky sentimental post in which the Peanut goes to kindergarten.

Well, my Peanut's off on the big yellow bus with her sister. Our bus driver's been looking forward to this almost as much as she has. The two of them are buds, as she's been chattering to him at the bus stop since she was three and the Bean started school. So the girls got on the bus, and the Peanut immediately began walking the aisle, greeting her public.

That's my Peanut. She's got it goin' on.

And yes, I'm feeling the heartache of watching her go, and walking home from the bus stop without her for the first time. But what I'm mostly feeling is grateful to her.

I'm grateful that she still folds up small in my arms and lets me count her toes like I did when she was two, pretending to get it wrong so she can correct me. When we first started playing this game she would really check to be sure she had five toes and not six. AGAIN! she'd say, and we'd do it again.

I'm grateful that she still says AGAIN! like a toddler sometimes. Not for the toe-counting game, she purely indulges me there. But she likes a tickling game in which my hand is a spider who's scared of her and runs all around trying to find a place to hide. "AGAIN, Mommy!" I love that she's holding on to some baby-ness, even as she feels the pure joy of growing up.

I'm grateful that she's been exceptionally affectionate lately, even by her standards, and she's a very demonstrative little girl. All those extra kisses and I-love-you-Mommys and sudden joyous squeezes for no reason -- I'll take 'em. Every one. (But don't think, Peanut, that I don't notice that some of these are timed perfectly for when the Bean's in trouble for something.)

Yesterday in the car on the way to kindergarten orientation... kind of a dress rehearsal for today's real First Day... she said, unprompted, "I'm READY, Mommy! I'm REALLY READY!" And she is, she really is. She embraces changes with open arms, and a smile she can't repress even when she wants to, and a love of everything, just everything.

Oh, my baby. Off you go into this wider world. It's all yours!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Movie Night catch-up

Holy crow! I haven't posted about a movie all summer long. Partly it's because nothing has really wowed me in a long time, but for better or worse, here's some of what's been showing in the Sandy Shoes Home Theater.

Transporter 3 (2008). We really liked The Transporter, and moderately liked Transporter 2. Now, I don't ask much of sidekick characters in action star vehicle films. I just want them not to annoy me. Sadly, Transporter 3 is intolerable due to the crazy shrieking giggling silly bitch character played by Natalya Rudakova, whom I truly hope never to see again in any context. Jason Statham still rocks, but not enough to overcome this mess. Just watch the original again.

Being There. I thought it would be interesting to revisit this 1979 Peter Sellers classic. Sellers plays a child-like gardner who gets mistaken for a political genius. Eh, whatever. I think maybe this was a child-like movie which got mistaken for genius political satire. But I'm probably just missing a lot of the references.

The DaVinci Code (2006) is a completely improbable, ludicrous movie, based on a completely improbable, ludicrous novel, and I loved them both. Murder, ancient secret societies, intrigue, evil Catholics, suspenseful clue-following escapades -- what more could you ask for? I can't wait to see the next one (Angels and Demons), although I hope Tom Hanks's character has had a haircut since his adventures in Paris. Quiz question: what does this movie have in common with the Transporter films?

The Matador (2005) One night in Mexico City, Pierce Brosnan's kooky hit-man-of-uncertain-motives character runs into Greg Kinnear's sad, boring, dorkish businessman character. The movie is an attempt at ensuing wackiness, but it misses. It's not terrible, but it's not great by far. It did remind me how unappealing Hope Davis is.

Religulous (2008). Religious + ridiculous = see what he did there? Ha! Ha! Yes, this is Bill Mahr skewering religious wingnuts. He makes valid, relevant, necessary points, i.e. separation of church and state is important; crazy people are trying to erase the line, and it's scary how close they get. Agreed on both counts, Bill. But after a while, the skewering gets tiresome. Yeah it's funny, but it's also like shooting fish in a barrel.

Greenfingers (2000) is a feel-good British comedy, "loosely based on a true story," that I missed when it came out. Clive Owen's character is in jail, and finds himself placed in a progressive, low-security work camp style prison. He's completely closed off to everyone and everything, then lo and behold finds he has real talent at making things grow. The supporting cast, including Helen Mirren, is terrific, and this is a really enjoyable little film. Its flaws -- sentimentality and predictability -- are forgivable. Trivia: it was produced by Trudie Styler, who's married to Sting. I didn't know she was in the movie biz, but she's done several good ones (including Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock... and Snatch).

Idiocracy (2006) -- in which yer Average Joe gets put into hibernation and wakes up in the future to find that humans are all so stupid and disgusting that he is the smartest person on the planet -- comes from Mike Judge, of Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill fame. I thought that was a good sign. Sadly though, it's merely revolting, and too dull to work as satire except in a couple of details (Costco-as-city, that kind of thing). I do think Mike Judge has strokes of comedic genius, but they're not in evidence here. And yes, I know many people would describe Beavis and Butt-head, which made me laugh, as "merely revolting, and too dull to work as satire..." So why is that funny and this not? I think its being a live action comedy was a huge turnoff. Judge's animated works were funnier from the get-go because of the drawing. Episode length vs. movie length plays a role -- the B&B movie wasn't as good as the shorts. Also, maybe, just maybe, I am turning into a humorless old fart. Whatever the reason, Idiocracy plain sucked, and I urge you not to lose the hour and a half to it that I did.

More anon, though maybe I'll do books next.

What have you been watching?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who's walking by

Thirty years ago (yes) I walked home from school sometimes with a girl named Beth. When I'd first asked Beth where she lived, she told me the name of the street (Hugenot Court, I still remember). Figuring out where it was, I asked her "is it a dead end?" meaning only to determine whether there were there any other streets off of it. "NO," she said, turning up her pale, pinched little nose in her pale, pinched little face. "I HATE it when people call it a 'dead end.' It is a COURT." Hm. Maybe it was just the once that we walked home together.

If only she'd said it was a "cul-de-sac," which I could've told her meant "bottom of the bag." I was better at French than making friends, in those days.

Today, I live at the end of a CIRCLE. The street is named _____ Circle. So don't ask me if it's a DEAD END. 'Round these parts, the signs say "NO OUTLET," anyhow, much friendlier and less judgmental than "DEAD END." And streets that are named ____ Circle or _____ Court don't have those signs because most people are smart enough to know that that's what Circle and Court MEAN. Take THAT, 12-year-old self.

I digress. Before I've even started, I digress.

Some people live in places where passers-by are too many to count; for others, a single passer-by would be the news of the day. Our little circle falls in the suburban in-between. We're part of a large-ish neighborhood of mostly year-round residents (a lot of Cape Cod homes, particularly in outer Cape towns, stand empty most of the year). Lots of walkers and joggers make our street part of their loops. Through the window over my desk, I've gotten to recognize the regulars. Here are some of them:

There is a guy about my age, fit, with a head of thick dark brown hair that bounces as he runs. I have no idea who he is but I look forward to his runs. I have started calling him George Stephanopoulos and imagining that he is listening to political news on his ipod.

There's an older man, a wiry fellow, brisk walker. He carries a stick, but doesn't use it for walking support. He just swings it around as he goes. We have some flowers planted at the base of our mailbox at the end of the driveway. As he walks past, Stick Man swats at the flowers. It doesn't seem a malicious gesture, more that he's swinging the stick around and he just can't help trying to make contact. He pulls the punch at the last second and hasn't yet wrecked the flowers. It's the kind of thing I would do, if I walked around swinging a stick.

There are several walkers who always make the rounds in pairs. One pair is of an elderly woman, her back bent at a severe, improbable angle, and a younger one -- daughter? niece? neighbor, companion? They go at a good clip. Bent as she is, that old lady can go. She'll be all right.

There's a young woman, lycra-sporting, ponytailed, who power walks laps around the circle, all the while SHOUTING cheerfully into her phone. Really, shouting.

There's a husky guy with a curly mop of hair and a mustache who used to walk/run around the circle with his German Shepherd. His run seemed more of a play-run than an exercise run. He'd do it in workboots. The dog would be loose and romping around all the yards, and when I'd see him I'd say to myself, dude, if that dog shits on my lawn, you will regret it. (Because I'm just like that about dog shit. Whack my flowers if you must, and I'll probably say "well. That was odd." But do not under any circumstances let your dog crap on my grass.) But the dog never did; he'd just run around like a maniac, following his owner, who'd sometimes run backwards to laugh at him playing. Last time I saw them, the guy was with a young woman pushing a stroller, and the dog was leashed. Happens to the best of us, big dog.

Sometimes my neighbor across the street will stroll around, drink occasionally in hand, to see what Mr. Sandyshoes has been up to. Mr. Sandyshoes is always up to something; it usually involves intriguing noises from power tools, and it's hardly ever possible to tell from the front of the house what it is. I felt for this neighbor. I knew how curious he must be, watching lumber being unloaded, listening to various noises of major projects underway. I was glad when eventually he just came up the driveway and said "so what's all this then?" Sometimes he scares the crap out of me by appearing out of nowhere while I am in my lawn-mowing trance, but that's my own fault. Mr. Sandy startles me just by coming in the room sometimes, and I'll jump damn near out of my skin, and he'll say, "hello, yes, it's me... I live here, remember?"

Who's walking around where you live?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

This is why my life goes down the intertubes

You know, I try to be an informed citizen. I do. Television news being what it is, I do this through teh interwebz. However, this has its own hazards. Who has the discipline to read Real News Stories when the headline "MAN STRIPS FOR GEORGE CLOONEY" is staring them down? So yeah, I click, I click. And then I share, so, you're welcome.

For your (mild, safe for work - sorry) amusement:

Well, dang. CNN's embed code isn't working. But I'm too far into the post to quit now, so here's the link to the video I was hoping to put here.

I bet George Clooney gets a lot of that.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In which I resume blogging, with no promises not to start all my posts with "in which."

I am back.

Thanks for the touching inquiries after my health and safety, as well as for amusing speculations that I might have ditched my lovely family on vacation and run off to parts unknown, never to be heard from again.

I am fine, and ditched nobody. Vacation went well; a nice mix of sightseeing and friend visiting. We had heavy rain and bad traffic on the way down and back, but otherwise perfect weather and smooth travels. Observations from Amish country and (sigh) Sesame Place possibly to be shared later.

Since our return, my online time has been sucked up with noodling around on Facebook, and other stuff well-suited to a low attention span. Hard to write with people asking you things every fifteen seconds - go figure.

But now! Labor Day took most of the excess traffic off our fair peninsula for another nine blissful months. The Bean is an hour or so into her first day of 2nd grade as I type, Mr. Sandyshoes is back to the lab and classroom as another semester takes off for him as well, Peanut starts kindergarten next Monday, and I am happily getting back into the general scheduled-ness of things.

Stay tuned for the obligatory sentimental, schlocky post after the Peanut boards the school bus with her sister next week, because her home with Mommy days are really, really, really All Done, and I'm going to miss her. But for now, I'm opening the windows wide to the cool, crisp September air, fine-tuning the school day routine, and savoring another new beginning.