Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: The Year in Review

I was reading one of those Myspace surveys, and the question was asked: What was the most memorable thing that happened to you in 2006?

I realized that nothing actually happened to me that was all that memorable. Stuff happened to the people around me, and I got involved. Some of it was sad and/or drama-filled. But if I had to pick something that was about me and not a friend or relative, I'd say it was the day Bizarro Dad and I finally got our own room, after sharing a bedroom with the kids for sixteen solid months. Yeah! Sex whenever we want, without having to sneak into the living room and hoping no one else walks in!

Secondary memorable event: all the new kitchen appliances. No, I'm quite serious. This year my house opened it's doors to the following:
6 Qt Crock Pot
Gas oven
Deep freezer

We celebrated the arrival of the oven by having Thanksgiving in May. And it was freakin' awesome.

Sleepless Mama's Literary Awards for 2006

Most Ironic Book to be Banned
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, a book about book banning, which some New Caney hick tried to have banned from his teenage daughter's school curriculum. During Banned Book Week.

Best Page-Turner
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling. Possibly ousting Prisoner of Azkaban as my favorite HP volume. I've read it two or three times this year, and I'll probably re-read the whole series before the next movie premieres in July. Seriously, what is it about HBP that drives me through the pages? Superior writing? Sharp wit? Mysteries to unravel? Quidditch? Maybe Rowling cast a spell on her books...

The next one gets two awards:
Best Compendium of Pop-Culture Knowledge
Most Uses of the Word "Shadenfreude" in a Book Not Written In or About the German Language
Television Without Pity: 752 Things We Love to Hate (and Hate to Love) about TV, by Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting. I use the word "compendium" loosely, since this book is not exactly brief. But damn, is it hilarious. It's arranged like an encyclopedia of wackiness, really. There are entries on everything. Some samples, just to give you an idea: Cosby Sweater (with illustration); Friends, Failed Clones of; Chia Pet; Smurfs, The; Wardrobe, Endlessness of; Moriarty, Michael, Bonkers-osity of; "As Seen on TV" Products; Shatner, William, Legendarily Awesome Saturday Night Live Appearance of; and "In the Butt, Bob." How can you be a TV-watcher and not want to read this book?

Most Awesome Graphic Novel (a.k.a. "Comic")
V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, DC Comics. For shocking imagery, for horrifying social commentary, for sheer kick-assery. Read it. Love it.

2006 Sleepless Mama Movie Awards

Best Animated Feature
Cars. Hands down. I want a bigger TV so I can try to recreate the experience of seeing this in a theater. A 25" television just doesn't do it justice.

Most Gratuitous Footage of Nerds in Action
Wordplay. It makes me feel better about my lifelong nerdiness, and even drives me to be a little nerdier than I've been in recent years.

Biggest Load of Crap
Pretty much anything with Tim Allen in it. Shaggy Dog, Santa Clause 3, you name it, it sucks.

Most Overrated, Overhyped Piece of Drivel That Made Ridiculous Amounts of Money at the Box Office but Was Actually a Suck-Fest
It's a tie between DaVinci Code and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. What? I'd have been better off waiting for them to come to DVD. Special Features tend to distract you from holes and contrivances in the plot.

The children are laughing and asking Mommy to play, so I'll conclude my rant for the year. Please have a safe holiday celebration and a prosperous New Year. Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Memory Lane

Strange, is it not, how a simple drive to the grocery store can recall the oddest memories.

Some would say I have a long memory for the trivial, and to those people I would say "Remember that time you scratched my wrist with a stick AND hit my pelvic bone with your head while on the trampoline on the SAME DAY? Why yes, that was 10 years ago, but what's your point?"

Today while driving a stretch of road to one of the cheaper grocery stores, I happened to pass by a Dairy Queen tucked between the Fas Mart convenience store and Chala's Resale Shop. Neither of the other two stores mean anything to me, but for whatever reason the Dairy Queen caused a synapse to fire in my brain and remind me that when Bizarro Dad and I were first married, I used to drive his mother around, and she'd tell me stories about her family's life.

Once, when we passed the DQ in question, she was in the process of telling me the tale of how her other other son's girlfriend came to live with them. Apparently Girlfriend's parents were from Mexico, and as such had different beliefs about disciplining children than we do here in the US. They believed that it was the responsibility of the oldest son to provide the guidance and punishment for the younger children. This did not result in leniency, or even in gentle but firm guidelines, I'm sad to say. Instead, Girlfriend was beaten black and blue by her brother (probably for getting pregnant), and the parents condoned it completely. My mother-in-law did not feel this was a safe environment, and allowed Girlfriend to move in with her and the rest of the family. Sadly, her stay was not permanent, as Girlfriend proved to be every bit as violent as her brother and tried to attack a member of the family.

Yeah, I got all this from a Dairy Queen.

Oddly enough, driving down the same stretch of road on the return trip brought back different memories of the same person. On the opposite side of the street there's a Shipley's Donuts (the most awesome doughnut chain in the world, screw you Krispy Kreme). This reminded me of the story in which my then-pregnant mother-in-law had a fitful craving for doughnuts, and sent her husband and 11-year-old son (Bizarro Dad back when he was Bizarro Boy) out to retrieve the desired pastry in the dark at some ungodly hour. To Shipley's they went, because they knew that no other place in town would have decent doughnuts that would satisfy the demands of a pregnant woman. Poor Bizarro Boy, having to tap on the glass and hope the shop was open. But then, he was the only child in the house who was excited about the new baby, so it seems fitting that he'd be the one to go out for comfort food.

My mother-in-law tells the best stories.

I really shouldn't drive down that street to often. You should hear the stuff that flits through my brain the further west I go. We're talking junior high boyfriend, summer job, and that time my grandma got held at gunpoint by a mugger, only to grab him by the throat and flag down a passing cop. (She won't eat at that restaurant anymore, since none of the staff bothered to come outside and see why a strange man was pressing up against the little old lady who regularly came alone or with her husband.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

The most awesome, GUILT-FREE chocolate cake EVER!

Chocolate Torte
(recipe provided by a cooking show I can't remember the name of on PBS and BYUBroadcasting)

In a pan, melt 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips with 1/4 cup canola oil, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.

In small bowl, whisk 5 Omega-3 eggs. (No, seriously, get the Omega-3's. They have less cholesterol and sodium and more healthy stuff in them.)

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (cheaper than you think), 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1/4 cup shredded coconut. Whisk the eggs into flour mixture, then pour in melted chocolate and stir.

In a 9-inch springform pan (butter and sugar the inside instead of using grease and flour), pour in batter and smooth the top. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and place on platter (cake will be very thin, like a brownie). Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Top with raspberries and fresh mint leaves.

One serving will contain 240 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat. This dessert is very rich (all that sugar), so serve thin slices.

Please note, I have not tried this recipe with a sugar substitute. Anyone who does, please come back and tell me how it came out. I want to know if this can be adjusted for diabetics.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Discriminating Santa

My daughter's love watching that old stop-motion movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I have to admit, it is pretty cute, and I'm glad they are still able to be impressed by something that didn't cost $80,000,000 to animate. That being said, the more I watch this movie, the more something about strikes me as wrong.

Will someone please tell me what the hell is Santa's problem with "different?" The first time he sees Rudolph's red nose, he issues a warning. The second time he sees it (when Rudolph is a yearling with a better flight take-off than any of the other young bucks), Santa immediately turns to Rudolph's father, Donner, and says "You should be ashamed of yourself." He doesn't stop the other bucks from making fun of Rudolph, and he allows the Flight coach to ban Rudolph from any further training (Reindeer Games).

Furthermore, you are not going to make me believe that Santa doesn't know about the Misfit Toys. Surely some of them came from his own workshop. But does Santa care? Does it matter to him that there are toys in need of a home but can't find one because they're odd?

And really, why is he so completely unconcerned with Kirby, the elf who wants to be a dentist? His foreman is concerned only with making toys, which makes sense in a toy factory, but he goes from trying to force conformity to simply writing Kirby off as a freak. And Santa? Does not give a flying rat's tail.

I think we need to analyze just what type of guy this Santa was before Rudolph and Kirby ran away and forced him into a guilt-driven epiphany. Was he the type of Santa who didn't give toys to kids with disabilities or unattractive birthmarks? Did he not like the nerdy children? Did he give them fewer toys? I understand the whole Naughty and Nice division; that makes sense. But clearly he treated his reindeer, toys, and elves better or worse in accordance with their appearance and/or conformity. Why are we expected to believe that he treated children any better before Rudolph taught him the lesson of tolerance?

Face it, people, the Santa in this film is a prejudiced bunghole! DOWN WITH ANIMATED JERKY CLAUS! LONG LIVE THE REAL SANTA, WHO HAS COMPASSION FOR ALL!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Rogue Santa

So there's this mall we love, my relative has got on good speaking terms with Santa and Mrs. Claus. (No, seriously, the wife was standing in the parking lot and introduced herself as MRS. CLAUS.) They're a popular Claus couple, and have been visiting this mall for years. They sometimes walk around the mall between picture sessions, talking to people and holding hands. *sigh* Love...

Anyhoo, one day Santa has a doppelganger usurping his Santa-ness, and I don't mean there are two Santa photo stands. Second Santa is sitting on a little chair RIGHT IN FRONT OF Real Santa. With a video camera. Making a little movie for his own personal use, NOT making videos to give/sell to parents. Real Santa calls Management. Management calls Mall Security.

Mgmt: Security, we have an unauthorized Santa sitting around taking video of kids. Go get him.
Security: Oh, we're ON that shit. Idiot Newbie, you hold down the fort, we've got a freak to catch.
Idiot Newbie: Whateeeeeever...

Security (two guys in uniform) walk toward the Santas. Fake Santa sees them coming and heads for the book store, as does another person who was with him. Security follows them into book store. Santa and Sidekick start running to the exit.

Security Dude #1: (rolls eyes) Oh shit. Now we've gotta run. (begins running)
Security Dude #2: (sighs in frustration) Damn it. (begins running too)

Security chases the Santafied Wierdos through the store, out the door, and halfway across the parking lot. Security Dude #2 shouts at them to stop. Santa Freaks come to a stop, but sidekick hides behind a car. Security is having none of that, and gets them both into view.

Security Dude #1: Why'd you get up and leave?
Santa: 'Cause I saw you coming.
Security Dude #2: Why'd you run?
Santa's Little Helper: 'Cause we knew you were gonna kick us out.
Security Dude #1: So you ran instead of explaining yourselves?
Santa: What's the big deal?

Santa Nutjobs think it's all fun and games until local cops show up.

Santa: This is public property! I can film people! We were just getting footage for a Christmas montage! Constitutional amendments! It's harmless! I swear!
Cop: This is PRIVATE property, dumbass. No one can take pictures unless they're doing it as part of their mall job. That means the portrait studios and the REAL Santa Claus, not fake Santas with no permits and no proof of what they're filming for.
Santa: (Starting to realize what he did) Look, watch the video. See for yourself.

Cops watch video. Nothing disturbing is found. Cops determine that Fake Santa is telling the truth, but he still can't just film people at the mall whenever he feels like it. Cops decide not to arrest Faux Santa or his plainclothes elf. Mall Security, on the other hand, bans the Santa Perps for one year each.

Security Dude #1: Fools made me RUN. You better believe Santa got banned.
Security Dude #2: Hell, they made us both run. They should have got two years.
Idiot Newbie: I don't see what's wrong with a guy dressing as Santa and taking pictures of children without their parents permission or a permit from the mall. Surely such a case would be innocent. Or, you know, whateeeeever.
Security Dude #2: Dude, how many times do I have to tell you to SHUT UP?
Security Dude #1: Bastards made me RUN, man...

Let us hope that Santas everywhere will soon recover from the shame of it all, and that the REAL Santa at this mall will not be the subject of foul gossip. He remained at his post, cheering up children and accepting wish lists like a good Santa should.

Long Live the Real Santa Claus!