Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rest in Peace, Nora Ephron

I watched Nora Ephron's movie Heartburn last night, which I had never seen before, even though I am a fan. Probably when it came out in the mid-eighties, the idea of a movie about the end of a marriage, based on her divorce from Carl Bernstein, and the balancing of babies and a writing career did not interest me. I never thought I'd be having babies, back then, in my mid-twenties.You don't know how your life will end up.

In November 2010, I referenced Ms. Ephron's thoughts on mortality in this post.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Princess of the Day: Merida from Brave

A Princess Strives for...Perfection
If there was ever a Princess crying out to be crowned Princess of the Day, it is Merida, the medieval Scottish protagonist of Brave. Her fabulous flowing red curls are enough to earn her the honor. (I usually disdain the word "locks," but I almost used it in the last sentence because "hair" doesn't seem grand enough to describe that springy mass, which is in just the perfect shade. Next time I get my roots done I may show a picture of Merida to the colorist.)

Merida also is an excellent equestrienne, and expert enough at archery to show up the three goofballs competing for her hand in marriage. The conflict stems from Merida's refusal to get married. Besides the fact that she is young and wants to be free, you can't blame her for not wanting to marry any of the candidates. They are about as eligible as the denizens of Animal House, except they hang in a Medieval Scottish castle instead of a frat house, substitute mead for beer and bear hunt instead of playing football.

There isn't a single worthy male in this movie. If I was a man I'd be kind of pissed. King Fergus, the Princess' father, is a doofus, while her mother is uptight and no fun, training Merida to be a proper princess. "A princess never leaves her weapon on the table," she chastises. (Aside: the uptight mom/relaxed dad dynamic seems to be the parental template in every single comedy these days--see bumbling Phil/hyper Carol on the hilarious Modern Family. What's that about? Maybe another post for some other day after the kids are in bed.)

Merida stands her ground, and gets in a bit of trouble, such as accidently changing her mother into a bear. Oopsy. But of course it all works out and everyone lives happily ever after. There are those who have put forth the theory that Merida might be a lesbian. Maybe it is exciting to have an upstanding character in a mainstream movie for kids who might grow up to be a homosexual. But my first, visceral reaction when I hear this theory was annoyance. So if a female character is strong and confident, and doesn't want to get married, she's gay? Straight girls can't be strong and independent, and ride their horses, and refuse lady training? These qualities have nothing to do with sexual preference.

Merida kind of reminds me of Felicity, the American Girl from the Revolutionary War, who also resists her mother's urge to civilize her. I love the American Girl books, because my daughter learns about American history and the protagonists are all admirable. Just for fun, here is a chart comparing the two.

                                            Felicity                                 Merida
Hair                                    chestnut brown                      red
Horse                                  Penny                                    Angus
Meaning of name              Happiness                              Honorable
Nemesis                              Drunken Jiggy Nye               Killer bear
Mother                               Falls gravely ill                     Temporary bear
Romance?                          No. She's 10.                          No!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Should I Get A Smartphone?

Obviously, I'm not what you'd call an early adopter. I have an old-fashioned LG cell phone that makes calls, receives texts and lets me send back one-word replies by typing on the phone dialing thingy. I can take pictures and video but I can't figure out how to get them off the phone. No internet access. I've had this same phone for at least three years.

You're considered to be a bit odd if you don't have an iPhone. (I realize that even with an iPhone, I'd be odd.) Most people I know have one or something like it. I was recently at a party, and a friend was giving me directions to a restaurant. So she said "take out your phone and I will show you where the place is," assuming that I of course had a phone like that, because everyone in the civilized world does. I wasn't in the mood to explain my  situation, even though she is super nice and would not judge me, so I pretended to be distracted by one of the kids. She ended up walking us to the restaurant.

(We don't have a minivan either, so we're practically living like animals. Our  ten-year-old Ford Focus has squeaky brakes and an unexplained shorts-ruining stain on the front passenger seat. For a while I wanted to get a new car, maybe a BMW mini, preferably pink. But now I sort of love that we have such a crappy car. I find it funny somehow. Maybe it's because when I was growing up, one of the two doors of our Plymouth Valiant was held closed with a rope for years.)

I've cycled in and out of wanting an iPhone. It would be convenient, but there is such a thing as too convenient. (My husband just got an iPhone, and it bothered me when my son started asking Siri algebra questions and she answered them correctly. Do kids use Siri to do their homework?) Also, I didn't even know what a "drop-in" was until I saw the episode of Girls where Hannah is lost at some junk yard with creepy Adam and Marni tells her to "send a drop-in," and she does something with her phone, and then Marni picks them up in a cab. Kids these days have it too easy! Clearly I was out partying in the stone age when getting lost meant you were just screwed. Which I kind of think is the way it should be.

Further, it's hard to justify the expense of a smart phone when you think about the fact that I am rarely out for more than a few hours, and if it is all that urgent I can be reached on my cell. I'm not the Secretary of State. And I worry that I would be one of those people who is constantly texting and looking at the phone when you are out to lunch or trying to have a conversation. I might be checking my comments and the traffic for the blog a lot more often than I already do, and wasting time on Facebook and playing Words With Friends instead of interacting with the real world. And I was just reading about a study that showed that people who spend a lot of time on that stuff are more likely to be depressed.

So that's not good.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Out Damned Spot

I have four new pairs of shorts. This is remarkable, because I rarely find pants/shorts that properly fit both my thickish waist and my thinnish hips. So when I discovered that those cute "boyfriend roll-ups" from the Gap work on me, I bought them in three different colors. Or three different "color-ways," as Andrea Lee Linett used to say in a heavy NY accent when she did her impression of a Garmento.

Obv. Not Me
I was wearing the orange ones all day Saturday, parading around up at the pool with a special "new shorts" glow. Then I repaired to my daughter's Girl Scouts bridging ceremony. When it was over, we walked home. After fixing dinner for my family, I removed the shorts, folded them, and put on my pajamas. The next morning I noticed it: a blackish stain across the back that looked something like tar.

When did this nasty spot appear? If at the pool, why didn't any of my supposed "friends" tip me off? If at Girl Scouts (likely since I was sitting on the ground), did all present assume I had had an unfortunate accident? And what about my husband? Does he not look at my derriere anymore?

I put stain remover on the icky black stuff and set it to soak.  Then, I turned my attention to my fourth new pair of shorts. This kicky pair is high-waisted and has a crazy floral print. I found them when I was shopping for a gift for my mom at Talbots. I never thought I would buy anything for myself at Talbots, but I began to see a Mad Men/Junior League-in-the-early-70s appeal in the merchandise. And the shorts fit me like a glove! They also conformed to my paltry budget. Sold.

I like how the wider leg almost makes them look like culottes
My husband was confused when I appeared, dressed for a going away party for some friends. "What are those?" he asked. "These are my adorable new excitement shorts," I said. I explained how I imagined Betty Draper wearing them to the country club.  He didn't agree. A curious look of recognition crossed his face. I realized the problem. "Do they remind you of your mother?" I asked.

"Kind of," he said. "And you have your shirt tucked in." I explained that I was showing off the flattering high waist. He looked dubious. But I did get some compliments from people I am not married to.

The point is, and this is truly incredible: when I took the shorts off last night, I noticed an identical stain as on the orange ones! I am now afraid to sit down anywhere.

And I've been soaking both pairs all night, but the stain won't come out. So now I have 2 new pairs of shorts. Unless anyone has any stain removal tips?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Week in Fat Shaming

"We’re fat, folks. Seriously, dangerously fat. And you don’t need statistics to tell you that; you just need to look around. All three people ahead of me in line in a food shop in Des Moines last month qualified as morbidly obese; they had 900 pounds — easy — among them. One of every two people in line with me at a Coney Island concession stand last weekend were carrying at least 25 extra pounds."
Frank Bruni, Trimming A Fat City, New York Times, June 2

This bit of fat-shaming offensiveness comes in the middle of  Bruni's op-ed in defense of Mayor Bloomberg's anti-insanely large soda initiative. The idea behind the initiative--and I am still pissed off from when Bloomberg tried to take away my salt bagel--is that people need to be forced to drink less soda. I also think big sugary drinks are sort of gross, and I don't consume them or buy them for my kids. But it's a free country, as we used to say in the schoolyard at St. Theresa's! And there is no evidence that making people buy smaller drinks will affect obesity rates, which have leveled off according to recent reports.

Despite the endless sanctimonious lecturing on healthy eating that masquerades as "education," no one knows what really causes people to gain weight. The belief is that people eat too much crap and don't exercise enough, but that doesn't explain the fact that most everyone who loses weight through dieting gains it back. Nor does it take into account the people who eat "wisely," exercise copiously and still weigh more than they'd like.

There are many other possible factors. Research has linked inadequate sleep to weight gain; is government going to control the number of hours that we sleep? A study showed that keeping your house too warm could possibly contribute to weight gain. Are we now legislating where people set their thermostats?

In another stab at obesity control, Disney just announced it would stop showing junk food ads on its tv channels and make the kids' meals at its theme parks less disgusting. I am all for the theme park food improvements, although I hope never to set foot in another theme park as long as I live.

As far as the ads go, it's hard to be against Disney's decision to limit junk food ads aimed at kids under 12 (which Bob Iger said was made for business, not altruistic reasons). My kids have never watched many commercials for junk food ads (because we're mean horrible parents who limit their tv watching, while allowing ourselves unholy amounts of tv). And even if your kids do see a lot of ads, that doesn't mean you have to buy the stuff.

In closing, I'd like to say that although dieting has been linked to eating disorders, no one is talking about taking Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers ads off the air. That's because society is a lot more repulsed by fat people than those who die from self-imposed starvation. We can't have overweight people cavorting around, marring the landscape.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Video Friday!! Finally.

Hello people. It's that time again. Video Friday, which is only observed when it is a Friday, and I am not busy lamenting and therefore in a good mood. Video Friday seems inauthentic when I am cranky.

Anyway, today's awesome video is by a punk pop band called The Shondes, who are actually remarkable enough to have a Wikipedia page. The drummer, Temin Fruchter (once selected as one of The Heeb 100) emailed me early this year about her band. Isn't it so cute that she actually considered Fallen Princess to be a real publicity outlet, worthy of contacting?

That was a clearly a mistake on her part, because it took me from March until now to post her video. Which I actually like! And I admire that she met her band mates protesting at the Republican National Convention in 2004. What is wrong with me?

If you live in Nyack, NY or Brattleboro, VT you can check them out in June.
So nice you got to post it twice.