Thursday, January 29, 2009

hakuna matata, baby

My Peanut is obsessed with The Lion King. (I myself had never seen it until about two weeks ago. It was a good long run -- but actually, as these things go, The Lion King isn't too bad. It's Hamlet! Sort of.)

When she is not watching The Lion King, the Peanut is pretending to be Simba. She doesn't want her hair in a ponytail because it "isn't a good mane" like that. She crawls around and roars a lot. Pride Rock is in our basement somewhere. The Bean gets home from school, and as soon as her homework's done, she has to be Nala.

When the Peanut isn't pretending to be Simba, she is singing this song:

In our house, lyrics get changed a lot. When I get sick of telling the girls to do something, I sing at them to do whatever it is. "Caaaaan you feeeeel the looooove toniiiiight" has already become "Yooooou must eeeeeat your suuuuupper nowwwww" and "Gooooo put yooooour pajaaaaamas onnnnn." and whatever else. "DON'T SING!" they holler. Well, kids, when you get done what needs to get done, I'll quit singing.

Desperate measures.

(Is it any wonder that as soon as they are in bed I head downstairs for a dose of The Sopranos? Fuck no.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yes, I know other people's dreams are boring, but it's what I got going on.

I'm going through one of those times during which I can't seem to get enough sleep, partly because I'm always having crazy dreams like these:

Two nights ago: I had three daughters. There was the Bean, the Peanut and another girl, who in my dream took the form of one of the Bean's real-life classmates. We were on a family vacation in California, and attending some kind of informal outdoor sporting event. The girls were going off to sit on their own, and I was telling them have fun, and where to meet us later. Bean and Peanut ran off, and the middle daughter (she was younger than the Bean and older than the Peanut, an impossibility in real life) gave me a quick kiss and took off with them. I turned to my husband, alarmed, and said, "I have no memories of her as a baby!" and he said "me neither." I could vaguely recall having been pregnant with her, but it was like remembering a story I'd read about someone else. I felt terribly sad at not really knowing this child, and horrified to be that detached from my own daughter. How could I know the oldest and youngest girls so well, feel so closely bonded to them, and completely blank on the whole history of the middle one? Yet I knew I must've had her, because there she was, calling me Mommy just like the other two.


Later that same dream, the three (!) girls and I were asleep back at the hotel, and Mr. S. finally came in at 4:00 AM. He'd been out with friends, and told me that one of his friends had asked him to play soccer with them, and he'd said sure, why not. He never gets time with his friends, he said. His life is work, and home, and the girls, and never any time out with friends! Fine, I said, but you don't even like soccer. Then I realized two things: that he was having an affair with this friend of his, and that I didn't care. If you want to play soccer, go ahead, I said. But I don't see why you had to drag us all to California to do it.

Yeesh! Granted, I don't think of infidelity in the absolute terms I once did -- older and wiser, I can see how it comes about in some relationships, and why some couples don't make it a deal breaker -- but still. If Mr. S. were having an affair, it's safe to say I would not be wholly indifferent.

Then last night: I was living with my parents in the house I grew up in. One morning we opened the front door to find that our neighbor across the street (nobody I ever knew in real life) had begun building himself a three-car garage with an apartment above and a cupola on top, right in our front yard. It cast a great shadow over our house. The neighbor was sitting outside in his car, supervising the construction. I was furious, but my mother insisted we couldn't say anything to him about it. BALLS! I yelled. I HATE THIS! I stormed out of the house and up to the guy's car. He rolled down the window, and I sputtered to him about the building. "What, you don't like it? Fine. It comes down. Brick by brick, I'll take it all down" he said, full of mock surprise that I didn't think it was the best thing ever. My mother still chided me for talking to him, and I yelled at her, SCREW THAT! I'M TIRED OF NOT SAYING WHAT I THINK! and then marched away up the street.

Well. Who the heck knows what that's all about. Maybe my inner teenager still has some hollering to do.

Someone said that dreams are us "whispering in our own ears." What are you saying to yourself these days? Are you making any sense, or just churning up emotion, or both?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blogging for Choice 2009

This is my second year participating in NARAL-Pro Choice America's annual "Blogging for Choice" Day. This year's topic: What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?

my post on last year's topic, why it's important to vote pro-choice, I wrote about how frightening and horrifying it is that government deliberately intrudes on one of life's most personal and intimate decisions, one that through the gift (or burden) of biology, ultimately belongs to a pregnant woman, her own self. In recent years we have seen our government take sinister steps, some more subtle than others, toward denying women basic control over their own bodies and pregnancies.

During the 2008 campaign, we faced the possibility of continuing down that path.
In responding to Barack Obama's answer to a debate question about abortion, Presidential candidate John McCain openly sneered about abortion being a women's health issue. He used his fingers to put "women's health" in air quotes, to emphasize his disdain for the concept. I will never, ever forget it.

Thankfully, having inaugurated a pro-choice President this year, we can be less fearful, if not less vigilant, looking ahead.

My top hope for President Obama and the new Congress is that the people they will nominate and confirm to the Supreme Court will not be inclined to overturn Roe v. Wade. Do I believe in a "litmus test" for nominees? Not exactly. Like most things, it's not that simple. Cases that come before the Court are not yes-or-no position questions, but questions of interpretation of our laws and Constitution. I do believe in questioning nominees about their beliefs about women's rights, and in rejecting nominees who don't think we have any, whether that's about pregnancy, or equal pay, or suffrage, or military service, or any of the myriad issues about which women have had to fight merely to be treated fairly.

This does not mean I am "pro-abortion" (how absurd). It means that I believe women rightly have power over their own bodies and their own pregnancies, and I believe we should not allow government to legislate otherwise.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama, at last.

If I were to attempt an eloquent essay about this, it would take me till the next inauguration. Words fail. I'll list some thoughts, instead:

I'm glad that the President and the Chief Justice managed to get through the oath, eventually (!).

I'm relieved that Rick Warren wasn't too atrocious, and that I can now go back to being completely unaware of him.

Dick Cheney in a wheelchair. That fits.

President Obama's speech kicked W around a fair bit, and rightly so.

How lovely, and right, and true, to hear America described as a country of Christians AND Muslims AND Jews AND Hindus AND unbelievers. (I wonder why "unbelievers" and not "atheists"?) Obviously some folks were left out of the list, but the point was made, and about time too.

How lovely, and right, and true, to hear a declaration to our people and the world, that the United States is "ready to lead, once again" by our example.

Finally, I'm not a teary person, but it melts my cold cold heart that my 4 year-old daughter, sitting on my lap while President Obama gave his inaugural address, will not remember a time when there had never been an African-American President.

President Obama, of the United States of America.


God keep him safe, please.

Buh-bye now.
Saul Loeb/European Pressphoto Agency, from L.A. Times website

(Now what do you bet there's at least one Supreme Court Justice doing a little happy dance and finally printing out that letter of intent to retire? John Paul Stevens will be 89 this year. 89! Maybe he wants to go fishing, hit the National Parks, tour the wine country, something like that. That is, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg, no spring chicken herself, doesn't beat him to the White House with her own letter in hand. In any case, won't it be a nice change not to dread the nomination process?)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Teeth: Incisive -- or just a grind? har!

Teeth (2007) is an indie "comedy/horror" that I watched by myself because it's safe to say Mr. S. would've hated it, and very safe to say it is NOT OK for kids to see, or even to glimpse in passing. Although I can't say I enjoyed every moment of the film, I think it was pretty good, thematically.

Briefly: Dawn (Jess Weixler) is a pretty teenager and purity-ring-wearing spokesperson for the local chastity club. Her growing sexual feelings are increasingly at odds with what she claims to believe. Before she can make sense of this, she is raped, and it becomes clear that she is living one of humankind's most ancient horrorific myths: vagina dentata. Her vagina has teeth! Sharp ones. There is nothing ambiguous about the consequences of violating Dawn.

A lot plays into Dawn's emerging womanhood. Home in the shadow of a nuke plant. Sympathetic, ailing mother. Weak stepfather. Truly evil stepbrother with a particular sexual quirk. Nice boys who really aren't. Grown men who can't be trusted.

Everyone, um, affected by Dawn's intimate incisors has it (ahem) coming. Any woman who's ever been taken advantage of, especially as a teenager, could say that frankly, that's a satisfying change of pace. But purely as a moviegoer, not so much. Once you know the drill, well, that's what there is, and you sit through more of it while you wait to see how things might resolve. So that's the "horror" part. The "comedy" is because it's so ridiculous (chastity club! toothed vagina!) that it had to be at least partly campy. But it didn't make me laugh.

Dawn's awakening is an interesting theme. Now that it's dawned on Dawn what she's made of, how will she manage it? Will she be afraid? Ashamed? Empowered? Is she a monster, or kind of a super-heroine?

Lots to chew on.


Friday, January 16, 2009

I could've sworn there was a Toblerone around here somewhere.

Hands up anyone who still has any Christmas or Hanukkah chocolate left.

Who are you, and how do you do it?

Mr. S. is one of you. He has a nibble of chocolate every so often, and it lasts for weeks. The man can sit at his desk and concentrate on his work with an open bag of Hershey's Kisses not three feet away. He has an "off" switch.

My Christmas chocolate was gone well before the New Year. I've been very good about not pilfering anyone else's though. And come to think of it, since I did some of the chocolate shopping, maybe he had more to start with.

Right. That must be it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Two movies that werent what I thought they'd be.

From Netflix, we had I'm Not There (2007), in which six actors portray different facets of Bob Dylan's life and character. I was intrigued, but it turns out it's just not my thing. I prefer stories told in a more linear, less fragmented, way than this film did. I like the narrative to make more ( some?) sense. Which isn't to say I need hand-holding, just... well, I don't have a lot of patience with the incomprehensibly artsy. In retrospect, the words "stylized portrait" in the Netflix blurb should've tipped me off.

In retro-retrospect, maybe this is why I'm not a huge Dylan fan anyhow. I thought his story would be interesting to learn, but I'm Not There is much better suited to people already familiar with it, who are fans of it, and who want to see it portrayed by great actors. Cate Blanchett is a great actor, no doubt. So I was doubly disappointed when I had to declare "this is just dumb" and quit watching the movie halfway through.

On the other hand, I was ready to be disappointed by Yes Man. It seems like one of those comedies that puts everything it's got into the trailer, so there's no need to see the whole thing. Jim Carrey plays Carl, a divorced, depressed bank loan officer who likes to tell people no, he doesn't want to [whatever]. He runs into an old acquaintance (John Michael Higgins, familiar from Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, et al.) who seems Really Into Life, and who hands Carl a flier for a self-help seminar called YES! Carl goes to this thing, has some kind of epiphany, and starts saying YES to everything he's asked or offered to do, with amusing results (only one of which is actually, um, disturbing, and if you've seen the movie you know the one I mean).

Yes, you can predict much of what happens, and it's not ingenious or anything. But fun! Cute! Entertaining! Sure, all that. Yes.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Forget the EpiPen, it's all in your head. Not mine though, I can't keep anything in there.

Joel Stein, L.A. Times opinion columnist, thinks that nut allergies are a "yuppie invention."

Really! Kids with food allergies are just victims of their parents' mass hysteria! Kids who don't live in "rich lefty communities" don't have these wussy conditions! (Never mind that families in poor communities might not have the money or the health care to discern such a thing... more entertaining to posit that only affluent liberals would come up with such a problem in the first place.)

I don't know what causes nut allergies, or why they appear to be on the rise in recent years. I'm just glad my kids don't have 'em. However my Peanut is allergic to shellfish. Does this mean I'm a "parent who needs to feel special?" If so, why didn't this need affect the Bean, who has no food allergies? Oh crap, there I go again, with the pesky reasoning. So sorry.

But wait, what about my friends whose kids have celiac disease? They must be real prima donnas. Hard to reconcile that with their laid-back personas and conservative politics. Reverse psychology, you say? Oh, those tricky attention seeking yuppie friends of mine!

So, yes. Stein's column today is jackassery. Before I read it, I was more familiar with his work for Time, where he comes off as -- guess what? -- an attention-seeking self-absorbed yuppie food snob. Go figure.

I miss Time, though. I used to pay for subscriptions with unused not-so-frequent-after-all flier miles. Just as the subscription ran out, Delta "actually, you haven't flown with us since the 20th century, so would you just get rid of these miles already?" Airlines would send another solicitation, and I'd renew. Sadly though, Delta's last magazine offerings did not include Time, or Newsweek, or U.S. News & World Report. To fill the weekly news niche, I opted for The Economist. It was that or Cigar Afficionado, and I think it's safe to say that for better or worse, we've all had enough of the Clintons to last us a lifetime.

So The Economist comes to the house these days, and like Time before it, piles up in a basket in the downstairs bathroom. However, it's not a good fit, because I don't want to live in the downstairs bathroom. Turns out The Economist has a lot of, you know, words, and stuff. You can tell how serious they are about all the words by the tiny margins. (As anyone knows who's ever tried to force five pages of prose into two, the first step is to narrow the margins.) Also, they place one impenetrable article right after another, with barely a blank line, let alone any celebrity gossip items, between.

I liked Time for its mix of news and fluff. Although I'm giving it the ol' college try, I fear The Economist is a bit too unrelentingly substantive for my gnat-like attention span and diminished capacity to retain anything I read (blame for both is assigned to my lovely offspring). Parents with children older than mine assure me that both these things can be recovered. In the meantime I have no time for The Economist.

After all, there are allergies to invent.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Why so serious?

So, yes... when they said The Dark Knight was a dark movie, they weren't talking about the lighting. It was dark, and unrelentingly so. If you don't like unrelenting darkness, or dark unrelentingness, by all means don't see it.

Heath Ledger in the role that likely contributed to (certainly couldn't have helped) a state of mind that required prescription help and led to death from accidental overdose? Insanely good. Spooky good. I'd say chills, but it's more like shudders, good. There were no clunkers among the other performances... Christian Bale and Maggie Gyllenhaal were fine, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine were pleasures, as always... but it's Heath Ledger's movie.

It was so dark I'm not sure when I'll want to see it again, but it was awesome. Complex, scary, thrilling, bizarre, intense, awesome.

Speaking of Christian Bale, I do know when I'll want to see The New World (2005) again: Never. Nevereverever. This was the worst piece of crap movie I've seen in I don't know how long (maybe since A History of Violence?). It's writer/director Terrence Malik's alleged epic masterpiece about the founding of Jamestown in 1607. Colin Farrell -- who I'm starting to think shouldn't be allowed to open his mouth -- plays Captain John Smith, and Q'Orianka Kilcher makes her debut as Pocahontas. Bale plays the guy who marries Pocahontas after Smith goes back to England and she's told he's dead.

I'd originally feared this was going to be just a sappy romance, and made shameful jokes about putting the "poke" in "Pocahontas," but it really isn't like that (unless you count a fourteen year-old dressed midwinter in seductively torn and slitted deerskin -- but that's not romantic, it's stupid, and -- when you later hear the costume person going on about how "authentic" she made things -- insulting). I think Malik really thought he was trying to do history. Baffling. The dvd extra about "the making of" shows how they went to all kinds of great lengths to assure the authenticity of the structures and layout of the settlement and the Native encampments. What they ended up with, though, was two and a half hours of embarrassing, clumsily arranged shots narrated in cryptic (yet dumb!) whispers. Was the film edited, as it seems, by vandals? We shall never know, but we were actually laughing at it by the time the damn thing was over.

Holy Racist Revisionism, Batman, is this ever one to miss.