Monday, November 24, 2008

Breakfast At Tiffany's

It's one of those classic movies that everyone raves about. (And if you are one of those people who raves about it, stop reading right now. I don't want you to hate me. If, however, you will remain unscarred by my scathing review, read on. Just be glad I will not be reviewing Twilight).

I started the iconic film with high hopes. After all, what's not to love? Audrey Hepburn. New York City. High fashion. Handsome leading man. But I must say, I was unimpressed. In fact, unimpressed is too diplomatic a word. Annoyed? Aghast? Confused beyond measure? How in the world did this movie become a classic? After watching it, I have absolutely no idea.

The movie was too long, too random, and had absolutely nothing to do with having breakfast at Tiffany's. Oh, the famous store is mentioned and one scene is filmed there, but any actual breakfasting does not take place. I was expecting some sort of pivotal moment from which the movie plucked its title. But no. It's a film where an idiotic/materialistic girl meets an idiotic/materialistic guy. She's busy fishing for some multi-millionaire to support her in style, he's living on some rich woman's dime in some sort of reverse sugar-daddy role, complete with bedroom privileges.

You'd think a movie made in 1961 would be a lot less racy. But no, we have a scene where Miss Hepburn's character climbs into bed with a completely naked man she just met, she attends a strip club with him where they watch an exotic dancer remove her top, leaving the camera to avert its lens in just the nick of time, the main falling-in-love activity includes some time spent shoplifting (apparently a fun little habit of hers) and to top it off, she's ridiculously stupid enough to be passing secrets to an incarcerated criminal through a fake weather report. And if that weren't bad enough, we are supposed to believe that her character, Holly Golightly, began life as hick-ish Lula Mae Barnes, married at the age of 14 to a man who must be three times her age. Whom she apparently left, to find herself or whatever.

Not to mention the musical score is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the head, and seemed more appropriate for a suspense thriller than a cotton candy romance. At times completely inexplicable, and at others completely absent - the music would swell hopefully until the characters kissed, and then stop dead, leaving me strangely unfulfilled. How are you supposed to experience the romantic climax if there is no accompanying musical crest? Just wondering - it took away from the movie itself, apparently forgetting the rule that the best musical score is one you don't notice.

And yet, somehow this score managed to clinch an academy award, in addition to a nod for its famous retch-worthy song, "Moon River". I don't know why, but this is just one of those songs I can't stand, much like anything by Neil Diamond (a common thread being ridiculous lyrics - "Huckleberry friend"? What is that? Or in Neil Diamond's case "I am I said to no one there, and no one heard at all, not even the chair..." Um, maybe it's just me, but I think I'm missing the deeper meaning.)

I know, you can all hate me now for my lack of taste or art appreciation, or simply because of my mean comment about nice-guy Neil Diamond, but honestly, this has to be one of the most overrated movies in the history of humanity. It deserves to be knocked off its place atop the totem pole. I mean, I love a large number of classic movies, cheesy endings, films with cutesy songs, and especially romances. But this movie was just more than I could stand. And apparently more than I could understand.

Friday, November 21, 2008

In Gratitude (And Shameless Promotion)

As we come closer to Thanksgiving, I would like to thank all my loyal blog readers. Well, not all of them, only the ones who comment. Because how am I supposed to know you are reading my blog, and thus be grateful for you, if you never leave me a comment?

So in appreciation of you, dear reader, I am announcing the first ever LIFE AS AN ADVERB contest. Well, it's not really a contest. It's more of a drawing. But there is a prize.

Some of you may know that my sister, Stephanie, is a published author. (Actually, two of my sisters are published authors. I mustn't forget the delightful Evil HR Lady, also known as my sister, Suzanne, and her weekly blog at US News).

Anyway, Stephanie pens LDS Fiction, and is a pretty spectacular writer (which I would actually say even if I weren't related. And if she would just put down that gun she has pointed to my head). She has published two books so far:

Her third book, a suspense novel called The Devil You Know is expected to be released next August. If you would like to read reviews of these awesome books (or if you just want to see what an amazingly talented mother of five looks like), visit Stephanie's website. As there are not yet reviews of The Devil You Know, you'll just have to take my word for it that it is really, really good. It kept me up till four in the morning because I simply had to find out what happened. Curse you, Stephanie.

If you would like to be the owner of one of these books, personalized and autographed by the author herself, leave me a comment on this post in which you tell me your favorite adverb. For example, my favorite adverb is, of course, "overly". On December 1st I will draw the name of one of the commenters out of a hat, and you will become the lucky owner of the book of your choice. (The Believer is my personal favorite, but both books are page-turners, and if you have the patience to wait till August for the release of The Devil You Know you are welcome to choose that one).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Move Over Zuma Nesta

Ashlee Simpson (of Saturday Night Live lip syncing fame) and her husband Pete Wentz (of who knows what fame) have had a son. I wasn't sure if there were any remaining names out there that could make me drop my teeth, but it appears I was wrong.

So welcome to the world Bronx Mowgli Wentz! (Yes, that's Mowgli, as in Jungle Book's Mowgli). Perhaps your mom can arrange a playdate with Zuma Nesta Rossdale.

So many sarcastic comments I want to make, so little time...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Behalf Of All Mothers Everywhere

I have a multitude of pet peeves. For example, it bothers me when the microwave door is left ajar, or when I go to a friend's house and they leave the TV on for my entire visit. Or when I call some company and they have no available option to talk to an actual person (which once caused me to yell at the voice recognition software, "I just want to talk to a human!" which actually worked, by the way).

But I decided that those pet peeves are rather ridiculous and petty (except for the TV one - I really hate that). So let's get down to one that is truly important. In the interest of making the world a better place, I thought I would resolve this most irritating pet peeve by writing a letter:

Dear DVD Producers Everywhere,

I have kept silent in the past, but as the mother of a soon-to-be two-year old who is just starting to take an interest in television and movies, I'm begging you, please, please do not program your DVDs to make the previews required viewing. You don't know the frustration I feel when I see that annoying red no-no symbol dash my hopes of skipping the preview of a movie I never plan to see.

I'm certain your intentions were good. You wanted to make sure people would actually watch the previews for upcoming movies or videos, which makes some sense if they are merely being rented for a one-time viewing. But obviously you have some sort of sadistic grudge against mothers whose children fixate on a particular DVD and want to watch it over and over and over again until their brain matter oozes out their ears. By not allowing mothers to skip the previews, you are contributing to nervous breakdowns all over the country.

And while we're at it, must there be any pre-movie things at all? For the love of Disney, please just put up the menu screen immediately upon DVD insertion. Watching the same movie 87 times (in one day) can be rather wearing. Please don't make it worse.


Frazzled I-Just-Want-To-Get-To-The-Menu-Screen Mom

Thanksgiving Prep (Clara 101)

We've been spending the morning getting reacquainted with Clara in preparation for her visit next week. Michael is enthralled by our old videos of the two of them playing together. He asks to watch them over and over again, and is calling her "Cara" which is an improvement over the old "Rara". As for me, I'm already getting sad about when Clara will have to go home, and she's not even here yet! How's that for pathetic?

The usual Thanksgiving preparation fun has been heightened by the fact that I'm in a new city without access to a Wegmans (ah, beloved Wegmans), so I've been slowly foraging through all the grocery "stores" (ahem, mini-marts) to make sure I have all the necessary ingredients for the perfect Thanksgiving feast. Last week I did happen upon what I would call an actual grocery store, just as I was about to give up hope completely. The knowledge that I can now buy sugar in a bag instead of a tiny mouse-portioned box is tremendously encouraging. We'll just forget the part about groceries being twice as expensive as they were in Virginia. (I say as I choke and sputter my way through each purchase of a $6 box of generic-brand cereal).

So far this week I've been yelled at by a complete stranger for allowing my child to "freeze to death" (he wasn't cold, by the way), told a taxi driver to shut up when he honked at me, and got cheated out of a dollar by Toys R Us, who insisted they could not give me the price listed on their shelf because it was the wrong one, even after a price check proved I was right, a fact which they readily admitted. (a grouchy letter to their corporate office is soon to be mailed).

Michael and I might head to the playground this afternoon. I have looked around for an indoor playground for use in the dead of winter, but all the indoor playgrounds have insane membership fees. I just looked at one this morning that costs $3000 per year. Yikes! If it's going to cost that much money I would prefer that Michael and I just sit around and stare at each other all day. (So far the cheapest membership I've found is $825. But the good news is these memberships often include parents and "one to two caregivers". I'm so glad to know I could bring my horde of nannies along).

Michael is celebrating the upcoming holiday by acting like a turkey (albeit a really cute and really fun turkey). I, on the other hand, prefer to stick with my favorite poultry persona - a really big chicken. We'll see which of our personalities wins out on the getting-out-of-the-house war today. So far chicken is ahead by three points.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can I Get Fries With That?

This weekend David and I watched "Super Size Me". For those of you who haven't seen it, it is a documentary about a guy who eats nothing but McDonald's for thirty days, causing him to put on twenty-five pounds and sending his cholesterol through the roof, among other issues.

It was a fascinating documentary, and it upset my stomach enough that I nearly committed myself to a life of eating nothing but wheatgerm and lemon grass. Of course, this morning I came to my senses, but I was nonetheless extremely grossed out by the whole thing.

And annoyed. Not at McDonald's for making such disgusting food (which they certainly do, though I must admit a fondness for their cheap hot fudge sundaes and breakfast sandwiches), but at the lawyers and the people who insist on blaming the fast food industry for their obesity. I'm certain that every person with half a brain knows that deep-frying your over processed food is not the way to enjoy bodily harmony. And yet they keep eating, and they keep blaming. It reminds me of an article I just read talking about the toddler response to adversity. When he gets hurt, out of embarrassment or anger he will often walk up to his mother and slap her to shift attention and assign blame (boy am I familiar with that response). It seems the obese are doing the same thing, walking up to McDonald's and slapping them - with a lawsuit.

I have noticed that there is a much greater push for nutrition information in NYC. Calorie counts are included on most menus, and the ban on trans fats is still in force. But does knowing that a plate of delicious cheese-drenched, bacon-sprinkled delectably-seasoned fries contains enough calories to feed a small third-world country stop me from eating them? Um, no. It just reminds me that I shouldn't eat them every day.

Which is how people should treat McDonald's. It is something to be enjoyed on occasion, but should never be visited on a daily, or probably even weekly, basis. This seems to be one of those obvious, common-sense things that everyone is hardwired to figure out.

Of course, I'm positive these lawyers (and most certainly their clients) don't actually think McDonald's is the sole responsible party for their sizable girth. They merely see dollar signs among the double cheeseburgers. And why take personal responsibility when you can shift the blame and walk away a gazillionaire? After all, doesn't sitting in piles of money make you feel better about yourself?

The reality is, our actions have consequences. No one is dragging people into McDonald's and forcing them to eat a Big Mac every day. (Unless the lawyers are right and we've all been conditioned through some sort of hypnotic, subliminal advertising to become addicted to this fast-food junk. And if that is the case, maybe we should all start turning off the TV now and then).

Wouldn't it be great if we could get personal responsibility on the menu? (And yes, you can order fries with that).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

People Watching, New York Style

New York City is a great place for people watching. You can't venture outside without seeing something strange. And I've discovered that even though I own black boots and a black coat, I need to invest in fishnet stockings and eighties-style leggings if I truly want to fit in. And possibly a little dog. We saw a man pushing two little dogs in a stroller yesterday. Some people have way too much money and way too little sense.

I've been stopped by four people so far (and avoided making eye-contact with a few oddballs who looked like they were about to stop me). The first was a clean-cut guy shilling for the ACLU who tried to convince me that I should be worrying about the government listening to my private phone conversations. I told him he was overly paranoid, and that the government has better things to do than listen to my phone conversations about diaper changes and PMS (and if they are listening, they deserve what they get). He was bewildered at my indifference, I'm sure.

The second was an old black woman with one remaining tooth who stopped me to ask where she could find an ATM. I told her I didn't know, as I just moved here and was still exploring the area myself. This launched her into a whole discussion about her sister who used to live in Washington, D.C. and her nieces and nephew soon to be born. I nodded and smiled my way down the sidewalk as she chattered at me. We went a full block before I was able to extricate myself from the conversation.

The third stop (and the last one I'll mention, as the other isn't particularly noteworthy) came from a sixty-something professional-looking gentleman who parked himself in the middle of the sidewalk, held up his hand in a halt-now gesture, and asked David and me to stop so he could talk to us. As he was blocking our path completely, and was very insistant about us stopping, we did so. He then proceeded to bend down to Michael's level and ask Michael to give him five. Michael (surprisingly) obliged, and we were on our way. So strange.

Speaking of Michael, he is perfecting his charming ways, saying "hi" and "thank you" and "bye bye" to everyone he meets. He has enamored a large number of strangers, and I don't know if people are just more touchy here or what, but everyone seems to want to touch his hair or give him five or tickle his foot or something. Michael is not a fan of this development, and spends a lot of time trying to climb out of his stroller into the safety of my arms.

Of course I'd probably try to run away too if strange people kept trying to run their fingers through my hair or pinch my cheeks. There are advantages to being a grown-up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Definition of News

According to my simple news formula, the following would be considered news:

Biological Male Is Pregnant!

On the other hand, this statement would not be considered news:

Biological Female Is Pregnant!

And yet, Barbara Walters and her ilk insist on making the latter statement news. You see, earlier this year a pregnant "man", i.e., a biological female with intact female reproductive system who decided to live her life as a "man", gave birth. This exciting development made international headlines.

I can see why. I mean, someone who was born a girl and still has all the girly parts can give birth? Wow! Stop the presses!

Why do I bring this up? Well, it turns out that this "man" is pregnant again and due in June. And Barbara Walters is currently promoting her special "What Is A Man, What Is A Woman? Journey of a Pregnant Man" featuring this woman. Excuse me, um, "man". (Sorry, but I just can't write it without the quotation marks. I have too much sarcasm floating around in my head to leave them out).

I'd ask what "news" we can look forward to next, but frankly, I just don't want to know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Maybe I Should Have Brought More

I read this morning that Mariah Carey required twenty pieces of luggage for a three day jaunt to England. Before I ask the obvious question, let me show you what we brought along for our one year stay in NYC:

Now for a shot of what we left behind:

And now for the obvious question: How in the world does one fill twenty suitcases for a three day trip? Is that a choice of fifteen outfits for each day? A suitcase full of money? Three suitcases worth of shoe choices?

And more importantly, don't these people feel completely ridiculous? I mean, just how much stuff does one need to survive?

Oh, snap! I forgot my suitcase full of handbags!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taking To The Buses

Atheists are launching a bus advertisement campaign in Washington, D.C. This comes directly on the heels of a similar campaign in London where Brits were told, "There probably is no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life." I don't know about you, but if I found out there was no God, that would make me start worrying. Especially because that would mean this life is all there is, and that people no longer exist after they die - yikes! That sounds extremely depressing. Of course, I'm sure most Atheists picture "God" as being a Zeus-like figure who loves to throw lightning bolts at sinners, or at the very least, "God" is a mean kid with a magnifying glass who is happily sitting on an anthill and zapping the life out of the friendly critters. And if you think that God could only be out to get you or make your life miserable (or worse, require you to live by a set of rules), maybe it's just nicer to go on your merry way.

Somehow this just doesn't seem logical. So let's dissect the D.C. bus campaign, which will make its appearance throughout this holiday season, and cheerfully declares, "Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness' sake." Hmmm... I feel very motivated to be good now.

Why do you suppose people are inclined to be good? Fear of punishment is certainly a motivating factor (whether from some divine being, or from laws of men). On the other hand, so is that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you do something nice. But if you could make your way to the top of the food chain by being a jerk with no thought of any cosmic consequences, why in the world would you want to be nice?

It seems to me that if there is no God, it's every man for himself (or every jerk for himself, as it were). So forget being good for goodness' sake. Be good enough to stay on the right side of the law (or not - after all, you might be able to get away with it), but as for the rest of those to-be-good-or-not-to-be-good decisions, who cares?

I also love how the atheists wave the flag of "separation of church and state" at the mere mention of deity, as if the elmination of religion in its entirety is what was intended by the founding fathers. "We can't have any religionists imposing their beliefs on the rest of us!" they say. Well, as my mom so astutely pointed out, all law is based on someone's moral or religious beliefs. We just have to decide whose beliefs will prevail. And I don't know about you, but I hope it's people who believe in God (according to a recent poll, that would be a staggering 92% of Americans), rather than the atheists who get their virtuous feelings as they systematically strip any reference to God from our daily lives. (And just how is it that 8% of the population can be so influential, anyway?)

It's times like these when I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon, and for the words of Alma. You know, those words that say "All things denote there is a God". I'm not sure how people miss the fact that evidence of God is in everything. It seems blatantly obvious to me. And it is so much more comforting than thinking we are some evolutionary accident and that this life is all we have.

Maybe someone should put that on a bus.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Those Darn Mormons

We're in the news again, and no, it's not Proposition 8 related (although there is still plenty of that nonsense going on). This time it's someone getting in a snit about Mormons and their irritating habit of performing baptisms for the dead. In this instance, the baptisms in question have been performed for Holocaust survivors.

Now, I can see how someone would want to (and should) reverence their ancestors and the heroic lives they lived. And I can see that they wouldn't want the faith of those ancestors to be diminished in any way. But explain to me how some crack-pot religious faction performing posthumous baptisms in any way diminishes the faith those people had while they were alive.

It seems to me that there are two arguments: Mormons are right, or they are wrong. If they are right, great! Any of your baptized ancestors will have the opportunity to accept or reject that baptism. If, on the other hand, Mormons are wrong, then those baptisms will obviously have no efficacy anyway since they weren't performed with the proper authority. And if that is the case, why would you be worried about a bunch of crazies performing ineffectual religious rites for your ancestors?

If it's just a matter of feeling insulted, personally, I feel honored when a person of any religious persuasion says they are praying for me. It means they care about me (or at the very least want to prevent me from being dragged down to hell). And if someone from another religion wants to perform posthumous baptisms for my family I wouldn't mind (and for those problem-causers who say that I wouldn't want Satanists baptizing my family into their church, I say who cares if they do? Obviously it would have no effect on anything whatsoever. The only rational reason why I could possibly be bothered is if I thought it would have an effect, in which case I would be smart to join up with the Satanists).

So I just don't understand why people get their knickers in such a twist over this. Even the Catholics have joined in the hand-wringing. For heaven's sake, aren't there better things to be worrying about? They think we're wrong anyway, so why does this even matter?

Perhaps all the worrying comes from that little nudge that says the Mormons might be right after all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Peanut Gallery

Continuing on the food theme today, I found this fascinating article during my morning perusal of news websites.

In way of confession, I tend to be a laid-back sort of mother and I didn't obsess about the food I was eating while I was pregnant or nursing. I certainly enjoyed my Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and my trips to Five Guys (yum!). And I gave Michael peanut butter at 8 months or something like that (verdict: delicious!).

I used to nod my head and smile when my pediatrician would say, "no peanuts until he's two" (pretty much like I handle most trendy advice from my pediatrician) and then I would go home and have no guilty feelings whatsoever about feeding Michael a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.

So I'm happy to see some science backing me up. Of course I'm sure there will be some opposite study in the news next week, but for now I will revel in my scientific correctness. And while I'm at it, I think I'll have some peanut butter.

An Organic Experience

David and I went on a grocery store quest this weekend. While we have a store right across the street, it happens to be a Whole Foods (which I just can't visit without rolling my eyes... perhaps it's that crunchy granola feel underfoot). I mean, no regular cereals or fruit snacks or any other human food? How will I survive a year without junk? Scratch that. How will I survive a year without regular food?

You know why they put "organic" on food labels, don't you? It's so you will buy the product again, because frankly, no one in their right mind would buy the tasteless stuff again unless it was somehow "better". And what could be better and more virtuous than buying organic, saving the planet, stopping global warming, and going pesticide-free? I'll tell you what - buying food that is actually edible.

Putting aside the fact that scientific studies have yet to show any significant benefit resulting from the consumption of organic food, or to show any definite link between pesticide and fertilizer use and any detrimental effects on humans, (for an interesting article from Time Magazine click here) I just wouldn't want to eat most organic foods because they are yucky. Plain and simple. Call me a food snob if you will, but I want my food to taste good. And I don't want to pay a premium to know that my lettuce was grown on a cute little farm in upstate New York where the bugs are allowed to roam freely.

It seems going organic is the only remaining virtue these days. Well, I'm happy to miss that boat.

Now pass me those processed potato chips.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Michael is enjoying the view from the 19th floor at least as much as we are. We have windows on both sides of the apartment, and he will run from one side to the other and shout, "Look!" and climb up to the windowsill to survey the city. He is also thrilled with the constant flow of cars and trucks, and exclaims over each one he sees or hears. Several times a day we find him plastered to a window, observing the world below him.

What a fun place for a little boy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Room With A View

Well, we made it! That lovely edifice you see is the Empire State Building, and that spectacular view is right out of our kitchen window.

It's okay, you can feel jealous.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Are We There Yet?

You know how moving is so stressful that every time you do it you swear you will never do it again? I think I'm inches from full-blown hysteria. So I am doing the only sensible thing, of course. I'm procrastinating by blogging.

I've spent my day trying to handle Michael (who is in perpetual meltdown-mode owing to the time-change, a two-hours late bedtime last night, a ten minute nap yesterday, and the cold that has been plaguing him), and trying to sort through the remaining sneedlets that have accumulated gremlin-style in our house over the last 5 years.

I felt I was doing pretty well with the packing and cleaning (I think I'm about 80% there), but I was so looking forward to a little help from my husband this evening to tackle the multitude of remaining tasks. That would be the husband who came home from work, went straight to the bathroom, and stayed there for the next four hours while his system tried to eliminate everything he ever ate or ever thought about eating.

Let's just say that the sound of barfing does not help my stress level for many reasons, not the least of which is that I could be next. I can just see it - a scenic drive to NYC, pausing periodically to throw-up out the window or run desperately to a rest stop, or worse, to clean up a similarly-affected Michael (in a rental car, no less). The horror. Oh please let this plague pass by us. Either that or let us magically move forward to this same time next week, without having to experience any of the in-between time.

Why do these things always happen at the most horrifically inconvenient times? Not that digestive ailments are ever convenient, of course. But if this is some sort of cosmic joke, it's not funny.

It's A Bird, It's A Plane...

"Groundbreaking" Study

This just in: A new study has shown that there is a connection between teens watching sex-filled TV shows and ending up pregnant. In fact, teens who watched such shows were twice as likely to become pregnant as their peers who didn't watch them.

You mean the things we watch have an effect on our behavior? Pardon me for my cynicism, but "duh".

It seems obvious - if you spend your time watching shows that glamorize sex, portray it to be risk-free and emotionally inconsequential, and make it seem like only nerds aren't doing it, you will be influenced by that. Especially if you are a hormonal teenager who thinks their status in high school is the end-all-be-all of existence.

The only casual-sex consequence I've ever seen portrayed on TV is pregnancy, but that always turns into a glorification of unwed parenthood. The baby is a romanticized little cherub who will appear for the occasional laugh line, but otherwise won't interfere in any way with the life of his parents, and especially not with their dating/sex life.

Why don't researchers just ask me these questions before they spend millions of dollars on such studies? I could have saved them a lot of money.