Childhood Still In Tact

The summer movie season has not had much that enticed me to part with my money until very recently.  Among those that piqued my interest enough to justify the outlay of cash was Ramona and Beezus.  As a long time Ramona Quimby fan, I went into this with a critical eye, ready to cry foul if Hollywood trampled all over another part of my childhood.

I was pleasantly surprised.

No, it doesn’t completely follow any one of the several books in which Ramona and her sister Beezus appear, but it manages to draw high points from each.  Including the puking scene from Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (which I have a fondness for because my mother gave me the book when I’d been sent home sick myself).  Though, sadly, most of the scenes from Beezus and Ramona are actually absent.

I will warn those of you my age who might not be aware: there is an additional Ramona book, published in 1999-2000.  Yeah, I had NO CLUE either, and material from that book (Ramona’s World) appears in this movie.  Upon finding out about this after seeing the film, it legitimized a moment or two that had seemed so entirely unfamiliar to me at the time.  Even going in without the knowledge of Ramona’s World, nothing seemed so totally out of character that I was offended.  And, thankfully, even though the previews and hype focused so much on Selena Gomez as Beezus, the movie really did focus on Ramona, and Joey King did a fantastic job.

At the heart of it, it’s a kids movie.  Very family friendly.  If that’s not your thing, then don’t bother.  It happens to be my thing, so I was delighted.  I laughed, I cried (yes, there’s a very sad moment in the movie), and I had large amounts of warm and fuzzie and total feel-good moments.  I particularly loved the relationship with Ramona and her Father.  Very well done.

And, of course, there’s Ramona herself.  All her mistakes, her whacky logic and her unrestrained ways are included here.  The visual insight into her imagination is also well done.  She makes this movie just as much as she made the books in which we first met her.

Other things to love include Sandra Oh, who’s pretty awesome in every party she plays.  Oh, and the fellow that plays Hobart does a great job AND he’s a total hottie.  Yes, I just used the word hottie.

If you grew up with Ramona and have not shrugged your childhood off completely, you’ll enjoy this rendition of Ramona.  I’m not saying it’s going to change your life, but at the very least, you can be assured that you won’t walk away feeling like a part of your childhood had been vandalized.  You may even find it’s been enhanced.

BSG: What’s in Your Refrigerator?

Okay, first of all, I need to apologize for not getting this up last night.  I wish I had a good excuse, but the truth is I just plain forgot.  Oops!

So today we explore the refrigerators of our beloved cast of characters.   You know, assuming they had personal refrigerators, which they clearly don’t, but if they did…

Adama: Basics:  eggs, cold cuts, cheese, bread, etc.

Roslin: The green gunk she drinks for breakfast.  Salad stuff.  Ice cream.  Couple of beers.

Billy: Left over pizza.  Left over mac and cheese.  Maybe a couple of apples, bottle of milk, bologna and Kraft singles

Gaius: Imelda shops daily.  He’s very particular.  A few key ingredients might be stored in there like eggs, onions, chilled adult beverage.

Six: Slight inventory but very high quality.  Brie, fresh fruit (I see pears).  I think she eats out a lot though.

Doc Cottle: Beer. Lot of old scary stuff.  Take out containers.  Also old and scary.

Dee: we see a lot of processed foods but nothing worse than cheese wiz and bologna.  Maybe a block of cheddar.  Frozen Lean Cuisine dinners.

Apollo: We think he’s a whole foods guy.  I also think he can cook (probably his “impress” move on 4th date or so).  Probably very nutrition conscious

Starbuck: Limes.  Beer.  Socks (was intoxicated last time she did laundry).  Bread (Starbuck doesn’t fear carbs).  Can of cat food (he’s very particular)  Bucket of margarita

Tyrol: Very organized.  Everything dated and labeled.  Cold cuts.  Take out.  Chicken nuggets.  OJ.

Cally: Veggie burgers (not ‘cause she’s a vegetarian, she just happens to like them)  Left over mac and cheese.  Can of icing hidden in the back to be eaten out of with a spoon.

Helo: Beer, cheese, steaks, ground beef, salad stuff (maybe).  Suspect he might be the low carb type.

Sharon: Eats out a lot but doesn’t bring home leftovers.  Juice.  Milk (that might be on the edge of bad)

Gaeta: Crickets (for the iguana) science experiments, bowl of ramen (he didn’t finish ‘cause there was an emergency)

Tigh: Cheese dip.  Frozen burritos, frozen burgers…

Ellen: Cold cream, nail polish, gourmet prepared foods (no leftovers.  The very idea is insulting) Champagne.

Tori: Bottled water, grapefruit, peanut butter, eats out a lot.

Anders: Natty Ice.  Stale hash browns from McDonald’s.

Leoben: Starbuck’s ovary and a carton of orange juice.

Zarek: I’m guessing everything is organic and locally grown and fair trade and all that good stuff.  But I also like to believe that somewhere hidden in the back he’s got a block of velveeta or something else completely synthetic.

A Keen Time Vampire

As a kid, I never had a Nintendo.  My parents are thrifty.  To them, computers should be for doing work, so we had a home PC.  But dedicated gaming consoles?  Not so much.  Eventually they did give in, but Nintendo’s were higher than the Atari 2600.  If they were going to “waste” money on a game console, it was going to be as little as possible.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Atari (viva Ms. Pacman!), but I felt left out of the side-scroll adventure world of Super Mario.

Then came a substitute–something similar, but, honestly, cooler, for the home PC:  Commander Keen.

It had the same side-scroll action as Super Mario, but it was different–and I liked different.  A kid in a Bean & Bacon Mega rocket, crash landed on a planet, battling with wolfmen and toothy-green aliens armed only with a blaster and pogo-stick.

Hours of my life were poured into this game.  My brother and I even managed to find the “secret” level.

And now, far more years having passed than I like to admit, I found out that some clever souls have put Commander Keen online.  Apparently it’s sans sound, but already I’ve wasted several hours of pleasant frustration as I try to get my fingers to replicate the old moves.  I still haven’t found my pogo-stick and I’m getting zapped by the clammy things too often for comfort, but it’s worth it.

In Which MTV, MPB asks, “Who’s your Daddy?”

And hopes your answer is, “Damned if I know!”

Yes, it’s been a while, but we’re back to

TV Cliches We Love

Okay… so we can double file this one under “guilty pleasures” since this is one particular television cliché that I absolutely don’t want to admit to loving.  Because I really don’t want to love it.  I want to simply roll my eyes at it and talk about why it’s a sign of bad writing.  I want to hate it.

But I can’t.  In spite of every learned standard of good fiction that I have, something innate and instinctual in me loves it.  I blame my upbringing—Momma watched a lot of All My Children.

I am speaking, of course, of the “Who’s the daddy?” storyline—WTD for those who frequent online message boards.  You know, those stories where a female character has sex with two (sometimes more) different men in a short span of time and then winds up pregnant.  Then we have months and months of angst and anguish and probably some lying and scheming until the paternity of said baby is revealed.  Delicious, delicious angst.  Sometimes years go by before the truth comes out.  Sometimes one truth comes out and then another truth comes out.  And I’m watching eagerly the whole time.

Why do I eat it up?  I don’t know.  I can give you a whole list of reasons why said storylines suck.  Beyond being cliché, there’s also an argument that they promote negative images of women.  (You see, this is what happens to women who aren’t sexually pure—they wind up stuck in trite storylines!)  In the era of better birth control, awareness of birth control, and the morning after pill they are increasingly ridiculous.  Furthermore, on most television shows, WTD stories are a tool for abusing fanbases (which, to be fair, tend to eat it up as much as I do).

And yet… they hook me.  Maybe there’s some sort of deep seeded psychological reason rooted in my dislike of babies.  The WTD story goes against the normal portrayal of babies as cute and wonderful, always welcome things (which ignores the fact that they don’t do anything cool, they just make noise, make waste and smell like stale mac and cheese).  Maybe it’s because they’re full of angst, and I love angst.  I don’t know.

All I know is that back in the days of Farscape we were all excited when we got the cliffhanger reveal of Aeryn being pregnant, but I personally was almost as thrilled when she revealed she wasn’t sure who the father was.  Even more so when we found out that due to some Sebacean biological peculiarity, the baby could have been conceived years earlier.  Are you kidding me?  So many possible daddies!  (Maybe; she was never really that forthcoming on that point.)

My soap opera, One Life to Live (I’m not saying it’s good, I’m just saying  you should watch) right now has dueling WTD stories.  And what could be better than two simultaneous WTDs?  The two Mommy’s to be, Jessica and Natalie, are twins!  (Who have different fathers.  It seems WTD is an inherited condition.)  (Incidentally, for Jessica, this is her fourth pregnancy and second WTD—impressive record!)  Even better?   One man, Brody “Tiny Hulk” Lovett might be the father of both babies.  Or neither baby.  Who knows?  That’s the whole point!

This is where part of me wants to look at the head writer and say, “You sick bastard!”   And the other part of me wants to go, “I know!  Isn’t it great?”

So in summary, I would like to say to all the soap writers and soapy writers:  These stories are trite and cliché and you should stop writing them.  But if you don’t?  I will keep watching them and shamefully loving every second of it.

The Gardening Update

Odd fact:  rain is only good for a garden if it comes the right way.

In true Midwest fashion, our rain has been coming in the form of violent thunderstorms (although, even for the Midwest it’s been a bit odd in the timing–usually at this point in the summer we’re dry).  While the volume of water is greatly appreciated, the flow is a bit much.  Until about two weeks ago my cherry tomato plant was about 4 inches shy of being as tall as I am.

Then came “The Storm”

Yeah.  Massive straight-line wind from the outflow, followed by a deluge.  I may as well have aimed a fire hose at my plants.  My tomato plant went  completely parallel to the ground.  The two stakes and massive tomato cage were no match for the weather.  I found myself wrestling it back into an upright position, re-staking and trying to restore it to it’s former vertical glory.

It almost worked.  Until storm two.

The process repeated.

And then storm number 3.

Yeah.  It’s even money as to whether or not I’ll bother to continue this process.  That’s a lie.  I’ll totally keep at it because if I don’t keep it up off the ground, the oodles of little green tomatoes will be in easy bunny-rabbit reach and I can kiss them goodbye (little bastard has already picked clean the lowest part of the bush as well as everything on the smaller volunteer plants).

And thus continues Cammy’s summer gardening adventure (the only part of my great outdoor plan that’s going to survive this humidity).

Coffee with… Bela Karolyi

So the gymnastics competitive season is kicking into high gear, and has been discussed previously, I’m a big gymnastics fan.  Highlight of my weekend was spending Saturday night watching the Covergirl US Classic and the triumphant return of ASac.  So I thought it would be a good time to discuss coffee with perhaps the most recognizable personality in American gymnastics.  Which is ironic since he’s neither a gymnast nor American (by birth).

Would we drink coffee with Bela Karolyi?

Kristy: Yes!  Now, I know that Bela is a controversial figure in some circles, and while some of the allegations are likely sensationalized, I doubt they’re totally baseless.  If I had a young daughter training as an elite gymnast I don’t know that I would send her to him (assuming he were still coaching).  But I’m neither young nor a gymnast.  And whatever else he may be, he’s amusing as hell.  As loyal reader Teapot has asked, “Why does this man not have his own reality show?”  I think we would all rather watch a show titled Bela Watches Gymnastics than the 40th season of American Idol.  I’m sure that coffee with Bela would be hysterical, though I’m a little concerned about snarfing my coffee.

And beyond the funny, I’m sure he has some interesting tales to tell.  I just recently read a book about the impact of nationalism on his hometown (which was Kolozsvar, Hungary when he was born but is now Cluj-Napoca, Romania).  I’d like to get his take on what the border shifting was like.  I mean the man is ethnically Hungarian but is in many ways father of gymnastics in both Romania and the United States.  And he seems to have become very much a Texan.  That has to result in some good stories.

But I’m bringing someone along to serve as a physical buffer between him and me.  Bela tends to be very physically demonstrative and I bruise easily.

Cammy: I hope Kristy’s not assuming I’ll be the buffer.  I bruise, too.  But I’m not missing coffee with this guy.  Or at least I’m not missing the chance to be in the Spacial Anomaly Coffee Bar and Refueling Station while Kristy and her bodyguard are having a cuppa joe, so I can listen in.  I know nothing of gymnastics (except that it makes me cringe.  A lot).  Although, I’ve been to Hungary, know lots of people who’ve spent excessive amounts of time in Romania….and Texan.  Yeah.  Goes without saying.  So maybe I can get a phrase or two, in there.  But really, I just want to see his reactions.  Maybe we can have another sports commentator come along to be the buffer.  And then show Bela clips of gymnastics and let his boisterous nature take its course.  Hmm, maybe caffeinating him and having hot liquids right there isn’t so smart….

Kristy: So we’ll get Mary to slip him decaf and suggest iced coffee.  I like the idea of another sports commentator as buffer–preferably one of the really annoying ones on the NBC gymnastics team.  I’m thinking either Andrea Joyce or Al Trautwig.

A Little Canada with my NPR

I was a little delighted this morning while driving to church.  I was listening to NPR’s Weekend Edition, when I heard a very familiar name:

Neil Flambé!

Who’s that, you ask?

He is the boy wonder-chef of Vancouver, Canada.  Duh.

We all know I have a slightly-unhealthy obsession with the nation to the North.  I maintain that they brought it upon themselves by invading my life at an early age, but that’s a discussion for another day.  One of my favorite ways to indulge in a dose of Canada is CBC radio.  I no longer have the luxury of listening during the day, but once upon a time, having CBC Radio 1’s Sounds Like Canada streaming at my desk was the only thing that kept me from driving my head into a wall.  It was on SLC that I was first introduced to Neil Flambe.

Normally, I was not pleased with SLC in the summer.  The regular host, a great favorite of mine, Shelagh Rogers, was out on vacation and special host Kevin Sylvester kept the chair warm in her place.  But in the summer of 2007, Sylvester launched a 10 week experiment that kept me interested.  Week by week he wrote a story, aimed at middle-grade readers.  The adventures of the boy-wonder-master-chef/crime-solver, Neil Flambe.  He even included audience input on certain story elements each week, and the next chapter would be read aloud.  It was kind of fantastic.  I knew there was talk of that Neil Flambe would be a book, but I had no idea until this morning that it had ever happened.  And it was just a pleasant shock to be reminded that summer, waiting for new installments and then rushing home to make sure I voiced my opinions.

It was also a little weird to hear Kevin Sylvester on NPR, and to know that most of the other people hearing the interview had NOT been privy to the original incarnation of Neil Flambe.  Of course that also brought back the depressing realization that NPR still lacks something by comparison the CBC R1.  I mean, I still appreciate NPR, but they just don’t have the zest of CBC R1.

But anyhow, it appears that not only has Neil’s first adventure from that summer on Radio 1 been released, there’s a second book with a third set for the future.  I have some catching up to do!

My TV, My Peanut Butter and the Final Indiana Jones Review

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls

Written by: David Koepp (screenplay); George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson (story)

Directed by: Stephen Spielberg

So I’ve finally seen all the Indiana Jones movies.  I thought this would get me geek cred but I’m informed that it also gets me “being an American” cred.  Also I think this would be the final box I’d need checked to officially become an Anthropologist.  If I wanted to.  But I don’t.  Because I’m a folklorist and we’re a totally distinct discipline no matter what the Anthropologists will try to tell you.  (Sorry.  Rant over.)

Anyway, this one came very badly reviewed, but I didn’t think it was so bad.  Now that needs to be contextualized with a couple of things:  since I never saw the movies as a child, I lack the emotional attachment that a lot of people have to the franchise.  Also, while fans had to wait nearly twenty years for this movie, I had to wait a couple of months.  So my level of anticipation was lower.  I didn’t find it amazing, but I didn’t think it was as bad as all that.  You should also know that I’ve spent time in Peru, so that instantly attracted me to this movie even though it may have made me over skeptical of certain parts.

(Please note this review was written more or less in real time as I watched the movie, so if this reads as stream of conscious it’s because it is.)

Things I particularly liked: The incongruous visual of Indy in his trademark outfit, which we’re used to seeing in a jungle or ruins somewhere, in a plastic perfect 1950s house.  It captured exactly what they needed to about Indy being a holdover from an earlier time, trying to exist in a new world where he didn’t quite fit in.  Very nicely done.  Over all, the visuals in this one were  perhaps not as iconic as the earlier films, but there were still some very nice shots.  I really liked the mushroom cloud.  The scrub down scene right after the nuclear bomb, however, would have been a much bigger thrill 20 years ago.  Not so much now.  But I guess Harrison Ford’s no longer so perfect figure was part of setting the scene as well.  I really like that they didn’t try to disguise or ignore Harrison Ford’s age.  The set up of Indy being stuck in a changing world, losing friends more and more was perhaps cliché, but works well.  I actually got a little teary when Indy talked about his dad being dead and we saw him gazing at the photo.   Sniff.  I imagine that Mutt is vaguely what Henry Sr. was like in his younger years, so at the end when Indy commented, “Your grandfather is smiling” (paraphrased) I was like, “Hell yeah he is.”  The 50s setting is in many ways unavoidable, and yet I never liked that decade as well as the 30s or 40s, so I didn’t enjoy it as much.  Still, it’s well done and works.  In some ways I thought this one was almost an homage to an Indiana Jones film more than an independent film itself.  I’m not sure if that’s a strength or weakness honestly, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say strength.


Indy rode with Pancho Villa!  I love Indy more and more.

Iquitos!  I love Iquitos!

I loved having Marion back.  The years have not exactly been kind to her, but that’s very realistic when you consider archeologists are out in the elements all the time.  I liked her kissing him at the wedding rather than letting him do it, because Marion wasn’t the type to stand still and wait to be kissed.  And it was cheesy, but I like the bit with Mutt and the hat at the end.  I have to say this move reinforced to me exactly how much Harrison Ford’s charm made the franchise.  I like Shia LaBeouf just fine, but Mutt Williams never could have carried his own franchise.  Still, he’s a nice snapshot of the 1950s anti-hero characters.  Apparently George Lucas wanted to have Indy and Marion’s child be a girl, and while I see how Mutt worked better to the plot of the film, a daughter would have had a whole other set of interesting possibilities.

Things I didn’t like so much: I was very excited to find out Cate Blanchett was in this film (somehow I’d missed it) but was disappointed in her performance.  Her accent was inconsistent at times.  I think she was going for a caricatured performance, in keeping with a 50s style, Cold War depiction of soviets, but I’m not sure it really worked.  She either needed to be more cartoonish or less.  I guarantee you there was no airport that nice at Nazca back then—a lot of airports in Peru don’t look that nice now.  The thunderstorm in the graveyard scene was a bit much considering Nazca’s in a desert, and those very Northern Hemispherish leaves drifting through the air didn’t help.  Okay, I’m gathering from the next shot of the map that the graveyard was supposed to be near Cusco where a thunderstorm is marginally more possible, but still a little much.  Some of the special effects in the rolling battle through the jungle were surprisingly bad.  Mutt’s comment about liking fencing was a little too obvious of a shotgun over the mantel.

The ant thing has to be one of the more disturbing ways of getting rid of bad guys that they’ve used—effective, but I had to look away.  The Mayan, Amazonian connection was weird and I felt like it needed to be fully explained.  It felt too much like they were lumping all of Latin America together.  Something that happens all the time and that drives me nuts.  The whole interdimensional beings thing was a little too out there to fit with my conception of Indiana Jones movies.  When I watched the behind the scenes segments on the DVD and they explained that they saw the first three movies as being in the style of 1930s serials so they wanted this one to mirror 1950s space invaders movies.  Then it made sense, and I thought, “Oh!  Okay, that works.”  But I don’t think movies should require footnotes.  I didn’t pick up on my own what they were trying to do there, so I think it could have used some clarifying.

This Post Has Been Usurped by a Foot Cramp

So, I was getting ready to write a post about the oldest known bottles of wine found off the Åland Islands recently…..

But I was thoroughly distracted by the worst foot cramp ever in the history of ever.

I’ve had muscle cramps before–mostly in the calf–that have cause me to wake up screaming in pain, but this foot thing?  I actually blacked out.  No lie.  Vision went to a pinprick, I fell over and the next thing I knew it was way further along in Lord of the Rings than it should have been.  I’ve had minor foot cramps a time or two before, after wearing less-than-sensible shoes, but this was an entirely different beast.  Granted, I don’t have the information for a fully comparison, but I’m fairly certain childbirth won’t be any worse.

I’ve recovered, picked up the laptop (thankfully undamaged) hauled myself back into the chair and I’m popping the I-be-broken while trying to gently manipulate my sore foot.  Gnawing it off is starting to sound like a good idea right about now.

Now it’s down to the “why” behind this.  Shoes are out–I was wearing nice comfy ones for the past few days.  I’ve not been on my feet more than normal.  That brings up the perennial favorites:  dehydration and lack of certain things in my diet.  And this just as I was telling Kristy that while I wasn’t great at eating balanced meals, my over all diet generally covers all the bases in a day.  So much for THAT.

And with that, I’m off to fill a bucket of hot water, break out the Epsom salts and soak these traitorous feet.

This Week’s Time Vampire Gives you a Monocle Smile!

As is increasingly par for the course, this week’s time vampire might be a week late.  But I maintain that once a great time vampire, always a great time vampire.  And if there was any doubt in my mind, it was erased by the fact that I lost an hour last night to this time vampire while I was supposed to be writing about the time vampire so that I wouldn’t be writing right before posting like I usually am.

What is this horribly seductive Time Vampire?

The Old Spice guy.

Unless you live without television or are totally Tivo dependent, you’ve probably seen Old Spice’s recent line of commercials, stressing the fact that their products make you smell like a man.  I actually hadn’t seen many of them as I’m almost totally DVR dependent and therefore usually fast forward through commercials.  Somehow I did recognize Isaiah Mustafa, so either I’d seen at least one of his ads or he’s part of the universal unconscious along with Little Richard and Swedish Meatballs (random note:  I’m not sure I’ve ever actually had Swedish Meatballs).  He’s the nicely chiseled African American man from the “Man your Man Could Smell Like” commercials who gives sort of deadpanned monologues while standing more or less still, staring right at the camera and usually not wearing a shirt.

Apparently last Wednesday, Old Spice began putting videos on YouTube of Mustafa responding to comments on YouTube, Twitter, and even a few questions off Yahoo Answers.  If my quick google search is to be believed there were 183 videos total, many of them responding to comments on the previous videos.  It was a brilliant viral marketing technique that allowed Old Spice to respond to almost in real time.  Celebrities got into the fun including Ellen DeGeneres, Christina Applegate, and Alyssa Milano who went back and forth with the Old Spice man several times.   We learned that The Man Your Man Could Smell Like has a thing for monocles and bacon (well, who doesn’t have a thing for bacon, other than those religiously obligated to).  Seriously, after watching these videos I’m almost ready to buy Old Spice despite the fact that I’m a woman, have no man, and am almost certainly allergic to it.

And it was hilarious.  Seriously beyond hilarious.  Addictively hilarious!  I should know, because I just lost another twenty minutes to it.  I can also attest that it has amazing mood improvement properties.

So if you need to cheer up, or kill a little time, check out Old Spice on YouTube.  Because the fun may be over, but it’s still there on the internets to enjoy.