Monday, June 23, 2008

New Math?

I went to my local PetSmart today to pick up some Desperately Needed guinea pig litter. And--well, the place was just weird. Picked over in some places, and not restocked. What the heck? I asked myself as I wandered past piles of clearance items and boxes in the middle of the floor.

Oh. See that? Right there? Those ENORMOUS RED SIGNS plastered all over the frontage of the store? Oh, those signs. The ones I didn't see when I came in. The ones that say "We're Moving!"

So, I take a look. "Come join us at our new location!" it says, all jaunty like "hey, stop by and we'll totally open that bottle of Nicaraguan rum we've been saving! " Like your friends back in college who would move from one student dive to another, and have beer and pizza while opening boxes--it's fun! It's friends! It's a chance to chill and josh each other.

But wait. "We are moving" to a "new location"--

where there is already a PetSmart.

So, excuse me if I've not got this right, but if you are moving your store into a location where there is already a store, isn't that just closing a store?

/counting on fingers/ Yep. The result is the net loss of one retail outlet. That is a closing. You can't fool me, because I took math!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Like I Need This!

Barnes and Nobel is having their annual clearance sale. Can I resist the opportunity of picking up books for less than $5?

My already groaning bookshelves vote: NO!

Now Serving Number ****

I have tried to limit myself from checking in on my Prius status to once per week.

I can log on to the dealership website and see how many people are ahead of me to get a Prius. It took about 10 days to even get my data entered, and when I first checked my number was. . .


When I checked in the following week, it was still 90. Well, what did I expect. It's not like cars arrive from Japan in a steady stream. Cars are not fast food, after all. No, they arrive by container ship, which means that a large batch arrives all at once, and get purchased, and then everybody waits until the next ship arrives.

So last week, my number was. . .

Still 90.

I'm totally prepared to wait until December. I'm having a bit of emotional deja vu from those last weeks of pregnancy, when I'd go to the OB once a week, who always informs you that "there is no more effacement and dilation, so we'll see you again next week." I would invariably become convinced that the baby was never going to be born.

Today I am number. . .


And Now An Opposing Viewpoint

Despite having just listed my Crabby Summer list, I do have to point out that although it is June, we haven't had a day that has officially hit 80 yet. Okay, maybe one. We still regularly wear our jeans because the weather at night is so cool that shorts are simply uncomfortable. Overnight lows have dropped into the 40s this month.

So WHY are all the stores on the face of the planet having their Summer Clearance Sales right now? It's still too cold to go swimming outside, for crap's sake! There is no way the population of Evil-ille is finished buying everything that they will need when the real summer weather hits. Sure, it's lovely having 50% off sales, but not when that means that the next time I go looking for patioware for a summer party, all that will be available are brown plates shaped like autumn leaves! Why do you send all the bathing suits back to stock school uniforms BEFORE THE SUMMER SOLSTICE?

I have kids heading to summer camps at the end of July. Let's just hope Target will still carry mosquito spray by then.

Yes, this is proof positive of the existence of parallel universes--the one in which summer is over by June 15, and the one where the rest of us live.

Signs of Summer for Crabby People

I have no reason to bitch about the weather right now. It's beautiful! The sky is clear and bright blue, the temperature is hovering just under 80 degrees, the garden is full of roses and peonies. So, I can't complain, right?

Ho! You don't know me very well, do you?

Because every silver lining has a gray cloud, here are my Crabby Signs of Summer:

  1. I have mowed the lawn. Twice.
  2. Caterpillars have dropped down my neck while walking the dog today. Twice.
  3. I killed my first mosquito, but only after it bit me.
  4. Twice.
Happy June!

Something You Don't See Everyday

The kidlets and I went to the zoo the other day, and there is such a decided demographic: namely people with strollers. This encompasses kids in strollers, moms pushing strollers, dads lifting strollers in and out of buildings, strollers used for carrying the diaper bag while the kid walks.

We purposely went a bit late in the day, figuring that the Stroller Brigade would be heading home for naps by then. Yup, it worked. We pulled into a parking spot ridiculously close to the entrance, and battled up the Stroller River to get inside.

I am still fascinated by all the different formats Moms come in. There are definitely 'types" of moms and I am always mentally trying to see where I fit. There are the cute tiny Asian moms, who look all of about 14--not me. There are the short shorts and halter top wearing moms, who are often identifiable in the restrooms by their ridiculous footwear. High heels at the zoo for gods' sake? Nope, not me either. Plus, they are so damn perky!

There are the fun moms, with cute but practical hair, wearing sensible walking shoes that are still cute--a lot of Skechers' cross straps in this group--who are interacting with their kids in positive ways. I want to be one of them, but let's face it--they usually have at least FOUR kids, and I'm just not that organized. Face it--I know they have coolers full of healthy picnic lunches and 100% juice drinks in reusable cups. I'm always the "we can buy something there" mom--my pre-outing packing routine stopped shortly after "Do I have my keys?" and "Did we remember to bring your sister?" Yeah, I wanna be one of that gang, but I don't have the cred.

Older moms? Well, no, and that is NOT just my vanity talking. Broadly speaking, older moms tend to have just the one kid, often adopted from a foreign country. Most of them look exhausted, except the ones who are more Earth Mother-y. You know the type: long curly hair, equal parts brown and salt-and-pepper; ankle length denim skirt; t-shirt with liberal slogan or activist cause on the front; Birkenstocks.

There was an actually specimen from this phylum near the exit as we headed for home. Barrettes clipped into hair? Check. Denim jacket on the stroller? Check. French pedicure?

WHA. . . ?

Who wears Birkenstocks and a French Pedicure? I bet nobody who works at Mother Jones gets French Pedicures! French Pedicures scream "I get pedicures AT LEAST every two weeks which means I have an hour and a half during daylight hours to spend on myself! Plus the ability to drop a substantial bit of money as well!" French manicures say "I pose for J. Crew catalogs for the employee discount on polo shirts."

They do not say "I carry my own reusable hemp backs when I shop at the co-op to save the trees." They do not say "I only eat tomatoes I grow myself in the back yard." They also don't say "long denim skirt with activist slogan on the front."

So now I'm stuck on this. Why would this Older Mom Type have a French Pedicure? I'm just guessing here, but I'm thinking maybe she has a daughter from a previous marriage, or maybe a step daughter, who knocked her over the head with a sock full of quarters, and she only came to sitting in a massage chair with her bare feet in bubbling water.

Yes, I think we have spotted the opening signs of Wedding Season.

Photo source here.


I haven't posted about the sleep apnea thing for quite a while. No, I haven't gotten used to the Damn Machine--in fact just the opposite. After about 5 months of using it, my breathing patterns seem to have been significantly retrained, and I haven't used it since about March. Yeah, I love being able to sleep on my stomach again.

But recently, I've been noticing a tendency to be tired again. It creeps up on one, this lack of sleep, and suddenly I heard myself saying something I hadn't said for months. "Gosh, I'm tired!" (I try not to swear in front of the kidlets.)

So I waited for a night Captain Sweetie was away on business travel, and reattached the Damn Machine for the night. God I had forgotten how it makes me feel like an elephant--the long air tube coming off the front of my face and getting tangled up as I sleep. Did the mask used to leak like this? Air is streaming into my left eye, and across my nose. This must mean readjustment. Fine, so I get the air to stop escaping. . .and now I can feel the mask material searing into my skin, so I have to loosen it and the air is escaping again. . .

It was a long night. For the three hours I actually managed to keep the Damn Thing on.

You know the real tragedy? After one night--ONE NIGHT--and not even an entire night with that Damn Machine, what do I get.


Killer insomnia. The kind where you toss and turn and wake up your bed partner (who falls asleep again in under 0.075 seconds, so he doesn't remember it, but he doesn't hear the scary noises he makes when he is startled from sleep). The kind of killer insomnia where you (and by you, I mean "me") go downstairs and watch the sun come up before feeling the least bit sleepy.

Four hours of sleep for a number of nights in a row isn't good for me. Know how I can tell? Because I can't even remember how many nights it has been.

But there is a silver lining! When I have insomnia, I don't have to wear the Damn Machine!

So! How Are The Children?

This is apparently a well known African greeting--meaning that if the children are doing well then the society is doing well. There are many political subtleties inherent in this, which I am not going to go into.

Life is too short right now.

The children, BTW are doing fine. Pony is volunteering at the Children's Museum and having a lot of fun with it. She's 14, and is taking the city bus to work and home again. I spent about 35 seconds feeling guilty for not taking her myself, but of course I realize that in a NORMAL world, she would have been taking a school bus everyday since she was 5, and it is NOT neglect to let a human being who is almost old enough to DRIVE get herself through an 11 minute bus ride.

Bunny is enjoying the opportunity to chill out and feed her Newsies mania through You Tube. I came downstairs one morning to see her sitting with the laptop, all dressed in black, with a Post-It note (TM) which read:
Do not worry. I am mourning the Newsies set, which burned down.

We let her alone with her grief.

So, me? Posting? Not so much, huh? Do I get an excused absence for the fact that my kids are now out of school for Summer Break? No, I do NOT use the word "vacation" here. I think "break" is apt, as there are days I feel like something is going to break before they go back to school, and I only hope it is something that can be glued.

Anyway, I'm back online and dedicating myself to posting more often. And losing 10 more pounds. And dating George Clooney. (Hey--he never marries any of his girlfriends, so he shouldn't mind if I am already married, right? That means no pressure on the relationship.)

Yes, I live in a fantasy land. But I like it here!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kilroy Was Here

I mowed the lawn yesterday. I had to. I was looking out the window and realized there was a rabbit in the backyard, but the grass was so long I could only see its eyes. It looked like this:

Except it was rabbit shaped.

Photo source.


Fortunately it's June and the final frost date has finally passed.

Unfortunately, it has rained for nearly every day.

Fortunately, it makes the garden grow.

Unfortunately, the garden is mostly growing weeds.

Fortunately, the weeds are green!

Unfortunately, they are also prickly and invasive.

Fortunately, the damp ground makes it easier to weed!

Unfortunately, nobody likes to weed when it is actually raining.

Fortunately it's early in the growing season.

Unfortunately, even when it isn't raining, the humidity makes it feel 20 degrees hotter than it actually is.

Fortunately, it's Minnesota, and it will be winter again in about two weeks. So stop complaining!

Tech Lust

Yes, I confess. Forgive me Father for I have sinned. I lust after the new iPhone.

Which is totally stupid, because hello? I'm getting the whole map thing in the dashboard OF MY NEW CAR! Where I would ACTUALLY use it!

Plus, I already HAVE a iPod. Which holds about FIVE TIMES more data than the iPhone does. AND has pretty pretty cases that are variously purple and shiny! Which you can't put on an iPhone because you use the whole darn front to work the dang thing.

Plus, it would be cheaper to just have one of those broadband/phone thingies for my laptop, if I wanted to have internet access anywhere--especially since I ALREADY HAVE THE LAPTOP.

So I ask you: Do you think Steve Jobs has figured out how to put crack in his hardware? Is there such a thing as "visual crack" that you can put into design? There was that infamous episode of Pokemon that supposedly put kids in the hospital through the use of flashing colors. Has Apple figured out how to make people into retail zombies so we see the newest gadget and mindless proceed to the nearest store and buy it?

I mean, logically, there is no reason I would want to spend that kind of money on a phone? When you can get all kinds of phones FOR FREE! Plus, why would I want to pay that much in service charges to AT&T? We're talking about easily 4 times what I pay in monthly fees for my current cell phone. The iPhone really only duplicates what I already have, so I'd only be paying substantially more for. . .what?

For that hunk of gorgeous gadgetry, that's what. It's like Steve Jobs has surgically damaged my amygdala, and now I can't control myself. All I can do is think "I want I want I want."

This is such a First World problem, I am embarrassed for myself. But not too embarrassed to post this!

Edited To Add: check out the price calculations from here.

Second Guessing.

I'm now in line for a Prius. According to the dealer's website, there are 90 people in line ahead of me. I'm not going to see it until at least November. Which is really hard for me, since one of my personal mantras comes from Postcards From The Edge: "Instant gratification takes too long."

But you know what? I still love my 1998 Honda Odyssey--it's still a great vehicle. So I can look at the intervening months as a farewell tour. You know, like Cher, who had a "Farewell Tour" that lasted at least 3 years and kept coming back to the same cities where she had already said "farewell." By the time I actually get a new car, I will have been saying farewell for at least another 50K miles, don't you think?

The down side is that it means I also have months and months to second guess my decision. Did I make the right choice? Should I have waited for the (unspecified) new technology that is bound to be released right after I buy the Prius? Should I have gotten a different car all together?

So imagine my horror when I heard Ira Flatow on Science Friday interviewing a Honda exec about the new All Electric Honda they are about to release. I didn't want to hear it. But shouldn't I hear it? Can't I still take my name OFF the wait list for the Prius? Shouldn't I consider an All Electric car if it's about to become available? Or should I just switch the station and pretend I didn't hear anything?

Then the guy from Honda said something I hadn't expected to hear. "Hydrogen fuel." HA! It wasn't all electric, it was fueled by something! You didn't just plug the car into the wall and drive--you had to fill a tank with something, even if it wasn't gas. Okay, then, maybe I could listen after all.

Honda Guy was tossing around impressive statistics: 270 miles on 4 gallons of hydrogen. Drive from LA to Las Vegas with only one fuel stop. New technology--limited release--future promise of hydrogen processing in your own garage, creating electricity, heat and auto fuel from your garden hose! Robot maids and personal jet packs! (Okay, I just made that last part up.)

But then the dirty details started to emerge. The car will only be available on a pilot basis in California. You have to register at a web site and submit a personal essay--and probably your GPA and SAT scores as well--and Honda will review them and pick the first people allowed to be customers. The car itself looks kind of stupid. And the kicker? The hydrogen is produced from natural gas.

So when I got home, I Googled the process for converting natural gas into hydrogen. The result? It takes between 11 and 12 gallons of natural gas to make 4 gallons of hydrogen. So, in fact, we are talking about a car that gets about 23 miles per gallon of gas. My 11 year old minivan gets 21 mpg.

I'm feeling better about my decision.

The 11th Commandment

Direct from Mt. Sinai--the 11th Commandment:

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's iPhone.

One can only comply with this, because Apple has announced the new iPhone 3G (which stands for "third generation"). The best new feature? Apple has dropped the price--8GB will be only $199, and 16GB will be $299! This is down from $399 and $499 respectively. You can't even buy a Palm Treo or a Blackberry from my wireless provider for that price!

Its going to be faster, and come with GPS, with the promise of new applications that continue to be developed. The new iPhone 3G will be available July 11.

I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.
I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.
I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.
I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.
I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.

Keep repeating it until you don't covet it!

I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.
I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.
I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.
I love my RAZR, I don't need an iPhone.

Photo source.

At The Zoo With The Improv Twins

I went with Pony and Bunny to the zoo today, and we made a point of visiting the prairie dogs. They have a nice little set up that mimics the dry western states, with plenty of bare dirt, some large rocks, and half a dozen scattered cow skull. No, I don't know if the skulls are real.

Although technically rodents, they are terrifically personable and engaging, and are always busy doing something. As Pony put it, "I know they are considered pests, but I'd rather have an infestation of prairie dogs than, say, cockroaches."

To which I say amen.

But because the kidlets are highly verbal, as well as trained in the art of improv, a trip to the zoo is not just a chance to see the animals, but to also engage in a running voice-over, narrating events as they happen. Thus, the sight of two prairie dogs standing on their haunches nibbling hay lead to this exchange:

Hello chubby little prairie dog. Are you on a diet? You look like you could lose a little weight. Is that your lunch? I'm going to call you "Lunchy." Luncy is a vegetarian, you know.

Oh? As compared to all the other prairie dog carnivores?

Yes. Look at all the skulls. You see, at night, they dig out of their habitat, and they go over there (the next area) and they grab one of the bison and bring it back. Then they roast it.

Prairie dogs have discovered fire?

Yes. They sneak out at night, carry the bison back upside down, with its feet pointing up in the air, and they take it underground, where they have their underground cooking fire. If you could see inside their burrows, you would see they have prairie dog planning sessions, where they all stand around in a circle, then they clap their paws and say "Break!"

Logic Bombs

(If you need to ask what a "Logic Bomb" is, go look here. They explain it better than I could.)

Like the kind of creep who uses Sudafed and fertilizer to make explosives in the garage--I give you our home made logic bomb:

My vacuum cleaner sucks. It doesn't suck.


My vacuum cleaner doesn't suck. It sucks.

Feel free to use it the next time you are held captive by an evil supercomputer!

Photo source.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Today, the fledgling robins have graduated from their nest. Two of them are sitting on the wooden swing set in the back yard, hunkered down, looking fat and a little bit scared. They obviously ad to fly there from somewhere, but there is definite body language in the way the one of them is hunkered down.

"Gravity. It's the law."

So, the "law" abiding birds are sitting solidly, occasionally stretching to full height, but soon returning to their impression of immovable stones. Even the squirrel, who has started to climb up to were the birds are lurking doesn't startle them into flight.

Something else does. Big Mamma's here.

The adult robin settles herself on the cross bar of the swing set. She doesn't make any obvious moves, but the younger birds look less stable, less determined to remain where they are. Maybe it isn't Big Mamma--maybe it's the kind of stereotyped thug, issuing vague threats. "Ya know, it'd be a shame, something happened to somebody who hung around dis here swing set. Yah. A real pity, ya know?" Because there. . . they. . .go.

The most reluctant one just took off, and glided across the yard to poerch at roughly the same height over on the privacy fence across the garden. And hunkered down again.

UPDATE: It's not Big Mamma, or Guido Soprano--it's the avian personal trainer! She found the Reluctant One and proceeded to chivvy him u p and down the fence. But he's more nervous of flight than he is of her, and he's resolutely remaining where he is. Perhaps learning to fly is like learning to ride a bike without training wheels. You have to want to GO more than you want to STAY.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Talladega Nights, A Review

I am old. I am cranky. I have long felt that Phil Hartman was overrated as a comic. I avoid Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and Jimmy Fallon whenever possible. I remember when Bill Murray was "the new guy."

Will Ferrell?

Loved the cowbell. Didn't find anything funny in Roxbury. That's about my SNL experience of him. I'll catch his movies when they come on cable occasionally. Loved Zoolander--he was funny in that. Ron Burgundy was fine for watching while sorting socks. He was unexpectedly terrific as The Man In The Yellow Hat in Curious George.

Blades of Glory made me laugh. Sure, it was crude, crass, and stupid, but it was also very funny. Funny enough that I flicked it on and found myself watching the whole thing. Even the big chase scene on ice skates made me laugh. So I rented Talladega Nights, the Ballad of Ricky Bobby. I had heard it was very funny, and I have a goofy love for John C. Reilly.

Cut to the chase: oh my god was this lame.

You could tell Ferrell was coasting--the movie didn't call for him to do much. Some of the actors clearly poured all the energy they could into their roles: John C. Reilly as the best friend, Leslie Bibb as the enabling trophy wife, Amy Adams as Jenna Fischer from Blades of Glory.

They tried. They really tried, but what can a mere actor do when the whole movie is paced like an episode of Teletubbies? The only lively bits were the NASCAR computer graphics. For a movie about speed, it was downright somnolent. Honestly, I gave up after the first 40 minutes, though Captain Sweetie watched it all the way to the end.

I'd write more, but I have to go yell at some kids who are on my lawn.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Adventures In ADHD

I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian this evening. I must point out, to give this story its proper context, that the Famille Evil saw this film about a week ago, and Captain Sweetie and I saw the new Indiana Jones movie just two nights ago. Accordingly, I have had it about up to here with hand to hand combat.

I went back to see Prince Caspian because Bunny and Pony wanted to see it again, and had invited a friend to see it with them. They did not go see Indiana Jones a scant 42 hours before. They had not overindulged in CGI hocus-pocus, nor were they particularly worried about suffering through Yet Another Epic CGI Battle sequence.

On the other hand, I could barely sit still.

This is unusual for me, this inability to sit still--the sheer number of hours I spend reading and computering would seem to be Olympic level training for the Sit-a-thon (expected to be an official Summer Olympics event by 2016).

Nevertheless, I really did not want to see this movie again. However, I have not prepped my kids to expect to be dropped off at the theater and then picked up again TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER. As a result, this was a test of my Mom-a-liciousness.

At first, I faked it. I had an interesting bout of insomnia last night, lasting until some time after 5 a.m. this morning. I was up before 8:30 a.m., so I used the dark and comfy seating at the theater to take a nap. So, I snoozed, and woke up, and the movie was LESS THAN HALF OVER. Oh my god, how was I going to survive? I toyed with the idea of leaving entirely, and shopping, or heading over to the bar next door and drinking margaritas--but rejected that as possibly leading to leaving the kids at the theater for an inappropriately long time.

So, at first, I went to the restroom. Then I went out and got a refill on my Diet Coke (TM). On the way back, I peeked into the theater across the way, and saw the last 10 minutes of Baby Mama. SPOILER ALERT!!! Tina Fey turns up pregnant. Even I saw that coming, and I had only seen about 2 minutes before that.

So, back to Prince Caspian. Sure, Ben Barnes is a hottie hot hottie, and I'd have stayed in Narnia for the chance to score with him. But there were just too many scenes of battle to suffer through, so I went back to the restroom (yes, there was much Diet Coke (TM) consumed--this was not entirely unwarranted) and then went to check out Sex and the City.

Oh. My. God. It was downright pornographic. Do we really need to see walk in closets the size of my entire house? Complete with individual lighting sources for each three linear feet of drawers and rack? Did you know this movie got an R rating to ensure parental guidance of real estate exploitation? I felt so. . .so. . .dirty and cheap, lusting after that pre-war penthouse that was larger than my entire city lot. So I tried to go back to Prince Hottie Caspian of Pre-Teen Appropriate Narnia--and that movie was only half finished!

So I whispered to Bunny that I was off to watch some other movies, and I went to watch the end of SATC. It was not about fashion labels and product placement that got to me--it was the obsessive pricing of everything. "Don't leave those Blahniks behind! Those are $400 shoes that have never been worn!" "Actually, they are $525 and I'll go get them."

Never mind that the constant flipping of NYC real estate must have resulted in realtor fees into six figures--clearly the world is much better for knowing that the throw pillow the Yorkie is humping cost $300. (Not that anyone mentioned that the Yorkie himself must have cost at least five times that--you can't put a designer name to a Yorkshire terrier, nor can you purchase one at Barneys, so we won't mention that price tag).

I wanted to write letters to the actresses, as follow;

Dear Kim Cattrall;

You have the world's best eye brows. Please let the rest of us know how you got them. Plus, there is nothing wrong in wearing a bra once you are 50--show off those assets to their best! Love, Me.

Dear Kristin Davis;

Please give me the name of the painter who did that portrait in your attic. Or else just make a Public Service Announcement about the perils of getting an ID that says you are 21 when you are only 7.
Your friend, Me.

Dear Sarah Jessica Parker;

Please publish your diet and exercise program for the rest of us. Also, please remove that weird pre-cancerous bump off your chin, and we will forgive your squinty eyes. Plus, "Three inch plus stilletto heels: the American answer to footbinding? Discuss."
Prophylactically and culturally relativistically yours, Me

Dear Cynthia Nixon;

You are perfect.


So SATC ended, and Ding Dong, Bridezilla Is Dead! But there is still another agonizing 45 minutes before Narnia is freed and Britannia rules. So I leave the theater, AGAIN, and stop into What Happens In Vegas. Nothing is happening in Vegas at the moment, but Cameron Diaz is in NYC and actually wearing shoes she can run through Central Park while wearing. The SATC girls had practically convinced me that NOBODY who was ANYBODY wore anything less than a 3 inch heel. Yet here is Cam, running through the City, lobbing unripe tomatoes at Ashton Kutcher without three other women in crippling shoes conjoined to her.

But surely, Narnia is safe by now.

No? Not even yet?

Hell with it. I'm getting out my cel phone and sending text messages to Captain Sweetie. If I'm suffering, isn't it only right that he should suffer too?

I think I'm entitled to as much wine as I can drink, once I get home.

Dear Fug Girls

Dear Fug Girls (and Intern George);

Please please please please please consider shoes when assessing outfits for fugliness. I appreciate your recent post on Who Fugged It Better, but could you take a moment to notice that Lake Bell's shoes are at least one size too big? Which is, at least, a departure from the formerly ubiquitous trend of wearing sandals at least one size too small, so that little toes stuck out oddly from the sides, and all the toes overhung the ends of shoes as if the stars in question were multitasking by using red carpet events to practice their surfing technique of "hanging ten."

Your friend,

The Mistress Of All Evil

P.S. Can we go drink margaritas together sometime? I want you both to be my new Very Bestest Friends.

Dear Internet

Dear Internet;

Could you maybe slow down a little bit? I'm having trouble keeping up.

Your friend,

The Mistress of All Evil

P.S. Except the Fug Girls. They should be required to post at least hourly.

How To Charm Me. Again

For a long, convoluted, and unimportant reason, Captain Sweetie was in church without his glasses on. Because he sings in the choir, he was in the front of the church. Before the service started, he leaned over to one of his friends and whispered, "who is that cute blonde chick who just came in?"

It was me!

See--love really IS blind!

More Reasons To Love

I admit it--I am an evangelist when it comes to + iPod. I love love LOVE being read to, and it makes so many things better when I can do them while listening to a book.

But! I do have to pay for the books I download. Wouldn't it be better to get books on CD from the library for FREE! and just load them onto iTunes for FREE!?

So, I did a little test--I am currently downloading a book, and I just timed how long a single disc took. Just under 20 minutes. The book I am downloading has 13 discs. That is over FOUR HOURS just to load the dang thing! Audible can do it in about 7 minutes, plus you never have to go in and edit EVERY SINGLE DAMN TRACK to make all the tracks of the same format so they actually play in the right order.

Get a membership, and the Audible books are about $7 each. That works out to, what, $1.75 per hour? WORTH IT!

Things That Make Me Laugh

I am a late comer to the Craig Ferguson Fan Club, but he had me in his riff on the Sex and the City movie.
"I didn't go see that movie. You know why? Because I'm a guy! Seriously, the audience for that movie is 85% female."


"I once dated someone who was 85% female. . ."

That particular joke can be found at 4:41. It's worth it for his delivery. I just wanted to preserve it for posterity.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, a Review

It's been 19 years since Indy and his father went on their Last Crusade and found the Holy Grail. Indy is back and the world has changed. Nazis are out, and communists are in. The US now has atomic bombs, so the Soviets have to come up with an even bigger weapon. You can hear the executives telling the script writers to "make it bigger! Even BIGGER!"

So we get Cate Blanchett as Ninotchka, but without the silk stockings to turn her into a decadent Westerner. She is after a weapon that makes atomic capability irrelevent, although it's inconveniently metaphysical and requires some big leaps of logic. Of course, Cate Blanchett has ways of making you obey her orders, so off we go to find a mythical "crystal skull."

The movie as much a roller coaster ride as ever. Colonel Doctor Ninotchka (or whatever her name it) drags Indy and a supposed long time collegue out of a car trunk and turns them loose in an airport hangar numbered "51." This is the place where the U.S. Government apparently stores all the paranormal artifacts that Indy has recovered over the years--and there are an enormous number of them. Ninotchka wants one particular one, and expects Indy to lead her to it. He does, with some nifty CGI effects involving gunpowder and bullet shells leading them to a highly magnetized crate. In the next 15 minutes, he escapes, outruns automatic weapons fire, launches himself and a random communist on a rocket sled and witnesses an atomic test. Where do you go from there?

Well, you go to an anonymous bunker to be bullied by nameless FBI wonks, you ride a motorcycle through the grounds of Yale University, and cleverly discover El Dorado, as well as communing with Ancient Astronauts. Who knew that Erich von Daniken was right?

Sadly, the years have not been entirely kind to Indy. Oh, Harrison Ford looks as sexy as any 64 year old man has a right to, but what is the deal with the baggy old man pants in the first sequence? I think my grandfather wore pants like that, and nobody was making movies about him.

But there is something kind of creaky about this outing: Indy looks too old to be winning fist-fights against the cream of Soviet military. It's a bit disconcerting in the middle of a "death before dishonor" fight to find yourself thinking "what did those Foley artists use to make those spectacularly meaty sounds?" Because, frankly, NOBODY would get up after a punch that was really hard enough to make that kind of sound.

The rocket powered sled was dramatic and funny, but I found myself wondering "But did they get to the eighth dimension?" SPOILER ALERT!!! They do. Eventually.

The stuff that is classic Indy stuff--ancient secrets, outrageous indigenous warriors, booby trapped catacombs--they are all here, but they have also been done better National Treasure I (the cave of priceless artifacts from all the ancient civilizations) and National Treasure II (the floodwater trap that protects the treasure). We see sword fights in unlikely circumstances, but nothing nearly as imaginative or compelling and the three way swordfight in Pirates of the Caribbean II. We've even seen the "don't mess with the DA" schtick--AND the ever present comb--done better by Fonzie. I have to admit, I was delighted to see Karen Allen again.

And yes, the existence of CGI makes the literal cliffhangers less compelling. Sure, it looks like Our Heroes are driving dangerously close to a sheer cliff, but we all "know" that the cliff is just spliced in. Even if it wasn't actually spliced in, we are so used to it being done that way that there is no sense of relief when they make it safely to land--after all, we never believed they were in any danger anyway.

When one of Our Heroes swings through the jungle like Tarzan on vines--it is easy to spot that the sequence was tweaked--there is no physical way that a human could make the kind of leaps that we see because there is no gravitational pull on the trajectories. He simply swings across, letting go of one vine only to travel across space in a straight line until his outstretched hand grasps the next vine that moves him forward at the same height. There is no arc in the sequence, no sense that he is any heavier than the ten in tall monkeys who swing beside him. If there is never any "down," even in the moments he is unsupported in the air, there is no risk in the endeavor and we are simply not engaged. There is no risk, no danger, no reason to cheer on this character, for whom even the laws of physics have been suspended--how could he fail?

The CGI list goes on: the CGI ant horde isn't really frightening--and the couple of ants that are squished release more goo than is possible to contain. The heroes go over a waterfall, and pop up out of the water still clinging to their boat-car. And then they do it again. And then they do it YET AGAIN. It's not believable the first time--doing it twice more, each time with a slightly higher waterfall doesn't actually increase the stakes.

It comes down to the loss of the truly human element. The original Indy wasn't so infallible, so superhumanly gifted. Remember that wonderful moment in the first movie when Marion and Indy have a quiet moment together, and she helps him off with his shirt. He is dirty and bloody and SORE. He winces and moans as she tries to ease him out of the shirt without hurting him. "It's not the years, it's the mileage" he says, and we see a hurt and weary human being, faced with a nearly impossible task, exhibiting the toll the job is taking on him.

There are other such moments from the first film "Why did it have to be snakes?" Harrison Ford put real humanity into that phobia--he really did have fears that he had to work to overcome. Or, remember the female student in Indy's classroom, who had written "I love you" on her eyelids. She blinked at him, and he lost his place in his lecture--startled and a bit scared by the predatory maneuver.

The Crystal Skull Indy is never so vulnerable, despite being visibly older. And that is what flattens this movie into being merely a thrill ride. Spielberg has taken out all the moments of recognizable human emotion, and made Indy a cartoon and no longer a man.

New Car Shopping, Part Deux

Well, I did it. I got my name on the list for a new Toyota Prius.

The reality is that it will be at least 4-6 months before my name gets to the top of the list. The trick to getting to the top earlier? Being flexible about the color of the car.

Hell, that's easy. None of the colors is purple, so what does it matter? Actually, I am pickier about the inside color than the outside: I am constitutionally unable to choose a beige interior. Call it "taupe" or "ecru" or "ivory," I know it is really beige, and I don't want it! So, my color preference is officially listed as "anything that comes with a gray interior."

With luck, in 4 to 6 months, Toyota will have released its 2009 model, and maybe there will be an option for a plug in. This is popularly reported to improve gas mileage because you don't need to run the gas engine to charge the battery, but can start the car purely on electric power.

And maybe, a 2009 model will come in purple.