Thursday, December 23, 2010

Unfit Santa

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there . . .   The following article offers a new perspective on jolly ole St. Nick.

8 Reasons That Santa Claus is an Unfit Family Icon

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Facebook Fights

 I realize that the holidays are a stressful time for many people, but Aunt Jemima’s socks, people!   I swear if I see another couple airing their dirty laundry on facebook, I swear I’m going to go postal. Seriously, over the last month, I’ve witnessed at least five couples trash-talking each other in their statuses or wall-to-wall posts.  For the folks I don’t know well, it’s mildly entertaining, even soap-operatic.  But the better I know them, the more uncomfortable it becomes.

Most of the time, they’ll eventually overcome their nonsense and go back to posting syrupy sweet lovey-dovey comments, and all is well.  But  for some of them, I wonder how long that will last.  As a “hint” to some of those folks, my hubby and I started a fake facebook fight.  For those who know us best (and realize we keep our fights to ourselves), it would have been good for a laugh.  Alas, we did this at a time when no one seemed to be online, so it was a futile effort. 

So now I’m left to wonder whether to be the jerk who calls them out and tells them to stop acting like a bunch of adolescents,  un-friend them without explanation, or try to ignore the drama.  And NO, de-activating my facebook account is not an option.  I enjoy catching up with old friends and keeping touch with current friends.  It’s also very useful for event planning. Okay, and I confess I've gotten hooked on Farmville.   Besides, why should I punish myself for others’ misuse of the site?  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Murder and Mayhem Make For a Great Weekend!

Well, it appears I pulled it off! Despite some last minute cancellations and new attendees, the Murder Mystery Weekend was a rousing success. (If I do say so myself).  

Friday night, those of us staying the weekend gathered at a local bar/nightclub to see a comedy concert.   

Saturday, my gal pals and I went shopping for a few party supplies and got our nails done.  They even helped me get the meeting room set up and decorated before we joined our guys in the hotel's hot tub.  Then we grabbed dinner at the restaurant next door before dashing back to our rooms to get ready for the main event.

It was totally awesome watching everyone arrive, decked out in their 1980's best.  And everyone really got into playing their roles, which was a blast. I wrote it with the idea that the participants were to improvise their parts based on the information in their clues, and did they ever! High school was never this much fun for me!

I had love triangles, love children, a catfight, and practically fisticuffs. All the ladies kept getting hit on by folks that weren't really supposed to be interested in their characters--including me!  My character was, by the way, a photographer--I must've snapped a few hundred pictures. I borrowed a friend's camera, and cannot wait to see the photos.

Everyone said they had a fabulous time, and are already asking when I'll be doing the next one. It was great seeing my work come to life, better hanging with my good friends, and awesome making new friends.  But the best was knowing that everyone had a good time.

I learned a few lessons along the way, too:

1) Just write a basic draft and leave it be until the commitment deadline. Save any rewrites for the week of the event.

2) Send packs of vitamins to all attendees, so no one ends up in the hospital the week of the event (It's happened two years running).

3) Try not to be such a damn control freak and let people help out.

4) It really doesn't have to be perfect . . . really. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Parental Tantrums

We all have our moments when we "lose it" and yell at our kids.  I had one such moment today.  Then a friend of mine posted the following article on Facebook.  I dare you to read it with a beverage in your mouth, because I guarantee you'll need a new keyboard by the time you're done.

Preventing Temper Tantrums in Parents

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Voted . . .

Now leave me the hell alone!  As anyone with more than two functioning brain cells would know, today was Election Day.  While I find watching paint dry only slightly more interesting than politics, I was more than happy to hit the polls so I could push the magic button that will remove our current governor from office. 

But even more thrilling than the end of William J. Lepetomane’s reign will be the end of those annoying political calls.  Our home phone rang no less than four times a day with someone soliciting our vote.  We have caller ID so I didn’t pick up the phone, but that just clogged up my voicemail box.  

So to all those men and women that made and/or recorded all those damn political calls, I am so happy to bid you adieu that I may call off the plague of locusts I ordered.

Or maybe not . . .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And So It Begins

My husband left the house early this morning for Las Vegas, for an annual conference.   He’s due back late Friday afternoon.  In the meantime, I have the kids all to myself.   If today were actually a day of rest, I might not have minded so much.  But Gingersnap had a game today (the football team she cheers for made it to the second round of the playoffs).  And since we were halfway to my Mom’s place (a nursing home in the suburbs of a large city), we trekked out to visit with her.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the best visit.  The kids were ill behaved, and my mom wasn't doing well.  I poured myself a stiff drink or three when I got home.  

The rest of the week should be uneventful.  This is both good and bad.  I'll have time to rest in the evenings, but that also means I won't have much to keep my mind occupied. Friday cannot get here fast enough.   Of course, my relief from single momdom will be short-lived.  Husband Fixture will be on the road again (D.C. this time) next Monday morning, returning next Friday afternoon.  This will be the state of our existence for the next four months. 

I honestly don’t know how single parents do it, because my offspring and I are ready to check into Bellvue after two weeks of Daddy being on travel.  And I know I shouldn’t complain, since he will be home on weekends, and over holidays.  But this is my blog, damn it, and I am NOT a happy camper!! 

Not only do I miss the break from the kids and the help around the house my hubby provides, I miss HIM.  I can sleep alone okay, though the temptation to allow Couch Hound into the bed will be great.   I also miss the moral support.  Yes, he’ll be available via phone/email, but getting a hug at the end of the bad day is invaluable.   

Yep, I think it's time for another drink and a horror flick.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Love bites

 I continually find myself amazed at the lengths to which I will go to make my children happy.  Princess Gingersnap’s birthday is this Saturday, and she has requested—nay, demanded—a Twilight Eclipse -themed sleepover party.  I now face the prospect of having around ten giggly tween girls taking over my house.  Husband Fixture and the Prince of Distraction will be banished to the dungeon, where they will gorge themselves on junk food and video games while I am up to my eyelashes in makeovers and Twilight movies. 
Today alone, I spent five hours driving around to 6 different stores in search of decorations, favors, and gifts for this party.  Anyone who knows me would tell you that I hate, despise, loathe, abhor, and revile shopping.  And the only thing I disdain more than shopping is running around to several stores to do this.   Despite my best efforts to obtain the necessary accoutrements at the lowest possible prices, Husband Fixture was still displeased (as he tracked my movements via online banking). 

Tomorrow begins the process of cleaning, baking, and filling favor bags . . .  Fun, fun, fun!  

Monday, October 11, 2010

In Celebration of Columbus Day

Today is one of those rare days when the kids, Husband Fixture, and I all have the day off.   After several busy weekends, we’ve declared today a pajama day, and are enjoying a Mel Brooks film festival. 

What does this have to do with Christopher Columbus discovering America?  Absolutely nothing.  I am just fine with that. 

“For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius.”

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Like, Oh My God, It’s a Murder Mystery!

It’s the 25-year class reunion for the Westinburg High Class of 1985. It’s Retro Night, and everyone is dressed in their best 80’s fashion to celebrate the good ole’ days. But the good ole’ days weren’t always good, because one Westinburger has been murdered! Can the alumni figure out who the murderer is before another one bites the dust?

That's right, it's taken the better part of a year, but I finally finished writing the mystery for the murder mystery party I'm hosting in November. Why write it myself when there are several pre-written kits out there? That would be The Husband Fixture's doing. I purchased a pre-written mystery for our party last year. It was fun, and the guests enjoyed themselves, but I wasn't happy with the outcome. NONE of the clues given added up to the murderer, which made it tough for anyone to solve the mystery. So the Husband Fixture suggested that I write the next one myself.

I've written parts for 20 characters, and am anxiously awaiting confirmations from the participants so that they can begin choosing their parts. It's gonna' be like, totally awesome, ya' know?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

There Goes Summer

It never fails. As May flowers begin to bloom, and the PSSA’s are done, the kids and teachers alike begin twitching in theirs seats and counting the days until that magical time in June when the final ring of the school bell sounds. No more teachers, no more books.

The whole summer lies before us, full of plans for trips to the beach, amusement parks, camps, barbeques, ball games, and fireworks. We bask in the mere idea of a few months of freedom.

This summer, my family attended a few barbeques, trekked to the beach, attended a family wedding, sent the kids to day camps (cheering for Gingersnap, Math and Science for Distractoboy), enjoyed two amusement parks, and went to the Renaissance Faire.

Youth football/cheer season has begun, so we’ve been spending five evenings a week at the practice fields. Distractoboy opted out of football this year, so we’ll only have to sit through one game today. And our time at the practice fields will be reduced to two nights a week, as of this week. While we look forward to having most of our evenings back, it also heralds the beginning of the end of summer.

Where did all this time go? I think Shel Silverstein put it very well:

Here Comes
Here comes summer,
Here comes summer,
Chirping robin, budding rose.
Here comes summer,
Here comes summer,
Gentle showers, summer clothes
Here comes summer,
Here comes summer-
Whoosh-shiver-there it goes.

by Shel Silverstein

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Good Stuff

It’s nearing midnight on a Sunday night, and the house is quiet except for the snoring of Husband Fixture and Couch Hound. I’m surfing the web, and reflecting on our busy week.

The Prince of Distraction and his friend attended Math and Science camp at Husband Fixture’s employer. As hubby leaves for work at the ass crack of dawn, Prince of Distraction’s friend stayed with us for the week. This left me alone with Princess Gingersnap all week. I had hoped to do some fun things with her, but as she refused to keep her room clean, most of our days were spent with me yelling at her to do so or running errands. Oh, and let’s not forget the nights spent sitting at cheerleading practice. (The Prince opted out of youth football this year, much to our relief).

But I did enjoy some girl time this week. I went to my pole dancing class; got to visit with a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in eons; went to the nail salon (I was a week overdue for one of my few feminine indulgences); and hosted an impromptu girl’s night--sort of, on Friday. I say, “sort of,” because we had the kids with us while our menfolk were off playing poker. We ended up playing Progressive Gin while kicking kids out of the room like flippers on a pinball machine.

Husband Fixture and I also attended an adult novelty product party/birthday party last night. It was quite the entertaining event. ‘Nuff said.

And today, we invited yet another friend and her kids over. She was at her wit’s end because her husband is away at drill (he’s in the army reserves) and she’s had her hands more than full with their four kids. Our kids got to play with their friends, and she got to talk to grown ups.

I can’t help remembering the days when the Husband Fixture and I were first married. We were broke, worked opposing shifts at jobs we hated, and rarely saw each other. We had no friends and no lives outside of our little rented hovel. Now we are blessed with two beautiful, healthy children, jobs that fulfill us, an adorable puppy, and plenty of good friends.

Life is good.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Avatars

The Husband Fixture meddled with my Netflix queue and added Avatar. Yeah, James Cameron’s latest epic about man versus the blue alien dudes. I had no interest in this film when it came out. In fact, I opted to take my daughter to see The Princess and the Frog while hubby and son saw this movie. But Husband Fixture and kids wanted to watch it on Netflix.  As it was an opportunity to spend some quality time with the family, I sat through it.

Now I consider myself an empathetic soul, but from the get-go I couldn’t seem to care about any of those characters. Even the blue monkey dudes didn’t stir much sympathy. I did not find Pandora to be this awesomely beautiful place, either. The critters in it were ugly, and the whole thing about the blue monkeys sticking the end of their braids into stuff creeped me out. It was also patently predicable. Big bad corporate America stomps all over nature and encounters resistance. And seriously, how am I supposed to believe that after totally betraying a whole race of people, that the jarhead who was sent to infiltrate the blue monkeys can just walk right back into the tribe and be not only accepted, but trusted to lead them along with the rest of their race against the big bad humans? (Can we say Fern Gully 2?)

Even more unbelievable is that the blue dudes actually won the battle. Yeah, even the ending didn’t really phase me, and I’m the type who cries at Disney movies. So if you haven’t seen this one, you’re really not missing much.

The Husband fixture claims that I was determined not to like this movie and therefore did not give it a fair shake. I disagree. I am capable of overcoming bad reviews to actually give a movie a chance, and possibly even like it.

Case in point: (Avatar) The Last Airbender.

Despite the negative reviews I’d read from friends and critics, I knew I’d end up going to see this film in the theaters. My son got hooked on the animated series (on Nickelodeon) upon which this film was based, as did the whole family. We’ve all seen every episode at least twice—several times for some episodes, including the one in which the final battle scene of the movie took place.

I was prepared for a poorly written, terribly acted, waste of my time. I am happy to say that the film was better than expected. Was it the best film I’d ever seen? Not by a long shot. Was it the worst remake of a television series I’ve seen? No, it wasn’t.

Most of the reviews I read listed gross generalizations on what the reviewers thought M. Night Shyamalan got wrong, leaving me to wonder whether they were really familiar with the series.  Not all of their criticism was unfounded, though. I was irked by the mispronunciation of several of the characters’ names. How can you mispronounce names that were on a television series? In addition to his name being butchered, I had issues with Sokka’s portrayal. Sokka was largely a goofball, and not the best at being a warrior. He matured a great deal, both personally and as a warrior throughout the series. In the movie, he was entirely too serious.

I did not like the fact that the Fire Lord was given a more direct role in the movie. He was really a mysterious figure during the first two books of the series, and did not directly control or have knowledge of Zuko’s or General Zhao’s movements (Zhao was, in fact, a renegade, and it was his idea alone to kill Twee and Laa, the moon and water spirits). The Fire Lord did not have any sympathy or concern for Zuko.

Speaking of the banished prince, one of the creative choices with which I took issue was Zuko’s appearance. I think it was a mistake to show Zuko with short hair in the beginning, as the cutting of his hair played a significant part later in the series, as it would in Chinese culture.  How hard would it have been to fit the actor with a hairpiece?

I also was not thrilled with the scene in which General Iroh administered the “avatar test” to Aang. This did not in any way happen in the series, nor did it really serve to explain much of anything. It also went against the way Iroh was portrayed--not only in the series, but within the rest of this movie, as well.
Last, but not least, I have to address the special effects. The  use of 3-D was wholly unnecessary, and merely a “keeping up with the Joneses” gimmick that did not really pan out.

While I’m not entirely convinced that M. Night was the best choice of directors for this project, here’s what I felt he got right. The portrayals of Aang, Katara, Princess Yue, Zuko, and General Iro (as a character) were fairly accurate. While a lot of the story was left out, in all fairness, the series ran in half-hour episodes over a period of four years. Getting even the first “book” of the series covered was quite an undertaking. Specifically, I did like the way the explanation of Zuko’s scar and banishment were handled (by asking a nearby fire nation child to tell the story).

I also have to say that despite what other reviews stated, the costumes were pretty well done. They were close enough to the costumes in the series while maintaining a realistic element. I especially liked Aang’s tattoos. I preferred the intricate details to the plain blue arrow that the cartoon Aang had. I also liked the foreshadowing with the Fire Lord asking for Azula’s assistance. She had just the right touch of insanity and ruthlessness in her eyes, even for such a brief appearance. It would be a shame if that were all we got to see of her.

Overall, if I were to measure this film against my typical yardstick (would I willingly watch the film again and/or purchase the DVD), I would say yes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Empresses' New Clothes

I had to buy a dress today. For most women, that sentence is probably accompanied by squeals of delight, descriptions of the dress, raves on the killer deal obtained, and babbling about the fun had while shopping. I’m not most women. I detest shopping (with the exception of shoes, books, and lingerie)--worse yet, I had to bring my offspring with me.

To further engender the desire for me to jump off the top of a skyscraper, I had to do the majority of my shopping in the MALL (She says, shuddering) I typically avoid that place like the plague, but the nature of the shopping I had to do left me no alternative. In addition to finding the dress (for a family wedding), my daughter needed to be fitted for sneakers for cheer leading. I also had to buy birthday gifts for our friends’ kids.

I am happy to report that I managed to accomplish all my objectives with a minimum of bloodshed--though it got dicey when I had to wait fifteen minutes in Gamestop just to buy a lousy gift card. And there was that other little incident when I had to enlist the help of my daughter to zip up one of the dresses I tried on . . .