Monday, February 26, 2007

The Saint Paul Brain Trust

So, weather is what we have up here in the Great White North. Local news? Is mostly a place to run the weather reports. Teasers during the Oscars? Were "I'll tell you how much snow fell."

Yes, we had a snowstorm. The weather reporters have been hyperventilating into paper bags since at least last Wednesday about this storm. Large numbers were being tossed around like confetti at the Love Boat launches--90% CHANCE OF SNOW ON SATURDAY!!!!

Friday night, we were getting deadlines for cancellation of events--church services, school concerts, all kinds of plans were being put into effect to deal with the snow.

Except. City Planning.

It started to snow on Friday night, by 11 pm. By mid-afternoon Saturday the grass had all disappeared and we were looking at a couple solid inches of snow that was settling in to stay for a Nice Long Visit. Months even. By late Saturday night--10 or so--Driving was getting tricky because of the drifts and accumulation. One of the suburbs was already running multiple snowplows to stay ahead of the weather.

But. Not Saint Paul.

By Sunday morning, before 10 a.m., the snow was so deep that I couldn't get my van out of the driveway. More accurately, I got my van stuck in the snow in the street at the end of my driveway. It took some real ingenuity to single-handedly push my vehicle back into the garage.

Because the street was not plowed.

Because despite FOUR FULL DAYS of ADVANCE WARNING, the City of Saint Paul DID NOT declare a snow emergency until later afternoon on SUNDAY, and the plowing didn't start until AFTER 9 PM THAT NIGHT! Nine frickin' P.M., people! Which means that the snowplows didn't START the emergency streets until SUNDAY NIGHT. Which means that on Monday morning when it was time for my kids to go to school?

That's right. Couldn't get out of the garage. AGAIN!

When did my street get plowed? Well, it's currently 2:30, and it's finally been done. Plus, it's since gotten so warm that once the damn street got plowed? The remaining skim coat of snow has MELTED. It was a close thing--if the city had waited any longer, they wouldn't have needed snowplows. AT ALL!!

So, we had a home made snow day. Sure, nothing was officially closed, but since we don't have skis, and the family pets are too small to pull a sled (the dog weighs 14 pounds, and the guinea pig weighs about 2), there was no way to get to school.

Stupid city.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscars--The Scoreboard

So--how'd I do. I got 5 out of 7, which is better than a monkey could have done, statistically. On the other hand, this was not a tricky year. Forest and Helen and Jennifer were gimmes, really. It was either Marty's year or it wasn't, and since it was, that's the five I got right.

I'm sorry Happy Feet won, as it was rather inchoherent, but I guess in the year of An Inconvenient Truth, a happy animated movie about penguins which WASN'T ACTUALLY ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING but could have been. . .must win. Then again, I think I may have already ranted about that movie, so we'll just move on here.

The only one of the big awards that was in any doubt was Supporting Actor, and I really didn't expect Alan Arkin to win. Sure, he got to die, but that was off-screen. And as Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly pointed out, comedians don't win Oscars. I gues the Academy liked Little Miss Sunshine way more than I did.

So, my goal for next year? Once again, I think I'll strive to see the Best Picture nominees, and my real goal is to make some bets on some categories that are less Sure Things. Maybe I'll have to make an effort with screenplays next year.

Oscar Bets

I've never actually written down my Oscar predictions before, but there's always a first time. Here are my guesses for the Big Six, plus animated film, since I've seen more of them than most people who are not actually parents.

Category: Actor in a Leading Role

Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole in Venus
Will Smith in Happyness
Forest Whittaker in The Last King of Scotland

This is one that really isn't difficult--Forest Whittaker has won everything else, and there is no reason to suspect that will change. Plus, how can you not give the Oscar to an actor portraying a charismatic, schizophrenic, foreign lunatic tyrant.

Category: Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children
Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg in The Departed

This is not such an obvious choice as Leading Actor, so this is a real guess. I'd have picked Eddie Murphy, as he has that one scene in Dreamgirls where he goes from enthusiastic happiness about his future, to crumbling inside and turning to drugs and death, without saying a word. That's the kind of scene that earns an Oscar. But, sadly, his next movie--Norbit--is an embarassment, and it got released before the Awards, so he's not going to win. I'm going to go with Djimon Hounsou.

Category: Actress in a Leading Role
Penelope Cruz in Volver
Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren in The Queen
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet in Little Children

Again, this is a "gimmie"--Helen Mirren.

Category: Actress in a Supporting Role

Adriana Barraza in Babel
Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi in Babel

There is no way Jennifer Hudson isn't winning this one.

Category: Directing
The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
The Queen
United 93

This is not an easy one either, but there are really only a couple of real contenders. Martin Scorsese has made a number of films that should have won--this may be his year with The Departed. Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood favorite, but I'm thinking that Iwo Jima doesn't speak to the current political reality in the same way that United 93 does. I'm going to go with the name, and pick Martin Scorsese.
Category: Best Picture

The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

I'm going to stick with The Departed in this category. I think Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen are too small of films--no great issues, no operatic emotions. Iwo Jima is out of step with the politics of our time, and Babel is this year's Crash, and Crash already won. So, Martin Scorsese wins my prediction.

Category: Animated Feature Film

Happy Feet
Monster House

I didn't see Monster House, as it was too creepy for my kids so we didn't go see it. I'm confident that it wasn't a bit hit either and won't win. Happy Feet was rather inchoherent, so I'm choosing Cars. It was not a great movie, but it was charming and consistent, beautifully animated, and so it should win.

I'm posting this at 2:45 so I'm going to have to be honest about it once the Awards are actually given out. I am so good at "forgetting" what my predictions were. What are your predictions for the Oscars tonight?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Separated At Birth--Hunky Edition

So, as I'm watching The Departed (review below), I'm finding the newly beefed up Leo DiCaprio kind of distracting. He was such a wispy little thing in Titanic: he looked like Kate Winslet would defeat him in three rounds or less. (N.B.--I adore Kate Winslet, this is not a dis.) But with his new bulk, he looked like someone else. Someone I've seen recently. Who could it be. . . ?

Paging Dr. McSteamy. Dr. McSteamy to the OR.

Modern Education

Pony's 7th grade geography class is doing reports on various countries. One of her classmates is doing a Latin American country, with a focus on the drug trade. We had this conversation:

Pony: So, then he said "I even have a recipe for cocaine! Do you want to hear it?" And we all said "NOOOOO."

Me: A recipe? For cocaine? What, like "take two eggs and a stick of butter?"

Pony: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pour in powder. . .wait, that's brownies.

I love my family!

The Departed--A Review

So, in preparation for Oscar Night tomorrow night, I saw The Departed last night. The buzz around this movie was pretty positive, and there is a chance that Martin Scorcese might finally win his Oscar for this movie. Best Picture? Possibly. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 90+% freshness rating.

Do I agree? Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I don't think I've actually seen any other entire Scorsese movie. I've seen bits and pieces, and I know his gory rep, but I haven't seen one in its entirety before. So, I can't compare itdirectly, but based on this one alone, I wouldn't go out of my way to see more.

As you probably already know, The Departed is a remake of the Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs, which I also haven't seen. But since the plot had already been worked out, I'd have liked to see this be more than just a clever crime romp, with some gratutitous violence and language worked in. There were hints of it, but the movie never slowed down enough to really give us effective personalities, and so it felt like a roller coaster ride, but it could have been more.

The plot can be summarized as follows: Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio are Southies (Boston) who grew up to be state police. Matt Damon owes his allegience to Southie Irish crime lord Jack Nicholson, and keeps him tipped off to police efforts to intercept his deals. Leo is browbeaten into "dropping out" and infiltrating Nicholson's outfit so the police can catch him. Matt is on a career fast track, ending up with the choice job of tracking down the mole in the police force. Leo is horrified at what Nicholson does, and increasingly fears for his life. In the end, the two suspect each other, and there are a series of showdowns and a lot of gunfire.

This could have been a tenseand emotional story about the conflicts between a man's honor, his ethics, and his obligations. Matt Damon is on a career fast track--does he never wish to be free of Nicholson's leash? Hard to tell. Leo is forced to participate in worse and worse crimes, and he finds himself doing very bad things in order to do the "right" thing. He starts taking pills to ease his anxiety, but the way he pops them, it's hard to see that they aren't Rolaids or Tylenol. He certainly doesn't act any differently before or after taking them.

Jack Nicholson? He's is one crazy bastard, that's for sure, but why does Matt Damon stick with him? There should be some kind of appeal to this guy. In the first few scenes, we see a schizophrenic personality--he's violent, then crude, then genuinely kind (buying groceries for the young Matt Damon)--that sort of see-saw personality is hard to escape. As soon as you are convinced he's insane, he does something that draws you back in. I don't see how Damon profits from his connection emotionally. I'd like to see Leo being drawn in against his instincts--instead, these three characters are all just two dimensional. Someone bought him groceries, so Matt Damon never thinks twice about suborning his own life to Nicholson's. DiCaprio is just trapped and horrified, but wouldn't it be darker and twistier if he caught himself being a bit attracted by this new life?

Which is, I guess, why I wanted to stop the roller coaster ride and get to know these people better. Otherwise it's just--good guy does bad for good reasons to catch a bad guy; bad guy pretends to be good, and then everyone gets shot and dies the end. If we saw how these deceptions affected these guys, if we saw how DiCaprio's sacrifices were actually helping to build a real case against Nicholson, if we saw costs of keeping the police ignorant of the undercover guys' identities. . .that's a movie that actors could sink their chops into.

Instead, we get a series of speeches that convey the ideas but not the emotional meaning behind what is happening. DiCaprio goes berserk, demanding the police arrest Nicholson for all his felony murders so DiCaprio can get out alive. Martin Sheen says "we're building a case" so DiCaprio has to go back. A case for what? What info do they need to close the trap on this guy? Wouldn't you be more invested if you could see how this particular deal was going to make or break this case?

Apparently, Scorsese's version adds some class and ethnic conflict to the original story. Maybe--there is some minor turf battle between the Italian Mafia from Providence and Nicholson's Irish boys in Boston, but it's not nationalistic--it's business. You can't have the boys from RI collecting protection money from the patsies in your town, right? Who cares what their ethnic background is? Plus, except for a couple of outbursts from Mark Wahlberg about "lace curtain Irish," there's very little sense that these lives are very different from the more privileged lives lived by Leo's "uncle" or the police psychiatrist. No sense that Matt Damon doesn't fit in where he iss because of his Southie background.

If you are looking for some fast footwork and some tough guys turning on each other at breakneck speed, then this is a fine movie. I tend to think that the Academy rewards movies that are "A Big Night At The Theater" with the Best Picture Award. The Departed is a bigger picture than either Little Miss Sunshine or The Queen, but not really something I'd give that award to.

Commercials--The New Methodone? Grey's Anatomy

So. I watched the last two episodes of Grey's Anatomy in real time. That is, I watched them on TV, at the regular broadcast time. Complete. With commercials.

I know this isn't really news, but god! Commercials suck! I got GA on DVD and watched 2 season's worth in under a week. No commercials, skipped all the "previously on Grey'sAnatomy" recaps, went straight for the emotional kick of the stories themselves, and got physically addicted to the tone and pace and big emotions of the show.

Then, I saw it on TV. With commercials. (Which suck, BTW.) And I may be over my addiction.

Because, seriously? Switching back and forth between Blue Meredith getting CPR and ads for Chevy Trucks. Kind of ruins the mood, you know? It's much much harder to get into that space where the storytelling gains momentum, and the emotions build on the ones that came before. At least, that was my experience. Your mileage may vary.

So, what about the Very Special Three Part Sweeps Month episodes, you ask? Has the show in fact jumped the shark, as so many posters at TWoP claim? I'd have to say no. But. (That's a qualified "no.") Let's start with the bad:

The Bad:
  1. What happened to all the patients and victims of this 1500 passenger ferryboat? Geez--Meredith turns blue and suddenly all these surgery hungry interns have nothing else to do but help in the free clinic? Surely someone has a compound fracture--and what happened to Izzy's guy who was crushed by the cars? Surely he needed some surgery.
  2. Um--the Seattle Grace of Meredith's mind? Hottie McBomby could come and go because his life had a completed feel to it. Denny was trapped because he couldn't move on. What about the dog? Why is the dog unfinished? Or moving around the various dimensions? On the other hand--Meredith wakes up to the twin yumminess that are Dylan and Denny, and she totally disses them. "No offense, guys, but the one I'd really want to see is . . ." Cue dog here. HA!
  3. Bonnie? Bonnie? She was a great story, heartbreaking for her bravery. Why does Meredith need to see her again? Why do we? I think it cheapened her story to show her dead and mad about it.
  4. Ellis's scrub nurse? That's who Meredith wants to see?
  5. Ellis shows up and makes it all better with a hug? Yeah, right.
  6. For a three part episode (that's, um 2, carry the 1) that's 129 minutes of story. So why did the big emotional moments get so rushed?
The Good:
  1. The point of the episode minimized the "Lead Character In Jeopardy (but you never actually kill the lead character)" cliches. Sure, there was the requisite hospital dramatics--"charge the paddles to 200. . .clear!" "Still no heart beat" you can't seem to avoid. BUT the point of the episode was to show Meredith acknowledging her own despair. "What's the point?" that lead to her drowning rather than still fighting.
  2. ALSO the reaction of the people around her: Cristina's fear and inability to watch her friend die shows sensitivity we don't see from our gung ho surgeon. I loved that at her moment of crisis she went shopping--at the DOLLAR STORE.
  3. Burke's response to Cristina--"If your person dies and you aren't there, I don't see you coming back from that." He doesn't really get their friendship, but he's trying. He does understand that she is more important to Cristina than her other friends, and he truly cares about her.
  4. Izzie being served a strong dose of Shut The Fuck Up by GEORGE! Izzie: "I can't lie about how I feel." George: "Yes you can, and you should. If you're wrong, you'll just look like a jerk. If I'm making a mistake, I'm going to need you and you're taking that away from me." Way to stand up for your woman, George.
  5. Derek going all judgmental on Ellis. "You broke her." Totally not Hippocratic Oath, dude. But finally some real fire to your mopey love.
  6. Denny, the epitome of a woman's man, getting the thing about Mere and Dere. "If you don't come back from this, you are going to change him." She isn't going to choose to live for her own sake, but for the sake of the toll it will take on her friends and especially the man she loves.
So, I think I might stick with Grey's, but I won't make a point of watching it on Thursday nights. I'll wait for the DVD, or catch four episodes at once on the website instead.

Did I mention that I hate commercials? I think they did help me kick my addiction though.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


So, Mr. Sweetie works in technology. He's not actually a techie, himself, per se. He's more of the techie translator: he takes executive and business directives and translates them into TechTalk. Sometimes this requires speaking other foreign languages, like C++ and something called "hexidecimal." He then gets a response and retranslates that into ExecuSpeak. He's really a smart guy.

One of the issues at his work is that they are running out of room for all the techies, so eventually there will need to be new office space. And when that happens, I have the perfect office solution! No more cubicles, no formica worktops cantilevered from Berber covered half-walls. Just say NO to traditional office decor! This is, after all, the 21st century, and we are living in the Future. So, I think it should look like The Future.

It should look like this:

With the added advantage that it's a perfect position to watch hospital drama shows: you can feel like you are right in the middle of the action!

Bad Habits

Oh hells. I did it again. And I promised myself I wouldn't.

Mr. Sweetie is out of town again. And I went to bed at 3 a.m.

And got up again at 6:40.

I'm just too old for this! Plus, if I keep this up, I'm going to sleep through my finals!*

*Because didn't we all do this in college? And aren't we over that now?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Life Is Totally Unfair!

So, I'm breezing through my ever increasing list of Must Read blogs, and I come upon this post from Miss Doxie. And I'm thinking:


I mean, it's just not fair! Not only is she a productive and practicing attorney (a career I myself left some 10 years ago), but she's clever! And artistic! And funny! Who knew that lawyers could be funny without using Latin for punch lines?

And if you look at her picture, you see that she's also pretty, and happy too!

Damn you, Miss Doxie!

I can only promise that I won't just go and stick my head in the oven because it's locked because it's performing a "cleaning" cycle.

And don't be impressed that I'm cleaning my oven--damn crap on the elements went and made my frozen pizza dinner smell funky, so it's clearly been too long since I pushed the little button to make it clean itself.

I bet Miss Doxie keeps her oven clean too!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bumper Stickers Make Me Think

So, I'm driving behind a car I've seen before in the neighborhood. It has a lovely line of minimalist bumper stickers lined across the rear bumper. Three of them are plain white, with basic black lettering. No pictures, icons, fancy fonts, distracting colors. Just clear, plain, easy-to-read comments designed to be legible at legal following distance.

They say:

Well-behaved women
rarely make history

It is easier to raise healthy boys
than to fix broken men

Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens
Jimi Hendrix

The last bumper sticker did not fit this format. In fact, it was a red, white and blue political sticker, that said:


Which puzzled me. While I don't actually live in a socialist republic neighborhood, or an anarcho-syndicalist commune, there are a lot of proud Democrats and other liberals, and the first three stickers made me wonder what it was about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that appealed to the person who had so carefully placed those other comments.

Then I looked again.

The last one actually said:

Ah! Not a campaign sticker at all, but a political statement against the current administration! No wonder I was confused. Nice to know that my knee-jerk assumptions about people are sometimes right.

Be Careful What You Wish For!

Mr. Sweetie has just leaned over my shoulder as I was posting. "When are you going to write about meeeeeeee?" he asked.

I could feel the evil smile sliding across my face. Hmmm. He really wants a post about him? Seriously? I mean, seriously?




Oh, but I love him too much to do that to him. At least, I won't do it right now.

I Need An IV Drip STAT!--Grey's Anatomy

I'm serious about that IV drip. I've been watching Grey's Anatomy on DVD (seasons 1 and 2), and I got to the end and it was like a hangover. Seriously? Physical withdrawal symptoms. Elevated BP, difficulty breathing, tendency to experience eye watering.

OK, so I was crying. Yes, I was. I'm a sucker for emotional crack, and Lord help us, Grey's Anatomy is that. We have the effortlessly charming and yummy Dr. McDreamy, spending the first season knocking on Meredith's door to see if she can come out and play. As a med school graduate, Our Mere is no dummy, and she can see what a disaster it would be to date her boss. Her boss's boss, actually. It has to not happen. But he is soooo yummy, she can't help herself. She's got a messed up personal life, she's starting an incredibly stressful internship, and here's this charming, funny, sexy man who likes her and wants to bring something positive into her life. OF COURSE she can't resist him. Yes, my heart started beating wildly as she kissed him in the elevator at the hospital--these are people who should be together. It took a bottle of tequila (which hits hard on a female who weighs about what the full bottle weighs) for her to give in, and with equally bad judgement, she gets caught with him by her boss. But he's so damn adorable, that's gotta be something we can all keep out of the work relationship, right?


Sadly, disc 2 of season 1 was missing from the video store, so I had to skip straight into season 2, and Denny and Izzy and the broken heart. Yes. I cried. A lot. Plus I had to wrap my head around Mrs. McDreamy. And Mc Steamy. And McVet. God, there are a whole lot of really good looking doctors in Seattle! I bet it helps with getting women to schedule regular check-ups, when the doctors are so. . .so. . .so edible.

But all good things come to an end, and so did season 2. And by this point, we are already 15 episodes into season 3. But, did I let this stop me? Hells to the no! Because due to the Amazingness of the Internet, I can read blow by blow recaps of all the episodes, and catch up with the story. Who was that masked recapper? I wanted to thank him/her. Thank you Television Without Pity!

But wait! There's more! And I'm not talking Ginsu knives either. No way. Because in the 13 years since I stopped following weekly television series (coinciding, not coincidentally, with the age of my oldest child), television has become more than the mere broadcast. More than online bulletin boards where fans can rave or rage over the latest episode. No! Now television talks back! The writers of Grey's Anatomy have a blog where they talk about what went into making each episode, how they viewed the writing process, what they tried to do with the story and the overall series arc.

And then? Then it turns out that ABC posts the last 4 episodes of the show (along with many other series) on its website, and you can watch it for free! Each episode is sponsored online by a single advertiser, and they get about e 30 second spots to run their ads between acts of the episode. Which is way less advertising than you get with watching it on TV. It's even less advertising than you have to see before a movie starts in the theater these days. This is da bomb! I'm too cheap and scared to buy TiVo, because I would either never use it, or use is far far too much. So, I can watch and re-watch episodes I missed when they were broadcast.

PLUS! Grey's has a helpful listing of the music they play during the episodes. And through the magic of YouTube and MySpace, you can even find a lot of that music already posted online to listen to. ALSO for free. I've discovered that I enjoy Psapp, who I found from the Grey's Anatomy theme song. Who I've now seen performing live through the magic of webcam in the KCRW studio. How cool is the internet?

But Grey's. I'm not certain why I'm so hooked. Sure, I have always loved watching pretty people do glamorous things. That's why I watch the Oscars every year. That's why I read People Magazine at the dentist's office. But I'm not addicted to those things. Not like to Grey's.

Maybe it's because it's hooked me on two levels. First, it's socked me in the gut a couple of times, and grabbed my heart right out of my chest and squeezed it while twisting my intestines for good measure. I mean, Dylan, the Mad Hot Bomb Squad Guy? Hell of a story that was! Pink mist! Christina Ricci totally owning the OR as Panicky Hannah the EMT! The way that story just got worse and worse. . .not only was the patient shot by his own bazooka, but then the ammo was unexploded! And Mad Hot Bomb Squad Guy couldn't defuse it until the doctors got it out of the patient's body! And Panicky Hannah ran away! And Our Mere stepped in on instinct before she realized what she was doing! And Mad Hot Kyle Chandler just looked at her, and you totally knew that if McDreamy was going to stick with his wife, then Our Mere was going to find something intense with Mad Hot Guy! But then! And then!

But this show also gets me on the intellectual level, which is not something all TV does for me. Because this show makes an effort to take a theme each episode, and illustrate it from different angles, in the lives of the different doctors and patients. A two part episode that starts with cheesy cliche of three girls in the shower together porny dream sequence- - -ends with the three girls actually in the shower, two of them supporting the third, helping to clean the blood off her, to take care of her. Because that's how women really do relate to each other, and if you pay attention, you can see that the show is carefully crafted to make those connections. If you don't see them, fine, but it's fun to see them for yourself.

I'm a little sorry that even though these interns are still in their first year of residency, they've gotten medically so competent that we don't see them pushed to their limits. One of the things that the first season did so well - - -and the old series "thirtysomething" also did- - -was to show the panic and fear of failing at this career you've set out on. Fear of job failure happens in every occupation: with doctors, it's not just you and your career, it's also somebody's life. So the stakes are higher, but the cold lump of dread in the gut when you think you're failing? That's universal.

So, the series is currently in Sweeps month, meaning it's show 2 episodes of a 3 episode arc, and Our Mere is in jeopardy. And I don't mean the game show. And on the boards and in the comments, people are fed up with sweeps stunts. After all, the frickin' show is named after her, how likely is it that Meredith Grey isn't going to be saved? But I still have some hope: hope that the final episode will not be "will she or won't she survive," but "how does this experience (extreme though it is) test Meredith's character?" How is this going to push her into territory where she is vulnerable and weak, and how will she pull herself through it?

I just found out yesterday that the creator of Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rimes, wrote the screenplay for Princess Diaries 2, which was kind of a mess of a movie, but did have some clear structure underlying the mess. The movie was built around 3 major life passages: coming of age, getting married, and taking on adult responsibilities. Grey's Anatomy seems to have a similar "life stages" structure. Meredith starts her internship- -it's her coming of age. She's left the protection of school and entered the world as an adult.

Meredith meets McDreamy, the man she thinks she can spend her life with. She resists at first (because unrequited longing is soooo hott!) because he's her boss, and then they are kept apart because he's married and his wife is fighting for him. But that marriage is now over, and they can be together. This is the "getting married" part. However, even though engagements are busting out all over Seattle, Our Mere doesn't want to get married. Instead, she . . .she. . . what? What is going on for Our Mere? She's not talking about what is going on, but something is not Happily Ever After for her. She's too complicated and modern for that. Finding The Right One is not the end of the story. In the Princess Diaries, the princess nearly married the wrong man, and ended up stepping up to her adult responsibilities by herself. Only after finding herself could she truly be ready to love someone else.

I think Our Mere has something of the same problem. McDreamy, for all his swoony gorgeousness, can't make everything right. In fact, by the end of part 2 of this Sweeps story, Meredith is in trouble, and McDreamy is the one person who has to stand by and do nothing. It is graphically demonstrated--it is impossible for him to rescue her. She has to rescue herself, somehow, and I have hope that the resolution of this story will be powerful enough to hook me again.

And at that point, there will officially be no hope for me. I'll just have to load the whole damn series on my iPod, so I can administer my drug at will.

Weather Update

It's late February here in Minnesota, and for the last week it's been bitterly cold. The highs have barely cleared zero, with an occasional 5 degrees for variety. Bitter bitter cold. The kind of cold where even for the short time it takes to hook the dog to a leash to go out into the back yard, you need shoes and a sweater.

That was then. This is now.

The cold has disappeared. Yesterday, temperatures flirted with 50 degrees--coyly peeping out from under its bangs and blinking s-l-o-w-l-y, making its eyelashes sweep dramatically up and down. Maybe putting the tip of its tongue in the corner of its mouth? Flirty!

Today was warm again, and the sky was clear and blue and the sun was warm. Birds are starting to call out their territories, people are leaving their coats at home. High school girls are wearing short skirts and canvas tennis shoes outdoors, and puddles are forming between the retreating snow banks. Last night, I lay in bed feeling too warm for even just a sheet, wondering if I could realistically open the window to cool off the room.

It feels like spring here, a season that doesn't arrive here this early. Not usually, anyway. Maybe we're just all celebrating the start of spring training?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fast & Furious--The Catch-Up Post

So, I've not managed to blog about a bunch of stuff that has shown up on my radar, and rather than bore you with out of date posts, I'm going to do a quick run-down of all the stuff we've missed together.

Think of it like a clips show, or Best Week Ever.

So, Super Bowl XXVXIIIXXIIIILCDXI, or whatever. There was a game. Large steroid enhanced men deliberately threw themselves into each other, and one side won. The ads? Universally panned as Not That Great. What was great? Prince, of course.

However--Prince? I love you, man. I loved the music you played. I loved it even more THE FIRST TIME IT CAME AROUND. Seriously, dude. Purple Rain came out before I got married, and I've been married so long that we didn't have ATMs or answering machines and our marriage certificate was illustrated by some monks in a scriptorum.

Sure, Purple Rain the song was terrifically anthemic, and singing it while it actually rained was very cool. But think of the children! I mean, if the Super Bowl half-time show music was written before any of the players were even born, when are they going to get their own culture? See also: the Grammy Awards.

Although, to give credit where it is due--the FAMSU marching band was WAY cooler than the semi-choreographed young people who usually fill the field with the scary echoes of Up With People. And marching band is a seriously underutilized tool for rock and roll. I mean, Hello? "Tusk," anyone? Fleetwood Mac? Yeah, I thought you'd remember. Danny Elfman used the same sound in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack.

The Grammys. Since when is the Grammy red carpet so damn. . .glamorous? Decorous? All covered up? I mean, wasn't it the Grammys where J.Lo wore that dress that was a long scarf and a brooch holding it in place? Didn't we see Avril Lavigne wear a tuxedo with "Rock On" written on the inside? With Chuck Taylors? Since when do rock and hip-hop and country and R&B wear designer duds? When did fashion trump rebellion?

Thank God there's John Mayer, who may be useless as a singer, but had the good sense to pattern his look after a Hollywood icon:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine--A Review

So Mr. Sweetie and I rented Little Miss Sunshine, because we've got Oscar Fevah! Or, at least, when we decided to rent a movie, it was the only one of the Best Picture noms that was out on DVD.

So, I can totally understand why this was a hit at Sundance. It's incredibly well acted, it's about a dysfunctional family, it's got drama and humor, and you can feel superior to everybody up to and including the beauty pageant contestants. It's got a great cast, and a great back story. But.

There's always a "but," isn't there?

We saw it as a Best Picture Academy Award Nominee, and it just was too weird for me. I mean, I love Toni Collette, and I think she's one of the most underappreciated actresses in Hollywood. Steve Carell is wonderfully wry, and Abigail Breslin is truly winsome. However, I never found myself caring about these characters.

With the possible exception of Toni Collette. Her frazzled mom is clearly the bedrock of the family, and she tries to let each member of the family be who they are. She tolerates her son's vow of silence, she supports her husband's goofy self-help empire-in-the-making. She's accepted her foul mouthed, heroin taking father in law, and immediately takes on the care of her suicidal brother. When Olive suddenly qualifies for a beauty pageant in California, it's Mom who makes the trip happen. She's a real person, and her life is just barely under control, but she finds love and joy.

There is something to be said about how each of the other characters have had their dreams shattered. Perhaps they have all been scarred by their failure to live up to the American Dream of success, and each of them responds in different ways. Steve Carell tries to commit suicide. Greg Kinnear retreats deeper into denial. Alan Arkin turns to drugs. Paul Dano screams his pain to the skies. The thing that redeems all of them, though, is how they refuse to let the littlest of them, Abigail Breslin, have her dream crushed. At the end, as her dad and brother are trying to keep her from going onstage, it is because they don't want her dreams to die so young. The reason they get on stage is to protect the fragile hope that still exists in her.

But seriously? They lost me at the "kidnapping the dead grandpa and stowing him in the back of the van" scene. I never for one minute believed that Greg Kinnear's character would do such an obviously illegal, disrespectful, strange and unhygenic thing. Toni Collette managed to convince me that he was fud up with her husband, but was going to continue to enable his wishes--and I didn't think that she'd put up with that either. Frankly, I thought they might have just walked away and come back the next day after the pageant--abandoning him to the clinic for 24 hours might have been technically improper, but was WAY less stupid than stealing the body.

Plus, dead bodies in cars? Haven't been funny for decades. Didn't Weekend at Bernie's signal the end of any dead body humor? And the stripper dance at the end? How different was that from the dolled up dancers in sequins and make-up that were the other contestants, really? Sure, she wasn't as polished as they were, but she was also not fundamentally different from them either. That's the whole squicky thing about children's beauty pageants--little girls are inappropriately sexualized, and they don't really understand what they are doing. Olive didn't either.

If it hadn't been nominated for Best Picture, I wouldn't have bothered watching this movie. Not even for free on TV on a Saturday afternoon while I sorted socks.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Stop the. . .I Mean START the Presses!!!

Harry Potter 7 is coming out! We have a publication date!!

July 21, 2007--a day that will now dominate my personal calendar as well as my entire waking life until then.

Somewhere, my kidlets had gotten hold of the idea that the 7th book would be published on 07.07.07--which has a delightful arithmancy angle to it. I'm sure Hermione Granger would approve. Sadly, we'll have to wait another 2 weeks after that. It will come out ten days before what would be Harry Potter's 26th birthday, if I have the math right.

Okay, here's the worst of it. My kids are INSISTING that we read the whole thing together. No reading ahead. No sneaking peeks. Reading, with all 4 family members in the room, one person reading out loud. I haven't been able to do that for the last two HP books--I don't know how they think I'll manage with this one.

(scurries off to find a countdown clock for the blog. . .)

(comes back after posting countdown clock for blog. . .)

FYI--Dan Radcliffe turns 18 two days after the release of HP7--July 23, 2007. At which time it is no longer necessary to maintain the maternal feelings we all had for him when he was a cute 11 year old,

and can recognize him for what he is today: a stone cold fox.

Whiner Wonderland

I have a message for the patch of black ice that was lurking under the soft and fluffy new-fallen snow yesterday. Yes, I'm looking at you, damn patch of ice just under the curb at the intersection where I was walking the dog yesterday. The ice that caused me to slip, land on my right hand and jam my thumb into a swollen mass of pain and hurt yesterday?

Bite me.

Oh Yeah, We're Going Down

Illness and injury has struck Chez Evil. Mr. Sweetie--despite working in a health care industry--has come down with something that knocked him on his ass on Sunday, and is still giving him those thrill rides of illness. You know, like aches and chills and dizziness and all over general weakness. Kind of like a really good rollercoaster ride, except not.

He was so sick yesterday that we conducted a house-wide scavenger hunt for a thermometer. When Mr. Sweetie appeared downstairs, dressed and allegedly ready to take the kidlets to school and go to work--but pale and drawn as an Edvard Munch painting, we had the following dialogue:

Me: So, what did the thermometer say?

Mr. Sweetie: . . . .

Me: So! You have a temperature so high that you aren't going to tell me because good sense would then require that you stay home because you are--in fact--too sick to be going to work!

Mr. Sweetie: . . . .That's pretty much it, on the button.

Of course, being raised with a solid and admirable work ethic, Mr. Sweetie went in to work, with the promise he would come home early. Which he did...for him. So, while I admire and respect (as well as personally unfairly benefit) from this work ethic, I did suggest that maybe he ought to rethink his position. Sure, he was scheduled for an important meeting with the two highest ranking people in his company--but, and maybe this is just me, one of those men is about 80 years old. And maybe, just as a matter of courtesy or something, he might want to know he was going to have a meeting with someone virulently ill and probably contagious, and might want to have the opportunity to NOT EXPOSE HIMSELF TO FLU?!?!?!

But then, I apparently have lost my work ethic--it's bound to be around here somewhere, and maybe it'll show up--so I have no moral authority on this point. Besides, if Mr. Sweetie were home yesterday, it might have interfered with my demanding schedule of bubble bath, paperback novel, and bon bons.

This morning, his temperature was only 100, so it had dropped TWO WHOLE DEGREES (damn, that man was really sick yesterday), so he got up and headed out again. He is stopping a a medical facility to get checked out before he goes to the office. Which I applaud, especially since there is NO Lifetime Achievement Oscar Award for Method Working--putting himself in the place of a character who is healthy, and then acting accordingly is not recognized by The Academy.

On top of that, The Bunny is home sick too. She was movin' and groovin' last night until right at 9:30, when some invisible assailant socked her in the gut, and she curled up and went to bed complaining of a stomach ache. This morning, she didn't feel any better, and given the crud that has been documented in our household, I've kept her home and let her sleep.

Pony is still going strong, so that's good. Me? Well, I don't have a bug. But it's February 1st, which means we are now officially in the month that is the time where my depression gets the best of me. I've already noticed over the past couple of weeks that despite the fact that I WANT to so some stuff, I don't seem to be able to actually DO it. I ended up resigning from the board of a really nifty non-profit organization--full of retired nuns, who are the rocking-est women on the planet--because I just can't do for them what I want to do. And rather than berate myself for constantly failing them, and actually failing them, I've let them know that I need to step away.

Yup! It's time for a meds check! Time to go see the Prescribing Medical Professional and tweak that Wellness Cocktail! I do have to say that I am surrounded by people who are nothing but understanding and kind and encouraging about this, so I am as lucky as I can possibly be while having to deal with this chronic suckage. I mean, if one has to be depressed, I'm not sure there are many better situations than what I have. Sure, the depression sucks great big pteradactyl eggs of suckiness, and I'm constantly disappointed in myself and frustrated by my inability to do all the stuff I want to do. . .on the other hand, I am blessed with a wonderful, generous, loving and supportive husband, who cheers my successes and reinforces all my positive steps. I have two wonderful, kind, funny, gentle, smart, well-adjusted children who are more fun than TV and less work than the guinea pig.

I have a very nice little dog, who spends calm and quiet days with me, hanging around and being my pack--who is a great little cuddler and who enthusiastically naps whenever I need it.

So, really, I know I am fortunate, and I wouldn't trade my life with anyone--except I wouldn't mind getting back to the person I used to be before this depression shit hit. Oh well, at least I don't have the flu. Yet.