Wednesday, April 26, 2006

100 Posts! Hooray, I can't shut up!

Random topics for today:

Animal Kingdom:
My home and property seems to be filled with animals that are killing other animals. My fish tank is home to a fiercely dominant cichlid who has killed no less than four (but more likely seven) other cichlids introduced to the tank. He seems to be allowing one submissive male to live, but he certainly does pick on the pour little guy a great deal. My dog killed a bird yesterday and left it in her water dish. I hope it wasn't one of the baby birds that lives in the carport pole. And finally, I allowed a common garden lizard to come into the house, because I am seriously sick of the insects that have come into the house to escape the heat. So far I've not seen a visible difference, but I can be patient.

Genetic Memory and Music:
I read once about a young Asian-American girl who, upon first hearing music from her family's country of origin, felt that "there was something inside of me that liked it--like it synchronized right with the pulsing of my blood through my body." (Laurence Yep, Child of the Owl) This is, of course, part of a work of fiction, but I recognize that feeling. When I hear the music of Mexico, there are two distinct feelings: personal memory and unfamiliar familiarity.

To explain: I heard certain types of Mexican music all the time growing up, because Grandma would put it on the record player. I have a personal memory of these sounds, and they motivate me do do certain things that Grandma always did while listening. Like make blankets, or mop.

But then, of course, there is that other part, the unfamiliar familiarity. I hear a song I've never heard before, but it sounds right, somehow, and my blood races, and I feel like I'm somewhere else, or even someONE else, but not in a way that is uncomfortable.

What I do find interesting is that it is not only Mexican music that makes me feel this way. Once in a while I will get that odd and wonderful sensation when I hear a traditional Native American song, or (if you can believe it) that one song you always hear at Bar Mitzvahs, the one that sounds almost as if a snake-charmer is part of the band. I wish I knew what that song is called so I could speak of it properly and not like some ignoramus who lives in a Christian vacuum. In any case, the sounds in that song feel good to me, like they make sense in a way I don't understand. It's not like that for me for most other ethnic music (and believe me, my experience is varied). But there's something about these songs, these sounds...they just feel so comfortable, like pulling on some long-forgotten favorite item of clothing and realizing that it still fits.

Of course, this could all be nonsense. It could just be that I like accordion music, or something. I do come from a family of musicians, so maybe what I'm feeling is more of a genetic predisposition to music in general. I really can't trace my family tree further back than 150 years, so who's to say I don't have these ethnic groups somewhere in my background?

I spent part of my evening baking a Chocolate Cherry Torte (which takes FOREVER by the way) all because my father is getting pissy about whether or not the new oven is properly calibrated. I pop the cake pans in the oven and set the timer. At T minus 17 minutes, I go to read Gina her bedtime story. It takes forever. I get out of her room to find the timer at 14 minutes and rising. Yeah, that's right, the cake sat in the oven 14 extra minutes, and my husband (who was in that part of the house) didn't take it out of the oven because he "didn't hear it." I think maybe he "wasn't paying attention" because he can't stop playing his new video game. Well, at least the cake isn't burned, though it is a little dryer than I'd like. I'll have to tell my dad that the results of this baking test were inconclusive. Oh fooey. Now I'll have to bake another cake. *wink*

Funny Stuff:
For a good time, go check out Dude is hilarious and inventive, and I can't get enough of him. I feel inspired to invent new fun things to do every time I look at his website.

Britney Spears is pregnant again. Yankees everywhere can't understand why she won't wear shoes. Personally, I think it may have something to do with swollen ankles and the heat, but then I don't wear shoes all that much to begin with. Also: somebody please just take KFed to get snipped. The man needs to be removed from the gene pool already. He's like a younger version of my father-in-law (three wives, seven kids ages 1 to 28, only ten years to go before retirement age, and still hasn't decided now might be a good time to take the bullets out of the gun). Seriously, somebody explain to KFed that his best course of action is to stop producing heirs to his madness. While we're at it, will someone please send SuperNanny over to Britney's house? Because clearly she needs to be taught how to care for children, or at least how to choose a permanent nanny more carefully. Baby's seven months old and Family Services has investigated them TWICE. Anyone else might have had their baby taken away from them by now.

It's late, and I must get to sleep. Good night, all, and a special Happy Birthday to Nilo!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Birthday Wishes!

Happy Birthday Bizarro Dad!

Happy Birthday Cousin R!

Happy Birthday Karl

Monday, April 24, 2006

Insomniac Movie Review: The Wild

Title: The Wild
MPAA Rating: G

Did my kids like it?: Yes, they did. Even the little one got down off my lap and stuck her head in between the two seats in front of her so that she could see the movie clearly, without obstruction. True, the oldest has not been inundating me with movie quotes, but she didn't do that with the last family movie we went to see, either. And there was definite laughter throughout the movie, from my kids and from all the other kids in the theater.

Did I like it?: Yeah. It wasn't a bad movie. It wasn't fabulous, but then, I don't go to a children's movie looking for heavy drama. I did get a few laughs out of it.

The Plot: Lion and his cub live in zoo. Cub is accidentally taken away and shipped off to the wild (Africa). Lion and his friends hijack a boat and go rescue him. No, really. And (you'll never believe this) the whole thing is NOT a rip-off of Madagascar. It's a rip-off of Lion King.

Okay, seriously. According to the people arguing in the IMDb message boards, The Wild has began production (or pre-production, or whatever) ten years ago, long before Madagascar was a twinkle in Dreamworks's eye. I must say, I have my doubts about that, because if it really began that long ago, Pixar might have done The Wild themselves, since it was before their Great Giving of the Finger to Disney. But then again, Pixar may have been offered this story and refused it, since they don't like doing blatant rip-offs.

To explain: the story comes off as Madagascar plus Lion King with a dash of Finding Nemo. But really, part of the reason it comes off Finding Nemo is because the Tale of Someone Getting Lost and the Rest of his Friends/Family Going to Find Him has been told over and over again for, literally, hundreds of years, maybe even thousands. They say there are only, like, eight different stories in the world, and every other tale is just a different version of one or more of those stories. After seeing so many movies, I am beginning to suspect this is true.

As far as the Madagascar stuff goes, well, it wouldn't be the first time Dreamworks ripped off a Disney idea, rushed to make their own version, and then released their's into theaters before Disney. Hello, Antz vs. A Bug's Life, anyone? Dreamworks was a BIG TIME IDEA SWIPER. Apparently, they still are.

But with this movie, I felt the story guys just blatantly ripped off Lion King. With the cub who can't roar, and the animals that want to behave in a way that is contrary to the laws of nature, and the dancing at the base of an active volcano (remember the hyenas at the elephant graveyard, and how the canyon kept changing shapes and spewing steam?). There's even a scene in which one creature stomps his hoof on the Lion's paw as he's dangling at the egde of a cliff. Do you see what I mean, here?

As we left the theater, my husband and I were pondering why Disney would plagiarize it's own movie. It doesn't make any sense! I can see lack of imagination, as far as the general storyline, but some of those scenes were complete and total copies. In fact, it seemed as if the whole copycat theme was...deliberate? That this movie Is, in fact, a (dare I say it?) parody.

Yes! Yes, that's what it is, it makes PERFECT sense! Because not only are the wildebeasts dancing around a volcano, they are TALKING about dancing around a volcano, and in fact harsh on each other about the CHOREOGRAPHY! Patrick Warburton's character actually goes so far as to tell his leader/choreographer that the style of dance is "so eighties."

Ha! Success! It's not a lack of imagination! It's satire! Only funnier! Or, if not that, then it's laziness combined with parody! I GET IT!


So, yeah, go see this with your kids, so that they can laugh at the fart jokes and you can laugh at the parody aspects of it. Or, wait until it comes out on video (although, I must tell you, the city landscape scenes will lose their grandeur when viewed on a small screen).

Also: there's a song in this movie, I think it's played by U2 but I'm not sure. It's in the "animals ride around the city in awe of all the bright lights and tall buildings" scene. I LOVE that song, but I don't know the title or the artist. Anyone care to help?

Friday, April 21, 2006

"Well I never did mind the little things."

Lest you all think my husband is a pompous ass, let me tell you how he HAS helped me in the last few days.
  • Watching the kids while I go to Cub Scouts.
  • Putting away clean dishes.
  • Folding towels.
  • Going grocery shopping for me so I could stay home and watch Alias. (Although, in retrospect, I think I should just go myself next time, so we don't have another $100 grocery bill.)
  • Putting away the dinner leftovers.
  • Picking up needed items on the way home from work, even though the traffic is murder.
  • Changing diapers.
  • Bringing me dinner in bed and some Tylenol when I had a migraine.
  • Helping restore some order to the kitchen after the kids had a confetti-like battle with uncooked basmati (super-long-grain rice from the Middle East). He even had to get off the X-Box for this one!

He's not so bad, really. He just has to be asked to do something. I notice it also helps to give him a timeline. For example: "Make sure the food gets put away by 7:30, or it will go bad and I'll have to throw it away." If he's not playing a game or watching a movie, it's mostly not a big deal to get him to help me, unless the chore is dishes or yard work, in which case I have a better chance of finding a snowcone in hell. The biggest trouble is that he likes to play games and watch movies all the time.

Ew! What IS that stuff stuck to the kids' table? It's...watermelon juice? But why didn't he just...I mean, paper towels are RIGHT THERE. He left a dish towel ON THE DESK, not THREE FEET from the little table.

Okay, then, the second biggest trouble is that he won't clean up after himself or the kids, not even when there's food involved, unless I'm standing over him telling him to do so.

Calm, calm, breathe, not a big deal, not something that can't be taken care of quickly and easily, calm...

Are those his SOCKS!? On the living room FLOOR?! AGAIN!?!!!!!

Oh, who am I kidding. The socks look right at home next to all the other junk that the kids and hubby and brother-in-law have left all over the room.

And he did watch the kids for me last night. He did do that.

While playing his X-Box.


He's not an ass. He's not. Really.

He's just lazy.

Okay, name the movie the title-quote comes from. Bonus points for the actor/actress who said it (you can name the character if you don't remember the actor). Big thanks to cmhl for giving me the idea.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My daughter the card shark, and other stories

Today my four-year-old beat me at three hands of Crazy Eights.

We only played three hands!

Suddenly I feel very old.

In other news: The kids trashed my living room, and I only half care, because I'm still exhausted from last week. I made Gina pick up all the paper Easter basket grass that she and Sia spread on the floors of every room in the house.

I am fat, after a lifetime of being thin. And I don't care. Much. Except for the part where my old dresses no longer fit, I don't know what my dress size is anymore, and I wonder if I should go to the store and try on stuff until I figure it out, or if I should just dig out my old maternity clothes and see how they fit. I recall my aunt gave me some really nice maternity clothes.

This Easter I did not have a nice, pretty, light-colored dress. See above re: dress size issue. I wanted to buy one, but Wal-Mart apparently has stopped selling full dresses and only sells expensive separates. And really, I felt like there wasn't the money for a dress anyway, especially with all the other stuff in our cart. So I told myself I just couldn't get a new dress. Then my husband put a new pair of shorts in the basket for himself, even though he just bought new clothes two weeks ago. I tried very hard not to cry. But I still let him buy it, because I knew that he really did need some new shorts. I'm not the only one putting on weight.

Maybe today, if there's time, I'll go to the thrift store. They have a dressing room there with a curtain for a door. I'll try on a bunch of size 12s and 14s and see if any of them fit. I can probably get something cute, or at least comfortable, for five bucks.

I love my husband. But he really is clueless.

I am tired of asking for help and not getting it. They tell you, "It's not healthy to take on more than you can handle. So if you need help, swallow your pride and ASK for it." So I ask. But when it comes time for the help to begin, my helper has gone to sleep, or has forgotten that his help was needed. It doesn't happen this way all the time. But it happens enough to frustrate me.

So here's another secret for my collection:

When I ask you to help me do something, but you ignore me or "forget" that you agreed because you're too busy playing a videogame...

I cry into the dishwater as quietly as I can.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Lately I've been keeping up with Post Secrets, and have in fact bought the full-color hardcover book. I read the whole book in one night. I could not stop soaking in all the secrets. I was sad for a while, looking at all the pains, but I must admit I was amused, too.

I've thought about what secrets I would like to send. We all have at least one secret, or so I imagine. What would I send to this man in Maryland whom I've never met? What would he think of my secret? What does he think of everyone else's?

Possible Responses to Various Secrets from Around the Globe
  • Bor-ring
  • I swear, if one more person tells me they pee in the shower...
  • Ew, gross!
  • Now that's just plain weird.
  • Hmm. The secret is boring but the card sure is pretty.
  • Why doesn't anyone ever send me a happy secret?
  • Dude, she's your MOM!
  • Okay, now this guy's just bragging.
  • Oh yeah, I did that once, too.
  • Heh, I'd do that in a heartbeat if I could avoid being caught.
  • Just once, I'd like someone to send me a box of cookies.

I read an article about this and other "confession" projects. The creator of the Post Secrets community art project says that he is starting to feel the burden of so many secrets. I can see why, I think. It's just too much, all that suffering. And he gets a couple hundred post cards a DAY.

So, in honor of this confessional project, and so as to not burden this nice man with my secret, I will share my secret with you, my three readers (if all three of you are still there). This is not my only secret, but it's all you get.

This weekend the kids were unable to finish off their piñata and get the candy out, so I stepped up and beat that thing to oblivion.

I let everyone believe I was thinking about my husband, and how he did some random thing to piss me off. Even my husband believes it.

Actually, I was thinking about the same thing I always think about when I beat a rug or a piñata: my ex-boyfriend, and how much it hurt when he left me.

It happened years ago, but the wound is not gone. Not even a wonderful marriage has been able to fully heal me.

So I busted a paper mache animal, thinking about his face. It didn't heal me, but it sure gave me 90 seconds of satisfaction.

Have a great week, people. And don't forget, Alias is on today! Watch as the great ship sinks!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Insomniac Movie Review: V for Vendetta

Title: V for Vendetta
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, and some gross stuff (okay, the grossness probably wasn't the R-rated part, but just know that it's there)

Okay, the grossness: I won't get into what exactly it was. But I will tell you I'm the most squeamish person alive, so if it didn't bug me, you'll probably be fine.

I don't think I've ever in my life wanted to buy a comic book because of the movie it was based on. And there have certainly been a ridiculous number of such movies in my lifetime, going all the way back to Superman, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But after watching this film last night, I can hardly wait to truck on over to Barnes and Noble, where I KNOW they have the whole comic series bound into one volumn. This movie was, for lack of a better word, AWESOME!

Highly political? Check. Violent, but not randomly so? Check. Cute chick, dashing hero, ugly villain? Check, check, and check.

When I say "dashing," don't misunderstand me. The hero is not attractive because of his face, although I will admit that after a while the mask started to look good. I mean his manner, his speech, his charisma, everything about him that was so...well, hot. And tragic. And funny. Like I said, hot.

But guys, don't worry, there's something there for you. Did I mention the violence? Oh, and the cute girl? She really is quite lovely, even after she gets her head shaved. (Oh, don't go ape because I gave something away. The trailers gave it away months ago.)

My husband told me he heard of controversy about the wisdom of releasing this movie at this time. After all, it is essentially a pro-terrorist film, if you want to take that view of things. But the thing is, now is the PERFECT time to release this film. It's about a man with an idea, and history has proven that it is often the work of one man that brings about great social change. And it's about freeing the people from an oppressive government. Is that not why America has fought so many wars?

Well, no, maybe not. You could argue that all wars are fought for money. My fifth-grade teacher certainly did argue that. And in that respect, this fictional war is no different. The men doing the oppression are filthy stinking rich, got that way by unscrupulous means that harmed many, and intend to keep all their riches (but more importantly, their power) by continuing their cycle of abuse, lies, and murder.

Hey, do you know of any countries that tell lies, abuse their people, or commit murder? I do.

Do you know of any countries that are slowly taking away the rights of their people, bit by bit? I do. In fact, I think maybe I live there.

Fortunately, I still have the right to object. I still have the right to say, "You know what, what you are doing is the exact opposite of what you're supposed to be defending. That shit ain't right."

I still have the right to say, "You know what, this war that you started is no longer a war we need to be in the middle of. Maybe you started out doing the right thing, but now you're only making things worse. Bring our boys home."

I still have the right to say, "You are polluting our planet. Cut it out, assclown, and act like the world will still matter once you're long dead."

I still have the right to say stuff like that. I still have the right to read any Bible I choose, whether it be the Torah, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Koran, the Kabbalah, the Bhagavad-Gita, or the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I have the right to listen to any music I like, look at any art I like, see any movie, watch any show. And I do not surrender this right. Nor do I choose to limit the rights of others, should their opinions differ from mine. (This addendum: I do not condone anything that physically or psychologically violates other people. That's just more oppression for entertainment value.)

And this movie is one I chose to see. And I loved it.

Insomniac Movie Review: Ice Age 2

Title: Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
MPAA Rating: PG, for some mild language and innuendo (in other words, somebody says "Da-yum!")

So we took my two daughters, ages four and not-quite-two, to see this Monday night. The baby? Didn't care about it. She was not riveted. She was not amazingly silent for previously unheard of lengths of time. She did get excited when the film began to roll, but after a while she got antsy and fussy and had to be walked around. So to those of you parents who have a child this age: take the child to the theater well before bedtime, or you will have an upleasant experience.

Gina, on the other hand, was very interested. She was able to discern what was going on some of the time, and tell us about it. Trouble is, she wanted to tell us while the movie was still playing, so we had to shush her. Not a big deal, but then when the audience started laughing at something, she turned around and started shushing all of them. "You need to be quiet, peoples."

There were enough jokes in there to tickle the adults. Bizarro Dad has been repeating them ever since. So you won't be bored, Mom and Dad. Unless you're already boring, in which case, liven up a little!

This movie is worth taking your kids to. Now, if you don't want to be spoiled or read about the controversy that has started around this movie, read no further.

Still with me? Great!

There have been some who object to the death of an animal being shown on screen in this movie. Actually, that's probably not quite how they phrased it, which is good, because that's not quite what happened on the screen, either.

An animal did in fact die. It was eaten. It was not, however, shown being eaten. Here is the scene: Surface of the water is on screen. Turtle is in the water. Turtle is suddenly dragged down, but camera stays with surface of water. A few seconds pass. Turtle shell comes back up. There is no turtle in the turtle shell. There is no blood. There are no bones (unless you count the shell). You don't see ANYTHING. You just know that the turtle was eaten by the two crocodile-like reptiles released into the water a few scenes earlier in the movie.

People are objecting to this! They're pitching fits! My thinking is, any kid who watches Animal Planet or a nature show on PBS has already seen the real thing, and I can guarantee that they saw blood, guts, and very sharp teeth. And if my four-year-old, who is highly sensitive, didn't care, it probably won't be much of a problem for your four-year-old, either. Furthermore, do you really want your kid to see a movie where crocs DON'T eat an animal, but leave it alone because it's all cute? That's fine for puppets, but what happens when you take your kid to the zoo and they think it'll be okay if they climb the fence into the crocodile enclosure? Don't worry, Mommy, it won't get me because I'm cute! Whatever.

Even from a storytelling perspective, it is important that the audience be shown that the reptiles in question are in fact dangerous. Why leave it to the last two scenes to show that they mean business? That's not how you create suspence. That's not how you set up a good story.

Now, the Scrat. This is my only complaint about the movie, really: too much Scrat. I know, he proves to be important, but the thing is, if you don't know that, it just seems like the director used a bunch of Scrat scenes as filler. Most of the time, it seems to halt the rest of the story.

Conclusion: Take the kids, you'll have some fun right along with them.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Signs in Houston, Part 2

This weekend my father and I went to the appliance store to look at stoves. On the way home, we passed a family medical clinic. It's been under construction for months. In fact, I think it was already open for business while parts of the building were still being constructed.

This clinic is located in a lower to lower middle class community. I am assuming that this explains the need for a clinic, as opposed to some fancy shmancy, 12 story medical office building. I'm glad it's there; the people really do need to feel like they are getting quality medical care, and there are few things more comforting in life than to be sitting in a clean exam room, as opposed to one with empty blood tubes on the floor under the exam table, or worse, cockroaches.

The lettering on the outside wall is big and bold, supposedly acting as a beacon to the surrounding families. The different sections of the building have their specialties emblazoned in the same manner. "FAMILY PRACTICE." "PEDIATRICS." "GYNECOLOGIST."

Yeah, you read that right. In big glowing letters (that's right, GLOWING) about 10 or 15 feet across is the word GYNECOLOGIST. Not Obestrician or Women's Health.

My father offered his opinion on the matter.

Dad: What the hell kind of dumbass clinic puts "GYNECOLOGIST" in big ole letters over the front door?
Me: Um...
Dad: Who wants to be seen walking into a building that's marked like that?
Me: They could have put OB/GYN or obstetrician. It's more or less the same thing.
Dad: So why didn't they put that?
Me: I don't know...they thought it would be better advertising for this community? There are a lot of pregnant teenagers around that area...

In any case, I kind of agree with my dad on one point: nobody, particularly men, wants to see the word GYNECOLOGIST on the side of the road in giant glowing letters as they're driving home and about to eat dinner. It's the kind of thing most men don't really want to think about, period.