Tuesday, April 29, 2008

10 Superstitions, Traditions, and/or Personality Quirks

  1. I always duck my head when I drive under a railroad bridge, especially if there's a train on it.
  2. I kiss two fingers and scratch the roof if I go through a yellow light. Okay, the visor, since Inga's roof is usually down.
  3. I eat M&Ms and Skittles in pairs by color.
  4. Purple straw with my Slurpee, thank you.
  5. I always call out "Bread and butter!" when I split the pole with someone. They should respond with "Butter and bread," of course.
  6. I carefully select the first song to be played through the stereo of any new car. Inga's song was "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" by The Tams. Beach music is the bomb.
  7. We're a "call when you get there" family. This tradition applies to parents and children, no matter what age group.
  8. Thou shalt eat Wicked's recipe Chex Mix when watching the Florida-Florida State game. Thou shalt also call and make obnoxious noises when your team scores, and the rest of the family (who's rooting for the other team) is a couple of states away.
  9. I have few close female friends who aren't relatives--Kelly, Kathryn, and the Puffs. We all have some sort of ritual or inside joke that bonds us (Moe's, Monty Python, frogs, tiaras). These are incomprehensible to outsiders, but they work for us.
  10. Crack the spines of my books, and you. will. pay.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Still a Fangirl

Earlier this politicking season, I came out. I declared myself a fangirl for Elizabeth Edwards (read why here). Given her rant in the New York Times yesterday, I'm glad I'm a fangirl.

Her basic argument is that this presidential campaign has been determined by a narrative outline tacitly accepted by the press. The candidates are their image, and anything that strays outside the image doesn't get reported. That's the reason, EE claims, that some candidacies (Biden, Brownback, Dodd, Richardson) never got any traction, while others (Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, and yes, Edwards) died on the vine because the message was about style over substance.

The press, she claims, is falling down on the job. And all I can say to that is "Amen, sister!" They're all over the sound bites, the bowling scores, the shots of Crown Royal, the temper tantrums, but when was the last time you heard any substantive, analytical reporting about any of the three remaining candidates from the press? I know all about the Internet, and I know I can do research there, but when your candidates for President of the United States are given the Paris/Britney/MaryKateandAshley/Amy Winehouse treatment, how in the hell are you supposed to determine what they'll do about something important, like health care or education?

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I'd followed my original career plans and gone into journalism. Would I have a different perspective on journalism and integrity, or would I be taking really, really long showers, hoping to Lady Macbeth myself out of the slime?

Something tells me I'd probably be a human prune. Guess it's a good thing I'm a teacher.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Musings: Down With Love

I tend to get a little nutty when it comes to presents for DH. Poor man never knows what's coming when I tell him his theme for the year is something like "Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n Roll." He wonders, of course, but never knows. He wasn't that confused the year I told him his theme was "Ladies' man, man's man, man about town." That one came straight out of Peyton Reed's Down With Love, a 2003 Valentine celebrating 60s sex comedies.

Down With Love didn't make gazillions at the box office, but it is priceless. Lots of snippy dialogue, great art direction (it takes work these days to make sets look like cheesy 60s backdrops), fabulous costumes, and a pinch of magical realism--blend to a high froth. Make no mistake: this is not a serious movie. But it is seriously fun.

The short synopsis: Barbara Novak has written a non-fiction book about how women can become equal to men, which is equal parts Lysistrata and chocolate. To promote it, Barbara and her editor Vikki Hiller plan to get Catcher Block--the previously mentioned "ladies' man, man's man, man about town"--to write a story about it for Know magazine (for men in the know!). Catch's editor Peter McMannus, a nervous type, worries that his star journalist won't come through--or worse, write one of his exposés about Barbara, which imperils Peter's budding romance with Vikki. Complications ensue, hilarity, everyone's happy in the end. Of course!

The screenplay is an affectionate wink to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies, with Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor in the leads, Sarah Paulson as the man-hunting editor, and David Hyde Pierce in the Tony Randall second-man role. Plus, Tony Randall himself in a cameo! It's completely nonserious and completely fun. It's worth it to watch DHP make martinis (he waves the bottle of vermouth over filled glasses of gin), Ewan sparkle and flirt his way into Barbara's life so he can expose her as a fraud, and Barbara keep pulling tricks out of her sleeve. Or gloves. This is the pre-Woodstock 60s, after all. Up with Down With Love!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Birthday Boy!

DS turns 11 today. We're on the slippery slope to middle school, puberty, and my grocery bill going through the roof (although the grocery bill is cranking up already). We present him with a checklist: how late should he sleep? What breakfast menu does he prefer? Two things he'd like to do? Dinner at home or a restaurant? And we go shopping for a new bike. Three stores, lunch in between, and of course, he picks the first bike he got on at the first store. Oh, well. Dinner's a steak at Roadhouse. He gets lots of flat presents from the grands and cousins and all.

Miracle of miracles, he loves it. Having a whole day with his family--even the little sister he claims he can't stand--was the best present of all.

At least until his paintball party next week.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

That Last Post? Forget I Said Anything.

So last night we're at church for the kids' program. Fine. DS (also known as Frick, as opposed to his sister, Frack) brings a friend. Also fine. I'm cleaning up after dinner when Friend comes in the dining room. "Um...mimi? Frick bit through his lip? And we need some ice?"

Not so fine. The words "bit through his lip" don't sound promising. I get upstairs with paper towels and ice. My son is standing over a sink, bleeding profusely from his cut lip. More fun in store: one of his front teeth is chipped in two places--the bottom's off, plus a chunk out of one side. Beautiful, and all thanks to Wii Sports. Turns out Friend rared back to whack a ball and instead whacked Frick right in the dental work. He couldn't have aimed and done a more thorough job.

Thankfully, Frick's not freaking out too badly. We get him wiped down, calmed down, find the pieces of tooth: one's on the carpet; one's still stuck in his lip. He's calm by the end of the night and goes to bed with a band-aid and his father's bracing words: "Chicks dig scars."

They don't prep you for this with all those "having a baby will be marvelous" books. Nor do they prep you for the $400 of cosmetic dentistry and nitrous oxide fun that Frick has undergone today, thank you very little.

Can I quit now?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In Springtime, the Only Pretty Ring Time...

Birds sing...hey ding a ding a ding...sweet lovers love the spring!

(If you recognize these lyrics, you were either paying really really close attention in your Shakespeare class, or you've watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory a gazillion times. In either case, the weather here has been worth singing about. We've had a couple of nights and early mornings in the 50s, warming to mid-70s in the afternoon. This almost never happens in April in Central Florida, so we are counting our blessings.

Florida still rocks!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Truth, or Something Like It

Wiley Miller's Non Sequitur is one of my favorite comics, probably because it skates just this side of completely oddball, and also because it's so sharp. Today's strip is a zinger aimed right at the heart of publishing.

Danae, the strip's erstwhile heroine, is young and way too smart for her own good. Today, she's gathering material for a science fiction story, traveling to prehistoric times, then meeting up with aliens. Once she starts writing, though, she says she's changing her story to a memoir, since, "it's more marketable that way." "I don't think remembering a dream counts as a memoir," her best friend (okay, her horse) says. Not a problem for our Danae. "Apparently, you're not familiar with publishing's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," she says.

Had to laugh at that. Oprah's been conned twice with "memoirs," James Frey's A Million Little Pieces the more famous of the two, followed by Margaret B. Jones's Love and Consequences. Consequences, supposedly written by a biracial former gangbanger about her tough upbringing in foster homes, was actually penned by Margaret Seltzer, a white suburban girl from the San Fernando Valley with nothing tougher in her upbringing than choosing whether to shop at Abercrombie or Hollister. And yet reviewers ate this book up, the same way they devoured Frey's, congratulating the brave authors on their survival skills and their gripping stories.

Too bad the stories were fakes, huh? And what is it about the rest of us voyeurs that we are so easily duped? Are our lives so mundane, so boring and same-old, same-old, that we eat up fantastical stories about drug addiction and drug selling so we can feel good that we live in the 'burbs and can leave bikes outside at night without worrying that they'll disappear before morning? Believe me, I'm not slighting people with actual problems--I work in the 'hood, remember? I guess the thing that upsets me about these alleged "memoirs" is that they're borrowing fame through false pretenses. As if fame were the goal. If it is, that's a sorrier commentary than the fact that these writers are falsifying whole lives for their, and our, entertainment.

Check out the strip here (be sure to select the April 13 comic).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cool Chick: P!nk


You can tell that P!nk will develop into a gutsy broad one day (she's already stomping all over the chick/broad line), but for now, she's a very, very cool chick. Outspoken and honest, she's the kind of gal who probably got sent to the principal's office a lot while the quieter and tamer girls in the room looked on with a mix of envy and horror. Her music's a great mix--fun, danceable, and surprisingly smart. Check out "Stupid Girls" for a scathing commentary about our embarrassing fixation on celebrities (and the more embarrassing things young women do to keep us watching), and the straightforward "Dear Mr. President" for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tagged! On Your Mind

Happened by Diana's Diversions and read this, so I consider myself tagged. Consider yourself tagged if you're reading!

You're feeling: A little tired. It's the end of a long day--they're all long when they start at 5 am!--and I still have cleaning and such to do before I can curl up and sleep.

To your left: a notebook, a pile of paper (so what else is new?), the love seat, DD drinking ice water, and the Brittanys.

On your mind: grading papers and my messy house.

Last meal included: salad, teriyaki chicken fingers, potato skins, and fried mozzarella. Yep, I'll be paying for that one.

You sometimes find it hard to: do everything I want to do, especially when everything I ought to do is yelling so loud.

The weather: Chamber of Commerce: low 80s, sunny, cottonball clouds. This is why I love Florida (and drive a convertible!).

Something you have a collection of: Antique advertising.

A smell that cheers you up: homemade bread.

A smell that can ruin your mood: musty.

How long since you last shaved: about 14 hours.

The current state of your hair: Curly, what else?

The largest item on your desk/workspace (not computer): Aside from the pile of paper? Probably my tiara.

Your skill with chopsticks: Pretty good, at least until the sauce starts breaking up the rice.

Which section you head for first in a bookstore: Yes.

Something you’re craving: A massage.

Your general thoughts on the presidential race: I want real information instead of freakin' sound bites. I'm interested in the running mate choices. Until then, I'm reserving final judgment.

How many times have you been hospitalized this year: I haven't been hospitalized since the last time I gave birth.

Favorite place to go for a quiet moment: The aforementioned bookstore.

You’ve always secretly thought you’d be a good: Lawyer. But then I'd have to find a new dad.

Something that freaks you out a little: People who don't think for themselves, like Rush Limbaugh's Dittoheads.

Something you’ve eaten too much of lately: Soda.

You have never:

You never want to: Become a money-grubbing a**hole.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ten Favorite Actors and Actresses

Ooo, a toughie! DH and I love movies. We don't always agree on what we like, but we love movies. Here are ten faves (not all of the faves, of course, but the ten floating in the front of the cortex at the mo).
  1. Ving Rhames - Love his voice, love his attitude. Delivers some of the best one-liners in the business.
  2. Edward Norton - I don't think I've ever seen a bad performance by him. He absolutely disappears into a character and makes you believe him, whether he's playing sadistic (American History X), psycho (Primal Fear), or world domination (Fight Club). Can't wait to see what he brings to the Incredible Hulk.
  3. John Cusack - The guy we all wanted to stand outside our window with a boom box. Le sigh.
  4. Reese Witherspoon - Is loving Elle Woods wrong? Even though she is blonde?
  5. Cate Blanchett - She can do freakin' anything. The Australian Meryl Streep. Check out her uncanny Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. Plus, she totally rocked Galadriel's pointy ears.
  6. Emma Thompson - Wonderful comic timing, and a great ear. She's won two Oscars, for acting (Howards End) and screenplay (Sense and Sensibility). I wouldn't mind growing up to be her.
  7. Alan Rickman - Another do-anything actor, but we especially love Snape. Can't wait to see how he plays his final scene in Deathly Hallows.
  8. Judi Dench - The first female M. Any questions?
  9. Hugh Jackman - Rawr. 'Nuff said.
  10. David Strathairn -Don't know why exactly, but this guy fascinates me. Totally credible as both a blind savant (Whistler in Sneakers) and as Edward R. Murrow (Good Night, and Good Luck). I'm probably the only female on earth who watched The Firm and was more interested in Ray McDeere than his brother Mitch, played by Tom Cruise...an actor I could leave rather than take. But that's another post altogether.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Florida Rules!


Gotta love living in Florida. Today after lunch, we all look at each other and decide, "Beach!" We throw some towels and sunscreen in the trunk, put on suits, and head over to New Smyrna Beach. It's gorgeous--not too hot, nice breeze. After a couple of hours on the beach, we drive down past Bethune Beach and have some seafood at JB's Fish Camp. Having to eat fresh seafood by the river on a gorgeous night. Yep, sucks to live in Florida.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It Waz the Bst of Tmz--

Gotta love today's Zits cartoon, drawn by the fabulous Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman:

I cannot text to save my life. My friends Barb and Ans can send the US Constitution back and forth without even looking at their thumbs, but I plod away, letter by letter, two clicks for "b" and three clicks for "l" and so on (predictive text gets me no end of weirdness). Writing a novel like this would be torture. Of course, writing a novel the regular way gets dodgy at times. Still, the idea's hilarious to think about! What kind of nutcase would you have to be to write this way??

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