Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Want To Go To There

Classics and Cocktails: The Beautiful and Damned

This month's classic for the 12 in 2012 challenge was The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. After Tolstoy it was a fantastic relief. Reading it, I didn't feel like I was hiking up the world's steepest hill.

I love Fitzgerald's way with words and, as I read, I stopped often to jot down quotes I liked. For instance, on page 91, he writes that "All the evil hate in the mad heart of February was wrought into the forlorn and icy wind..."

Oh yes, that's the stuff.

The Beautiful and Damned is the story of Anthony and Gloria Patch, their relationship before they get married and what happens after. The relationship is based largely on Fitzgerald's own marriage to Zelda Sayre, a Southern belle from Montgomery, Alabama. The two were well-known for their drinking and partying.

Gloria, like Zelda, is beautiful and charming and much-pursued by the men around her.  She doesn't seem particularly impressed. At one point, Fitzgerald gives us this gem from Gloria's diary:

"I've decided that this matter of sticking to things wears one out, particularly when the things concerned are men." 

Amen, sister.

When Anthony first says to Gloria, "I love you," she says in return, "I- I'm so glad." Basically, she's the literary equivalent of John John here. "You love me? Um...count this penny."

Anthony's grandfather is excessively wealthy and Anthony is simply waiting for the money to come to him. So he spends his days drinking and living beyond his means. There is a common thread with a lot of alcoholics in books and, let's face it, in reality and it is this attitude of "When am I going to get what's coming to me?" 

Oh, dude, you're going to get what's coming to you. 

Anthony's grandfather dies and Anthony finds out that he has been cut out of the will. He decides to go to court to get the money he believes should be his. 

After war is declared, Anthony goes off to training camp down south, where he does very little other than have an affair with a woman named Dot and continue to be selfish and self-indulgent. When he comes back, it is clear his relationship with Gloria will never be what it was when it began. They were beautiful in the beginning and destined for great things, or so they perceived themselves to be. But the years of alcoholism and debt have robbed them of the ability to see beauty in each other. For me, it seems that all they ever really saw in each other was a reflection of what they believed to be true about themselves or what they wanted to be true. 

Even as Anthony is leaving on the train, you know that the connection between husband and wife was tenuous at best. Gloria is late and arrives in time only to see Anthony across a distance. "At the last they were too far away for either to see the other's tears."  

Gloria, too, is selfish and drinks excessively. She has always been beautiful and has always gotten what she wanted. "If I wanted anything, I'd take it... I can't be bothered resisting things I want."

At the end, the court decides in Anthony's favor and he inherits his grandfather's $30 million. But, by this time, Anthony has been losing control of himself and his alcoholism. He has been stumbling around New York, slurring his words and trying to sell bonds. I found the part about Anthony's attempts to be a salesman excruciating. I can't imagine much worse than going on cold calls. I'd probably get wasted drunk beforehand, too. 

On the same day the court will decide if he gets his inheritance, Anthony is pushed over the edge by a visit from pathetic and desperate Dot. He hurls a chair at her in a rage and, I assume, she runs back home to Mississippi. Gloria comes home to find him sitting on the floor with his stamp collection, acting like a little boy. 

"Get out," he says, protective of his collection. "Or I'll tell my grandfather." 

When the novel ends, Anthony and Gloria have all the money they wanted but Anthony is "a little crazy." 

As for Gloria, she is exactly what she never wanted to be. 

In the beginning, Gloria expresses her concern for being "clean" and she is drawn to Anthony because he seems "clean" too. "You and I are clean like streams and winds. I can tell whenever I see a person whether he is clean, and if so, which kind of clean he is.”

More than six years later, a character says of Gloria, "I can't stand her, you know. She seems sort of - sort of dyed and unclean, if you know what I mean." 

Here's a good example of what someone who is "clean" might look like: 

Here is what someone who is "unclean" might look like: 
Overall, I enjoyed the book, although I can't say there was a truly likable character among the bunch. It's a book about selfish people cursed with weakness and addiction. And I should confess I took a brief break from Jazz Age shenanigans to read a memoir by Bill Clegg titled Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and a thriller titled Before I Go to Sleep

I found this review of The Beautiful and Damned from 1922. Apparently, the critic did not like the book at all: 
"The novel is full of that kind of pseudo-realism which results from shutting one's eyes to all that is good in human nature, and looking only upon that which is small and mean-a view quite as false as its extreme opposite, which, reversing the process, results in what we have learned to classify as "glad" books. It is to be hoped that Mr. Fitzgerald, who possesses a genuine, undeniable talent, will some day acquire a less one-sided understanding."

A Little Clooney for Your Leap Day

"Oh, her? This is my future ex-girlfriend."
Here's one more reason my pretend boyfriend is the greatest. In an interview with The Advocate, he said this about gay rumors:
"I think it’s funny, but the last thing you’ll ever see me do is jump up and down, saying, 'These are lies!' That would be unfair and unkind to my good friends in the gay community. I'm not going to let anyone make it seem like being gay is a bad thing. My private life is private, and I’m very happy in it. Who does it hurt if someone thinks I'm gay? I'll be long dead and there will still be people who say I was gay. I don't give a sh*t."
Go here for more.

Ladies, Today's Your Day to Capture a Man

Today is that rare day that rolls around every four years when the world spins the wrong way, dogs and cats get married, Rick Santorum takes birth control, Angelina Jolie eats the proper amount of calories for a grown woman, and *GASP* women can propose to men! It's called "The Lady's Privilege." Oh, ladies, aren't you so excited?

Here are some fabulous vintage postcard images that illustrate the tradition. Apparently, getting a man to the altar requires a lot of weapons.

A knife, a pistol, a shotgun, a baseball bat? Wait, is that a piece of candy corn down there? Anyway, if Charlie doesn't propose, it looks like he's going to be murdered in every possible way.

How about this photo?
Apparently, Clara is about to capture a really tiny man and take him home and call him George and pat him and pet him and love him forever.

If you saw that crappy rom-com Leap Year a couple of years ago, you already knew about this tradition because you saw Amy Adams race over to Ireland to propose to her douchebag boyfriend.

But, of course, Amy ended up with the hot pub owner who had to help her when her travel plans went awry. When my travel plans went awry one time, I was helped by a surly, overweight woman in a blue vest with multiple ear piercings and she had the audacity NOT to offer to drive me to my destination herself and subsequently fall in love with me. Doesn't she know how this is supposed to work? We could have been so happy together.

Anyway, the totally crazy idea of ladies asking out men is seen at high schools across the country even in non-Leap Years when schools host Sadie Hawkins dances.

Incidentally, here's a picture of Sadie Hawkins from the Li'l Abner comic strips that started this scourge on society, this slippery slope into radical feminism.

Sadie's father, an important member of Dogpatch society, decreed that one day a year would be Sadie Hawkins Day. On this day, a footrace would be held in which the town's single women would chase the bachelors. Catch one and - boom - he has to marry you. Of course, only uggos like Sadie here would ever have trouble "catching" a man without a decree and a footrace.

(My sarcasm muscle is getting a little overworked here.)

After the comic ran, colleges started holding Sadie Hawkins Day events, always in November.

Somehow, over time, it's become associated with Leap Day. Most of these dances are held in February. Listen, this just makes sense. We can't have women running around willy-nilly asking men out or proposing to men all year long! What's next? Napkins becoming paper towels or a car? Water becoming beer?

At my high school, you asked the guy and then you had to buy matching shirts to wear to the dance. Just for your enjoyment, here's a little stroll down my memory lane.

Austen Adams made me buy those super-cool Garth Brooks-looking shirts.

Tight-rolled jeans.
Those Garth-Brooks, western, snap-button shirts.
Oh, the humanity.

I also seem to remember that they passed out pretend marriage certificates at these dances. What in the holy hell? Todd Blanchard, do you owe me some alimony?

I really only did the asking one of those years, the first year, and if I remember correctly, I did it by note. The note was probably folded like this:
The other two years I went with my boyfriend, Austen, so I didn't have to actually ask him. The only asking I did was my senior year when I asked my boyfriend's wonderful mother if she would help me pay for the shirts. I didn't have enough money and I knew my mom didn't have any extra money at that time. And damn those Garth Brooks-wannabe shirts were pricey.

I have a vivid memory of going back to his mom's bedroom one afternoon after school and asking if I could talk to her for a minute. Then I immediately started to cry. As the mother of a teenage boy, I look back on this and I can imagine the absolute terror that probably ran through her at that moment. I should call and apologize to her for that.

So, as "radically feminist" as I am, I never really asked out anyone until I was 38 years old.

Several years ago when I was first divorced, my friend Christopher Davis tried to give me lessons in how to ask out a man. I think he made up some scenario in which I would casually mention some band playing at a local bar and then, even more casually, say, "Wanna go?" I wish I had a video of it because he did his "man voice" during this scenario. Yes, he's a man anyway, but his "man voice" is hilarious. Despite his best efforts, even the thought of asking someone out made my face turn red.

Then last spring, I'm not sure what happened. I called someone I'd met through a friend and said, "We should do something this weekend." Simple as that. I think part of it was that the day before I'd gone to the funeral of a dear and wonderful friend (a friend whose absence I will probably never fully accept) and maybe I thought, "Fuck it. Life is short." Or maybe I was trying to distract myself from the grief. It could have been that.

It wasn't a footrace, but I definitely felt like I experienced some little victory that day, a victory over my own nervousness or insecurity.

And, in the tradition of those Sadie Hawkins dances from years before, I bought myself a new shirt. I did not, however, wear Keds.

29-Day TV Challenge: Saddest Character Death

Today is the last day of this blog challenge. Isn't that sad?

No. It's not sad. I'm tired of talking about television. Let's get back to talking about things of great importance like me, my book, other books, my angry rants, George Clooney, me and George Clooney.

So today's post is all about the sadness caused by the death of a character on a TV show. This is a tough one. I was pretty broken up that one time when this happened:
But I'd have to say the saddest character death happened on ER.

Once Mark Greene was gone (and Doug Ross was already gone), I stopped watching ER as faithfully.

Now, here's a photo of Dr. Doug Ross to cheer you up on this very sad day.
And this concludes the 29-Day TV Challenge. I think we've all learned a little bit about ourselves this month, haven't we?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fourth Meal: From Awesome to More Awesome

Me: "Did you hear what Taco Bell is coming out with?"

Jacob: "No. What?"

Me: "A taco with a shell made out of Nacho Cheese Doritos!"

Jacob: "Oh man, we should totally go to the midnight premiere of that."

*The nationwide rollout begins at 12:01 a.m. March 8.

Happy Vodka Cranberry Zombie Day

Zombie Apocalypse: Longing for a Simpler Life

Today is officially Vodka Cranberry Zombie Day.

My blog is like my own little world where I determine what's what, like the identity of George Clooney's soul mate or the identity of the Antichrist (Rick Santorum).

Here at Vodka Cranberry Clooney, today's theme is the end of life as we know it.

Today, I revealed in a previous post  that my current TV show obsession is The Walking Dead. I have mentioned zombies a lot lately, in this post, for instance, and in this one. This morning, a friend posted a status update about becoming an "official Zumba instructor" and I first read it as "official Zombie instructor." I was ready to submit my resume. I find myself daydreaming about an apocalyptic event and the main thought I have is this: Let's do this already.

I am ready for a flu pandemic or an asteroid barreling toward Earth or a cancer cure gone wrong that turns droves of stupid people into even more stupid people, who walk slowly and moan and eat off your face if you get too close. (Incidentally, The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley is an enjoyable novel about what might happen in the event of a flu pandemic as told through one family's experiences.)

Maybe I'm just longing for a major change. I panic at the thought of moving everything I own one state over for a new job, but I love the thought of getting rid of everything I own to move with my children to another country.

In Up in the Air, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) gives motivational sessions in which he asks the audience members to imagine themselves carrying a backpack. "How much does your life weigh?" he asks.

"I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, then you start adding larger stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, your TV... the backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. You go bigger. Your couch, your car, your home... I want you to stuff it all into that backpack.

"Now I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office... and then you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your brothers, your sisters, your children, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack, feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. All those negotiations and arguments and secrets, the compromises.

"The slower we move the faster we die. Make no mistake, moving is living. Some animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically over a lifetime. Star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not swans. We are sharks."

OK, in general, this is a sad message. If you've seen the movie, you know George Clooney's character is very alone because he has made the mistake of thinking that it isn't just stuff but people who weigh you down.

But, if you're like me and suffocating under the weight of your life, you can see the appeal of traveling as lightly as possible and being up in the air.

Some people don't like air travel, but I have always loved it. Being in an airport or on a plane feels like a break from reality. Now there is WiFi everywhere, but I like to pretend there isn't. I want to be in a place between places, where I can read a book or write in my journal or people watch. I really liked it before cell phones when no one could call or text me. I was free until the moment I arrived at my destination.

There's something appealing about imagining the entire world thrown into a life-changing chaos in which all that matters is basic survival. The point of each day is to stay alive, drink water, eat food, find a place to hole up, and shoot the undead. No bills to pay. No car repairs. No women's magazines telling me I need to lose that last ten pounds. No advertising telling me I'm using the wrong detergent, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo. No Republican debates.

I wake up each day and remind myself not to worry. I read the day's devotional in Jesus Calling. Stephanie gave it to me for Christmas. No matter what you believe, it's amazingly helpful.

I struggle with this stuff. I don't like religion. It seems full of hatefulness and intolerance and silly mythology. But Jesus seems like a cool dude who said this basic thing, "Love one another." Not "Judge one another." Not "Hate one another." Not "Shove one another's religious beliefs down the other's pie hole."

"Love one another."

So I read the devotional and I think about how true it is that worry is pointless, that by worrying I am forcing myself to go through something that has not happened, I am imagining the worst and working myself into a frenzy about it. I am exhausting myself with the idea that not only will bad things keep happening but that they are all my fault. See, when it comes to bad stuff, I'm totally in control of it all. I make it happen with my awful mind.

Somehow this power of thought does not work with good things. If it did, George Clooney would have taken me to the Academy Awards. This is what I like to call The George Clooney Conundrum.™ If I am responsible for wishing my ex-husband would leave me alone and then watching him as he disappeared forever, then why do I not have a charming, prank-playing, kind and funny boyfriend who looks good in a tuxedo? I've given way more mental energy to that scenario.

After I get up and remind myself not to worry, I proceed to worry the rest of the day. A major apocalyptic event seems like a nice alternative. Then we'd all have just one major thing to worry about instead of the thousands of tiny things with which we have cluttered our lives. Forget pollution and global warming. What we have really destroyed this world with are millions of pointless monsters, paperwork and red tape, complicated rules, shallow expectations.

Someone said, "Don't sweat the small stuff," but the small stuff is what makes a person feel helpless. Wouldn't you rather be bitten by one dog than by a million tiny mosquitos? We were made to deal with the BIG stuff. We were made to survive. Breathe in and out. Seek shelter. Seek food. Seek love. Love one another.

We have filled this world with small stuff. We have filled our backpacks with meaningless crap. We have filled our ears with noise and our heads with small expectations that rule us. Am I thin enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I rich enough? Am I wearing the right clothes? Am I living in the right neighborhood? Am I choosing the right organic vegetables? Am I purchasing the right laundry detergent? Am I using the right type of light bulbs?

Should I eat dark chocolate instead of regular chocolate? Should I eat more salmon? Should I do more crossword puzzles? Is a glass of red wine good for me? What if I have three glasses? Did I just undo the benefit of having one? Is a vodka cranberry bad? Is diet soda making me fat? Is caffeine good or bad?

Am I failing my children because I cannot afford extracurricular activities? Should I have put Kate in tumbling when she was four years old so she could have made the cheerleading squad? How will I send my son to college? How will I give them all the things they need?

Where will I get a ladder so I can clean out the gutters? What if, by avoiding this chore, I am ruining the wood around the house? What if I don't find a job? Should I sell my house? How will I fix all the things that need fixing in order to sell it? What if it doesn't sell? Is it weird that I am not sure I want to leave the house where Charles died, that I sometimes think I can control the pain of his loss by owning the place where it happened?

My mind collapses under the weight of a million questions that come one after another, questions that feed off each other like insatiable zombies feeding on brains.

Imagine a post-apocalyptic world. The small things are gone. It's just the big things: Survive. Breathe. Drink water. Eat food. Stand outside and listen carefully. Observe what is around you. Truly see it. There is no cell phone in your hand. You are not ever looking down. There are no electronic beeps or dings or vibrations to pull you away from where you are. Live in the moment. Find a comfortable place to sleep. Wake up. Do it again.

What it boils down to is that I'm craving brains a simpler life.

It occurs to me that it is up to me to block out the white noise of daily life, to not give the small stuff space in my head. It occurs to me that I can do exactly what I crave. I can breathe in and out. I can focus on the big stuff (love one another). I can live in this moment and only this moment. I can release my grip  on the heavy stone of what might be and what has been.

The zombie apocalypse is now.

"Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable."  - Theodore N. Vail

Here's today's theme song: Zombie by the Cranberries.

29-Day TV Challenge: Current Zombie Show Obsession

A couple of weekends ago, my son and I had a marathon viewing of The Walking Dead. Now I can't wait for a new episode.

Which is weird because I hate horror movies and I hate guns. I also cannot bear watching people get shot in the head. It makes my chest hurt. I have to be on my guard so I don't accidentally see too much of that sort of thing. I tend to cover my eyes a lot while watching this. I also yell at the screen and shriek quite a bit.

This TV show has turned me into one of those people who yells warnings at the screen in the movie theater.

Just a few notes:

I want Shane to get eaten by a pack of zombies as soon as possible.

I hate Andrea.

And there is no question, if we were in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, I would freaking swallow those abortion pills and I would not throw them back up. Give me a damn break.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

29-Day TV Challenge: Best Pilot Episode

The Sopranos introduced a mob boss and his family, taking all the conventional ideas about mobsters and shaking them up. We meet Tony Soprano. We see him doing the things we expect, like chasing down a gambler and kicking the shit out him. The Sopranos, beginning with its pilot episode, had a way of making the violence seem funny at first and then it would make sure you didn't forget this manner of running a "business" was sick and horrible.

Then we see that Tony is a man who enjoys watching the ducks in his pool. When the ducks leave, Tony has a panic attack.

We see him with his new psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi. We see his resistance to therapy, his way of dealing with women (he calls her "hon"). We see his sadness beneath the surface of his bravado. We see a human being. Tony is just like us. He's sad. He has issues with his mother. He puts up a front to make it through the world he was born into. He stresses over his job. It's just that his job happens to be that of a mob boss.

During his session with Dr. Melfi, Tony praises the idea of the strong silent type, like Gary Cooper.
"See what they didn't know is once they got Gary in touch with his feelings, they wouldn't be able to shut him up," Tony tells her.

We meet the family, in all their foul-mouthed glory.

The Sopranos' pilot episode set the stage for one of TV's most excellent dramas. It never deviated from the tone it set with its fabulous first episode. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Plan B (The New Underground Railroad)

From a recent AP report: "In a ruling that appears headed toward appeal, a federal judge has ruled that Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives. The state’s true goal in adopting the rules at issue was not to promote the timely access to medicine, but to suppress religious objections by druggists who believe that such drugs can have an effect tantamount to abortion, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton said in his ruling Wednesday."


Let's just begin with that.

No, wait. Let's start with this: I took Plan B One-Step last summer.

When I first thought about writing this blog post, I thought, "Oh no, my dad people will know I had sex!" That speaks volumes about this country's current obsession with sex outside of wedlock. But, good grief, I'm 38 years old. I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to have sex if I want to. Yes, yes, I know, I am contributing to the destruction of society. But, hell, maybe that society is full of puritanical, hypocritical bull shit and someone needs to destroy it.

I have been married. I don't think I want to get married again. Should I enter a freaking convent? Should I never, ever have sex again? (For that matter, should any woman who is incapable of having children refrain from having sex?)

I think not. If I want to have sex with a super hot guy or my soul mate George Clooney, I'm going to do it, dammit.

Anyway, there seem to be people who are honestly confused about how birth control works or how Plan B One-Step works. It is not an abortificant. It does not END a pregnancy. It prevents a pregnancy from happening. It is a highly useful medication in the event of some unforeseen event that involves the malfunction of a prophylactic or, let's be frank, the malfunction of your brain.

If you think I did something tantamount to an abortion on that day last summer, 12 hours after having sex, you are a MORON. I did nothing worse than what millions of women do every day when they take hormonal birth control pills. Plan B One-Step works by preventing the release of an egg from the ovary or preventing fertilization of the egg by sperm (male reproductive cells).

I don't really understand what's happening in this country right now. Suddenly Republicans have stopped talking about the economy and, instead, are all up in the lady business. The news of late makes me honestly afraid for the reproductive rights of women in this country. This isn't just about abortion. This is about how we get pregnant, how we avoid getting pregnant, and what we choose to do in the privacy of our own homes.

When I finished writing my book, I went into a mild depression. I think this is partially because I have no idea what's next. Plan A is to get my book published.

But now I know what my Plan B can be. I can stock up on birth control. I can hoard it in my basement in the event of some insanity that involves "personhood" amendments and the outlawing of hormonal birth control. I can become the freaking Harriet Tubman of Contraception.

I'm going to dress like Harriet, too. See that bag there?It's filled up with birth control pills, my friends. So, all you folks who like to have sex without the risk of conceiving children every damn time (and I know that's pretty much all of you other than the Duggars), when the Zombie Rick Santorum™ Apocalypse arrives, you know where to find the goods.

29-Day TV Challenge: OMG WTF Season Finale

I've already mentioned this episode of Lost here but, in recent memory, "Through the Looking Glass" is the season finale that left me saying, "HOLY CRAP! WHAT?!" In fact, I think I texted that exact sentence to my friend Todd when he was recently watching the entire series for the first time. I said, "As soon as you finish the season 3 finale, call me!"

Spoiler videos ahead.

First this happened:

And then, on a show known for its flashbacks, this happened:
God, it was fantastic.

I do not care if the last season of Lost disappointed people. The show was amazing. You could tell the writers were actually trying to DO something interesting and meaningful and more intelligent than the 99 pounds of crap that we see shoveled on network television most of the time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

George vs. Brad: Is This Really a Contest?

Brad Pitt
    George Clooney
      Don't make me come down there.

      I spotted this ad on my Facebook home page today. This poll is all sorts of ridiculous! Brad is ahead of George? 

      Everyone knows George would make a better date than Brad. 

      Number one, because Angelina will cut a bitch.
      Number two, because George will bring his flask.


      Friday's Random Thoughts - Shit Pie Edition

      I've been getting on my own nerves this month. Thank goodness February is almost over. During the last week or so, I have grown especially tired of myself. There's been a lot of self-pity up in here and I just won't stand for that. Quit your whining, you big whining loser.

      Oh, boo hoo, I don't have a job. Oh, boo hoo, I don't have any money. Oh boo hoo, there's a zit on my nose that took a month to go away and then, a week later, IT CAME BACK! What the what! Oh boo hoo, I'm alone and I have no one to clean my gutters and my gutters really need cleaning. (That is not a euphemism for sex; my gutters need to be cleaned. Someone bring me a ladder, please.)

      And George Clooney is taking Stacy Keibler's enormous forehead to the Academy Awards on Sunday.

      Ugh. Shut up, you big baby.

      I want to crawl out of my skin and escape from my brain.

      To fight this case of "Woe is me," I have written out a list entitled "SHIT AMY SHOULD DO OTHER THAN SIT ON HER FAT ASS AND CRY."

      NO. 1: Write Friday's Random Thoughts.

      The rest of the list involves a lot of "get off your ass and exercise" and "get off your ass and clean the house" and some of this: "Get off your ass and put on something other than yoga pants!"

      Yesterday, I managed to do two of the things on my list. I walked five miles. I did the grocery shopping. Yea, me! OK, yes, I wore yoga pants all day. Whatever. I do what I want.

      Let's move on.

      Art Education
      I think I need this poster. In fact, I know I need this poster.

      Stupid, Horny Bitch 
      After I wrote a post the other day about the TV character that annoys me the most, I started thinking about another animated character that I hated with every fiber of my being. That dumb unicorn from The Last Unicorn

      Somehow, despite hating the title character with the same red-hot passion with which I hate Rick Santorum, I still saw that movie about a million times during childhood. I have no explanation for this.

      Does anyone else remember that movie? Did you hate that stupid unicorn/woman, too? I've decided it's because she was so, say it with me now, WHINY. I blame Mia Farrow. She was the voice of the unicorn.

      I also blame the music of America.

      Talking to Kate in the Car 
      This week, Kate has been staying after school for cheerleader clinics. Wednesday, after I picked her up, we stopped at Target to buy black shorts and a white T-shirt for her to wear for tryouts. Yesterday, we bought a black ribbon for her hair. The tryouts are this afternoon.

      On the way home Wednesday, somewhere between the Hwy 31 exit and the Alford Ave exit on I-65, Kate said, "Sometimes I have weird thoughts. I was just thinking what if Dad wasn't really dead and he just left because he was tired of us and wanted to go somewhere else?"

      "Well, wouldn't that be sad, too?" I said. "If he left for a reason like that?"

      "No," Kate said. "Because then he could come back. I'd be so mad at him. No, that's not true. The first thing I would do is hug him."

      Thursday, she was supposed to take a photograph to school for some sort of class project. She took one of her and her dad. She came in to my room yesterday morning and said, "I'm taking this one of dad because dad was awesome."

      Today, she'll be so nervous about the cheers and the jumps and whether or not she will make the team. I hope she does.

      I can't stand the thought of her being disappointed.

      I can't stand thinking about how she imagines her dad showing up alive and well, that she pictures herself hugging him, that she can't really do it. Her entire life will be filled with these imaginings.

      I know there are people who like to talk about how kids with married parents turn out better and kids with fill-in-the-blank-stuff-that-conforms-to-religious-political-viewpoints turn out better, but lately I've been thinking this: How impressive is it to be happy and well-adjusted when your life is perfect and easy and laid out for you on a damn platter?

      You know what's impressive? A kid who cheers and laughs and actively pursues happiness on a daily basis. A kid who says, "My dad is awesome!" despite not having everything perfect and easy and laid out for her on a damn platter.

      In other words, my kid is better and stronger and more amazing in about a million ways than children born into so-called perfect families. I wonder if I could fit that on a bumper sticker.

      Comments I'm Sick of Reading on Other Blogs

      "Am I the only one who doesn't find Ryan Gosling attractive?" Or this variation: "Am I the only one who doesn't understand the appeal of Ryan Gosling?"

      No, you are not alone. (You're sort of nuts, but whatever.)

      Everyone likes different things. For instance, I like George Clooney and the rest of you should just back the f*ck off and like other stuff.

      Whatever your feelings about Ryan Gosling, you should know that you are one of about 20 people who will post that "Am I the only one..." comment under every single story ever posts about Ryan Gosling. Find something else to say or shut the hell up and click on another story.

      This also goes for people who post comments on design blogs just to say, "That's not really my style." No one cares.

      The Help Makes Me Want to Vomit
      Warning: This section might make you want to vomit, too.
      [Spoiler alert: If you haven't read or seen The Help and, somehow, you don't know what happens, then you have been living in a cave and you also are not aware that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time. But I digress. Anyway, you might want to skip this.]

      A lot of people can't get past the idea that The Help is just another movie about how whitey saves black folks. That's not really what I got out of the movie or the book. The black women did all the risk-taking. The white woman helped get the story told, sure, but I never once thought the hero of the movie was Skeeter. There is no doubt, from the very first minute, that Aibileen (Viola Davis) is the hero.

      This was my tweet from March 30 of last year:

      Saw an unreleased film last nt. w  & signed confidentiality agreement so won't say more than this:  

      Also, there's a lot of criticism of the "happy ending" but at the end Aibileen loses her job. What do you think she's going to do exactly? Run right out and get another job in shitty Jackson, MS where Hilly Holbrook, biggest racist of all time, is telling everyone she's a thief? Doesn't seem all that rosy an ending to me. It's certainly not a fairy tale ending.

      For me, the ending showcases Aibileen's continued strength in the face of the unknown.

      But the ending isn't my problem here either.

      I can't get past the idea that the movie's central surprise is so absolutely, gag-inducingly disgusting.
      And I don't believe for one second that someone would do what Minny (Octavia Spencer) does.

      Do you honestly think someone would make a pie with her own shit?

      Think about it. You'd have to, well, poop, fish it out of the toilet, carry it into the kitchen in which you cook all your regular meals, make sure you did not eat corn within the last 24 hours - and, if so, well, you're going to have to do some searching around in your own pile of poop to remove the kernels since everyone knows there's no corn in chocolate pie - and then you have to put your shit into a pie tin.

      Are you gagging yet? I seriously just made myself gag writing that paragraph.

      I don't care how much you hate someone, how much of a horrible, vile, racist that person might be, are you really going to cook with your own shit to get revenge?

      This was the major way I wanted the film to be different from the book. Couldn't they have just had Minnie make stupid Hilly believe she was eating shit without it actually being true?


      It's just so gross. I need to go throw up.

      However, I still want Octavia Spencer to win the Academy Award.

      Oh, Please, They're Totally Divorced By Now

      The other day, Jennifer Aniston was asked by the Hollywood Reporter about the possibility of a Friends movie. Ugh, really? Does that sound like a recipe for shit pie or what?

      Jennifer answered correctly when she said:

      "I can't imagine how you would do it, unless you did it years from now. Then it would be: 'Who are these guys? What are we watching?' I can't imagine what that would be. It's not normal. Friends is in your living room; Friends is not in a movie theater. It doesn't make sense to me. I think it would be going against its authentic self."

      But she got this part, about where Ross and Rachel would be now, totally wrong:

      "They're absolutely, 100 percent together. They have more kids! He's probably still working, and hopefully they're still hanging out somewhere. It would be really upsetting if they weren't; it would bum me out."

      No, sorry, Jen. Ross and Rachel are divorced. Hell, they might not have even made it to the altar. Rachel was a bitch. And Ross didn't even really like the things that made Rachel, well, Rachel.

      The Rachel haircut was in fashion longer than that marriage would have lasted.

      (Also, "he's probably still working"? What? Most people have to work, Jen. They don't retire at 45.)

      Am I the only one who sees that these people did not need to be together?! She was mean to him. He was annoyingly jealous. She did not know the difference between "your" and "you're," for God's sake! She should have gone to Paris in the finale. That's what the movie could be about. Rachel in Paris. Still being a bitch.

      The End.

      Speaking of Bad Couples

      I hate this guy.

      The Glad Game

      A few weeks ago, my brother and I (in different cities) both watched Pollyanna. Afterward, we picked apart the plot (yes, we are awesome) and then we discussed the excellent wardrobe.

      I was thinking about Pollyanna's glad game.

      Another way to fight self-pity is to be glad about things. So I'm about to get all Pollyanna on you now. 

      I'm glad that our friend Chris Talley so generously gave us his iPad last weekend. He'd emailed me a few days earlier and said, "Do you want a free iPad? This is not an Internet scam. I'm looking for some non-asshats to give it to and you and your kids qualify." 

      Kate was so surprised when she saw it. She'd asked for one for Christmas but it just wasn't feasible.
      Then, last night, Chris took Jacob to see Wicked. Kate and I saw it last Saturday (the tickets were her Christmas present). It was an incredible experience. Chris and his wife Heather saw it on the night it opened in Birmingham. Last weekend, Chris sent me another message and said he wanted to see Wicked again before it left town. Would Jacob want to go? 

      "Really? I'd love to!" Jacob said when I told him. 

      I'm glad both kids got to see this spectacular musical and they both loved it. 

      I'm glad we have really good friends who do amazing things for us. 

      I'm glad we're not asshats.