Tuesday, March 14, 2006

In Which I Explain Why I Won't Be Posting For A While

Unlike all the bloggers I read regularly, we are not going to Amsterdam. (Is that like a meme now?)

No--we have kidlets who won't be little much longer, so we're going to Disney World.

Because we are romantic, we are staying "on campus" at the Wilderness Lodge. The nice People From Disney will pick up our luggage from the airport, they will transport us to our hotel, and we plan on being waited on hand and foot for eight days.

Except for the plane ride, of course. After all, we live in a one airline town, and even with the captive market, NorthWorst is in bankruptcy. So, I expect that customer service is not going to be high on their To Do List. On the other hand, they could have stopped all flights completely, or simply stuffed us in the overhead bins...or asked the passengers for volunteer pilots. You never know with bankruptcy.

But! It is of no matter! For we are going to the Happiest Place On Earth (tm) where we will be treated kindly and courteously, and large fluffy animals will pose for pictures with us!

To which I say: Whoo! And Hoo!

We leave Florida's sunny clime late next Wednesday. There is no indication on line that there is internet access there, so you'll just have to wait.

Oh, and it can only help our mood to know that it snowed six inches yesterday, and we will be leaving the winter BEHIND!


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Boomer Tunes

Have I bitc..I mean, blogged about this already? I write so many of these in my head before I post them that I can't remember.

Well, if this is familiar, you have permission to skip it.

Kid movies. We like to go see movies as a family, which means we see a lot of kid/family movies. And I am struck by the music. So many animated movies have a soundtrack that was already "classic rock" when I heard the songs the first time. Thin Lizzie, Styx, Eagles, The Monkees--sure, they are sometimes perfomed by new acts, but the songs are fundamentally NOT kid music. It is the music of their parents...or even older than that.

Which makes me think: if they had used similarly old music for the movies of my childhood, we'd all have been singing "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime" and "Hinky Dinky Parlez Vouz."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

You Say It's Your Birthday

So, today is my birthday, and the weather turned impossibly sunny and warm--too warm for a jacket. We are actually going to celebrate when Mr. Sweetie comes home, going out for dinner, then cake and presents at home.

So, what did I do for my birthday today?

I returned some votive candle holders and a copper wall hanging to Pier One.

I returned some books to the library.

I returned a movie to Blockbuster, and I returned to Blockbuster because the Bunny had left the newly rented movies at the store.

So--do you see the theme?

Happy Birthday--and many happy returns!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Oscar Bloggerhea

I love watching the Oscars, even though I rarely get to see the movies beforehand. This time, I thought I’d try blogging the telecast, which worked until I got involved and forgot to keep writing. With some editing and additions, here is what I thought about the 2006 Oscar Awards.

First—the red carpet. I had to make dinner and actually be a parent, so I only caught a little bit.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman—Following the trend of becoming blonder for the Oscars. He’s got a deep black outfit, with a white tie. I have no idea whether it’s a good decision sartorially, but in profile, all it does is highlight his enormous belly. It’s a line of bright light curving around his bulk like a crescent moon. Does the ultrasound say it’s going to be a beer keg?

Felicity Huffman—before tonight, the fashionistas predicted she’d do a Swank, and wear something very very girlie—something that announces “yes, I played a man in a movie, but I’ve really got breasts.” She turns up on the red carpet in black Zak Posen, with a d├ęcolletage that goes to her waist. There is a huge bell skirt, with a shorter front that hits her mid shin. Not really terribly attractive, and the neckline—which isn’t really there—is not just low, but really disconcertingly wide, showing us that she has a lot of space between her breasts. Inches and inches of space that is just skin and sternum. The giant suspenders of the dress pass for a front, and are plastered across what appear to be non-existent breasts. Actually, I’ve seen some drag queens with that exact look—it’s the illusion of breasts, not the real thing. Which is really sad, as her hair and make-up are really well done and make her look as lovely as I’ve ever seen her.

Amy Adams—What is the deal with her dress? It’s got a ginormous bell shaped skirt with lots of flounces and swags. And, apparently, pockets. Who puts pockets in a ball gown? Amy Adams I guess. OMG—is it…leather? I didn’t see Sandra Bullock’s pocket gown until later—not a fad that should spread.

Jessica Alba—lots of camera time. Yes, she is lovely. Yes, she looks like a million bucks in her beautiful dress, with her beautiful skin and her beautiful smile. But…why is she even at the Oscars? Fantastic 4 didn’t get any nominations so far as I can find…

Keira Knightley—Girlfriend sure is skinny! She has an interesting dark dress, which I later learned was an eggplant Vera Wang, with a cut that like those Barbies from the 1950s. Either that, or she’s had her legs surgically joined at the knees. At least she’s not blonde! Way to buck the trend!

What is this mess Naomi Watts is wearing? The color is nice—shows off her hair, but why oh why is there a seam right around her hips? It’s at an odd spot—not really a dropped waist, because it’s higher than that, but nowhere near her waist. And did she bend over the limo paper shredder on her way to the awards? The bodice of that dress only looks like it was intentional because it matches her hair—which is so crispy and immobile that it couldn’t have been inadvertent. Hey, Naomi—you’re a very pretty woman. Why do you do that with your hair? Suddenly, I’m channeling your mother, aren’t I?

John Stewart—great opening. Love all the past hosts. Halle Berry and George Clooney in bed with Jon.

Who made poor Keira Knightley next to Jack Nicholson? What did she do to be punished so? Who did she refuse to sleep with? Or, who does Jack Nicholson have pictures of that allows him to arrange his seatmates?

Charlize Theron—made up like Goldie Hawn in her salad days. Except Golde Hawn didn’t have a man-eating bow on her shoulder. No, not Goldie—Elizabeth Montgomery. Let’s see if she twitches her nose. No, not quite right—hey! It’s this generation’s Zsa Zsa Gabor! Dahhhhhling!

Keira Knightley again—is that Nick Lachey on her other side? What did she do to the seating arrangement guy?

Love the joke—Capote showed that not all homosexuals are handsome cowboys. Some of them are effete New Yorkers.

Cloons wins! Supporting Actor, which he takes from Nicole Kidman, who is wearing a dress that is actually paler than her skin.

Yeah! Wallace and Grommit wins the Animation Oscar! Helena Bonham Carter and her breasts are in the house, and gave voices in two of the three nominees. After seeing her in the audience, from a cantilevered camera angle, we get the original bosom buddy—Dolly Parton!

Rachel McAdams—blonde? Why blonde? It doesn’t do anything for you, honey—just washes you out and makes the dimples turn into lines. Not everyone can do blonde—be a gorgeous brunette, and stand out!

Oh no, who gave Lauren Bacall such a difficult speech? She looks good—hey, she’s blonde now too? –but her speech! It’s like we had to watch her lose her mind right in front of us. If you’re going to use an icon like she is—make certain nothing goes so frighteningly wrong!

J. Lo! Stay away from the tanning booth! Geez—it’s a good thing you wore a green dress, or you would have looked like an actual film noir, all those sepia tones. Later, I saw a picture of her on the red carpet, gazing at her husband, and there is a HUGE white spot behind her ear where the spray tan missed. Ouch.

The meme tonight is bringing props up for the acceptance speech. We got big floppy bow ties from Nick Park, big stuffed penguins for the winning documentary. What should Heath Ledger and Ang Lee bring up?

How cute! Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep are presenting Robert Altman’s Honorary Oscar using his trademark overlapping dialogue. Both entertaining and charmingly affectionate.

Wow—was Crash as pretentious as the staging of the nominated song from the movie? Sort of a dry ice version of The Raft of the Medusa!

Uma Thurman wearing a lovely pale pink gown—after last year’s bedsheet debacle she looks especially good.

Hey, I just noticed—all five best movie nominees are also best director nominees. This hasn’t happened for a few years.

Larry McMurtry’s writing partner, Diana Ossana—wow, she looks an awful lot like Ann Margaret. As much like Ann Margaret as a normal human being can look.

Gotta love the make-up presentation. Steve Carrel working those eyelashes. Too bad they had to verbalize the joke—Carrell’s slow blinks were priceless. I guess we know why he’s been a virgin for 40 years.

Crash just won for best picture, and a very excited woman in a tangerine colored strapless gown had to hold an Oscar in one hand and pull her dress back up her boobs. Great camera awareness!

Trend spotter—large teardrop earrings. They can’t be diamonds—they are clear and look like the pieces hanging off the chandeliers in my house when we bought it.

Commercial for Don Pablo’s Mexican restaurants, promotes their “all you can eat” fajitas. Small print indicates that it’s “dine in only.” Which raises the question: How could you do “all you can eat” take-out?

Overall, I thought this year’s Oscars were less weighty, more whimsical than past years. There has been such an uncomfortable pretentiousness to THE OSCARS and the MOST IMPORTANT award on the planet. It lead to some horribly awkward moments as actors—who after all are NOT writers—tried to speak about BIG ISSUES and make the GLOBAL AUDIENCE aware of their pet project. This year, the jokes were smaller, the participants seemed more relaxed and actually attempted to be entertaining! I can get behind a trend where the Oscars aren’t just for the winners, but are designed to be entertaining for the audience too.

I Really Hate To Cook, or I'm Screwed

Okay, I've bitched before about anthropomorphism of animals, and how it makes it very hard to feed children foods that used to be Bessie the cow, or Wilbur the pig. In fact, that very thing has lead The Pony to becoming a vegetarian.

Except she doesn't really like to eat vegetables, so she's more of a cheese-atarian. Which you really can't do and stay healthy--there is too much fat in cheese, so something else has to form a meal.

She would eat poultry. So, being a cook who tends toward a protein, a veg, a carb and a fruit at each meal, we'd have a lot of chicken. Because chicken can be anything! You can put spaghetti sauce on it and it's chicken parmasan. You can stir fry it in soy sauce, and it's chinese! You can slap it on a form of bread and it's a sandwich! Douse it in sauce and it's barbeque! Add rice and cream of chicken soup, and it's casserole!

Infinitely variable, chicken is, and it's a staple of my kitchen repertoire.

Yesterday, The Pony's science teacher brought in a whole chicken from the grocery store, and dissected it. He pulled out the giblets and pointed out the components of the digestive system. He demonstrated the strength of the skin, and the way the tendons hold the bones together.

Chicken is now off the menu.

I am screwed!

Sarcasm Is So Becoming

Billboards are popping up all over town for a kind of coffee called "Seattle's Best."

They grow coffee in Seattle?

Who knew?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Parenting Lessons From The Stars

This clip is from Salon:

Talking to Out magazine, Madonna let it be known that her 9-year-old daughter, Lourdes, has been wondering about mommy's sexuality recently: "She is really obsessed with who is gay, and she even asked, 'Mom, you know they say that you are gay?' And I'm, 'Oh, do they? Why?' And she says, 'Because you kissed Britney Spears.' And I said, 'No, it just means I kissed Britney Spears. I am the mommy pop star and she is the baby pop star.'" (Associated Press)

Does Britney know this?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscar Mania!!!

I love the Oscars. Love, love, love, lurve, loave the Oscars. Not because I have seen the movies, because most of the time I haven't. I love it for the beautiful people wearing their most beautiful clothes, groomed to the nth degree, working that beauty for the cameras. I love that they are all happy, and that the winners take their beautiful selves up on stage to accept the beautiful trophy from the beautiful presenter.

Not to even mention the beautiful (and anonymous) trophy bearers. It is truly awesome how beautiful some people can be.

Yes. I'm talking about George Clooney.

Not only is he charming and handsome and well spoken and a good actor and a good director and a good screenplay writer and a guy with a home on Lake Como...his acceptance speech! Maybe Clooney should be our next president! Here is a guy who takes pride in being called "out of the mainstream" in a way that the Democratic Party has been woefully failing to do. He stood up for principles and decency--and he did it while looking incredibly handsome and utterly suave.

Heck--I'd vote for him.

Unclear On The Concept: Sports Edition

I have two nephews. The older is only about 7 weeks younger than the Bunny, but it's a case of "Same world, different planets." There is almost no way Danger Boy could be more different than the Bunny.

But I want to talk about his brother--the one with the incredibly large head and the brains to match. (I will have to come up with a better name than that. I know, I know!) Both Danger Boy and Little Brother play hockey. Hey, this is Minnesota. If you don't start your boys playing hockey before they leave the hospital, they are falling behind.

Danger Boy loves sports and loves hockey in particular and is competitive and deeply engaged in the process of winning. Little Brother--not so much.

His take on the game? "I don't like it when they don't share the puck."

How Bad Can It Be?

Dan Brown, the paranoid art major's favorite writer, is being sued. Two of the authors of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" are claiming that he stole their work for "The DaVinci Code." Random House is the publisher of both books, meaning that the plaintiffs are suing their own publisher. Dan Brown is actually not a defendant, but he is attending the trial and plans to be a witness for the defense.

As a First Amendment junkie since law school, I have my doubts about the validity of the suit here in America. This case is in England, however, and I don't know the copyright laws there. Still, had anyone even heard of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" before "The DaVinci Code"? Given that DVC has been on the best-seller list since it was published, how could you even get a better marketing campaign for "Holy Blood"?

However, this is not the point. The point is...

Look how charming it is to be sued in London! You are headed to the courthouse, with Tudor half-timbered buildings and neo-Classical structures glimpsed behind the charming double-decker bus. Oh, to be in London, now that the trial is there!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Pretentious Mommy Blogging

Apparently, those of us who waste bandwidth writing about our lives as stay-at-home moms are betraying the revolution. Similar to the current hatin' going on about women leaving upper level type jobs to raise their children--it is to betray women who use the internet to write about Important Things for those, like me, who use this writing thing to exercise our creativity in ways that work for us and our families.

If you've seen this controversy, you know enough about it. If you haven't seen it--lucky you--the above description spares you the vitriol casually tossed about in these, ahem, discussions.

So, I wonder, what if I did my mommy blogging in a pretension sauce? Not politics--that's for an entirely other entry--but literature? World literature? More precisely---Kafka?

Mr. Sweetie and I got to have a date night last weekend, and we went to see Theatre de la Jeune Lune's production of Amerika, or the Disappeared. I must admit that it was not exactly enjoyable, at least in part because the downward spiral of the main character was so painful. Despite his best efforts, he found himself on the wrong side of authority, unable to understand the charges against him, unable to escape punishment for things that were not his fault.

So, because I am who I am, I had to come home and Google Kafka, where I learned that he was the child of a domineering father. Kafka never married, and he was forced to retire in his 40s due to tuberculosis. He spent his last years in treatment, living off the money he received from his parents.

And that's where my mommy instincts kicked in. It's hard to be an adult--but it's something you can't avoid if you raise children. At least raise them responsibly. Kafka never did that--he never established his life and identity separate from his parents--and his art reflects the nature of his efforts to win his father's affection and his failure to do so. (More at my other blog, here.)

So, with that lengthy prologue, I come to my point--the way that parenting has forced me to step entirely outside my role as a daughter of my family of origin, to become a responsible adult in my family of choice. Even when the Pony was a baby, I did a number of things that were not easy (or even wise) for my family because I had not yet begun to think of myself as the mother. The addition of the Bunny made it inevitable--the balance had shifted and I had to be the one making decisions for the best of my family.

Which is not an easy step to take. I am far from certain that the decisions I make and the things that I do are right. I often want someone else to be the expert and give me the right answers. It is only over time that I have begun to realize that no one knows my family better than I do. No one has the "right" answers--there may even no be such things.

So, as I consider Kafka, I see the pain caused by his inability to separate from his parents--pain that is multiplied by the apparent arbitrariness of his father's behavior. It makes me glad that, painful as it is, I have had the opportunity to grow into adulthood.

Not that I don't like a little bit of praise now and then.

Unclear On The Concept

We were watching the Olympics Closing Ceremonies, and the Bunny noticed all the singers and dancers who looked like they were having a really fun time.

"I want to do that!" she cried. "Do they get paid to do that?"

"Those are volunteers, dear."

"Well, I still want to do that. I want to be a paid volunteer."

Sometimes The Disease Is Worse Than The Cure

So--I'm into day 2 of having this cold, and I'm actually feeling slightly better. I still have a tendency to look at any sort of project (emptying the dishwasher, for example, or sorting the cases and cases of Girl Scout cookies for delivery) and feel what little energy I have go whooshing out of my body, leaving me feeling like an old balloon. And, yes, I find myself muttering "Oh God!" under my breath when I have to remain vertical for more that about three minutes.

But! I am not coughing! And I am not so congested! Now it's just my brain that feels like it's been replaced with cotton batting, and not my entire head and sinus cavity that are packed! This is improvement!

Also, Mr. Sweetie and I had a bit of a disagreement this morning. Not a hissed fight, where you yell at each other like snakes, in the misguided hopes of not alarming the children. Not a full volume holler and stomp argument. Not, this was a civilized disagreement, where Mr. Sweetie pointed out to me that I had failed to hold up my end of the social contract in getting the kidlets ready for school. He smiled--a brilliant and shiny smile--and ended with "I need your help."

Okay, so Mr. Sweetie did not have a disagreement--I did. But did I say anything? NO! OF COURSE NOT! Because I can never articulate my thoughts at a time like that. So instead, I SMILED and NODDED MY HEAD! Okay, it probably wasn't anything like a pleasant smile--more a smile of clenched jaw and gritted teeth. My nod wasn't so much agreement, as it was sullen and grumpy! Yes! The most adult way of resolving conflict! Passive aggression is such a healthy way to participate in a relationship!

Shakespeare said it: "One may smile, and smile, and be a villain."

But---but---I'm sick, right? And by rights, I should have still been in bed, right? The fact that I was even up and had done ANYTHING AT ALL to forward the progress to school should have earned me mucho parental award points. Yes, while Mr. Sweetie needed me to help get the kidlets organized and fed and medicined and hair-brushed and backpack packed---which I usually do--

Well, today, I needed him. I needed Mr. Sweetie to organize himself AND the kidlets today. I felt scolded for not doing my job, when I was doing all that I could--and more than I should have been doing. I should have been in bed. I should have been resting and healing so that I could get well. I should not have been the party responsible for making sure that kidlets were ready for school.

But--you know what? I learned something about myself. I learned something good--that I am emotionally stronger and healthier than I have been in the past. Not so long ago, I'd have responded to Mr. Sweetie's (usually reasonable) request with an explosion of the pain and anger that was simmering inside me. Depression is not just sadness, after all, but is sometimes fury and hurt that lashes out at people--like, "how DARE you ask me to change anything when I'm doing the best that I can! You should just feel a little bit of the pain I'm feeling so I'm going to show you!"

I didn't do that! How pacifistic of me!

Nor did I feel that "kicked in the solar plexus" feeling that was also quite common. The deflating sense that no matter how hard I tried, I was just a failure. That I was incapable of doing any better than I was doing, and that I had no way of communicating that--I was just going to keep failing and disappointing everyone I cared about. Feeling like that used to put me to bed for at least 24 hours, just to rebuild a little bit of ego to try again.

I didn't do that either! How non-"conflict averse" of me!

Instead, I just realized that we each had a different understanding of how much I was going to be able to do this morning. Mr. Sweetie had gotten started late, and was running late, and I wasn't able to keep track of time and what needed to be done. So, he had needed my help at the EXACT SAME TIME I needed him to take over for me. Plus, while a cold will knock me flat on my ass for three days, they never even slow him down--no wonder he didn't realize that he was dealing with a virtual zombie this morning.

I'm so proud of myself! Okay, not so proud of the passive-aggressive thing--but I'm working on it!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Do I Need Sudafed, Or Prozac?

The Pony caught a cold and has been home from school all this week. Today, I've noticed a distinct slowing of my own mental processes, sudden and distressing bodily fatigue, and general feelings of not being able to be the one in charge any more.

I'm pretty sure it's just that now I have caught the cold--thanks SO MUCH for sharing, Pony!--but it sure feels similar to early stage depression. I'm already taking the antidepressants, so I guess I'll add some antihistimines. Too bad Sudafed is becoming a controlled substance.

Kids Say The Darndest Things

The Bunny had a short school week, ending today. So the school ran on its Friday schedule, even though the calendar says it's Wednesday. So I asked the Bunny this morning "Is today Friday?"

She thought for a moment and then announced: "It's Friendsday!"

I like that--it should be on the calendar.